Of Rich Fools and Storehouses

2016-07-31 Sermon on the Parable of the Rich Fool

You can’t take it with you. Isn’t that the old saying? That’s kind of what Jesus seems to be saying here – “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you” That’s death by the way. “And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” You spend your life building your fortune, and then you die. The Lord giveth and taketh away, and there’s not much good news about that, is there? Now, considering this is a parable, what do we usually do when we hear one? We always try to figure out which character we are. Why? Because we figure Jesus is trying to use a story to tell us what to do. Who do we associate with here? The rich guy, right? Well, the only people in the story are God and the rich guy, and I’ve never met anyone who associated with God. So, what do you think the message is going to be? Things can’t save you? Stuff weighs you down? Be generous? That’s all good, but it sounds just like common sense, so I don’t know that we need the Bible for that. Maybe Jesus is up to something else here…..

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God Removes Our Blindness

2016-07-10 Sermon for the Parable of the Good Samaritan

So, a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan walk into a bar. Ouch!

This has got to be one of the best-known parables in all of scripture. Surely everybody knows who the Good Samaritan is. We call people Good Samaritans. We’ve got laws named for him. Sometimes when you’re driving on 465, you might see one of the CVS/Samaritan vans on the side of the road, helping out a stranded motorist. Really, it’s fascinating how this story even sticks with people who don’t profess any sort of religion at all. Maybe it’s because it sounds like a simple lesson about being a good neighbor, and you don’t have to be Christian to know that’s a good idea.

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God Succeeds in Our Failures

2016-07-03 Sermon for Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

So, funny story – the first time I went to Luther for on campus courses, they lost my baggage! I tried so hard to pack everything I needed, so many books and all the wool and flannel I could find because it’s St. Paul in January, and that’s like the sub-arctic, right? I’ve never been there, so I expected the worst. I get up there, my first time to seminary, no idea what to expect or what kind of people I’ll find there, and discover that I’ve got nothing but the clothes on my back. So I’m standing at the carousel thinking, well, this is an epic fail. Jesus, what have you gotten me into this time?

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Of Shepherds and Sheep

2016-04-17 Sermon for Good Shepherd Sunday

Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” Could there be a more beautiful promise than this? No conditions. No if/then. And he’s talking about *us*. He never asked our permission. He chose us. And no one will snatch us away.

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The Light Shines in the Darkness

2016-01-03 Sermon on John 1:1-18

New beginnings. Starting over. These are powerful ideas, aren’t they? And very appropriate for today too – Happy New Year! Maybe you’re like me, and it’s easy to think about the messes of this past year. And now we have a brand new year to do better. Or maybe you’ve going to exercise or read more. Maybe we’ll try to be a nicer person for a change. More patient? More accepting? More generous? It’s kind of an endless list, but hey, we’ll never be bored, right? So how about resolutions? Did any of you make some? Maybe they’ll work. I hope so. But to be honest, I’m not too big on resolutions. Somehow I just end up falling back into old habits. Does that happen for you too? Maybe we really are just creatures of habit. We say that a lot, or at least we think it.

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Shake the Dust off Your Feet!

2015-07-05 Sermon on Mark 6:1-13

Jesus comes home to preach, and it’s a fight! To jump to the chase, they were scandalized – made angry – by whatever he said. How angry? Mark doesn’t say. But Luke does. There, the people get so angry that they actually chase Jesus out to a cliff to try and throw him over. How’s that for a hometown reception! Now, at the same time, maybe you’ve also noticed over these weeks – Jesus is all about the miracles – calming storms and healing diseases and resurrecting children. So, who cares what Jesus says, these miracles should blow our minds, right? Raising the dead? Can you even imagine? And they don’t HAVE to imagine it – don’t they SEE it? Naah, these people are so blind with anger that they don’t even see anything but a target on Jesus. Why are they so pissed off with Jesus? Probably because they’re hearing big time condemnation from him – you messed up, and now God’s going to take his blessings elsewhere, to other people who aren’t even Jews! Wow – do you think God’s chosen people are maybe a little enraged?

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Epiphany, White Privilege, & Dignity

2015-01-04 Sermon on John 1:10-18

Happy Epiphany! In case you didn’t know, epiphany means something like “making clear upon us”. In other words, making that little invisible light bulb go *plink* over our heads (hold light bulb over head – and the angels sang!). It’s like discovering that something totally unexpected is actually true, or becomes clear. Which is good, because today’s gospel reading is pretty unexpected if you think about it. Stars and weird magicians and kings afraid of babies, and virgin birth. Someone should make a movie, right (!)? But if we know a little of the context, some pretty unexpected things become clear upon us, so let’s jump in.

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