Posts

do you feel at home from all directions

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first bloom, you know it's spring A sermon on Paul's frustration with the Galatians :  “You just need to be forgiven ,” Dr. Jones said after much discussion of the latest predicament I had gotten myself into. “And what if,” I replied, unable to keep my fear at bay, “What if she doesn’t forgive me.” “Well then,” Dr. Jones said matter of factly, “it won’t happen in this instance.” As it came to pass in the warp of woof of this old life, that’s what happened. My fears were realized. I wasn’t forgiven. The engagement ring I had given in hope was returned in anguish . And with it, an entire future I had begun to imagine for myself was returned insufficient . Now, as you know, I eventually landed Amanda . And she’s no consolation prize. So it all worked out for me in the long run. But I didn’t know that at the time. And it didn’t diminish the heartache and anxiety I experienced in the moment, either.   This morning, each one of us walked through those doors carrying no less dis

but did you imagine it

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in a different way A sermon on the beginning of Paul's Galatian epistle : You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to realize that St. Paul isn’t happy with the folks at Faith Lutheran in Galatia. After a brief introduction containing his credentials and succinct greeting praising the liberating work of God in Christ Jesus, Paul turns his attention to the Galatians. And he doesn’t beat around the bush with them, either. “I am astonished ,” St. Paul says. And before you can wonder if he’s astonished in a good way, he lets you know what’s got him so flabbergasted. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ…,” Paul says.   What’s got St. Paul, a man whose nearly seen it all before, so taken aback, is that he’s never met such a group of fast turncoats before! “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting ,” breathes Paul. And do you know what the Galatians have gone and done that has provoked St. Paul’s ire so? Well, they wen

it was the same old me

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with the same old blues oh, then you touched my life A sermon on Jesus' unique therapy With these words, Jesus lays out the course of the Christian life . And with these words, he couldn’t be more clear . Jesus doesn’t equivocate in this sermon. And neither is he subtle.   In fact, that’s one of the things I like about this translation we’re using. The word choices shock us into actually hearing what Jesus is preaching. This translation aims to peel away the religious sentiment these words have so often been wrapped in. Hopefully , this translation will make Jesus’ words zing with a newfound potency for you today. Ideally, it will even jolt you with what Jesus is doing in this upside - down sermon of his! Take, for instance, the first beatitude. You’re used to hearing this outrageous pronouncement as, “Blessed are the poor in spirit .” A very fine translation, all in all. The trouble , though, is how we hear these words.   When we hear “poor in spirit,” we tend to pre

but i don't want to die

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i wanna go to heaven but i'm afraid to fly A sermon on that time Peter healed the man crippled from birth Today’s Scripture seems more like something out of a summer blockbuster , full of special effects , than it does anything out of real life. Doesn’t it? …Part of the training for every pastor in the ELCA is a “unit of CPE.” If you can’t make sense of that, don’t worry. You’re not alone. CPE is an acronym for “Clinical Pastoral Education.”   During your “unit” of CPE, roughly 400 hours, you’re ostensibly trained in the method of pastoral counseling. But , as the very use of such wonk-ish jargon suggests, the assumption behind much of this training is that pastoring is a profession —something that can be observed and measured —something that can be acknowledged by the rest of the world out there.   …The truth is, our discomfort with this passage runs deeper than just a general uncertainty about instantaneous miracles. No , we’re not even sure God intervenes in th

rubber band in my past time

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& you know what? i hate it? A sermon on a girl whose name we don't even know I’d be willing to wager the biggest reason you’re hesitant to sign up for Stephen Ministry isn’t the application . And it’s not the time commitment, either. Why it’s not even the training work itself. Is it? No , the biggest source of your unease is the suspicion that you’re not qualified!   I’m right on this, too. Aren’t I? Well, let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way right now ; it’s not true! You couldn’t be more wrong , you knuckleheads ! But don’t feel bad. Naaman made the same mistake, too.   And Naaman was a man of few mistakes! In fact, the only reason you and I are here is that we have more blunders under our belt than good ol’ Naaman . Naaman never had any reason to turn up in a place like this because he never needed to! Naaman assiduously kept his life on the up and up . Perhaps you’ve had the misfortune of working with someone like that . You know the type, the ones