As a Lutheran I believe that God speaks to us not only through the bible, but also through preaching, teaching, song and culture. But as a preacher I pray I might only be a door for the Holy Spirit in my brief messages about the transforming power of Christ’s love, presence and forgiveness. If nothing else, the sermons and reflections below are portraits of my own relationship with God along the rewarding and confusion road of pastoral ministry.
At the top of each sermon there is a note about where it was given, and there are also links to the selections from scripture, and sometimes other texts too, I am preaching about that day.
In a post-pandemic world, there are now videos and full live-streams as well. Facebook doesn’t allow embedded videos on WordPress anymore so watch the YouTube if there is one, or follow the bolded link to see the videos.
This was my last Sunday sermon as the associate pastor at St. Andrew’s! I gave this message without any notes this Sunday as I reflected on the way God multiplies even the small things we have to offer, if only we give them up for the service of others.
This is my last Wednesday Evening Prayer livestream as associate pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church! So, above is a casual reflection about moving on through the transitions of life and finding the courage to trust God based a story of Paul’s sea-travel from the book of Acts. (Which, fun fact, was not in the lectionary, but I mistakenly used! But it worked out quite well anyway as you will see!)
Even though I will be with you for one more Sunday yet, next week, as your associate pastor, this Sunday—because we are having a little brunch and some special farewell prayers will come at the close of this service—this morning feels like the right time to reflect on my three years here with you all. And in order to do that and think about our scripture lessons from Jeremiah, Ephesians, and Mark with their image of shepherds and lessons about Christ, I want to go back to the beginning of my ministry with you. Back to October 14, 2018—my first sermon.
St. Andrew’s summer theme is about grace—God’s gifts to us and our being gentle with ourselves as we come out of a time great overwhelm and even trauma. Above is a casual reflection about “fasting” and “feasting” in their appropriate seasons, and being OK with both joy and sadness in our lives.
In Mark’s Gospel this morning we heard Jesus declare, in so many words, that part of being his disciple, his follower, part of being his body as the Church, is being sent—sent out into the world. As we heard, too, in our lesson from Ezekiel: part of what being a prophet is, is being sent as well. God sends Ezekiel to Israel, his own stiff-necked people. And God sent Jesus into the world.
Jesus, we heard, received a lousy welcome as a prophet himself in his hometown, which I think, on a basic level, we can all relate to. No one seems to like a sibling or child returning with big city ideas, acting too big for their britches, so-to-speak. But Jesus’ hometown here is an image of the much larger situation… All Israel and Judea is Jesus’ hometown if Jesus was the Messiah. All of creation is Christ’s hometown if Christ is the Son of God!
St. Andrew’s summer theme is about grace—God’s gifts to us and our being gentle with ourselves as we come out of a time great overwhelm and even trauma. Above is a casual reflection about the power of prayer: to bear our hearts to God, but also, according to Jesus in Mark’s Gospel, to rid us of the forces that defy God.
St. Andrew’s summer theme is about grace—God’s gifts to us and our being gentle with ourselves as we come out of a time great overwhelm and even trauma. Above is a casual reflection about Jesus walking on the water not to “pass by” the disciples, but to meet and accompany them as we believe God has met and accompanies all of us through the incarnation.
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.’”
These would seem to be some fighting words from God in the book of Job! In case you’re not familiar with the biblical character of Job: he is famously quite righteous and devout, and yet he experiences awful suffering and loss. In the worldview of Job and his friends, who come to be by his side in his suffering, suffering is a just dessert, a necessary outcome for wrongdoing. But this worldview is smashed apart by the story of Job. And for chapters and chapters Job is shouting out at God, asking for his day in court, so-to-speak. He shouts the proverbial “Why me!?” at the top of his lungs.
This morning we celebrate Music Sunday! We celebrate Brian Bullard our director of music, and his two decades of service to you all here at St. Andrew’s.
And our lessons this morning, hopefully, can show us just what a powerful thing music is, especially for us as people of faith. Music is our voice. Music is how we, together, as one people: praise God, pray to God, thank God, cry out to God.