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Jesus Longs to Draw Us Close

Here are some ideas about this coming Sunday's gospel lessons. This was sent out to the people of St. Timothy. 

Gospel: Luke 13:31-35
31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus,] “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Is it hard to imagine the Pharisees trying to help Jesus out? Here, th…
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Everyone Means Everyone

This is the message I preached on Sunday, March 10 at St. Timothy Lutheran Church. The text was Romans 10:8b-13 In the reading from Romans, God is the ultimate, enamored lover-who draws us to God’s self with grace before we were ever aware of God. Love and grace are lavished upon us, God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves—that is, making us right with God. Jesus restores broken relationships with the Father. 
Today the Apostle Paul invites us to engage our entire being—body and soul in response to God’s action. God’s word is on our lips and in our hearts. This word is not for us alone, but for everyone. 
On top of that, God’s word is chock full of promises: the word is near you, you will be saved, no one who believes on Christ will be disappointed, there is no distinction, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Everyone.
Israel is reassured that God’s covenant was not remote in Deuteronomy 30:14. In Christ, God is faithful to the original promise made to I…

No Shame

Here are some thoughts for this Sunday's second lesson from Romans that were shared with the people of St. Timothy Lutheran Church. Let me know what other thoughts you may have. 

Second Reading: Romans 10:8b-13
8b“The word is near you,
  on your lips and in your heart”
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 
9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Can it really be that easy? Don’t we have to do this and this and that and be good enough to be saved, to become God’s children? It’s a matter of the heart and the mouth. We bel…

Go Big or Go Home

This is the homily I shared with the people of St. Timothy Lutheran Church for Ash Wednesday. The gospel text was Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
The first time I heard the expression, “Go big or go home,” was my senior year of seminary. A dear friend mentioned how during a children’s sermon at her internship site, when she was talking with the kids about how God wants all of us, this young man explained it as “Go big or go home!” It really struck all of us who heard my classmate relate this story.

Today’s gospel lesson is like two bookends with a bunch of information between them. The first verse is the first bookend. Then Jesus talks specifically about different faith practices and how they should and should not be practiced. Finally, the second bookend surround the words in between with the final verse regarding the treasure of our hearts.
Before Jesus gets into the nuts and bolts of various aspects of piety, in the first verse he spells out the gist of the entire teaching, “Beware of practici…

Formed and Reformed

This is the message I preached on Transfiguration Sunday, March 3 at St. Timothy Lutheran Church.  The text was Luke 9:28-36
Lancaster, PA is home to a theater extravaganza featuring biblical stories presented in a very dramatic fashion. According to people who have gone to see a performance, it is quite an experience. Today we read of God’s own sound and sight production, featuring heroes of the faith from the Old Testament as well as Jesus and a few of his chosen disciples. And oh…what we see and hear. 

God’s show of Jesus’ transfiguration is in three acts—the first revolving around what was seen, the second revolving around what was heard and the third act concerns how this effects us. 
Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up a mountain. Mountains were considered places close to the spiritual realm, a place for sacred encounters. Throughout scripture, God’s self-disclosure happens on mountains. The disciples’ curiosity must certainly have been piqued.
Prayer was an integral part…

Listen to Him

Here are some thoughts on this Sunday's gospel, sent to the people of St. Timothy today.

Gospel: Luke 9:28-36 
28Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came…

Love Your Enemies??

This is the message I preached on Sunday, February 24 at St. Timothy Lutheran Church. The Gospel was Luke 6:27-38. There’s nothing easy about today’s gospel lesson. You may feel like, “You’ve got to be kidding, Jesus!” These hard words are not meant for the crowds, but for Jesus’ disciples, for those who are committed to hearing even when they cannot fully understand what Jesus means. 
Throughout the centuries, people have tried to water down these words of Jesus. Some would say that enemies can only be loved if people try harder. Others would try to spiritualize this passage, coming up with a more spiritualized interpretation of what it means to love an enemy. However, no matter how we may explain this passage from Luke’s gospel, nothing will reduce its demand. 
Right out of the gate, Jesus lays down his expectations of discipleship: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. The love Jesus speaks of is not so much a noun, …