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From Table Overturner to Table Turner

This is the sermon I'm preaching tomorrow at St. Timothy Lutheran Church. We have both a drive-in service and an inside the sanctuary, in-person service--whichever you're more comfortable with. Join us is you're in the area. The gospel is Matthew 21:23-32. I’d like you to join me as we listen in on an exchange between Jesus and the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Jesus was in the middle of teaching in the temple and the chief priests and elders of the people interrupted him saying, “Who do you think you are, Jesus? You’ve caused so much trouble lately.” Talking among themselves we hear, “Why didn’t he just stay put in Galilee?” while another chimes in, “He comes marching in here like he belongs here!” Then an elder says, “And the crowd! Not one bit of decorum among them! They kept crying out, ‘Hosanna!’”“And if that weren’t enough, did you hear about the incident with the money changers? Jesus confronted them, tipping over their tables and making a huge scene.” “Then he sai…
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Jesus Turns the Tables

Here are some thoughts on this Sunday's gospel shared with the people of St. Timothy Lutheran Church.  What are your thoughts?  Gospel: Matthew 21:23-3223When [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, …

Are You Envious?

This is the message I preached today at St. Timothy Lutheran Church. The gospel text is Matthew 20:1-16. We are continuing  our Drive-In Worship and simultaneously worshiping indoors. Join us if you're in the area.
Parables are meant to be shocking. They go along as if all is normal and then—there’s a twist that knocks your socks off. That’s how I felt when I read these words of Bible scholar Patrick J. Willson. Let’s hang out with the laborers who were the first ones to begin working and see what transpires.“Are you envious because I am generous?” asks the owner of the vineyard (v. 15). You bet we are! If we are not envious, we are not hearing the parable. The parable rubs us the wrong way. Its visions of fairness and equality chafe. We cringe at what it seems to say about God. We shrink before what it seems to say about us! The parable catches us quickly into the narrative, because we carry around notions of what is fair and what is not and this story offends most of them.The wa…

Generosity Abounds

This is the reflection that was sent to the people of St. Timothy Lutheran Church. These are some initial thoughts on Sunday's gospel. What do you think or feel when you read this passage?

Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard…

Can We Welcome?

This is the sermon I am preaching Sunday at St. Timothy Lutheran Church. We will continue our drive-in service and simultaneously have our first indoor, in-person worship since early March. The text is Romans 14:1-12.We are finally back inside our sanctuary and yet...worship is different. Not only do the COVID rules alter our worship, but we are physically separated. Many of us are still worshipping outdoors in our cars or listening on the radio. In a real, tangible way we are divided, physically that is, which brings us to the churches in Rome to whom Paul wrote.The churches had trouble: division, quarreling, looking down upon others for what they did/did not eat and the holy days some observed/did not observe. Meat consumed in urban areas had been sacrificially offered to the Roman gods. Regarding various days being observed, several calendars included the keeping of Jewish holy days and Roman pagan festivals. Paul does not dictate solutions to these debates, but rather presents the…

All Are Welcome!

This is the reflection of Sunday's second lesson that I shared with the people of St. Timothy Lutheran Church. What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comment section.Second Reading: Romans 14:1-121Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor …

Rock to Satan to Stumbling Block

This is the sermon I'll be preaching Sunday morning at St. Timothy Lutheran Church's Drive-In Worship. The text is Matthew 16:21-28.
Today we have part two of the story of Peter and Jesus, where Peter confesses Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus praises him for it and says he will build his church on this confession. Jesus called Peter a rock. Peter got it right! That was part one.
On to part two here, Jesus spells out what life will look like following him as Messiah. For the first time, Jesus mentions his suffering, death, and resurrection explicitly. Oh my, and if that happens to Jesus, it could happen to Peter too! Today, we see how that worked out for Peter as he went from rock to Satan and a stumbling block.
Peter took Jesus aside to speak privately with him. For a Jew of that time, the Messiah was a victorious figure who would deliver them from Roman domination. This talk of Jesus' death didn't jive with that, so of course, Peter tried to talk Jesus out of going down tha…