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What a Wedding!

This is the sermon I preached at St. Timothy Lutheran Church last Sunday. The gospel was Matthew 25:1-13 . Have you ever been to a wedding like the one in today’s parable? While living in the Holy Land, my daughter, Sarah, and I had an opportunity to experience a wedding like this. We waited with the women at the bride’s house, not knowing exactly when the bridegroom and his men would arrive. We’d hear a sound. Excitement filled everyone. Maybe it’s him. Is it him? Someone would look to see. No, it’s not him. We’d wait longer and longer. Would the groom ever arrive? There was a shout. There he was! Finally! Like the bridesmaids in today’s gospel, we did not know exactly when the groom would arrive, only that he would.   This parable’s use of the wedding imagery infers joy and fulfillment, not sorrow or dread. We see so many scary movies about the end of time that stir up fear. Jesus speaks about the end, but his return is meant to bring joy and not fear for believers.   Right f
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Waiting

Here are some thoughts on this Sunday's gospel text that I shared with the people of St. Timothy Lutheran Church. What do you think? Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13 [Jesus said to the disciples:] 1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, a

I Am a Saint and So Are You!

  This is the sermon I am preaching tomorrow at St. Timothy Lutheran Church . The text is Revelation 7:9-17 . I am a saint and so are you! Today is All Saints Day, ALL SAINTS : those who have gone before us into the church triumphant and those still living--all of you in our parking lot [toot your horns!] and in our sanctuary, and those unable to attend. Did you know you are saints? You may not feel like it and that’s ok. Martin Luther wrote that we are simultaneously saints and sinners, in other words, a mixed bag. That gives me hope when I mess up and helps me to not be so harsh in judging others. In John’s vision, we don’t find a mere handful of people standing before the throne of God and the Lamb. There is a “great multitude.” This multitude was innumerable, uncountable. Today, there are those whose faith is so exclusive, with such a judgmental God, that there are more outsiders than insiders, while our God of mercy and grace has this great throng before him.

Following the Lamb

  Here are some thoughts on Sunday's lesson from Revelation. It is All Saints Sunday. This will be sent to the people of St.Timothy Lutheran Church .    First Reading: Revelation 7:9-17 9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying,  “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing,  “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom  and thanksgiving and honor  and power and might  be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”   13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Si

Free Indeed

  This is the message I'm preaching later today, Reformation Sunday, at St. Timothy Lutheran Church. If you're in the area, join us. You can worship outdoors, in the comfort of your care for our drive-in service or you can come inside for worship. The service is from 10-10:30 AM. The gospel text is John 8:31-36 .  Hello, my name is Ivy and I’m a sinner. As our confession earlier stated, “we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.” Now it’s your turn, “Hello, my name is _______ and I’m a sinner.” We humans find ourselves in a real dilemma. But then God sent his Son to save us, as Luther wrote, from sin, death, and the power of the devil.   Jesus declares this truth to the “Jews who had believed in him” (v. 31). Now for some reason they just didn’t get it. They ignored the part about truth and latched onto the part about freedom and took it as a political statement.   Their response that they had never been slaves to anyone was ludicrous! Throughout their history,

Freedom is Only in the Truth

Here are some thoughts on this Sunday's gospel for Reformation Sunday that were shared with the people of St. Timothy Lutheran Church.  What are your thoughts? Gospel: John 8:31-36 31 Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”   34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”   Jesus is speaking of spiritual realities and the Jewish audience understands his statement in physical terms. Jesus speaks of truth and freedom. The listeners latch on to the part about freedom declaring they have never been slaves t

Whose Image Is Stamped On You?

This is the sermon I'm preaching today at St. Timothy Lutheran Church . The text is Matthew 22:15-22. The question the Pharisees and Herodians present to Jesus is a yes or no question. It sounds simple enough: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” (v. 17).   But from the beginning, we’re told it’s a trap. Before they even open their mouths, suspicion has been aroused. Here, together, were Pharisees and Herodians—most unusual bedfellows. The Pharisees were popular with the people. They disdained the actions of religious leaders who kowtowed to the Roman occupation and they were a kind of renewal movement in Judaism. In principle, they resented and resisted the tax, but did not go as far as the radical nationalists who publicly resisted its payment. Then there were the Herodians who wanted to maintain their standing and wealth, resulting from their support of the Roman occupation. What’s the problem with the tax? This is a tax supporting the machinery of the Roma