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God Names

Here are some thoughts on this Sunday’s gospel that I shared with the people of St. Timothy Lutheran Church.  Gospel: Matthew 5:13-20 [ Jesus said: ] 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.   14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.   17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandme
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  This is the sermon I preached at St. Timothy Lutheran Church last Sunday. The text was Matthew 5:1-12.   Have you ever asked someone how they are, and they respond, “I’m blessed!” What often follows is a litany of all the wonderful things happening in their lives. Sometimes it makes us feel that we’re like chopped liver.  We see this too when there are disasters, whether because of weather or violence.  When survivors are interviewed, they mention that they just kept praying, or it was God’s will to save them, or they’re just “blessed.” What does that say about everyone else? Were those who died any less blessed by God? Didn’t God hear their prayers? Does God only save those who deserve it? Jesus withdraws to a mountain to be alone with his disciples and to teach them. That’s an important characteristic of Jesus in Matthew’s story – he is a teacher, an interpreter of God’s law, meeting with his disciples on the mountain like a new Moses training the twelve disciples in a new kind of


Here are some thoughts on this coming Sunday's gospel. Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12 1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:   3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.   5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.   6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.   7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.   8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.   9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.   10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in h

Jesus Calls Us

This is the sermon I preached on Sunday, Jan. 22 at St. Timothy Lutheran Church. The text was Matthew 4:12-23. It’s time for Jesus’ ministry to begin; the turning point being the imprisonment of his cousin, John the Baptist. The time is right. Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum. If we walked that distance today, it would take between eight and nine hours. Can you imagine the move Jesus must have had? Nazareth is nowhere near Galilee and the landscapes are so different.  When I lived with my young family in Bethlehem, we would often vacation in the north. It was cooler there and such a relief from the desert Bethlehem is in. One such time we visited friends working at a hospital in Nazareth. I’ll never forget how the car climbed and climbed and climbed some more to get to where they lived, in the hospital compound, at the very top of a high hill. And it didn’t look anything like Galilee.  Throughout Matthew’s gospel, actions were to fulfill what was spoken by the prophets. The reas

Here is the Lamb of God!

This is the sermon I preached Sunday at St. Timothy Lutheran Church . The gospel was John 1:29-42. I want to take a minute to clarify something. There are several people named John in the New Testament. John the Baptist is not the same person as John, the author of the Gospel. I will be very specific as I refer to each in my sermon. Jesus’ baptism again??? Didn’t we just read about John the Baptist baptizing Jesus last week? Here it is again? Jesus’ baptism is in all four gospels, but in John’s gospel, we don’t see John the Baptist actually baptizing Jesus. He’s more of an onlooker to what was happening. We are seeing John the witness, not John the Baptist. In the reference to Jesus’ baptism in today’s gospel, God and the Spirit are the actors. The purpose of the baptism isn’t as much to encourage Jesus and prepare him for his mission, but to reveal Jesus as the Lamb and Son of God. We have a kinder, gentler John the Baptist in today’s gospel. He is not shouting “Repent!!” as in the fi

Thoughts on Sunday’s Gospel

Last week we celebrated the Baptism of Our Lord. The setting for that action was the Gospel of Matthew. At that point, John initially resisted baptizing Jesus. In John, we don’t have the actual baptism taking place. However, in retrospect, John finds that the whole reason for John the Baptist’s ministry was “… I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel” (v. 31).  We are in the season after Epiphany. Epiphany isn’t just any old kind of understanding. It means revealing, insight, revelation. John the Baptist’s ministry was to point away from himself and to show everyone who Jesus is. Right out of the gate, John the Baptist identifies Jesus as “… the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29). Jesus makes us new.  John saw and understood who Jesus was. What did he do about it? He testified to what he knew. John the Baptist told the story of seeing the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus.  This passage is full of verbs, action words. Joh