God has taken my salvation out of my hands into his

A Sermon for Reformation Sunday

It used to be that Lutherans nationwide would wear red on Reformation Sunday and have special music and adult forums to mark the Sixteenth Century Reformation. That tradition has fallen by the wayside in many Lutheran churches. Nevertheless, we want to remember this particular event and what it meant to the history of the Christian Church.

506 years ago on October 31, 1517, a monk named Martin Luther nailed Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. The theses were in Latin and thus not for public discussion. Not too many people could read. But he was raising the question of salvation, and what was happening in the church of his time.

Select here to read more or here for a pdf document.

Read More

Two Sermons for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Sermon 1: The foolishness of God is wiser than men

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; 5:24

1 Thessalonians, the earliest of Paul’s letters, has some significant things to say that are said with a certain drama, both in words and in thought. It seems that Paul just wrote it spontaneously. How did he do it? How could he have just written these kinds of things that we find in the letters of Paul?

Select here to read more or here for a pdf document.

Sermon 2: “He who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

A few years ago a major church event happened. The Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to leave the Episcopal Church. This was an important diocese and a major break in that church. It’s best understood by a remark made by the head of the Episcopal Church at that time, Presiding Bishop Griswold. He wrote: “Our problem is that we have two religions within our church. One religion is based on experience, and the other religion based on the traditional message of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.”

Select here to read more or here for a pdf document.

Read More

“And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9)

A sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Philippians 4:1-9

In 1897 a book came out, In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon. It had been produced as a serial in a magazine the year before. When it came out in book form, it was instantly a best seller. For the next sixty years it was the best-selling religious book next to the Bible. Why? Because many people want to know: How are we to live? How do we follow “in his steps”?

To be sure, there are persons in extreme circumstances, especially on Good Friday particularly in places like Latin America and the Philippines, who whip themselves, carry a heavy cross, and even tie themselves up on a cross. What does it mean “to take up your cross”? What does it mean to follow “in his steps”?

Select here to read more or here for a pdf document.

Read More

Lift High the Cross

Philippians 2:5-11

A Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

A Lutheran couple was reading the Bible through in one year. They had bought what’s called a chronological Bible, which is printed in such a way that you can read it in 365 days. It doesn’t work well because we don’t know the time and date for some of the books in the Old Testament.

The couple expressed some frustration with the readings. They asked: “Why does it keep repeating itself? It says the same thing over and over again.”

There is a basic kind of poetry in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament as well. We see it in the Psalms but also in most of the prophets. It is called parallelism. It is the same thing said again, slightly differently; this is called “synonymous.” Or when what is said is the opposite, it is called “antithetic,” or where there is progress in what is said, it is called “synthetic.” There are really about six ways that parallelism works. It is not built like our poetry, which is based on rhyme and rhythm. It is somewhat similar to the poetry of an old English poem called Beowulf.

Select here to read more or here for a pdf document.

Read More