From “no hope” to “a living hope”

Ephesians 2:11-22

A Sermon for the Nineth Sunday after Pentecost

Many years ago, in the weeks after a baby was born, people would ask: “Has the child been done?” By which they meant: “Has the baby been baptized?”

That question, “Has the baby been done?” strikes us as old-fashioned, but it’s right about the main thing. There are three basics to the main thing.
The first of the basics is: What has God done? What God has done is summarized in the Apostles’ Creed or more usefully in the Nicene Creed, which is the far more universal creed among Christians.
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Before the foundation of the world

Ephesians 1:3-14

A Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

One of the greatest engineers of all time was Archimedes (287-212 BC). We know that he shouted “Eureka!” when he figured out how to weigh things in water, and we know his statement about the lever: “Give me a long enough lever and I will move the world.”

But what happened at the end of his life is equally as important. According to the story, he was in the gymnasium in Syracuse in Sicily, during the Siege of Syracuse. At that time, it was a Greek colony. He doing calculations in the sand when the barbarians stormed into the gymnasium. Engrossed in solving his math problem, Archimedes held up his hands and said: “Don’t disturb my circles!” But they didn’t speak Greek and thought he was resisting them, so they killed him.

That is in a way what this text in Ephesians 1:3-14 is about. This is the classical spot, the place where it says: “God did it; God does it.” It says there in verse 4: “. . . he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Well, what does that say in terms of what’s happening around us today?

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A thorn in the flesh

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

A Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Here we are on a hot Sunday in July, and many others are off vacationing in the shade. Why are we here? Perhaps you wish you were on vacation in the shade, but it’s good you are here because life and death issues are at stake.

The assigned Epistle lesson for today is about the “thorn in the flesh.” People have heard that phrase, that metaphor. It’s familiar in our language. Most people, however, don’t know where it is, and what it’s about. Is it like a painful sliver or hangnail? No, that’s not what it’s about.

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Great is Thy Faithfulness

Lamentations 3:23-33

A Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Pentecost

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’” (Lamentations 3:22-24).

We think of prayer as “asking,” but prayer is also about “praising.” We are familiar with the hymn “Great is thy Faithfulness,” which has been around for about a hundred years. People are often surprised to find out that this hymn is based on these verses I just read from the third chapter of Lamentations.

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Suddenly there was a storm

Mark 4:35-41

A Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Pentecost

One again, we are asking: What is the problem? Without a problem you have no need for an answer. This Sunday we come to a very particular kind of problem, that is, nature. Of course, all the events in our lives have to do with nature, but here we have this unusual event, and that event is in the fourth chapter of Mark.

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