Romans 5:1-5 (3 Lent 2020)

I wanted to preach on Jesus and the sassy Samaritan from John this morning. It’s one of my favorite stories, layered with meaning, rich in word play, double-talk, from above and from below, well water and living water pointing to baptismal water. But the present circumstances call for a different Word of God, a word of peace in the midst of uncertainty and turmoil, a word hope in the midst of despair, a word of faith at a time when faith is tested, a word that speaks of rejoicing in suffering, and the patient endurance, character, and hope that God works in,with, and under suffering.

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The Passion of Our Lord – I


Matthew 26:1-35


The Passover is at hand; the time for Jesus’ crucifixion has come. The chief priests and elders plot to arrest and kill Him. “But not during the feast, lest there be a riot among the people.” Can’t be having a riot on a religious holiday, now can we? There would be dire repercussions. Even religious treachery has its contingencies. 

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Matthew 1:18-25 (Advent 4A, 22 December 2019

Immanuel. A compound word in Hebrew: Immanu – with us. El – God. God is with us. It comes from the prophet Isaiah who tried to assure King Ahaz that he didn’t need to strike an alliance with Egypt against the northern kingdoms of Syria and Ephraim. All he had to do was nothing. Trust the Lord. In nine short months, the time it takes for a young woman to conceive and bear a son, you will know Immanuel, God is with us. And in less than twelve years, before Immanuel knows right from wrong, the two kings you are so concerned about will be dust, because Immanu-el – God is with us.

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Matthew 5:1-12 (All Saints, 2019)

What the world deems cursed, Jesus calls blessed. In the Greek, it’s makarios. Happy doesn’t quite catch the sense. Fortunate. Lucky. Oh lucky you – poor, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting and persecuted. You have it all even as you have nothing at all. The kingdom of heaven is yours and all that goes along with it. How fortunate you are! And how blessed.

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Romans 3:19-28 (Reformation 2019)

“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

Those words are radical words, game-changing, church-reformoing words. Though they sound like Martin Luther, and they were certainly near and dear to the Reformer’s heart, they are much older and more inspired. They’re the words of the apostle Paul, writing over 1400 years before Luther. They represent Paul’s decisive break with pharasaic Judaism, the religious system he grew up with and into which he was schooled as a rabbi. They are the end to all bargaining, all transaction, all attempts to deal with God on the basis of commandment-keeping and good behavior and our attempts at spiritual improvement. This little sentence rocked the religious world of Paul’s day, and it set Martin Luther before pope and emperor to lay down the Gospel gauntlet before the church and the world to say: “Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me.”

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