4 Lent 2017 – John 9:1-41

In Nomine Iesu

A man born blind. Who sinned? This man or his parents? But he was blind from birth. So obviously his parents, right? Sin has consequences; therefore consequences must have sins. Right? Wrong. He was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him. Go figure. His blindness becomes a canvas to display Jesus’ glory as the light of the world.

If Niccodemus, the rabbi who came to Jesus at night, represented religious Judaism, and if the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well represented syncretistic Samaria, the man born blind represents us. Every disciple of Jesus. Born blind but given sight. Not seeing, yet believing. Continue reading

3 Lent 2017 – John 4:5-26

In Nomine Iesu

The story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well is a story with many interesting levels of meaning. Unfortunately, most of this time, and in the past even from this pulpit, we get distracted by the Samaritan woman. She’s an easy target, low-hanging fruit for the moralistic fruit pickers. Five marriages and now living with number six, probably because the rabbis and the rest of the community have more or less given up on her. We’re quick to judge, to make assumptions, to condemn. Because that’s what religious people do best. Continue reading

2 Lent 2017 – John 3:1-17

In Nomine Iesu

Abram was 75 years old when he was uprooted by the call of God, taken from his comfortable home in Ur of the Chaldees and given to wander as an alien in the land of Canaan for the rest of his life. God made a three-fold promise, as covenant, with Abram. The Lord would make him a great nation, the father of many, even though at the time, Abram and his wife Sarai had no children. His descendants would inherit the land one day, the land that Abram lived in as a foreigner. And through the Seed of Abraham, his singular offspring, all nations of the earth would be blessed. Abram was blessed to be a blessing. Continue reading

1 Lent 2017 – Matthew 4:1-11

In Nomine Iesu

Sin begins almost imperceptibly. The little lie. The half-truth. It’s that little tiny error when you release the bow and let the arrow fly that causes you to miss the mark. Perhaps that’s why the word for sin, “harmatia,” means literally missing the mark. The miss looks huge at the end when the arrow flies way off target. But the error in the beginning was almost imperceptible. You golfers know this. A slight twitch. A breath at the wrong moment. Just a tiny hair off on the angle of the club can be the difference between birdy and bogey. It’s that little wayward glance that leads to adultery. That little petty theft that leads to grand larceny. In the Greek tragedies, “hamartia,” sin, is that tiny little misstep that sets into motion a chain of events that ends in tragedy. Like the innocent little snowball that triggers the avalanche that buries the town. Continue reading

Philippians 3:4-14 / Proper 22A / 5 October 2014

We like looking back, but looking backward is no way to run a race. When I was in high school, I looked back over my shoulder for a pass playing touch football and crashed headlong into a concrete light pole. That backward glance earned me twenty stitches and four days in the hospital with a very big headache. When you run a race, you look forward. You press forward toward the mark, the prize, the finish line.
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Romans 14:1-12 / Proper 19A / 14 September 2014

Today is the last installment in our series from Paul’s letter to the Romans. Romans goes on for one more chapter in which Paul gets down to the business of asking them for missionary money to go to Spain. And then there’s an appended letter of commendation for a woman named Phoebe who is carrying the letter to the Roman congregation along with a bunch of greetings to various people. Sufficient unto today is Romans chapter 12 and the matter of things that don’t really matter.
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Romans 13:1-10 / Proper 18A / 7 September 2008

This sermon from 2008 inserted here to complete the lectio continua through Romans 6 to 14.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God. (Romans 13:1)

We are talking about “life as liturgy”, today from Romans chapter 13. Your life is a priestly liturgy as you, a baptized priest to God offer your own body as a living sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God, a holy and acceptable sacrifice to God by His mercies in Christ Jesus. This “life as liturgy” begins in the congregation, where your Baptism is located, where the Lord’s table of His Body and Blood are, where the Word is preached into your ears. It extends out from the congregation in love – sincere love that hates what is evil, that honors the other over one’s self, that never lacks in zeal, that is joyful in hope, patient in suffering, faithful in prayer, generous in hospitality.
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Romans 12:9-21 / Proper 17A / 31 August 2014

Christians are priests in a priesthood. You are all priests, baptized into the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ. Your old self has been crucified and buried with Christ. Your new self has been raised and glorified with Christ. You have lost your life to Christ, and so you have gained your life forever. You no longer live, but Christ lives in you. You have the mind and the will of Christ. And even though your old self, the “old Adam,” what the apostle Paul calls your “flesh,” resists and struggles against it, your identity is not with the Flesh but with the Spirit, not as sinner but as saint. You may call yourself a poor, miserable, sinner, and rightly so. But God in Christ declares you to be a saint, holy and blameless, covered in the righteousness of Christ. You’re priests – born, anointed, washed, consecrated, holy.
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Romans 12 /Proper 16A / 24 August 2014

What does the Christian life look like? What does it mean to be baptized, to be forensically dead to Sin but alive to God in Christ? What does this life of being at once sinner and saint look like in day to day life in what we call the “real world?” In a word: priesthood. That’s what the life of a Christian is. A priesthood. And you are priests, priests in the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ, born and anointed in Baptism to offer your bodies as living, spiritual sacrifices.
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Romans 11 / Proper 15A / 17 August 2014

On to chapter 11 in Romans and running along with it, a Canaanite woman who seeks the Lord’s mercy and gets treated like a dog.

The question on the rhetorical table for Paul is, “Has God rejected His people?” namely the Israelites, the blood descendants of Abraham by way of Isaac. And the answer is a resounding “No!” First of all, Paul himself is an Israelite, a card-carrying descendant of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin. He’s an insider who became, by the grace of God, the apostle to the outsiders, the Gentiles.
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