Romans 10 / Proper 14A / 10 August 2014

There are two kinds of righteousness. The righteousness that you do and the righteousness that God does. The righteousness of works and the righteousness of faith. The righteousness of the Law and the righteousness of the Gospel.

The righteousness of the Law works this way: Do it and you will live. It’s that simple. Do it, do the Law, keep the commandments, and you will live. The righteousness of the Gospel works this way: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Law says “do and live,” the Gospel says, “Believe and live.”
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Romans 9 / Proper 13A / 3 August 2013

Our text this morning is Romans chapter 9, and not just the first few verses. Our reading this morning is a bit like reading a menu but never getting the meal. Or reading the introduction, but never getting to the book. I don’t know what goes on in the beady little minds of the people who put together lectionaries, but you would think they’d at least read the chapter before they hacked it into pieces. So we’re just going to take in the whole of chapter 9, of which you heard the opening verses read earlier.

This is about Israel. Not really the “Israel” we hear about on the news that is bombing Gaza and being pestered by Hamas. That Israel is a 20th century invention. The Israel that Paul is talking about are the blood descendants of Abraham, the descendants of that group of people who came out of slavery in Egypt, whom God Himself made into a people through water and wilderness, to whom God made covenant promises, gave the Torah, swore on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom He sent the prophets, and from whom, in the fulness of time, came the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Abraham, son of David, son of Israel.
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Romans 8:28-39 / Proper 12A / 27 July 2014

Romans 8:28-39 / 11 Pentecost (Proper 10A) / 27 July 2014 / Holy Trinity – Hacienda Heights, CA

In Nomine Iesu

We know that everything works for good for those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Nothing and everything. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that’s in Christ Jesus. Not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword. Nothing. Not even death. Especially not death. Nothing. Everything for good for God’s baptized believers. Everything: the good, the bad, even the ugly. Everything works for good for those who love God. And nothing can separate us from God’s love. Nothing and everything.
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Romans 8:18-27 / Proper 11A / 20 July 2014

To live in the Spirit is to live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself up for you. To live in the flesh is to live by your works, enslaved to Sin, Death, and the Law. To live in the concrete reality of being baptized, of having the gift of baptismal faith, is to live in a tension between sin and grace, Law and Gospel, now and not yet. Now we are the children of God, born of God by water and Spirit, declared dead to Sin but alive to God in Christ. And yet we are not yet risen from the dead. We live in this body of death. We are heirs who have not yet received the inheritance. We know it’s ours. The promise of God is sure. We have the down payment of the Holy Spirit, the “earnest money” of our inheritance. And yet it’s still “not yet.”
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Romans 8:12-17 / Proper 10A / 13 July 2014

We continue our romp through Romans today, now into chapter 8. Unfortunately, the bright bulbs in charge of the lectionary were a bit dim here, and decided to skip to verse 12, which is a real tragedy since there is all sorts of good stuff in verses 1-11. And, in fact, the good stuff is Gospel good stuff which you need to hear before you get to verse 12, which is something the Holy Spirit and St. Paul knew but the lectionary people seemed to forget. Whenever you see a reading beginning at verse 12, you ought always to ask what was in verses 1-11. Let me tell you.
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Romans 7:14-25 / Proper 9A / 6 July 2014

To listen to the apostle Paul in this morning’s reading from Romans, you get the impression that Paul wouldn’t stack up terribly well in a “being spiritual” contest. Next to those who like to boast that they “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” and they aren’t simply “Christians” but real deal “Christ followers,” true blue “disciples,” “spiritual” not “carnal” Christians, the apostle Paul doesn’t seem to have much to offer.
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Romans 7:1-13 / Proper 8A / 29 June 2014

Today we continue our romp through the middle of Romans, that book of the New Testament you should read at least three or four times a year to keep you Christian, not to mention Lutheran. Last week, we heard about our baptismal union with Christ in His death. Namely, that God in Baptism has declared us dead to Sin and alive to Him in Christ, that we have been baptismally buried with Christ in His death so that we may be raised with Christ in His resurrection. And as a result, we are to agree with God’s Word to us in Baptism and consider ourselves dead to the lordship of Sin and alive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
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Romans 6:1-23 / Proper 7A / 22 June 2014

As we begin the non-festival part of the church year this morning with the Sundays after Pentecost and Trinity, we find ourselves dropping square into the middle of Romans chapter 6 like a parachutist who has gotten blown off his target. Since Romans is one of those books of the NT that you should read at least three or four times a year, I think it’s worth our spending some sermon time on it while letting the Gospel reading speak for itself. And so for the next few weeks, we will focus our attention on the Epistle readings from the book of Romans. Because of the way our lectionary is constructed, we drop in downstream a bit, so permit me to bring us up to speed chapter by chapter.

In chapters 1 and 2, Paul sets down the universal condemnation of humanity under God’s Law. Whether one is a Gentile or Jew makes no difference, all have sinned, all fall short of the glory of God. The Law cannot save you, nor can your works under the Law save you. The Law exists to shut every mouth before God, to silence every self-justification, and to make the whole world one, big sinner. In the middle of chapter 3, Paul introduces us to the breakthrough of the Gospel, a righteousness before God that is not by what you do but by what Christ has done, namely His blood shed on a cross for you and for all humanity. For His sake, and for His sake alone, the sinner stands before a righteous God justified not by work but by faith. In fact, it is by faith in Christ, and not by works, that we uphold the Law, since Christ alone upholds the Law.
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Ephesians 1-2 / Ascension (transferred) / 1 June 2014

I’m going to depart from the usual custom of preaching on the assigned readings for the Sunday. Instead, I would roll the calendar back three days to Thursday, forty days after our Lord’s resurrection, when the church rejoiced in Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father. I’m doing this because the ascension is the forgotten leg of our Lord’s trifecta of salvation, the triple crown of His death, His resurrection, and His reign. And because Ascension Day always falls on a Thursday, forty days after Easter Sunday, we all too often miss not only the celebration but the teaching of this important fact: Our Lord who was crucified and raised on the third day now reigns over all things as King of kings and Lord of lords ascended in majesty at the right hand of the Father. And we reign in Him.
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John 14:1-14 / Easter 5A / 18 May 2014

We are born with a sense of place. We are born into a family, into a community, into a nation. We have a geography, something that locates us on a particular set of GPS coordinates that we occupy. We are not made to wander aimlessly without a place. When God made Adam and Eve, He didn’t just have them roam over the face of the earth. He put them in a place, an ordered place, a garden. Gardens are places in the proper sense, organized and ordered spots. The wilderness is no-place, chaotic and disorganized. Wild. The garden of Eden was Adam and Eve’s place, the place where humanity was most like God, reflecting His image to the creation, enjoying the fruits of creation, walking with God in the cool of the day.
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