The Second Sunday in Lent (2/25/2018)

Lessons:
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
St. Mark 8:31-38

Prayer of the Day:
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life. Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”  34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

St. Mark 8:31-38 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

A devotional message based on this text will be posted by Tuesday evening.

You Brood of Vipers!

Date: February 18, 2018
Liturgical Day: The First Sunday of Lent; Year B

Summary:
We begin our worship like we begin every day: remembering that we are not so different than the brood of vipers who listened to John’s sermons. However, when we approach God with honesty and humility, we receive the greatest gift: “In the name of Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven.”

Some discussion Questions:
1. Which aspects of the liturgy do I live out in my day-to-day life?
2. When could I make time to confess my sins on a daily basis? (morning devotions; mid-day break; evening quite time…)?
3. What has my experience been with making the sign of the cross during worship? How might I overcome my hesitancy to do so?
4. How does spending time in confession, and receiving absolution, make room in my life for God?
5. As God forgives me, who am I inspired to forgive… or to ask for forgiveness?

Download Sermon: 2018-02-18 Sermon

Download Brochure with Discussion Questions: 2018-02-18 LIturgy & Worship

 

The Hope of Lent

Date: February 14, 2018
Liturgical Day: Ash Wednesday; Year B

Summary:
The spiritual practices we engage during this season intend to draw us into the heart of God. Psalm 51 reminds us that our God is by nature one who acts with loving kindness and great compassion. Our longing for faithful living is a response to the grace we have received, and our attempt to thank God with our very lives.

Some discussion Questions:
1. What am I planning to give up or take on during this year’s season of Lent?
2. How do I expect this spiritual practice to impact my faith and my life?
3. What help and strength do I hope to receive from God during this time?

Download Sermon: 2018-02-14 Sermon

Ash Wednesday; Year B (2/14/2018)

Lessons:
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
or
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2nd Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
St. Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may receive from you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness through your Son Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

[Jesus said,] 6.1 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

St. Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Jesus Said Beware…

“Jesus said beware…” So begins the Gospel lesson I read every single year at Ash Wednesday worship. It seems a fitting beginning for this particular teaching section from Jesus about piety, discipleship, humility and true faithfulness. It seems a fitting beginning for the season of Lent — this time of honest, forthright self-evaluation. It seems a fitting opener for our Ash Wednesday conversation about the role these disciplines need to play in our lives and in our faithfulness.

So let’s start with the most obvious question: What is Jesus so worried about that he warns us to beware? In a phrase: the dangers of practicing our faith. This is familiar territory for Lutherans. In the 16th Century, Martin Luther cautioned us against any notion that somehow our faithfulness is what causes us to receive God’s grace. He would say, today, that we can’t earn our way into heaven. There is nothing we can do that causes God to love us any more or any less. We are, in the words of the Apostle Paul, saved by God’s grace, and nothing else. (more…)

The First Sunday in Lent; Year B (2/18/2018)

Lessons:
Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
1st Peter 3:18-22
St. Mark 1:9-15

Prayer of the Day:
Holy God, heavenly Father, in the waters of the flood you saved the chosen, and in the wilderness of temptation you protected your Son from sin. Renew us in the gift of baptism. May your holy angels be with us, that the wicked foe may have no power over us, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 1.9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

St. Mark 1:9-15 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Worship Like You Mean It!

Date: February 11, 2018
Liturgical Day: The Transfiguration of Our Lord; Year B

Summary:
The disciples gave themselves to Jesus for 3 years!. Along the way they experienced him fully. They came to expect something extraordinary every time they were with him. As we give ourselves, whole heartedly, to God in worship, it opens up the possibility that we too will experience God more fully in our times of worship. How can our active participation, and a heightened sense of expectation, enhance this?

Some discussion Questions:
1. What are the dangers of not understanding the way we worship as Lutherans?
2. How might it help us to have a deeper appreciation of our worship traditions?
3. In what ways might worship be richer for me (us) if we had higher expectations of what God is planing to accomplish among us?
4. What can I (we) to be well-prepared for worship, and ready to enter into to it most fully?

Download Sermon: 2018-02-11 Sermon

Download Brochure with Discussion Questions: 2018-02-11 LIturgy & Worship

But Now…

Date: February 7, 2018
Holden Evening Prayer Around the World

Holden Evening Prayer Around the World

Summary:
There are may realities in our world that divide us — some that seek to divide us — but we find our true unity and identity as children of God. To the faithful, during their exile in Babylon, God says: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” And to us: “You have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” Anybody ask you who I am? Tell ’em I’m a child of God.

Download Sermon: HEPAW.2018

The Transfiguration of Our Lord; Year B (2/11/2018)

Lessons:
2nd Kings 2:1-12
Psalm 50:1-6
2nd Corinthians 4:3-6
St. Mark 9:2-9

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, the resplendent light of your truth shines from the mountaintop into our hearts. Transfigure us by your beloved Son, and illumine the world with your image, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

9.2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

St. Mark 9:2-9 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Powerfully Sacred Presence

This year we are spending time in St. Mark’s Gospel. The earliest of the four Gospels, it is known for its intensity, its attention to spiritual warfare, its focus on physical and spiritual wellbeing, and its perception that the followers of Jesus hardly ever get it right.

This week’s text illustrates the last of these notions. In one of the most dramatic scenes of the Gospel, Jesus makes his way to the top of a mountain with Peter, James and John (with no mention of why Andrew is absent). While there, the three followers are treated to a terrifying sight: Jesus is transfigured. His clothes (and presumably he, himself) become dazzling white — whiter than anything the people of his time have ever seen. And while transfigured, he is seen speaking with Elijah and Moses — two of the most important and influential figures in the Hebrew Bible. (more…)

Let Us Go On

Date: February 4, 2018
Liturgical Day: The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany; Year B

Summary:
Jesus heals many in his adopted hometown of Capernaum, but he doesn’t remain there. He goes on to touch many others in the surrounding areas. His model helps us see how important it is to begin by caring for those who are closest to us, and then continue to share with the world the peace and joy and strength and hope we have as followers of this Christ.

Some discussion Questions:
1. Why were Peter and his companions, along with the whole town, looking so earnestly for Jesus?
2. Why does Jesus ignore their pleas, and move on to the neighboring towns?
3. In what ways will our family move out beyond the boundaries of our own interests, to make a difference for others?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2018-02-04 Sermon

Download Discussion Questions: 2018-02-04 CarTalk

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany; Year B (2/4/2018)

Lessons:
Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
1st Corinthians 9:16-23
St. Mark 1:29-39

Prayer of the Day:
Everlasting God, you give strength to the weak and power to the faint. Make us agents of your healing and wholeness, that your good news may be made known to the ends of your creation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 1:29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31 He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

St. Mark 1:29-39 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Should Healed Women Wait Tables?

There are three stories in this text, which could easily lead to three sermons (at least!), each quite different from the others. But my attention keeps being drawn back to the first story. Jesus has just cast an unclean spirit out of a man in the synagogue at Capernaum (we focused on this story last week). As soon as they leave the synagogue they enter into Simon Peter’s house, where his mother-in-law is quite sick. With precious little detail, St. Mark tells us that Jesus takes her by the hand and lifts her up, and the fever leaves her. Of course the one detail he does include is that once she is healed, she begins to serve him. (more…)