Pentecost B-6, Lectionary 13, ‘18
Trinity Lutheran Congregation
I always like a two-for-one deal. BOGO as it is known in some places – buy one get one. But you can’t go into the store and ask for the second one – for free – without getting the first one first. You have to get them both.
That is what we have in today’s gospel reading from Mark. A two-for-one-deal. Mark does that a lot. And when he does he is always trying to make a point.
In today’s reading Mark describes Jesus healing two daughter of Israel. In the verses just before these Jesus had performed an exorcism on a non-Jewish person. Here Jesus returns to the other side, the Jewish side of things and heals two daughters of Israel.
Not only is it a two-for-one deal, it’s like a sandwich. Mark begins with Jairus coming to Jesus and asking him to heal his daughter. The lesson then moves into the healing of the woman with the flow of blood for twelve years. It all comes to a close with Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter, whom many agree just happens to be around twelve years old. Like any good sandwich you can’t have one without the other. Peanut butter and jelly. Ham and cheese. Or an Oreo sandwich cookie – crunchy chocolate cookie with creamy filling inside.
Pentecost B – 4, Lectionary 11, ‘18
Trinity Lutheran Congregation
Caroline Lewis wrote about today’s Gospel reading – “The earth produces on its own.” Thank God, literally, she says.
At this time of the year I tend to believe that. The earth produces on its own. Around here, at least we just have to look around. Green everywhere. Flowers blossoming. Vegetable gardens growing. My uncle used to say that on hot days like today the corn was growing so fast you hear it. I think I heard it once.
Yes, thank God for creating a world where the earth produces on its own.
Of course, after the thanking comes the trusting and that is not always so easy. I might trust that things will grow, but not always in the places or in the way I want them to grow. The volunteer elm tree that snuck in next to the fence, all of a sudden three feet tall. The raspberry bushes that keep showing up in the middle of the yard and garden. Not to mention the things we have decided are weeds because we did not put them where they are.
On the other side, we don’t trust the grass, the tomatoes, the flowers to grow without help. Fertilizer, mulch, weed killer are applied. As thankful as we are, we mess with the things that produce on their own.
Third Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 3: 20-35
Earlier this week I told a friend that I was preaching this week and really struggling with the text. To which they responded, “Scripture, or text message?” Which is a clue that I don’t have very “churchy” friends. But it did strike me that if the gospel Mark were composed today, it might read more accurately like a stream of tweets. Mark, the roughest gospel, a kind of live-action report, was clearly composed orally long before it was written down. I can imagine sitting around the campfire with a storyteller, as they build suspense:
Jesus family has heard he’s possessed and is on their way to restrain him… Meanwhile Jesus, surrounded by so many people that they barely fit in the house, denounces the rumors about him… And by the time his family gets there, he’s so worked up that he denies that he’s even related to them. Who are my mother and my brothers? he says.
This is not the compassionate shepherd we like to think about, certainly not the baby in a manger. Jesus is saucy, rude—a little nasty. Why is he so angry?
Pentecost B, ‘18
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Trinity Lutheran Congregation
Today is Pentecost. The red in our midst is a reminder to us of the tongues of fire on everyone’s heads in the Pentecost story in Acts we often read on this day. Red is the color representing the Holy Spirit at work . Today we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit
Today’s reading from John is sadly lacking in drama, really. It is part of a three-chapter sermon that Jesus is sharing with his followers. He has been talking about his leaving. Even though this moment has been coming for some time, his disciples have been stunned into silence by this. In their shock and grief they simply don’t know what to think or say.
These heart-felt words from Jesus are partly words of comfort. The tensions were rising and it was becoming clearer every day that Jesus’ time was getting shorter. The authorities weren’t going to tolerate his teaching and challenging of the system much longer. Jesus was explaining that he had to leave, so that the Spirit would come so that they could continue following Jesus and teaching the way of Jesus. . They are also words of hope.
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Gospel: John 17: 6-19
Imagine with me. It is the night of the Last Supper with Jesus, and we his disciples have just heard a lengthy sermon from him, talking about the most important commandment to love one another; about himself as a vine and we as branches; about abiding in God’s love. It seems like Jesus is nearing the end of what he has to say, but suddenly, his expression changes and he looks up to the ceiling—no, to the heavens—and we realize he is not speaking to us anymore, but to his Father.
“All mine are yours, and yours are mine,” he says. Like walking in on someone’s private conversation, we have been given a window into the relationship of God to Godself; the holy dance of Spirit, and parent, and child.
I do not know from personal experience what the intimacy between a father and son is like, but I do know the intimacy between a mother and a daughter. It is a blessing I don’t take lightly, in part because I came to understand it through the loss of another mother in my family—Ruth, my mother’s sister.
Texts: Matthew 6:1-6,16-21, 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10
Good evening, and blessed Lent. It is good to gather with you. Last night this room was buzzing, as we hosted our neighbors from Dar al Hijrah to celebrate Fat Tuesday. Thank you to everyone who brought ingredients and toppings, and who lent their equipment and their time and gifts to make it happen. It was a village effort, and the warmth in this room was a sign of how we as neighbors are connected, across culture, race, language and faith. “We are not good at fasting,” Jane said, as she explained Fat Tuesday to our guests, “but we are good at eating fat, and we’re glad you’re with us.”
And why should we be good at fasting? We have wondered together, most recently in Adult Forum this Sunday. Shouldn’t grace be sufficient for us? Until about 3pm today I had a sermon prepared to address this question. But with the news of another school shooting just this afternoon, perhaps the question is not why we bring ourselves to penitence, but how our faith speaks to us when we find ourselves already there.
John 1:6-8, 19-23
I have been waiting with great anticipation for Dec. 21st. Once we make it through the 21st the daylight starts getting longer on December 22nd. I did look it up, though, and December 22nd has only three more seconds of daylight than the 21st. It’s not much, but it’s everything. From next Thursday on the days will be getting longer and longer. For the next 6 months. It can be 20 below and I’ll know there is more daylight coming, even the next day.
The exact date and month of Jesus’ birth are not known. It is not known exactly why, in the 4th century, Dec. 25 was chosen as the date in the western world to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but most scholars believe it had something to do with the darkness, at least in the northern hemisphere. It’s not just since the identification of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, that darkness has been a “thing.” The lengthening and shortening of daylight has been noticed since anyone first paid attention. Before Jesus was born, centuries before, there had been celebrations of the winter solstice. Some even think that December 25 was chosen to compete with some of those celebrations.
Christ the King Sunday
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46
Good morning! We have made it to the end. The end of a four day weekend. The end of the church year. The end of Matthew, and the end of the world, at least in our Gospel reading for today. Matthew gives us a picture of Jesus in his full maturity, on a throne-- a ruler, in highest glory with his subjects before him. All the nations gathered. And then he separates all people to his right side, and to his left.
It’s a familiar painting of extremes in Matthew, particularly in our readings from the past several weeks. We have heard about wedding guests who are properly dressed, and those who are not, and are thrown out of the party hand and foot. We have waited with the wise virgins who filled their lamps before the bridegroom came, and the foolish virgins who ran to get oil too late and were locked out of the party.
And last week, we scratched our head at the faithful servants whose were rewarded for their riches, and the lazy servants punished for holding onto what little they had.
All of these stories have come from Jesus last sermon in the Gospel of Matthew. All about the End of Times, and the Great Separation of good from evil, eternal life from eternal punishment, You who are blessed from you who are accursed, the sheep from the goats.
All Saints Sunday – A, ‘17
Rev. 7:9-17; 1 John 3:1-3; Matt. 5:1-12
Friends, how are you doing? I don’t mean the kind of ‘how are doing’ that calls for a smile and an “OK’ when you’re not. I mean, how are you doing?
Our Central Conference of the Minneapolis Area Synod met at Trinity this past Thursday, and we talked about what we are seeing around us. What we all agreed on was that people, people in our congregations and our cities and our state, our country and the world are anxious. And weary.
As I read the reading from Revelation the phrase ‘great ordeal’ had new meaning for me. This is not to suggest that any of our angst these days compares in any way to the oppression that the early Christians to whom these words were written were dealing with when these words were written. But it did occur to me that this year, this Fall, has felt something like a great ordeal.
The declarations that come out of Washington continue to wear on those of us who see a better way. The possibility of a rash action leading to another war seems more real these days. The natural calamities continued without ceasing. Floods, fires, hurricanes. Even though they have not been in our own back yard, they are real and we feel with and for those who have been affected. The same is true of the violence – shootings, cars and trucks being used as weapons makes us all feel more vulnerable that we care to admit. The truth about sexual harassment and assault reveal a reality that has been just under the surface, perhaps forever.
Reformation Sunday, ‘17
Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 8:31-36
Freedom is a theme in today’s reading from the Gospel of John. And that makes sense because this is Reformation Sunday and freedom was a major issue for Martin Luther and the other original reformers,. In fact, one of his most famous writings is called “The Freedom of a Christian.”
But “freedom” is one of those words that can end up meaning many different things to many different people. We certainly see that in our country today. Football players should have the freedom to kneel during the national anthem. Football players should not kneel for the national anthem because it show disrespect for the freedom so many have fought and worked for. Freedom of speech is central to our democracy. Everyone has the right to say what they believe. At the same time some are saying they should have the freedom to no hear or listen to opinions they don’t like. We are free to choose from hundreds of different boxes of cereal at the grocery stores. Others go hungry. Freedom can mean many things.