A few of the people that knew I would be preaching on today’s gospel from Matthew apologized and wished me luck only adding to the personal despair that was already stirring in me during the studying and writing process. This week’s texts are heavy with metaphors and imagery meant to deliver hope to us as we wait for the coming of the Christ, but the harsh judgements coming from John the Baptist in the gospel of Matthew seem to overshadow the hope that can be found here in our readings.
October 13, 2019
2Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c, Psalm 111, 2Timothy 2:8-15, Luke 17: 11-19
When you think about all of the texts included in this morning’s lectionary, what catches your attention? Is there anything in the text that raises questions for you? What do you make of the meaning of these texts for yourself?
There are many parts of the various texts that grab my attention and I’ll share my wonderings with you as I go, but I would like to dwell in the passage from 2 Timothy first just briefly. I felt that parts of this text were speaking to me and in particular to this moment I am currently sharing with all of you. The verses from Paul spoke of the very real responsibilities set literally right in front of me as I am delivering a sermon that hopefully sheds light onto the meaning of the Word of God that appears in these passages today. The last verse, verse 15 in particular sticks in my mind. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.” As someone who is currently following the call of God to enter into pastoral ministry, I am both affirmed and challenged by this verse. God has approved of me and I have no reason to be ashamed, but now I must rightly explain the word of truth. I am responsible for explaining the Gospel? Oof what a task! Knowing the responsibility I have to the Word of God, I carefully studied and wrestled with the text in an effort to actively wonder what exactly the truth is in these passages from 2 Kings 5, Psalm 111 and Luke 17 and how to best convey that truth to all of you. So here it goes, Spirit lead me!
Texts: Acts 2:1-21, Romans 8:14-17, John 14:8-17, 25-27
"Can you imagine being in that room with tongues of fire on top of each person’s head?
Divided tongues, resting on each of us.
And suddenly the person next to you is speaking in a language you don’t understand,
singing a new song unlike any bird you know...."
Featuring "From Every Tribe" by Ray Makeever.
Epiphany C – 5, ‘19
Isaiah 6:1-13; Luke 5:1-11
Trinity Lutheran Congregation
Every Sunday we sing the song of the seraphim. Did you hear it? In the first reading we heard their song, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” In just a few minutes we’ll be singing a slightly different translation of it, “Holy, Holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.”
Those angels, those seraphim knew something about God’s desires for the world and about people and about life and the world. And it seems they did not hesitate to Sing about it or to get someone to change things.
These words from Isaiah are his telling of his call story, when he heard God’s call in person. Isaiah had actually seen the Lord, which is pretty amazing. God had told Moses that no one would see God and live. No wonder Isaiah wanted out. His vision was unusual and dangerous. These seraphim are not those chubby, winged, cupid-like creatures that you often see floating harmlessly in the corners of baroque paintings. These seraphim are fiery creatures filling the house with smoke as they sang. And they would have nothing of Isaiah’s attempt to get out of the job God called him to do. One of the seraphs flew down to Isaiah and touched his lips with a live coal to remove his guilt and blot out his sin. When God calls him again, Isaiah answers, “Here am I, send me.”
Texts: Luke 4: 21-30, 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
“The more we curve in on ourselves, the more we stick to our own notions of what is good, the more we desperately need God to break in from the outside. The more cracked open we are, the more room for God to flood our lives with an expansive, unfathomable Love that we could never concoct for ourselves.
That’s good news, I promise, although it might not seem like it at the time—when reality as we conceived of it slips through our fingers and we are left only with our breath and open hands. It’s good news that was so hard to hear that Jesus’ friends and neighbors drove him out of town, intending to shove him off the cliffs.”
Texts: 1 Kings 19:1-4, 8-15a, Galatians 3:23-29, Luke 8:26-39
"The waters of baptism bring us to the brink of life and death, staring into the depths of God’s mysterious grace. In baptism, we swim at the surface between the physical reality of this world, and the unknowable ways and workings of the Spirit.
Water has that quality, of holding together death and life. Water is power. In human terms, it illustrates the depth of injustice we grapple with in a global world..."
Twenty Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Texts: 1 Kings 17:8-16, Mark 12: 38-44
Today we find ourselves in a time of moral failure, of people suffering the consequences of their leaders' corrupt and idolatrous ways… I speak, of course, of the time of the Kings, 850 years before the birth of Christ, the setting of our first reading.
A theme in the history of Israel as recorded in Joshua, Judges, the books of Samuel, and the books of Kings is the failure of Israel’s leaders to follow the law of Deuteronomy. Introduced just a handful of verses before our reading for today, King Ahab was the worst of them all.
He did, according to the book of Kings, “more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than had all the kings of Israel who were before him” by introducing the worship of the Canaanite God Baal. Baal was believed to control the seasons, the cycles of plenty and of scarcity. But you don’t need to know anything about Baal to know that Israelites weren’t supposed to be worshiping him.
Think back to the first commandment carved deeply into Moses’ tablet: You Shall Have No Other Gods. That commandment has a very important subscript. It goes like this: “Or else.”
Gospel: Mark 10:17-31
As many of you have heard, when I first moved to Minneapolis I worked at a business that doubles as a service helping people empty their homes, and as a thrift store. As customers flooded the store every Saturday morning, our job was to restock the shelves as quickly as possible. Plush chairs, dining room tables, wooden chests, ice skates, and boxes upon boxes of knick knacks. The supply was endless.
While it was at times overwhelming, it was also a ministry--to find second homes for things that once held or made meaning in another person’s life. If you have been to a baby shower or a wedding, if you have moved homes or emptied the home of a loved one, you have experienced how we make meaning with our belongings.
We are ritual beings.
We use outward signs to mark inward experience.
For two weeks in Adult Forum, Trinity discussed the ELCA's draft of a "Social Statement on Women and Justice." Intern Liesl has submitted feedback on behalf of Trinity, based on the notes from our discussion which you are welcome to read here.
Click here find the social statement and more information. If you'd like to submit feedback independently, you can do so at bit.ly/womenandjusticedraft. Feedback is due September 30!
Texts: Jeremiah 11:18-20, James 3:13 - 4:3, 7-8a, Mark 9:30-37
A friend of mine is a music teacher, who leads middle school kids in writing and conducting their own compositions, with titles like “Juice and Potatoes” or “Anti-Chicken Nugget.” When a student conducts their piece, they get to put on the coat—an extra extra large men’s suit jacket that goes to their knees or the floor, the sleeves dangling well past their hands. They stand at the front of the class, waving their arms to conduct their peers. I’ve heard the recordings. They are cacophonous, and beautiful.
I love the image of the child conductor, because it’s how I feel every time I put on this robe. And if we’re being honest, it’s how we should feel looking around at each other. Just kids in grown up’s clothes, waving our arms to the liturgy, waving our arms at our lives, as if we had any influence over what comes next.
“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name,” says Jesus, “welcomes me.”