Do You Not Know: Following and Telling Stories

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11,16-23

My sermon from 7th Sunday after Epiphany (February 12, 2017) on 1 Corinthians 3:10-11,16-23.

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Be Perfect: Wait. What?

The Gospel Reading is Matthew 5:21-37.

In our gospel reading today, we’re still in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Last week, we heard the first twelve verses from that sermon. Today, we’re hearing the next 8. For Matthew, being a follower of Jesus Christ means we are students. Being with God involves regular learning, study, and education. Jesus, as he begins this sermon, is with his disciples. They are gathered around him and Jesus begins to teach. Jesus should teach because he is a rabbi and that’s what teachers do. The disciples, as followers, are called to learn and grow from what their teacher tells them. Being a disciple is more than just doing what we’re told. As a student, the more we learn, the more we are changed. As we study with God through scripture, worship, and prayer, we are transformed. Jesus isn’t just giving his disciples knowledge. Through their learning and education, the disciples are being changed into who God wants them to be.

But, according to Matthew, learning about God is not enough. In verse 20, we hear that our “righteousness” needs to exceed the righteousness of “the scribes and the Pharisees.” As Christians, we’re used to belittling the scribes and Pharisees. We paint these two groups as people who just don’t “get it.” We claim that their religious devotion and education blinded them to what God was doing in Jesus. If they stopped trying to learn about God and just see God, they would have recognized Jesus.

But these arguments are not Matthew’s arguments. Matthew isn’t against learning because that’s one of the ways we live as followers of Jesus. In Jesus’ day, education was something very few had access too. The scribes and Pharisees were as educated as someone could get. They could read, write, and study God’s word fro themselves. Their communities took care of them while they studied and learned. If anyone in Jesus’ world had the time, energy, and resources to learn about God, it was the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus’ demand to his followers in verse 20 is a heavy one. They are to know God more than anyone. How can they? Because, as disciples, God changes who they are. They are not only disciples. They are salt and light. They are more than who they were before and they called to live that identity out in all that they say and do.

Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 2/19/2017.

Ongoing, Continual: a sermon on God’s More

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

My sermon from 6th Sunday after Epiphany (February 12, 2017) on 1 Corinthians 3:1-9.

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Remember: More on Matthew 5

The Gospel Reading is Matthew 5:21-37.

In our gospel reading today, we’re still in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Last week, we heard the first twelve verses from that sermon. Today, we’re hearing the next 8. For Matthew, being a follower of Jesus Christ means we are students. Being with God involves regular learning, study, and education. Jesus, as he begins this sermon, is with his disciples. They are gathered around him and Jesus begins to teach. Jesus should teach because he is a rabbi and that’s what teachers do. The disciples, as followers, are called to learn and grow from what their teacher tells them. Being a disciple is more than just doing what we’re told. As a student, the more we learn, the more we are changed. As we study with God through scripture, worship, and prayer, we are transformed. Jesus isn’t just giving his disciples knowledge. Through their learning and education, the disciples are being changed into who God wants them to be.

But, according to Matthew, learning about God is not enough. In verse 20, we hear that our “righteousness” needs to exceed the righteousness of “the scribes and the Pharisees.” As Christians, we’re used to belittling the scribes and Pharisees. We paint these two groups as people who just don’t “get it.” We claim that their religious devotion and education blinded them to what God was doing in Jesus. If they stopped trying to learn about God and just see God, they would have recognized Jesus.

But these arguments are not Matthew’s arguments. Matthew isn’t against learning because that’s one of the ways we live as followers of Jesus. In Jesus’ day, education was something very few had access too. The scribes and Pharisees were as educated as someone could get. They could read, write, and study God’s word fro themselves. Their communities took care of them while they studied and learned. If anyone in Jesus’ world had the time, energy, and resources to learn about God, it was the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus’ demand to his followers in verse 20 is a heavy one. They are to know God more than anyone. How can they? Because, as disciples, God changes who they are. They are not only disciples. They are salt and light. They are more than who they were before and they called to live that identity out in all that they say and do.

Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 2/12/2017.

New Eyes: What God gives the community

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

My sermon from 5th Sunday after Epiphany (February 5, 2017) on 1 Corinthians 2:1-16.

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You Are: What Jesus says about you in Matthew 5

The Gospel Reading is Matthew 5:13-20.

In our gospel reading today, we’re still in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Last week, we heard the first twelve verses from that sermon. Today, we’re hearing the next 8. For Matthew, being a follower of Jesus Christ means we are students. Being with God involves regular learning, study, and education. Jesus, as he begins this sermon, is with his disciples. They are gathered around him and Jesus begins to teach. Jesus should teach because he is a rabbi and that’s what teachers do. The disciples, as followers, are called to learn and grow from what their teacher tells them. Being a disciple is more than just doing what we’re told. As a student, the more we learn, the more we are changed. As we study with God through scripture, worship, and prayer, we are transformed. Jesus isn’t just giving his disciples knowledge. Through their learning and education, the disciples are being changed into who God wants them to be.

But, according to Matthew, learning about God is not enough. In verse 20, we hear that our “righteousness” needs to exceed the righteousness of “the scribes and the Pharisees.” As Christians, we’re used to belittling the scribes and Pharisees. We paint these two groups as people who just don’t “get it.” We claim that their religious devotion and education blinded them to what God was doing in Jesus. If they stopped trying to learn about God and just see God, they would have recognized Jesus.

But these arguments are not Matthew’s arguments. Matthew isn’t against learning because that’s one of the ways we live as followers of Jesus. In Jesus’ day, education was something very few had access too. The scribes and Pharisees were as educated as someone could get. They could read, write, and study God’s word fro themselves. Their communities took care of them while they studied and learned. If anyone in Jesus’ world had the time, energy, and resources to learn about God, it was the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus’ demand to his followers in verse 20 is a heavy one. They are to know God more than anyone. How can they? Because, as disciples, God changes who they are. They are not only disciples. They are salt and light. They are more than who they were before and they called to live that identity out in all that they say and do.

Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 2/5/2017.

Puzzle Piece: Preached at Camp Koinonia, Annual Congregation Retreat

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

My sermon from 4th Sunday after Epiphany (January 29, 2017) on 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

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Perishing: Take Off the Jacket

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

My sermon from 3rd Sunday after Epiphany (January 22, 2017) on 1 Corinthians 1:10-18.

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