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Tag Archives: Sermons
They’re called “The Beatitudes,” a series of blessings given by Jesus to the faithful who heard His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7). If you were listening carefully to the Gospel Lesson, you might have noticed that the first eight beatitudes or blessings are given to believers in general: “Blessed are the poor,” “Blessed are those who mourn,” etc. But the last beatitude is given directly to the disciples: “Blessed are you when they reviled and persecute you,” etc. As someone said, “The cross casts its shadow before Christ, the disciples, and the people—the stage is set for the passion of Jesus and his Church” (Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 118). Today, I’d like to focus on the cross casting its shadow over four groups of saints, each depicted on your bulletin cover (van Eyck, Ghent Altar Piece): Apostles, Prophets, martyrs, and the whole Christian church.
The verbs are where the action is. The verbs help us tell a story, propel the action forward, and lend life to a narrative. Consider, for instance, the verbs in the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed: [Jesus] was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered . . . crucified, died, and was buried. Then He descended, rose again, etc. The verbs tell us what Christ allowed Himself to suffer (the state of humiliation) and how He rose victorious over death and the grave (the state of exaltation). The first part of today’s Gospel lesson follows a similar pattern. Six “passion verbs” show how everything that is written about the Son of Man in the prophets will be accomplished: He will be mocked, shamefully treated, spit upon, flogged, killed, and raised from the dead. Continue reading
The Parable of the Sower is a vital gospel lesson on the Word of God, for here we learn about both its power and its sufficiency. The answers to two questions, along with some contrast to the church growth movement of the 1990′s, will guide our meditation on this parable:
1. Is the Word of God powerful?
2. Is the Word of God enough?
Do you see how this vineyard owner operates? It’s not a merit-based system, but a grace-based mentality. He is the owner and he is allowed to do as he pleases with what belongs to him. This is not a lesson no how to run a business. Jesus was not a CEO or an example-setter, so we should not rush back to work tomorrow morning and insist that everyone be paid the same thing regardless of education, experience, or job performance. This parable does not teach us how to run a business. Rather, here we see two dynamics of God’s character at work in our lives: righteous judgment and outrageous grace.
Last week’s Gospel Lesson (Lk 2:41-52) gave us Jesus’ first recorded public words of the supposedly “lost” boy Jesus: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Today’s Gospel Lesson gives us Jesus’ first sign or miracle, turning water into wine at a wedding reception that almost went bad. From an Epiphany in words to an Epiphany in action, today we confess, “And at Cana, Wedding guest, In Thy Godhead manifest.”