Recent Sermons

Below are excerpts from some recent sermons.  You can also explore the full list since June 2015.  Some sermons include the podcast at the bottom of the page, with older podcasts from 2013-2015 still available. 

Preaching from St. Stephen’s Pulpit

What Is Your Risky, Joyful Response, Doing the Work of the Kingdom?

November 19, 2017
Matthew 25:14-30     Lectionary 33     Pentecost 24     November 19, 2017   We have some pretty interesting passages this morning, don’t we?  I need to comment on two things that might be catching your attention. The frequent reference to slaves in the gospel story in very problematic!  Some English versions of the Bible paraphrase the Greek and use the word, “servants” – but, darn it, we read the New Revised Standard Version, which is a translation rather than a paraphrase. In fact, everyone listening to Jesus’ stories would have been familiar with slavery.  (Some of those listening would have been…

The Bridegroom

November 12, 2017
  Matthew 25:1-13     Time After Pentecost Lectionary 32 A bridegroom who doesn’t show up when expected, and who seems to be suffering from amnesia, a wedding party who falls asleep, selfish but wise bridesmaids, and a door that slams shut—that’s our gospel this day. And while we hear about the bridegroom and the bridesmaids, there is no mention of a bride. I would be less than honest if I said that the meaning of our Gospel reading for today was crystal clear. When I asked one of my colleagues how he was approaching this text, he said he changed…

Blessed Are

November 6, 2017
Matthew 5:1-13     All Saints Day The word “blessed” is used in different forms, all of them with nuanced meanings. “You are truly blessed.” “You have my blessings.”  “Have a blessed day!”  Those who are mathematically inclined say, “Count your blessings.”  When I moved to the South, I learned the real meaning of, “Bless your heart,” and its more emphatic form, “Bless your little heart!” In the spirit of blessing, a friend just shared with me an article about a new priest in the town of Wittenberg.  To mark the anniversary of the Reformation, the Protestant church has engaged a…

What Does It Mean To Be Lutheran? What Does It Mean To Be “Always Reforming?”

October 29, 2017
Romans 3:19-28     Reformation Sunday     October 29, 2017   Today we mark the first 500 years of the Lutheran reforming movement within the Church catholic.  On this day we celebrate the heart of our faith: the gospel of Christ – the good news – that makes us free![1] What does it mean to be Lutheran?  What does it mean to be “always reforming?”  To answer that, let me share one fundamental and three paradoxes! Here’s the fundamental: to be Lutheran, it is necessary for you and me “to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God…

Love Without End

October 22, 2017
Matthew 22:15-22     Lectionary 29 ~ 20th Sunday after Pentecost They weren’t even friends!  The Pharisees and the Herodians couldn’t even agree on paying taxes! The Pharisees wanted to maintain separation from the Roman government, while the Herodians sought to collaborate with them.  It is said that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  So the Pharisees and the Herodians came together to concoct a plan to discredit Jesus. Showing Jesus a coin, they asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” Looking at the coin used to pay the taxes, Jesus asked, “Whose head…

Why Do You Refuse Jesus’ Invitation Into Joy?

October 16, 2017
Matthew 22:1-14; Isaiah 25:6-9     Lectionary 28     Pentecost 19     October 16, 2017   What a difficult story we read in Matthew this morning!  Is this a story about the future judgement?  Many Christian traditions do read it this way; as a warning: “Come to the banquet, or you’re going to hell.”  That sure sounds like a party that I have to go to, out of obligation!  How dreary is that? But what if this is about Jesus’ invitation into joy, and not at all about dreary obligation?  Could this be a story not so much about the future, but…

Glimpses of Wholeness and Holiness

October 8, 2017
   Matthew 21:33-46 Lectionary 27 ~ 18th Sunday after Pentecost Through knocked-out windows on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock shot into a crowd of 22,000 concert goers.  It was only a week ago, on a Sunday night, that Paddock committed the deadliest mass shootings in the United States.  After putting what is known as a “bump fire stock” on his semi-automatic rifles so that they would shoot 9 rounds per second, 59 people were killed, and over 500 more were left injured. At least a dozen of the 23…

Is It Right for You to Be Angry?

September 24, 2017
Jonah 3:10-4:11, Matthew 20:1-16 16th Sunday after Pentecost    Lectionary 25 What makes you angry?  Do you lose your patience with impatient people?  Are you intolerant of intolerance? What makes you angry? I floated this question on FaceBook, and there were a variety of answers. I had thought most of them would be political, but that was not the case.  It turns out that people are really aggravated by how other people drive! Being ignored or underestimated, ignorance and stupidity are difficult for some. Several people said that people who hurt or abuse animals or people sparked their anger.  In…

The Grace of Forgiveness. The Demand of Forgiveness. The Transformation of Our Hearts.

September 17, 2017
Matthew 18:21-35     Lectionary 24     Pentecost 15     September 17, 2017   You and I are saints.  We begin with this. God has made us saints because Jesus the Christ rose from the dead to “[redeem] us from death and the devil, and [to give] eternal salvation to all who believe it.[1]  You and I are saints because we have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. But, also, and at the same time, we are sinners.  We are sinners, every day, all the way through our human lives.   This “both and” is one reason why Lutheran theology describes…