8/9/20 – Pentecost 10 – “Saved by an Out-Stretched Hand” – Matthew 14:22-33


1. The summer after my sixth-grade year in school, my church youth group went on a Servant Event trip to Western New York. Our purpose for the trip was to lead Vacation Bible School at an inner-city congregation in Buffalo. While we weren’t engaged in the activities related to that VBS, we stayed at a Lutheran summer camp in the area—Camp Pioneer, which is right on the shores of Lake Erie. As you can imagine, during our downtime at Camp, we did a lot of “camp things.” Most notable of which was that we gathered each evening around the campfire for devotions and singing. You know how camp songs tend to be—they have this way of getting stuck in your head. Well, there was one song in particular that has stuck with me since that trip. And I was reminded of that song because of our Gospel Reading for this morning. The chorus of this song is based on the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water. I’d like to share this song with you, but don’t worry! I’m not going to sing and dance for you! The chorus goes like this: “Get out of the boat; walk on the water. Get out of the boat; take his hand. Get out of the boat; walk on the water. He’ll be with you in whatever you may do. He will help you stand on the blue waters of life, my friend; he will help you stand.” It’s a great camp song! It’s catchy, it’s fun to sing around the fire, but it also has a great message. It encourages trust and stepping out of your comfort zone knowing and believing that Jesus is there with you every step of the way. But there’s a problem with this song—this isn’t what this story is about! Somewhere along the line, we’ve come to think that this story is encouraging us to emulate Peter—but that’s completely missing the point! Let’s walk through this story one more time, and I’ll show you what I mean.
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8/2/20 – Pentecost 9 – “The Feeding God” – Matthew 14:13-21


In the 1965 musical, “Man of LaMancha,” Don Quixote adores the beggar, prostitute named Aldonsa. He calls her his ‘Dulcinea,’ which means ‘sweetheart,’ and treats her as his princess. And this bothers Aldonsa because she can’t understand him. She’s never met anyone like him and she can’t figure out his motives, not only with regard to her but with everything he does. She sings one of the most poignant songs in the musical – “Why does he do the things he does? Why does He do these things?” And for Aldonsa, the big question is, “What does he want from me? What does he want from me?”
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7/26/20 – Pentecost 8 – “The Tension of God’s Love and Justice” – Deuteronomy 7:6-9

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Have you ever tried to hold a rubber band in tension? It’s not as easy as you might think. Especially not if you try to do it for any length of time. You have to keep focused on both sides, or else it will slip…and you’ve lost it. There are parts of our faith that are a lot like this—tensions that we need to hold. We can’t overemphasize one side to the point where we forget about the other, or else it will slip…and you’ve lost it. This morning I want to discuss one of these tensions in our faith—a tension within the character of God. God is a God of love AND justice. We don’t get to pick and choose between these attributes. It’s not one or the other. It’s a both/and situation. God is a God of love AND justice. This is the tension we live in as the people of God and we must try to faithfully hold it, kind of like a rubber band. I’d like to consider this truth this morning—God is a God of love AND justice. And as we do so, my hope, prayer, and goal is that you would be encouraged to live faithfully in this tension.
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7/19/20 – Pentecost 7 – “The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds” – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

The text is our Lord’s parable about the weeds that have sprung up among the wheat.

This is the second of two parables that Jesus puts before “the crowds” that is also followed by an explanation to His “disciples.” The first was the one we heard last Sunday which was also about the sowing of seed. A “sower who went out to sow.” He sowed seed everywhere and some seed failed to produce much of anything and some produced impressive crops.

Privately, to His disciples, Jesus explains that the ‘seed’ is the Word of God, and the reason that the Word sometimes produces its harvest of faith and good works and sometimes does not is because there are forces at work in this world that are opposed to THE WORD – forces that want to see it fail – like an airborne virus that attaches itself to the heart and interferes with the work of the Word to produce FAITH and the FRUITS OF FAITH in a person.
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7/12/20 – Pentecost 6 – “Suffering Well in Christ” – Romans 8:12-17

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. When I was in my later teen-age years, I was introduced to the AMC series, The Walking Dead. Maybe you’ve seen it. In case you’re not familiar with it, the premise of the show is that there’s a world-wide zombie apocalypse where a “zombie virus” (for lack of a better way to put it) has infected most of the world’s population, turning them into “walking dead” zombies. Continue reading

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7/5/20 – Pentecost 5 – “The Rest We Need” – Zech. 9:9-12 / Matthew 11:25-30

The text for our consideration is the Gospel reading we just heard. But before we get to that we’ve got to hear what came right before this.

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes… 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day…”
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6/28/20 – Pentecost 4 – “The True Prophet” – Jeremiah 28:5-9 & Matthew 10:34-39

1. The time before this global pandemic struck feels like ancient history—doesn’t it? Life was much different four months ago. It was much better, if we’re being honest. We didn’t have to social distance and wear these masks! We could go where we wanted to go, do what we wanted to do. We had that freedom to pursue entertainment. Money was stable. But then, March 15th happened. Covid-19 came to the US, and very, very quickly life changed dramatically. Many of us and many of our loved ones started experiencing financial stress. Jobs were lost. Paychecks decreased. Bills were coming due. For many of us, the financial stability that we thought we had and we thought we could trust in was revealed to be exactly what it actually is: a fraud. Financial stability can’t provide fulfilment in life. But financial stability wasn’t the only thing lost because of this pandemic. Much of Continue reading

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6/21/20 – Pentecost 3 – “A Fire In Our Bones” – Jeremiah 20:7-13/Matthew 10:21-33


Last Sunday as we joined up with Jesus, Matthew summarizes what He’s been at work doing since He began to work. “Jesus went throughout all of the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”

But now today, we see that the focus of our Lord’s ministry changes. The 10th chapter of Matthew’s gospel is sometimes called Jesus’ ‘MISSIONARY DISCOURSE’ because it’s all about His sending His 12 Apostles out into that harvest of souls that is so plentiful. In fact, so plentiful that there are not enough laborers to bring all the harvest into the barn.
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6/14/20 – Pentecost 2 – “Teaching, Proclaiming, Healing” – Matthew 9:35-10:20


When the season of Pentecost begins, you never know where you’re going to join up with Jesus. The whole thing depends on the date for Easter. So some years, we join up with Jesus earlier in His ministry than this and some years later than this.

Back in chapter 4 of his gospel, Matthew told us what Jesus set out from His baptism and temptation in the wilderness to do. “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” (Mat.4:23)

By the time we join up with Jesus this year, He’s already ‘taught’ his disciples and the crowds about the Kingdom of God – most notably – in His ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Mat. 7:28-29)
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6/14/20 – Confirmation – “Keep Swimming” – 1 Peter 1:3-9


The text that I’d like to hold up this morning is 1 Peter 1:3-9.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

This is a wonderful text for Confirmation because it is directed to people just like you who –who have been baptized into the Christian faith, instructed in the Word of God, and who want nothing more than to live by faith in God. It’s not too hard at all to picture St. Peter standing in a pulpit just like this one, addressing his ‘catechumens’ whom have been baptized and catechized in the faith just as you have been.
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