(Note: I wrote, but apparently did not finish, this post in March, 2013.) We may well never know what proximate cause led Pope Benedict XVI to resign when he did, but without a doubt, such an unusual announcement had a special resonance landing shortly before Ash Wednesday (a resonance that was noted). It occasioned a flurry […]

“Hardness of heart” is a powerful metaphor. Because that’s how we live and make our choices: one at a time, little by little, day by day. We don’t feel the sclerosis of our hearts because it doesn’t happen all at once. We just lose that softness a little bit each day. We lose that responsiveness to God, or to conscience, or to our neighbor. At first it was hard to ignore the voice of God, but it got easier every time. A hard spiritual heart, like a hard physical one, eventually just stops working.

(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on Ash Wednesday, 2015) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and […]

(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on Ash Wednesday, 2016) Sisters and brothers grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. After all of that unpleasantness in the garden, God tells Adam about his life: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, […]

(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on Ash Wednesday 2017) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Lent: it arrives every year whether you need it or not. Worship becomes a bit more somber and reflective. We give something up, a luxury […]

(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on Ash Wednesday, 2012) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. When the LORD God chose to make a human being, the story goes, he knelt down in the dust of the earth. The LORD […]

(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on Ash Wednesday, 2014) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. I have an incurable fascination with illusion. I grew up loving those eye-tricking drawings by M.C. Escher, the ones where the staircase is going […]

(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on Ash Wednesday, 2013) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. About this time twelve years ago, I wandered into Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago. I was studying a […]

(Note: I preached this sermon at Wicker Park Lutheran Church on Ash Wednesday, 2011) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. “Human love starts with the object,” Martin Luther wrote in an academic dispute in the year 1518. “The love of God does not […]

I’m guilty of this. Totally guilty of it. I am so captivated by the reality that is before my eyes that I don’t give a whole lot of thought, most of the time, to what my eyes may be leaving out. People in some cultures have taken dreams and visions very seriously. And I think dreams and visions are good but the real action is what I can see. Or, at least, what we can see together.