Tag Archives: Gospel of Matthew

Ash Wednesday: Rent Hearts

“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.

Ash Wednesday: The People Between

(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 […]

Ash Wednesday: Returning from Dust

(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 […]

Ash Wednesday: Sleight of Hand

(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 […]

Ash Wednesday: Starting Again

(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 […]

“We Didn’t Know It Was You”

A child who grows up singing “Silent Night,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “Away in a Manger” may be forgiven for imagining that nothing could be more delightful than to be born in a stable.

Sermon Rewind: The King in his Court

(Note: I preached this sermon on the Feast of Christ the King in 2008 at Wicker Park Lutheran Church). Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Imagine, for a moment, that it is England in the 14th century, and you are an ordinary person […]

Sermon Rewind: Flasks of Oil

(Note: I preached this sermon on this Sunday in 2014) Can you wash off your baptism? That’s the question of a character in an astonishing new book. Lila the book is called, and the character of the same name is wondering just what she’s gotten herself into. Born around the time of the First World War, […]

They in Glory Shine

Note: I preached this sermon today for the commemoration of All Saints, which we transfer from November 1 to the following Sunday. Lutherans make a rather peculiar use of this festival, for two reasons: First, our approach to the cult of the saints was not total rejection but modification. For this reason many Lutheran churches […]

Sermon Playback: Authority

I preached this sermon on September 28, 2014, on the Gospel for this coming weekend. And it is easy, too easy, to think of this parable as being about sinners who change their ways. The prostitutes and tax collectors believed John, and were baptized, and then they stopped doing their sins. But that’s not what […]