Tag Archives: sin
As a society, we seem to have over-learned Jesus’s lesson about leaving the ninety-nine to find one who is lost. Or maybe it sounds more familiar than it really is. The stories that attract the heaviest tears and the loudest applause in our society are not stories of steadfast virtue. They are stories of ruin and redemption, of being lost and found. Think about it: would anyone have watched VH1’s series ‘Behind the Music’ if it featured a musician who stayed true to his wife, drank iced tea, and read books while he was on the road? Probably not.
And the older son felt the terrible weight of those years of work that he and his father had done, without his younger brother and the property he had taken away, and he knew that all the toil and anger and bitterness and poverty were for the sake of this one moment.
And honestly, at first blush I was not sympathetic to Augustine’s self-reproach for watching the lizards and the flies. Let yourself watch the animals, my dude. But as my week away from home and church drew to a close, and I thought about that narrow gate through which I had allowed any diversion to come and how eagerly I wanted to go find those diversions anyway, however pointless or even annoying they might be, I started to understand him better.
“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, 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 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 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 […]