“Costly Grace”

The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (C)
“Costly Grace”
September 8, 2019

Sermon Text: Luke 14:25-35

In our Gospel lesson this morning Christ calls us to costly grace.  This may sound like a contradiction.  After all, we always speak of grace as being God’s free offer of forgiveness, of eternal life, of His love, of His very self, all freely given to us because Christ has done all the work for us, He and He alone has paid the full price upon the cross.  We cannot work our way to God’s love and forgiveness and we can earn nothing from Him.  It is all free, on account of Christ.

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“The Narrow but Open Door”

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (C)
“The Narrow but Open Door”
August 25, 2019

Sermon Text: Luke 13:22-30

“Lord, will those who are saved be few?”  It is a natural question in our day.  Who’s right?  The Christians?  If so, will it be the Orthodox, Catholic, Lutherans, or the Reformed?  Will it be the Moslems?  Sunni or Shiite?  Jews?  Strictly observant, conservative, or reformed?  Or are the atheists right?  No salvation at all?  Or will it be everyone?

Jews in Jesus’ day asked that question with a different set of options in mind.  There were the Pharisees, who were very much like the strictly observant Jews of today.  There were the Sadducees, who had largely thrown out the supernatural aspects of the faith and focused entirely on the do’s and don’ts of the law.  There were the Essenes, who were out living in the wilderness, waiting for the end of the world and loudly proclaiming that everyone besides them was doomed.  There were the foreigners, the Samaritans, who said that they were all wrong.  And then there were the Romans and the Greeks, with their own set of gods and their own way of looking at things.

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“What We Have Today is Enough”

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (C)
“What We Have Today is Enough”
August 11, 2019

Sermon Text: Luke 12:22-34

There is the old truth about what happens when you give some food to a stray dog on your front porch.  Once you give the dog some food, even just one time, it will return again and again and again looking for more.

That little parable is oft-repeated for two different reasons.  The first reason is to give you some advice about thinking very carefully before you feel sorry for the stray dog on your front porch and give it some food.  The second reason is that it illustrates something about human nature.

The things that you love in this world are not usually things that you encountered once and suddenly felt drawn to.  They are usually things that you have been taught to love, or things that you have taught yourself to love by experiencing them again and again.  Like a stray dog, you look for good things that you have fed yourself once and then desired again and again.

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“Earthly Treasures and Eternal Treasures”

The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (C)
“Earthly Treasures and Eternal Treasures”
August 4, 2019

Sermon Text: Luke 12:13-21

From time to time we hear about what’s going on with a guy like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates and their billions of dollars and how they are working to expand their companies and corporations and their wealth.  Or we might hear about a baseball player like Bryce Harper and the free agent bidding war that took place for him last winter and about how this team is willing to pay him 250 million dollars but that team over there is willing to pay him 300 million.  And we might wonder, why worry about it?  How much money is enough?  For those of us just trying to get by, trying to make ends meet and trying to save enough for a decent retirement and maybe afford to have a couple of nice things along the way, 20 million or 200 million or 20 billion all seems like the same amount of money.  How much money does a person really need?  Why kill yourself trying to get more when you already have more money than you could ever really spend in a lifetime?

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“Sir, We Would See Jesus”

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (C)
“Sir, We Would See Jesus”
July 28, 2019

Sermon Text: Colossians 2:6–19

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

On the day of my installation as pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lockport, Illinois, the Reverend William Royer, regional vice present of the Northern Illinois District, gave me a little plaque to go in the pulpit to remind me what being here is all about… what preaching is all about… here in God’s House… here in this sanctuary.

Inscribed on the plaque was the Scripture passage, “Sir, we would see Jesus” … in other words… “we want to see Jesus.”  It is what the Apostle John records as what was said by some Greeks who came to Philip with this request… their sincere request. (John 12:21)

They were only interested in one thing… they came to Philip for one thing… to see Jesus… hear Jesus… know Jesus… because He… Jesus… is the only Person who counts.  The only thing in all of life that counts.

And this is true for all time, certainly our time, certainly every day since that day when a much younger version of myself stepped into the pulpit at the start of Holy Week no less, in 1994.

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“What Shall I Do?”

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (C)
“What Shall I Do?”
July 14, 2019

Sermon Text: Luke 10:25–37

 Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

We have before us this morning in our Gospel lesson a well-known account. Any time this occurs (which is quite frequently), you and I run the risk of “mentally checking out” during the discussion because, to us, it appears there is nothing new here… nothing that we do not already know.

To believe such in regard to any portion of Holy Scripture is a big mistake because even if we had heard verses and chapters a thousand times or more, God the Holy Spirit continues to reaffirm eternal truths found in the same as well as open our eyes to new truths, new aspects that previously escaped our attention and consideration.

The “Parable of the Good Samaritan” as we know it, is precipitated by this man asking Jesus “Who is my neighbor? Who constitutes being ‘a neighbor’ to me? Oh, how we all, to a person, need to be reminded of the answer that is forthcoming from the lips of our dear Savior. To be reminded that for us, our neighbor includes everyone other than ourselves, who we are to love as ourselves.

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“Opportunities Abound”

The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (C)
“Opportunities Abound”
July 7, 2019

Sermon Text:  Galatians 6:1–10, 14–18

 Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

It is true. The Christian Church and the Christian faith are not about doing good works. And yet it is what Christian men, women, teenagers and children do… all of the time!

The Apostle Paul encourages us, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)

So… is doing good works essential or not? Well it all depends on the reason for doing them and what you hope to accomplish by them. If it is to gain God’s favor, garner His forgiveness, win your salvation or play any part in it… no… good works have no bearing whatsoever on the same.

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