Posts from the “Sermons” Category

Sermo Dei: The Funeral of Sandra Ann Keiser

Posted on March 24th, 2017

We are all shocked. No one anticipated Sandy’s death, and it’s hard to process. But Sandy was a direct person, so let us speak directly about the matter: Death is God’s judgment for sin. The suddenness of death is a reminder to us all to prepare for our own. Sandy graduated from Immanuel Lutheran School in 1970. Upon the foundations of that school, a larger one is rising in its place. Someday, however, the whole thing will lie in ruins. Human civilization, like the human body, is crumbling. What can last beyond the ashes and desolation? The crucified arms of Jesus stretch out across the world and across all the expanse of time, embracing all the cosmos with His love, calling us all to…

Sermo Dei: The Inheritance (Vespers, Lent 3)

Posted on March 23rd, 2017

Bloomberg last week reported on a survey on trends with inheritances and expectations of heirs. More often, children are disappointed, because the amount inherited is less than anticipated. Undoubtedly the grandsons of Leona Helmsley were disappointed. She left $12 million to her dog Trouble, while leaving her two grandsons out of the will. Perhaps you’re hoping for an inheritance. You may imagine it would change your life. And if you got everything you were hoping for, and more – I’m sure it would change your life. But would that be for the better? The article notes what I’ve certainly observed – inheritances not only disappoint, but divide. Family members turn on each other. The younger son in tonight’s parable (Luke 15:11-32) couldn’t wait for…

Sermo Dei: Reminiscere 2017

Posted on March 13th, 2017

“That was a nice prayer.” When people say that to me, I know I’ve failed. Prayer is not supposed to be nice. Prayer is confident desperation, shouted in the dark, or whispered while trembling. Our prayers are too nice. In fact, they are so polite, they are rude. What else do you call it when our prayer before meals is rattled off like an auctioneer? Do you say the Lord’s Prayer with the enthusiasm of a funeral director reading the phone book? Are your private prayers basically a Hail Mary pass – it probably won’t work but you might as well try it? Enough with polite, respectful, “nice” prayers! They betray an uncertainty that God is listening or will answer our prayer. This Canaanite…

Sermo Dei: Quinquagesima 2017

Posted on February 28th, 2017

It’s hard to love difficult people. And everywhere we go, we find them. At work. At school. On the road. Sitting behind you, kicking, talking, spilling their drink on you. “A man’s enemies will be those of His own household,” Jesus says. He’s talking about people in our own families who go to war with us because our Christianity is causing problems. But we go to war over so much less, don’t we? It’s hard to love difficult people. And people are difficult because they have difficulties. One person is sick, another has a disability, still another is frightened by something we cannot comprehend. It upsets our plans, disorients our days, disrupts our priorities. And this is all for the good, because our plans…

Sermo Dei: Septuagesima 2017

Posted on February 20th, 2017

February 12, 2017 • Matthew 20:1-16 • Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Virginia On Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a sign advertises a so-called gentlemen’s club. It’s not for gentlemen. This particular den of iniquity is called “Temptations.” The gaudy neon sign displays an apple. The devil himself is mocking the people there: “I don’t even have to try with you, because either you humans don’t know your own story, or you’ve relegated it to myth. You are easy prey.” But the audacious display of hedonism is not the only shingle the devil hangs out. In more refined places, his signs are lit with a softer glow, the lettering elegant, the product respectable. He has written “Temptations” with invisible ink. And you buy what he’s…

Sermo Dei: Epiphany 4, 2014

Posted on January 29th, 2017

Following Jesus means following Him into the storm. The men with Jesus (Epiphany IV gospel, Matthew 8:23-27) are not unused to ships, wind, and the swelling of waves. But the storm that assails the followers of Jesus surpasses all they have experienced. Following Jesus means following Him into the storm. The Lord Jesus allows the storm. He allows the disciples to despair. He allows them to fear for their lives. Why? All so they might learn to cry out to Him, to seek His help. Why does Jesus allow the storm? Why does the Lord allow the storms that bellow against you? Is God too harsh? No. He treats us with far greater softness than we deserve. Turbulence is a gift. Turmoil makes you…

LCMS 2017 Life Conference Sermon

Posted on January 27th, 2017

March for Life 2017 January 27, 2017 • Arlington, Virginia Matthew 5:13-19 The trash collectors rumbled away from the suburban neighborhood, and as sometimes happens, they’ve unknowingly dumped some of their garbage in the street. A man who lives there went out to look, and he’s confused. What is that on the pavement? At first he thinks it’s dead birds, then maybe dolls. Finally, he comprehends the horror. These are children: naked bodies scattered on the asphalt – tiny victims of abortion. How did they end up on a garbage truck? This man—Richard Selzer, a physician—goes to the hospital. He speaks with the director, who assures him this was an accident. The little babies were, he says, “mixed up with the other debris.” This…

Sermo Dei: Circumcision and Name of Jesus

Posted on January 1st, 2017

In six days God made the world, and on the seventh, He rested, for everything that He had made was very good. It did not stay good for long. The man God made fell. He returned to the earth from which He was formed. All those who followed were afflicted with the same congenital condition – mortality. Incurable. Inescapable. Terrifying. Liquor and licentiousness, the building of cities and then their destruction by warfare, tyranny and anarchy, the acquisition of possessions and the achievement of fame or infamy – nothing could satisfy the longing man had for life. Still he died – generation upon generation. What was needed was not a greater effort, a new discovery, or a refined philosophy. What was needed was a…

Sermo Dei: New Year’s Eve 2016

Posted on December 31st, 2016

2016 was a strange year. Retrospectives now abound, along with advice to get your finances in order and plan for a healthy and productive new year. Look back, take stock, do better. On New Year’s Eve, the church also calls us to a different kind of looking back. The Psalm of Moses, Psalm 90, sends us back to our origins. The God who formed the earth, and formed us from the earth, sends us back to earth, pulverized. “You return man to dust and say, ‘Return, O children of man!’” A better translation would be, “You turn the human race back to dust, and say, ‘Return, sons of Adam!’” It is not a single man, or people as individuals, that God turns back to…

Sermo Dei: Holy Innocents 2016

Posted on December 28th, 2016

“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.” This day’s liturgy applies those words to the little children of Bethlehem cut down by Herod’s sword. But the great tribulation is a vast span of terror, from the little children slaughtered by Pharaoh in Egypt down to today’s little children cut down by the billion-dollar abortion business. Upon first hearing the horrible story of their slaughter, it seems the Divine plan is only about protecting the infant Jesus. He escapes, but the children of Bethlehem do not. But Jesus doesn’t escape. His doom is delayed. It is for all the children of Adam that Christ came into this world. He will experience all their sufferings. “That it might be fulfilled” is twice repeated…