Posts from the “Sermons” Category

Sermo Dei: Jubilate 2017

Posted on May 8th, 2017

Jubilate John 16:16-22 Immanuel, Alexandria, VA + May 7, 2017 Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia! It starts to fade after a few Sundays, doesn’t it? After the big celebration of Easter, life gets back to normal. And sometimes, normal isn’t great. What’s normal is disappointing, frustrating. Normal life isn’t like Easter, with trumpets and flowers and all the ladies in pretty dresses. After Easter, we still have our problems and our pains. After Easter, the Alleluias fade. I was thinking about this on Friday morning in the dentist’s chair. The big needle was coming for my jaw. The inside of my mouth was getting numb from the topical anesthetic the endodontist had applied, but the sight of that needle is…

Sermo Dei: St. Mark’s Day 2017

Posted on April 25th, 2017

Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana 2 Timothy 4:5-18 April 25, 2017 “The time of my departure has come.” Springtime at seminary prompts such thoughts. But your ministry will not be what you expect. For St. Paul, departure meant death. So it is for you. Your call is to go and die. It’s the call of Baptism. “Follow Me.” “Take up your cross.” Come and die. Paul summarizes his service as having been “the good fight.” More literally, “the beautiful, noble agony.” What is this good fight? What is the noble agony? The fight is not with the people God gives you to serve. Sure; we may find evil men fighting us. St. Paul mentions one, Alexander the Coppersmith. He hurt Paul. People will…

The Resurrection of Our Lord—Easter Day 2017

Posted on April 18th, 2017

The Resurrection of Our Lord – Easter Day St. Mark 16:1-8 April 16, 2017 Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Virginia On Friday, the weeping women heard His last words. “It is finished,” Jesus said, and they believed Him. It’s all over. You’ve heard those words. “Finish them!” the coach shouts, when the opponent is on the ropes. “You’re finished!” says the boss, as you get fired. “We’re finished!” she snarls, ending the relationship. “It is finished,” Jesus said. They believed Him. It’s all over. Death wins. So early in the morning, they do their duty. The women go to serve a dead Jesus. They show love and devotion. Yet hope is lost. They believe the jeers from Friday. “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” …

Sermon Dei: Good Friday Passion Vespers 2017

Posted on April 14th, 2017

Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Virginia Good Friday + April 14, 2017 + Luke 23:34-37 Who could have seen that it would turn out this way? “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10f). Who could have seen that the one born on that day would be a Savior in this way? It seems, as blood streams from His hands, His feet, His crown, His side, that this Jesus is no savior. “Some savior!” they sneer. “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of…

Sermo Dei: Palm Sunday 2017

Posted on April 9th, 2017

It’s nice to talk about resurrection, but the words I speak at the time of death sometimes feel hollow. It’s all future-oriented, and while I believe it, we’re still left with the corpse. Someone has to call the funeral home, someone has to open the grave, and then there we are, looking down into the earth. Most of our life is so sanitary, and even at death, we farm out the dirty work to others. But there, when the casket descends, and you see off in the distance the men waiting to come and close the vault and cover it with dirt – for just a moment, you see and you know that our clean lives are a lie. Squirt the anti-bacterial fluid, rub…

Funeral Sermon: Paul Donald Ring

Posted on April 8th, 2017

Dear Ruth, John, Linda; dear brothers and sisters in Christ: Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (Ps 55.22) When Don came out of church and shook my hand, he always made me feel like a million bucks. Some people say, “Good sermon, pastor.” Not Don. He would exclaim, “Say, you’ve got a strong handshake!” Then with a big smile he’d squeeze my arm, and make me feel powerful, muscular, manly. Despite his stroke, which made conversation difficult, Don knew how to be friendly and nice. With a warm welcome he’d greet you at his door, and he always seemed genuinely disappointed that you were leaving. But in all these years…

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…