Posts tagged “Baptism

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…

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: 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: Trinity 9, 2016

Posted on July 24th, 2016

God made man to give him gifts. God made the world out of nothing, and He made it for man. Man is the crown of God’s creation. God gave man everything in the creation. He gave it for Adam’s enjoyment and nourishment. He also gave man a vocation, a calling: He called Adam to be steward of the earth. As God’s steward, or chief manager, the man would exercise dominion, Godly rule in the earth. Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion over every living creature. One thing alone was held back from the man: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why? Because God wished the man to know good alone, and not evil. As you…

Sermo Dei: Misericordias Domini 2016

Posted on April 11th, 2016

Alleluia! Christ is risen!   Children learn to speak by being spoken to. So it is with the children of God. Ephphatha, the pastor says to the one coming to Baptism. He is repeating the Word of Jesus spoken to a deaf man: “Ephphatha, ‘Be opened.’” This follows the Lord’s Prayer, where the Pastor, as an elder brother, teaches his new little sister the words Jesus gave us. “Listen, baby sister,” the pastor is saying, “here is how we call on Our Father, and He will always hear us.” These words open the ears of the child – and they also open the ears of God, ears that are always open to our cry. “Call on Me in the day of trouble,” the Lord…

Sermo Dei: Oculi 2016

Posted on March 7th, 2016

On June 16, 1858, the Republican State Convention met in Springfield, IL, and chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for senate. Lincoln’s speech that night is said to have cost him the election, but eventually propel him to the presidency. Outlining the Republican position that slavery must be ended, Lincoln turned to the Scripture passage read as part of today’s Gospel (Lent III [Oculi], Luke 11:14-28) and used the same analogy concerning a country divided by slavery: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.  It will become all one thing or all the other.  Either the opponents of…

Sermo Dei: The Confession of St. Peter

Posted on January 20th, 2015

Dear friends in Christ Jesus, today is a glad day: Benjamin Alexander, son of Aaron, today becomes son of God through the waters of rebirth and renewal. It is also a sad time. [REDACTED] have lost the child they were expecting. I grieve for them. Many of you have borne similar sorrows. The Word of God to our first mother is true: Conception is now filled with sorrow, and bringing forth children filled with pain. Yet to our first parents God gave a hope: the promise of a Child who would heal these wounds and repair this world’s brokenness. His nativity we celebrated at Christmas, and in today’s Gospel (St. Mark 8:27—9:1) St. Peter confesses that this Jesus is the Christ, the world-rescuer.    …

Sermo Dei: Baptism of Our Lord 2015

Posted on January 16th, 2015

Approaching the waters, Jesus announces, “I am a sinner.” John knows better. “No You are not. While in the waters of my mother’s womb I leaped for joy, for the Righteous One has come at last.” Still Jesus approaches Jordan’s banks. “I am a sinner.” John replies, “Is this some kind of trick? I need to be baptized by You.” But Jesus insists. Descending into the waters, the sinless One becomes sinner, Life is steeped in death. The logic of the Logos, the orderliness of the Word descends into disorder, chaos. Into Himself Jesus absorbs all that is broken. He drinks in your pain, He soaks in your sorrow. It is as though every tear streaming from bitter eyes, every drop of blood spilled…

Sermo Dei: Trinity 17, 2014

Posted on October 28th, 2014

When a man falls into a pit, you help him. That’s the Law. When a man falls into a pit, God helps him. That’s the Gospel. Jesus is at a dinner on the Sabbath, a day on which work was prohibited (Gospel for Trinity 17, Luke 14:1-11). The other guests at the Sabbath dinner are watching Jesus closely, to see what He will do when confronted with a sick man. If Jesus heals him, does He break the Sabbath law, by working when He should not? The charge is really a trumped up one. The Rabbis had dealt with such problems already. For example, the laws seemed to conflict when it came to circumcision. Circumcision had to be done on the eighth day of…

Holy Cross 2014

Posted on September 14th, 2014

As Adam lay dying, his son Seth went to the border of Eden. There he said to the angel guarding the way in, “My father is dying; give to me from the Tree of Life, that I may bring it as medicine to him.” But the angel would not give him from the Tree of Life. Instead, he gave him a shoot from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. “When this bears fruit,” said the angel, “Adam will be fully restored.” So goes the legend. And the legend continues, that this shoot, planted on Adam’s grave, endured as a great tree, whose wood finally became used for the cross, thus fulfilling the angel’s words, “When this bears fruit, Adam will be…