The Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity 2018

“Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” These words from the holy prophet Job are about himself. But they are also about us: “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” Our days are numbered, yet in our folly we do not count them correctly. Your days are determined; the number of your months is with God; He has appointed limits for you that you cannot pass. And so the fear of death that every man experiences is not a fear of pain in dying, but pain in life escaping, slipping away. Like a flower, man blooms, then withers and decays. Like the leaves of an autumn tree, so beautiful in vibrant color, only to fall to the earth, destined to be carried away, burned or buried.

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The Marriage of Yonas Mekonen and Stephanie Lange

Your home, Stephanie and Yonas, is to be the Mekane Yesus - the dwelling place of Jesus. Yonas Mekonen, you are the angel of this home, the guardian and protector. Stephanie is the crown, the glory, the queen and treasure. Fill your home, Stephanie, not just with singing but with the song of faith. The Mekonen home is the Mekane Yesus - the dwelling place of Jesus.

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The Marriage of Jason Stegman and Rebekah Reistad

God’s created order is predicated on self-giving. The world itself is gift to mankind. Man and woman are then made to be dependent on one another. The woman’s life derived from the man’s body. God made her from man’s side, so she is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. And she in turn would give her body to him. These two, becoming one flesh, giving themselves to each other, find then a third—a child—who receives life from their union.

The structure of the world is centered around this self-giving. The story of the world begins and ends with a marriage. And at the center of world history stands Jesus, who in today’s Gospel is attending a failing marriage. 

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The Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity 2018

For twelve years, the woman had suffered. St. Mark describes her body as being a fountain of blood. She had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had on her medical treatment; yet it did not make her better. Just the opposite – her condition grew worse.

For twelve years, she had suffered. And her suffering was magnified by her isolation. She was driven to aloneness, because the fountain of blood coming from her sick body made her ceremonially unclean. She could not go to the temple and eat of the peace offering; for her there was no peace. Those who were clean would avoid her; and it must have seemed as though God was avoiding her too. 

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Reformation Sunday 2018

Justification happened on the cross. But justification is never past event but always present reality. Baptism delivers to us justification, and the entire Christian life is the living out of that justification. The name “Luther” is not important. The Bible that Luther gave to people in their own language is. The Bible teaching of justification, the free forgiveness of sins, that’s what is important. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

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The Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity 2018

The nobleman doesn’t get everything at once. He just gets from Jesus a Word. “Go your way; your son lives.” He has the Word, but does not see it. Though in retrospect he sees that his son was healed at that very hour, still he must begin the long journey back home. He journeys in belief; and yet did he also doubt? And could we blame him, if he wavered, if he worried about his little boy? All he had was the Word to go on. Sometimes it feels like it’s not enough. That’s why this story is recorded – for us, as a reminder that the Word is enough, that we can cling to it with confidence when the way is dark and the road uncertain.

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The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

You’ve been searching all your life for what will make you happy, but it has only led to dissipation, degradation, disappointment, dissatisfaction. Here is the Lord offering you the forgiveness of your sins without cost. Here is your Father inviting you to the true happiness, the happiness for which God made us: to be with Him, to enjoy Him, and to receive His creation as a gift.

It seems of course too good to be true. But this passage from Isaiah, chapter 55, is of course part of a larger context. In chapter 53 we have the Suffering Servant, the death of the Messiah where He pays for our ransom not with gold or silver but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.

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The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity 2018

When Jesus comes to the man in today's Gospel, He doesn't ignore the man's paralysis. He addresses its root cause. It’s not that the man has various needs that we can neatly categorize, like Mallow’s hierarchy of needs: bodily needs, emotional needs, intellectual needs, spiritual needs. It is all one. Sin and death hang together; so, forgiveness and life hang together. When Jesus forgives the paralyzed man his sin, He is already addressing his paralysis.

And from the forgiveness of sin comes healing. Jesus shows us this by the miracle which immediately follows. However, what we experience is drawn out. God's will is that we die to the sinful flesh, die to our passions gone wrong, die to our lusts, die to our pride. You might think you want your marriage improved, your job enhanced, your body healed. But all the difficulties you experience are simply symptoms of a deeper malady. Nothing good happens until we address the sin problem, and everything we experience in this life as a Christian should drive us more and more to the absolution, the forgiveness of sins.

And, from the forgiveness of sin comes the healing of you as a person, as a newborn child of God.

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The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity 2018

“What do you think about the Christ?” Jesus asks; “Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” David was the great King of Israel to whom was promised a son who would be an everlasting king. But the father is greater than the son. So how, Jesus asks, can David’s son also be David’s Lord?

Those interrogating Jesus cannot answer. The climax of the Gospel reveals the answer: When unbelieving Thomas is confronted with the risen Jesus, who still bears scars on His hands and side, he confesses, “My Lord and my God!” That’s who Jesus is: God in the flesh. True God, begotten of the Father from all eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

But why? Because He yet loves this world whose love has grown cold. The Bridegroom bears the hatred and animosity of His bride, yet He loves her to the end, to the Telos, to the completion of what it means to be human. For the God who is love made us also to love.

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Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity 2018

The one thankful leper didn’t have his leprosy cured because he believed hard enough. Jesus commends him because he saw in Jesus the merciful God. God had shown pity on him, and therefore the leper was glad. I imagine they all were glad, because they were healed. But the thankful leper was glad not just for his healing, but because he had found God. He wanted to be with him. This kind of faith ceases to be about the believer and becomes all about the object of belief. The Christian, then, never talks about his own faith, but the Christ in whom his faith is.

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