Sermon: Not Done Yet

Sunday, May 5, 2019
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Schuyler, NE
Third Sunday of Easter

Our gospel reading for this morning picks up right on the heels of the gospel reading we read last week, which is actually kind of odd.  Last week, we read the story of “doubting” Thomas from John 20, a story that ends with Jesus saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”  John then goes on to write,

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Now, that really sounds like it’s the end of the story, doesn’t it?  It sounds like it should be the end of the book of John.  All it’s missing is “and they lived happily ever after, the end.”  So it’s kind of surprising then to turn the page and realize that John actually goes on for a whole other chapter.

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Sermon: When in Doubt

Sunday, April 28, 2019
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Schuyler, NE
Second Sunday of Easter
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Thomas is in the wrong place at the wrong time in our gospel reading for this morning.  Or, at least, he’s not in the right place at the right time. The rest of the disciples had gathered in fear following Jesus’ crucifixion, probably to talk about the rumors they had heard that Jesus had somehow risen from the dead – when Jesus himself suddenly appears among them!  Only Thomas isn’t there to join in the rejoicing or to hear Jesus speak peace to them.

We have no idea what Thomas was off doing, but we do know that when he came back, he definitely did not expect to hear that everyone else had gotten to see Jesus while he was out.  Thomas reacts to this news with disbelief – and he flat out refuses to believe the testimony of the other disciples. Instead, he insists that he will only believe if he sees Jesus with his own eyes and touches his wounds with his own hands.

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Sermon: The Doctor Is In

Sunday, September 30, 2018
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Schuyler, NE
Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost
(Service of Healing)

This is a rough, rough gospel text for today.  With a text like this, instead of, “Praise to you, O Christ!” it kind of feels like a more fitting gospel acclamation would be just, “Wow, O Christ,” or even, “WTF, O Christ?”

And some of us may have already come to worship today carrying some pretty rough feelings.  This has been a very difficult week in our nation.  Many folks who have known the horror of sexual assault have been reliving some of their worst trauma this week.  Many people have seen in these events their own experience of not being believed, whether it be about the truth of their experiences, or about their innocence in the face of harsh accusations.  And I think all of us have probably been discouraged with the reminder of just how viciously divided our country has become.  To those of you who are struggling, who are feeling raw and vulnerable today, I see you.

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Sermon: Come Dance

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Sunday, May 27, 2018
Peace Lutheran Church, Las Cruces, NM
Trinity Sunday

I don’t know what led Nicodemus to visit Jesus in the middle of the night in our gospel story for today. The text never really makes it clear. However, I am pretty confident that that visit did not go as he expected.  Nicodemus was a Pharisee, an important leader in the Jewish community; and even only three chapters into John, Jesus has already made a name for himself as a popular folk preacher who turns water into wine and hangs out with John the Baptist.  Perhaps Nicodemus came to learn from Jesus, or to try to persuade him to reconcile with the other religious leaders.  But he never actually gets to the point of his visit or even asks Jesus a question. He starts off his visit by affirming, “we know that you are a teacher who has come from God.”  We know.  ‘You tick all the boxes: you do signs and wonders, you definitely know your scripture, and oh man, that water into wine thing was just awesome!  Nobody could do that stuff apart from God, so God must be with you.’

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