February 25, 2018

Our Lenten theme this year explores how God ‘forms’ us as God’s people.  As we noted for Ash Wednesday, God’s formation begins with heart, and thus, God forms us by heart.

When you think of yourself as a member, a participant, a sharer in a community of faith, do you think about what makes you such?   Is it based on something you do or more basically upon something God does?

As Christians in the Lutheran heritage we see a direct line from Paul to Luther.  In the second lesson appointed for this Sunday, Paul proclaims God’s Word about how we are who we are as God’s people.

Apparently then, as now, people were inclined to give themselves credit, more credit than they deserved, for their own standing in the Kingdom of God, in the family of Jesus, as part of the Body of Christ.

Luther referred to such ‘credits’ as ‘works of the law’.  In other words, the notion that I did all the rules, followed all the guidelines and put the whole Lego set of faith together myself. I did it!  

Paul challenges that if you can get everything together by yourself so wonderfully, then you have placed your trust in yourself, not in the one who created all the Lego’s.  Trusting the creator would be empty of any meaning, because you have done it by yourself.

I really enjoy sitting with grandkids to put Lego projects together.  Lego’s are great models – for some things.  But not for faith. 

If we think that our relationship with God is based on how many models we have put together, then ‘faith is null and the promise void’.


O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life. Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

            Genesis 17:1–7, 15–16
               Psalm 22:23–31
            Romans 4:13–25
            Mark 8:31–38
SERMON:  “Null and Void . . or . . . ”

WORD OF THE WEEK  from Romans 4

The promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath;

FIRST LESSON from Genesis 17:1–7, 15–16
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous." 3Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4"As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you."

            15God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her."

SECOND LESSON from Romans 4:13–25
The promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

            16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations")—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become "the father of many nations," according to what was said, "So numerous shall your descendants be." 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,  21being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22Therefore his faith "was reckoned to him as righteousness." 23Now the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Mark 8:31–38
[Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."

            34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."











March 4, 2018


How is your memory?

One of my college roommates used to say “I have a great memory; but it’s short”.  Well, then . . . . .

How do we remember?  Not what do we remember but how?

In our faith formation, remembering is more than re-calling and being able to cite chapter and verse of that story where Jesus . . . . . .

In our communion liturgy we proclaim the words of Jesus: do this to remember me. Remembering involves doing.

As God’s grace and love forms us around the Table, we are doing something to re-member Jesus, to again become the members of his body, gathered around the heart of our faith: God love the world so much that God breaks (heart, Jesus, bread) to heal the world.

At the end of the gospel appointed for this Sunday, the disciples remember/recall something Jesus had said earlier.  All of Jesus’ disciples are asked to remember his life and teachings not only in their minds and memories but also in their lives and by their behavior.

God calls us to member again the broken and life-giving Body of Christ for the sake of the world.


Holy God, through your Son you have called us to live faithfully and act courageously. Keep us steadfast in your covenant of grace, and teach us the wisdom that comes only through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

            Exodus 20:1–17
               Psalm 19: 7-14
            1 Corinthians 1:18–25

            John 2:13–22


SERMON:  “Remember what who comes first”

WORD OF THE WEEK   from Exodus 20

God spoke all these words:
 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;

      3 you shall have no other gods before me.

FIRST LESSON from Exodus 20:1–17
God spoke all these words:
 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
      3 you shall have no other gods before me.
            4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
            7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
            8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
            12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
            13You shall not murder.
            14You shall not commit adultery.
            15You shall not steal.
            16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

            17You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

SECOND LESSON from 1 Corinthians 1:18–25
The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,
            "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
            and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
            21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.
THE HOLY GOSPEL according to John 2:13–22
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" 17His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." 18The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" 19Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body.

            22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.