Sermons

There is Easter in the Commandments, because the Decalogue describes exactly what the new life looks like—loving God with heart and soul and mind, loving our neighbor as ourselves—the life of the saints of God in Christ, who has made us new.

But at the same time there is Good Friday in the Commandments. They show us our sin and they condemn us. Each of the 10 is like a nail of the cross piercing us with its demands of what our sinful nature ought to do, but does not do very well at all; what our sinful nature ought not to do, but still finds a way.

So we Lutherans, if we are true to our name, we neither do away with the Law of God, nor do we turn it into a Christian slavery. We always look upon the commandments in Christ.

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3rd Midweek in Lent  Judges 16:4-6, 16-21 & Mark 14:32-46 Their names have down come through time as definitions of betrayal. Benedict Arnold, out of our formative American history; Marcus Junius Brutus, the Roman who made the Ides of March infamous; Vidkun Quisling, the Nazi puppet leader in WWII Norway, whose…

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As much as we talk about Abraham’s faith, his faith is not the primary theme in the long saga of Abraham recorded in the Book of Genesis. Oh yes, Abraham’s faith is impressive! Leaving his home and his people to go wherever the Lord commanded him to go. Following the Lord’s dreadful command to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham’s faith is both human and super-human at the same time.

Oh, but when Abraham falls, it too is legendary. Passing off his wife, Sarah, as his sister on two different occasions just to save his own skin. That whole fiasco with Sarah’s maid, Hagar, and the birth of Ishmael. When Abraham falls short of faith it is so very noteworthy! Indeed, like the famous little poem, “when [he] was good, [Abraham] was very, very good; but when [he] was bad, [he] was horrid.”

But the Abraham saga is not so much about Abraham’s faith, as it is about the promises of God, the covenant. There would be no faith had it not been for those promises. And the promises of God fill every chapter of this saga. From chapter 12 of Genesis when we first meet Abraham, to chapter 25 when Abraham is laid to rest beside his wife in the cave of Machpelah, near the great oaks of Mamre, it is always the promises of God that inspire his actions of faith, or return to lift up the fallen patriarch when he acts apart from faith.

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2nd Midweek in Lent  Genesis 3:1-8 & Mark 1:9-13 “You came, I was alone / I should have known you were temptation. / You smiled, luring me on. / My heart was gone, you were temptation… I’m just a slave, only a slave / To you, temptation.” From the year 1933….

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But Abraham believed the promise of God, despite the command of God. Despite the command of God, Abraham trusted the promise of God. In the face of God’s dreadful command, Abraham, in faith, trusted those promises all the more. It’s what faith does. As Jesus, in faith, would bring strength out of weakness, glory out of shame, forgiveness out of sin, life out of death. That’s what faith does when it seems that God is our enemy? As Martin Luther once said, “faith trusts God even against God.” In the face of God’s dread command, faith trusts God’s promises.

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