Christ the King Matthew 25:31-46

The congregation’s oldest and most faithful member is slipping away. The pastor bends over to catch her final word.  She has a question for the pastor.  Her family got off the boat from northern Germany to Philadelphia in about 1742 with other families whose great-great-grandfather heard Luther preach.  As Lutheran as she could possibly be, the dying matriarch looks at the pastor and with great effort she asks, “Pastor, do you think I’ve been good enough to be saved?”Continue Reading

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 25:14-30

In the 1950s there were a few farms in North Carolina where the cotton crop was still picked by hand. One of my seminary classmates had grown up in that county on a cotton farm. Picking cotton by hand is back-breaking work.  Late into the night, he told some of us about the time he stood up straight for a moment’s rest, and saw big letters in the sky – the letters of G – P and C.Continue Reading

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus has reached the point of no return in his brief ministry. After the Pharisees understood what he was saying about himself as the Son of the creating Father, their intentions were clear.  They would charge him with insurrection; the evidence against him was that he talked about the coming of the kingdom of God. The last thing they wanted was a home-grown king with fishermen as generals in opposition to the Roman puppet-ruler.  His raising Lazarus from the dead showed his power. Would he lead an insurrection?  He was a troublemaker.Continue Reading

All Saints Sunday Matthew 5:1-12

When Paul was a mission developer throughout the Mediterranean, he was in competition with the ancient gods – Zeus, Aphrodite, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and many more. There was a great struggle, competition, that is, between those fictitious gods and the God who revealed himself in Jesus of Nazareth.Continue Reading

Reformation Sunday John 8:31-36

Today is special. We celebrate the 16th  Century Reformation that resulted from Martin Luther’s study of scripture  and his concern that certificates of the forgiveness of sin were available for a price.   As a result of his study, pastors began to preach a new Gospel.  Beginning with congregations and pastors  in northern Germany, there was a realization that God freely forgives sin.  We call that idea as being the result of God’s grace. Continue Reading

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 22:1-14

To understand  the  story  about  the  wedding  banquet  and  certain  guests,  we  have  to  review  some  facts  of  the  time  when  Jesus  lived. That  is,  a  sundial  was  the  accepted  form  of  telling  the  time  of  day  but  there  was  no  monthly  calendar  in  every  home.   The  priests  and  rabbis  were  in  charge  of  observing  Sabbath  every  seven  days.   Continue Reading

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 21:23-32

A retired navy officer told a group of college men that when he was in officers training, the captain assigned him to get the ship underway next morning. That’s what he did, with all the numerous orders to move the ship away from the pier.  A few hundred yards into the Chesapeake Bay he dropped anchor.  He was about to send a message to the captain that he was awaiting further orders until a signalman said there was a blinker light back on the pier sending a message which he translated: “Before the ship leaves the pier, it is customary for the officer in charge to be sure the captain is aboard.” The retired officer said he was still embarrassed.Continue Reading

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 18:21-35

A TV producer was driving around, looking for an idea. He stopped where horses grazed. One of the horses trotted over to him – and said, “Let me tell you about myself.  I’ve run in 25 races and won over 5 million dollars.” Our man suddenly had a dozen ideas involving a talking horse.  He offered the rancher half a million dollars for the horse.  The rancher said, “You don’t want’im, but I’ll take your money.” The TV man wrote the check.  “But why wouldn’t I want’im?”  The rancher laughed.  “You can’t believe a thing he says.”Continue Reading

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 18:15-20

Matthew tells of a woman who had been suffering a long time. She came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his cloak. She was healed by the power that emanated from the body of Jesus. Paul, the great missionary theologian,  tells us that the church in every age is the body of Christ.  He wrote to the Corinthians, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”Continue Reading