Baptism of our Lord A: Family Name

Matthew 3:13-17 Dear Partner in Preaching, In the summer of 1906, my great-grandfather, a pastor and professor of theology at Wittenberg Seminary, ventured east to look for a summer cottage. The cottage he bought, on Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York, has been in our family ever since and has served as a wonderful retreat for several generations of pastors and their families who otherwise would have had a hard time affording a summer getaway. The last name of my great-grandfather, and the majority of my aunts and uncles and cousins descended from him, is Gotwald, and as a kid I would go by that name, rather than my own, while at...

Pentecost 18 B: Who Are You?

Dear Partner in Preaching, Who are you? Really. Take a moment to ponder that question…and then ask yourself how you came to that answer. Do you, that is, define yourself by your accomplishments, or your history, or particular critical experiences, or your relationships, or some combination of the above? Another way to get at this question might be to ask, who gets to tell you who you are? Who, that is, has the most influence in shaping your self-image? Is it your parents, your partner or spouse, your friends and colleagues? Or perhaps it’s the world of advertising, which constantly tries to overwhelm us with ads picturing perfect people...

Matthew 5:48

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” I have to admit that I have always found this verse, which serves as something of a climax to this section of Jesus’ teaching on the relational ethics of the kingdom, rather intimidating. Be perfect? Come on! As God is perfect?...

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it...

Luke 9:28-36

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They...