Reformation Sunday: The Truth About the Truth

John 8:31-36 Dear Partner in Preaching, I suspect that the Gospel doesn’t mean very much to the self-made man or woman. Do you know what I mean? We define “Gospel” in a variety of ways – salvation, grace, forgiveness, life, and so on. Today Jesus adds another way to speak of the Gospel – freedom. Good words, all. But the common denominator among them is that they assume need. The one who values salvation knows that he or she needs saving. The one to whom grace is important is aware of the need for grace. Forgiveness implies sin. And so on. No wonder Jesus’ interlocutors are offended. Jesus says, apparently to persons who already...

Statement Against White Supremacy

Dear friends, Like you, I have been shocked and saddened, grief-stricken and outraged, by the violence in Charlottesville and, increasingly, around our country and globe, the “normalization” of extreme and bigotted rhetoric, and the rise of neo-Nazism and white supremacy. Again like many of you, I have wondered how, beyond prayer and lament, to respond. Toward answering that question, I’ve put below a statement I’ve written with Prof. Rolf Jacobson, my former colleague at Luther Seminary and good friend. You can access and sign the actual petition by clicking on this link. It is addressed to Lutheran clergy not to...

Epiphany 7 A: Telos

Matthew 5:38-48 Dear Partner, Ahh, the temptations we preachers are going to feel as we read this difficult passage! I’ve preached it enough, and you probably have to, to be familiar with at least two of them. The first will be to not take it seriously. I call this the “Lutheran temptation” simply because when Lutherans get to really difficult says from Jesus, we tend to assume that Jesus didn’t really expect us to do these things, only to remind us of our inability to satisfy God’s commands so that we might flee to Jesus for forgiveness and grace. While I’m not sure this actually reflects Luther’s thought, some of his...

Vocation in the New ...

“The Christian shoemaker does his or her duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”  I love this oft-quoted saying of Luther because it gets to the heart of his understanding of vocation. And that is, quite...

The Divine Exchange

In this manner Christ takes to himself our birth and absorbs it in his birth; he presents us with his birth so that we become pure and new in it, as if it were our own, so that every Christian might rejoice in this birth of Christ and glory in it no less than if he, too, like Christ, had been...