Pentecost 10 A: Something More

Matthew 14:22-33 Dear Partner in Preaching, I notice that I’ve fallen into something of a pattern over the last few weeks and months of wanting to emphasize God’s grace and activity lest we receive the Gospel primarily as good advice rather than as good news. I suspect that’s a core part of my own theology – the primacy of God’s grace – and perhaps it’s a result of just finishing up a “Making Sense” book on Martin Luther’s theology where God’s activity is so central (I’ll share a little more info. about that once I know when it will be available). But I suspect it’s partly also a reaction to Matthew’s Gospel...

Trinity Sunday A: The Great Promise

Matthew 28:16-20 Dear Partner in Preaching, Ever notice that the close of Matthew’s Gospel, a passage we usually refer to as “the Great Commission,” ends with a promise? I think I sometimes get so caught up in the grandeur and import of the Great Commission that I overlook what I now think of as “the Great Promise” – “And I am with you always, to the end of the age.” I suspect this isn’t an accident. That is, I suspect that our only hope of fulfilling the great commission – sharing the good news of God’s grace in Christ with the world through word and deed and welcoming all into fellowship through Baptism – is by...

Lent 5A: Heartache, Miracle, Invitation

John 11:1-45 Dear Partner in Preaching, Once again we’re offered – or faced with, depending on your mood 🙂 – a really, really long story from the Gospel According to John. As with the earlier stories, it can be both helpful and effective to focus on a particular detail to help hearers enter the story as a whole and experience its evangelical force. This week, however, I was struck by the dramatic movement of the story and how following that movement can offer us an opportunity to take stock of, and participate in, God’s ongoing and dynamic action in the life of our congregations. There are, I think, three major movements to this...

Pentecost 10 B: The Surprise of our Lives

Dear Partner in Preaching, How do you feel about surprises? I’ll be honest: I’m not wild about them. In fact, I’ve always been a bit leery of people who love surprises. Call me dull, but, for the most part, I like the predictable, the planned, the ordered. For surprises, good or bad, have this way of upsetting plans and catching you off guard, of making you feel all unsettled and unprepared and insecure. Now, don’t get me wrong, surprises in some areas of life are fine, even fun; but I still get rather nervous around people who love to surprise other people. Now, I know, I know, most people are well-intentioned when they plan their...

John 1:12

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. And here is the turn. The turn from disobedience, lack of recognition, and rejection. The turn toward life, and light, and joy. For while many rejected the Word of light and life, not all did. And...