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...

Pentecost 3 A: Two Timely Truths

Matthew 10: 24-39 Dear Partner in Preaching, There are two words here, both important for our people to hear. Division and discord are an inescapable part of our life in this world. Trust me, this won’t be news to your people. Every headline or news caption seems to blare this reality. Every family experiences the pain of this reality at one point or another. Every person in your congregation has been marked by this reality. No, this won’t be news. Much of that discord is avoidable and unnecessary. That’s the tragedy, but also the truth, of our condition, and we can commit ourselves to healing it where possible. But some of that...

Pentecost 2 A: Telling the Truth, Twice!

Matthew 9:35-10:8 Dear Partner in Preaching, Because of the way the readings for the Pentecost season are determined by the date on which Easter falls, we haven’t had a chance to hear this passage in Sunday worship for nearly a decade. It’s a great bridge from the Easter season that concludes just before Pentecost and Holy Trinity Sundays to the season of Pentecost proper. That bridge is immensely helpful for those who are trying to follow the narrative of Matthew, as after the Lenten focus on the journey to the cross and the Easter focus on the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection (both of which draw heavily from John’s...

Trinity C: Don’t Mention the Trinity!

Dear Partner in Preaching, So what do you think: is it possible to preach a sermon on the Trinity without mentioning the Trinity? I ask because I have this hunch that we’ve gotten a little off track with our thinking about the Trinity. That is, I think the Trinity was the early church’s way of trying to grapple with a monotheistic belief in one God in light of their actual, lived experience of God’s activity powerfully in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and after an encounter with the power of the Holy Spirit. And the Trinity provided an answer…of sorts. An answer often couched in the language of fourth-century metaphysics....

John 4:7-12

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)...