Who’s Your Daddy?

Reformation Sunday + October 27, 2013

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When I told the Wednesday Faith Night Bible Study group this week that my working title for this Reformation sermon was “Who’s Your Daddy?” their reaction was similar to yours. Admittedly it’s an unusual, maybe edgy title, but it reflects a central question in John’s Gospel today.

The people of the promise who believed in Jesus had just heard him say that by living out the word he’d taught them, they would truly be his disciples. Disciples who would experience the truth and the truth would set them free. Well they didn’t get it, claiming that as sons and daughters of Abraham they’d never been slaves to anyone. I wonder if Jesus laughed-out-loud because he, like most Sunday school children, know that the people had been enslaved, and more than once…

  • Remember Egypt, how the Passover and Exodus stories were all about God freeing them from slavery?
  • Remember when they were slaves to wandering around a dessert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land?
  • Or when years later they were defeated, taken away, enslaved from all they knew and had been promised during the Babylonian exile?

Descendants of Abraham never enslaved—I imagine Jesus smiling and maybe shaking his head as he asked them: “Who’s Your Daddy?”

Who’s Your Daddy according to that all-knowing web resource Wikipedia, is a slang expression that most often takes the form of a rhetorical question. It is commonly used as a slam, an insult, and a boastful claim of dominance over the intended listener. Perhaps the phrase itself comes from the 1968 song “Time of the Season,” by The Zombies (yes pastor used a zombie reference during Halloween week) that features the lyrics:

What’s your name? Who’s your daddy? Is he rich like me?

And as we struggle to keep our eyes open after watching the World Series game last night (especially if you’re a Red Sox fan), you may recall the phrase from the 2004 American League Championship Series when it was used as a taunt chanted by New York Yankees fans at Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez. Now Most of you know that I’m not a Yankees fan, but Pedro brought this on himself after losing a game against the Yankees when he told reporters:

They beat me. They’re that good right now. They’re that hot.  I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.

I don’t care if you are the world’s biggest Yankees fan, or George Steinbrenner Jr., the Yankees are not your daddy. Nor is Abraham your daddy. Distant ancestor, biblical hero and father figure yes, but not  even daddy to the Jewish people Jesus was engaging in our Gospel story this morning. So “Who’s Your Daddy?” We are children of God, that’s who our daddy is!

Word. Jesus, God with us in the flesh came to remind us of that. Jesus tells us that as children of God, we are no longer subject to the world’s boastful claim of sin and dominance over us.

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The Truth Will Occupy You and Set You Free

Sermon for Reformation Sunday + October 30, 2011

Today is a day when the realities of who we are, what our nature really is (when we are truthful with ourselves), and where we go when faced with that truthful reality. The Good News this day is all about freedom, liberation from what binds and enslaves us. The bad news is that you and I are like the Israelites in our Hebrew Scripture reading, we believe that we are not bound, and have never been enslaved. Our perception of reality is of a world where slavery to anyone or anything is ancient history…

  • We’re American’s,
  • We’re number one,
  • We’re in control of our destiny.

The truth is that we like the Israelites, live in denial, forgetting the experience of life along the Nile, enslaved to choices and circumstances of our lives. The truth of our world, our country, our church and our selves, is that…

  • We need freedom from our sinful thoughts and ways,
  • We need to be unchained from the bondage of brokenness,
  • We need to be reconciled to the fact that we are people in need of reform.

We, who are both sinners and saints, need the Holy Spirit to work in and through our lives, reclaiming the truth, refining our focus, and reforming our ways. This day is about
reclaiming what it means as Christ followers to live in the freedom that Jesus has given us through the cross.

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Reclaiming the Truth

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Dandelions, Tiger Lilies and Bear Grass, Oh my!

Sermon Preached the Fifth Sunday of Pentecost + July 17, 2011

Last week we heard about the sower and the story of spreading seeds abundantly. One of the problems with growing seeds is that often seeds of other plants take root among your desired seeds, no matter how carefully planted, tended, or intended. The result is of course weeds, defined simply as a plant that springs up in a place where it isn’t wanted—or one for which we have yet to desire, or find a purpose for.

Which leads me to the sermon title: Dandelions, Tiger Lilies and Bear Grass, Oh my!

  • Because for many bright yellow dandelions, often the first flowers we pick as children, are seen as weeds, enemies of our heavily manicured, picture perfect, golf course lawns.
  • Because orange tiger lilies that spread along country roads and fields have pretty flowers, these day lilies are not sought out or valued by serious gardeners.
  • Because bear grass, more commonly known as yucca is as hearty as it is odd looking in this part of the country. The pointy leaves and tall spikes covered in blooms make them look more like an odd desert plant.

What are the plants considered ‘weeds’ in your life that you see beauty in… or choose to let grow in the gardens of your life? What will people think about your… Dandelions, Tiger Lilies and Bear Grass, Oh my! Continue reading

Holy Happenings for Holy People

Maundy Thursday Sermon + April 21, 2011

 Holy Happenings for Holy People

 

Today we begin the Triduum or Three Days during when we participate once again in the saving power of Jesus’ passing over from death into life. We have just heard the words of Jesus’ new commandment or mandatum, from which Maundy comes, to love one another. And we will through liturgical action wash and strip away what weights us down to prepare us for all that is to come.

But this evening, I have a confession to make before speaking about offering ourselves in love for the life of the world… In our bulletin and liturgy this evening there is a typo, actually more than that, a bit of a mistake. In all of the planning, preparation and proof-reading for Holy Week, I missed that the laying on of hands liturgy we used this evening was for healing and not for individual absolution which is traditional for this night.

For those who came forward following our corporate confession and forgiveness at the beginning of worship, you heard the words “In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ be strengthened and filled with God’s grace, that you may know the healing power of the Spirit.” The words that are appointed for the liturgy are: “In obedience to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.”

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Confession is something that most of us see as a group, or corporate thing. We see individual confession as something our Roman Catholic cousins do. But confession in all forms is a very Lutheran thing, even if it is only once a year on this night, and even if only a few opt to come up to hear those words of God’s grace: “I forgive you all your sins.”

Now Martin Luther was a big fan of confession and saw it as almost sacramental. Luther said:

Confession contains such a noble thing. I would not give up confession for all the riches in the world, even if all the leaves and grains of sand were gold. And save for the sacrament, I know of no greater treasure and comfort than confession. Whoever does not know this comfort is not worthy to confess.”

Confession and forgiveness is at its core, all about healing, wholeness and reconciliation. So my mistake this evening in using a healing rite instead of individual absolution just conveyed God’s love in a slightly different way. The laying on of hands in the name of Jesus, the great healer and reconciler of the world, conveys God’s abundant comfort, unconditional forgiveness and never-ending grace… even when the pastor messes-up.

God knows what we need, knows our heart and hurts, knows our sins and struggles. God knows what we need to confess and forgives us, what we need strength for, sustains us through the Spirit’s presence and love.

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 We who walk together asFaithLutheranChurchoften find ourselves caught-up in the messiness of relationships…

  • We get frustrated and angry with one another.
  • We gossip and think or say hurtful things when things don’t go our way.
  • We stomp our feet, we even sometimes stomp away from one another, or from the community God has called us to be a part of.
  • We get caught with mud on our faces and get covered when the sins of our thoughts, words and deeds as individuals and as a congregation hit the fan.

It is in these moments that we need to be reminded of the means of grace. Earthly elements connected with words of Jesus to do. And so in John’s Gospel we hear the story of Jesus and the Last Supper. A simple meal, bread and wine, shared around a dining table. One of our youngest members, in describing an image of that meal called it the “last dinner” rephrasing the simplicity of the meal, elevating it to a special meal, a dinner, one that we will share on this a night we remember that first, but not last dinner.    

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Out in the Christmas Woods

My Grandfather loved wood.  He was a master carpenter and cabinetmaker and had a shop full of wood.  There was oak, maple, or birch for most projects; cherry, black walnut or even mahogany for special ones, and pine and spruce for everyday projects.  It didn’t matter what the project, he would saw and plane, shape and sand with his strong hands and delicate touch.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wood this Christmas…  From pine roping and fir trees, to the large maple basket filled with logs next to the fireplace to the perfectly stacked wood in the fireplace, just waiting to be lit, its warmth and flickering light filling the room and warming our eyes, hearts and bodies this Christmas. 

 I’ve been thinking about wood a lot this Christmas… From the warm wood tones of this sanctuary, the oaken pews, the spruce ceiling, the laminated arches, the paneled walls, and the altar furniture crafted for the things most dear to us: the wash basin stand of our baptismal font, the place we are washed and claimed by God; the lectern and pulpit, the Word places where we hear the promise and love of God; and the communion table, the place where we taste forgiveness and are sustained by God.

I’ve been thinking about wood a lot this Christmas… From Balsams and Frasier Firs to Scotch Pines, Norway Spruces, Mistletoe to Holly, the wood of Christmas fashioned into wreaths and as decorated trees, evergreen and fragrant, filling our homes and churches with a symbol of peace and joy.  Early Christians placed evergreens in their windows to show that Christ had entered their home, the unchanging nature of evergreens reminding us of everlasting life.

I’ve been thinking about wood a lot this Christmas… From the simple bench that our crèche sits upon, to the handcrafted figures of the Nativity story carved and lovingly painted in the Philippines, unwrapped and placed with love by the children of Faith, a visual reminder for us all about the breaking in of God into the lives of people who longed for a savior, for light to brighten the darkest of days.

I’ve been thinking about wood a lot this Christmas… From the large wooden manger filled with hay and a baby doll during our Sunday School pageant a week ago, to that same manger holding the Holy Scriptures opened to the Gospel for this night.  Both God’s Word, both held in a manger crafted by members of this Faith community, both proclaiming the Word made flesh, Emanuel, God with us, born this night for you and for all people.

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