Archive for February, 2014

Series on the Augsburg Confession

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

This is the discussion of the last article of the Augsburg Confession, Art. 28 on Church Authority.  This article is always interesting because Americans think Thomas Jefferson was the the first to come up with the idea of a separation of church and state.

Again this article in the second section of the AC and as thus deals with Roman abuses.

Let the listener understand that at about 3:50 or so, there is a large gap in the recording during which we took turns reading through Article 28.

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Sermon for Epiphany 6, 16 Feb

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

The audio for the sermon can be heard by clicking the embedded player below.


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Sermon for Weds in Epiphany 5

February 12, 2014 1 comment

Note:  The text of the sermon is included.  There are a couple of footnotes to cite sources.  I’m of two minds about footnotes in sermons, the first mind is, “Why bother?  I cannot possibly be saying anything unique that someone else hasn’t already said.”  The other is, “Just give credit where credit is due.”  And that’s were I usually side, especially when I print something and “publish” it on the Interwebs.  As usual you can listen to the sermon by clicking the triangle in the embedded player below.

Sermon for Weds in Epiphany 5 – John 4:1-45

Our reading tonight from John tonight is John’s account of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.  It’s a familiar text for us; at least I hope it is. 

Context is always key.  Remember John records this encounter amid many more.  The sole purpose of which is so that “all those who hear them may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in His, they may have life in His name.  (Jn 20:31)  Eternal life in the Bible is never just something we get at our death or at the Lord’s second coming; it is already now the present possession of God’s people.  Jesus makes this clear when He says, “He who hears my Word and believes the One who sent me has eternal life… and has [already] crossed over from death to life.” (Jn 5:24)  Indeed, “the one who lives and believes in [Christ] will never die.” (Jn 11:26)  When Jesus encounters the woman at the well He is drawing her from her present reality into a new present reality for her.  It is a present reality that is enacted in worship, worship of the Father in Spirit and truth.  That is, God’s people, already possessing eternal life do what eternal life possessors do, they praise the Giver of life and give Him thanks for His great love to have included us through His Son, by the power of the Spirit.[1]

And we should do just a quick socio-cultural refresher as we get started.  Jesus was up in Samaria, land that lay in between Galilee in the north and Judea in the south.  Before the fall of the southern kingdom, the people who had lived there were, more or less, Israelites who lived in the covenant God had made with Israel through Moses.  But when their southern neighbors were attacked and eventually conquered and exiled to Babylon, they were left behind.  They intermarried with the remaining Canaanite peoples and became something of a new people with a culture and religion that intermingled bits of OT religion with Canaanite worship practices.  In fact, the Jewish historian Josephus notes that the Samaritans were known for having incorporated into their religion the gods of five nations.[2]  Interesting then, that this woman Jesus meets has had five husbands, yes?  I just learned that today.  So the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea looked down on their Galilean neighbors to the north as bumpkins, but bother southern and northern Jews were in agreement that the Samaritans were an inferior people, culturally, religiously, ethnically.  And keep in mind the cultural divide between the sexes.  Just like today in the very conservative areas of the Middle East, in Jesus’ day, men and women who are not related to one another did not mix or associate in any way.  And Jesus, a Jewish man, reaches out to a Samaritan woman.  And then finally there is a moral barrier here too.  This woman comes to draw water in the middle of the day because she has been cut off from the polite society of women who normally draw water at the first of the day when it’s still cool.  What is first hinted at is confirmed later by Jesus.  She’s a scandalous woman.  And so this whole conversation is between them is really quite shocking when you think about it in these terms.  And much has been made by scholars, and preachers quoting scholars, about Jesus reaching out to the Samaritan woman as a general acceptance of all people etc.  And it certainly is that.  There is no one for whom Jesus did not come to love and to save.  There is no one too bad for Jesus to love.

I want to just pause right there for a minute because I think Jesus’ willingness to interact with her is a real challenge to us in the church today.  Notice that Jesus doesn’t just brand her with a scarlet letter to be done with her.  Clearly He is open to her and wants her to understand something very important about Him and His purpose as Messiah of God come to bring eternal life to the world.  And yet, He does not condone her lifestyle.  He confronts her in a way that is really quite gentle.  “If you knew who I am, you’d ask Me for water… that wells up to eternal life.”  If we get this right, we understand something about the nature of the Gospel and the very heart of God Himself.  If we get it wrong, we turn the faith into a new set of rules that categorize and attempt to marginalize and diminish our opponents.  This happens too often.  We must learn to stop doing this if we are going to be people of the Gospel because there is no one too bad for Jesus to love.

We should also talk a minute about the metaphor of eternal life, this living water.  If you’ve ever lived in an arid climate you know something about thirst.  It is as if Jesus is saying, “I have something for you that is just as basic as water; without it you are as good as dead.  My water, is deeply satisfying.  The life I give, when it wells up in you, is like a spring welling up.”  Jesus is talking about a deep assurance and satisfaction in one’s soul that remains true even in midst of life’s difficulties and trials.  It’s something this woman with five husbands did not have.  That she had five husbands proved she had been looking for it and had settled for something else instead.  Her sin is not merely a moral failure, it’s something deeper and indicative of the human condition.  Go back to chapter three and compare this Samaritan woman with Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, and you’ll see that Jesus is dealing with the same sin, not adultery, a much deeper sin than the breaking of a morality code.  Both the Samaritan woman and Nicodemus are guilty of putting themselves in the place of God, of listening to themselves and the rules they make up for themselves instead of what God says.  There’s all kinds of ways people do this but they basically break down into three different categories: the secularists who say that with human reason and hard work they’ll create a satisfying life for themselves; the hedonists who say they’re gonna break all the rules and live in freedom; and the religious who want to be their own Savior and who say, “I will live a moral life and God will have no other choice but to bless me.”  But it’s all sin.  Everybody is guilty.  You and I are guilty of this.  If we say we aren’t, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  But what is the solution.  Where should we look for life in the midst of the lives we have created for ourselves which lead only further away from God and to death?

The church father, Augustine, famously said, “Our souls are restless, until they find their rest in [God].”  “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’” (v. 10)  Jesus is telling this Samaritan woman her that He is her soul’s rest.  The amazing thing is that He tells her precisely where to find this water welling up to eternal life.  When Jesus tells her to go get her husband, he’s not changing the subject, He’s telling her where she has been trying to find her soul’s assurance.  And then pointing her back to Him.

What great fortune that this Samaritan woman bumped into Jesus that day.  How could she have known she would find her soul’s rest, her eternal assurance, eternal life as a present possession that day?  Because Jesus went looking for her.  Why?  Jesus went to the well, while the disciples were away because He was thirsty.  Why was Jesus thirsty?  Because the eternal Word of God who created the waters and separated them from the dry ground became human flesh and dwelled among us.  He was almighty but He allowed Himself to become weak so that He would thirst.  The woman found Jesus at her well because Jesus became weak for her and said, “I thirst.”  In John’s Gospel this is not the last time Jesus says, “I thirst.”  On the cross, “knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), [Jesus said] “I thirst.” (Jn 19.28)  Isn’t that amazing?  The one who is the source of our eternal life, who directed us to drink from Him, Himself was dried up on the cross.  And then, John tells us, the most amazing thing happened.  The centurion came by to ensure Jesus was dead and not passed out and pierced Jesus’ side with the spear and from Jesus’ side flowed blood and water.  He who dried Himself up on the cross for us, became a fountain of life for us.  As Jesus experienced thirst on behalf of the whole cosmos on the cross, we find the source of eternal life welling up from His body on the cross for us.

The second half of our reading tonight shows that the Samaritan began to understand just who it was that was offering Himself as her source of eternal life.  She, in turn, witnessed to her whole village, and consequently, the whole village was saved.  Nicodemus, learned what it meant to be born of water and the Spirit and he helped Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus and according to later Christian tradition was martyred for the faith.  Nicodemus was confronted and then lvoed.  The Samaritan woman was loved and then confronted.[3]  To be loved and not really known is nice but because someone doesn’t really know you, isn’t really all that satisfying.  To be known and not loved, is perhaps our greatest nightmare.  That’s why we hide ourselves in all kinds of ways so people don’t really see all that stuff that down in there.  If they only knew, we fear.  But to be known to our very core and to be loved through and through, by the only person in the universe whose opinion counts for all eternity, that is the most solid assurance we can have and nothing and no one can take it away.  And that’s what God our Father does, not because we’re so good, or because we aren’t quite that bad, or at least we’re better than those people, no.  Not because of anything we have done or could ever do.  Only because of Christ Jesus and what He did in our place and for our sake to know us and to love us completely.

To know that and to praise the Father who loves us on account of Christ is to worship Him in Spirit and truth.  Amen.

[1] I got this whole paragraph basically from Peter Scaer’s article on this pericope.

[2] Antiquities, 9:288

[3] I’m indebted to Pastor Tim Keller for this and what follows and some of the earlier ideas in this sermon.

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Series on the Augsburg Confession, 9 Feb

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

So I’m caught up now with all my recordings and getting them posted.  My recorder died recently and I missed a couple of Wednesday evenings but I’m up and running now.

This session we focused on Art. XXVII Distinction of Meats.  I jump into the discussion right away having read the article in class.  You’ll want to have read it before trying to follow along this session.

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Festival of The Presentation of our Lord

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Forty days after He was born, Jesus was presented in the temple and dedicated to the Lord with a sacrifice in accordance with the Law of Moses.  Jesus fulfills the Law of God in every way.  What I like about the picture below is that the artist depicted Simeon as high priest wearing the ephod of Aaron.  Good stuff.  As usual you can listen to the sermon by clicking the triangle in the embedded player below.

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Festival of St. Titus, 26 Jan

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Below are coins from Ephesus that show the image of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, childbirth, and virginity.  Her counterpart in the Roman pantheon was Dianna.  As usual, you can listen to the sermon by clicking the triangle in the embedded player below.


File:Didrachme de Ionie.jpg

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Series on the Augsburg Confession, 19 Jan

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

You can listen to the audio by clicking the triangle in the embedded player below.

The Word of the Lord endures into eternity.


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