Monday, November 23, 2015

Final post

It is no longer necessary to make additional posts as all material is now posted. (Remember these are gleanings from sermons preached over 35 years.)  You can find any Sunday in the three series church year in the Blog Archive.
Series A    2013- 2014
B    2014-2015
C    2012-2013

If you want to follow my new blog it is called “SPARK-IT” and is a shortened version of “Larry the Lutheran” with a picture to help capture the message.  A picture and quote is also put on Facebook to invite friends to read the Blog.

Here is the link:"SPARK-IT"

This has been a heart warming experience for me.  Thanks you to those who have responded to my postings.  I hope they have been helpful…not all that can be said by any means, for God’s Word is a living word and always has more to be said then has been said…we will never say all that needs to be said!  Having said that, I bid you farewell.  Keep living in God’s love and letting God’s love live in you!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 22 2015 Christ the King Sunday

John 18:33-37

 33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

 “Not Of This World”

His Kingdom is not of this world.  It is a Kingdom where things are reversed in a strange yet powerful way.  The first are last and the last first.   The great are the lowly and the masters are the servants.  The little is much and the poor are rich.  The widows mite is much and the rich peoples much is little.

A Kingdom where money is not as important as love and relationships;  where nothing can happen which is beyond becoming a blessing, redeemed by God’s love.  It is a Kingdom which cannot be destroyed and will never end.

“Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I (Napoleon Bonaparte) have built great empires.  but upon what did they depend?  They depended on force.  But centuries ago Jesus started an empire that was built on love, and even today, millions will die for him.

“All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as the one who was born to be a king...of another kingdom.”

 “Not Of This World”

The Kingdom of God came as and is yet today a surprise.
The disciples missed it...
the people missed it...
the religious leaders missed it...
the church misses it...
and we miss it more then we get it!

It isn’t always the way we see it.  It’s power is weakness; its wealth is poverty; its prestige is meekness.

To be meek is not to be weak (spiritless); it is to be of a gentle spirit.
A meek person is strong enough to not have to be bias, prejudiced, close minded, defensive.  A meek person is strong enough to be open, understanding, compassionate, long suffering, humble, and of such is the Kingdom of Jesus.

In the Kingdom of God we are challenged to hunger and thirst after righteousness - the wealth of the Kingdom.  It is found in right relatedness, right living, right relationship to God and each other.  It dares to forgive rather than condemn; be merciful rather than judgmental; patient rather than demanding. It leaves room for mistakes rather than demanding perfection.

We also are challenged to be poor in spirit...humble minded.  To know that I am spiritually poor is to be open to see what I could never see if l were rich.  It is to hear what I could never hear; to believe what I would never otherwise believe.  It is to be open, alive, looking, questioning, searching, knocking, asking, seeking.  And then discovering the promise given!
Indeed the Kingdom of God comes as a surprise.
The challenge of faith is to not miss it!

“A Kingdom Of Grace”

Jesus answer to Pilate betrays what appears to be happening and reveals a majesty which baffles Pilate and us.  It is a majesty of grace by a King whose Kingdom will never be destroyed.
God is best known as a God of grace and God’s kingdom is a kingdom of grace!
In a Kingdom of grace the King is first of all a servant, truly a servant of all!
In a Kingdom of grace the bottom line is not what is cost effective, but what is fitting and appropriate for all - and fair.
In a Kingdom of grace patience is more important than efficiency; faithfulness than merit; truth than dishonesty, deception or expediency.

“Jesus addressed economic questions more frequently than he did violence, sexual morality, or heaven and hell.  The most fundamental principle of biblical economics... is the notion that economic activity is not an end in itself but exists to serve higher purposes.
...The biblical emphasis is not so much on the mechanics of producing and distributing material goods as on how such activities reflect a right relationship to God and one’s neighbors.  ...The primary standard the Bible gives us for judging any economic system is the priority of the poor.  The righteousness of a people is to be seen in how they treat the weakest members of society.”  Sojourner staff person

“We can do things to diminish our humanity and resist God’s sovereignty over us, but we cannot do things that can dethrone God nor stop Him from loving us.  That is invincible.”

Sunday, November 8, 2015

November 15, 2015 25th Sunday After Pentecost

Mark 13:1-8

1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

   2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

   3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

   5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

Let me pass on to you these words of Mark E. Wegener which put this text in a healthy perspective.
“If you are tempted to decipher Jesus' apocalyptic predictions and discover their fulfillment in current events, remember this: Over thirty years ago a popular volume entitled The Late, Great Planet Earth (1970) was published. It predicted that the end of the world would occur soon. It sold millions of copies and can still be found on the shelves of some fundamentalist, "evangelical" bookstores. Its author made three predictions: (1) things will get a lot worse, (2) the end of the world will come soon, and (3) most people will make fun of these predictions. So, of course, as soon as responsible theologians contradicted the first two predictions, the third one automatically came true! Most amazing was the fact that this book "interpreted" dozens and dozens of biblical passages, except the clearest single statement on the subject, namely, Mark 13:32, where Jesus says, "Concerning that day or hour nobody knows."

All that we know is that Jesus will be there at the end and no matter what, it will be good!  So watch, keep awake, stay alert, and don’t worry about it!

Also these words from David F. Watson, New Testament professor at Union Seminary, Dayton, Ohio.

“These are complex (words), deeply rooted in Old Testament language, history and theology.  Yet, despite the difficulties that they present, they are also powerful (words) that teach us not to follow false messiahs and prophets.  The dangers of overzealous nationalism and reactionary violence are clear in this  passage.  Violence begets violence.  (Amen to that!)  Followers of Jesus are to trust in God’s providential care even if the world around them seems to be falling apart before their eyes.”

And that takes a lot of  faith courage!

Monday, November 2, 2015

November 8, 2015 24th Sunday After Pentecost

Mark 12:38-44

  38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

 “But First...Out Of Need”  

The story of the poor widow reminds us that we are called to live and give beyond our means.  We can give even out of our needs and all will be well.

Fear of not having enough makes it hard for us to hear and believe that giving is so important.  We should do it even when we can’t afford to do it.  It is the greatest joy in life, whether we have little or much.  To give much because we have been given much, we have been loved much.

She was in the hospital, dying.  She had lived a simple life; devout wife, faithful church worker, loyal friend.  She hadn’t asked for much and she was happy with what she had.
I stopped to see her and she asked me to get her purse out of the closet.  She opened it and gave me some bills.  Later I discovered that it was over $400, probably close to all she had.

Then I remembered the look of joy in her eye as she gave me the money and said use it in the church.  When she died all she had was auctioned off and added to this as a memorial to spread God’s love in our lives.  It wasn’t much but it was all she had.  And it was given with joy!  Myrtle gave much!  She loved Jesus much!  She loved people much!

She joined company with poor widow in our text for today.

“Try It...You’ll Like It”

This text should disturb us.  It confronts us with giving which comes out of need.
The truth is that what was happening in her and to her by giving her last 2 pennies was greater then anything she could have purchased with them.  They were expressive of her faith, trust, gratitude and there in,  her dignity.

 A dignity no amount of money could buy!

We need to give.  It is basic to our humanity.  We are not happy only to receive; in fact it is more a blessing to us to give then to receive.  We also need to be open to receive.
There is a ministry of receiving as well as giving.  Jesus let the woman put in her last 2 pennies and he received them with praise.

We need to give before we can afford to give, not only when we can afford to give.
We need to give out of our necessities not just out of our surplus.

Giving is a gift to be enjoyed.
Giving is a gift which enriches our lives.
Try’ll like it!

A different way of seeing the widow’s mite.

Tracy Hartman, in New Proclamation, Year B 2012 challenges us to see this story in a different, and I would suggest deeper way.

He suggests that the main point of the story is not money, but Jesus impending “giving of his all”.

I quote:  “How long would it be before they realize that the widow’s gift of all she had was an example of what Jesus was about to do, give everything he had to redeem a world gone terribly awry?  How long would it be before the disciples realized that following Jesus would mean that they, too, were being asked to give their all as well?  How long will it be before we, too, understand?

A thought worth pondering!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Nov. 1, 2015 All Saints Sunday

Matthew 5:1-12

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
The Beatitudes
    He said:
   3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
   11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 “Rejoice And Be Glad”

“I’m no Saint!
I’ve made some mistakes.
I’d do some things differently.
I’d not do some things I did, and do some things I didn’t do.
I’m no Saint!”  Gerald Ford as he was being considered for appointment to V. Pres.

Most of us do not consider ourselves to be saints.  In fact, it is almost an insult to be called a saint.  It means you are not in touch with real life.  As the agnostic Robert Ingersoll describes, you are someone who is “...not quite sick enough to die nor healthy enough to be wicked.”

This is a gross contradiction!  A saint is someone who is very human.

 A saint is someone who wants much out of life but refuses to crush life to get it.  Who is passionate enough to not hurt others as he/she drinks deeply of life.

A saint is someone who dares to live as a human with an eye towards heaven.  Who can be “poor in spirit” because he/she doesn’t have to pretend.  Who can be “meek” because he/she doesn’t have to always be right.  Who can be” merciful” because he/she doesn’t have to judge others.  Who can “hunger and thirst after righteousness” because he/she doesn’t have to have all the answers all the time.

A saint is a very human person who can “rejoice and be glad” amidst persecution, suffering, grief or pain because he/she lives on earth with an eye on heaven; and the love of God which comes from above.

“Enjoy The Luxury Of Doing Good”

We usually think of a saint as someone extraordinary.  A St. Francis of Assisi, a Maximillian Kolbe - the catholic priest who took the place of a condemned polish Jew at Auschwitz and was canonized a saint in l971, or a Mother Teresa.  A Raoul Wallenberg, Martin Luther King, or Dietrick Boenhoffer.

We don’t often think of ourselves as saints.  Yet this is what we are - all of us!
Or at least it can be said we are called to be saints!  We are called to live out our faith in the places where it makes a difference in our lives and in the lives of others.  Even as we are called saints numerous times in Scripture.  See Ps 31:23; Ps 31:4;Rom 1:7

This is what we are - saints!  Sinners who have not yet given up and thrown in the towel.
Real alive, vibrant, passionate, gutsy human beings who struggle to make faith “ a power and passion in authority among the powers and passions of life” (P. T. Forsythe) and not just a little frosting on the cake.

The Beatitudes are our marching orders.

“poor in spirit” - humble enough to laugh at our own foolishness and not claim to                            have all the answers.
“mourn” - feel the sadness of life and grieve deeply.
“meek” - Not weak, but strong in a gentle way.
“hunger and thirst for righteousness” - who desire something more than the easy                                life.
“merciful” - compassionate; walking with those who suffer; the luxury of doing                      good.
“pure in heart” - living from the inside out;  genuine; trustworthy; real.
“peacemakers” - something every one wants and seems to evade us all.
“persecuted” - to be a saint is no easy calling; it will mean conflict;  a dangerous                        calling!

God calls us to be saints and God is with us, empowering us in this calling.  Nothing can keep us from being happy; Nothing can keep us from enjoying the luxury of doing good, loving justice, and walking humbly with our God!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 25, 2015 Reformation Sunday

John 8:31-36
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

   33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

   34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.


The Reformation is about change.  We don’t like change.  We even use the Bible to keep us from change.  God wants to make a new covenant with us.  We don’t want it.  We want the old covenant where we know what to expect and are more in charge.

God’s Word is an instrument of change and will, if we let it, change the way we look at things. It “is the source of all that is creative in the life of the Church.”  (Luther) It sets us free to be new and different people.
People who put love at the center of life and let nothing keep it from doing its thing.


Jesus came that we might have live, and that abundantly.
That we might be free to live and drink deeply of this human existence, which is Gods first great  gift to us.

In Christ we are free to be ourselves.
We don’t have to be like someone else.  We don’t have to pretend we are more religious then we are. For God accepts us as we are.
“It’s okay to be me, because me is okay.”  We are free to be!

In Christ we are free to try, to fail, and to try again.  For with God there is forgiveness!
To live with Jesus is to live in forgiveness, full and free. There is no limit to Gods forgiveness.  Once forgiven, we live with grateful hearts which are more powerful then any set of rules.

How great it was to have such a forgiving God!
This is the way God is.  God’s grace is big enough for all our needs, and our goofs.
We are free to live!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October 11 & 18, 2015 20th & 21st Sundays After Pentecost

Mark 10:17-31
 17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[b] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

“The Impossible Possibility”

What is going on in this story is a battle of the wills, not just the pocketbook.  A confrontation with addiction and a call to surrender.  It is your story and mine!

The question is sincere for the man is sincere.  But he wanted to be in control.  He wanted to do it his way.  “Just tell me and I’ll do it!” might well be a correct paraphrase of his dialogue with Jesus.

Jesus loved him.  What follows comes out of love not judgment.  He enters the man’s life at the one place where he does not want God to be, the one place he does not want to surrender.

This is always where God seeks entrance into our lives.  For until we surrender where we least want to surrender, we are still in control and doing it our way.  We are still seeking to be saved by good works rather than grace.  We have to reach the place where we know we can do nothing, then God can do everything.

By grace we are saved, not works!  Let go and let God!

“Be Godly, Not Just Good”

We try hard to be good; when we are called to be godly.  We set our sights on the good life; when we are called to live the godly life.  We work hard at being moral, upright citizens; yet our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God.

What ever that means - to find our rest in God - it is more then being good, moral, or even religious.  It means to “fear, love, and trust in God above all things.”  All things!

A lot of badness results when we measure our godliness by our goodness.  To stand with the Rich Young Ruler is to stand in the presence of our own hypocrisy and start being honest with the goodness which keeps us from being godly.

Jesus words to him (and us) were (are) spoken out of love, not anger.  There was so much in him that was good; yet so much that missed the mark in his life.

We are called to be godly not just good.  What ever that means it does mean not only dreaming the impossible dream but also daring to believe the impossible gift of grace is ours.  Then it is to dare try make a difference in the world we live in , knowing as we do so, in the words of Reinhold Niebuhr:

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.  Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;l therefore we must be saved by faith.  Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone;l therefore we are saved by love.  No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint.  Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.”

With God all  is possible!