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LCH Sermons—Time after Pentecost 2008 (October and November)

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The Reign of Christ—November 23, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Ezekiel 34:11–16, 20–24; Psalm 95: 1–7a; Ephesians 1:15–23; Matthew 25:31–46
Summary: Todays’s Gospel about the sheep and the goats is difficult because it is traditionally seen in a judgmental way that does not fit with our understanding of God. This is apocalyptic literature that is designed to give hope in a time of suffering, rather than prophetic literature which says that suffering comes from sin. Remember that Jesus says the sheep will inherit the kingdom, not that they earned it. The sheep do not remember giving aid because it had become second nature. Our business is to be sheep, to know and be known by God, and to live out God’s love as second nature.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 32—November 16, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Mark Blice-Baum
Lessons: Zephaniah 1:7, 12–18; Psalm 90:1–12; I Thessalonians 5:1–11; Matthew 25:14–30
Summary: Given the current world financial situation, it is tempting to identify with the third slave in today’s Gospel parable who buried his one talent. However, this is really a story about faith and risk taking. The first two slaves were praised for trusting their master and taking risks, but the third servant was afraid and hid his talent, and he was condemned for not taking a risk. Too many Christians go through life afraid of making mistakes. We need to be like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who risked all for the Gospel. Our challenge is to use the talents God has given us for the kingdom.

(Webmaster’s Note: Pastor Blice-Baum recently moved to Hawai‘i with his spouse, Pastor Christine Blice-Baum, who is an Air Force chaplain.)

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 32—November 9, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Amos 5:18–24; Psalm 70; I Thessalonians 4:13–18; Matthew 25:1–13
Summary: During December 1999, there was a great sense of anticipation about the millennium, and many expected the second coming. Of course, they were disappointed, as were those of the century after Jesus. Amos tells us that the end of days is not to be desired. The parable of the maidens helps us understand that we should be awake and watching. Some will be ready, others will not, but we should all watch. The kingdom is not just an event of the future; it is now. It began on the cross and is unfolding. Watching is active. We watch by living out the beatitudes; we watch with justice rolling down like a stream. The point is not the second coming. Jesus comes to us in bread and wine; in water and Word.

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All Saints Sunday—November 2, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Revelation 7:9–17; Psalm 34:1–9, 22; I John 3:1–3; Matthew 5:1–12
Summary: On All Saints Sunday, we remember those saints who have passed away and those who are with us. Historic saints, like Teresa of Avila, can be very interesting, but we must remember that sainthood begins in the coarse humanity we all share. Saints I have known over the years (like St. Henry, who prayed for all, and St. Barbara, who lived in solidarity with the poor of El Salvador) lead me to understand sainthood differently. Saints are ordinary people of faith who live out the love of an extraordinary God. My new favorite saint is St. All-of-us.

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Reformation Sunday—October 26, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Jeremiah 31:31–34; Psalm 46; Romans 3: 19–28; John 8: 31–36
Summary: On Reformation Sunday, we remember a great revolution that swept the world. The powerful vision in Jeremiah tells of a time when the people will be at one with God, but many of us act as if God will only love us if we do things right. Martin Luther had a vision that set people free, a vision that calls us from lives centered on ourselves to lives of discipleship. This revolution did not just happen in the 16th century. God is still reshaping and reforming us.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 29—October 19, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 45:1–7; Psalm 96; I Thessalonians 1:1–10; Matthew 22:15–22
Summary: In today’s Gospel, they try to trap Jesus with a question about paying taxes to the emperor. These days, no one thinks twice about paying taxes. We have more trouble with the second part about giving God what is God’s. We know we cannot just give what is left over as taxes; we must pay them first. But many of us are reluctant to dedicate our lives in thanksgiving to God. When we offer our lives in service, we are being stewards of creation. We must pay our taxes, but what what a joy it is to “render unto God.”

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 28—October 12, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 25:1–9; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:1–9; Matthew 22: 1–14
Summary: Today’s Gospel is a strange story about a king who gives a banquet, but the invited guests all say no, so the king sends servants out to gather everyone. This is an image of grace and mercy for all of us to follow. Here at church, we are have a party each week, even if it’s sometimes hard for people to recognize. But there is a second part of the story. One of the guests does not have a wedding robe and is thrown out. This reminds us that we are invited to God’s banquet at no cost, but there are responsibilities. Once the banquet is over, we are called to go out and create a travelling banquet—to be the banquet for the world.

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Time after Pentecost • Lectionary 27—October 5, 2008

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 5:1–7; Psalm 80:7–14; Philippians 3:4b–14; Matthew 21:33–46
Summary: Today’s Gospel about the vineyard is both easy to understand and vexing because it calls us to think about our Lutheran Gospel of grace—that there is nothing we can or should do to earn salvation. This text reminds us that God does expect us to bear good fruit. We need to ask over and over what kind of fruit we bear as individuals and as a church. There is a free ride with God’s grace and love, and at the same time, everything in the vineyard belongs to God, and we are tenants or stewards who are called to make sure the vineyard flourishes and bears fruit.

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