Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sermon 1/18/2015, Second Sunday after Epiphany B

Lutheran Church of the Savior, Kalamazoo

1 Samuel 3:1-20

Young Samuel heard the voice of God, and Phillip told Nathanael to "come and see" what Jesus was all about. Our Psalm today describes our bodies as marvelously made by God, and Paul's letter to the Corinthians describes our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. How do we experience God in our bodies, with our physical senses? And why does God come to us in these ways?

As always, listen here or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by searching "Tengwall."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sermon Audio 1/11/2015, Baptism of Our Lord B

Mark 1:3-11

Today we remembered Jesus' baptism and our own by hearing that each of us is a child of God. Our sermon today was less a proclamation of the gospel than an explanation of the ritual that would proclaim the message more clearly. And what better way to receive this good news than from a child?

Listen here or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by searching "Tengwall." 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sermon Audio 1/4/2015, Second Sunday of Christmas B

The Christmas season offers us so many ways to see and experience the overwhelming grace of God. Today's lesson from Ephesians is actually one incredible run-on sentence bursting with images of God's powerful grace for us and the world God loves. 

Listen here or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by searching "Tengwall." 

Sermon Audio 12/24/2014 Christmas Eve

The Christmas narrative in Luke's Gospel is very familiar to us, with Mary and Joseph and the stable and the shepherds and the angels. That familiarity sometimes obscures the many surprises in this story. Mary and Joseph? Why them? A stable? Angels? Shepherds? Every part of this story surprises us when we look with fresh eyes at the amazing tale of God's gift of love to the world in the birth of Jesus. In order to emphasize the surprising core of this story, I tried something new on this Christmas Eve, a small gift to reflect the amazing gift God gave at Christmas.

Listen here or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by searching "Tengwall." 

Sermon Audio 12/21/2014, 4th Sunday of Advent

Lutheran Church of the Savior, Kalamazoo

Luke 1:26-38

As we celebrate another baptism this Sunday, we remember that God always chooses us, and God's promises are so much greater than our own. Our response to God's promise is the wonderful freedom to love God and love one another, and I am excited to share this freedom with another baby and his family today.

Listen here or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by searching "Tengwall." 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 2015 Newsletter Article: Jubilee

After a holiday hiatus, this blog is back in business! In addition to this newsletter article, look for sermon audios for Sunday 12/21, Sunday 1/4, and Christmas Eve in the coming days. 

“10And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. 11That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. 12For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.”
- Leviticus 25:10-12

During the five years I have served you as pastor, I have been immensely proud of all the tremendous work we have done together for the sake of the gospel. The love of God in Jesus Christ has guided Lutheran Church of the Savior to faithfully take risks on new endeavors, to faithfully let go of things that no longer serve the gospel as they once did, and to faithfully continue many of our successful ministries. The place of “the church” in our world continues to evolve, and we, LCS, have met this challenge with trust that God is leading us to participate in God’s work in Kalamazoo and around the world.

Growth and change in recent years haven’t always been easy. We have faced challenges and conflicts, lost beloved members and sometimes hurt one another’s feelings even though that was not our intent. Helpfully, scripture reminds us that following Jesus was never meant to be easy. From disciples who left their boats and families when Jesus said “Follow me,” to the apostles whose proclamation of Jesus Christ led to imprisonment and even death, following Jesus has always been about trusting God to lead us through the unknown.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 2014 Newsletter Article - We Wait for Jesus. Jesus Waits for Us.

“In darkest night his coming shall be,
when all the world is despairing,
as morning light so quiet and free,
so warm and gentle and caring.
Then shall the mute break forth in song,
the lame shall leap in wonder,
the weak be raised above the strong,
and weapons be broken asunder.

-  Marty Haugen, “Awake! Awake, and Greet the New Morn,” ELW 242

The news in recent weeks has been dominated by Ferguson, the death of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of police officer Darren Wilson. Between reports on protests in Ferguson have come reports of protests in other cities, and reports of other instances of police killing unarmed black males.

Officer Timothy Loehmann shot twelve-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland while the boy held an Airsoft replica of a powerful handgun. This week, a Staten Island grand jury chose not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo after he choked Eric Garner to death in July. Both incidents were captured on video. I have been afraid to watch either video.

It feels like a dark night indeed when citizens are taking to the streets across the country, when social media hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter fill our social media, and when citizens and police fear for their safety just walking down the street.

Advent is a season of waiting. How long, O Lord? How long will violence and racism tear our communities apart? How long will media ask us to choose sides between police officers and black citizens? How long will politics and selfishness squeeze empathy and humanity out of the center of our interactions?

God promises something else.

We wait to remember Jesus’ birth, the miracle that an ordinary baby born in the lowliest conditions can turn the world toward God’s reign of love and justice. We wait for Jesus’ return, when God will renew the face of the earth and wipe away every tear from our eyes.

The waiting we do during Advent is not about sitting on our hands. Listen to Isaiah’s words on the first Sunday of Advent, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence… so that the nations might tremble at your presence!” Our nation is already trembling, but for all the wrong reasons.

Or on the second Sunday of Advent, when we read in 2nd Peter that “we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home,” and “while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace.” To hide from the violence in our nation, preserving oneself at the expense of those who work for justice, is not peace. It is fear masquerading as peace.

On Advent’s third Sunday we hear again from Isaiah, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.” Jesus himself quoted this lesson when he publicly announced the beginning of his ministry in Luke’s Gospel.

Finally on the fourth Sunday of Advent we hear Mary’s famous song, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.… He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”

We wait for Jesus, Immanuel, God-with-us, who will turn our world of violence and fear upside down. While we wait we read again and again of the radical power of God’s love in Jesus to transform this world, to challenge the powers of sin and isolation that defy God.

At last it occurs to me that while we wait for Jesus to return, Jesus himself is waiting for us. He is waiting for us to ask questions and stand up and to those who would resort to violence. He is waiting for us to do the hard work of reconciliation, to listen to those with whom we disagree, to stand with those who are powerless. He is waiting for us to seek the causes of systemic violence instead of merely reacting to the effects. Jesus is waiting for us to do God’s work with our hands, not just the important charity work we do this time of year, but the work of seeking justice and an end to the violence that falls disproportionately on the least of his brothers and sisters.

We wait for Jesus to break into our world, not just to rescue us but to empower us to actively seek his reign by working for justice.


Pastor Andrew