29 November 2010

Great Tribute to Veterans

Here's a great tribute to our nation's veterans as sung by some 3rd grade students:

28 November 2010

Homily for Advent 1

It's hard to believe we've begun yet another new Church Year. But Advent has, well, come and I must say that it's nice to see a color other than green on the altar.

Today's homily borrowed from the Collect of the Day (in Lutheran Service Book) for its direction and outline. With the theme "Come, Lord Jesus!" we hear just how our humble, donkey-riding King stirs up His power and comes to rescue us from the threatening perils of our sins.

Click the link to download the audio file and listen to today's homily for Advent 1.

Homily for Thanksgiving Day

This year for our Thanksgiving Day Matins service I chose to use the readings for "Harvest Observance" in Lutheran Service Book. What a refreshing change for this national - not ecclesial - observance. (After all, preaching on the ten lepers in Luke 17 can get a bit repetitive after awhile, especially when the reading pops up in both the One-Year Lectionary and the Three-Year Lectionary not too long before Thanksgiving Day!) The readings for Harvest Observance are: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15; and Luke 12:13-21. From these readings came the central thought that real thanksgiving cannot happen without giving that precedes it. Hence, the title of the day's homily: "Thanks Comes After Giving."

To listen to the audio file of this homily, just click this link and download the audio file.

Homily for Last Sunday of the Church Year

November brought a reprieve from the pulpit on Sunday mornings, though only to concentrate on preaching several funerals as well as the normal Wednesday routine of Morning Prayer (school chapel) and evening Divine Service.

However, on 21 November it was great to get back in the pulpit for the Last Sunday of the Church Year (a.k.a. Trinity 27) and preach on the Gospel from Matthew 25:1-13. It's amazing how many different angles a preacher can take on a single text over the years. This time it was a joy to focus on the theme, "Don't Miss Out!"

Just click on this link to download the audio file and then listen to the homily.

Robert Farrar Capon's treatment of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins was certainly compelling throughout. But this quote, which also concluded the homily, was hard to ignore:

“’Watch therefore,’ Jesus says at the end of the parable, ‘for you know neither the day nor the hour.’ When all is said and done—when we have scared ourselves silly with the now-or-never urgency of faith and the once-and-always finality of judgment—we need to take a deep breath and let it out with a laugh. Because what we are watching for is a party. And that party is not just down the street making up its mind when to come to us. It is already hiding in our basement, banging on our steam pipes, and laughing its way up our cellar stairs. The unknown day and hour of its finally bursting into the kitchen and roistering its way through the whole house is not dreadful; it is all part of the divine lark of grace. God is not our mother-in-law, coming to see whether her wedding-present china has been chipped. He is a funny Old Uncle with a salami under one arm and a bottle of wine under the other. We do indeed need to watch for him; but only because it would be such a pity to miss all the fun.” (Robert Farrar Capon, Parables of Judgment, 166)

Homily for Funeral of Nadine Macko

On 8 November 2010, I had the privilege of finally giving Christian burial to a long-time saint and member of my congregation. Nadine had been a shut-in just a little longer than the nine years that I've been back at Hope, St. Louis. When I served at Hope as Associate Pastor (1990-1994) I also had the privilege of visiting Nadine's sister Laura. Back then sister Laura really wanted to go home and be with the Lord, and for the past nine years Nadine has had the same sanctified desire. I often reminded her of St. Paul's words to the Philippians: "My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better" (1:23).

Well, finally, the Lord blessed Nadine with a peaceful rest as she awaits the Resurrection on the Last Day. My homily for Nadine's funeral focused on the three readings - Isaiah 25:6-9; Romans 8:31-39; and Luke 2:25-32 - and was titled simply and fittingly, "Finally!"

Just click on this link and download the audio file to listen.