The year of Matthew . . .

Matthew remembers Jesus and his ministry with a persistent confidence in Jesus' utter trustworthiness and the wide and amazing extent of God's embrace. Matthew frames Jesus' public ministry--between the devil's wilderness tests at the outset and the beginning of the passion narrative in Jerusalem--with two vital statements about divine graciousness: the beatitudes and the story about "sheep" from among the nations who are surprised to learn that generosity toward those in need is solidarity with Jesus himself. 

From its opening genealogy to its frequent explicit citations of Hebrew scripture, to its focus on obeying the Mosaic law as a means of encountering God's promises of life and wholeness, Matthew situates the story of Jesus in the piety, expectations, and sometimes disorderly long-running history of God's chosen people. Jesus comes as God's promised ruler to Israel, as one who will fulfill long-standing hops and bring God's intensions to full flower. Matthew reminds Christian congregations that the good news is first and foremost a statement about divine faithfulness to God's covenant people and then by extension to the wider world. No one can read Matthew and decide that the Hebrew Scriptures do not matter or have become passé, Rather, through Jesus, we find ourselves situated in a larger, older story.

Matthew also shines a light on forgiveness. Jesus brings forgiveness about. The kingdom of heaven enacted in Jesus' deeds and teachings brings benefits to people now, accomplishing forgiveness and forging new relationships. Jesus instructs his followers to make those same things part of their common life. Matthew is full of parables. In parables Jesus urges us to reframe our perceptions about the world, human interactions, values, and fairness. Because the kingdom of heaven is about the emergence of a transformed society and not merely an improved society, Jesus teaches with short narratives that undercut our expectations about how things are supposed to work. 

Matthew won't let us forget that Jesus' teachings recognize the struggles associated with the kingdom of heaven's arrival. Jesus is helping his audience perceive something they have not fully experienced before, and he is also equipping his followers, the church, for ministry in his absence. After all, one of the things he finally commissions his followers to do is to carry on his ministry of teaching and "making disciples." 

Sermons in Year A 2022-2023

To read the sermon, click on the square next to the title.

  • Advent I, 27 November 2022:  Advent Lessons and Carols Service

    The O Antiphons are a set of medieval refrains originally used before and after the singing of the Magnificat. They were in use already in the eighth century.  Each invokes the Messiah under a different title derived from the Old Testament. This title is then amplified, and followed by an appeal to "come" and save us in a particular way. Around the twelfth century, they were collected into a Latin verse hymn, which was later translated by John Mason Neale, finally becoming the beloved Advent hymn "O come, O come, Emmanuel.” These antiphons form the structure of this service. The corresponding stanza of "O come, O come, Emmanuel" is sung for each of the seven antiphons.

  • Advent IIA, 4 December 2022:  Waking and quaking in the wilderness

    It seems we cannot get to the baby in manger without going through John the Baptist. His voice is a clarion call to repentance. But what does that mean to us today?

  • Advent IIIA, 11 December 2022: Are you the One?

    In Advent, we can't get to the manger except through John the Baptist. Last week, we met the Baptist in the wilderness; this week we meet him in prison. Last week he proclaimed a resounding and self-assured call to repentance. This week he sends a question to Jesus, "Are you the one?"

  • Advent IVA, 18 December 2022: Missing Joseph

    It is tempting to sideline Joseph as a minor character in the nativity story, and yet, there is no story without him. Joseph's obedience is essential to the fulfillment of the scriptures.

  • Christmas Eve, 24 December 2022: Away in a Manger

    The then and there Christmas story is not as essential as the here and now Christmas story--that is, when the Christ child is born anew and held in the manger of your heart and life.

  • Christmas I, 1 January 2023: In a World of Herods, Be a Joseph

    In the gospel for the First Sunday of Christmas in Year A, we hear a portion of the nativity story that most people would prefer not to hear. And yet . . . it's important for us to remember that God comes to us even in the midst of the worst we humans can do. Will we respond like Herod or like Joseph?

  • Baptism of Our lord, 8 January 2023: Let It be so now

    Jesus shows up at the Jordan in line with all the others waiting to be baptized by John. But John is upset and essentially says to Jesus, "What are you doing?" And Jesus responds, "Let it be so now."

  • Epipany II, 15 January 2023: Come, See . . .

    If you want to know someone, you can't just hear facts about them. You need to get up, go and see for yourself.

  • Epiphany III, 22 January 2023: Be the Light

    Jesus, the light that shines in the darkness, is calling his disciples . . . so he can enlighten them so they can be bearers of his light in the world.

  • Epipany V, 5 February 2023: Salt and Light

    What does it mean to be told by Jesus we are salt and light?

  • Epiphany VI, 12 February 2023: Law and Grace Everywhere

    If you think that the "old" testament is a book of law and judgment and the "new" testament is only filled with grace and no law . . . welcome to today's gospel and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

  • Transfiguration of Our Lord: 19 February 2023: Three Words from God to Get You Through

    The meaning of transfiguration is that something or someone is changed or elevated. Certainly Jesus was "transfigured" on the mountain for Peter, James and John and, yet, maybe there was more than one transfiguration that day.

  • Ash Wednesday, 22 February 2023: Cleaned Hearts, What's Next?

    What if Ash Wednesday and Lent are less about what is past and more about what comes next? What then?

  • Lent I, 26 February 2023: Don't Tempt Me

    Two well known stories of temptation. Are they about "just saying no"? Or something else?

  • Lent II, 5 March 2023: Blessed to be a Blessing

    Spiritual hunger drives Nicodemus to seek Jesus.

  • Lent III, 12 March 2023: Grace Known and Unknown

    She is unnamed. She meets Jesus at an ancient well in broad daylight. She is not Jewish. She has the longest conversation with Jesus recorded in the gospels. She is a woman with "a past." She is found out. And amazing transformation ensues.

  • Lent IV, 19 March 2023: New Sight

    He is the man without a name but known as "the man born blind." In this longest of all the stories anywhere in the gospels, Jesus sees this man and anoints his eyes with mud--an act of new creation. 

  • Lent V, 26 March 2023: Can These Bones Live Again?

    The seventh sign of Jesus in Gospel of John is the raising of his friend Lazarus from death. It seems the saying is true that we cannot get to resurrection without first going through a graveyard.

  • Palm Sunday of the Passion of our Lord, 2 April 2023: Passion According to Matthew

    Click the picture of the thorns and palms to read the Passion according to Matthew.

  • Maundy Thursday, 6 April 2023: The Questions of Maundy Thursday

    Why the awkward rite of foot-washing? "Do you know what I have done to you?"

  • Easter Day, Resurrection of Our Lord, 9 April 2023: 

    Christ is risen . . . but what about us? Is this day a once a year celebration or something we celebrate and look for every day?

  • Easter IIA, 16 April 2023:  Jesus Came and Stood Among Them

    We have so much more in common with Thomas than we may have thought.

  • Easter IIIA, 23 April 2023: On the Road, A Meal, and On the Road Again

    At least according to the gospels, it is still Easter Day. And two disciples are walking away from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They meet a stranger as they travel whom they invite to join them in a meal. And then the stranger the stranger does the most Jesus thing Jesus does . . .

  • Easter IVA, 30 April 2023: The Figure in the Figure of Speech

    It' the Fourth Sunday of Easter and so it's Good Shepherd Sunday. The one who calls himself the Good Shepherd tells us in the gospel passage today that he is "the gate." Wait? The Gate? What does he mean?

  • Easter VA, 7 May 2023:  A Kingdom of Living Stones

    Jesus often talks of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven as being not just in great by and by but here and now, on earth . . . and what is more he tells us that we are called to help him build it, one living stone after another.

  • Easter VIA, 14 May 2023: Not Orphaned

    "I will not leave you orphaned." One of Jesus' unexpected but comforting promises.

  • Easter VII/Ascension Sunday, 21 May 2023: Looking up to heaven

    Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up to heaven? Two times messengers from God remind the disciples that we are looking in the wrong place or looking in the wrong direction for Jesus.

  • Day of Pentecost, 28 May 2023: Uncommon Gifts for the Common Good

    God is a giver of gifts. There is no time like the present to open the gifts and use them for the common good.

  • Trinity Sunday, 5 June 2023:  Confirmation:  a Graduation to be the Church

    Saying "yes" to our baptism is just the beginning.

  • Pentecost IIA, 11 June 2023: The Throughline of Faith

    What ties the mishmash of stories in the gospel for today?

  • Pentecost IIIA, 18 June 2023: "I am Sending you . . ."

    Jesus sends his disciples out with specific instructions but also some warnings.

  • Pentecost IVA, 25 June 2023: A line in the Sand . . .

    What can we make of Jesus, our Prince of Peace, telling us that he has not come to bring peace but a sword?

  • Pentecost VA, 2 July 2023: Slaves of Righteousness, Guest Preacher Barbara Bernstengel

    What does it means to be a "slave of righteousness"?

  • Pentecost VIA, 9 July 2023: Christianity . . . More than Being Nice

    If someone asked you what does it mean to be a Christian, would you respond by talking about sin and salvation?

  • Pentecost VIIA, 16 July 2023: Sowing Seeds

    Jesus tells a parable that at first may seem to be fairly straight forward. And yet . . . the parables of Jesus always have a twist. 

  • Pentecost IXA, 30 July 2023: Understood?

    Jesus concludes a series of parables on the kingdom of heaven and asks the disciples, "Have you understood all this?" And they say  . . . 

  • Pentecost XIA, 13 August 2023:  Fear and Faith, together again

    We are in miracle mode in the gospel of Matthew. Last Sunday we heard the story of Jesus feeding over five thousand people with five loaves and two fish; this morning we hear the story of Jesus walking on water and calming a storm. But why are the disciples terrified?

  • Pentecost XIIA, 20 August 2023: Leftovers for all

    Jesus gives a lesson on the importance of how we speak and use our words but when he is encountered by a Canaanite woman seeking healing for her daughter, he says something most astonishing.

  • Pentecost XIIIA, 27 August 2023: Is Jesus "the" Messiah or "Your Messiah"?

    Giving the right answer is not enough.

  • Pentecost XIVA, 3 September 2023: God forbid . . .

    Peter gives proof in today's passage that giving the right answer is not enough.

  • Pentecost XVA, 10 September 2023: We need to Talk and to Listen

    Jesus sets gives us principles and "rules of engagement" to maintain unity.

  • Pentecost XVIA 17 September 2023: Without forgiveness . . .

    We need to understand what forgiveness is and isn't.

  • Pentecost XVIIA, 24 September 2023: It's not about Fairness, It's Grace

    Grace, when all is said and done, is not fair.

  • Pentecost XVIIIA, 1 October 2023: Authorized

    By what authority do you do these things? The Pharisees ask a good question for the wrong reason.

  • Pentecost XIXA, 8 October 2023: Life and Death in God's Vineyard (Garden)

    The Parable of the Wicked Tenants could just as easily be titled "Murder in the Vineyard" or "Tenants Running Amok in the Vineyard." Its a rather dark and scary story . . . and yet it is still "the good news" we need to hear.

  • Pentecost XX, 15 October 2023, Stewardship Week I: You can't Take it With you

    Scripture tells us that we cannot bring anything with us when we die. So how are we to use/invest/spend our wealth?

  • Pentecost XXI, 22 October 2023, Stewardship Week II: Extending the Table into the World

    We are equipped and given authority to invite everyone to the table.

  • Reforation Sunday, 29 October 2023, Stewardship Week III: Holy, Bold and Free

    Unless we now the truth about who we are and who God is, we will not be truly free.

  • All Saints Sunday, 5 November 2023: Ever See a Saint? Why Yes you have!

    The beatitudes helps us, the saints of the church, know our calling.

  • Pentecost XXIVa, 12 November 2023: Waiting women (and men)

    The Parable of Bridesmaids is another one of Jesus head scratchers. And yet, if we look at it with different questions and angles in mind, some light will dawn upon us.

  • Pentecost XXVA, "Thanksgiving Sunday" 19 November 2022: Thanksgiving Overflowing

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  • Christ the King, 26 November 2023: Sheep and Goats

    The last parable of the church year has us wondering am I a sheep or a goat? Why is Jesus separating them?