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.