“Words of Spirit and Life” (Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:1-11; John 11:1-53)

Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 29, 2020

“Words of Spirit and Life” (Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:1-11; John 11:1-53)

Have you been starting to feel like you’re Lazarus? I mean, you’ve been cooped up in your quarantine “tomb,” not just for four days, but now going on fourteen days. You’ve been stuck inside so long, maybe skipping showers, maybe skipping laundry–“Lord, by this time there will be an odor!” You’re stuck inside, and you’re waiting for someone to speak the word, “Lazarus, come out!” But for now, it looks like you’re going to have to wait a little longer. The President’s hope that we will be able to go back to church on Easter–well, we’ll have to wait and see if that can come to pass.

And so we wait. Inside. Virtual reality. But what is very real, and what is very powerful–indeed, what is creative and life-living–is the word of God. The word of God gives us hope and joy, in the midst of economic uncertainty and social isolation, even in the midst of disease and death. The words that God speaks to us–even today, now as you hear them–these are “Words of Spirit and Life.”


Published in: on March 28, 2020 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Prophets without Honor” (Ezekiel 2:1-5; Mark 6:1-13; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 5, 2015

“Prophets without Honor” (Ezekiel 2:1-5; Mark 6:1-13; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)

“Prophets without Honor.” That’s what we see in our readings today, in the lessons from Ezekiel, Mark, and 2 Corinthians. “Prophets without Honor.” That’s what we see in our world today–that’s what we see in our nation today. And who are these prophets who do not receive the honor befitting the message that they bring? Well, guess what? It’s us, we in the church, who bring the word of God. So it behooves us today to listen now, as we consider the trials–and the blessing–of being “Prophets without Honor.”


Published in: on July 4, 2015 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Growing Tree” (Ezekiel 17:22-24; Matthew 13:31-32)

Midweek Lenten Evening Prayer
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

“A Growing Tree” (Ezekiel 17:22-24; Matthew 13:31-32)

The image of a tree, which may have started out rather small and insignificant, but which grows and expands until it becomes a very large tree, with branches and leaves where the birds of the air come to make their nests–this is an image that is used in a number of places in the Bible. And it is generally used to signify the rise and growth of a kingdom, a kingdom that grows and expands to include many nations in its empire.

For example, in the Book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has a dream about a tree like that, a tree that grows and becomes strong, and its top reaches the heavens. And the birds of the heavens live in its branches. Daniel is called in to interpret the dream. He tells Nebuchadnezzar: “It is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the ends of the earth.” And that was a true description of the Babylonian Empire early in the sixth century B.C.

Likewise, in Ezekiel 31, there is a similar story about the Assyrian Empire. It was like a cedar that towered high above all the trees of the field. All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs. And that was true at one time of the Assyrian Empire.


Published in: on March 18, 2015 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“You Shepherds, Hear the Word of the Lord” (Ezekiel 34:1-24)

Circuit Pastors’ Conference
Tuesday, September 10, 2013

“You Shepherds, Hear the Word of the Lord” (Ezekiel 34:1-24)

The readings for this coming Sunday in the three-year lectionary are perfectly suited for preaching to a bunch of pastors. All the readings concern the role of a shepherd caring for his sheep. In the Holy Gospel, from Luke 15, Jesus compares himself to a shepherd who goes to find a lost sheep. This fulfills the prophecy of Ezekiel 34, the Old Testament Reading, in which the Lord says that he himself will search for his sheep and seek them out. Even the Epistle, which, during this time of the year, is not chosen to go with the other readings–the reading from 1 Timothy 1, while it doesn’t use the shepherd imagery, does begin a series of readings through 1 and 2 Timothy, two of the so-called Pastoral Epistles. So everything is converging here to fit a message to pastors.

I mentioned the Old Testament Reading from Ezekiel 34. The assigned verses for this coming Sunday actually begin at verse 11, where it says: “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.” But today I have included in your bulletin also the verses leading into that text, since this portion, verses 1-10, deals specifically with “the shepherds of Israel,” in other words, the spiritual leaders of the people of God, or, as we might say, the pastors. And so our theme this morning: “You Shepherds, Hear the Word of the Lord.”


Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Spirit, Breath, Wind: The Lord and Giver of Life” (Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15; Acts 2:1-21)

The Day of Pentecost
Sunday, May 27, 2012

“Spirit, Breath, Wind: The Lord and Giver of Life”
(Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15; Acts 2:1-21)

Today is the Day of Pentecost, a day when we call special attention to the person and work of the Holy Spirit. That is what I would like to do now, using as our theme a phrase we just spoke in the Nicene Creed, where we called the Holy Spirit “The Lord and Giver of Life.”


Published in: on May 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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