“From Selfish Ambition to Humble Service” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 23, 2018

“From Selfish Ambition to Humble Service” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

In this long green season of the church year, the non-festival half of the year, the Epistle reading is not chosen to go along with the theme of the Holy Gospel, as it is in the festival half of the year. Instead, it’s just a straight reading-through of a particular epistle. Thus any correlation between the Epistle and Gospel is merely a coincidence. Well, we have such a coincidence today. The Epistle reading from James and the Gospel reading from Mark do have a common theme. It’s the theme of Christians, disciples of Jesus, being called to move “From Selfish Ambition to Humble Service.”

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Published in: on September 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Ears Opened, Tongue Loosed: Now What?” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 16, 2018

“Ears Opened, Tongue Loosed: Now What?” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a boy who was deaf and mute. In last week’s Gospel, Jesus healed a man who was deaf and mute. The man’s ears were opened and his tongue was loosed. And the crowd said about Jesus, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Now not one of us here is either deaf or mute. Some of us may be a little hard of hearing, but at least we can hear. And none of us is mute. We all can speak. Our ears and our tongue are working. But the question is: What are we doing with them? What are we using our ears and our tongue for? How are we using them?

And besides having functional ears and tongues physically, we also have had our ears and our tongue opened spiritually. In our baptism, God has given us ears to hear his word and tongues to praise his name. How are we using these ears and this tongue? To God’s glory? For our neighbor’s good? Or for different purposes? And so our theme this morning: “Ears Opened, Tongue Loosed: Now What?”

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Published in: on September 15, 2018 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Be Patient until the Coming of the Lord” (James 5:7-11)

Third Sunday in Advent
December 11, 2016

“Be Patient until the Coming of the Lord” (James 5:7-11)

Advent is a season of waiting. We’re waiting for Christmas. This is a time of penitential preparation awaiting that festive celebration. The season of Advent always begins on the Sunday closest to November 30, which can be as early as November 27, and that’s what it was this year. So this year we’re having the longest possible Advent, a full total of 28 days.

But we get kind of antsy about waiting and letting Advent be Advent: “We gotta get the Christmas tree up!” “We gotta have the Christmas party in early December.” God forbid we wait until the actual twelve days of Christmas and have the party then. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there’s anything sinful about having the Christmas tree up already or having the Christmas party during Advent. These are just a couple of examples to show how hard it is for us to be patient and not to rush things.

Advent is a season of waiting. And if it’s hard enough for us in the church to wait for Christmas, it’s well-nigh impossible out there in the world. Think about how our culture wants to rush Christmas. The catalogs arrive in the mail right after Labor Day. The radio stations start playing Christmas music in early November. The store decorations and gift items come out earlier and earlier every year. Christmas TV commercials and TV specials have been playing for weeks. So when Christmas finally does get here, it’s over in a day and everybody’s kind of tired of it. People have a hard time waiting. We have a hard time being patient.

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Published in: on December 10, 2016 at 6:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Rhythm of the Christian Life: Repentance, Faith, and Servanthood” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 20, 2015

“The Rhythm of the Christian Life: Repentance, Faith, and Servanthood” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

As I was reading through the lessons for this day, I was thinking, “What would make a good message for us to hear today, something timely and fitting and that would apply to us all? What is God’s word saying to us through these readings?” And as I mulled those questions over in my mind, what began to emerge from the lessons–particularly from the Epistle of James and the Gospel of Mark–what I began to see is this: These readings portray very vividly and plainly the rhythm of the Christian life, and that is, in these three things: repentance, faith, and servanthood. So let’s look at those things now and see how they apply to us in the daily rhythm of how we live.

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Published in: on September 20, 2015 at 12:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Taming the Tongue” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 13, 2015

“Taming the Tongue” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

Maybe you’ve seen it in the news this past week: There are wildfires raging throughout California, burning out of control. Large stretches of forests are being destroyed; homes are being threatened. What started these fires? Who knows? In one case, it might have been a lightning strike, starting with just one or two trees catching on fire and then spreading rapidly. In another case, it may have just been a careless campfire, left unattended. Something small like that can start and spread and cause untold damage. That’s how wildfires go.

But did you hear the other news? There are wildfires raging right here in Missouri. No, you didn’t hear about it? Well, maybe that’s because I’m not talking about the fires that destroy trees but rather the fires that destroy lives. The wildfires I’m talking about are the ones started by the human tongue, and yes, those fires are raging right here in Missouri–indeed, right here in Bonne Terre. The tongue–that is the match that sets the world on fire. It is a small instrument, but it can cause a lot of damage. And so our question this morning: What can be done about “Taming the Tongue”?

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Published in: on September 13, 2015 at 3:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Wisdom of Humble Servanthood” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 23, 2012

“The Wisdom of Humble Servanthood” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

Who among us here today would like to be regarded as wise and understanding? OK. Who among us would like to be regarded as great, as a great person? Well, who wouldn’t? I suppose all of us, if we had our druthers, would like others to praise us for our wisdom. All of us would like to have the advantages of being a so-called “great one.” We like it when we get the perks of prestige. Being first, getting the top prize, gaining the best position of power–these are things we enjoy.

But these things can be, and often are, poison for our souls. They feed our ego, that great big “I” living inside each one of us. This comes all too naturally to us, this desire for praise and plaudits, prestige and position. So often it’s a case of me being so turned in on myself that the Big “I” crowds out other people and their needs and how I might be in a position to serve them. So often my attention to self crowds out my devotion to God and how I can serve him.

This is a problem that we should all be able to recognize in ourselves, this putting self at the center of the universe and making “Me, Myself, and I” into the new three persons of my own personal Trinity. This is our problem, even as Christians. For we still have this old self-centered sinful nature to deal with our whole life long. Thus we need to have our self-centeredness forgiven, and we need to have our minds transformed to think in new ways about life–and then to actually live that way, to put it into practice. And this new way of thinking and living is what we might call “The Wisdom of Humble Servanthood.”

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Published in: on September 23, 2012 at 12:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Small But Powerful Tongue” (James 3:1-12)

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 16, 2012

“The Small But Powerful Tongue” (James 3:1-12)

It is one of the smallest parts of the body, but it is also perhaps the most powerful. What am I speaking of? The tongue. Your tongue is a very powerful instrument. It can do a lot of damage, and it can do a lot of good. “The Small But Powerful Tongue.” To what shall we compare it? Let’s find out, shall we?

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Published in: on September 15, 2012 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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