Who Goes with You into Surgery?

One of my vain ideas was to reach 60 without being an inpatient of a hospital. Didn’t work. Two Januaries in a row, I was hospitalized. I was a suffering puppy, though still nothing like many around me. My condition … Continue reading

The Shack – A Journey from Pain to Truth to Error – Part 4: A Lutheran Critique

This entry is part of 4 in the series The Shack: ...Pain to Truth to Error

Editor’s Note: To understand what is meant by “Trinitarian Theology” in this post, please see Part 2. Having traced the journey of Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack, and his main character, Mackenzie Phillips, from the pain of their Great … Continue reading

“When Pain is Good for You” — Sermon by Pastor Rolf Preus

Sexagesima Sunday Sermon January 31, 2016 “When Pain is Good for You” 2 Corinthians 12:9 The parable of the sower and the seed describes four different kinds of soil: three bad kinds and one good kind. The good ground was … Continue reading

The Holy Cross Cannot Be Found Wanting: Luther on Persecution and Martyrdom

Martin Luther never softened his message to make it more acceptable.  He did not do this for his theological opponents, his colleagues, or his agreeable listeners or readers.  If there is something for which we may praise (and criticize) Dr. … Continue reading

What is Hate Speech?

If something is wrong, it is not hate speech to say so. Problem is, it’s getting harder and harder to agree on what “wrong” is. If the great evil of Postmodernism has its way—the loss of the objective—we will eventually … Continue reading

Snatched, Scorched, & Strangled (or: High Fructose Hymns and Liturgical Saccharine): A Sermon for Sexagesima on St. Luke 8:4-15

There were two types of sowing in the ancient world. The first method, by far the most accurate, was to scatter the seeds by hand, placing them with an almost surgical precision in the most fertile soil. The other (less … Continue reading

Suffering as the Key to Evangelism

Recently I was up at the hospital providing pastoral care to one of my members. As usual, I was wearing my clerical attire, and, as often happens, this gave me an opportunity to share the Gospel with someone I wouldn’t have … Continue reading

False Christs and Wrong Answers: A Sermon for the Confession of St. Peter on St. Mark 8:27-35

From the very beginning of St. Mark’s Gospel, things hadn’t been going particularly well for our Lord. In chapter 1 He’s tempted by Satan, opposed by demons, and disobeyed by even those He had healed. In chapter 2, the scribes … Continue reading

Jesus in the Lions’ Den: A Sermon for the Nativity of Our Lord

Our celebration of the Savior’s birth can become so routine that we become numb to the joy—and the horror— of it all. On the one hand, it’s really odd that the Incarnation of our Lord is one of the Church’s … Continue reading

Great Stuff – Reformation of Suffering

Suffering. The many explanations are pretty much a pile of rubbish. People suffer on without consolation. The explanations more or less just pile on, making suffering worse. Think of Job’s comforters; and let’s not be too harsh on them. Do … Continue reading

God, my loving Savior sends them…

Often the topic of how God governs all things comes up in parish life during suffering and struggles.  Questions will arise about God being the cause of something (sin is the cause of this damned mess), allowing something (as if … Continue reading

Life Support, Agony, and the Fullness of Redemption

[No. 5 of 5 Lenten meditations on Jesus in Gethsemane] Second Adam Dying in a Second Garden Jesus said, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.”1 The phrase, “to death,” is not a figure of speech. It is not … Continue reading

You’re not Supposed to Hit a Substitute that Hard

When the quarterback sprained his ankle, his substitute came into the game. On the next play, there was no backfield blocking. Both outside line backers came in fast and hit the quarterback hard. His helmet came off. The ball rolled out of his hands. He lay there dazed. Finally being shifted to a stretcher, he said, “You’re not supposed to hit a substitute that hard.”

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“Sore Amazed” – What Does this Mean?

[No. 1 of 5 Lenten meditations on Jesus in Gethsemane] This is the first in a series of five Lenten meditations on Jesus in Gethsemane. The meditations are organized loosely around six Greek words the evangelists use to describe his … Continue reading

Rejoicing in the Violence of the Cross: A Sermon for Gaudete on Matthew 11:2-10

The introduction to this sermon has been adapted from Pastor Ken Kelly’s excellent Gaudete homily. You can read the whole thing at: http://homofactusest.com/2013/12/10/gaudete-rejoice-in-the-lord/. That John the Baptist was in prison should come as an absolute shock to everyone who reads the Gospel of Matthew. John doesn’t … Continue reading

Suffering, Evangelism, & the Collar

I was not a popular kid in junior high. If being in the school concert band wasn’t uncool enough, I also chose to play the flute and was the only boy in that section. I was the kid that even … Continue reading

The Kyrie: Simple Words, Profound Comfort

(Luther, “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector”) Sometimes the most simple and obvious things are also the most profound.  We often go to great lengths to find comfort, to improve our situation in life, to find peace.  … Continue reading