Series A, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Worth Doing Badly
Real life was added to the world in the hidden working of God, as an invisible angel rescued the Holy Family to wait it out in Egypt while God let time do His work. Spiritual power goes unnoticed but it does not mean that it is unreal, as our celebration of Christmas makes clear. God subtly subverted Herod’s futile attempt to control events, and exposed his delusional assumption that he could control his circumstances.
Series A, 4th Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus’s birth opened what the Psalm called the “eternal portal”. He who was Perfect became a penitent—a sinner—so that we, who are penitents might enjoy perfection eternally.
Worth Doing Badly
Jesus is not afraid of offending people’s sensibilities. On the contrary, He is very emphatic about the necessity of taking heed of His message of repentance and faith.
Series A, 2nd Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
Isaiah 11:1–10; Psalm 72:1–7; Romans 15:4–13; Matthew 3:1–12 John the Baptist was a strange man whose strong message is exactly what we need today if we are to rightly celebrate Christmas. John is an Advent character who gets us ready to get past the Christmas that has become a boring materialist exercise in excess. John’s call for repentance freely expresses that we have been wrong about what we desire and the means of fulfilling that desire. Repentance does not deny life but rather desires more than this life can deliver.
Series A, 1st Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
The church has a different calendar because Christians believe that Jesus—the Fullness of Time—has changed the meaning of time. Ordinary calendars see time as celebrating human accomplishments that sadly do not solve the problem of time running out. When the calendar focuses on Christ’s work of salvation, time measures our nearing to the consummation of our desired salvation.
Series C, Last Sunday of the Church Year, Worth Doing Badly
How can we enjoy any peace on the Last Sunday of the Church Year which remembers the brutal truth that every material thing is this world has destined to destruction? The simple answer is to look at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. There we see the movement of the second Creation from chaos to the new and eternity destined Creation.
Series C, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
We don’t naturally see destruction as a sign of hope, and so we need Jesus’ teaching to make this connection. He shows that God destroys things in order to clear the way for a better life. We do not do the destroying, but when it happens we are to understand and expect that we are experiencing a necessary demolition of the old to make room for the new.
Series C, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Exodus 3:1–15; Psalm 148; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–8, 13–17; Luke 20:27-40 When things (like the Church year) come to a close, it’s time to think about what comes next. In this text Jesus uses questions about the resurrection to teach about what comes next after He changes the history of mankind by His coming death and resurrection.
Series C, All Saints' Day, Worth Doing Badly
Revelation 7:9–17; Psalm 149; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12 In a material-centric world, you are what you appear or what you possess or what you have done. In a world created by God, the material was caused by the immaterial Word of God, so that what is real is whatever God’s speech calls real. John is unbashful then in saying that we are really children of God, not because it is obvious or apparent but because God calls us His children.
Series C, Reformation Day, Worth Doing Badly
Revelation 14:6-7; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36 Jesus did not think teaching show coddle the mind and make people comfortable with themselves. He taught that knowing God in truth required a constant reformation of the pleasant lies that we always and effortlessly find so attractive.
Series C, 19th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Genesis 32:22–30; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14—4:5; Luke 18:1-8 What is prayer and what’s the benefit of praying without ceasing? Prayer fuels persistence so that in the face of heartlessness you do not lose heart.
Series C, 18th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Ruth 1:1–19a; Psalm 111; 2 Timothy 2:1-13; Luke 17:11-19 Why is it—at least here--that 9 times out of 10 enjoyment of God’s great gifts does not lead one to a desire to enjoy the Giver’s ongoing presence? The text does not worry at all about the 9 but rather celebrates the one who refused to be content with a foretaste of restored health when he could have, by being with Jesus, the whole feast.
Series C, 17th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Habakkuk 1:1–4; 2:1–4; Psalm 62; 2 Timothy 1:1–14; Luke 17:1-10 How does faith elevate the quality of our lives now? Faith is the source of peace, patience, bonds of trust and forgiveness of sins.
Series C, St. Michael and All Angels, Worth Doing Badly
Why does Jesus think a child’s humility embody greatness? Children conceive of their lives the unfolding of future possibilities. Children are humble, at the bottom looking up, because they possess nothing and have accomplished nothing: They have a future which they expect will fulfil their out-of-this-world desires. Having the child’s point of view means seeing our lives, not as dwindling away to nothing, but gaining momentum toward the consummation of all we desire.
Series C, 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Amos 8:4–7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1–15; Luke 16:1–15 God chooses to do His work in our lives through an edification that happens slowly through repetition and repentance. The good that is done in preaching happens over time and in the thick of the relationships where the people test to see if the preacher himself believes what he speaks.
Series C, 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Ezekiel 34:11–24; Psalm 119: 169–176; 1 Timothy 1: (5–11) 12–17; Luke 15:1–10 God values personal bonds of love that are as inefficient as a woman wasting time to find a lost coin and then throws a party that costs more than the value of the found coin. Why? Because heaven so enjoys the lost being found, the disconnected being reconnected and the unreconciled being reconciled, when this happens the inefficiency of love is best expressed in the excess of a celebration.
Series C, 13th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Deuteronomy 30:15–20; Psalm 1; Philemon 1–2; Luke 14:25–35 Everyone desires to be happier and this makes us vulnerable. Wanting happiness to run deeper, last longer and be more satisfying produces selfishness and cynicism. The happiness that is caused by “the Lord’s teaching” is not obvious because it gives life slowly; working below the surface, in feeding the roots that eventually bear fruit.
Series C, 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Engaging the pericopes is worth doing even if we do it badly. In fact, the good that comes from repeatedly reading Scriptures “pericopely” is both existential and cumulative. The existential good is that the Biblical texts speak at a particular moment to a particular congregation by a particular pastor and then are repeated next week. This repetition, over time, achieves the cumulative good of revealing the beauty, truth and goodness of Scripture as it bubbles to the surface. Proverbs 25:2–10; Psalm 131; Heb. 13:1–17; Luke 14:1–14 What do these texts say about the way we increase worry by thinking about things we can do nothing about? (Weber:) “Were I hearing a sermon on these texts, I’d want to have the phrase “wait on the Lord” be taken out of the realm of pious sentiments and considered in terms of real life. Is it really possible to give up on building a resume that gets others to acknowledge one’s importance? Is patience really prudent? After all Jesus’ dis