Sermons on Matthew

Sermons on Matthew

The God We Think We Know

Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents was never exactly one of my favorites. The way that my eyes glaze over at the sight of a spreadsheet reminds me that my management of the master’s portfolio might have been no better handled that of the unfortunate slave in this story. So, it follows that my fate would also have matched his. The parable tells the story of a master who entrusts three slaves with varying shares of his wealth, for…

Law and Order and Love

Matthew 22:34-46 A man entered a store and walked up to the counter. The saleswoman who was behind the counter ignored him. The customer rang the bell on the counter to get her attention. The saleswoman said, “You got a number?” “I got a what?” asked the man. “You got a number?” the saleswoman repeated.  You gotta have a number.” The man glanced around the store, which was empty, and replied, “Lady, I’m the only customer in the store! Why…

Sunday Best

Matthew 22:1-14      There’s a certain kind of dream that most people seem to have had at one time or another. It is a dream where you find yourself underdressed, or even undressed in a public place, or at a social event. Typically, in this dream, nobody else really seems to notice that you’re only wearing underwear or pajamas, or whatever you’re wearing, or not wearing as the case may be. But, you know how exposed you are; how inappropriately dressed…

The Obedient One

Matthew 21: 23-32        T. S. Eliot once wrote, Oh my soul, be prepared to meet Him who knows how to ask questions.” Let me tell you, Jesus knew how to ask questions. Almost every time someone asked Jesus a question, he replied with a question of his own. So it was, one day while Jesus was in Jerusalem, that the religious leaders came to Jesus with a question, as he was teaching in the Temple. “By what authority are you…

When Kingdoms Collide

Matthew 20:1-16 and Philippians 1:20-30 Frederick Beuchner once defined a parable as “a small story with a large point.” He was speaking of a metaphorical point, of course. As in, a moral or spiritual lesson to be learned from the parable. But, many of Jesus’ parables also pack a literal point. Like the pointy end of a thumbtack left on the floor, which we accidentally step on in our bare feet in the middle of the night while making our…
Losers, Keepers Crosses

Losers, Keepers

Matthew 16:21 – 28 “Finders, keepers; losers, weepers.” We’ve all grown up with those words. Just an innocent little kid’s rhyme, right? Until you think about what those words actually mean, and what kind of lesson it teaches about how we treat each other. Finders, keepers; losers, weepers, boils down to something like this: You lose something of value (whether material or sentimental value) and that loss causes you grief. Losing it makes you a weeper. Then I have the…

Prevailing Against the Gates of Hades

Matthew 16:13-18 and Romans 12:1-8 The weather on this particular day of our Holy Land pilgrimage was uncharacteristically gloomy. Gray clouds hung ominously above us and the misty air dampened our enthusiasm for outdoor exploration. You couldn’t have asked for better weather for a visit to the Gates of Hell. In Old Testament times the place had been the site of a cult to the Canaanite fertility god, Ba’al. In a culture that depended on agriculture for its survival, fertility…

Like Oil and Water

Psalm 133 and Matthew  15:21-28 The 133rd Psalm is one of a group of Psalms in the Bible called Songs of Ascent. They are called Songs of Ascent because it is believed that these Psalms were sung by Israelite pilgrims traveling from their homes to worship in Solomon’s Temple; which meant literally ascending up to the city of Jerusalem where the Temple was located. The Ascent Psalms were mostly upbeat and hopeful in tone. They reverberated with praises to God,…

Out of the Boat

Matthew 14:13-22  In the Viet Nam war film “Apocalypse Now”, there is a scene when two crew members of an American gun boat have left the safety of the boat to scout some unfamiliar jungle along the riverbank. Suddenly, they are confronted—not by Viet Cong guerrillas—but by a man-eating tiger. They somehow manage to outrun the tiger back to the boat. As the boat speeds away from shore, one of the soldiers who just narrowly escaped keeps repeating breathlessly to…

Zero Degrees of Separation

Text Romans 8:26-39 It used to be that people lived by a belief that there was safety in numbers. From children who were taught to follow a ‘buddy system” for safety’s sake at places like beaches and pools; to adults who were advised not to walk alone in risky parts of town; close proximity to people we could trust was a reliable strategy for personal safety. Times have changed, thanks to the COVID pandemic. Nowadays, “misery loves company” might be…

Weeds Among Wheat

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 The first home Sue and I owned together was a townhouse in a condominium complex. Every Spring, professional landscapers hired by the condo association did an immaculate job of planting, pruning, mulching and weeding. After living there for ten years, we were pretty spoiled by the luxury of enjoying such well-manicured grounds without having to lift a finger to maintain them ourselves. In fact, the condo regulations forbade any exterior gardening by residents. I guess that they…

Sowing God’s Word

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 Today is the first of three consecutive Sundays that focus on the parables of Jesus. So I guess a good place to start would be to say something about what a parable is and how they work. Parables were simple stories that Jesus told to teach people eternal truths. Taken at face value, parables were about ordinary activities like farming, or shepherding, or investing money. But beneath the surface of these stories about everyday life lay extraordinary…

New Normal

Matthew 10:24-39 In the state of Illinois, there is a town named Normal. Really. I’m not making this up. In downtown Normal, there is a sculpture. The sculpture is of a man and a woman gazing into each others eyes. On the woman’s lap is a little boy. Lying down, with her head resting on the woman’s leg, is a young girl. A plaque on the base of the sculpture displays its name. It says, “The Normal Family.” Again- not…

The Big Reveal

Matthew 28:1-10 I’ve never been a fan of reality television shows or reality TV stars. Still, I admit that not all reality shows are created equal. There are those that glorify family dysfunction and others that make love and courtship into a competitive sport. Then there are those that actually do have some redeeming social value. One of those was Extreme Home Makeover, which featured a family that had faced some sort of recent or ongoing hardship being rewarded with…

Rainy Day Parades

Matthew 21:1-11 and Matthew 27:11-54 During the recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, our itinerary called for us to walk the route of Jesus’ triumphal procession into Jerusalem. But the morning that we were to do the Palm Sunday walk was uncharacteristically cold, raw, and rainy. For the sake of the safety of those who had limited mobility, and the comfort of the rest of us, we abandoned our plans to follow the footsteps of Jesus from Bethany to Jerusalem…

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 and Matthew 4:1-11 I have a sister-in-law who runs her own interior decorating business, and the transformations she performs on people’s homes are borderline miraculous. But, if you have toddlers who treat freshly painted walls like coloring books, cats who like to push delicate objects off of shelves or puppies who are still learning the difference between chair legs and chew toys, you might want to consider waiting awhile before investing in her talents. The apartments my…

Unblinded By the Light

Matthew 17:1-9 The Transfiguration of Jesus was one of the most spectacular and most perplexing events that his disciples ever witnessed. Which is really saying something when you stop and consider how up until that point in time, they had already seen him restore vision to blind eyes, give voice to mute tongues, raise a dead girl to life, calm a storm on the Sea of Galilee, and feed a crowd of thousands with nothing more to work with than…

Follow

Matthew 4:12-23 The Fantasticks is the name of an off-Broadway musical that ran for a total of 42 years, with 17,162 performances throughout the U.S. and at least 67 other countries. But even if you are not one of the many thousands to have seen the play, odds are you probably have heard a song from the production’s score, titled Try to Remember. That’s because Try to Remember has been covered by everyone from Roger Williams to Josh Groban. What…

Outing Jesus

Matthew 3:13-17 The person we know as John the Baptist was born to a family with a rich priestly lineage. His father, Zechariah was a priest who served in the Temple, and his mother’s genealogy could be traced back to Aaron, who was the brother of Moses and the original priest of the Jewish priesthood. So, the assumption was that John would grow up to follow in his parent’s footsteps. But John had other plans. Or, you could say, God…

Are We There Yet? -Love

Matthew 1:18-25 With the lighting of the Candle of Love this morning we have completed our circuit around the Advent wreath. We are nearer than ever to the end of our Advent journey together, and what we discover is that the best has been saved for last. And the best is love. The Bible tells us that God is love! Love is the essence of God’s nature. And since we are created in God’s image, then love is—at least in…

Every Day an Ash Wednesday

Preached FCCW, March 6, 2019, Ash Wednesday 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 The church calendar is filled with holy seasons, like Advent, Epiphany, and lent; and holy days like Christmas, Easter, Pentecost – and the one we are here to observe tonight, Ash Wednesday. Often, there are certain visible and tangible practices associated with these special times. Like being anointed with ashes on Ash Wednesday.

The Covert King

Ephesians 1:15-23 and Matthew 25:31-46 Preached FCCW  November 26, 2017 (Christ the King Sunday) There is a story that comes to us from out of the 16th century about a great leader of the church by the name of Bishop Hugh Latimer. One Sunday morning he entered his pulpit and looked out to see King Henry VIII in the congregation. I’m guessing that Old Henry wasn’t hard to spot out there in the pews. He might have worn his crown…

The Things That Are God’s

Preached FCCW 10-22-2017 Matthew 22:15-22 and 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10   According to the laws of Newtonian physics, no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. Which, long before an apple ever dropped on Newton’s head, was already an established fact. Not based on any Law of physics, but on the Law of simple common sense. The kind of common sense that the Pharisees and Herodians trusted in to rid themselves of Jesus.

God’s Sharecroppers

Matthew 21:33-46 Preached FCCW, October 15, 2017 Like most of you, I’ve been watching the frightening images of the deadly wildfires that are ravaging Northern California. It’s hard to believe it’s the same place of such serene beauty that Sue and I saw when we vacationed in Napa Valley years ago.

Kingdom Wages

Matthew 20:1-16 Preached FCCW 9-24-2017 Jesus taught about many things, but by far, his favorite talking point was the Kingdom of Heaven. Now, the Kingdom of Heaven is not the kind of Kingdom, that can be located on a map. Neither is it Heaven – as in a place with angels on clouds strumming harps. When Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven, what he was describing was the world as God intended it to be. A world of righteousness,…
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