Knight of Faith


This week is the story of Abraham and the Binding of Isaac. The website for the Narrative Lectionary puts it mildly when it says “this text has long occasioned theological and pastoral problems for readers” (Terrance E. Freithem). I’m going to address those concerns in the sermon this week. No easy outs here! We face the difficult texts head on. 

Because of that, we must also acknowledge another bit of the text that is hard. We implicitly seem to believe in the omniscience of God. God knows all things, nothing is hidden from him. But the Genesis text reveals that God’s response to Abraham is “now I know that you fear God.” NOW God knows? Before, God…didn’t know?

In Abraham’s movements, external and internal (did you notice that Abraham in unusually quiet?), God perceives the faith of Abraham. And yet God has also prepared in advance – a ram, stuck in the bushes, ready to be used for that moment when God perceives. Does God know all things or know all possibilities?!

Want to talk more about this? Come to Word Up Wednesday! You have questions, and I have answers to share!

~ Pastor Kevin

September 10, 2017

The account of God creating the universe is one that is normally confined to Sunday School or the rare church holiday where it is overshadowed.  But this week, as we start the Narrative Lectionary, we begin at the beginning, both of scripture (Gen 1) and of our Gospel for this year (John 1).  

This is, to borrow an old term, creation ex nihilo – out of nothing. God’s ability to create something good out of nothing is what makes him the Lord God Almighty.  It’s a thought that shouldn’t be far from us as we experience this broken world on a daily basis, because it gives us some measure of comfort and hope for the future.

But as nice as it is, the poet, writer, and Lutheran theologian Soren Kierkegaard had another thought, equally as comforting.  A frame that was intensely personal for him and for us as well:

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.”

Soren is not talking just about himself, but also about you! May that reminder stay close to you, wherever you may wander.

~ Pastor Kevin

Turn Around

This coming week, we are back at it again with Peter in the Gospel lesson. Last week, Peter was blessed to get the right answer. This week, he delivers the wrong one.  Jesus, it seems, will not conform to his expectations. The same will be true for Jeremiah in the first lesson, lamenting that God is fickle, and not at all what Jeremiah thought He would be like.

Despite these speed bumps, God once again promises to be on hand for them. In this passage, Jesus promises to Peter and the disciples that he will “come in His kingdom.” If that sounds like a clunky translation, it’s not the fault of the translator.  The passage is in the middle voice, which is one we don’t have in English.

The middle voice is essentially reflexive.  It is used when the subject and object are fluid – when something is both the subject and the object.  Jesus will come in His kingdom. The kingdom will come in Jesus. When Jesus, elsewhere in the Gospels says: “the kingdom of God has come near to you” he isn’t joking.

Where the Word is, there the kingdom is also. 
~ Pastor Kevin

The Canaanite Woman

This week’s Gospel has an optional component on the origin of evil, which I had originally intended to preach on.  Something happened to change my mind though, which you will hear about on Sunday morning. Until then, I hoped you might ponder this week what is in that optional piece: 

“For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.”

~ Matt. 15:19

I once told someone this, that the root of evil is in the heart. My listener responded: “The heart is where love and compassion comes from! What idiot said that?” Well, turns out, Jesus is that idiot! This text is him speaking.

I think this passage scares us. The world has coached us to lead with the heart in our lives. There is a feeling that this is more trustworthy a source than any other. To call that idea into question makes us nervous.   

But it also encourages us to put our trust completely in God. Since there is no part of us that is not “mistake prone” then we need outside help to get by.  And God grants it. Broken hearts or broken minds or both, God still has decided to be our shepherd, and to pull us into his fold.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Kevin 

Face to Face?

We take a detour this Sunday, thanks to the alternate texts in the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which we will depart in a few weeks for our chronological lectionary.   These alternate texts are “semi-continuous,” meaning the same book is covered for several weeks – ideal for sermon series on a particular book.   In this case though, we are just using it to bring a fresh focus to the Gospel reading, which is the well-known feeding of the five thousand.  

Ultimately, the goal of all texts on Sunday (including, ideally, the Psalm) is to point to a single theological expression.  A reminder of something God has done, is doing, or will do for you His people.  And while Jacob wrestling with God might seem to be a far cry from feeding a large crowd, we will see this week that, from God’s perspective, they accomplish the same goal of ministry.  

I can’t tell you what that goal is right now – you should come Sunday to get that!  But I can tell you that it might have something to do with the very famous psalm we will recite together that morning:  

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”  

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Kevin 

What Happens After the Net?

A few years ago, as I was starting the lectionary cycle for the third time, I realized I was burned-out on preaching the parables and Gospels both.  Two things rescued me.  One, Robert Capon’s watershed book on the parables. Two, moving to the Narrative Lectionary that covers the Bible chronologically, including the classic bible stories, few of which make it into the regular lectionary.  

I think they helped because the regular lectionary does not handle the parables well.  This week, we have four parables with three entirely different purposes.  There is no reason for them to all be squished together on this Sunday.  

For that reason, I’m only going to focus on one (The Parable of the Net) and we will probably move to the Narrative Lectionary when it starts in September.   Nothing will change from the congregation’s end, it simply changes the texts I will be preaching from.   However, I hope it will help things flow smoother, and help improve our Bible literacy just a bit.  

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Kevin 

July 9, 2017

Last Sunday, many PoPmembers were able to be a part of the ordination service for Debra Jimenez.  We are so proud of all that she has accomplished on her spiritual journey to beordained.  This Sunday, July 9, we feel both honored and blessed to be the first congregation to hear her preach and preside over worship as a newly ordained minister.