By Rick Marrs This is a difficult text for Lutherans to hear. We are more comfortable with texts about God’s grace, and being his children and heirs of his promises, but Jesus is prone to saying things that challenge our regular metaphors, and that will increase our faith. This is also a difficult text for ..
By Rick Marrs Background Our text is the end of Jesus’s High Priestly Prayer. Parts of the rest of this prayer, 17:1– 19, are texts for the same Sunday in different years (John 17:1-11 in Series A and John 17:11b-19 in Series B), so the preacher may want to familiarize the hearers with the salient parts ..
By Rick Marrs Paul has regaled the Ephesians with rich spiritual blessings they have in Christ (Eph 1), how both Jews and Gentiles are saved by grace alone through faith alone (Eph 2), how the mystery of the gospel has been revealed by the Spirit through the very human apostles and prophets; Paul then prays for spiritual strength ..
By Rick Marrs The words of the first writing prophet, Amos, come to us only five times in the three-year lectionary, and only once during the Series A year in this pericope. It is paired with important New Testament eschatological readings of 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (a frequent funeral sermon text) and Matthew 25:1–13 (the parable of the Ten Virgins) which ..
By Rick Marrs Since becoming a seminary professor, I have been unpleasantly surprised at the number of lay people who have told me that they do not believe their parish pastor is working very hard. Note that this is their perception, and is not necessarily truth. They have said things like, “Our pastor preaches and teaches on Sunday ..
Rick Marrs recently wrote a piece for the Rural and Small Town Mission program of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission “supports and encourages rural and small-town congregations in engaging their communities and growing together in Christ through Word and Sacrament.” Rick has been long been active with Peacemakers ministries, and brings ..
By Rick Marrs The kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been in spiritual decline for two centuries. Starting with Solomon’s syncretism (1 Kgs 11) and the division of the kingdom (1 Kgs 12), Israel was ruled by a whole series of kings who worshipped impotent idols. Even one of the LORD’s prophets who confronted a ..
by Rick Marrs When considering each text for preaching, pastors are called upon to ponder how the law of that text is speaking to the pastor as well as to the parishioners who will hear his sermon. In this case, the law of verse 20 (“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my ..
Many Lutheran pastors find it challenging to know who to refer their beloved parishioners to for psychological, marital, or family counseling. If you had 30 minutes to engage a local non-Lutheran counselor in your area, what would you say?
By Rick Marrs Proclaiming the gospel on Easter is a joy-filled challenge. This is the big Sunday in which everyone coming expects dynamic, joyous music and an outstanding, memorable sermon. It is, after all, the resurrection of Jesus Christ we’re celebrating! But the preacher’s hearers are of many types. The regular members, perhaps a little ..
ESV Acts 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Whenever I hear pastors and other Christians discuss this verse, often around Pentecost Sunday, someone wonders out loud “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Holy Spirit still worked so emphatically in our world today? ..
By Rick Marrs Several years ago, the parish I was serving invited the District’s Mission/Stewardship Executive to preach for our “New Consecration Sunday.” He surprised the congregation with this opening: “Sometimes Christians ask me what portion of their income they should really give to God and his Church? When they ask it like that, I tell ..