By William W. Schumacher The assignment of this text for the festival of the Reformation suggests the question: Was the Lutheran Reformation about freedom? Luther’s famous early work, “The Freedom of a Christian,” developed the idea of the paradoxical identity of one who has faith in Christ: both utterly free and completely devoted to service to ..
By William W Schumacher The vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of this text are rather simple. In fact, a pastor whose Greek has become rusty would be well advised to return his attention to the original languages with this week’s Gospel lesson. The impact and rhetoric of the text are another matter. Embedded in the narrative ..
By William W. Schumacher The season of Epiphany is about the self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ, and the texts of the season relate in various ways how Jesus Christ shows himself to us and to the world. And so, in this Epiphany season, one question we always bring to texts is, “What does Jesus ..
By William W. Schumacher Jesus Christ, the Son of God—that is who Mark identifies in the opening tide verse of his gospel (1:1). As such, of course, Jesus was in no personal need of the “repentance and the forgiveness of sins” attached to John’s baptism (1:4). Yet, there he is, going down into the water ..
By William W. Schumacher, We sketched a connected theme in the previous two lessons, both of which dealt with the struggle of faith in a fallen world. The first focused on “Life by the Spirit of Christ,” and the second celebrated “Hope in the Midst of Suffering.” This third of our consecutive readings turns our eyes ..
By William W. Schumacher, The previous text (Ro 8:12-17) presented us with “Life by the Spirit of Christ.” The present text, the second of three consecutive readings from this chapter, encourages us under the theme of “Hope in the Midst of Suffering.” Paul does not pretend that faith in Christ removes life’s difficulties. In fact, ..
By William W. Schumacher, The texts for Propers 10-12 are consecutive readings from the eighth chapter of Romans, closely related thematically, and therefore can naturally be grouped as a three-week sermon series. All three texts deal profoundly and realistically with a common theme: The struggle of faith in a fallen world. The first part, following this ..
By William W. Schumacher, This pericope is an interesting selection for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the assigned verses for this Sunday’s Epistle lesson combine two rather different thoughts. Verses 6-11 develop the theme of peace with God through justification, introduced in the beginning of the chapter. Verse 12 starts a new idea, vividly ..
William W. Schumacher, The story of Abraham (or Abram, as he is called in the parts of Genesis to which Paul refers) shows that God’s promises are received by faith. By pointing to the patriarch, Paul underscores that everything depends on what God says, on His word of promise. The part of the Abraham story ..
By William W. Schumacher, It is always a challenge to preach on a very familiar text in such a way that people actually hear the message afresh. Familiarity breeds, if not contempt, then complacency and inattention. For Lutherans, these verses from the third chapter of Romans are perilously familiar, and both the preacher and his hearers ..