Holy Trinity Ankeny
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
info_outline WOKE 12/04/2023
WOKE The term “woke” has, for some reason, become polarizing. In this season of Advent, it is essential. To prepare for God’s salvation born in Christ, we must be “woke” to the brokenness of the word. We must be “woke” to the ways we participate in breaking the world. We must be “woke” to the fact that our attempts to fix the world are like lipstick on a pig – pointless. We cry out “Lord, tear open the heavens and come,” to call God to do new things in the broken places. We cry out, “Come, Emmanuel (God with us),” because it is our only hope.
info_outline THE RULE OF CHRIST 11/27/2023
THE RULE OF CHRIST The vision of the “Sheep and Goats” in Matthew’s gospel is a perplexing bit of scripture. On the surface, it reduces inclusion in the reign of God to those who do good works—no room for grace. On the surface, it condemns the unrighteous to eternal damnation and the fires of hell. Neither notion jibes with the story of Jesus very well. So, what is Jesus trying to teach in this last teaching of Matthew’s gospel? It is about grace and mercy, of course.
info_outline Choosing Our God: Grace or Fear? 11/20/2023
Choosing Our God: Grace or Fear? We tend to create God in our own image. In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about what happens when we do not know who God is. Jesus tells the parable of the talents to show the transformative impact of shaping our lives by embracing a God of boundless grace, joy, and abundance, rather than succumbing to fear and self-imposed limitations.
info_outline WAITING FOR JESUS 11/13/2023
WAITING FOR JESUS The Church’s basic posture is one of anticipation, of waiting. Waiting for the Day of the Lord, the return of Christ. The consummation of the reign of God is a tricky thing. It is easy to become distracted by many things, to lose sight of the end and goal of life in Christ. Stay alert, stay awake, and center yourself on Christ.
info_outline WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? 11/06/2023
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? In the Book of Revelation, we see a vision of the heavenly throne room with a myriad of worshippers dressed in white. A messenger asks, “Who are these people?” They are the saints. They are largely unknown because they worship one who is largely unknown. Who are the saints of God? It is a good and relevant question…
info_outline FREE INDEED 10/30/2023
FREE INDEED In a world where we constantly look back to the good ol’ days, we can become trapped by that nostalgia. It is easy to look back to our past, especially on Reformation Sunday, when we celebrate Martin Luther and the reformation he ignited, and get trapped with looking back. Christ calls us to be free and then sets us free to live and love and grieve in this world. Jeremiah 31:31-34 | Romans 3:19-28 | John 8:31-36
info_outline THE POLITICS OF FAITH 10/23/2023
THE POLITICS OF FAITH Faith and politics, it has been said by some, should never go together. The truth is that being faithful will lead us into political waters. Jesus says: “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) - a very political statement. Paul calls on the name of the “Lord Jesus Christ” in direct opposition to the claim that “Caesar is Lord” in I Thessalonians 1:1 - Another political statement. How do we allow Jesus Christ to be Lord of even our politics?
info_outline THE KING'S INVITATION 10/16/2023
THE KING'S INVITATION 'Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice.' In a world marked by turmoil and trials, the call to find joy may seem daunting. It might even seem as an empty platitude, but the Apostle Paul knows there is reason to rejoice – as Jesus explains it in our Gospel reading for today. Isaiah 25:1-9 | Philippians 4:1-9 | Matthew 22:1-14
info_outline WILD GRAPES 10/09/2023
WILD GRAPES Wild grapes are good for nothing. They are sour and inedible. You can’t make wine or jelly with them. Birds won’t even eat them. The prophet Isaiah declares that God planted God’s people to yield the grapes of justice, mercy, peace, and grace. Instead, they became wild grapes, producing nothing but violence, injustice, and cries for God’s help. We too receive God’s richest blessings but end up being wild grapes. What are we to do?
info_outline WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? 10/02/2023
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Jesus comes to Jerusalem acting in ways that disrupt. The officials want to know who he thinks he is. He turns the question around on them. If they say they are faithful people of God, why do they not do the work he does? Knowing who we are determines how we live our lives.
info_outline Mercy within Mercy within Mercy 09/25/2023
Mercy within Mercy within Mercy We all have a keen sense of fairness. It is ingrained in us. We don’t like when people get more than us, especially if we do the same amount of work. Jonah and Jesus show us today the generosity of God, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t always like the generosity of God. Jonah 3:10--4:11, Philippians 1:21-30, Matthew 20:1-16
info_outline FORGIVENESS AND RESURRECTION 09/18/2023
FORGIVENESS AND RESURRECTION Peter asks if forgiving someone seven times is sufficient. Since many of us find forgiving someone once a stretch, Peter was generous. Jesus, however, called for more. He says, “Seventy-seven times” or “Seven times seventy.” Given the symbolic nature of the number seven, the point is to forgive endlessly. Perhaps forgiveness is more than a duty or obligation. Just maybe forgiveness is the power of the resurrection raising dead relationships to new life.
info_outline I'M OFFENDED 09/10/2023
I'M OFFENDED There I am minding my own business, just trying to get through this thing called life, and I didn’t realize I was supposed to be offended – at least until someone told me that I should be offended. Amidst all the offense, we realize that words matter and words have power. Today, Jesus tells us “for where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Those spoken words are powerful.
info_outline TAKE UP YOUR CROSS 09/05/2023
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS These are instructions from Jesus for all who wish to follow him. What does that look like? Putting to death all that keeps us from living as Christ in this world is also trusting in the new life Christ offers. Every day is full of countless crosses we must take up to become what God calls us to be.
info_outline WHO DO YOU SAY I AM? 08/28/2023
WHO DO YOU SAY I AM? Today Jesus asks his disciples a pointed question – "Who do you say that I am?" They have witnessed all the miracles and still wonder who this man they are following is. Jesus also asks us the same question. If we get the answer right, then we rightly know ourselves.
info_outline FEEDING THE DOGS 08/21/2023
FEEDING THE DOGS When Jesus encounters a Canaanite woman begging him to heal her daughter his response is, at best, curious. It seems offensive. He calls her a dog who is unworthy to eat at the table. To say this is out of character for Jesus seems obvious. But what if Jesus is not grumpy, but (as he is all the time in Matthew) in teaching mode? What if this story has a deep message that spoke to the disciples then and speaks to us today?
info_outline HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME 08/14/2023
HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME “Being saved” in our age seems restricted to concern over where we go when we die. It is more than that, according to scripture. We’re so concerned about heaven because we are so afraid of death. Faith saves us from our fear and sets us free today, while we live, not just when we die. Elijah is saved from his fear, Peter walks on the water because fear is overcome. They are saved because God is as close as their lips and heart.
info_outline TABLES 08/07/2023
TABLES Jesus retreats to the wilderness to be alone as he processes the death of John the Baptist. It was at a table that John’s execution was decided. A table full of death and chaos. It is a stark contrast to the feeding of the thousands that happen in today’s gospel reading. Here in the wilderness, Jesus feeds the people with five loaves and two fish. And they eat until they are full. A life-giving meal in a world that is so full of anything that isn’t life giving.
info_outline IF GOD IS FOR US 07/31/2023
IF GOD IS FOR US It seems we spend a lot of time assuming that the universe is set against us. Fear is the default posture of all of us who are always on defense against the next threat. What if, however, God is for us? That is Paul’s question. If God is for us, who (or what) can be against us? This leads to a life that overcomes fear and allows for joy. That is something more valuable than anything else, isn’t it?
info_outline WHEAT AND WEEDS 07/24/2023
WHEAT AND WEEDS Jesus uses a parable about weeds and wheat to address the presence of good and evil in the world. What do we do about evil empires, bad church members, and sinful people (weeds)? Jesus says let them be because it is beyond our wisdom to know the difference between good and evil even in our own lives. So what is a person to do?
info_outline THE SOWER 07/17/2023
THE SOWER It is easy to focus on the soil in today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower and then explains it. He talks about four different kinds of soil. Human nature is to focus on the different soil types and how they would describe ourselves or others. The good news here is that the parable is not about the soil, but about the sower.
info_outline VOICES 07/09/2023
VOICES There are a lot of voices in our world that continually weigh us down. There are happenings in the world that can weigh heavily upon us. There are times when the burdens of this life get to be more than we can handle. Jesus has some good advice for those of us that have heavy burdens.
info_outline GOOD NEWS. BAD NEWS. 07/03/2023
GOOD NEWS. BAD NEWS. The Church is called to proclaim the Gospel – which means Good News. The paradox is that sometimes the good news can sound like bad news and vice versa. The prophet Jeremiah spent a lifetime declaring the good news, and it always sounded like bad news to the people who listened. He didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. He declared that judgment was necessary if they were to become more and more God’s people. The same is true for us.
info_outline DEAD TO SIN. ALIVE TO GOD. 06/26/2023
DEAD TO SIN. ALIVE TO GOD. The Israelites were set free from slavery in Egypt by God’s grace. That was not the end of the story. In the wilderness they were formed by faith to be the people God called them to be. As Christians, we are set free from our slavery to the sin, evil, and darkness of this world. Paul says we die to those things in baptism. That is not the end of the story. We are raised from the waters of baptism to be formed by faith to be the people God made us to be.
info_outline GO AND PROCLAIM 06/19/2023
GO AND PROCLAIM In today’s Gospel, Jesus has some challenging words for his followers. It can make us nervous when we read the list of things on our to-do list. Go and cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons. Go and touch. Go and heal. Go and resurrect. Go and make peace. Go and render believable the compassion of God. But we are not sent alone. Jesus promises us that we are not alone and the Spirit of God will be with us wherever we go.
info_outline MERCY 06/12/2023
MERCY The Pharisees in today’s Gospel lesson ask Jesus’ disciples why he tolerates the presence of tax collectors and sinners at his table. In response, Jesus tells the Pharisees to learn what it this means, “‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” And then Jesus proceeds to show them what mercy looks like.
info_outline OUT OF CHAOS 06/05/2023
OUT OF CHAOS The world is a chaotic place. The God of love, the Holy Trinity, brought creation out of chaos and sustains that movement to this day. The God of love, the Holy Trinity, brought peace and joy out of the conflict and chaos of the congregation at Corinth. That same God is at work in the midst of the chaotic world we inhabit today.
info_outline COME, HOLY SPIRIT! 05/30/2023
COME, HOLY SPIRIT! On this Day of Pentecost, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people through the power of the resurrected Jesus. The Spirit comes in a mighty wind and flame of fire. It also comes as a word of peace and a breath. The Holy Spirit is the source of our life in Christ and it is persistent, powerful, and even pesky. Come Holy Spirit!
info_outline SUFFERING 05/22/2023
SUFFERING The struggle to make sense of suffering – and to escape it – is woven into the fabric of human existence. We ask, “Where was God when I suffered?” or “I pray to God, and I still suffer. Why?” The truth is that suffering is unavoidable. Some suffering is of our own making. Some is part of our being. Some happens when we encounter the reality of chaos and death. In this last case, the cross and resurrection of Christ provides answers.