Create in me a clean heart

Last Sunday, Pastor Douthwaite riffed on the hearts of Valentine’s Day and on the sins of the “heart” that the readings from Deuteronomy 30 and Matthew 5 were exposing.  Then he explored David’s prayer in Psalm 51 that God “create” in him a clean heart, tying in to the way God creates:  ex nihilo  (out of nothing) [Read more...]

“They know not what they do”

We just celebrated the last Sunday of the Church Year–some call it the Sunday of the Fulfillment or Christ the King Sunday.  And the Gospel reading for this triumphant, climactic day is about. . . Christ on the Cross (Luke 23:27-43).  Our pastor preached on some words of His that I’ve never heard treated like this:  “They know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

The sermon made me realize that the epistemological problem–what do we know and how do we know it?–is not just a theoretical question for academic philosophers. In the course of our everyday lives, we have to function with major gaps in our knowledge. [Read more...]

Heaven and the widow of seven husbands

The Sunday before last, our Gospel reading was about the Sadducees who tried to shoot down the doctrine of eternal life by asking Jesus a hypothetical question about a woman who was widowed seven times–in the resurrection, whose wife will she be (Luke 20)?  Pastor Douthwaite preached a powerful sermon about the nature of life after death, in the course of which he did something I never thought of before:  He took the situation of the hypothetical woman seriously. [Read more...]

“We are beggars; this is true”

The Reformation can be summed up in six words, according to our pastor in his Reformation Day sermon last Sunday.  Not the solas, not some version of “Here I stand,” but the words written down on a scrap of paper that Luther had in his pocket on his deathbed:  “We are beggars; this is true.”  After the jump, read what Pastor Douthwaite says about these words. [Read more...]

‘”We have only done what was our duty”

The Gospel reading for last Sunday was the parable that makes perfectly clear why we are not saved by our works and why we cannot merit salvation:

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”  (Luke 17:7-10)

Even if we obeyed God perfectly and never did anything wrong, we wouldn’t deserve a reward.  That would simply be doing the bare minimum of what we are supposed to do.  We would only be doing our duty.  After the jump, see what our pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite did with this text, bringing out both Law and Gospel. [Read more...]

Pastors as Unjust Stewards

Our Scripture reading last Sunday included the Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-15), which is probably one of the toughest parables to make sense of.  A household manager gets sacked because of his corruption, so before he cleans out his desk he discounts the debts of everyone in debt to his master as a way to get in good with them for when he’s out of a job.  And even though the Unjust Steward is cheating him out of what is his due (telling people who owe 100 measures of oil they only need to pay 50), the Master commends him. [Read more...]


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