All posts by Pastor Karl Hanf

Good Friday: It is finished.

It is finished. These are the last words of Jesus in the book of John.  I’ve been thinking of how Jesus might have said these three words.

To state the obvious, Jesus has had a horrific week. Greeted as a Jewish savior when he entered Jerusalem, by Friday he is dying on the cross.  Just in the last twenty four hours he has been arrested, tried, and beaten, mocked and humiliated.  On an instrument of torture he has hung physically exposed, his body aching, his wounds bleeding, his throat gasping for water his life leaving him. Continue reading Good Friday: It is finished.

The Stories and Rituals of Holy Week

Stories make my small world larger and allow me to understand deeper truths about life.   Rituals bring me comfort and mark parts of my life as important.  I love them both, which is good because the churches best tools to communicate God’s love are story and ritual.  At her best, she uses both to draw people closer to God.

The rituals of Holy Week help us enter into the story. We are part of the parade on Palm Sunday and shout with the crowd when we read the Passion.  We share a meal of bread and wine on Maundy Thursday as Jesus did on the night he was betrayed.  We drag a wooden cross on Good Friday as Jesus dragged one down the road to Golgotha. Continue reading The Stories and Rituals of Holy Week

Esther: The Gift of Courage

The text for this sermon is the book of Esther, especially the fourth chapter.

Today, and this week on Wednesday, we discuss courage. To understand courage I want to look at the book of Esther, often overlooked by Lutherans.  Luther did not like the book of Esther because he thought it contained too much “heathen naughtiness”.  We won’t have time for the entire story, all the naughty details, but I encourage all of you to take the 30 to 45 minutes and read it for yourself. Continue reading Esther: The Gift of Courage

Ruth 3: God’s Loving Kindness

This scripture for this sermon is the third chapter of Ruth.

Ruth from the despised country of Moab stays with Naomi her mother in law when Naomi has to return to Bethlehem, even though her husband, Naomi’s son, is dead and she would be better off in Moab than Israel.  This is the loyalty that Ruth has for Naomi, a loyalty born of both love for Naomi, and a kind and generous spirit. Continue reading Ruth 3: God’s Loving Kindness

Charitable Hearts

This sermon is based on the Old Testament book of Ruth, the second chapter.

In our Old Testament story Boaz, the wealthy landowner gives charity to Ruth, a poor destitute immigrant.  As we heard last week, Ruth was from Moab, a country and people despised by Israel.  She is in Israel because she had married a man from Bethlehem who had died.  She was following her mother in law, Naomi, back to Bethlehem, because the poor older woman had no one to take care of her.  Ironically, Ruth is in Israel as an act of charity for Naomi and thus in need of charity from Boaz. Continue reading Charitable Hearts

Mountaintop Moments

This sermon is based on the Transfiguration story in Matthew 17:1-9.

The day starts just like any other day.  The three heavy hitters of the disciples are heading up a mountain with Jesus, not anticipating at all that this day would be different.  Suddenly, Jesus changed physically in a way that Matthew has trouble explaining.  He glowed so bright it was like looking into the sun.  His clothes became so white it was like you had washed them thirty times in bleach.  Even more amazing two men appeared who Peter, James and John knew instantly to be Elijah and Moses, Old Testament heroes.  They were talking to Jesus, right there in front of them.

Continue reading Mountaintop Moments

Who is my enemy?

The text for this sermon is Matthew 5:38-48.

Who is my enemy?  If you are like me, you might have trouble coming up with a name. I mean, I really don’t have anyone that I would call an enemy. I suppose as an American I have America’s enemies, but even they are harder to pin down.  George Bush tried to give them a name, Islamo-Fascists-Terrorists, but it never caught on.  It doesn’t really roll off of the tongue like commies did back in the good old days. Continue reading Who is my enemy?

Lives of Salt and Light

The scripture for this sermon is Matthew 5:13-16.

I heard a number of years ago about a man that died of a heart attack on an airplane flight. Everyone on board was in a panic.  Some were trying to help the guy, but one man that did not enter the mayhem turned out to be a doctor.  When asked why, he said that malpractice suits being the way they are, he just didn’t think it was worth the risk.  Continue reading Lives of Salt and Light