All posts by Pastor Karl Hanf

A Special Reformation Sunday

If you are a dyed in the wool Lutheran you know, next week is Reformation Sunday.  It is the day Protestants traditionally celebrate Martin Luther’s 16th century reforms of the church.  This year at our 11:00 service, we have some special guests that will help us recast Reformation Sunday in a different light.  Our neighbors St. Pius, brothers and sisters in Christ and partners in ministry at Joseph’s Coat, will worship with us.  They are sending their Chancel Choir to join with our own for a wonderful 60 voice choir this day.  Further, their Senior Pastor, Monsignor David Funk will come and lead us in liturgy and prayer.   11:00 next week, October 31 will truly be a good and even historic worship for Messiah.  Don’t miss it.

A Story About Humility

This sermon is based on the parable that Jesus told found in Luke 18:9-14.

We are working hard at Messiah planning for Reformation Sunday which makes the thing that happened here last week almost tragic.  Our Synod office called to announce a contest they are holding for this year’s Reformation Sunday.  They want to crown someone from our churches Most Lutheran 2010 at a special worship service next Sunday night.   They called to ask that we send a bio on our candidate by Friday. Continue reading A Story About Humility

The Tenth Leper

The text for this sermon is the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers, Luke 17:11-19.

For years I was a dock supervisor at Roadway Express.  I worked 12 hour shifts from 7 until 7.  From the moment, I walked on the dock I was working.  Dock men asked me questions.  Managers found me to yell at me about something I hadn’t done the night before.  Other supervisors started shouting for me over the radio as soon as they heard me check in.  I expected to work like a dog from the time I stepped on that dock until I stepped off. Continue reading The Tenth Leper

Noticing Lazarus

This sermon is based on the parable that Jesus told to the Pharisees, Luke 16:9-31.

 Have you seen pictures of the holocaust?  The grainy, black and white gruesome ones of people stacked like cord wood.  Those pictures make your heart ache, but it is still a distant crime.  It isn’t until you read a diary written by a young teenage girl fruitlessly living in hiding for years to avoid this fate does this crime become something that we know and understand.  Each one of these images is a person, like Anne Franke with dreams, talents, annoying behaviors and endearing qualities.  Each one is human.  When that sinks in the enormity of this evil sinks in and we become resolute to do something about it. Continue reading Noticing Lazarus

One Lord of All

Ephesians 4:1-5

4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

 My grandfather Karl Michael Hanf was in elementary school when he became a Lutheran.  When his mother and father and their children immigrated to America they were devout Roman Catholics.  When it came time for their only American born son, Karl, a gift of their old age, to enter school, she enrolled him in the parish school where they lived in Toledo.  The priest, who incidentally was not German, angered my great grandmother by insisting on charging her for school books on top of his tuition. She thought this was outrageous.  My grandfather was pulled out of school and immediately enrolled in the German Lutheran parish school nearby.  The Hanfs are Lutheran due to school fees. Continue reading One Lord of All

Throwing a Great Party!

This sermon is a consideration of Luke 14:7-14.

Now, I am not judging, but I am guessing that most of you really did not pay attention to the scripture.  The way our worship service is set up, it is difficult.  You just get to hear it read once quickly before the next thing starts, my sermon.  Then human nature kicks in and keeps us from focusing.  Jesus eating, reminds us of the family picnic we are going to this afternoon up in Findlay.  Findlay reminds us of our grandmother’s house, right outside of Findlay in Fostoria.  Fostoria reminds us of a real cool candy store you used to walk to with your cousins when you stayed at grandma’s for a week.  They had sweet and sour Charms suckers.  You can’t get those anymore.  I wonder why not.  Suddenly, the pastor is saying, The Word of the Lord and the congregation responding, Praise to you Oh Christ.  And you are thinking, what, it’s over?  I am not judging.  I have been there, in your place in the pews. I know how it is. Continue reading Throwing a Great Party!

The Miracle of Healing

This sermon was preached on a Sunday when we held a service of healing within our worship.

We have some very sick people at Messiah, physically and emotionally. People I love that I long to declare healed in God’s name. Cancer gone. Heart mended. Cane thrown away. Depression lifted. Disorder disappeared. I want that to happen today, but I don’t believe it has to for a person to be healed. Continue reading The Miracle of Healing

Strive for Faithfulness Rather Than Success

The biblical text for this sermon is Mark 10:35-45.

This is the fourth in a sermon series using the themes of Tattoos on the Heart, by The Rev. G. Boyle

James and John don’t come off looking that great in this lesson.  This kind of raw grab for power, prestige and recognition is just not done, not in the day of Jesus and not in our day either. Even the gospel writers are embarrassed by this story.  Luke retells something like 80% of Mark’s stories, but does not tell this one.   Matthew retells the story, but adds James and John’s mother as the one who tries to secure a good spot for her sons.

I get what’s going on in James and John’s head.  They are success oriented.  When we are success oriented, we have in our mind a desired outcome then create a plan to get us there.  These guys believed they were following the Messiah, a Jewish King sent by God to restore the Jewish people to greatness.  They figured when Jesus gets to Jerusalem, he is going to be crowned king through the power of God.  Their goal wasn’t to be king, but to have the best seats next to the king. Continue reading Strive for Faithfulness Rather Than Success

Preparing for Sunday: What is Christian Success?

I am in the midst of preparing the sermon for the week.  It is the last week in our use of the book Tattoos of the Heart, by Father Gregory Boyle.  This last week we discuss the unique way that followers of Jesus understand success.

All but the most dysfunctional among us have some vision of what a successful life looks like and a positive or negative judgment on how their life has lived up to this vision.  Christians need not be different in this respect.  A life with purpose and goals can be fruitful.  The problem becomes when Christians accept the world’s vision of success and ape the purpose and goals of the world.  

Father Boyle in the first chapter tells a story of a gang member named Scrappy who in his mid thirties after twenty years in a gang and ten in jail, finally decides to follow a different path.  He begins to work in Homeboy Industries and to be ministered by God’s grace.  The change in Scrappy is remarkable and celebrated. 

In one of the last chapters of the book, Father Boyle tells the rest of the story of Scrappy.  He is killed in a gangland execution a few months after beginning his new life.  Boyle asks some difficult questions.  “Was he a success story?  Does he now appear in some column of failure as we tally outcomes?  The tyranny of success often can’t be bothered with complexity.  The tote board matters little when held up alongside Scrappy’s intricate, tragic struggle to figure out who he was in the world.” p.169  Good things to ponder as I prepare for Sunday.  Peace, Pastor Karl

God Is-Unmasking the love of God

Homeboy Industries is a foolish business.  The employees dress inappropriately and in ways that terrify middle class America.  Their language is full of curse words.  They show up late or not at all.  The people they hire are truly unemployable.  So why employ them?  Father Boyle believes we are to imitate the kind of God we believe in. He believes passionately that God would be hiring them and giving them third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances. Continue reading God Is-Unmasking the love of God