All posts by Pastor Karl Hanf

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

My Witness on Giving

Every year I try to get a member to talk about their giving honestly to the congregation.  The ones I ask are not our largest givers, but those that have impressed me by their faithfulness.  I asked one man who had lost his job but throughout his unemployment, with a family, mortgage and all the rest, still gave faithfully to the church. He was forced to give less, which he told me regretfully. Frankly worried, I asked if it was the right thing to do.   He said if he stopped giving it would be like saying God had abandoned him and this is not what he believed at all.  Continue reading My Witness on Giving

Receiving Time As A Gift

The text for this sermon is Matthew 3:13-17.

We are in the midst of the Sermon Series that encourages all of us to reconsider our priorities and commit in 2011 to living full and whole lives of faith.  To do so not only pleases God, but leads to a purpose driven life that is exactly what God hoped for us at our baptism.  Last week, we talked about sharing our talents generously with God’s world.  Today, I want us to think about how we are to consider the time that we are given on this earth.  Continue reading Receiving Time As A Gift