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Written by

Andrew R. Jones

Andrew R. Jones serves as the pastor of First Lutheran Church and Preschool in Concord, CA. He served in mission and ministry for seven years on three continents before moving to St. Louis to attend Concordia Seminary (Master of Divinity, 2017, Master of Sacred Theology, 2018). He enjoys writing, running, and adventures with his wife, Stephanie. You can find more of his writings at patreon.com/c3pojones.

Recent Posts by Andrew R. Jones

The Gathering Light of Epiphany

The season of Epiphany is one that often gets overlooked in the Church Year calendar. We’re on board for Advent and Lent, with many congregations meeting midweek to mark these penitential seasons.

Much like the seasons of Christmas and Easter, the season of Epiphany is sparked by a specific feast day that colors the rest of the season. On the Feast of Epiphany (January 6), we observe the Magi visiting Jesus and bringing Him the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Scriptural Depth of the Great “O” Antiphons

The hymnody of Advent is exceedingly rich. Among this richness is the classic “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” As you open your Lutheran Service Book to this hymn (357), you will also find the Great “O” Antiphons. These ancient prayers have long been used to count down the days until Christmas. As you can see, each begins by addressing the Lord with a different phrase: “O Wisdom,” “O Key of David,” “O Emmanuel,” and so on.

Originally written in Latin, the Great “O” Antiphons create a reverse acrostic with these names of God that begin each prayer. They spell out ero cras; that is, “Tomorrow I will be” (cras means “tomorrow,” while ero is a first-person singular future form of the verb “to be”) or perhaps, “I will be there tomorrow” or “I come tomorrow.”

Matthew 25: Be Ready for the End of the World

On November 8, 15, and 22, the three Sundays between All Saints’ Day and the First Sunday in Advent, the Gospel readings from the three-year lectionary cover the entirety of Matthew 25. This chapter is about the return of Jesus and the end of the world. In a way, these three Sundays serve as a sort of pre-Advent season that focuses (much like Advent) on the hope and expectation of Jesus’ return.

Politics in the Pulpit?

One of the most challenging aspects of being a pastor in the United States in the twenty-first century is the deep division of the nation along political lines. Based on research from a 2014 Pew Research poll, it is likely that every pastor and church leader throughout the Synod serves people who identify as Republicans, others who identify as Democrats, and still others who identify with neither party.

A Comprehensive Approach to Teaching about Stewardship

In my congregational experience, stewardship is either preached on too particularly or not nearly enough. Some congregations have several weeks of sermons and Bible studies dedicated to the topic. Other congregations never so much as mention the concept.

Some congregations attempt to move past stewardship as merely a fiscal term by brandishing the alliterative tagline “Time, Talent, and Treasures.” The idea behind this is that being a steward is about more than giving money, which is true and admirable. I wonder, however, if this threefold definition of stewardship is still far too restrictive.

What I hope I can provide in this brief piece is twofold: first, a more complete understanding of stewardship; second, a way for pastors to use upcoming lectionary readings to highlight holistic stewardship.

Blame vs. Confession

So far, 2020 has seen a lot of high-profile news stories. If you are anything like me, you may have forgotten some of the stories that dominated the news cycle in the first two months of 2020. Do you remember Brexit, the reaction to the Super Bowl LIV halftime show, or the voting issues at the Iowa Caucus? Those stories feel like they happened years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic and incidents of racial injustice have occupied my mind and my anxiety almost to the exclusion of anything else.

Regardless of one’s viewpoints on these stories and situations, one common thread unites them all: blame. Much of the coverage of any news story involves who is blaming whom. President Trump, the media, China, Russia, the police, the Democrats, the Republicans, and many more have received their fair share of blame over the past several months.

Preaching the Gospel Against Three Enemies

As Lutherans, we preach and teach the biblical text. Whether we choose one of the four readings from the lectionary or preach through a sermon series, the text drives our preaching. As we prepare Bible studies, even if they are topical, the text of the Scriptures must always lead and inform our teaching.

A Socially-Distant 2020 Call Day

Call Day is one of the high holidays in the life of many LCMS pastors and their families. The months leading up to Call Day are some of the most stressful and exciting and infuriating one can imagine. The game of trying to guess where one might be called is entirely futile, and yet, it can’t be avoided. Soon-to-be pastors and their families are just so excited for the next chapter of their lives to be revealed that it is all they can talk about for months. The time leading up to Call Day is a time of preparation and hope amid chaos. It’s almost as though the season before Call Day is Advent, and Call Day itself is Christmas.