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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 Fulfillment of Psalm 22 in Holy Week

Psalm 22 has one of the most memorable opening lines, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” These words are instilled into our memories as the words Jesus spoke from the cross. Psalm 22 is appropriately one of the two psalms appointed for Good Friday in both the three-year and one-year lectionaries (along with Psalm 31).

How Do You Rest on the Sabbath Day?

As Lent is underway, many Christians throughout the world are participating in various spiritual disciplines. Some are fasting from a particular food, drink, or activity. Some are spending more time in prayer or the study of God’s Word.
These common Lenten disciplines draw on the many themes of Lent, encouraging us ever toward reliance on God rather than reliance on anything else. Another rhythm to Christian life that encourages such reliance and dependence is the Sabbath, the holy day of rest.

Preaching on the Psalms

If you are a pastor, when was the last time you preached on one of the Psalms? If you are not a pastor, when was the last time you heard a sermon on one of the Psalms? Is it just me, or are the Psalms often overlooked and underused in preaching? I began to notice this several years ago and found I was not alone. Others had noticed a lack of Psalms sermons too.

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.