Wednesday, August 16, 2017

An open letter to Oskar as he turns spiritually 2

Two years ago today, my son Oskar, was baptized. After the water was poured on his head in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I put my thumb on his forehead, made the sign of the cross, and declared Oskar Thomas, child of God, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.

And so, Oskar, now 30 months and a day old, I write to you.

You are a child of God, this can't be undone, there are no take-backs. This status means that you are loved, beyond compare, simply for the mass of muscles, bones, neurons, emotions, and other things that make you up. It means that the color of your skin, hair, and eyes are a beautiful miracle. You, my son, are a priceless treasure. Your baptism is a revelation of the truth, God's truth, a truth that by God's grace has been given to us, and a truth we get to share with each other, and with all people.

There's also more to this truth revealed in your baptism. Truly, God didn't begin loving you on the day you were baptized, nor did God give beauty to your life on that day. No, that day didn't change how God felt about you, rather, it was a day where we could see in the water and word poured out upon you how God feels about all people, and all of creation. It is a day where we experience together the promise that God will not fail to continue to send this abundant love and life into our world, and nothing we can do can separate us from it. This is Good News!

Still though, there's more. We, human beings, fail at love, a lot. In fact, we fail so badly, that some people think that there are some of us who are created better than others. They feel that light skin is better than dark skin. They feel that people who have different names for God are to be left out. They feel that their ways of doing things are the best. They feel that it's okay to make others scared, to treat them like they are animals, and even to harm and kill them if they have to. I want to make it very clear to you that this is not how God feels, and it is why you were baptized, so that God can tell the truth that all people are miraculous creations, that all are loved equally, that all are indeed God's children.

God gives us this truth in baptism, so that we can share it, so that it can be proclaimed everywhere, so that all may know it, and so that all may live in it. When people say otherwise, and they will, it is wrong. In fact, it is so wrong, that God wants us to use our words and our actions to say it is wrong as boldly as we can. Some people do this by talking, others by marching, some by writing, and some even by being arrested, persecuted, and dying. Sometimes these people will make mistakes, but it is God's grace that has called them to this work, and it is that grace which will continue to use them to bring God's love. No matter what, there are not two sides, there is only one, the side of love, unity, justice, and peace. This is the truth, God's truth.

My dear son, may you always know the love of God, the love proclaimed in your baptism. May it fill you up and call you forward to a life proclaiming that truth, no matter what. God has done a great work in you, and God will continue to do great works in you. Surely, God has blessed us and this world with the work that is you.

Love, your Dad

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 4, 1968. "Why? The King of Love is Dead."

On this day, 49 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. Just 3 days later, musician Nina Simone and her band performed this moving song with lyrics written by bassist, Gene Taylor. 

Martin Luther King Jr. was not Jesus Christ, but through faith was given Christ's Holy Spirit, and he proclaimed Christ's love. Just as Christ's crucifixion was an image of our sinful response to love, so was Martin's assassination. 

The song's question, "Why?" is one worth asking, one that troubles our shared humanity and compassion to the bones. It's other question, "What's going to happen, now that the King of Love is dead?" is one for which we have the answer. Resurrection. New life brought forth out of love that is stronger than hate, stronger than sin, stronger than even death. New life that is given to us in the bread and wine of Christ's body broken and poured out for each of us. New life that fills us, convicts us and calls us to join with our brother, Martin, and all the saints, in proclaiming Christ's endless victory to all.

For a retrospective on this song, 40 years later, see


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sermon for January 15, 2017: A Lamb and two Martin's

Sermon given by Pr. Mark T. Peterson on January 15, 2017 at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Holliston, MA.

 John 1:29-42

 29[John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sermon for January 8, 2017: Visions of Trust

This sermon was preached by Rev. Mark T. Peterson, at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Holliston, MA on January 8, 2017. We were celebrating the Epiphany of our Lord. (2 days late.)

Matthew 2:1-12

1In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
  are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
 for from you shall come a ruler
  who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
  7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.