The Prodigal Son

When I was a toddler my favorite story was The Three Bears. Whenever my mother asked me what story I wanted to hear I always said, “The Three Bears.” All my aunts told me The Three Bears until they were blue in the face. Baby sitters moaned and groaned, looked at me, and said, “Phillip! Not again!” But I liked it and even though I knew it by heart I wanted to hear them tell it to me one more time. With vocal inflections. Today we heard the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is sort of like a biblical, “Three Bears.” We’ve heard it over and over again to the point where we could almost recite the dialog by heart. With vocal inflections. The younger son demands the inheritance from the

Crime and Punishment

As she came into church I asked, “How are you?” She said, “Oh, not so good. My arthritis is kicking up. I just found out my driver’s license is expired. My checking account doesn’t balance. And I’m having a bad hair day.” I looked at her and said, “Well, you just must not be living right.” We both laughed. We both really didn’t think that God gives people bad hair days for not living right. But there was a time when people thought that way. Throughout much of the Old Testament and some of the New you can find examples of an outlook on life which held that bad thing are results of God’s punishment and good things are results of God’s rewards. This, evidently, was what was on the m

The Feminine Side of God

Throughout our season of Lent we have the opportunity to consider how God has outstretched her almighty arm and has brought her children to safety … how she has blessed us with gifts too numerous to count … how she has forsaken the rich and haughty and how she has lifted up the lowly into her loving and protective arms. I suspect what you may be thinking. Those feminine pronouns I have just used to speak of the almighty are like speed bumps in your easy listening. “She?” “Why’d he say she.” And then our minds go to remembering that God is neither male nor female and the only reason we think of her as a him is because, in antiquity, males were thought to be superior and, since God is supe

Wilderness Temptation

Who was it that has said that we don’t have the privilege of living our lives backwards. If we lived our lives backwards we could see all the things we could change and prepare for them. But as it is, we live our lives forwards, and sometimes it is not until we get past a certain point that we can look back and see where we have been and where God has been in our lives. We are at the edge of a figurative wilderness, you and I. This is the first Sunday in Lent. We have a month-and-a-half journey in which we contemplate our Lord’s journey to the cross. But, because we live 2,000 years after Jesus lived, we stand at a privileged place where we can look back at that journey and see where Go


I can readily understand why Peter, John, and James chose not to tell anyone what they had seen on the mountain that day. No one would have believed them. They probably weren’t even sure, themselves, what they had seen. T was really all kind of bizarre. They had gone up the mountain with Jesus to pray, but ended up falling asleep. All of a sudden they were awakened to see Jesus standing before them in some kind of strange translucent light talking with Moses and Elijah. Then Peter said something which really didn’t make much sense. Those of you who have ever heard anyone talk in their sleep will understand the dreamlike scene that is being unfolded here. Then a large cloud overshadowe

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Christ the Servant Lutheran Church

The Rev. Dr. Phillip A. Carl

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