Crazy is Afoot | Sermon

Crazy is Afoot. (2 Cor. 5:13-15)

I preached this sermon at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Chester, CA. and First Lutheran Church in Greenville, CA. on June 14, 2015 (Third Sunday after Pentecost– Three Year Series, B).

Stricken and Smitten

Today’s Good Friday. A quote from Scripture seems fitting. Blessings.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
    he shall be high and lifted up,
    and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
    his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
    and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
    kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
    and that which they have not heard they understand.

Stricken and Smitten by Tyrel Bramwell on 500px

53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

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The Authority of Jesus | Sermon

The Authority of Jesus

I preached this sermon at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Chester, CA. and First Lutheran Church in Greenville, CA. on February 1, 2015 (The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany – Three Year Series, B).

Sermon text: Mark 1:21-28

Life Together

The following excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together (pages 91-92) highlights the reality that though we’re individuals, in the Church we’re never isolated from other members of Christ’s body.

Americans, perhaps more than other people groups, tend to emphasize a person’s individuality while dismissing, or at least downplaying, the reality that in one way or another we all live in relationship to others, be it in a family, our community, or that we just happen to live on the same rock that’s cruising around the sun as the guy next door. Even in solitude Christians are not alone. This concept rejects the line of reasoning that makes room for “victimless crimes” or any argument that espouses personal choice, for no crime is truly ever victimless and no choice, no matter how personal, is made within a vacuum. Within the Church such a rationale doesn’t exist. As a member of Christ’s body everything I do, indeed even what I think, has an impact on other people – other members of the Body. What a provocative thought for a society steeped in individualism.

“Every day brings the Christian many hours of being alone in an unchristian environment. These are times of testing. This is the proving ground of a genuine time of meditation and genuine Christian community. Has the community served to make individuals free, strong, and mature, or has it made them insecure and dependent? Has it taken them by the hand for a while so that they would learn again to walk by themselves, or has it made them anxious and unsure?… Has it transported them for a few short moments into a spiritual ecstasy that vanishes when everyday life returns, or has it planted the Word of God so soberly and so deeply in their heart that it holds and strengthens them all day long, leading them to active love, to obedience, to good works?… Is the invisible presence of the Christian community a reality and a help to the individual? Do the intercessory prayers of the others carry me through the day? Is the Word of God close to me as a comfort and a strength? Or do I misuse my solitude against the community, against the Word and prayer? Individuals must be aware that even their hours of being alone reverberate through the community. In their solitude they can shatter and tarnish the community or they can strengthen and sanctify it. Every act of self-discipline by a Christian is also a service to the community. Conversely, there is no sin in thought, word, or deed, no matter how personal or secret, that does not harm the whole community. When the cause of an illness gets into one’s body, whether or not anyone knows where it comes from, or in what member it has lodged, the body is made ill. This is the appropriate metaphor for the Christian community. Every member serves the whole body, contributing either to its health or to its ruin, for we are members of one body not only when we want to be, but in our whole existence. This is not a theory, but a spiritual reality that is often experienced in the Christian community with shocking clarity, sometimes destructively and sometimes beneficially.

“Those who return to the community of Christians who live together, after a successful day, bring with them the blessing of their solitude, but they themselves receive anew the blessing of the community. Blessed are those who are alone in the strength of the community. Blessed are those who preserve community in the strength of solitude. But the strength of solitude and the strength of community is the strength of the Word of God alone, which is meant for the individual in the community.”

Format QuotePosted on Categories Blog Post, iPhoneography, QuoteTags Body of Christ, book, , , Community, dietrich bonhoeffer, Individuality, Life Together, SolitudeLeave a comment

Kramer Chapel Instruction Manual

I’ve uploaded a PDF of my Kramer Chapel instruction manual (click the link below) so that all ya’ll LEGO/Concordia Theological Seminary/architecture enthusiasts can build your very own custom churchly office decor. One thing though, you’re on your own when it comes to acquiring the LEGO bricks necessary for this build. When I was selling these kits I purchased bricks from both’s Pick a Brick store and Ebay is also a useful resource. I recommend buying only new bricks, you know, ’cause no one wants a dirty and dingy desktop Kramer Chapel made from used pieces. But, of course, it’s your call. Hey, you might even already have all the pieces necessary. So download the manual and get busy constructing your very own Eero Saarinen masterpiece.


I hope you have as much fun building your Kramer Chapel as I had designing it. :)

Kramer Chapel Instruction Manual

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Overgrown Peoples Sign

A follow up post to the Decrepit Peoples Church. This church is definitely still experiencing some growth. ;)

© 2015 Tyrel Bramwell

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Decrepit Peoples Church

In Westwood, “the town that Paul (Bunyan) built,” there sits a once thriving church, the Peoples Church. It’s now in a state of decrepitude. All the stained glass is busted out, the windows are boarded up, and all the staircases are gone, making entrance into the church all but impossible. It’s a rotting corpse of what used to be.

© 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

Format ImagePosted on Categories iPhoneography, PhotographyTags Architecture, black and white, , Northern California, peoples church, religious, Westwood1 Comment

Cruciform Beauty

“Simply put, the cross is the form that makes Christianity beautiful! The cross is the beauty of Christianity because it is at the cross that we encounter co-suffering love and costly forgiveness in its most beautiful form… The cruciform is the aesthetic of our gospel. It is the form that gives Christianity its unique beauty.”

— Brian Zahnd, Beauty Will Save the World

This photograph is of the crucifix at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Chester, California.

Copyright © 2014-2015 Tyrel Bramwell

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Called To Paradise

While at the seminary I’ve heard (more than once) a fantastic view of what it is to be called to serve a church. It’s a simple view, rich in beauty that sees each parish as a particular plot of Paradise and each pastor as the gardener whose task it is to tend to it. I love this way of thinking! I’m being called to a joyful labor where each day I have the privilege of nurturing the beauty, that is the Christian faith, of each flower and tree as I fertilize the flora with the Word of God.

As I think about this amazing imagery, however, I tend to want to revise it ever so slightly, for in this analogy I don’t see myself as the gardener but rather as His spade. I’m but a tool in His hand. Each parish remains a particular plot of Paradise, Heaven on Earth, to be sure! And I, indeed retain the privilege of being called to work it, but as the newly crafted shovel that will daily be used to nurture the faith of God’s beloved flowers, His people in that corner of His Garden. All the work is accomplished by the Holy Spirit! What a blessing it is to be a part of His landscaping process.

© 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

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A Prayer (In Light of Call Day)

As it gets closer to Call Day, and before anxiety has the chance to take over, allow me the privilege of offering a prayer (from the Minister’s Prayer Book) for all my brothers and their families:

“O God, heavenly Father, who desirest all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, give me [as well as my classmates and their families] thy Spirit and strengthen [our] heart[s] that [we] may never despair, but labor in hope, look unto Christ, endure his cross, and finally have part in his joy. Give [us] grace to proclaim the truth wisely, charitably, and acceptably, and so to present the Lord Jesus Christ in word and deed, that people may hear him gladly. Be thou [our] strength and embolden [us] to serve thee, that, renouncing every worldly ambition and unworthy method, [we] may trust only in the power of thy Word and thy Spirit and never shrink from declaring thy saving Word of truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” — J.W.D.

Photograph is of the painting that hangs above the baptismal font in Kramer Chapel on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

© 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

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