Thoughts for Sunday

This weekend we welcome guest preacher Sarah Stenson to the First Lutheran pulpit. Sarah is the Associate Director of Luther House of Study. Founded in 2006 and located in Sioux Falls, Luther House of Study works to strengthen Lutheran leadership and ministries for the proclamation of the Gospel. In partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary and the South Dakota Synod, Luther House of Study serves future ministry professionals, current ministry professionals, and congregations. Luther House of Study offers, at no cost, online curriculum and videos for learning about the Lutheran faith and its foundation. For more information, visit


The Gospel lesson for this week gives us a look at two ways people experience being in the presence of our Lord, Jesus. Jesus has been invited to eat with one of the Pharisees, Simon, at his house.  While there, a woman identified only as “sinner” shows up, weeps, bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears, dries them with her hair and anoints them with ointment.  Quite the unusual dinner party guest!

Simon’s reaction to this surprise guest was not all that unusual for the time. He questioned Jesus’ status as a prophet, and why it was that Jesus allowed this sinner (and a woman at that!) to touch him.  Of course, in doing that, Jesus was breaking all sorts of Jewish laws and even simple societal customs and norms. 

While this story is sometimes heard as one about hospitality and is then turned into an example of what it means to be truly hospitable, that isn’t really what’s going on. Jesus actually tells us Himself that this story is really about something quite different: what happens when you are forgiven.

In this week’s sermon, we’ll start to unpack the two ways people experience Jesus: as someone you can use for personal gain, or as someone who will do something entirely different from what you might expect. 

As we talk about this text from the Gospel of Luke, I hope you will find yourself listening as well as experiencing the freedom that comes where you might not expect it -- being named sinner.