05-19-2019 Sermon - The Restored Heaven And Earth

The Book of Revelation is a bizarre Book! It contains startling images, highly symbolic language, and depictions that are ironic. Last Sunday's reading from Revelation involved a slain, then alive, lamb shepherding a flock. In today's reading we have a city descending from heaven adorned as a bride! One thing is for sure, the pictures are memorable! And as long as we get our doctrine from the Books in which it is put forth directly, then I think we can benefit and receive comfort from the strange pictures in Revelation, especially those that unmistakably point to the victory we share in as Christians when Christ returns again at the end of the age.

05-12-2019 Sermon - The Lamb Shall Shepherd His Sheep

What an image in our Revelation Lesson! A Lamb is out in front of the flock leading the sheep to the living waters. And we learn that this lamb has been slain, and yet lives. A lamb as a shepherd! A lamb equipped with rod and staff and protecting the sheep through the valleys of death. This is an ironic image. But the picture lingers in the mind. And we can be reminded that this is no ordinary lamb...

04-28-2019 Sermon - Sent to Forgive Sins

Pastors in the Lutheran tradition say such bold things as, "By the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I a called and ordained servant of the Word, forgive you your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Where does this authorization come from? Well, it primarily comes from the Gospel Lesson we are considering this morning on the Second Sunday of Easter. With our Risen Lord's early appearance to the disciples we discover the implication of his death and resurrection is that his church is sent and equipped to forgive sins. The forgiveness of sins is at the heart of the Gospel. And as Luther notes, "where there is forgiveness of sin there is also life and salvation."

04-21-2019 Sermon - Christ Centered Resurrection Hope

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Everything in the Christian Faith rests on the veracity of Christ's Resurrection. If Christ has not been raised from the dead Christians are of all people the most to be pitied! So why is the Apostle Paul so sure that in fact Christ rose from the grave, and what does he mean that this resurrection is the fruit fruits to all who believe? He will write that in Adam we all die, but in Christ we are made alive. Indeed Christ himself is our greatest hope...

04-07-2019 Sermon - The Despised Beloved Son

Jesus referred to himself as the stone the builders rejected, but has proven to be the cornerstone. He further talks about this stone as that when people stumble over it they are broken to pieces, and when this stone falls on anyone they are pulverized. From the world's standpoint Jesus was rejected and as he is being led to a criminal's death on the cross he looks rather pathetic. Who would have ever surmised that by his upcoming death, death itself would be defeated? By his death sin, death, and the devil are vanquished. And we have a chance to build our lives, indeed our hope and future on this stone...

03-31-19 Sermon - Found And Reclaimed Alive!

The 15th Chapter of Luke has been called "the Lost and Found Chapter". First a shepherd finds the one sheep out of a hundred that was lost. And then a women finds the one silver coin out of ten that was lost. Finally, a father claims that not only a son dead to him was once again alive, but that his lost son was also found. Interestingly in the third case the father is not portrayed as traveling to the distant country to search for his son. So we need to discover how in fact this son was found in a similar way to the lost sheep and the lost coin. What can't be missed is how much joy it brings to our heavenly Father to reclaim that which had been lost to him. This should likewise bring us joy as well...

03-24-19 Sermon - Beware! Warning, Warning!

Immediately upon receiving news of a slaughter of citizens by the Roman ruler, Pilate, Jesus let people know that those slaughtered were not worse sinners than anyone else. The he added, "But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." You could sum up his message as "turn or burn". And just so his message was consistent with the prophets before him, and with John the Baptist who was the forerunner to the coming of the Messiah. Some are quick to call such preaching "hellfire and brimstone" and unnecessarily negative. But when disaster lies ahead, the sounding of a warning is done so in the hope that the hearer might be able to avoid disaster. If I could expand on the "turn or burn" message, it would be "turn or burn, look to the Lord Jesus to rescue you from the flame of judgment." Thank God for warning, and for the remedy!

03-17-2019 Sermon - The Open Arm Father

Body posture, especially with the use of the hands and arms communicates powerfully. Balled up fists in front of one's face indicates aggression. Holding up your arms directly in front of you with palms upright as though you were pushing something away from you indicates rejection. But arms held outward to the side and slightly elevated, with palms in an open position indicate the desire to embrace and to shelter. In our Gospel Lesson today we learn definitively of the posture our heavenly Father has toward us and why this is such good news...

03-10-2019 Sermon - Jesus Encounters the Tempter in the Wilderness

It matters how we read Scripture. And Jesus provides the clue as to how. He says the Scriptures are primarily about him! The trouble is, we tend to want to make them all about us. And the Gospel Reading this morning is a case in point. How quickly we leave the narrative of Jesus' encounter and victory over Satan in the wilderness to trying to draw lessons about what we can learn from Jesus not succumbing to temptation. There is that. But the main point is to focus on how Jesus' victory on our behalf is good news for us! Such good news that we are invited to place our faith in his victory over sin, death, and the devil, and to give up relying on our ability to defeat the devil ourselves. The Gospel is about what God in Christ has done, and is doing, on our behalf and for our benefit.

02-24-2019 Sermon - What This Family Does

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If there is one thing our fallen human nature loves, it is taking center stage and leaving God the role, if any, of being a supporting actor. If we are not careful we might read Jesus' sermon in Luke 6 in such a way that we think we are center stage. After all we are told if we love our enemies and our reward will be great in heaven, and if we forgive then we will be forgiven. If, then. I know, those are the words. But if we are not careful we will conclude that we need to step up and assume the leading role. So how might we understand our Lord's admonitions without minimizing the difficult expectations that we endeavor to follow them? I think the key is to remember who indeed is center stage, and then understand we are a part of his family. Let me explain..

02-17-2019 Sermon - Woe To You Who Are Rich

St. Augustine once remarked, "If you believe what you like in Scripture, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Word of God you believe, but yourself." Jesus taught a lot of things that cut against the grain that I suspect many of us would be tempted to gloss right over and move on to things he said that we like. The Gospel Lesson this morning is a case in point. "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God." And, "Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation." Unless you are truly poor, I suspect his saying makes us a little uncomfortable. And I would not be surprised that many who are impoverished would struggle to realized how it is that they are blessed. So what is Jesus getting at? Who indeed are the fortunate ones? That is what I want us to struggle with in this lesson...

02-10-2019 Sermon - Forgiveness And Cleansing from the Altar

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The Prophet Isaiah had an encounter with the Holy One of Israel that was terrifying. He knew he was a dead man in the presence of such otherworldly holiness, for as he confessed "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people with unclean lips." And the great prophet was right. He was a goner, except for the fact that the Lord offered him the most unusual method for taking away Isaiah's guilt and atoning for his sin. Isaiah cleansed would be able to serve the Lord, and cleansed we too can serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

02-03-2019 Sermon - Christ Speaks With Authority And Power

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Jesus encounters a demon possessed man in the weekly place of worship. And at his spoken rebuke the demon fled the man possessed and the assembly of gathered worshipers, but not before exclaiming who Jesus was, "the Holy One of God". The people marveled commenting that Jesus spoke with authority and power. They knew demons had power, more power than they had. But demons did not have legitimate authority. Many kings and magistrates had authority, but some of them were weak and pathetic people. But Jesus had both authority and power! And what he speaks accomplishes what he purposes. And how does he speak in our midst? Things like this: To repentant sinners "I forgive you your sins." And to baptized believers gathering at the altar, "This is my body given for you," and "This is my blood shed for you." And we can believe such words because he has authority and power...

01-27-2019 Sermon - The Reading And Teaching of Scripture

In the middle of the 5th Century BC the returning exiles from Babylonia, under the direction of their Governor, Nehemiah, had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. The people clamored for a reading of the Torah, the Book of the Law of Moses, which was the Scripture of their day. And they stood at attention as Ezra, the priest and scribe, read from the Torah for upwards to six hours. Levites also helped Ezra give the sense of the Word of God to the people. This incident helps us to understand important elements of what goes on in the Divine Service as we gather each week as a Christian Community.

01-20-2019 Sermon - A Toast to the Newlyweds

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John's Gospel makes a big point that changing water into wine at a wedding feast was the first miracle Jesus worked. But John called it a "sign" instead of a miracle. And that in itself is significant. What did this miracle point to? What is the significance that this miracle took place at a wedding feast? Although perhaps a minor point, that Jesus was no cosmic killjoy because he provided wine to gladden the feast, the point would seem to be far more than that. It pointed to Jesus' unique identity and what it is that he was accomplishing for us.

01-13-2019 Sermon - The Implications of Baptism

That the holy and innocent one received John's baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins surely indicates the importance of our receiving Holy Baptism! When the Son of God assumed our humanity in the incarnation he fulfilled in his flesh all that is necessary for us. It is our sinful lives that need the washing of the Word with water that is Holy Baptism. And although we are saved by the gift of forgiveness, and not by our obedience or good works, that does not give us a license to sin with impunity. In fact if we keep on sinning without any resistance, we really don't understand the significance of Baptism which the Apostle Paul takes pains to explain in our Second Lesson this morning.

12-23-2018 Sermon - Mary's Great Hymn of the Church

Whereas Lutherans do not pray directly to Mary and the Saints, nor seek their assistance, we nonetheless pay a great deal of respect to them. Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, is a great example of what it means to be a Christian. You can say that she conceived the Christ Child in her womb by way of her ear, for when she heard the Word of the Lord from the Angel Gabriel, that Word found a believing heart. Mary said, "Behold your servant, let it be to me according to your word!" And we too, as Christians, receive Christ into our lives when we hear and believe the Good News of what Christ accomplished by his dying and rising so that we might have forgiveness and eternal life.