11-04-2018 Sermon - Known By the Company We Keep

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You have perhaps heard the parental admonition, "Be careful of the company you keep."? I even heard it put this way, "When you walk with trash you end up smelling like trash." Well, have you ever considered the company we were placed in when we were baptized? It is called becoming children of God, members of the household of faith. We also call it "the communion of saints" which we confess belief in as we recite the Apostles' Creed. This is good company to be a part of! And we could have never earned our way into this company. But there is the ever present danger that we can drift from this good company, and in its place prefer the company of the world in this age, the very company that neglects God's Word, places too much value on transitory things, and which ever dreams up new forms of evil. So it is all the more important that we recognize that indeed we will be known by the company that we value...

10-28-2018 Sermon - Thankful for the Hour of Judgement?

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On a day we celebrate the hallmark of the Reformation, namely moving the Gospel once again front and center, how is it the angel messenger in our Revelation Lesson is proclaiming an eternal gospel when he speaks of the coming judgment? Sound fearful! Well the eternal Gospel is all about salvation as a gift to be received by faith on account of the work that Christ alone accomplished on the Cross for us. And when we know that we are acquitted, then the judgment against all evil will mean the day is coming when we will no longer to injure others, and no one else will be permitted to injure us. Eternal life will not just be an endless number of days as we know them in this fallen world...

10-21-2018 Sermon - Of Camels And Sewing Needles

Some of us have enough trouble passing thread through the eye of a needle, so we can appreciate it when our Lord said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. We correctly understand this to be an impossible task. And in our Gospel Lesson we learn that it is not only an impossible task for the rich, but it is an impossible task for all people. So we can understand the disciples astonishment and why they ask Jesus, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus reassures us that all things are possible for God! Find out how our Lord does the impossible so that repentant sinners who believe can be saved...

10-14-2018 Sermon - The Inheritance Goes to Sons

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Would that all evangelistic outreach could be as easy as having someone run up to you and asking you what they must do to inherit eternal life! But that is what a rich, young man did to Jesus. What will surely surprise you is how Jesus handles the man's question. If you know anything of how our Lord dealt with questions you will know that he asks a couple of questions back at the man. But what he asks, and then what he says may surprise you...

Speaking the Word of God with boldness!

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This week we take a look at the fifth of ten footprints of the Holy Spirit as evidenced in the Book of Acts. So far we have identified the following footprints. First, we are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, we are to wait upon, or pray, for the Holy Spirit. Third, the Spirit first comes upon the community before filling each one individually. And fourthly, the Holy Spirit helps us overcome language barriers.

The fifth footprint is how the Holy Spirit takes us out of hiding, timidly cowering in fear, and makes us bold to publicly proclaim the good news of God’s love shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In Acts 2:14 we read, “But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them…” You will note that Peter stood! But he did not stand alone. The eleven other disciples stood with him, even if at the moment Peter did the proclaiming. There was no more hiding for the disciples. They were enabled and emboldened to witness to the nations.

What will become surprisingly clear in the days ahead is that persecution will not dampen this Spirit enabled boldness. When for example Peter and John were arrested by the Jewish religious authorities in Acts chapter 4, their voices were not rendered mute when they stood on trial. The leaders themselves remarked that although Peter and John were uneducated, they nonetheless spoke with boldness.

Then when Peter and John were released by the authorities with strict orders not to speak anymore in Jesus’ name, they instantly told the leaders they had no intention of following their orders! Moreover, when Peter and John were reunited with other disciples they prayed together. And amazingly, they did not petition God to keep them from persecution and trial. Instead, they asked the Lord that he would enable them to keep on speaking the Word of God with boldness! And this is precisely what the Holy Spirit enabled them to do!

Since You Asked…

What is the significance of sharing the peace?

“The peace which enables people to live in unity and in the spirit of mutual forgiveness comes only from Christ whose word has been proclaimed. … The peace is a sign that those who participate in it open themselves to the healing and reconciling power of God’s love and offer themselves to be agents of that love in the world. … The personal exchange of the peace should be as unpatterned as possible, but its meaning and significance should be kept clear. It is not the occasion merely for conviviality. The choice of gesture, whether a handshake, holding hands, or an embrace, should be left to the persons themselves.” (from “Manual on the Liturgy” companion to the LBW, from Augsburg Pub.)


10-07-2018 Sermon - The Vocation of Marriage

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Jesus had some pretty tough words on the subject of divorce which is especially hard for our No Fault Divorce culture to hear. I guess you could say that he set the bar high. In order for us to feel better we try to lower the bar, and to hope for God's permissiveness. But our Lord set the bar. And far more valuable than permissiveness he deals in forgiveness. In the meantime we would do better to understand marriage as a holy vocation, and not the end all to human flourishing and happiness. Only our union with Christ by faith results in our living happily ever after. As a vocation marriage points to and represents God's love toward us, and most especially to Christ the Bridegroom presenting his Bride, the Church, as pure, unblemished, and without spot...

09-30-2018 Sermon - Healing And Forgiveness

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Lutherans believe in praying for the sick and in asking for healing for the sick individual. We also value the Scriptural examples and admonitions to lay hands on the sick while praying, and for anointing with oil the sick person we are praying for. Surprisingly, we also use the occasion to hear a confession of sins and to give the absolution, that is, the declaration of forgiveness in Christ's name. In working with our Second Lesson, from the Letter of James, we will look at the connection between sin and illnesses. There is a connection! But it is not a connection whereby we might conclude that a sick person is in any sense a worse offender than all the rest...

09-23-2018 Sermon - By Way of the Cross

 Photo by  Mahir Uysal  on  Unsplash

Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

We like our heroes standing tall, riding high in the saddle, with guns drawn and blazing, and overpowering and defeating the enemy. And we like to imagine ourselves performing like our heroes. The first disciples were no different. And they were looking to Jesus as their hero. Okay, so maybe they would have used the word "Messiah". But nonetheless, when Jesus began to tell them that he was headed to Jerusalem where he would be betrayed, rejected by the religious leaders, tortured, and then put to death, our present lesson tells us they did not understand what Jesus was teaching them. It also adds, "and they were afraid to ask him." ...

09-16-2018 Sermon - God's Servant Is A Hearer

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Israel had turned a deaf ear to the Lord, and indeed all of humanity continually does the same. But God's mysterious Servant spoken of in four different passages of Isaiah called the Servant Songs, is the one person who carefully listens and heeds the Word of God! And this Servant is able to teach what he is taught. And we are invited to listen to his Word so that our darkness can be turned to light. The alternative is to continue to walk by the light of the fires we light, that is, by our own light. And this in turn is called walking in darkness. Its end is death. But there is a different end when we tune our ears and hearts to God's Word as faithfully spoken by God's Servant...

09-09-2018 Sermon - Promise of Joyful Rescue

 Photo by  Lukasz Szmigiel  on  Unsplash

Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

When through the Prophet Isaiah God promised to rescue his people from their bondage in Babylon, the picture of this future salvation is a rich one. It involves the desert becoming a well-watered and verdant garden; a safe highway to the City of God, dramatic healing, and much joyful singing. The period of Israel's exile in Babylon did come to an end and Jerusalem's citizens were permitted to return to their city which had been reduced to rubble. But ultimately the promise delivered by Isaiah involved a greater exile and rescue. It involved sinful humanity's exile from the Garden of Eden and the rescue effected by Christ Jesus our Lord so that we might be travelers on our way to the heavenly city. Those who are travelers on this highway indeed have muchto be joyful for and little wonder they sing with gladness and joy.

09-02-2018 Sermon - Polluted Headsprings

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When the head spring of a river is polluted it does little good to effect a cleanup operation downstream. It is the source that must be purified. The head spring of each individual is their heart, and the head spring of the human race is Adam. In both instance, according to our Lord, the source is polluted with wickedness. That is why the Christian Faith is not a matter of one following his own heart! Instead it is receiving by faith the new and clean heart our Lord promises us. This gift is made possible by Jesus' death and resurrection. Our Lord Jesus becomes the head spring of a new and redeemed humanity.

08-26-2018 Sermon - Deaf, Blind, And Upside Down

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Photo by Mean Shadows on Unsplash

There is none so blind as he who will not see. That pretty well describes the human race apart from God's grace. Being wise in our own eyes we have become deaf and blind to the things of our Creator. And as a consequence we have turned things upside down in our lives. Fortunately our Lord does not leave us alone but he comes to us restoring the hearing and seeing of our hearts and minds, so that not only understanding God's judgment on sin, we also hear his amazing promise to forgive and restore.

08-19-2018 Sermon - Eat This Bread, Drink This Blood

 Photo by  James Coleman  on  Unsplash

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

When Jesus claims to be bread come down from heaven he certainly is being figurative in his speech, is he not? Well certainly belief in Jesus as sent from the Father to give his life for our salvation is intended in his meaning. But then what is all the graphic mention our Lord Jesus makes concerning crunching, gnawing, and chewing on his flesh? And what of his inviting us to drink his blood? Rather graphic imagery wouldn't you say! Well, what is it all about?

08-05-2018 Sermon - Food That Endures to Eternal Life

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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Our Lord Jesus taught us to give thanks for our daily bread. And he also spoke of a more substantial food. He spoke to the crowd who sought him out in our Gospel Lesson, "Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you." What is this food which does not spoil and gives more than just a few days nutrition for this temporal life? Moses spoke of it in Deuteronomy when he related the Word of the Lord, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." And yet Jesus says that this "bread from heaven" is not only a "what" but a "whom". Who is this Word of God that is a person and how does he give life to the world?

07-22-2018 Sermon - The Good Shepherd Feeds His Flock

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It is significant that Jesus' feeding of the 5,000 is included in all four Gospel Accounts. Other than the resurrection itself, it is the only miracle occurring in all four! And its importance may be indicated by the comment in Mark 6:34 "he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd." I say this because God had previously promised through his Prophets and in the Psalms that the day would come when the Lord himself would come and shepherd his people. And this miracle is a clear sign that the promise was being fulfilled by Jesus...

07-15-18 Sermon - The Plumb Line of Judgment

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There are consequences to sin. And although in the present temporal age the consequences of our sin can seem arbitrary, Amos prophesied that God's judgment will ultimately be totally fair and impartial. He was given a vision of the Lord holding a plumb line and holding it in the midst of his people. The wall that is not true and upright will need to be torn down and then restored. According to Amos, Israel was going to be punished by Assyrian invaders. It was too late to avoid that fate, but it was not too late for repentance. The Lord would spare a remnant to be rebuilt and restored. God's Word serves as a plumb line held against our lives. The bad news is that we are all out of plumb. The good news is that he promises restoration to all who repent and cling to his promise of restoration.

Rise and Shine

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Jesus encounters a desperate father whose 12 year old daughter is at the point of death. Jesus agrees to accompany Jairus and to lay his hands on Jairus' daughter. But en route a woman who had suffered for 12 years with a hemorrhage of blood reaches out to touch Jesus' garments believing that with the touch she would be made well. And so Jesus first heals the woman with a chronic illness before he ends up calling the young girl to awake from death, for she in fact had died before Jesus got to her home. Interestingly, Jesus treats death as though it was a mere matter of falling asleep. And he overcomes death simply by calling the deceased to rise, just as any parent would rouse their child in the morning to "rise and shine." 

06-17-2018 Sermon - To His Disciples He Explains Everything

Jesus' parables, instead of being short stories easily understood, have often seemed like a riddle or a difficult puzzle to try to put together. The key to understanding them is first to understand that we are blind to their meaning when we rely on our own wisdom and when we trust our own prejudiced anticipation for the ways things work. And secondly, and most importantly, the key is seeing in Jesus God at work for our salvation. He is the key. And to his disciples Jesus explains everything.