“Amen” (The Lord’s Prayer; 2 Corinthians 1:18-22)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, April 20, 2014

“Amen” (The Lord’s Prayer; 2 Corinthians 1:18-22)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

Yes, “Alleluia” of course is the word of the day for Easter Day. We’ve been saving it up all Lent, and now today we finally get to let it loose. And what a day to do so! Our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead on this day, winning the victory for us over death and the grave. If that doesn’t elicit an “Alleluia,” I don’t know what will. “Alleluia” is a Hebrew word originally, and it means “Praise ye the Lord.” And praise is most fitting for us to render unto the Lord God for the great salvation he has assured us of by raising his Son from the dead.

“Alleluia,” the word of the day for Easter. But today I’d like to suggest another “A” word that works just as well on this day. And that is the word “Amen.” “Amen” also is a Hebrew word that has carried over into English. It means “to be sure,” “to be certain.” The basic idea is firmness or certainty. In the Bible, the word “Amen” expresses a certain affirmation in response to what has been said. And that idea, and the word itself, carried over into the Christian church, and on through all the centuries, all around the world, down to this very day. “Amen,” we say, whenever we want to affirm as solid and trustworthy whatever has just been said, whether that is a prayer or a blessing or what have you.

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Published in: on April 20, 2014 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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“But Deliver Us from Evil” (The Lord’s Prayer; Luke 23:32-49)

Good Friday
April 18, 2014

“But Deliver Us from Evil” (The Lord’s Prayer; Luke 23:32-49)

“But Deliver Us from Evil”: The seventh and final petition of the Lord’s Prayer. And how appropriate that we should come to this petition on this particular day, Good Friday. For the greatest evil that has ever been perpetrated on this earth is the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. I mean, really, Good Friday could just as well be called “Evil Friday,” that is the magnitude of the evil committed against this wholly innocent man, the most innocent man who has ever lived–indeed, the only truly innocent man to have ever lived.

But the reason we insist on still calling it “Good” Friday is because out of that monstrous evil God has worked the most marvelous good. It’s like what Joseph told his brothers after they had committed a terrible wrong against him. He said, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” So also, in an even greater way, God has brought good out of the evil committed against Jesus.

And because of the incredible good that came out of the enormous evil done on this day, this is how and why we can pray “But deliver us from evil.” And we can be sure that God will do it, as we will now see.

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Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 11:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Lead Us Not into Temptation” (The Lord’s Prayer; Luke 22:1-46)

Holy Thursday
April 17, 2014

“Lead Us Not into Temptation” (The Lord’s Prayer; Luke 22:1-46)

During this Lenten season we’ve been doing a series on the Lord’s Prayer called “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.” And that’s exactly what our Lord does on this Holy Thursday evening. He teaches us to pray. That’s what he instructs us to do, that’s what he gives us an example of doing, and, even more than that, he prays for us.

In particular, on this night Jesus instructs his disciples to pray for strength in the face of temptation. “Pray that you may not enter into temptation,” Jesus tells them more than once. It was a word they needed to hear. It’s a word we need to hear, also. For we too face temptation in our life, and repeatedly so.

And so it is fitting, as we work our way through the Lord’s Prayer, that tonight we should come to the Sixth Petition, “Lead Us Not into Temptation.” So let us go now, with our Lord and his disciples–let us go to dark Gethsemane and there learn from Jesus Christ to pray.

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Published in: on April 17, 2014 at 10:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Who Is This?” (Matthew 21:1-11; 27:11-66)

Palm Sunday / Sunday of the Passion
April 13, 2014

“Who Is This?” (Matthew 21:1-11; 27:11-66)

“Who is this?” That would seem to be the question of the day for this day that serves as both Palm Sunday and the Sunday of the Passion. “Who is this?” That’s what the people of Jerusalem were asking about the man who came riding into town on a donkey. That’s the question that swirled around this same man later in the week when he stood before Pilate and the crowd and when he went to the cross to suffer and to die. Who is this? Who is this man, Jesus of Nazareth, the subject of so much controversy, the object of both accusation and acclaim? Who is this guy anyway?

And it’s a question that echoes down to our day, too. Who is this man Jesus? The answers that people give reveal a wide range of opinion, ranging from rank unbelief to raw ignorance to a polite dismissal, from a correct yet canned response to a heartfelt trust and worship. How about you? How would you answer this question about Jesus? “Who Is This?” It’s the most important question you will ever answer.

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Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“And Forgive Us Our Trespasses . . .” (The Lord’s Prayer)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

“And Forgive Us Our Trespasses . . .” (The Lord’s Prayer)

Today we continue our series on the Lord’s Prayer with the Fifth Petition, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” By the way, since this is the last of our Wednesday midweek services, and we’re only up to the Fifth Petition, you may be wondering how we’re going to finish out the Lord’s Prayer. Don’t worry. We’ll do the Sixth Petition, “And lead us not into temptation,” next week on Holy Thursday; the Seventh Petition, “But deliver us from evil,” on Good Friday; and the Conclusion, the “Amen,” on Easter Sunday. And so tonight, the Fifth Petition, “And Forgive Us Our Trespasses. . . .”

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Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Raising Lazarus–and Other Things as Well” (John 11:1-53)

Fifth Sunday in Lent
April 6, 2014

“Raising Lazarus–and Other Things as Well” (John 11:1-53)

Today we come to another one of those memorable chapters in the Gospel of John. So far during this Lenten season we’ve had: John 3, Jesus and Nicodemus; John 4, Jesus and the Samaritan woman; and John 9, Jesus heals the man born blind. Now today we have John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. But that’s not all Jesus raises here in this chapter, as we’re about to hear. Thus our theme today: “Raising Lazarus–and Other Things as Well.”

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Published in: on April 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” (The Lord’s Prayer)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” (The Lord’s Prayer)

We continue with our Lenten series on the Lord’s Prayer, “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.” Tonight we come to the Fourth Petition, “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.”

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Published in: on April 2, 2014 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Man Reborn Seeing–and Speaking” (John 9:1-41)

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 30, 2014

“The Man Reborn Seeing–and Speaking” (John 9:1-41)

Today’s Gospel, John chapter 9, is usually referred to as the story of Jesus healing “The Man Born Blind.” But since the actual healing takes up only two of the 41 verses, and that, right near the start, and the rest of the chapter has to do with the aftermath of the healing, the reaction to it, and how the man who was healed not only sees but also speaks, speaks up in the face of the threat of persecution, and comes to faith in Christ–for those reasons, I think today I’ll call this story “The Man Reborn Seeing–and Speaking.”

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Published in: on March 30, 2014 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Thy Will Be Done” (The Lord’s Prayer)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

“Thy Will Be Done” (The Lord’s Prayer)

We continue in our series on the Lord’s Prayer, “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.” And tonight we come to the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, namely, “Thy Will Be Done.”

“Thy will be done.” Are we sure we really want to pray this? You know, sometimes we think of “Thy will be done” as just a resigned afterthought, after we’ve prayed for what we really want. “Lord, here are the things I really want you to do for me, but I know you probably won’t answer me the way I would like, so I’ll tack on a ‘Thy will be done’ disclaimer at the end.” It’s like we’re bracing ourselves for the inevitable disappointment when God doesn’t come through for us. But we know our prayers are supposed to sound pious, and so a little “Thy will be done” thrown in at the end does the trick.

Well, that’s kind of a minimalist view of this petition. We’re undervaluing it. There’s a lot more going on here than a mere “escape clause” for when our prayers don’t come true.

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Published in: on March 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Samaritan Woman at the Well” (John 4:5-30, 39-42)

Third Sunday in Lent
March 23, 2014

“The Samaritan Woman at the Well” (John 4:5-30, 39-42)

Have you ever felt like you’re a bit of an outsider? Like you didn’t belong? That maybe you’re being looked down upon by others–whether fairly or unfairly. Maybe you’ve done something to bring some shame upon yourself. And maybe you feel some guilt before God. If this is the case, then I’ve got good news for you today. And we’ll find it out at the side of a well, where a Jewish man has come and meets “The Samaritan Woman at the Well.”

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Published in: on March 22, 2014 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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