“A Flow of Blood and a Rising from the Dead” (Mark 5:21-43)

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
June 28, 2015

“A Flow of Blood and a Rising from the Dead” (Mark 5:21-43)

Two women, forever bound together in Holy Scripture. Two women, one an adult, suffering from a flow of blood for twelve years; the other a young girl, twelve years old, dead, but then rising from the dead. Two women, afflicted by disease and death as we all are. And yet two women, both saved, delivered, and healed, in the same way that we are. And so our theme this morning, “A Flow of Blood and a Rising from the Dead.”

(more…)

Published in: on June 27, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“Keep Calm, Jesus Is in the Boat” (Mark 4:35-41)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 21, 2015

“Keep Calm, Jesus Is in the Boat” (Mark 4:35-41)

“Be still, my soul.” Oh, really? You don’t know what I’m going through! My life is a wreck! My finances are in free-fall. My health–oh, don’t get me started! It’s just one thing after another. First it’s this, then it’s that–I get one thing fixed, and then something else goes wrong. Relationships gone wrong, too. Loneliness, despair, depression. Well, and then there’s what’s going on in the news. A shooting in South Carolina, nine innocent people killed–in a church yet! Where was God in this? Asleep at the switch? Doesn’t he watch over his people? Doesn’t he watch over me? And you’re telling me to sing, “Be still, my soul”? Come on, get real!

Well, yes, let’s get real. Because it would be just wishful thinking if we had no basis in reality for singing “Be still, my soul.” That would just be happy talk, whistling past the graveyard, if there were nothing more to it than that. But dear friends, I want to tell you today that there is a real basis for us to say to our souls, “Be still.” And that is because we have a Lord who says to the storms of our life–even to real, physical storms–“Peace! Be still!” And so I am keeping it real when I say to you now, “Keep Calm, Jesus Is in the Boat.”

(more…)

Published in: on June 20, 2015 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“Different Opinions about Jesus–and His Followers” (Mark 3:20-35)

Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 7, 2015

“Different Opinions about Jesus–and His Followers” (Mark 3:20-35)

In the Holy Gospel for today we encounter people expressing a couple of different opinions about Jesus. One is a temporary misunderstanding about him. The other is a hardened rejection of Jesus. Both opinions are negative.

Now by extension what people think about Jesus will also shape what they think about his followers. And so today as we see people expressing these negative views about Christ, realize that people will have similar negative views about his Christians. And we need to be prepared for this. People will say this stuff about us. But at the same time, there is another opinion about Jesus’ followers that we will discover in our text. Now the question for us is, whose opinion do we put more stock in? Whose view do we pay more attention to? It makes a difference. So our theme this morning: “Different Opinions about Jesus–and His Followers.”

(more…)

Published in: on June 7, 2015 at 2:52 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“The Loving Father, the Lifted-Up Son, and the Life-Giving Spirit” (John 3:1-17)

The Holy Trinity
Sunday, May 31, 2015

“The Loving Father, the Lifted-Up Son, and the Life-Giving Spirit” (John 3:1-17)

The triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for our salvation. That’s what this Feast of the Holy Trinity is all about. This is not an occasion to strain our brains to try to figure out what for us, with our finite reason, is ultimately incomprehensible, namely, how there can be one God in three persons and at the same time three persons and only one God. That would blow out our circuits, if we even could comprehend it. Rather, the thing to do on this day is simply, with childlike faith, to receive the saving truth of the Trinity and to rejoice in the reality of the triune God. Which is what we will do now, as we rejoice in “The Loving Father, the Lifted-Up Son, and the Life-Giving Spirit.”

(more…)

Published in: on May 30, 2015 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“The Helper: The Paraclete of Pentecost” (John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15)

The Day of Pentecost
Sunday, May 24, 2015

“The Helper: The Paraclete of Pentecost” (John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15)

“To You, O Paraclete, we raise / Unending songs of thanks and praise.” Did you catch that last line of the hymn we just sang? And did you wonder who or what this “Paraclete” was? Well, it seems to be a reference to the Holy Spirit, because earlier in that stanza we’ve been praising the Father and the Son, so this must be the Holy Spirit. But why call the Holy Spirit “Paraclete”? Is that because the Spirit came down in the form of a parakeet at Jesus’ baptism? No, wait, that was a dove, not a parakeet. And besides, this is “Paraclete,” not “parakeet.”

Alright, so what in the world is a “Paraclete”? Well, if you noticed the fine print at the bottom of the page of that hymn, Hymn 500, you saw that there was this explanation: “‘Paraclete,’ another name for the Holy Spirit, comes from the Greek, meaning ‘comforter’ or ‘counselor.’” And so it is. “Comforter,” “counselor,” “advocate”–these are all ways the Greek word “Paraclete” can be translated. Or, as the term occurs in the Holy Gospel for today, there the word “Paraclete” is translated as “Helper.” Jesus uses this term “Paraclete” several times to tell the disciples he is going to send them the “Helper.”

That’s what this day, the Day of Pentecost, is all about: It’s about the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ sending the Paraclete, the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to the church, to help the church, to help us Christians, in several ways. So let’s find out how, as we now consider our theme, “The Helper: The Paraclete of Pentecost.”

(more…)

Published in: on May 24, 2015 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

“Confidence, Unity, and Joy: God’s Gifts to Our Church” (1 John 5:9-15; John 17:11b-19)

Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 17, 2015

“Confidence, Unity, and Joy: God’s Gifts to Our Church” (1 John 5:9-15; John 17:11b-19)

Today we are very happy to receive yet another family into our congregation. That makes seventeen new members added to our little church so far this year. Seventeen! That is remarkable. From out of the blue, quite unexpectedly, God has gifted us with these brothers and sisters in Christ, who are joining our church. Thanks be to God!

Yes, today we give thanks to God for the gift of these new members, who already are being a real blessing to our church. But now I want to tell you about some other gifts that God has for our church, and these are gifts that are spoken of in the Scripture readings for today. And they are these: “Confidence, Unity, and Joy: God’s Gifts to Our Church.”

(more…)

Published in: on May 16, 2015 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

“The Past, Present, and Future of the Ascension” (Luke 24:44-53; Ephesians 1:15-23; Acts 1:1-11)

The Ascension of Our Lord
Thursday, May 14, 2015

“The Past, Present, and Future of the Ascension” (Luke 24:44-53; Ephesians 1:15-23; Acts 1:1-11)

“He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence he will come to judge the living and the dead.” That’s what we just confessed about our Lord Jesus Christ, isn’t it? This portion of the Apostles’ Creed captures what this day, Ascension Day, is all about. These three things: He ascended into heaven. He sits at the right hand of the Father. And he will come again. A past act. A present reality. And a future hope. And all of these things are good news for you. So now let’s consider these blessed truths, under the theme: “The Past, Present, and Future of the Ascension.”

(more…)

Published in: on May 14, 2015 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

“Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying” (1 John 5:1-8)

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 10, 2015

“Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying” (1 John 5:1-8)

“Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying”: That’s the hymn we just sang (LSB 597). Listen again to the words of the first stanza:

Water, blood, and Spirit crying,
By their witness testifying
To the One whose death-defying
Life has come, with life for all.

The One to whom the Spirit, the water, and the blood are testifying is, of course, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has defied and defeated death for us, who comes with life for all, and whose Easter victory we are celebrating during this season.

But now where did the hymn writer get the idea for this hymn and the very words that he uses? He got them from our Epistle for today, from 1 John chapter 5. And in particular, from verses 6-8, reading again as follows: “This is he who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” This is our text.

(more…)

Published in: on May 9, 2015 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“We Love Because He First Loved Us” (1 John 4:1-21)

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 3, 2015

“We Love Because He First Loved Us” (1 John 4:1-21)

Love, love, love. How often do we hear that word “love”! We use it so freely, so loosely. We use it for McDonald’s hamburgers: “I’m lovin’ it.” We use it for clothing and cars and hairstyles and lots of things we like, but instead of saying “like,” we say “love.” I found myself doing that just the other night: Lance Lynn struck out a batter with the bases loaded and two outs, and I said, without thinking, “Love it!”

Well, a step up from that very loose use of “love” is when we apply the word to people. But even there, it can be overused. So many pop songs have “love” in the lyrics, but what they mean is “I’m really infatuated with you” or “You really turn me on.” Meh, that’s a little weak. Better is when we use “love” about people for whom we have a strong and lasting personal affection. “I love my grandma.” “I love my daughter.” That’s pretty good. That’s the love of personal affection.

But we can do even better than that. There is the love of commitment, of caring and serving others, even the love of self-sacrifice for the good of another. Now that is really the best and highest use of the word “love.” And where and how do we learn that kind of love? That’s what we’ll take up now, under the theme, “We Love Because He First Loved Us.”

(more…)

Published in: on May 2, 2015 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“One Name, One Flock, One Shepherd” (Acts 4:1-12; John 10:11-18)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 26, 2015

“One Name, One Flock, One Shepherd” (Acts 4:1-12; John 10:11-18)

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” the day in the church year every year when the propers–that is, the various parts of the service–revolve around Jesus as our Good Shepherd. The Holy Gospel is always a portion of John 10, in which Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd. The Psalm is always the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd.” The Hymn of the Day, which we just sang, is “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.” And so on. This theme of the Good Shepherd really comes through loud and clear.

Now the First Reading today, from the Book of Acts, chapter 4, doesn’t exactly fit the Good Shepherd theme. There is no mention of sheep or shepherd. But still, it is an appropriate reading for the Easter season. For it describes how the apostles Peter and John were “proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead,” which is the great emphasis for Easter and these weeks that follow. And what Peter says here about the preaching of the resurrection in Jesus’ name does tie in well with what Jesus himself says in John 10–as we shall see now, as we focus our attention on “One Name, One Flock, One Shepherd.”

(more…)

Published in: on April 26, 2015 at 12:11 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50 other followers