“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.


Published in: on April 20, 2014 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus Prays for Us” (John 17:20-26)

Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 12, 2013

“Jesus Prays for Us” (John 17:20-26)

Did you know you are mentioned in the Gospel reading for today? You are. Jesus is talking about you–in fact, he is praying for you–in the passage known as his “High Priestly Prayer” in John 17. In the first part of that chapter, Jesus has been praying for his disciples, the ones he would be sending out soon as his apostles. You know, Peter, James, John, Andrew, Matthew–those guys. But then at verse 20 of John 17, Jesus shifts his prayer to include others, as well. He says: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word. . . .”

OK, let’s pause right there. When he says “these only,” he’s referring to the disciples he’s just been praying for, those who would be his apostles. But then he goes on to say: “but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” And here he is talking about you. Yes, you. For you are among those who have believed in Jesus through the apostles’ word–the inspired witness of the apostles that we find in the New Testament Scriptures. Through the gospel that has been preached to you, through the apostles’ teaching, through the sacraments the apostles were commissioned to pass on to the church from generation to generation–through the apostolic ministry of Word and Sacrament, you and I have come to believe in, trust in, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so you and I are included in this prayer of Jesus when he prays for “those who will believe in me through their word.” Here in his High Priestly Prayer, “Jesus Prays for Us.”


Published in: on May 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“In Jesus, Peace; In the World, Tribulation” (John 16:23-33)

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 5, 2013

“In Jesus, Peace; In the World, Tribulation” (John 16:23-33)

Hear again the words of Jesus at the end of John 16, verse 33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” This is our text.

“In Jesus, Peace; In the World, Tribulation.” This is what our Lord says his followers can expect. It was that way for his disciples back then. It is that way for his disciples still now. On the one hand, peace; on the other hand, tribulation. Both guaranteed, at the same time, for all those who follow the Savior in faith. How does this apply to you and me?


Published in: on May 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Little While” (John 16:12-22)

Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 28, 2013

“A Little While” (John 16:12-22)

“We do not know what he is talking about.” Maybe you say that sometimes towards the end of my sermons. “We don’t know what he’s talking about!” Well, if so, then I’m in good company, because that’s what the disciples said about a sermon Jesus was preaching. We heard it in today’s Gospel from John 16. “We do not know what he is talking about,” the disciples said. What was it they were puzzled about?

It was this. Jesus had just told them: “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” Huh? Come again? Well, yeah, that’s just the point. Jesus will come again. He’s going away, and they won’t see him. Then he’ll come again, and they will see him. But it does sound like a bit of a riddle, doesn’t it? “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So you can just see the puzzled looks on the disciples’ faces, as they turn to one another and say, repeating his words: “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’?” “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”

What does Jesus mean? It’s not the easiest thing to figure out exactly, even now. In a way, we could say that his saying has kind of a double meaning, or at least a double application, one to the disciples’ immediate situation, right at that time, and then to a broader, longer-range situation that fits our situation also. So let’s see what sense we can make of all this. Let’s talk about this “A Little While.”


Published in: on April 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep” (John 10:14-15, 22-30; Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 21, 2013

“The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep” (John 10:14-15, 22-30; Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)

Today is what is usually called “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Every year on this Sunday in the Easter season, the theme of all the parts of the service is Jesus as the Good Shepherd of the sheep, his flock, the church. He lays down his life for the sheep and takes it up again–that’s the Easter connection. On Good Shepherd Sunday, the Holy Gospel is always a portion of John 10, in which Jesus identifies himself as that shepherd several times. The other two readings also fit the theme of Christ as shepherd. The Introit and Collect of the Day, likewise. The appointed psalm, of course, is always Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” And the Hymn of the Day is a musical setting of the 23rd Psalm, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is,” which we just sang. So we always have a very clear theme to work with on this Fourth Sunday of Easter, which is why we call it “Good Shepherd Sunday.”

Take, for example, our readings for today. In the first reading, from Acts 20, the Apostle Paul uses shepherding language when he instructs the elders of Ephesus on their task as pastors: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock,” Paul says. “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock,” and so on. In the reading from Revelation, we see the multitude arrayed in white, and we’re told that “the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water.” And in the Holy Gospel, from John 10, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” So we have shepherd imagery throughout.

Now what does this have to do with us? Well, “we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand,” as Psalm 95 says. We are those sheep for whom the Good Shepherd lays down his life and takes it up again. We are members of Christ’s flock, the church. We are being led to those heavenly springs of water. We hear our shepherd’s voice, and we follow him. All this by God’s grace, of course, since we sheep would be lost forever without our Good Shepherd.

Today I want you to see yourself, to see your identity, as part of Christ’s flock, his church, and to appreciate all the more all that your Good Shepherd does for you. For truly, “The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep.”


Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“By the Charcoal Fire” (John 21:1-19)

Third Sunday of Easter
April 14, 2013

“By the Charcoal Fire” (John 21:1-19)

It’s been a couple of weeks now since Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples. Last Sunday, Jesus came and appeared to them a second time, on that occasion especially to bring Thomas to repent of his unbelief and confess his faith. Now today Jesus appears to the disciples–seven of them, at least–he appears to them a third time, this time not in Jerusalem, as on the previous two occasions, but now back up in Galilee, the home base for many of the disciples.

Jesus appears to them, unexpectedly, while they’re out on the lake in a boat, fishing, and he’s standing on the shore, standing by a charcoal fire he had made. They don’t know that it’s Jesus there on the shore, but he calls to them, and that’s when the fun begins. So now let’s find out what happens when we hear Jesus call us to come to him “By the Charcoal Fire.”


Published in: on April 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Words of Life” (John 20:19-31; Acts 5:12-32; Revelation 1:4-18)

Second Sunday of Easter
April 7, 2013

“Words of Life” (John 20:19-31; Acts 5:12-32; Revelation 1:4-18)

To those sitting in prison, facing a death sentence, filled with fear at what awaits them, nothing is more welcome than someone coming with a message of pardon and release. Those words come as words of life in a world of fear and death.

“Words of Life.” That’s what we hear in our readings today–in all three of them: the First Reading, from Acts; the Epistle, from Revelation; and the Holy Gospel, from John. Words of life, to people sitting in prison, overcoming their fear and giving them the faith and the boldness and the final victory that they need. And the good news is, these words of life come not only to the people in our readings, they come also to us, sitting here today.


Published in: on April 6, 2013 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Lessons from the Paschal Candle” (John 1:4-5)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, March 31, 2013

“Lessons from the Paschal Candle” (John 1:4-5)

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John chapter 1, verses 4 and 5.

On this Easter Day, the most glorious day of the year, we join with the whole Christian church around the world in proclaiming and rejoicing in the Resurrection of Our Lord: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” (“He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”)

Not only do we proclaim this great good news with our mouth, but also visually, the sacred artwork and appointments of the church show forth this same message. We see that today–we literally see it–in the paschal candle placed before our eyes. The candle itself is designed to portray the good news of Easter. And so our theme this morning: “Lessons from the Paschal Candle.”


Published in: on March 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Sanctified in the Word of Truth” (John 17:11b-19; 1 John 5:9-15)

Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 20, 2012

“Sanctified in the Word of Truth” (John 17:11b-19; 1 John 5:9-15)

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus prays for his disciples–he prays for all believers, he prays for his church–he prays for us, here in this time between his ascension and his return. And one of the things Jesus prays for us is this, where he says to the Father: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” “Sanctified in the Word of Truth.” Let’s find out what that means for us now.


Published in: on May 19, 2012 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“All You Need Is Love” (1 John 5:1-8; John 15:9-17)

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 13, 2012

“All You Need Is Love” (1 John 5:1-8; John 15:9-17)

“All you need is love. Love is all you need.” No, I’m not quoting John the Beatle. I’m quoting John the Apostle, or at least I’m paraphrasing him. Yes, John–that John, St. John–talked about love a lot. And he’s doing it again today, both in the Epistle reading from 1 John and in the Gospel of John. Basically, John is saying today, “All You Need Is Love.”


Published in: on May 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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