“The Transfiguration–and Exodus–of Our Lord” (Luke 9:28-36)

The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Sunday, February 7, 2016

“The Transfiguration–and Exodus–of Our Lord” (Luke 9:28-36)

Today is the Transfiguration of Our Lord. This is the festival we celebrate every year on the last Sunday after the Epiphany. We have seen Christ’s glory as the incarnate Son of God being manifested throughout the Epiphany season, beginning with the visit of the wise men on Epiphany itself. At the Baptism of Our Lord, Christ’s messiahship was attested and affirmed by the Holy Spirit descending on him in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father coming from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Then we saw Jesus at the wedding at Cana, providing new wine, the best wine, for the new covenant he was establishing. In the Nazareth synagogue, Jesus read a prophecy of the Messiah to come and declared, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” And in his ministry we have seen Jesus doing just that–proclaiming good news, setting at liberty those who are oppressed.

Now today the Epiphany season reaches its climax. It is the Transfiguration of Our Lord, that momentous occasion when Jesus was manifested in his glory as God’s Son before his disciples Peter, James, and John. Moses and Elijah show up, to make clear that Jesus is the one they were pointing ahead to. And once again the voice of the Father comes, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” Truly a mountaintop experience!

But today I want you to notice that this is not only about the transfiguration of our Lord, it is also about his exodus. Don’t worry, I’ll explain. And we’ll also see how this all relates to us. And so our theme this morning: “The Transfiguration–and Exodus–of Our Lord.”

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Published in: on February 6, 2016 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Life and Love in the Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:1 – 13:13)

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
January 31, 2016

“Life and Love in the Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:1 – 13:13)

I don’t know if you noticed it, but today and for the last two weeks our Epistle reading has come from 1 Corinthians. That’s One Corinthians, by the way, not Two Corinthians. I haven’t preached on these texts, having preached instead on the Holy Gospel readings from John and Luke, respectively. But today I think I will preach on these 1 Corinthians readings, taking all three of them together. I’ve been saving them up for today, because today we have our annual voters’ meeting to elect new officers, and these texts are a perfect fit for the occasion.

Why is that? Well, these readings come from two chapters of 1 Corinthians, chapters 12 and 13, and chapter 12 has to do with using our gifts for the common good in the body of Christ. Chapter 13, of course, is the famous “love” chapter, about the need for love toward one another in our life together. And thus our theme for today: “Life and Love in the Body of Christ.”

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Published in: on January 30, 2016 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus’ Inaugural Address” (Luke 4:16-30)

Third Sunday after the Epiphany
January 24, 2016

“Jesus’ Inaugural Address” (Luke 4:16-30)

In just about one year from now, the new President of the United States of America will give his (or her) inaugural address. Having just been inaugurated into office, the new president will give a speech outlining the plans and priorities of the new administration. Often these are stated in lofty terms, trying to capture the hopes and aspirations of the people, which the new president will seek to accomplish. The inaugural address is intended to set the tone for the administration, right from the outset, to be conveyed in memorable terms and phrases. The new president will even quote or paraphrase passages from Scripture. For example, Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural, quoted Scripture a number of times. Ronald Reagan would refer to a “city on a hill,” again referencing Scripture when talking about his hopes for America.

Well, in the Holy Gospel for today, we hear someone giving an inaugural address of sorts. This person has just been inaugurated into his office, and now he outlines what he plans to do. And he even quotes Scripture in doing so. And what’s more, you–yes, you and I–are included in his plans! So let’s listen now to “Jesus’ Inaugural Address.”

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Published in: on January 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Wedding at Cana” (John 2:1-11)

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 17, 2016

“The Wedding at Cana” (John 2:1-11)

It is sometimes the case with a biblical text that one can draw various points from it without exhausting all the points that are there to be had. I think that is the case with our text for today, Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana, from John chapter 2. There are a number of points or sub-points we can draw from this passage without getting to what I think is perhaps the main point. So let’s see how that goes now with this story of “The Wedding at Cana.”

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Published in: on January 17, 2016 at 12:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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“When You Pass through the Waters” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

The Baptism of Our Lord
Sunday, January 10, 2016

“When You Pass through the Waters” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

With the recent floods of late December and early January, we certainly witnessed the destructive impact those waters can have. Highways were shut down. A stretch of I-55 was closed for days. Highway 141 at I-44 was underwater for a week. Homes were damaged. I think the most dramatic and memorable image I saw was video of a house literally floating down the Meramec River. And the people affected by the flooding went through and, in many cases, still are going through, a rough time.

Maybe you yourself were not affected by the flooding. But perhaps you’ve been going through a rough time in other ways. Your home may not be underwater literally, but maybe it is “underwater” figuratively, meaning you owe more on your mortgage than your home now is worth. That’s bad. Or suppose there are other rough situations you’re going through. Your pension has been cut, and you don’t know how you’re going to make it. Your marriage is falling apart, or your kids aren’t talking to you, and you don’t know why. Your heart is acting up, and you find yourself short of breath. These are tough experiences to be going through, and I could list other difficult, even overwhelming, situations that people here in our pews are facing.

So what do we say to people when they are going through such things? What comfort do we ourselves find when we face these situations? Well, today God has a word to say to you, a word of comfort and hope, for those times “When You Pass through the Waters.”

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Published in: on January 9, 2016 at 9:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Epiphany: Mystery Made Known” (Ephesians 3:1-12)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Wednesday, January 6, 2016

“Epiphany: Mystery Made Known” (Ephesians 3:1-12)

I love a good mystery. Whether it’s Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, it’s fun to track with the detective as he discovers the clues and uses his “little grey cells” and eventually comes to the solution of the mystery. What had long been hidden now is revealed, and we the readers finally know “whodunit.” I love a good mystery.

And tonight, on Epiphany, we have one. A good mystery, I mean. A very good mystery, full of good news for you and me. What was long hidden has now been revealed. It was there all along, the clues were there, but most people missed it. It was hidden in plain sight, so to speak. But now on Epiphany that mystery has been made known. We know “who done it” and what he has done. And so our theme tonight: “Epiphany: Mystery Made Known.”

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Published in: on January 6, 2016 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Things of My Father” (Luke 2:40-52)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 3, 2016

“The Things of My Father” (Luke 2:40-52)

Maybe you’ve seen the GEICO commercial of Peter Pan going to a class reunion. Peter Pan is portrayed as a twelve-year-old boy who has never grown up. His classmates, though, have aged naturally, and now they’re all in their upper sixties. As a twelve-year-old boy, Peter is still young and immature and kind of smart-alecky. He tricks one man into going for a high-five, but then Peter pokes him in the stomach. And to a woman who presumably is about 67 or 68, he says, “You don’t look a day over seventy, am I right?” Well, you just want to slap that kid around a bit, don’t you? A twelve-year old boy, young and immature and kind of smart-alecky.

I’m reminded of that commercial when I read the story of Jesus as a twelve-year-old boy. He too could come across as young and immature and kind of smart-alecky. He doesn’t bother to tell Joseph and Mary that he’s staying behind in Jerusalem, and when his parents discover that he’s missing, they search frantically for him. Not finding him in the group, they have to go back to Jerusalem and look for him there. Eventually they do find Jesus, he’s in the temple, and Mary says, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And what does Jesus say? “Gee, Mom, I’m sorry! I should have told you and Dad what I was doing.” Does he say that? No. Instead, it’s “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Disrespectful kid! Typical twelve-old-boy, young and immature and kind of smart-alecky.

Is that what’s going on here? No, of course not. This is Jesus we’re talking about, not Peter Pan in a commercial. And Jesus, contrary to being disrespectful to his parents, was, as our text says, “submissive to them.” And far from being immature, Jesus was “filled with wisdom.” A wisdom far beyond his years. A wisdom which, in fact, he was using and putting on display, there in the temple. That’s why Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. He had work to do there, there in the temple. He had a higher priority to attend to. A higher allegiance that even outranked his devotion to Joseph and Mary. Jesus had higher things to be about, namely, as he says, “The Things of My Father.”

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Published in: on January 2, 2016 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Word Became Flesh and Tabernacled among Us” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Friday, December 25, 2015

“The Word Became Flesh and Tabernacled among Us” (John 1:1-18)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This verse, John 1:14, is one of the most profound sentences ever written. Because it expresses and puts into words one of the most profound mysteries that has ever occurred in human history: that the eternal Son of God, through whom all things were created, at a certain point in time took on human flesh, became our brother, and that this is the greatest gift you or I will ever receive. This is the miracle of Christmas. God dwelt among us. And so our theme this morning on this glorious Christmas Day: “The Word Became Flesh and Tabernacled among Us.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2015 at 10:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Born for You a Savior” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Born for You a Savior” (Luke 2:1-20)

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” So the angel brought the good news of great joy to the shepherds. And so the good news comes to us tonight: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Let’s consider now, and let us rejoice in, this glorious announcement, under the theme, “Born for You a Savior.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2015 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Spirit-Given Faith Greets the Savior” (Luke 1:39-56)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 20, 2015

“Spirit-Given Faith Greets the Savior” (Luke 1:39-56)

We’re coming near the end of Advent, and it’s time to greet the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ–not only at Christmas, but also when he comes again. Are you ready? Are you prepared? How will you greet him? Our Gospel reading today shows us how to greet him when he comes. In faith. What does that mean, “in faith”? And where does that faith come from? We’ll find that out, too, as the word of the Lord comes to us today, under the theme, “Spirit-Given Faith Greets the Savior.”

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Published in: on December 19, 2015 at 9:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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