“Blessed is the King Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:28-40)

First Sunday in Advent
November 29, 2015

“Blessed is the King Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:28-40)

As you can tell from the change in the color of the paraments and from the presence of the Advent wreath and from one candle being lit on the Advent wreath, today is the First Sunday in Advent. And the traditional Gospel reading for the First Sunday in Advent is the account of Jesus entering Jerusalem to the acclaim of the crowds, as you just heard. But now you may be wondering, “The triumphal entry into Jerusalem–isn’t that a reading for Palm Sunday? Why are we getting a Palm Sunday reading here in Advent?” And well you might wonder. For yes, this Gospel reading is about something that took place on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.

But there is a reason why the account of Jesus entering Jerusalem has historically been placed at the beginning of the Advent season. For Advent is all about the coming of our King. The word “Advent” even means “coming.” This season is about preparing for the coming of our Lord: his coming as prophesied of old; his coming in the flesh at Christmas; his coming as the humble King riding into Jerusalem; his coming among us now in Word and Sacrament; and Christ’s coming again on the Last Day as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Advent is the season of anticipating and welcoming the coming of our King, and this Palm Sunday reading does a fine job of helping us do just that. What the crowds in our text cry out serves as our theme for this morning: “Blessed is the King Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!”


Published in: on November 28, 2015 at 5:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Thanking God for This Good Land” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Day of National Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 26, 2015

“Thanking God for This Good Land” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Today is the Day of National Thanksgiving. This is the day set aside for Americans to go to their churches and give thanks to God for his many blessings on our nation–which is why we are here today. And surely we have much to be thankful for, not least of which is this good land God has given us. So many natural resources, in such abundance! As we reflect on this, we are reminded of what Moses told the Israelites: “And you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” And so our theme this morning, “Thanking God for This Good Land.”


Published in: on November 25, 2015 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Therefore Let Us Draw Near, Hold Fast, and Stir Up” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
November 15, 2015

“Therefore Let Us Draw Near, Hold Fast, and Stir Up” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

Last week we looked at Hebrews 9, where we are told that Christ is our high priest. Today we continue on into Hebrews 10, where the writer expands on what it means that Christ is our high priest and then goes on to say what the implications of that are for our life. And we can sum those up this morning in three ways. Since Christ is our high priest, “Therefore Let Us Draw Near, Hold Fast, and Stir Up.”


Published in: on November 15, 2015 at 3:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Born a Priest, Made a Pastor” (Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16)

Circuit Pastors’ Conference
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

“Born a Priest, Made a Pastor” (Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16)

Today is Martin Luther’s birthday. He’s 532 today, although I’d say he doesn’t look a day over 490. Yes, it was on this day, November 10, in the year 1483, that Hans and Margaretha Luther had a baby boy, in the town of Eisleben, Saxony. The next day, November 11, that little squirming baby was taken to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, there in Eisleben, and he was baptized. Since it was November 11, the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, the boy was given the name Martin. Martin Luther, born November 10, baptized November 11, 1483.

So maybe we should be celebrating his birthday tomorrow, on the day he was baptized. For that was the day he was born again, born from above, born of water and the Spirit. That was the day he was given a name, not just the name Martin, but more importantly, the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The triune God placed his name on this child and claimed him as his own. On that day, his baptismal day, little Martin was called into the kingdom and became a priest.

“What?” you say. “I thought Martin Luther didn’t become a priest until much later.” Well, yes and no. Martin Luther was made a pastor, an ordained minister, many years later, as an adult. But he became a priest on the day he was baptized. And you know what? So did you. For every Christian is born a priest in Holy Baptism. And out of that priesthood of the baptized, some are later called to be pastors. So our theme this morning: “Born a Priest, Made a Pastor.”


Published in: on November 10, 2015 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Christ Is Our High Priest” (Hebrews 9:24-28)

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
November 8, 2015

“Christ Is Our High Priest” (Hebrews 9:24-28)

Our Epistle reading today from the Book of Hebrews talks about a high priest entering into holy places made with hands. It talks about this high priest entering these holy places every year with blood not his own. And when we hear these kinds of references, which are all over the place in the Book of Hebrews, we may be asking ourselves, “What is all this ‘high priest’ business? Where are these ‘holy places’? And what does this have to do with me?” Well, hang on, we’ll explain these things and what they have to do with us, because the point that Hebrews is making is that “Christ Is Our High Priest.”


Published in: on November 8, 2015 at 7:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Church Militant, Church Triumphant: All Saints” (Revelation 7:2-17)

All Saints’ Day
Sunday, November 1, 2015

“Church Militant, Church Triumphant: All Saints” (Revelation 7:2-17)

Today, November 1, is All Saints’ Day on the church-year calendar. This is a day for remembering our departed fellow Christians–those saints of old, as well as those from our own past–who have fallen asleep in Jesus and who now rest from their labors. Today we give thanks to God for keeping them in the faith; we are encouraged by the example of their perseverance amid affliction; and we rejoice and are filled with hope as we look forward to the glory that awaits us all. All Saints’ Day serves all of these purposes.

The glory that awaits us. One of the readings assigned for this day, appropriately enough, gives us a glimpse of that glory. It’s the reading from Revelation 7, a picture of the saints in glory: “Behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes,” etc. That’s what we just sang about in the hymn: “Behold a host, arrayed in white.”

But notice, our reading today from Revelation 7 actually comes in two parts. The picture of the saints in glory, verses 9-17, is part two, if you will. The first part, verses 2-8, presents a different-looking picture. There we see the 144,000, arranged in twelve tribes of 12,000 each, and they are sealed with the seal of living God before great harm is unleashed on the earth. This is quite a different scene from the one that follows.

And there’s a reason for that. In verses 2-8, St. John is given a picture of the church on earth, as it is now, organized for battle and under the protection of God. This is what we call the church militant, the church still fighting the good fight of the faith. But then in verses 9-17, John is given a picture of the church in heaven, as it will be, no longer fighting, no longer suffering, but at peace and at rest in the presence of the Lord. This is what we call the church triumphant. And I want to tell you today, both pictures give us great comfort and great hope, for now and for what lies ahead. And so our theme this morning: “Church Militant, Church Triumphant: All Saints.”


Published in: on October 31, 2015 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Law and the Prophets Bear Witness” (Romans 3:19-28)

Reformation Day (Observed)
October 25, 2015

“The Law and the Prophets Bear Witness” (Romans 3:19-28)

Today being the last Sunday in October, this is the day we observe Reformation Day, celebrating what happened 498 years ago, when, on October 31, 1517, Dr. Martin Luther went to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, and there posted 95 Theses questioning the sale of indulgences. That was the beginning of the great Reformation of the church, and as Lutherans we are here today as the beneficiaries of that movement and that heritage. We thank God that he used Luther as his instrument to bring the clear gospel of Christ to light, breaking through the fog and the clouds that had obscured it.

But how did Luther get there? How did he come to his evangelical breakthrough, his dawning discovery of the pure gospel, in contrast to the accretions of centuries that had covered over and clouded the truth? What led Luther to an increasing realization of how the church had gotten off track and where the true path of righteousness is found? When we know this, when we know how Luther came to this realization, then that in turn will bolster our faith and deepen our own understanding and strengthen our commitment to the truth.


Published in: on October 24, 2015 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Entering His Rest” (Hebrews 4:1-13)

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
October 18, 2015

“Entering His Rest” (Hebrews 4:1-13)

If you’ve ever had to work and work and work, if you’ve ever been worn out and exhausted, when you feel like you can’t go on but you have to, when you’re drained and tired and spent–at times like those, you know how refreshing it is, and what a relief it is, to finally get a rest.

Rest: It can be such a welcome word. To be able to just kick back and relax. The pressure is off, the burden is lifted. Take a load off and chillax, bro! A little R & R is so welcome after an arduous ordeal.

And so our Epistle reading for today, from Hebrews 4, is about being able to get that kind of a rest. In fact, it’s about an even greater kind of rest. God’s rest. The rest that he has for us, in Christ. And so our theme this morning: “Entering His Rest.”


Published in: on October 18, 2015 at 1:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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“You Will Have Treasure in Heaven” (Mark 10:17-22)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 11, 2015

“You Will Have Treasure in Heaven” (Mark 10:17-22)

Today we have the story of the rich young ruler. It’s a story of idolatry, repentance, and faith–the declining of repentance and faith, actually, even though Jesus lovingly calls this young man to it. And so this is a story about Jesus, ultimately, and how he calls each of us to give up on our idols and to follow him in faith. This is a story about the love of Jesus for sinners–it is a story for you, so that you will inherit eternal life, that “You Will Have Treasure in Heaven.”


Published in: on October 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Receive the Kingdom of God like a Child” (Mark 10:2-16; Hebrews 2:1-18)

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 4, 2015

“Receive the Kingdom of God like a Child” (Mark 10:2-16; Hebrews 2:1-18)

How would you like to enter the kingdom of God? I know I would. After all–literally, after all–the kingdom of God will be the only thing going. It is an everlasting kingdom, filled with peace and joy and life and blessing, and it will last forever. So who would not want to enter it? You’d have to be a fool not to. No, the kingdom of God–it’s the best thing going, and there’s nothing else like it.

So the question arises: How do you get in? How do you enter the kingdom of God? Today Jesus tells us. Basically it comes down to this. To enter, you need to “Receive the Kingdom of God like a Child.”


Published in: on October 4, 2015 at 4:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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