“The People Dwelling in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light” (Matthew 4:12-25)

Third Sunday after the Epiphany
January 22, 2023

“The People Dwelling in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light” (Matthew 4:12-25)

In our Gospel reading for today, St. Matthew describes the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. And to do so, he quotes a passage from our Old Testament reading from Isaiah. Matthew writes: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” And this gives us our theme for this morning’s message: “The People Dwelling in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light.”

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Published in: on January 21, 2023 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Enriched in All Speech and Knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42a)

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 15, 2023

“Enriched in All Speech and Knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42a)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s how I start every sermon I preach, with those words. Where did I get that idea? From St. Paul. That’s how he starts his epistles, with those same words: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” For example, that’s how Paul begins his epistle to the Corinthians, as you heard. With those words, the apostle Paul is conferring a blessing on his hearers as he begins to speak to them. That’s what I do here with you. I’m reminding you that you have God’s grace and his peace in Christ, and it’s on that basis that I now will speak to you. God’s grace and his peace are the great riches that God has made known to me, so that now I can speak a grace-and-peace-filled word to you.

Now notice what Paul tells the Corinthians right after those opening words. He says: “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge.” Enriched in Christ in all speech and knowledge: God had gifted the Corinthians in that way. And this was so, even though Corinth was a pretty messed-up congregation. Still, they were a Christian congregation, they had had the gospel in their midst, and Paul is reminding them of this fact right from the get-go. And what Paul is saying of them is true for us also: We too have been “Enriched in All Speech and Knowledge.”

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Published in: on January 14, 2023 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Anointed for Servanthood” (Matthew 3:13-17)

The Baptism of Our Lord
Sunday, January 8, 2023

“Anointed for Servanthood” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Today we recall the Baptism of Our Lord, that great event when our Lord Jesus was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The heavens were opened. The Spirit of God descended on Jesus like a dove. The Father’s voice came from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” What an awesome occasion! And what I especially want to say about it this morning is that, in his baptism, Jesus was “Anointed for Servanthood.”

“Anointed for servanthood”? What does Jesus’ baptism have to do with that? And what do we mean by “anointed”? How was his baptism an anointing? Let’s find out.

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Published in: on January 7, 2023 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Where Is He Who Has Been Born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Friday, January 6, 2023

“Where Is He Who Has Been Born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1-12)

Today is the Epiphany of Our Lord, a major festival in the church year. Epiphany always falls on January 6, right after the twelve days of Christmas. The Holy Gospel for this day always is the story of the visit of the wise men, as found in Matthew chapter 2. And the question that the wise men ask gives us the theme for our message today: “Where Is He Who Has Been Born King of the Jews?”

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Published in: on January 6, 2023 at 10:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus!” (Luke 2:21)

Circumcision and Name of Jesus
Sunday, January 1, 2023

“Jesus!” (Luke 2:21)

[In 2022 and now into 2023, we are celebrating the 175th anniversary year of our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Today, on this eighth day of Christmas, we are observing the Circumcision and Name of Jesus. And today is January 1, New Year’s Day. Our message this morning brings together all three of these themes. This past week I came across a sermon by Friedrich Wyneken, the second president of the Missouri Synod, on the Circumcision and Name of Jesus, preached on New Year’s Day, January 1, 1868. I read it and thought it was excellent. So I edited it down to manageable size–sermons back then were over a half-hour–and I adapted it for our use today. This message blessed me, and I know it will bless you. The text is the Holy Gospel, Luke 2:21, “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”]

Beloved in Christ: By the grace of God we are starting a new year today. Not for nothing did God arrange it that the world’s celebration of the new year coincides with the church’s celebration of the Lord’s name-day and the day of His circumcision. Therefore, on this first day of the new year, together with the Holy Spirit, let us consider the meaning of Christ’s circumcision and the name Jesus, and how these apply to us at the beginning of the new year.

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Published in: on December 31, 2022 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Christmas and Easter Rolled into One!” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Sunday, December 25, 2022

“Christmas and Easter Rolled into One!” (John 1:1-18)

This year we have the unusual circumstance of Christmas falling on a Sunday. This last happened in 2016, and before that, in 2005 and 2011. Christmas won’t fall on a Sunday again until 2033. Not only is it Sunday, the Lord’s Day, when Christians have been going to church for 2,000 years, but it is also Christmas Day, one of the major festivals of the church year. So you would think, with this double reason for going to church, that churches across the land would be packed this morning.

Nah, nah! Think again. Now of course, with the bitter cold across much of the country, that is cutting down somewhat on church attendance today. But even apart from that, apart from the weather, attendance is down for another reason. And ironically, it’s because Christmas is falling on a Sunday. Yeah, it’s crazy! Instead of giving people even more reason to go to church, it’s just the opposite. People are choosing not to go to church today, precisely because it’s Christmas.

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Published in: on December 24, 2022 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“O Holy Night” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Saturday, December 24, 2022

“O Holy Night” (Luke 2:1-20)

It’s Christmas Eve! A night to celebrate. A holy night. For on Christmas Eve we start our annual celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Tonight we hear again the familiar Christmas Gospel. We sing the Christmas carols. We light the candles. This is a night to gather here in church with our family and to celebrate as a church family. It is a holy night indeed. And so our theme this evening: “O Holy Night.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2022 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Joseph, Did You Know?” (Matthew 1:18-25)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 18, 2022

“Joseph, Did You Know?” (Matthew 1:18-25)

If you’ve listened to one of those radio stations that play Christmas songs for about two months before Christmas, then you’ve probably heard a song called “Mary, Did You Know?” You’ve heard that song, right? The lyrics involve asking Mary a series of rhetorical questions about whether she knew what her son would grow up to do: “Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?” “Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?” That sort of thing.

Well, today I’m wondering about the man who would become Mary’s husband. Joseph–what did he know? And so our message today will take up that question, under the theme: “Joseph, Did You Know?”

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Published in: on December 17, 2022 at 1:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“St. John the Baptist, the Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness” (Matthew 3:1-12)

Midweek Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday, December 14, 2022

“St. John the Baptist, the Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness” (Matthew 3:1-12)

Today’s midweek service is the last in our series called, “Three Saints of Advent.” We began on November 30 with St. Andrew, Apostle, since his festival falls on that date. Last week, on December 7, we remembered St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, since his commemoration falls on that date. Now today, December 14, is nobody’s festival or commemoration, but since the last two Sundays the Gospel readings have featured John the Baptist, that’s the saint we’ll go with today.

Now there’s quite a lot in the Bible about John the Baptist, more than what you might think. For instance, there’s the account of the angel Gabriel announcing to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son and they were to name him John. Then Elizabeth, pregnant with John, is visited by Mary, pregnant with Jesus, and even in the womb John leaps to greet his Lord. John grows up and begins his ministry, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John baptizes Jesus in the Jordan. John points his own disciples to Jesus, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John stands up to Herod the tetrarch, calling him out on his adultery, and for that John gets thrown in prison and beheaded. So there’s lots to choose from when talking about John. Today we’ll focus on this aspect of his life and ministry: “St. John the Baptist, the Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness.”

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Published in: on December 14, 2022 at 1:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“He Will Come and Save You” (Isaiah 35:1-10)

Third Sunday in Advent
December 11, 2022

“He Will Come and Save You” (Isaiah 35:1-10)

Do you ever feel weak, like you’re not strong enough to handle what life is throwing at you? Do you ever feel like your faith is feeble, that it’s not firm enough to face the future? Are you ever anxious or worried, afraid that there are forces or people out to get you, and it feels like they’re winning? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then I’ve got a word for you today. Actually, God has a word for you today, and I’m here to deliver it to you. It goes like this: “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.’”

“He Will Come and Save You”: This is the theme for our message today. And this word of God, this promise of God, will strengthen your weakness, firm up your faith, and relieve your fears and anxieties. For God always keeps his promises. He is faithful to his word.

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Published in: on December 10, 2022 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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