“Love Commanded, Love Connected” (John 15:9-17)

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 9, 2021

“Love Commanded, Love Connected” (John 15:9-17)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another.” So says the Lord Jesus today in the reading from John 15. “But, but, Jesus, how come you’re giving us a commandment? Like we’re supposed to obey this? But I thought you were not about commanding people, just forgiving them. This sounds like Law to me, and I thought you were only Gospel!”

Yeah, how can you command us to do this, Jesus, to “love one another”? That’s too hard. I mean, there are some people I like to love. I love my children; I love my spouse. Well, most of the time, at least. When they’re being nice to me and sweet. It’s a little harder, though, when they’re being ornery or getting on my nerves.

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Published in: on May 8, 2021 at 7:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Branches, Abiding in the Vine, Bearing Fruit” (John 15:1-8)

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 2, 2021

“Branches, Abiding in the Vine, Bearing Fruit” (John 15:1-8)

In the Holy Gospel for today, in John 15:5, our Lord Jesus says to us: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” And so our theme this morning: “Branches, Abiding in the Vine, Bearing Fruit.”

And those will be the three parts of our message today. First, branches: How do we become branches? Second, abiding in the vine: How does that happen? And third, bearing fruit: What does that look like? So let’s go.

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Published in: on May 1, 2021 at 9:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life for the Sheep” (John 10:11-18)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 25, 2021

“The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life for the Sheep” (John 10:11-18)

Are you feeling a little sheepish today? Well, if you are, that’s good! Because it’s good to be a sheep when Jesus is your shepherd. Today the message is that Jesus is our good shepherd, and “The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life for the Sheep.”

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Published in: on April 24, 2021 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Witnesses: From Jerusalem to Worms to America” (Luke 24:36-49)

Third Sunday of Easter
April 18, 2021

“Witnesses: From Jerusalem to Worms to America” (Luke 24:36-49)

The disciples were in Jerusalem. They think that Jesus, their master, is dead and buried. Then suddenly Jesus is standing there in the room, and they don’t know what to think: “Is that really him? Are we imagining this? Is that his ghost? What’s going on here?” Then Jesus speaks: “Why are you confused? Didn’t I tell you I would rise on the third day? Well, here I am. So you think I’m a ghost, do you? Look, see my hands and my feet. See the nail marks there. Yes, it really is me. You can touch me and see that I’m no ghost. I’ve got flesh and bone, just like you do.”

Yes, Jesus really is risen from the dead. Physically, bodily, risen. No ghost. No hallucination. The disciples are a little slow on the uptake, but if this is true–man, what a marvelous thing this is!

Jesus has more to say to them. He says that everything he had told them during his ministry–even predicting his passion and his resurrection–that this fulfills everything written about him in the Scriptures. They hadn’t gotten it up to this point, but now they will. Jesus opens their minds to understand the Scriptures. And here’s what he tells them to sum it all up: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

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Published in: on April 17, 2021 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Believing Is Better Than Seeing” (John 20:19-31)

Second Sunday of Easter
April 11, 2021

“Believing Is Better Than Seeing” (John 20:19-31)

The doors were locked. The disciples had locked themselves in, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, who had just had Jesus killed a couple of days earlier. And since they were Jesus’ disciples, if it became known where they were, the authorities might come after them, too. So the disciples were afraid and were staying behind closed doors.

But if a sealed tomb couldn’t keep Jesus in, a locked door couldn’t keep Jesus out. He passes right through and stands in their midst. “Shalom aleichem,” he says, “Peace be with you,” a standard Hebraic greeting. But when Jesus says it, it’s a little more than standard! Jesus really does convey peace when he speaks it! This is a blood-bought peace, peace purchased by the blood that God’s Son shed on the cross. Peace between heaven and earth. Peace between a righteous God and sinful man. Jesus made that peace for us on the cross, where he died for the sins of the world. Jesus packs real peace into his words, when he greets us with “Peace be with you.”

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Published in: on April 10, 2021 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Who Will Roll Away the Stone for Us?” (Mark 16:1-8)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, April 4, 2021

“Who Will Roll Away the Stone for Us?” (Mark 16:1-8)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

That is our joyful shout on this glorious Easter morning. But that was certainly not the thought of the women on the first Easter morning, as they were heading out to the tomb. No, what they were thinking was this: “Who Will Roll Away the Stone for Us?”

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Published in: on April 3, 2021 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Light Shines in the Darkness” (John 1:1-5, 9-14)

Good Friday
April 2, 2021

“The Light Shines in the Darkness” (John 1:1-5, 9-14)

Tonight we’re doing a traditional Good Friday evening service called “Tenebrae.” The Latin word, “tenebrae,” means “shadows” or “darkness.” This is the Service of the Shadows, the Service of Darkness–moving to complete darkness at the end of the service. This reminds us of the darkness that came over the land when Christ was hanging on the cross, the great darkness that occurred when the author of life was put to death. And then his lifeless body was placed in the tomb, and night fell, and all was darkness and shadows. The loud noise that will come at the end of this service, called the “strepitus”–that will remind us either of the earthquake at the time of Christ’s death or of the shutting of the tomb, when the heavy stone is rolled into place. In either case, the sound will signify the finality of death. Boom! Death wins.

This is the time of darkness and shadows. It seems that darkness has covered the earth. The one who had done only good, a righteous man–murdered. The one who had brought healing and had shown God’s mercy to so many–dead. The one in whom men had put their hope, now has been killed, and hope died with him. Jesus of Nazareth–crucified, dead, and buried. Now what?

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Published in: on April 2, 2021 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Washed Clean with Jesus’ Love” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

Holy Thursday
April 1, 2021

“Washed Clean with Jesus’ Love” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

One thing we’ve been reminded of a thousand times over the past year is to wash your hands frequently. Washing your hands, we are told, is an important way to keep you from getting the virus or spreading it to others. And so we wash our hands. Frequently.

But you can wash your hands fifteen times a day, eight days a week, and still, eventually, something is going to get you. We’re all going to die of something. But there is one type of washing that will keep you from dying eternally. And that is, when you have been “Washed Clean with Jesus’ Love.”

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Published in: on April 1, 2021 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Hosanna!” (John 12:11-19)

Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion
March 28, 2021

“Hosanna!” (John 12:11-19)

Today is Palm Sunday, and if there is a “word of the day” for this day, it’s “Hosanna!” How often do we see that word show up in our service today! We started the service by saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Then we heard the Gospel reading, where the crowd cries out, “Hosanna!” As we processed in, we sang the refrain six times, “To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.” And we concluded the procession by saying, “Hosanna in the highest.” So before we even sat down, we heard or said or sang “hosanna,” nine times! And when we get done singing “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” and “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty,” you can add four more “hosannas” to the list, for a total of thirteen. Truly the word of the day for Palm Sunday is “Hosanna!”

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Published in: on March 27, 2021 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Follow Me’: The Crown of Discipleship” (Mark 10:17-22)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

“‘Follow Me’: The Crown of Discipleship” (Mark 10:17-22)

Today we conclude our series on the “Follow Me” sayings of Jesus in Gospel of Mark. Last week we took up “The Cross of Discipleship.” Today our theme is “The Crown of Discipleship.” And that’s a good order to go, because there is no crown without the cross, and there is no cross we endure that will not be far outweighed by the crown we will receive. And both the cross and the crown come as we follow Jesus.

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Published in: on March 24, 2021 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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