“To Be Tempted by the Devil” (Matthew 4:1-11)

First Sunday in Lent
February 26, 2023

“To Be Tempted by the Devil” (Matthew 4:1-11)

The Holy Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent is always an account of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. This year it’s the account from Matthew chapter 4. Today we will see how the devil operates, and we’ll see how Jesus overcomes his schemes. This has relevance for our lives, because the devil comes at us with the same sorts of temptation. And so now let’s see what it’s like “To Be Tempted by the Devil.”


Published in: on February 25, 2023 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“The Ten Commandments: Curb, Mirror, and Guide”

Ash Wednesday
February 22, 2023

“The Ten Commandments: Curb, Mirror, and Guide”

Today we begin a series called “A Catechetical Lent.” In our six Wednesday services we will be looking at the six chief parts of the Small Catechism: the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar. These are the basics of Christian faith and life. Whether you’re learning the catechism to become a communicant member–and we have catechumens right now at both congregations, St. Matthew and Grace–or whether you are a lifelong Lutheran, it’s always good to come back to the basics. The words never change, but you do. So it’s always good to apply the unchangeable truth of God’s word to the changing circumstances of your life.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It’s appropriate then that we begin with the first part of the catechism, the Ten Commandments. Why so? Because Ash Wednesday is a very solemn and somber day, when we remember our mortality and repent of our sins. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” we heard as the ashes were placed on our forehead. The wages of sin is death, and we are all guilty under God’s law.

That’s one of the main purposes of the law, to tell us that we are sinners. And we need to know that. But there are also a couple of other purposes for which God has given us his law. Together we call them the three uses or functions of the law, and each use serves a valuable purpose. And so our theme today: “The Ten Commandments: Curb, Mirror, and Guide.” We’ll explain each one of these terms and see how they apply to us.


Published in: on February 22, 2023 at 1:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

“The Transfiguration Transition” (Matthew 17:1-9)

The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Sunday, February 19, 2023

“The Transfiguration Transition” (Matthew 17:1-9)

Today we’re celebrating the Transfiguration of Our Lord, that day up on a mountain when our Lord Jesus Christ was transfigured, that is, his appearance was changed. This event marked a transition–a turning point, a pivot point–in our Lord’s ministry. And that’s why this Transfiguration festival today marks a transition–a turning point–in the church year, as well. The Transfiguration of Our Lord comes as the climax of the Epiphany season, and at the same time it serves as a transition into the season of Lent, which begins on Wednesday. In this way, the church year mirrors the life of our Lord. Thus our theme for this morning; “The Transfiguration Transition.”


Published in: on February 18, 2023 at 8:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

“A Righteousness That Won’t Work and One That Will” (Matthew 5:21-37)

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 12, 2023

“A Righteousness That Won’t Work and One That Will” (Matthew 5:21-37)

Last week’s Gospel reading ended with these words of Jesus, from Matthew 5, verse 20: “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” And really, those same words could serve as the beginning of today’s reading, which starts at verse 21. For today Jesus will give examples of the supposed righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees–a surface righteousness that will not get you into the kingdom of heaven–so that then you will be ready to receive the only righteousness that will get you in. And so our theme this morning: “A Righteousness That Won’t Work and One That Will.”


Published in: on February 11, 2023 at 12:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“Let Your Light Shine before Others” (Matthew 5:13-20)

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 5, 2023

“Let Your Light Shine before Others” (Matthew 5:13-20)

In the Holy Gospel for today, from Matthew chapter 5, Jesus says to his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” But elsewhere in the gospels, Jesus says about himself, “I am the light of the world.” So, which is it, Jesus? Are you the light of the world, or are we? And the answer is . . . yes. Both are true, each in its own way. Jesus is the light of the world in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. And we are the light of the world by extension, as his disciples. Jesus addresses us as such, when he says, “You are the light of the world.” Therefore, as Christ’s disciples, “Let Your Light Shine before Others.”


Published in: on February 4, 2023 at 8:25 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“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.”


Published in: on January 21, 2023 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“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.”


Published in: on January 14, 2023 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

“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.


Published in: on January 7, 2023 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

“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?”


Published in: on January 6, 2023 at 10:28 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

“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.


Published in: on December 31, 2022 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,