“The Holy City, the New Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:9-14, 21-27)

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 22, 2022

“The Holy City, the New Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:9-14, 21-27)

Last week we went from the now to the new. We saw that one day there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Indeed, we heard the Lord say, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And so we also saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city coming down out of heaven from God–the new Jerusalem, the dwelling place of God with man.

This morning we take a tour of the new Jerusalem. This is good, because the new Jerusalem is our final destination. It’s where you and I are going to spend eternity. We are citizens of that holy city. Our citizenship has been bought and paid for with the blood of Christ. Where we’re heading is “The Holy City, the New Jerusalem.”

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Published in: on May 21, 2022 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From the Now to the New” (John 16:12-22; Revelation 21:1-7)

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 15, 2022

“From the Now to the New” (John 16:12-22; Revelation 21:1-7)

Our readings today take us “From the Now to the New.” What I mean is, they take us from the “now” we are experiencing in the present to the “new” that awaits us in the future. And that knowledge of the “new” gives us the hope and strength we need to carry on in the “now.”

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Published in: on May 14, 2022 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Good Shepherd and His Flock” (John 10:22-30; Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 8, 2022

“The Good Shepherd and His Flock” (John 10:22-30; Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)

Today is the Sunday in the church year known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” You’ll notice that on this day all of the readings, the psalm, the hymns–all carry the theme of the shepherd and his flock, the sheep. And this will strengthen our faith today and give us life and hope for the future, as we see what God’s word says about “The Good Shepherd and His Flock.”

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Published in: on May 7, 2022 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Lion of Judah, the Lamb Who Was Slain” (Revelation 5:1-14)

Third Sunday of Easter
May 1, 2022

“The Lion of Judah, the Lamb Who Was Slain” (Revelation 5:1-14)

What’s going on in our world? Is anybody in charge here? It seems like the world is spinning out of control. We’re just getting over a global pandemic, and then we go into a global panic. Russia attacks Ukraine for no good reason, putting everyone on edge. Here at home, we’ve got men winning women’s swimming tournaments and a new Supreme Court justice who doesn’t even know what a woman is. Then there’s the economy. I checked my investment portfolio the other day, and, year to date, it’s down over 10%. If that’s not bad enough, at the same time inflation is at its highest rate in 40 years. Think of what you’re paying now for gasoline and groceries. So investments are way down, inflation is way up–it’s a double whammy.

And then there’s what’s happening to the church. Church membership and church attendance are way down, all across the country. The percentage of people who identify as Christians has dropped dramatically in the last ten to twenty years. We’re becoming a secularized, post-Christian nation. And in the parts of the world where Christianity is growing, our brothers and sisters are suffering terrible persecution.

When we’re faced with these situations–unless we have our heads in the sand and are unaware of what’s going on in the world–we may be tempted to despair, to lose hope. We look at the world and say: What’s going on here? Is anybody in charge? The present is pretty bad, and it doesn’t look like there’s any hope for the future.

Dear friends, today I want to encourage you. Yes, there is hope for the future. There is someone in charge. History does have a destination, and it’s a good one. What I mean is, the history of the future has already been written. It’s like a scroll to be unrolled. And the good news is, someone has been found who is worthy to unroll the scroll. Thus he reveals the course of events and their final outcome to us. He not only reveals them, but he is in charge of them. We meet that someone in our reading today from Revelation 5: “The Lion of Judah, the Lamb Who Was Slain.”

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Published in: on April 30, 2022 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Only Jesus: No Other Name” (Acts 4:1-12; Revelation 1:4-18; John 14:1-14)

Second Sunday of Easter
April 24, 2022

“Only Jesus: No Other Name” (Acts 4:1-12; Revelation 1:4-18; John 14:1-14)

Something significant, something momentous, happened in the city of Chicago 175 years ago this week. No, I’m not talking about the day I was born. I was born in Chicago, yes, but I’m not quite that old. No, but something else was born there 175 years ago. It was the birth of our church body, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It was on April 26, 1847, that representatives from fourteen Lutheran congregations came together at First St. Paul Lutheran Church on the north side of Chicago, and they formed a brand new synod. They were all German-speaking congregations, mostly from the Midwest, so they called the new synod “Die Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio, und andern Staaten,” that is, being translated, “The German Evangelical-Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States.”

Well, in the 175 years since then, we’ve grown from fourteen congregations to about 6,000. We’ve expanded far beyond the Midwest, with congregations all across the country and mission work and partner churches all around the world. And we’re not nearly as German as we used to be: You’ve let some of us Scandinavians in, as well as Blacks and Hispanics and Asians and every ethnicity under the sun. But there’s one thing that still binds us all together, and it is this: “Only Jesus: No Other Name.”

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Published in: on April 23, 2022 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Power of the Easter Promise” (Luke 24:1-12)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, April 17, 2022

“The Power of the Easter Promise” (Luke 24:1-12)

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

This morning I want to tell you about the power of a promise. Our reading from Luke 24 puts on display the power of a promise. It’s a promise that was good, because of the one who made it. It’s a promise that was good, even though people forgot that the promise had been made; and even though when some people did think about it, they just knew that the promise wasn’t any good after all.

It’s about what happened at the tomb that morning. The angels said to the women, “Remember. Remember how he spoke to you. Remember what he said would happen. Remember the promise.” The promise came true in power back then, and the same promise is true today. Today we marvel at, and take hold of, “The Power of the Easter Promise.”

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Published in: on April 16, 2022 at 3:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Evil Friday Is Also Good Friday” (Luke 23:44-56)

Good Friday
April 15, 2022

“Evil Friday Is Also Good Friday” (Luke 23:44-56)

The theme for our Lenten journey this year has been “You Meant It for Evil, But God Meant It for Good.” We have seen how God can just plain grab something evil and use it for good, in his larger plan. No one could see it at the time, but that’s how God works.

We see God working this way in our reading tonight from Luke 23. Something evil was happening on the day our Lord Jesus was crucified. But God used it for good–for incredible, tremendous good–which is why call this day “Good Friday.” And so our message tonight: “Evil Friday Is Also Good Friday.”

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Published in: on April 15, 2022 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Eternal Passover That Jesus Desired to Eat” (Luke 22:14-20)

Holy (Maundy) Thursday
April 14, 2022

“The Eternal Passover That Jesus Desired to Eat” (Luke 22:14-20)

During this season of Lent, we’ve tried to be realistic as we learn again to trust our God. The realism has to do with evil–the evil that betrayed, condemned, and crucified Jesus long ago, and the evil in our world and in our lives also today. In the face of that evil, we trust our God and the plan he carried out in Christ. We can say to Satan, to the world, and even to ourselves, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

This evening’s service is a break in the action in a way. It’s because of the gift that the Lord Jesus created that night long ago in the upper room. This is a night to be quietly joyful. It’s a night to marvel at what happened when Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples and to marvel at the gift that has come down also to us.

Jesus said to them that night, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you.” That was a particular ritual at a particular moment in a particular place. But it was also an eternal Passover. By “eternal” I mean that it was not isolated, disconnected, alone, or even limited. For the Jews, Passover gathered up and brought to fruition so many things from the past, from the exodus, and the past gave meaning to the present. But that particular moment in the upper room, with Jesus, was part of the most significant event in the history of the world. History was turning a corner that night. And from that Passover came a new gift for the future, a gift that would last until tonight and until the Lord returns in glory. It happened the night that Jesus was betrayed–past, present, and future, all coming together in “The Eternal Passover That Jesus Desired to Eat.”

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Published in: on April 14, 2022 at 12:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Palm Sunday, Sunday of the Passion” (Luke 19:28-40; 22:1 – 23:56)

Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion
April 10, 2022

“Palm Sunday, Sunday of the Passion” (Luke 19:28-40; 22:1 – 23:56)

Today is a day that goes by two names: “Palm Sunday” and the “Sunday of the Passion.” The title that we’re probably more familiar with is “Palm Sunday.” For it was on this day that Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, greeted by the cheering crowds, and the people used palm branches to welcome him. Palms were used to indicate victory and triumph. Palms symbolized success and long life. And so on Palm Sunday, Jesus is hailed as the Messiah, the long-prophesied King of Israel, coming to Jerusalem to establish his reign: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

The people with the palm branches are correct. Jesus is coming to Jerusalem that day to bring in the messianic kingdom. But the question remains: How will he do it? How will this Messiah establish his kingdom? How will he win his victory? And the answer is, shockingly enough, by his suffering, dying, and being crucified. This king’s conquest will come with some strange signs: being mockingly arrayed with splendid clothing; having an inscription placed over him, “This is the King of the Jews,” but on a cross. From a procession of palms to a criminal’s crucifixion, this is how Jesus will triumph and bring in the kingdom of God.

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Published in: on April 9, 2022 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“That Day, and Today” (Luke 23:26-43)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, April 6, 2022

“That Day, and Today” (Luke 23:26-43)

Our theme for this Lenten series has been, “You Meant It for Evil, But God Meant It for Good.” And evil is often louder than good. In news reporting, for instance, it’s the horrific story that catches people’s attention. Or another example: Criticism, negative comments, tend to be more powerful, “louder” to us than compliments or positive comments. The complaint or criticism or insult sticks with us longer. We keep hearing it long after the kindness or the affirmation has faded. Evil is often louder than good.

Well, that’s true in the reading for this evening from Luke 23. It starts with the rulers, the members of the Sanhedrin. “They scoffed,” it says, or it could be translated, “They kept on scoffing.” When evil speaks, it’s loud and long. Without realizing it, the scoffers do say some true things about Jesus, as he’s hanging there on the cross. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, God’s chosen one. But he’s not there to save himself. He’s there to save others, by dying for all sinners. The rulers don’t see this. All they can do is scoff and ridicule. Evil is louder than good.

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Published in: on April 6, 2022 at 12:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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