“Come, Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:1-5)

First Sunday in Advent
November 27, 2022

“Come, Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:1-5)

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD.” The prophet Isaiah says that this is what many peoples, many nations, will say in the latter days. “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.” And this is what we say–yes, you and I–this is what we say in these latter days, because this is equivalent to saying, “Come, let us go to church.” Really? Yes, really! Because this now–this place, the church–this is the mountain and the house that Isaiah had prophesied. This is God’s house, the place where God’s word goes forth. And this is why we gladly say: “Come, Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord.”

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Published in: on November 26, 2022 at 8:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Is There Anything in America to Be Thankful for Anymore?” (Psalm 73; Malachi 3:13-18; Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Day of National Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 24, 2022

“Is There Anything in America to Be Thankful for Anymore?” (Psalm 73; Malachi 3:13-18; Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

The fourth Thursday in November is set aside to be the Day of National Thanksgiving. That’s the reason why we have the day off from work. Because this is when all Americans are supposed to go to their churches and give thanks to God for his blessings on our nation.

Ha! Yeah, right. How many people actually do that? Not many. Give thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day? Are you kidding? That would interfere with our Thanksgiving! No, we need the time to baste the turkey. We need the time to get the house spiffed up for our guests. We need to watch the football pregame shows. Or, depending on which gender you identify with, we need to binge-watch some Hallmark Christmas movies. Anything but going to church and giving thanks to God!

“Thanksgiving” seems to be an odd idea in our culture these days. Because it implies that we are to give thanks to God. And God seems to have vanished from our national consciousness. For most Americans, is there a vital awareness of God’s existence and involvement in our lives? I think not.

Oh, well, but you are here for this Thanksgiving service. And that’s good. It’s good, right, and proper that we gather and give thanks to God for his blessings on our country.

But wait! Have you looked at our country lately? What a mess it has become! We have to ask the question: “Is There Anything in America to Be Thankful for Anymore?”

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Published in: on November 23, 2022 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From the Domain of Darkness to the Kingdom of His Son” (Colossians 1:13-20)

Last Sunday of the Church Year
November 20, 2022

“From the Domain of Darkness to the Kingdom of His Son” (Colossians 1:13-20)

Our reading today from Colossians says that God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” And this gives us our outline for today’s message: first, the domain we’ve been delivered from; second, the kingdom we’ve been transferred to; and third, the Son whose kingdom it is.

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Published in: on November 19, 2022 at 7:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Day of Judgment, Day of Redemption, Days of Distress” (Malachi 4:1-6; Luke 21:5-36)

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
November 13, 2022

“Day of Judgment, Day of Redemption, Days of Distress” (Malachi 4:1-6; Luke 21:5-36)

“Day of Judgment, Day of Redemption, Days of Distress”: We hear about all of these days in our readings today. All these days are guaranteed. God’s word makes it so. All these days will happen. In fact, some of them are happening already. But there is a day ahead that is not yet here. It’s still to come. And we need to be ready for it. Let’s find out.

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Published in: on November 12, 2022 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“All Saints: Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (Revelation 7:2-17)

All Saints’ Day (Observed)
Sunday, November 6, 2022

“All Saints: Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (Revelation 7:2-17)

“Behold a host, arrayed in white.” So we just sang. Our reading from Revelation tells us who they are: “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

But before they came out of the great tribulation, first they were in it. That’s where we are. In the midst of tribulation. Trial and tribulation. Struggle, sorrow, sadness. Grief and loss. This is our lot in life here in this vale of tears. But the vision of that white-robed multitude, the church triumphant–this brings us comfort, this gives us hope, knowing that this is what awaits us and our loved ones who die in the Lord. We can be confident of this, because all of God’s saints have been signed and sealed and thus will be delivered also. “All Saints: Signed, Sealed, Delivered”–this is our theme today on All Saints’ Day.

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Published in: on November 4, 2022 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Reformation in Liturgy and Hymnody” (John 8:31-36)

Reformation Day (Observed)
Sunday, October 30, 2022

“A Reformation in Liturgy and Hymnody” (John 8:31-36)

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Friends, this is really what the Reformation was all about: that people would abide in the living, life-giving word of Christ; that they would know the truth of the gospel, which had been obscured by the errors that had crept into the church; and that this truth would set people free from the slavery they had been laboring under. Luther himself had labored under that slavery, and when he discovered the freeing truth of the gospel, he bent every effort toward wanting others to know the freedom that is theirs in Christ. The whole Reformation was geared toward that end. And it meant reforming every area of church life that had been infected by those enslaving errors. It meant bringing the truth to light in every aspect where it had been clouded over.

Today we are the recipients and beneficiaries of that great Reformation program. And one of the prime ways in which we enjoy that rich heritage is in what we are doing right here in this church service. For today, on this Reformation Sunday, we will see what benefits are ours, precisely because the Lutheran Reformation included, very prominently, “A Reformation in Liturgy and Hymnody.”

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Published in: on October 29, 2022 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“God, Be Merciful to Me, a Sinner!” (Luke 18:9-17)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 23, 2022

“God, Be Merciful to Me, a Sinner!” (Luke 18:9-17)

“So this Pharisee and a tax collector walk into a temple. . . .” No, this isn’t the start of some kind of a joke. Rather, it’s the start of a parable that Jesus tells. And this story makes a very important point. So we will be wise to listen up and take it to heart.

Our text is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, from Luke 18. And we’re told why Jesus proceeds to tell this story. It’s because there were people “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” Now I don’t suppose there are any people today who have that kind of attitude, are there? Oh, you and I both know there are. And in fact, sometimes we ourselves–that could describe you and me, that we think we’re pretty good in ourselves, and we look down upon others. So the parable that Jesus is about to tell is very relevant to our day and to our own lives.

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Published in: on October 22, 2022 at 8:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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“But the Word of God Is Not Bound!” (2 Timothy 2:1-13)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 9, 2022

“But the Word of God Is Not Bound!” (2 Timothy 2:1-13)

Do you ever feel constrained or held back, like you’re the prisoner of things that are too powerful for you to overcome? Maybe it’s age. You feel the advancing years taking their toll on you. Maybe it’s sickness. You get over one thing, and then it’s something else. More pills, more trips to the doctor. You feel like a prisoner in your own body. Or maybe it’s a guilty conscience weighing you down. You sense your own failings. Your past sins keep on dogging you. Then there’s the approach of death. We don’t know when that will come, regardless of our age. It’s like how Scrooge saw Marley’s ghost, shackled with chains, rattling and haunting him in the night. The inevitability of death can haunt us like that. All these things–the sadnesses and sorrows of life; the lack of connectedness with people we know we ought to be closer to; the sense of alienation from God, tucked in the back of our head–all these things are like chains wrapped around us, holding us back, weighing us down, binding us up.

“But the Word of God Is Not Bound!” And it is through this word that God frees you from your chains and makes you alive in his love. Today I want you to hear this freeing word that God has for you. And you can hear it in all of our Scripture readings today.

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Published in: on October 7, 2022 at 1:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Timothy and the Women Who Raised Him in the Faith” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 2, 2022

“Timothy and the Women Who Raised Him in the Faith” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

In today’s Epistle, Paul writes to Timothy to encourage him in his faith. Paul also reminds Timothy of the ladies who passed on the faith to him. Their names were Lois and Eunice. One was Timothy’s mother; the other, Timothy’s grandmother. Let’s see, now which one was which? Here’s the way I have of keeping them straight: “Lois” sounds like “oldest,” so she was the grandma. “Eunice” sounds like “youngest,” so she was Timothy’s mom. So now let’s hear more about “Timothy and the Women Who Raised Him in the Faith.” Let’s hear what that faith is, and what it means for us today.

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Published in: on October 1, 2022 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Poor Man and Rich Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31)

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 25, 2022

“The Poor Man and Rich Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31)

Our text today is the story commonly known as “The Rich Man and Poor Lazarus.” But I’m going to suggest to you today that we could just as well call this story “The Poor Man and Rich Lazarus.” As we shall see. So let’s go.

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Published in: on September 24, 2022 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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