“A Great Storm, a Great Calm, a Great Fear” (Mark 4:35-41)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 20, 2021

“A Great Storm, a Great Calm, a Great Fear” (Mark 4:35-41)

Our text is the Holy Gospel for today, from Mark 4, the story of Jesus stilling a storm. It’s only seven verses long, but this story will take us from a great storm to a great calm to–perhaps surprisingly–a great fear. So let’s get in the boat now with Jesus and his disciples, under the theme, “A Great Storm, a Great Calm, a Great Fear.”

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Published in: on June 19, 2021 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From Our Earthly Tent to Our Heavenly Home” (2 Corinthians 4:13-18; 5:1-10)

Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 13, 2021

“From Our Earthly Tent to Our Heavenly Home” (2 Corinthians 4:13-18; 5:1-10)

As some of you know, my older brother Jim recently was put on hospice with an inoperable brain tumor. He doesn’t have long to live–any day now, it looks like. So I wanted to talk with him while there was still time. He had retired to North Carolina, so we had to do this by video chat, and at a time when he was awake and alert enough to do it. Well, we talked a couple of days ago, on Thursday. His family was there with him to make it happen.

It was tough seeing Jim in the condition he was in. It was hard to hold back the tears, knowing this might be the last time I talk to him. Jim wasn’t able to talk much, but he could hear what I was saying. I shared some memories with him. I told him I loved him and have always looked up to him. And I shared a Bible verse with him. It was from last week’s Epistle reading, 2 Corinthians 4:16, where it says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

Now why could I say that? How could I say, “we do not lose heart,” when what I was seeing on the screen was so heart-breaking? Here’s why: Because I know, and I know Jim knows, we will be going “From Our Earthly Tent to Our Heavenly Home.”

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Published in: on June 12, 2021 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Binding the Strong Man, Plundering His House” (Mark 3:20-35)

Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 6, 2021

“Binding the Strong Man, Plundering His House” (Mark 3:20-35)

When you were baptized, what did you get? Yeah, you got wet, sure. You had water poured on your head. But I mean, when you were baptized, what did you get, in the sense of what did you acquire? I’ll tell you what you acquired: You got an enemy for life. Did you know that? That when you were baptized, you gained a strong and powerful enemy who’s out to get you! You did! And his name is Satan, the devil. He is the “old evil foe” who “now means deadly woe.” He is your arch-enemy. He wants to destroy your faith, destroy you, and take you down to hell with him. And he is very strong.

Satan. The devil. We minimize his threat at our peril. But the Bible certainly does not. And Jesus does not dismiss the reality of Satan and the damage that he does to people. Jesus compares Satan to a “strong man” who has a bunch of goods stored in his house that he doesn’t want to let go of. Satan is strong; he’s hard to overcome. But the good news is that there is someone stronger, someone able to overcome the strong man. And his name is Jesus. For Jesus came “Binding the Strong Man, Plundering His House.”

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Published in: on June 5, 2021 at 12:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Born of Water and the Spirit” (John 3:1-17)

The Holy Trinity
Sunday, May 30, 2021

“Born of Water and the Spirit” (John 3:1-17)

On this Trinity Sunday, our Gospel reading, from John chapter 3, tells us of the work of the Holy Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–in bringing us to a new birth and the new life that flows from it. And this is where Jesus goes in his conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he needs to be “Born of Water and the Spirit.”

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Published in: on May 29, 2021 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Day of Pentecost: What Does This Mean?” (Acts 2:1-21)

The Day of Pentecost
Sunday, May 23, 2021

“The Day of Pentecost: What Does This Mean?” (Acts 2:1-21)

You know those people we heard about in Acts 2, the ones in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost? I think they must have been Lutheran. I mean, it says in our text, “And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’” That’s the Lutheran question, isn’t it? “What does this mean?” We’d almost expect the answer to begin, “We should fear and love God so that. . . .” Well, even if it isn’t right out of the catechism, this is still a good question to ask: “The Day of Pentecost: What Does This Mean?”

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Published in: on May 22, 2021 at 11:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Filling the Office” (Acts 1:12-26)

Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 16, 2021

“Filling the Office” (Acts 1:12-26)

Let’s see, where are we on the calendar? On the church-year calendar, I mean. This past Thursday was Ascension Day, forty days after Easter. Fifty days after Easter–that’s next Sunday–will be the Day of Pentecost. So now we’re in the ten-day period between Ascension and Pentecost. Our reading for today from Acts puts us into that time frame. We’re with the apostles and other believers in Jerusalem in the days immediately following Christ’s ascension. And we’re waiting for the ascended Lord to pour out the Holy Spirit, which he promised would happen soon. So we’re in that in-between time.

But during this in-between time, there is some important business to conduct. Because a vacancy has occurred in the pastoral office. One of the twelve apostles has fallen by the wayside, and his spot needs to be filled. Our text, from Acts 1, is the story of the filling of that office. And so our theme this morning: “Filling the Office.”

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Published in: on May 15, 2021 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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“When Our Lord Ascends, He Also Sends” (Luke 24:44-53)

The Ascension of Our Lord
Thursday, May 13, 2021

“When Our Lord Ascends, He Also Sends” (Luke 24:44-53)

Today we’re celebrating the Ascension of Our Lord. Forty days after his resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, and so it is on this day–forty days after Easter, always on a Thursday–when we have this festival. And what I want to focus on today for our Ascension theme is this: “When Our Lord Ascends, He Also Sends.”

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Published in: on May 13, 2021 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“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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