“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  
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“Leading a Chaste and Decent Life” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 17, 2021

“Leading a Chaste and Decent Life” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)

Have you seen the January issue of the Lutheran Witness? On the cover it has a quote from Luther’s Explanation of the Sixth Commandment. It says: “We should fear and love God so that we lead a chaste and decent life.” And that’s the theme of the issue: The articles are on how we as Christians should lead a chaste and decent life in what we say and do.

And so, when I looked at the Scripture readings coming up for today, I thought, “Wow, the Epistle lesson ties right in with this issue!” And it certainly is a timely topic, as we shall see. Thus the theme for our message this morning: “Leading a Chaste and Decent Life.”


Published in: on January 16, 2021 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The End Is Coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Matthew 25:31-46)

Last Sunday of the Church Year
November 22, 2020

“The End Is Coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Matthew 25:31-46)

The end is coming. The end of the church year, I mean. In fact, today is the Last Sunday of the Church Year. Next week we’ll begin a brand-new church year with the First Sunday in Advent. But the thing is, the church year mirrors the life of Christ and the course of history. That’s why, in these darkening days of November, our readings and hymns deal with the last things, the end times, and the return of Christ on the Last Day. Think of the hymns we’ve been singing this month: “Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying”; “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near”: or the one we just sang, “The Clouds of Judgment Gather.” The point is, the end of the church year serves to focus our attention on the very biblical teaching that “The End Is Coming.”


Published in: on November 21, 2020 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Christ Has Been Raised from the Dead” (1 Corinthians 15:1-26, 30-42)

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany
February 24, 2019

“Christ Has Been Raised from the Dead” (1 Corinthians 15:1-26, 30-42)

Happy Easter! “What?” you say. “Pastor Henrickson, I know you must be a little antsy for spring to get here–we all are–but look, this is still February!” And I say to you, “Nuts! This is Easter!” Why? Because this is Sunday. And every Sunday is a little Easter. Or, you could put it the other way around: Easter is a great big Sunday. Why do I say that? Because our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday, and that’s why we have Divine Service on Sunday every week. Every Sunday we get to celebrate Easter, our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. And today is a Sunday. So, happy Easter!

And, in point of fact, every day, no matter what day of the week, we live in the light of our Lord’s resurrection. Jesus’ rising from the dead on Easter Day makes all the difference in every day of our life. It’s of that much importance. And so our theme this Sunday morning: “Christ Has Been Raised from the Dead.”


Published in: on February 23, 2019 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Love Chapter: Way More than a Wedding Text” (1 Corinthians 12:31b – 13:13)

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 3, 2019

“The Love Chapter: Way More than a Wedding Text” (1 Corinthians 12:31b – 13:13)

It’s February! And you know what that means. Soon we will hear those most wonderful of words: “Pitchers and catchers report.” No, I’m just kidding. While the start of Spring Training is a beautiful thing, I’m referring to something else that happens in February. And that is Valentine’s Day. Now we hear and see everywhere the beautiful word, “love.” Love is in the air! Love is everywhere! Go into any greeting card store and you will see row upon row of cards with hearts on them and the word “love” on every one. February is the Love Month.

But then, so is June–or any month when a lot of weddings take place. Love is the theme in so many weddings. Soloists will sing about love. Preachers will preach about love. And if there’s one Bible passage the couple will invariably request as one of the readings, it is 1 Corinthians 13. Yes, 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter! Love is described, love is extolled. And most importantly, love just sounds nice at a wedding. These words in the Love Chapter are heard as kind of like soft and inoffensive Muzak in an elevator: pleasant background noise that you don’t have to pay too much attention to. The couple isn’t listening, the bridal party isn’t listening–after all, they haven’t been in church since they were kids, so a Bible reading is just something you put up with when you have a wedding. And the people in the pews are just thinking about how beautiful the bride looks, and how cute the flower girl is, and “How long is this service going to last so we can get to the reception?”.

I exaggerate of course. But the point I’m making is that lots of people have heard 1 Corinthians 13, especially at weddings, but maybe they haven’t thought too deeply about it. They haven’t understood that this chapter is not primarily about weddings or marriage. Now of course real, self-giving love is tremendously important in a marriage, but this chapter is not directly about that. What 1 Corinthians 13 is primarily about is our life within the church. That’s what we’re going to discover now, under the theme, “The Love Chapter: Way More than a Wedding Text.”


Published in: on February 2, 2019 at 7:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Many Members, One Body” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31a)

Third Sunday after the Epiphany
January 27, 2019

“Many Members, One Body” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31a)

I’m sure most of you have heard the children’s nursery song that goes like this:

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes!
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes!
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes!

This is a cute little song that teaches the child the various parts of his or her body. But that’s the understood assumption, namely, that all these body parts go together and are meant to work together in that child’s body. It’s not like these various body parts have a life of their own and can function independently or even at odds with one another. It’s not like the head and shoulders should be working against the knees and toes. If they did, why, you’d be falling down a lot and not functioning up to your full potential. No, all these body parts are meant to work together, in harmony with one another, in that one body.

Well, in today’s Epistle lesson from 1 Corinthians, St. Paul is doing kind of a “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” song with the church at Corinth. As we will now see. And so our theme this morning: “Many Members, One Body.”


Published in: on January 26, 2019 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Weak Power and Foolish Wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Third Sunday in Lent
March 4, 2018

“Weak Power and Foolish Wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Every so often an organization called the American Religious Identification Survey conducts a national survey to find out how Americans are identifying themselves by their religion. And so we have data to compare from complete surveys taken in 1990, 2001, and 2008. In 1990, 86% of Americans identified themselves as some sort of Christian–Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, non-denom, you name it. By 2008, that number had dropped ten points, down to 76%. In 1990, the percentage of the population that said they had no religion was just 8%. By 2008, that number had gone up to 15%. And since 2008, the trend lines have only gone more in that direction. There was a survey of college students in 2013, and it found that 33% of that younger generation said they had no religion. 33%! These people are called the “Nones,” spelled “n-o-n-e-s,” meaning those with no religious self-identification. What we are seeing is an increasing secularization in American life. We’re witnessing the rise of the Nones.

Friends, there is a religious recession going on, an ecclesiastical downturn. What’s behind it? Well, it’s obvious that our society is not buying what the church has to offer. But compounding the problem is that many churches, in trying to attract more customers, have abandoned what they ought to be offering and instead have resorted to gimmicks and entertainment. In that way, the world is not even hearing the genuine Christian message. Large parts of the church seem to be embarrassed by genuine, historic, biblical Christianity. They have watered down the message, in order to cater to the world. And the world is impressed by things like power and wisdom. But the genuine Christian message, namely, the message of the cross, Christ crucified–this comes across as “Weak Power and Foolish Wisdom.”


Published in: on March 3, 2018 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Hold Lightly to the Things of This World” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Third Sunday after the Epiphany
January 21, 2018

“Hold Lightly to the Things of This World” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Are you married? Some of you are, some of you aren’t. OK, so let’s broaden the field. How about these questions: Are there times when you mourn? Are there times when you rejoice? Or how about these: Do you ever buy goods? Do you ever have dealings with the world? OK, now I think I’ve got everybody covered. Well, here’s what I want you to do today. Two words: Stop it. That’s it: Stop it. Stop doing those things! Live like you’re not married. Stop mourning. Stop rejoicing. Live like you have no goods. Live like you have no dealings with the world. Just: Stop it. Why? Because the time is short. This world is passing away.

Alright, lest you think I’ve gone off the deep end, let me explain. What I just told you is a somewhat simplified version of today’s Epistle reading, from 1 Corinthians 7. So if you’re going to send me to the funny farm, you’ll have to send St. Paul too. He’s the one who said it. But the reality is, this is God’s word we’re hearing today. And today God is encouraging us to “Hold Lightly to the Things of This World.”


Published in: on January 20, 2018 at 8:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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“A Day of Judgment and Salvation” (1 Corinthians 1:3-9)

Midweek Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

“A Day of Judgment and Salvation” (1 Corinthians 1:3-9)

In thinking about a theme for our three midweek Advent services this year, I decided to go with the Epistle readings for the first three Sundays in Advent. For there is a common theme that you can see in all three. There is a phrase, a connecting thread, that runs through these readings. See if you can notice what it is.

First, from the Epistle for the First Sunday in Advent, 1 Corinthians 1, the part where it says: “as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Then from the Epistle for the Second Sunday in Advent, from 2 Peter 3, phrases like these: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. . . . waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God. . . . we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth. . . .”

And from the Third Sunday in Advent, 1 Thessalonians 5: “may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Did you catch it? What is the thread running through these lessons? It is “the day of the Lord,” the coming and revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, his second coming, and how we are to wait for that day. Thus our theme for this Advent series: “Waiting for the Day of the Lord.”


Published in: on December 6, 2017 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Last Enemy to Be Destroyed Is Death” (1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 51-57)

Funeral Service
Monday, August 14, 2017

“The Last Enemy to Be Destroyed Is Death” (1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 51-57)

Over 25 years as a pastor, I have had a number of World War II veterans as members of the congregations I have served. Homer Rouggly was one of them. In fact, Homer Rouggly might well be the last one that I will have the honor of laying to rest. That “Greatest Generation” is quickly passing away, and they were quite a crew.

By the way, for a number of years I had two World War II veterans sitting near each other in the pews at St. Matthew’s: Homer Rouggly and Albert Mertsch. The ironic thing was, they were both World War II veterans, but they had fought on opposite sides, Albert for his native Germany, and Homer for the United States. The fact that they were united as brothers in Christ and fellow members of his church is a testimony to the power of the gospel to reconcile people to God and to one another. Last year Albert died in the faith, and now it’s Homer’s turn.

And so it goes. One after another, the people we’ve known our whole lives slip away from us, and we feel the loss. For you in the Rouggly family, it’s been a double loss this year, first Dorothy in May and now Homer in August. Just three months apart. Married for 70 years, and then going home to the Lord within three months of one another. You who have known them your whole lives, as your father and mother, as your grandfather and grandmother, as great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents even, this is going to leave a void in your lives. But you will have all those wonderful memories to look back on, and that will help. And you will have one another to lean on for support.

Even more, though, you will have the comfort of the gospel of Christ to strengthen you and to give you hope. That is the rock you can rely on that will never let you down. Because of what Jesus Christ did for you and did for Homer, you can have the sure hope of a joyful and eternal future. For in Christ we know that the final outcome has already been decided. The victory has been won. And “The Last Enemy to Be Destroyed Is Death.”


Published in: on August 14, 2017 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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