“Three Saints of Advent: St. Andrew, Apostle” (John 1:35-42a; Matthew 4:18-20)

Midweek Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

“Three Saints of Advent: St. Andrew, Apostle” (John 1:35-42a; Matthew 4:18-20)

When churches have midweek Advent or Lenten services, usually the pastor tries to come up with a theme that will tie the services together. This year, in looking at the calendar for Advent, I noticed something about the dates for our midweek services. The first three Wednesdays are November 30, December 7, and December 14. Which got me to thinking: November 30 is the Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle. December 7 is the Commemoration of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan and one of the great Church Fathers. December 14 is . . . well, December 14 isn’t anything special, but it does occur right after the Second and Third Sundays in Advent, when St. John the Baptist is featured prominently. So there you go. Thus our theme for this year’s midweek Advent services: “Three Saints of Advent: Andrew, Ambrose, and John the Baptist.”

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Published in: on November 30, 2022 at 6:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“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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“The Miracle Moms and Their Baby Boys” (Luke 1:39-45)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 19, 2021

“The Miracle Moms and Their Baby Boys” (Luke 1:39-45)

Two expectant mothers–two miracle mothers, moms who shouldn’t have been–the two mothers meet, and they rejoice in their good fortune. They praise God for the wonderful work he is doing for them and through them. The Holy Spirit has given them faith to believe what God has spoken and what God is doing. And what God is doing will be done by the two babies they are carrying in their womb. Those two boys are going to change the world! They will change your world and turn it right-side up! And so our theme this morning: “The Miracle Moms and Their Baby Boys.”

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Published in: on December 17, 2021 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Birth and a Benedictus” (Luke 1:57-80)

Midweek Advent Vespers
Wednesday, December 15, 2021

“A Birth and a Benedictus” (Luke 1:57-80)

In this Advent series, we’re looking at the events leading up to the birth of Christ, as they are recorded in the first chapter of Luke. Two weeks ago, we started with the angel Gabriel announcing to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son, that he’s to be named John, and that this son of theirs would go before the Lord to prepare his way. Then last week, Gabriel went to a virgin named Mary and announced that she would give birth to the Messiah, the Christ, and that he is to be named Jesus. Luke chapter 1 then continues with Mary going to visit Elizabeth, and we will get that reading this Sunday. But today we go to the last part of Luke 1, and we read about “A Birth and a Benedictus.” The birth is the birth of John; the Benedictus is the song of praise that Zechariah sings when he gives the child that name.

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Published in: on December 15, 2021 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“What Do You Expect?” (Luke 7:18-28)

Third Sunday in Advent
December 12, 2021

“What Do You Expect?” (Luke 7:18-28)

What you expect and when you expect it will make you either satisfied or disappointed. For example, suppose that for Christmas your true love has promised to give you twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a’leaping, all the way down to three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. But at the end of the day on December 25 all you’ve received is the partridge. You’re disappointed. You ask yourself, “Did my true love forget about the other stuff? Where are the geese and the maids and so on? Maybe my true love doesn’t love me, after all.”

But then, over December 26, 27, and 28, you start getting FedEx shipments of various calling and non-calling birds. By December 31 you’re up to seven swans a-swimming. Now you’re starting to catch on. Your true love’s word is good. Your true love does truly love you. The promise will be kept, in full. You remember that there are twelve days of Christmas, and you can expect that the rest of the stuff is on the way. It will arrive on time. Even though you have not yet seen any dancing ladies, you’re satisfied that you will. In this case, you really can count your chickens before they’re dispatched.

What you expect and when you expect it will determine whether you’re satisfied or disappointed. That’s true of Christmas presents, and it’s true of Christ himself. What do you expect of Christ? And when do you expect it? This is the question that comes to us, just as it came to John the Baptist: “What Do You Expect?”

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Published in: on December 11, 2021 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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“What Sort of Greeting This Might Be” (Luke 1:26-38)

Midweek Advent Vespers
Wednesday, December 8, 2021

“What Sort of Greeting This Might Be” (Luke 1:26-38)

During this Advent season, we’re looking at how Luke tells us of the events leading up to Christmas. Luke does this in chapter 1 of his gospel. Christmas will come in chapter 2. And in this infancy narrative, Luke goes back and forth between two storylines: the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus Christ. Last week we heard the angel Gabriel announce to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son in their old age. They are to name him John, and he will go before the Lord to make ready a people prepared.

Now it’s six months later, and today the angel Gabriel comes to a virgin named Mary. He’s got some special news for her, too. He starts by saying: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” “But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Well, I suppose if an angel suddenly appears in your house and starts speaking to you, you too would wonder “What Sort of Greeting This Might Be.”

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Published in: on December 8, 2021 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Word of God Came to John” (Luke 3:1-20)

Second Sunday in Advent
December 5, 2021

“The Word of God Came to John” (Luke 3:1-20)

Every year during Advent, we get Gospel readings about John the Baptist. Why is that? Well, John’s whole purpose in life was to prepare the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise, the purpose of Advent is to prepare for the coming of Christ. So it’s a natural fit: John the Baptist prepares the way during this season of preparation called Advent.

In today’s Gospel reading, Luke begins by setting the stage for John the Baptist’s ministry. He writes: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” And so our theme this morning: “The Word of God Came to John.”

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Published in: on December 4, 2021 at 6:57 pm  Comments (1)  
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“To Make Ready a People Prepared” (Luke 1:1-25)

Midweek Advent Vespers
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

“To Make Ready a People Prepared” (Luke 1:1-25)

This past Sunday we began a whole new church year. And in our lectionary system of readings, this is the Year of St. Luke. The vast majority of Gospel readings for this church year will be from the Gospel according to St. Luke. And we’ll be really taking a deep dive into Luke’s gospel this year, most often preaching on those texts. In addition, yesterday we began a new Bible class on Luke, going verse by verse through this book of the Bible. All of this makes for a great opportunity for you to get into Luke’s gospel, so that, as Luke himself writes, “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

Luke also is especially appropriate for us to dive into during this Advent season. Why? Well, Advent is a time for preparing for the coming of our Lord. Advent is the season leading up to Christmas. And Luke, more than any other gospel writer, has the most material on the events leading up to Christ’s birth. All of Luke chapter 1 is about just that. And that’s what we’re going to explore during these three midweek services and on the fourth Sunday in Advent. We’ll cover all of Luke 1, those events leading up to Christmas. And by the way, right after Advent, with Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the two Sundays after Christmas, we’ll cover all of Luke chapter 2.

Now an interesting feature of Luke’s infancy narrative is how Luke goes back and forth between two storylines: the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist prepares the way for Christ even in his birth. We’ll see that now in the first part of Luke chapter 1, where the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah that he will have a son named John, whose purpose in life will be “To Make Ready a People Prepared.”

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Published in: on December 1, 2021 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Preparation and Praise for Our Coming King” (Luke 19:28-40)

First Sunday in Advent
November 28, 2021

“Preparation and Praise for Our Coming King” (Luke 19:28-40)

Today is the First Sunday in Advent. That means it’s also the first Sunday in a whole new church year. So I say to you today: Happy new year! And you say to me: “Happy” new year?? How can you say it’s “happy,” Pastor? Really?

Well, I suppose you have a point. There’s a lot going on that isn’t very happy. I mean, look at the news: Inflation is at its highest rate in thirty years. Gas prices are through the roof. On Friday, the stock market took a huge dive; it was the worst Black Friday session on record. There’s talk of yet another new virus variant going around. A week ago, somebody drove a car into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six and injuring dozens. And closer to home, a young wife and mother, 25 years old, collapsed and died from a heart attack. That’s a lot of grief, a lot of stress, a lot of sadness. How can this be a “happy” new church year?

Here’s how: Because Christ is coming. And his coming to us, his coming for us, makes all the difference. He is our comfort in the midst of our grief. He is our peace in the midst of our stress. He is our hope and our joy in the midst of sadness. We still suffer under the load of our afflictions, but Jesus coming to us gives us reason to rejoice amid our sadness. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation.” And so our theme for this morning: “Preparation and Praise for Our Coming King.”

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Published in: on November 27, 2021 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Luke 1:26-38)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 20, 2020

“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Luke 1:26-38)

I’ve never seen the program, but I have heard about a television series called “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The premise of the show is that there is a tyrannical, theocratic government that is oppressing women. Of course, the religious people are portrayed as evil. The women that they are oppressing and enslaving are called “handmaids.” Well, the American Left have seized upon this, and in some of their marches, their women dress in the handmaids’ costumes as a way of protesting how religious people in our country are oppressing women.

However, in the Holy Gospel for today, from Luke 1, we meet a young woman who is content with being a handmaid. In fact, she even calls herself by that term: “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” she says. And indeed, she is, as we just sang, a “most highly favored lady.” So let’s hear her story now, under the very good title, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

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Published in: on December 19, 2020 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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