“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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


Published in: on December 19, 2020 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From the Deportation to the Christ” (Matthew 1:1, 12-17)

Midweek Advent Matins
Wednesday, December 16, 2020

“The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From the Deportation to the Christ” (Matthew 1:1, 12-17)

During this Advent season, we are preparing to meet and greet our coming king. The king is coming–to us, for us–coming at Christmas, coming at the end of time, coming now into our midst through Word and Sacrament. So we prepare to meet him–in repentance, in faith, in holy joy. That’s what Advent is all about.

But this king we are preparing to meet–this king who comes to us–this is a lowly king. Lowly, not high. Lowly, humble, coming in a way you might not expect. Our lowly king comes to us in a very surprising way. Surprising, yet faithful to God’s promises. While we may forget God’s promises–when we think God may have forgotten his promises–here comes this surprise. It is a lowly surprise that brings salvation and hope and joy to our hearts. We realize that God does remember. God does keep his promises–even when things are looking their worst.

Lowly, surprising, and faithful–that’s how God works. That’s the message we can take from our text today. At first glance, though, it looks like just a bunch of names–most of which you have never heard of. But when we take a closer look, we see how God deals with us by the gospel. And we gain strength, courage, and confidence in God’s promises.

Our text is “The Genealogy of Jesus Christ,” as recorded in the opening verses of Matthew. More specifically, today we focus on the last third of the genealogy, the part that takes us “From the Deportation to the Christ.”


Published in: on December 16, 2020 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Year of the Lord’s Favor” (Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11)

Third Sunday in Advent
December 13, 2020

“The Year of the Lord’s Favor” (Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11)

We’re coming to the end of this year, and what a year it has been! 2020–a year that will live in infamy! Our country has had a very tough year: Covid-19, economic shutdowns and lockdowns, people losing their jobs, people losing their businesses, people losing their lives. We had rioting in the streets, looting and burning, and governors and mayors letting it happen. We had a tense election season, with the results very much in dispute. What a year it has been! Those “year in review” retrospectives you’ll see at the end of the month–they will not be a happy trip down memory lane.


Published in: on December 12, 2020 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From David to the Deportation” (Matthew 1:1, 6b-11)

Midweek Advent Matins
Wednesday, December 9, 2020

“The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From David to the Deportation” (Matthew 1:1, 6b-11)

Last week we began looking at how Matthew begins his gospel. He begins with a genealogy, a genealogy that takes in much of Old Testament history. It is the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. But Jesus was, first of all, the Savior of Israel. He is the promised Messiah, who fulfilled the promises given to Israel’s forefathers. Jesus came into the world as the culmination, the climax, of Israel’s history. And so Matthew writes: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. . . .”


Published in: on December 10, 2020 at 12:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Messengers Marking Out the Messiah” (Mark 1:1-8)

Second Sunday in Advent
December 6, 2020

“Messengers Marking Out the Messiah” (Mark 1:1-8)

In centuries past, in lands where there were kings, when the king was about to go visit various parts of his realm, messengers would be sent out, heralds, to go ahead to each town and announce the soon arrival of that mighty monarch. “The king is coming! Everybody get ready! The king is on his way!” And the people would know what to do. They would clean up any trash littering their town. If there were potholes in the roads, those would get filled in. Got to have everything in order for the arrival of the king! So those messengers, the heralds, had an important job to do in preparing the way, so the people would be ready for their coming king.

Well, in the Holy Gospel for today, from Mark chapter 1, we meet such a messenger preparing the way for the arrival of a king. In fact, there may be even more than one. And so our theme this morning: “Messengers Marking Out the Messiah.”


Published in: on December 5, 2020 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From Abraham to David” (Matthew 1:1-6a)

Midweek Advent Matins
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

“The Genealogy of Jesus Christ: From Abraham to David” (Matthew 1:1-6a)

I am interested in family histories and genealogies. My own, for example. I am a direct descendant of Peter Gunnarsson Rambo, one of the first Swedish settlers in America back in 1640 and one of the founders of the colony New Sweden along the east coast. Peter Rambo’s name, by the way, was the inspiration for the movie character Rambo. My maternal grandmother was Grace Rambo Clark, and, through that Clark connection, I am related to William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and governor of Missouri. So some of my family heritage is pretty noble and famous.

On the other hand, some of it is shaded in scandal. My father was put up for adoption in an orphanage in Chicago, probably because he was born out of wedlock. So I joined up with Ancestry.com, and I’m trying to find out who I’m related to by way of my father’s birth name.

Fame and scandal, historical standouts and skeletons in the closet–this is what you find in any person’s family history. And Jesus is no different. The Bible tells us about Jesus’ ancestry. And this Advent we’re going to explore his family history, under the theme, “The Genealogy of Jesus Christ.” We begin today with the section that goes “From Abraham to David.”


Published in: on December 2, 2020 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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