“Mary and Joseph, Did You Know?” (Luke 2:40-52)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 2, 2022

“Mary and Joseph, Did You Know?” (Luke 2:40-52)

Every year when the radio stations start playing Christmas music–like, when, around November 1? And then they stop playing Christmas music right on Christmas Day, when the Christmas season is just beginning, when there are eleven more days of Christmas still to go. But I digress. So, when the radio stations start playing Christmas music, there’s a song you will hear–oh, about 157 times–called “Mary, Did You Know?” And every time I hear it, I want to shout back at the radio, “Yes, of course she knew! The angel Gabriel told her!” Well, yes and no. Mary did know some things. But other things she probably did not know. So the question is, what exactly did she know and when did she know it?

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Published in: on December 31, 2021 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Firstborn Son Is Presented in the Temple” (Luke 2:22-40)

First Sunday after Christmas
December 26, 2021

“The Firstborn Son Is Presented in the Temple” (Luke 2:22-40)

Yesterday was Christmas, and now we’re into the days after Christmas. For us, these days mean eating leftovers, returning gifts that don’t fit, and taking down the decorations. But what about for Jesus? What did the days after his birth mean for him? Our text is one the few places we have an account of what happened during that time. It’s the story of what happened forty days after his birth, when “The Firstborn Son Is Presented in the Temple.”

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Published in: on December 25, 2021 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Making Known What the Lord Has Made Known to Us” (Luke 2:15-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Saturday, December 25, 2021

“Making Known What the Lord Has Made Known to Us” (Luke 2:15-20)

Last night our message had to do with the “Good News of a Great Joy.” The news went out when Christ was born in Bethlehem. An angel appeared to some shepherds out in their field, telling them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And then a multitude of the heavenly host began praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” So that was the good news of a great joy that came to the shepherds.

But what did those shepherds do in response to getting the good news? That’s what we’ll take up this morning. Our text is from the last portion of Luke’s Christmas account, reading again these verses: “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.”

Notice, the shepherds first say, “Let’s go see that which the Lord has made known to us.” And after they see it–they see the baby in the manger just as they were told–then what do they do? It says they made known what had been told them concerning this child. And so our theme this morning: “Making Known What the Lord Has Made Known to Us.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2021 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Good News of a Great Joy” (Luke 2:1-14)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Friday, December 24, 2021

“Good News of a Great Joy” (Luke 2:1-14)

For most of us, tonight or tomorrow everyone will be opening their Christmas presents. You’ll know which one is yours, because it will have your name on it and you’ll know where to find it: under the Christmas tree. Now suppose I got a Christmas present for you, but I didn’t tell you about it. I didn’t tell you that I had gotten a gift for you, and I didn’t tell you where you could find it. Well, it could be the greatest Christmas present in the world, but if you don’t know that it exists and you don’t know where to find it, it won’t do you much good. You need me to tell you about it.

Well, that’s the way it is with Christmas. God has given us the greatest Christmas present of all, but if it had stayed hidden, if we didn’t know about it or where to find it, it wouldn’t do us any good. But with this Christmas present, God not only gives the gift, he also tells us what it is and where to find it. And that’s what God is doing tonight. He’s bringing us “Good News of a Great Joy.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2021 at 9:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“At Home in God’s House, Growing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 3, 2021

“At Home in God’s House, Growing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

We just sang: “Within the Father’s house the Son has found his home.” Even at twelve years old, Jesus was at home in God’s house. And earlier in this service, we sang: “For He is our childhood’s pattern, day by day like us He grew.” Jesus is our childhood’s pattern, but he is also our adulthood’s pattern, as well!

Listen to these verses from today’s Gospel. At the start of the reading, Luke 2, verse 40: Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” And at the end of our reading, verse 52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” And in between, when Joseph and Mary find him in the temple, Jesus says: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Taking all these thoughts together, we can see that a) Jesus was at home in God’s house, and b) he grew, not only in stature, but also in wisdom. And since Jesus is our pattern, both for our childhood and our adulthood, here is my wish for you for 2021: that you would likewise be “At Home in God’s House, Growing in Wisdom.”

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Published in: on January 2, 2021 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Great Way to End Things” (Luke 2:22-40)

First Sunday after Christmas
December 27, 2020

“A Great Way to End Things” (Luke 2:22-40)

Our text today is the story of Mary and Joseph presenting the infant Jesus at the temple and the reactions of Simeon and Anna. As we will see, what happens in this story is “A Great Way to End Things.” And that applies not only to the persons involved but also to us.

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Published in: on December 26, 2020 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Word: Tabernacled and Received” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Friday, December 25, 2020

“The Word: Tabernacled and Received” (John 1:1-18)

On this great festival of the Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Day, the Holy Gospel every year is St. John’s profound prologue that opens his gospel. And today, as we look at this text, I want to zero in on three portions of this prologue, under the theme, “The Word: Tabernacled and Received.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2020 at 2:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Christmas in Three Acts” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Thursday, December 24, 2020

“Christmas in Three Acts” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Gospel reading that we hear every year on Christmas Eve, Luke 2, verses 1-20–this account naturally falls into three sections, three parts, corresponding to the three paragraphs you find in your bulletin. In a way, it’s like a play that has three acts. Only this play is entirely factual; nothing fictional about it. It really happened this way. And when I say it has three “acts,” I not only mean that the story presents itself in three scenes, but I also mean that these are acts of God. In other words, God is acting in each one of these scenes. So let’s look at the story now, under the theme, “Christmas in Three Acts.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2020 at 12:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Increasing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 5, 2020

“Increasing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

When Jesus was an infant, he was presented in the temple at 40 days old. From that point on, we know nothing of the life of Jesus, until he began his public ministry at the age of 30–except for two incidents: One is the visit of the wise men and the flight to Egypt, when Jesus was less than two. The only other incident we have from Jesus’ childhood is when he was twelve. It’s the Gospel reading you just heard, the story usually called “The Boy Jesus in the Temple.”

It’s the story of when Joseph and Mary took twelve-year-old Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem, and then they couldn’t find him, because he stayed behind after they left. When they come back and do find him, his mother says, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And Jesus answers, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And, it says, “they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.” Others since then have not understood his response, either. They think he’s talking back to his parents. They would call this story “Jesus the Sassy Tween” or “Jesus the Little Wiseacre,” talking back to his parents like that.

But Jesus was not being a wiseacre! Far from it! Indeed, he was being truly wise, displaying divine wisdom both in his time at the temple and in his reply to his parents. Jesus did nothing wrong by staying behind in what he rightly called “my Father’s house.” That was where he belonged at that time. And Jesus did nothing wrong, either, in his reply to Mary and Joseph. In God’s wisdom, Jesus was where he had to be at that particular time, as part of his mission.

And that was what Mary and Joseph needed to learn: that their son had a higher calling, a divine, heaven-sent mission. Jesus was “theirs” only on loan. He first of all had to be about his heavenly Father’s business, a business that would eventually take him away from them. That Jesus had to be about his Father’s business ultimately would be for their eternal good. For by doing so he would be with them in a much greater way–forever, just as he is with us. Twelve-year-old Jesus was not being a wiseacre. No, he was displaying true wisdom. And as Mary and Joseph learned more about him, they increased in their understanding, as will we. And so our theme this morning: “Increasing in Wisdom.”

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Published in: on January 4, 2020 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The One That Got Away” (Matthew 2:13-23)

First Sunday after Christmas
December 29, 2019

“The One That Got Away” (Matthew 2:13-23)

Christmas is a joyous, happy holiday. At this time of year, we celebrate the “good news of great joy,” that to us is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. With the angels who give glory to God in the highest, with the shepherds who return glorifying and praising God, with the wise men who rejoice exceedingly with great joy, we too join in the joy of Christmas.

Yes, Christmas is a joyous, happy holiday. That is true within the church. But perhaps even more so, it’s true in the culture around us. In our society, Christmas is expected to be a time of happiness and laughter, a time for merriment and good cheer, a time for blocking out–at least temporarily–all the unpleasant and painful aspects of life.

And so, to the extent that we have been influenced by the culture, today’s Gospel reading can come as a bit of a shock. It seems to run counter to the mood of the season. For it’s the account of what’s called “The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents.” Now if there is any event in the Bible that could be further removed from an upbeat, cheerful holiday mood, I don’t know what it is. Herod’s slaughter of the innocent children of Bethlehem is a singularly horrifying and tragic story. Yet it comes hard on the heels of Christmas, this story of the brutal murder of innocent children. What saves the story for us, though, is “The One That Got Away.”

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Published in: on December 28, 2019 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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