“A Living, Loving Family” (John 14:15-21)

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 21, 2017

“A Living, Loving Family” (John 14:15-21)

Christ establishes his church to be “A Living, Loving Family.” And you are a part of it. A living, loving family. Now how do you hear that? Do you hear it as heavy demand, something we cannot possibly do? Or do you hear it as gift, something that Christ has graciously made us part of? Does Christ’s call for us to be a living, loving family–do you hear this as burden or gift? As pressure or joy? And besides how we hear it, there is also the question of how we do it. How do we do it? How do we manage to live together as a living, loving family? These are the questions we will explore now this morning.

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Published in: on May 20, 2017 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Hope for the Future and a Present Priesthood” (John 14:1-14; 1 Peter 2:2-10)

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 14, 2017

“Hope for the Future and a Present Priesthood” (John 14:1-14; 1 Peter 2:2-10)

You gotta have hope. Hope is faith facing the future. You and I, we need something to look forward to. Otherwise, we lose heart, we get depressed, and our hopelessness paralyzes us. So we need hope, hope for the future, in order to function well in the present. And really, we need hope for the big future, the eternal future. Because the reality is, at some point, we’re going to depart this life. At some point, something is going to do us in, and death is going to carry us away. Do you have a hope that can deal with that? A sure hope, a certain hope? Do you have a hope for the future that strengthens you to carry out your calling in the present? In our lessons today, we hear about both: “Hope for the Future and a Present Priesthood.”

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Published in: on May 14, 2017 at 1:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Good Shepherd for Straying and Suffering Sheep” (1 Peter 2:19-25)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 7, 2017

“The Good Shepherd for Straying and Suffering Sheep” (1 Peter 2:19-25)

I’m guessing by now you’ve picked up on the theme of the day. You’ve heard it throughout the service so far. For example, in the Introit, the words of Jesus: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, and I lay down my life for the sheep.” In the Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd.” In the Holy Gospel, where Jesus calls himself “the shepherd of the sheep.” In the Hymn of the Day, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.” Yes, no doubt, today is the Sunday in the Easter season we call “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The readings and the hymns and the prayers all revolve around the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd.

And it’s a good thing he is! It’s a good thing that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, isn’t it? For without him, where would we be? Not in a good place, I can tell you! We sheep would be lost and vulnerable and easy prey for predators. We would have no one to find us and bring us back when we stray. We would have no one to rescue us and save us when we suffer. But with our Good Shepherd to guide and guard and protect us, we are safe and sound and able to graze in green pastures. That’s the big difference that having Jesus as our Shepherd makes. And so our theme for this message: “The Good Shepherd for Straying and Suffering Sheep.”

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Published in: on May 6, 2017 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Opening the Scriptures, Breaking the Bread” (Luke 24:13-35)

Third Sunday of Easter
April 30, 2017

“Opening the Scriptures, Breaking the Bread” (Luke 24:13-35)

One of my favorite paintings is one we happen to have hanging in the hallway here at St. Matthew’s. I’ve brought it forward this morning, because it goes with the Gospel reading for today. The painting is called, in German, “Gang nach Emmaus,” “The Road to Emmaus,” by a 19th-century Swiss artist, Robert Zünd. I love this painting, because it really activates my imagination. You’re looking from a distance at Jesus walking with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, while Jesus is opening the Scriptures to them. You wish you could zoom yourself into the picture and listen in and walk along. What a Bible study that must have been!

And then, if you know the story from Luke 24, your mind goes ahead to when they arrive at Emmaus, and they ask Jesus, whom they do not yet recognize–they ask him to stay, and he breaks bread with them at table. Then their eyes are opened, and they recognize him as Jesus, risen from the dead, and they marvel at what had just happened.

What a day, what an experience that must have been! To have Jesus opening the Scriptures to you. To have Jesus present with you, breaking the bread at table. Imagine that! No, don’t just imagine it. Experience it! Because that is exactly what Jesus is doing here today, right here among us: “Opening the Scriptures, Breaking the Bread.”

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Published in: on April 29, 2017 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Easter Joy Continues!” (John 20:19-31; Acts 5:29-42; 1 Peter 1:3-9)

Second Sunday of Easter
April 23, 2017

“Easter Joy Continues!” (John 20:19-31; Acts 5:29-42; 1 Peter 1:3-9)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

Yes, he is risen indeed! And guess what? He is still risen! Christ didn’t stop being risen once Easter Day was over. And so the Easter season continues–and with it, our Easter joy. It’s the Second Sunday “of” Easter! Thus our theme for this morning: “Easter Joy Continues!”

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Published in: on April 22, 2017 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Raised with Our Risen Lord” (Colossians 3:1-4)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, April 16, 2017

“Raised with Our Risen Lord” (Colossians 3:1-4)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

Yes, indeed Christ is risen! And because he is, guess what? You are risen too! That’s our message this morning on this beautiful Easter Day: “Raised with Our Risen Lord.”

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Published in: on April 15, 2017 at 8:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Behold, I Am Coming Soon” (Acts 1:1-11; Revelation 22:1-6, 12-20)

Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 8, 2016

“Behold, I Am Coming Soon” (Acts 1:1-11; Revelation 22:1-6, 12-20)

Take a look at the picture over our altar. Of course, it’s a painting of the Ascension of Our Lord, that time when Jesus ascended into heaven. But if you didn’t know that, and you just look at Jesus there midway in the sky, you might wonder: Is he going up or is he coming down? It looks like it could be either. For just as Jesus ascended into heaven on Ascension Day, so too will he come down from heaven when he returns in glory on the Last Day. That’s the point of our message this morning, namely, that Christ’s ascension points us to his return. Not only so, today we’re even given a glimpse at what’s in store for us when he does return. For today our ascended Lord gives us his promise, “Behold, I Am Coming Soon.”

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Published in: on May 7, 2016 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Tribulation and Peace, Guaranteed” (John 16:23-33)

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 1, 2016

“Tribulation and Peace, Guaranteed” (John 16:23-33)

There are very few guarantees in life, very few things you can be sure of. For instance, there are no guarantees about the success of your baseball team. The Chicago Cubs were riding high in April, but who knows if they will be shot down in May? No guarantees. You have no guarantee that you’re going to be rich, or, if you are, that you’re going to stay that way. Things could go south in a hurry. You have no guarantee about your health. You could be fit as a fiddle one year and then come down with a mysterious disease the next. No guarantees. But today I want to tell you about two things you can be sure of, and they are these: “Tribulation and Peace, Guaranteed.”

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Published in: on May 1, 2016 at 7:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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“A Whole New World” (Revelation 21:1-7)

Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 24, 2016

“A Whole New World” (Revelation 21:1-7)

“A Whole New World”: Aladdin may sing about it, but God will deliver it. Are you looking forward to it? You should be, and today I’ll tell you why.

Yes, a whole new world. That’s what John sees in our reading today from Revelation 21. A new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem. And he who is seated on the throne says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” We’re coming into the last two chapters of the Bible now, and we get a glimpse of where all this is headed. And it is new, and it is glorious, and it is something to be ardently looked forward to.

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Published in: on April 24, 2016 at 1:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Our Guiding, Guarding Good Shepherd” (John 10:22-30; Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 17, 2016

“Our Guiding, Guarding Good Shepherd” (John 10:22-30; Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)

Today is “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Every year on this Sunday in the Easter season we focus our attention on Jesus as our good shepherd. On this day every year our psalm is Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd.” On this day every year the Holy Gospel is a portion of John 10, the chapter in which Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Every year on this Sunday the other readings and our hymns also carry this theme of Jesus as our good shepherd. And so it is today. Thus our theme this morning: “Our Guiding, Guarding Good Shepherd.”

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Published in: on April 17, 2016 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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