“Christ’s Transfiguration and Our Hope of Glory” (Mark 9:2-9)

The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Sunday, February 14, 2021

“Christ’s Transfiguration and Our Hope of Glory” (Mark 9:2-9)

O wondrous type! O vision fair
Of glory that the Church may share,
Which Christ upon the mountain shows,
Where brighter than the sun He glows!

So we just sang, and so we will now hear, under the theme, “Christ’s Transfiguration and Our Hope of Glory.”

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Published in: on February 13, 2021 at 10:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Jesus Vaccine” (Mark 1:29-39)

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 7, 2021

“The Jesus Vaccine” (Mark 1:29-39)

Have you gotten the vaccine yet? That’s a question that’s been going “viral” lately (yes, pun intended). Have you gotten the vaccine? Everybody’s talking about that, because the vaccine is supposed to protect you from the virus–the Coronavirus, Covid-19. And so, people are lining up at the various vaccination sites in order to get the shot–or two shots, as the case may be. There are a couple of different vaccines available. The two I’ve heard about are the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer. And so far, the results sound encouraging. The numbers I heard Friday are these: The Moderna vaccine is currently posting a 94.1% efficacy rate and the Pfizer vaccine is showing an efficacy rate of more than 90%.

But, dear friends, those results are not nearly good enough. Because that still means that anywhere from six to ten percent of people who get the shot get the virus anyway. And if the Coronavirus doesn’t get you, something else will. So far, I have not heard of any vaccine that can prevent you from succumbing to something. As a famous surgeon general once said, “We all will probably die with something sooner or later.”

Well, actually, let me take that back. I do know of something that can and will prevent you from dying. And I’m here today to tell you about it. It’s called “The Jesus Vaccine.” The Jesus vaccine. It’s not 90% effective. It’s not 94.1% effective. No, the Jesus vaccine is 100% effective, and against all causes of death, Coronavirus included.

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Published in: on February 6, 2021 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Exclamation Mark: Immediately! Authority! Astonished!” (Mark 1:21-28)

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
January 31, 2021

“Exclamation Mark: Immediately! Authority! Astonished!” (Mark 1:21-28)

The featured gospel in our lectionary this year is the Gospel according to St. Mark. While all four gospels are telling the same story, the story of Jesus, and all four are inspired by the Holy Spirit, each gospel writer tells the Jesus story in his own individual style. And what all readers notice about the way Mark tells the story is the sense of urgency and action he conveys and how the story moves along. Jesus is thrown into conflict right away. We move from one event to another in rapid fashion. Jesus does amazing, astonishing things, displaying powerful authority in his words and his works. Marks tells the story in bold, dramatic fashion. So much so that today I think I’ll call him “Exclamation Mark.” And what jumps out at me in our reading from Mark today are three words that I think could use an exclamation mark, namely, “Immediately! Authority! Astonished!”

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Published in: on January 30, 2021 at 9:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“When Jesus Calls, We Follow” (Mark 1:14-20)

Third Sunday after the Epiphany
January 24, 2021

“When Jesus Calls, We Follow” (Mark 1:14-20)

“Hark, the voice of Jesus calling, ‘Who will go and work today?’” Yes, true, Jesus calls us “to work for God’s kingdom and answer his call.” But first things first. Before our Lord calls us to go and work, he first calls us to come and receive. Jesus calls us to repent and believe. He calls us to come and follow him. Then we take up the tasks he gives us. And so our theme this morning: “When Jesus Calls, We Follow.”

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Published in: on January 23, 2021 at 7:14 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.”

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Published in: on January 16, 2021 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Baptism with Our Lord” (Mark 1:4-11; Romans 6:1-11)

The Baptism of Our Lord
Sunday, January 10, 2021

“The Baptism with Our Lord” (Mark 1:4-11; Romans 6:1-11)

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord. On Wednesday we celebrated the Epiphany of Our Lord. That makes today the First Sunday after the Epiphany. And that means that today, as we do every year on this Sunday, we hear an account of Jesus being baptized, whether from Matthew, Mark, or Luke. This year it’s the account from Mark.

And Mark says, “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” And you say, “OK, so Jesus got baptized. Why is that important? What does this have to do with me?” And I say, “A whole lot. As we will now see.” The Gospel reading from Mark and the Epistle reading from Romans will make the connection for us, the connection between the Baptism of Our Lord and our own baptism, under the theme, “The Baptism with Our Lord.”

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Published in: on January 9, 2021 at 10:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Why Have a Special Epiphany Service?” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Wednesday, January 6, 2021

“Why Have a Special Epiphany Service?” (Matthew 2:1-12)

So here it is on a Wednesday. And we’re having the Divine Service. How come? It’s not Sunday. “Pastor, why are you dragging us out here in the middle of the week, in January, to have church? What’s the big deal about Epiphany that we should come out on a non-Sunday?” In other words, “Why Have a Special Epiphany Service?”

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Published in: on January 6, 2021 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Apostolic Witness and the Prophetic Word” (2 Peter 1:16-21)

The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Sunday, February 23, 2020

“The Apostolic Witness and the Prophetic Word” (2 Peter 1:16-21)

“Cleverly devised myths.” That’s what we Christians are accused of believing. All that stuff about Jesus Christ being the Son of God and the only Savior of the world? “Just a bunch of fables, fairy tales, myths.”

But then this is nothing new. Even back in the first century, Christians were ridiculed for believing the same thing. People said they were falling for a bunch of poppycock, fables and fairy tales. St. Peter refers to this in our epistle for today when he writes, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And to counter that false accusation, Peter then cites two testimonies that support the message about Christ. They are the eyewitness testimony of the apostles and the Spirit-inspired testimony of the prophets in Holy Scripture. The Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles–these give us a firm foundation for our faith. They assure us that we are not following just some “cleverly devised myths.” And so our theme this morning: “The Apostolic Witness and the Prophetic Word.”

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Published in: on February 22, 2020 at 11:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Better Righteousness” (Matthew 5:21-37)

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 16, 2020

“A Better Righteousness” (Matthew 5:21-37)

Every week at the end of the Holy Gospel reading, I say, “This is the Gospel of the Lord.” Well, today at the end of the Holy Gospel reading, when I said, “This is the Gospel of the Lord,” I wanted to answer back and shout out, “No, it isn’t! This is not the Gospel of the Lord! This is all Law!” And indeed it is. Jesus is laying on the Law mighty thick. But he’s doing it for a good reason. He wants to strip away our self-righteousness, so that we will be ready to hear the good news of a better kind of righteousness than we can come up with on our own. And so our theme this morning: “A Better Righteousness.”

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Published in: on February 16, 2020 at 1:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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“See the Light, Be the Light” (Matthew 5:13-20)

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 9, 2020

“See the Light, Be the Light” (Matthew 5:13-20)

Two weeks ago, during this Epiphany season, the Gospel reading was from Matthew 4, and it included this verse: “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” The great light that they saw, the light that had dawned on them, was Jesus, as he began his ministry of preaching, teaching, healing, and gathering disciples. Jesus Christ is the light that shines in the darkness. As he himself would later say, “I am the light of the world.”

Now today we move from Matthew 4 to Matthew 5. And in our Gospel reading today, Jesus says to his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” So, which is it? Is Jesus the light of the world or are we, his disciples, the light of the world? The answer of course is “Yes. Both.” Jesus is the light of the world. And we, his followers, are the light of the world, also. But each in the proper order. First and foremost, Jesus himself is the light. And then secondarily, we are the light of the world. And so our theme this morning: “See the Light, Be the Light.”

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Published in: on February 8, 2020 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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