“What Jesus Has Been Anointed and Sent to Do” (Luke 4:16-30)

Third Sunday after the Epiphany
January 23, 2022

“What Jesus Has Been Anointed and Sent to Do” (Luke 4:16-30)

Here’s a question: What did Jesus come to do? Today Jesus himself tells us. He’s at church, and he stands up to read the Old Testament Reading–well, actually, they were all Old Testament readings at that point. He reads it, and then he says, “This is about me.” Boom! Mic drop. Jesus’ ministry, described in a few short lines. Oh, and you’re included in this text. So listen now, as we hear “What Jesus Has Been Anointed and Sent to Do.”

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Published in: on January 22, 2022 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Sign of the Water into Wine at the Wedding” (John 2:1-11)

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 16, 2022

“The Sign of the Water into Wine at the Wedding” (John 2:1-11)

“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.” It was a sign. The thing about a sign is, you need to be able to read it and know what it means. A sign points to something beyond itself. So, what does this sign point to? What does it tell us? Let’s find out now, about “The Sign of the Water into Wine at the Wedding.”

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Published in: on January 15, 2022 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Epiphany, Baptism, and a Tale of Two Herods” (Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 3:15-22)

The Epiphany of Our Lord/ The Baptism of Our Lord
Sunday, January 9, 2022

“Epiphany, Baptism, and a Tale of Two Herods” (Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 3:15-22)

Every year, the Epiphany of Our Lord always falls on January 6, which was this past Thursday. The Gospel reading for Epiphany is the visit of the wise men, from Matthew 2. On the first Sunday after the Epiphany, which is today, we always observe the Baptism of Our Lord. And this year the Gospel reading is the account from Luke. This past Thursday, we had to cancel our Epiphany service. So now today, I decided to combine the readings for the two services, the Epiphany of Our Lord and the Baptism of Our Lord, into one message around a common theme: “Epiphany, Baptism, and a Tale of Two Herods.”

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Published in: on January 7, 2022 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The January 6 Epiphany Insurrection” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Thursday, January 6, 2022

“The January 6 Epiphany Insurrection” (Matthew 2:1-12)

It’s January 6. A group of visitors travel to the nation’s capital. They are there to raise questions about who the nation’s real leader is. This does not sit well with some in positions of power. They consider people raising such questions in a bad light. They think of those who challenge their authority as “insurrectionists” who need to be put down.

No, I’m not talking about what happened on January 6 one year ago today. That was when a group of protestors went to Washington, D.C., to raise questions about who really won the election. And for the majority of people who were there, it truly was a peaceful protest. But a few malcontents did misbehave and got arrested, and since then, the people in power have used that occasion to put anyone who raises such questions in a bad light. They are eager to use the label, “The January 6 Insurrection.” “Insurrection” is a scarier word than “protest,” or even “riot,” and that’s why they use it.

But that’s not the January 6 insurrection I’m talking about. No, I’m talking about the Epiphany of Our Lord. Epiphany always falls on January 6 every year, right after the twelve days of Christmas. And it is sort of an insurrection, in a way. Epiphany does challenge the power of the rulers of this world. Epiphany does tell us who the real king is. And so our theme for this day, “The January 6 Epiphany Insurrection.”

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Published in: on January 5, 2022 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“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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