“The Suffering, Sacrificing, Saving Servant” (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12)

Good Friday
April 14, 2017

“The Suffering, Sacrificing, Saving Servant” (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12)

“Behold, my servant,” says the Lord. Yes, behold him today. Behold the servant of the Lord serving in a most unexpected way: serving by suffering. Today on this Good Friday we behold Jesus Christ, the Lord’s faithful, righteous servant, suffering a death he doesn’t deserve. But because he does, you will receive what you don’t deserve. And that is good news on this Good Friday. So now behold Jesus Christ, “The Suffering, Sacrificing, Saving Servant.”

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Published in: on April 14, 2017 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“You Are My Servant, Israel” (Isaiah 49:1-7)

Third Sunday after the Epiphany
January 22, 2017

“You Are My Servant, Israel” (Isaiah 49:1-7)

Two weeks ago, for the Baptism of Our Lord, the Old Testament reading was from Isaiah 42, the first of four so-called “Servant Songs” in the second half of Isaiah. “Behold my servant,” Isaiah 42 begins, “my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” And we certainly see Jesus as the fulfillment of that prophecy in his baptism, as he sets out to do the will of his Father, fulfilling all righteousness. The Father voices his approval, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” And the Spirit comes to rest upon Jesus, anointing him as the Messiah and empowering him for his mission. Jesus clearly is seen as the servant of the Lord.

Also two weeks ago, I said we would be hearing all four of Isaiah’s “Servant Songs” in the readings coming up: Isaiah 49 on January 15; Isaiah 50 on Palm Sunday; and Isaiah 53 on Good Friday. So we should have heard Isaiah 49 last week, but we were iced out. That’s why I’m taking it up today, so we don’t miss out on the complete set. Thus today we come to the second Servant Song, from Isaiah 49, under the theme, “You Are My Servant, Israel.”

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Published in: on January 21, 2017 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Behold My Servant” (Isaiah 42:1-9)

The Baptism of Our Lord
Sunday, January 8, 2017

“Behold My Servant” (Isaiah 42:1-9)

“Behold my servant,” the Lord says to us today. Who is this servant, you ask? It’s Jesus, of course. The Christ, the Anointed One, baptized as the Lord’s servant, to do the will of the one who sent him. Jesus, the Christ, anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism. And Isaiah is here to tell us about him. Through the prophet Isaiah now, the Lord invites us to look upon Christ, saying, “Behold My Servant.”

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Published in: on January 7, 2017 at 8:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come” (Isaiah 60:1-6)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Friday, January 6, 2017

“Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come” (Isaiah 60:1-6)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.”

“Arise and shine”? Are you kidding me? On a Friday night? In January? On a dark and cold night, with snow on the ground? “Arise and shine”? Heck, it was hard enough to arrive on time, much less “arise and shine”! “Arise and shine.” After the week I’ve had? Yeah, Pastor, why are you dragging us out here on a Friday night in January anyway? I don’t know of many other churches that are having services today.

And that’s unfortunate. Because having church on Epiphany used to be more common than it is today. Many churches have dropped having Epiphany services on Epiphany, which is always January 6, regardless of the day of the week. Instead, these churches transfer Epiphany to the Sunday before or the Sunday after, or they even ignore it altogether. If they transfer it to a Sunday, then whatever was on that Sunday gets bumped from the church year. And if they ignore Epiphany altogether, then they’re ignoring a major festival in the church year, one that has been celebrated in the Christian church for many, many centuries–in fact, one of the earliest festivals to be observed. And that’s a shame. Because the themes of the Epiphany festival are so important and so joy-giving. And they’re summed up in that opening verse from Isaiah 60: “Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come.”

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Published in: on January 5, 2017 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“And the Government Shall Be upon His Shoulder” (Isaiah 9:2-7)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Sunday, December 25, 2016

“And the Government Shall Be upon His Shoulder” (Isaiah 9:2-7)

About 26 days from now, we’re going to have a change in our government. A new president will take the oath of office, and a new administration will take over. For some people this will be a welcome change; for others, it will mean weeping and gnashing of teeth. But in any case, there will be a new president, and the weight of the White House will rest upon his shoulders.

Well, I’m here to tell you today, the most important change in administrations has already taken place, and it happened about 2,016 years ago. That’s when a new king was born, a king whose reign surpasses all others. And the good news is, you belong to his kingdom. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” “And the Government Shall Be upon His Shoulder.”

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Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Isaiah Foretold It, Jesus Fulfilled It” (Isaiah 7:10-17)

[Note: Isaiah 7 is a reading both for the Fourth Sunday in Advent and for Christmas Eve. Since the congregation did not get to hear Sunday’s sermon due to weather, and since I’ve been doing a series on the Isaiah texts, I reworked that sermon for Christmas Eve. Pastor Henrickson]

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Saturday, December 24, 2016

“Isaiah Foretold It, Jesus Fulfilled It” (Isaiah 7:10-17)

In the hymn we just sang, “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” there’s this line, “Isaiah ’twas foretold it.” And yes, it was Isaiah who did foretell it. But what was it that Isaiah foretold? Isaiah prophesied the birth of Jesus Christ. The gospel writer Matthew tells us as much, that this is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. He writes: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” So clearly the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy. Jesus is “God with us” in the profoundest way. And thus our theme for this evening: “Isaiah Foretold It, Jesus Fulfilled It.”

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Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Isaiah’s Immanuel Prophecy” (Isaiah 7:10-17)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 18, 2016

“Isaiah’s Immanuel Prophecy” (Isaiah 7:10-17)

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

There’s that word “Emmanuel.” And we sing that hymn every Advent. But what’s it mean? Who is this “Emmanuel”? Why are we praying to Emmanuel to “come and ransom captive Israel”? And this “mourning in lonely exile” business–what’s that all about? Today we’ll find out, and we’ll find out how it applies to us, as we listen to “Isaiah’s Immanuel Prophecy.”

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Published in: on December 17, 2016 at 5:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“He Comes, We Come” (Isaiah 35:1-10)

Midweek Advent Vespers
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

“He Comes, We Come” (Isaiah 35:1-10)

“You go, we go.” That’s what the Chicago Cubs told their centerfielder and leadoff man Dexter Fowler the last couple of years. “You go, we go.” In other words, “As you go, Dexter, so we will go. You are the guy who makes this team go. When you get on base and play well, our team will do well.” And that is what happened. Fowler played very well, and the Cubs won the World Series. “You go, we go.” And now that Dexter Fowler has signed with St. Louis, the Cardinals are hoping for the same result.

“You go, we go.” Today I want to modify that saying a bit to reflect our reading from Isaiah 35. And what I’ll change it to is this: “He Comes, We Come.” He comes, we come. And the result will be something far greater than even a World Series championship.

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Published in: on December 14, 2016 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Shoot and the Root of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1-10)

Midweek Advent Vespers
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

“The Shoot and the Root of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1-10)

Today we continue our series on “Isaiah’s Advent Prophecies.” Today’s prophecy comes from Isaiah 11, and it begins, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” And then our text closes, “In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples–of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.” Notice that this one who is coming is first called “a shoot from the stump of Jesse,” and then he is called “the root of Jesse.” Both “shoot” and “root.” And so our theme: “The Shoot and the Root of Jesse.”

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Published in: on December 7, 2016 at 10:19 pm  Comments (1)  
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“The Mountain of the House of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:1-5)

Midweek Advent Vespers
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

“The Mountain of the House of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:1-5)

Today we’re beginning a series of sermons I’m calling “Isaiah’s Advent Prophecies.” We’re taking the Old Testament readings for this season of Advent, all taken from the prophet Isaiah, and making them the basis for these messages. Today it’s the reading from Isaiah 2, as we will hear.

In the movie “Field of Dreams,” the main character is told, “If you build it, he will come.” What is it that he is to build? And who is it that will come? That’s what the movie is about. It turns out that what the character is to build is a baseball field, the “field of dreams” of the movie’s title. “If you build it, he will come.” The “he” is rather a mysterious figure; we don’t know for sure who that is until the end of the movie.

There’s another line in the movie where the main character is told “People will come.” He’s being encouraged to go ahead with the baseball field, because many people will come and see games there. If you build it, people will come. And it turns out to be true. People did come.

What made me think of these things is our reading from Isaiah 2. There it’s not “If you build it, people will come.” Rather, it’s “If God builds it, people will come.” And what God will build is, not a field of dreams, a baseball field, but instead the house of the Lord, established on the mountain of the Lord. And people will come there because he will come, namely, the one who will teach us God’s ways and his word. People will come, yes indeed, people will come to “The Mountain of the House of the Lord.”

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Published in: on November 30, 2016 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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