“Jesus Opens Your Eyes–and Your Tongue” (John 9:1-41)

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 19, 2023

“Jesus Opens Your Eyes–and Your Tongue” (John 9:1-41)

The Holy Gospel for today is John chapter 9, the story of the man born blind. But he doesn’t stay blind, once Jesus comes along. Jesus does several things for this man: He opens his eyes physically. He opens his eyes spiritually. And he opens the man’s tongue, as well. And the good news is, he does these things for you also. And so our theme this morning: “Jesus Opens Your Eyes–and Your Tongue.”


Published in: on March 18, 2023 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Woman–and the Man–at the Well” (John 4:5-30, 39-42)

Third Sunday in Lent
March 12, 2023

“The Woman–and the Man–at the Well” (John 4:5-30, 39-42)

Acceptance is a big idea in our culture these days. Every weird subgroup wants to be accepted as normal. More than that, they demand to be celebrated and approved, even if what they’re proud of is really something to be ashamed of. And if you don’t approve, if you don’t celebrate them, then you are a bigot and some sort of “-phobe,” and you need to be canceled.

So the challenge is how to accept people in love without approving of what they’re doing that’s wrong. And our Gospel reading today is a good example. It’s the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, from John chapter 4. “The woman at the well,” she is often called. But our story today is not as much about her as it is about him–Jesus, that is. And so our theme this morning: “The Woman–and the Man–at the Well.”


Published in: on March 11, 2023 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Born Again, Born from Above, Born of Water and the Spirit” (John 3:1-17)

Second Sunday in Lent
March 5, 2023

“Born Again, Born from Above, Born of Water and the Spirit” (John 3:1-17)

As most of you know, I’ve got a big birthday coming up this week, a milestone birthday, on March 7. But I have an even more important birthday coming up later this year, on September 10. Because it was on that date that I was “Born Again, Born from Above, Born of Water and the Spirit.”


Published in: on March 4, 2023 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Enriched in All Speech and Knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42a)

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 15, 2023

“Enriched in All Speech and Knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42a)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s how I start every sermon I preach, with those words. Where did I get that idea? From St. Paul. That’s how he starts his epistles, with those same words: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” For example, that’s how Paul begins his epistle to the Corinthians, as you heard. With those words, the apostle Paul is conferring a blessing on his hearers as he begins to speak to them. That’s what I do here with you. I’m reminding you that you have God’s grace and his peace in Christ, and it’s on that basis that I now will speak to you. God’s grace and his peace are the great riches that God has made known to me, so that now I can speak a grace-and-peace-filled word to you.

Now notice what Paul tells the Corinthians right after those opening words. He says: “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge.” Enriched in Christ in all speech and knowledge: God had gifted the Corinthians in that way. And this was so, even though Corinth was a pretty messed-up congregation. Still, they were a Christian congregation, they had had the gospel in their midst, and Paul is reminding them of this fact right from the get-go. And what Paul is saying of them is true for us also: We too have been “Enriched in All Speech and Knowledge.”


Published in: on January 14, 2023 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Christmas and Easter Rolled into One!” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Sunday, December 25, 2022

“Christmas and Easter Rolled into One!” (John 1:1-18)

This year we have the unusual circumstance of Christmas falling on a Sunday. This last happened in 2016, and before that, in 2005 and 2011. Christmas won’t fall on a Sunday again until 2033. Not only is it Sunday, the Lord’s Day, when Christians have been going to church for 2,000 years, but it is also Christmas Day, one of the major festivals of the church year. So you would think, with this double reason for going to church, that churches across the land would be packed this morning.

Nah, nah! Think again. Now of course, with the bitter cold across much of the country, that is cutting down somewhat on church attendance today. But even apart from that, apart from the weather, attendance is down for another reason. And ironically, it’s because Christmas is falling on a Sunday. Yeah, it’s crazy! Instead of giving people even more reason to go to church, it’s just the opposite. People are choosing not to go to church today, precisely because it’s Christmas.


Published in: on December 24, 2022 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Three Saints of Advent: St. Andrew, Apostle” (John 1:35-42a; Matthew 4:18-20)

Midweek Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

“Three Saints of Advent: St. Andrew, Apostle” (John 1:35-42a; Matthew 4:18-20)

When churches have midweek Advent or Lenten services, usually the pastor tries to come up with a theme that will tie the services together. This year, in looking at the calendar for Advent, I noticed something about the dates for our midweek services. The first three Wednesdays are November 30, December 7, and December 14. Which got me to thinking: November 30 is the Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle. December 7 is the Commemoration of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan and one of the great Church Fathers. December 14 is . . . well, December 14 isn’t anything special, but it does occur right after the Second and Third Sundays in Advent, when St. John the Baptist is featured prominently. So there you go. Thus our theme for this year’s midweek Advent services: “Three Saints of Advent: Andrew, Ambrose, and John the Baptist.”


Published in: on November 30, 2022 at 6:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Reformation in Liturgy and Hymnody” (John 8:31-36)

Reformation Day (Observed)
Sunday, October 30, 2022

“A Reformation in Liturgy and Hymnody” (John 8:31-36)

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Friends, this is really what the Reformation was all about: that people would abide in the living, life-giving word of Christ; that they would know the truth of the gospel, which had been obscured by the errors that had crept into the church; and that this truth would set people free from the slavery they had been laboring under. Luther himself had labored under that slavery, and when he discovered the freeing truth of the gospel, he bent every effort toward wanting others to know the freedom that is theirs in Christ. The whole Reformation was geared toward that end. And it meant reforming every area of church life that had been infected by those enslaving errors. It meant bringing the truth to light in every aspect where it had been clouded over.

Today we are the recipients and beneficiaries of that great Reformation program. And one of the prime ways in which we enjoy that rich heritage is in what we are doing right here in this church service. For today, on this Reformation Sunday, we will see what benefits are ours, precisely because the Lutheran Reformation included, very prominently, “A Reformation in Liturgy and Hymnody.”


Published in: on October 29, 2022 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From the Now to the New” (John 16:12-22; Revelation 21:1-7)

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 15, 2022

“From the Now to the New” (John 16:12-22; Revelation 21:1-7)

Our readings today take us “From the Now to the New.” What I mean is, they take us from the “now” we are experiencing in the present to the “new” that awaits us in the future. And that knowledge of the “new” gives us the hope and strength we need to carry on in the “now.”


Published in: on May 14, 2022 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Good Shepherd and His Flock” (John 10:22-30; Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 8, 2022

“The Good Shepherd and His Flock” (John 10:22-30; Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)

Today is the Sunday in the church year known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” You’ll notice that on this day all of the readings, the psalm, the hymns–all carry the theme of the shepherd and his flock, the sheep. And this will strengthen our faith today and give us life and hope for the future, as we see what God’s word says about “The Good Shepherd and His Flock.”


Published in: on May 7, 2022 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Only Jesus: No Other Name” (Acts 4:1-12; Revelation 1:4-18; John 14:1-14)

Second Sunday of Easter
April 24, 2022

“Only Jesus: No Other Name” (Acts 4:1-12; Revelation 1:4-18; John 14:1-14)

Something significant, something momentous, happened in the city of Chicago 175 years ago this week. No, I’m not talking about the day I was born. I was born in Chicago, yes, but I’m not quite that old. No, but something else was born there 175 years ago. It was the birth of our church body, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It was on April 26, 1847, that representatives from fourteen Lutheran congregations came together at First St. Paul Lutheran Church on the north side of Chicago, and they formed a brand new synod. They were all German-speaking congregations, mostly from the Midwest, so they called the new synod “Die Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio, und andern Staaten,” that is, being translated, “The German Evangelical-Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States.”

Well, in the 175 years since then, we’ve grown from fourteen congregations to about 6,000. We’ve expanded far beyond the Midwest, with congregations all across the country and mission work and partner churches all around the world. And we’re not nearly as German as we used to be: You’ve let some of us Scandinavians in, as well as Blacks and Hispanics and Asians and every ethnicity under the sun. But there’s one thing that still binds us all together, and it is this: “Only Jesus: No Other Name.”


Published in: on April 23, 2022 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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