“Believing Is Better Than Seeing” (John 20:19-31)

Second Sunday of Easter
April 11, 2021

“Believing Is Better Than Seeing” (John 20:19-31)

The doors were locked. The disciples had locked themselves in, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, who had just had Jesus killed a couple of days earlier. And since they were Jesus’ disciples, if it became known where they were, the authorities might come after them, too. So the disciples were afraid and were staying behind closed doors.

But if a sealed tomb couldn’t keep Jesus in, a locked door couldn’t keep Jesus out. He passes right through and stands in their midst. “Shalom aleichem,” he says, “Peace be with you,” a standard Hebraic greeting. But when Jesus says it, it’s a little more than standard! Jesus really does convey peace when he speaks it! This is a blood-bought peace, peace purchased by the blood that God’s Son shed on the cross. Peace between heaven and earth. Peace between a righteous God and sinful man. Jesus made that peace for us on the cross, where he died for the sins of the world. Jesus packs real peace into his words, when he greets us with “Peace be with you.”

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Published in: on April 10, 2021 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Light Shines in the Darkness” (John 1:1-5, 9-14)

Good Friday
April 2, 2021

“The Light Shines in the Darkness” (John 1:1-5, 9-14)

Tonight we’re doing a traditional Good Friday evening service called “Tenebrae.” The Latin word, “tenebrae,” means “shadows” or “darkness.” This is the Service of the Shadows, the Service of Darkness–moving to complete darkness at the end of the service. This reminds us of the darkness that came over the land when Christ was hanging on the cross, the great darkness that occurred when the author of life was put to death. And then his lifeless body was placed in the tomb, and night fell, and all was darkness and shadows. The loud noise that will come at the end of this service, called the “strepitus”–that will remind us either of the earthquake at the time of Christ’s death or of the shutting of the tomb, when the heavy stone is rolled into place. In either case, the sound will signify the finality of death. Boom! Death wins.

This is the time of darkness and shadows. It seems that darkness has covered the earth. The one who had done only good, a righteous man–murdered. The one who had brought healing and had shown God’s mercy to so many–dead. The one in whom men had put their hope, now has been killed, and hope died with him. Jesus of Nazareth–crucified, dead, and buried. Now what?

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Published in: on April 2, 2021 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Washed Clean with Jesus’ Love” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

Holy Thursday
April 1, 2021

“Washed Clean with Jesus’ Love” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

One thing we’ve been reminded of a thousand times over the past year is to wash your hands frequently. Washing your hands, we are told, is an important way to keep you from getting the virus or spreading it to others. And so we wash our hands. Frequently.

But you can wash your hands fifteen times a day, eight days a week, and still, eventually, something is going to get you. We’re all going to die of something. But there is one type of washing that will keep you from dying eternally. And that is, when you have been “Washed Clean with Jesus’ Love.”

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Published in: on April 1, 2021 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Hosanna!” (John 12:11-19)

Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion
March 28, 2021

“Hosanna!” (John 12:11-19)

Today is Palm Sunday, and if there is a “word of the day” for this day, it’s “Hosanna!” How often do we see that word show up in our service today! We started the service by saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Then we heard the Gospel reading, where the crowd cries out, “Hosanna!” As we processed in, we sang the refrain six times, “To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.” And we concluded the procession by saying, “Hosanna in the highest.” So before we even sat down, we heard or said or sang “hosanna,” nine times! And when we get done singing “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” and “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty,” you can add four more “hosannas” to the list, for a total of thirteen. Truly the word of the day for Palm Sunday is “Hosanna!”

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Published in: on March 27, 2021 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“John 3:16, Up Close and Personal” (John 3:14-21)

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 14, 2021

“John 3:16, Up Close and Personal” (John 3:14-21)

It’s perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible. People know what it says simply by the reference, “John 3:16.” It’s so well known that folks will hold up a sign with just the reference on it, and people will remember what the verse says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” A brief, concise, beautiful summary of the gospel. In fact, this verse is often called “The gospel in a nutshell.” Well, let’s take a closer look at it now, as we explore “John 3:16, Up Close and Personal.”

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Published in: on March 13, 2021 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“March Madness: The Prophet-Driven Church” (John 2:13-22)

Third Sunday in Lent
March 7, 2021

“March Madness: The Prophet-Driven Church” (John 2:13-22)

“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild”: That’s how we usually picture our Savior. And in many respects, that’s true. Our Good Shepherd is kind and gentle with his sheep. But that image of Christ is not enough. It doesn’t give the full picture of Jesus and his character and his range of emotions. Especially is that the case with our text today. Because today we see our Lord getting downright angry–or upright angry, I should say, since it is righteous anger that he displays. Today Jesus gets a case of “March Madness”: He marches right into the temple like he owns the joint, and he is mad. How come? What’s the problem? What is it that makes Jesus so mad? And what does it have to do with the church in our day? Let’s find out, under the theme, “March Madness: The Prophet-Driven Church.”

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Published in: on March 6, 2021 at 11:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“That’s a Good Sign!” (John 2:1-11)

Holy Matrimony
Saturday, December 26, 2020

“That’s a Good Sign!” (John 2:1-11)

Today on this joyous occasion, Nick and Danielle, I want to tell you about several things I see in you and in your wedding here today–things that I think bode well for your future, things where I can say, “That’s a Good Sign!”

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Published in: on December 26, 2020 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Word: Tabernacled and Received” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Friday, December 25, 2020

“The Word: Tabernacled and Received” (John 1:1-18)

On this great festival of the Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Day, the Holy Gospel every year is St. John’s profound prologue that opens his gospel. And today, as we look at this text, I want to zero in on three portions of this prologue, under the theme, “The Word: Tabernacled and Received.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2020 at 2:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Inculcating the Reformation through Catechesis” (Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36)

“Inculcating the Reformation through Catechesis” (Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36)

First, let me tell you my title for this message. It’s “Inculcating the Reformation through Catechesis.” Now the next thing I want to tell you is this: Don’t let that title scare you off! Don’t worry, I’ll explain each of those terms: “Inculcating the Reformation through Catechesis.” So here we go.

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Published in: on October 24, 2020 at 9:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Out of His Heart Will Flow Rivers of Living Water” (John 7:37-39)

The Day of Pentecost
Sunday, May 31, 2020

“Out of His Heart Will Flow Rivers of Living Water” (John 7:37-39)

Please take a look at the front of your bulletin for today. There you will see a photograph of water flowing out in a river. And written over the picture are these words from John 7:38, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Those are the words of Jesus from today’s Holy Gospel. There Jesus says exactly that: “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But the question is: Who is it that Jesus is talking about? Out of whose heart will flow those rivers of living water? Today I want to explore with you two possible answers, either one of which will come out as good news for us. We’re going to take two different routes to get there now, but hopefully we’ll end up at the same place.

Let’s look at the Gospel reading again, John 7:37-39: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

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Published in: on May 30, 2020 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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