“At Home in God’s House, Growing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 3, 2021

“At Home in God’s House, Growing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

We just sang: “Within the Father’s house the Son has found his home.” Even at twelve years old, Jesus was at home in God’s house. And earlier in this service, we sang: “For He is our childhood’s pattern, day by day like us He grew.” Jesus is our childhood’s pattern, but he is also our adulthood’s pattern, as well!

Listen to these verses from today’s Gospel. At the start of the reading, Luke 2, verse 40: Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” And at the end of our reading, verse 52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” And in between, when Joseph and Mary find him in the temple, Jesus says: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Taking all these thoughts together, we can see that a) Jesus was at home in God’s house, and b) he grew, not only in stature, but also in wisdom. And since Jesus is our pattern, both for our childhood and our adulthood, here is my wish for you for 2021: that you would likewise be “At Home in God’s House, Growing in Wisdom.”

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Published in: on January 2, 2021 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Great Way to End Things” (Luke 2:22-40)

First Sunday after Christmas
December 27, 2020

“A Great Way to End Things” (Luke 2:22-40)

Our text today is the story of Mary and Joseph presenting the infant Jesus at the temple and the reactions of Simeon and Anna. As we will see, what happens in this story is “A Great Way to End Things.” And that applies not only to the persons involved but also to us.

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Published in: on December 26, 2020 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Christmas in Three Acts” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Thursday, December 24, 2020

“Christmas in Three Acts” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Gospel reading that we hear every year on Christmas Eve, Luke 2, verses 1-20–this account naturally falls into three sections, three parts, corresponding to the three paragraphs you find in your bulletin. In a way, it’s like a play that has three acts. Only this play is entirely factual; nothing fictional about it. It really happened this way. And when I say it has three “acts,” I not only mean that the story presents itself in three scenes, but I also mean that these are acts of God. In other words, God is acting in each one of these scenes. So let’s look at the story now, under the theme, “Christmas in Three Acts.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2020 at 12:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Luke 1:26-38)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 20, 2020

“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Luke 1:26-38)

I’ve never seen the program, but I have heard about a television series called “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The premise of the show is that there is a tyrannical, theocratic government that is oppressing women. Of course, the religious people are portrayed as evil. The women that they are oppressing and enslaving are called “handmaids.” Well, the American Left have seized upon this, and in some of their marches, their women dress in the handmaids’ costumes as a way of protesting how religious people in our country are oppressing women.

However, in the Holy Gospel for today, from Luke 1, we meet a young woman who is content with being a handmaid. In fact, she even calls herself by that term: “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” she says. And indeed, she is, as we just sang, a “most highly favored lady.” So let’s hear her story now, under the very good title, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

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Published in: on December 19, 2020 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Walk to Emmaus” (Luke 24:13-35)

Third Sunday of Easter
April 26, 2020

“A Walk to Emmaus” (Luke 24:13-35)

I hope you can see the painting I posted on my Facebook page to go with today’s Gospel reading. It’s called “Gang nach Emmaus,” “The Road to Emmaus,” and it was painted by a 19th-century Swiss artist, Robert Zünd. It’s one of my favorite paintings. It’s like I want to put myself into the picture and get up there and walk alongside Jesus as he opens up the Scriptures. What a Bible study that must have been! Well, maybe today we can zoom in (no pun intended) and hear what Jesus has to say. Yeah, come on, let’s take “A Walk to Emmaus.”

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Published in: on April 25, 2020 at 9:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Remembering Betty” (Isaiah 43:1-3a, 25; Hebrews 10:11-25; Luke 23:33, 39-43)

Funeral Service
March 10, 2020

“Remembering Betty” (Isaiah 43:1-3a, 25; Hebrews 10:11-25; Luke 23:33, 39-43)

You know, it’s funny, sometimes, what we remember–and what we don’t remember. Oftentimes that’s the case with how we remember someone who has recently died. We tend to focus on that person only as they were in their last few months or their last couple of years. Take, for example, our dear friend and sister, Betty. What’s most recent in our memory of her is how she was in declining health these last few years, especially the last few months. We think about how her memory was going, and so on. But there’s so much more to remember about Betty than that.

How do we remember Betty here at St. Matthew’s? I remember when I first met her, oh, probably about twelve years ago. She was not a member of our church at that time, but one of our members had talked to her, and recommended St. Matthew’s. So I had the opportunity to go visit Betty when she was living over here on Benham Street. I found out that Betty had been a Lutheran, having been confirmed many years ago in St. Louis, but she had been away from church for a long time. So I then proceeded to re-catechize Betty over the next few weeks, and soon she became a member of our congregation.

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Published in: on March 10, 2020 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Purification of Mary, the Presentation of Our Lord, and the Consolation of God’s People” (Luke 2:22-40)

The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord
Sunday, February 2, 2020

“The Purification of Mary, the Presentation of Our Lord, and the Consolation of God’s People” (Luke 2:22-40)

For most Americans, today is being called either “Groundhog Day” or “Super Bowl Sunday.” But for us in the church, we observe this day, February 2, for two events that are much more significant, namely, “The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord.” And that in turn will lead us to celebrate something that results from this day, and that is, the consolation of God’s people. Thus our theme this morning: “The Purification of Mary, the Presentation of Our Lord, and the Consolation of God’s People.”

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“Increasing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 5, 2020

“Increasing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

When Jesus was an infant, he was presented in the temple at 40 days old. From that point on, we know nothing of the life of Jesus, until he began his public ministry at the age of 30–except for two incidents: One is the visit of the wise men and the flight to Egypt, when Jesus was less than two. The only other incident we have from Jesus’ childhood is when he was twelve. It’s the Gospel reading you just heard, the story usually called “The Boy Jesus in the Temple.”

It’s the story of when Joseph and Mary took twelve-year-old Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem, and then they couldn’t find him, because he stayed behind after they left. When they come back and do find him, his mother says, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And Jesus answers, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And, it says, “they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.” Others since then have not understood his response, either. They think he’s talking back to his parents. They would call this story “Jesus the Sassy Tween” or “Jesus the Little Wiseacre,” talking back to his parents like that.

But Jesus was not being a wiseacre! Far from it! Indeed, he was being truly wise, displaying divine wisdom both in his time at the temple and in his reply to his parents. Jesus did nothing wrong by staying behind in what he rightly called “my Father’s house.” That was where he belonged at that time. And Jesus did nothing wrong, either, in his reply to Mary and Joseph. In God’s wisdom, Jesus was where he had to be at that particular time, as part of his mission.

And that was what Mary and Joseph needed to learn: that their son had a higher calling, a divine, heaven-sent mission. Jesus was “theirs” only on loan. He first of all had to be about his heavenly Father’s business, a business that would eventually take him away from them. That Jesus had to be about his Father’s business ultimately would be for their eternal good. For by doing so he would be with them in a much greater way–forever, just as he is with us. Twelve-year-old Jesus was not being a wiseacre. No, he was displaying true wisdom. And as Mary and Joseph learned more about him, they increased in their understanding, as will we. And so our theme this morning: “Increasing in Wisdom.”

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Published in: on January 4, 2020 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Christmas Carols Come Alive!” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Tuesday, December 24, 2019

“Christmas Carols Come Alive!” (Luke 2:1-20)

Christmas carols are, obviously, very popular at this time of year. You hear them all over the radio these days–although that will probably stop after tomorrow. These secular radio stations start playing Christmas music back around November 1, and they stop right when the church begins the twelve days of the real Christmas season. But these stations wouldn’t be playing Christmas music unless lots of people liked to tune in and listen. The joy and warmth of the holiday season comes through when Christmas carols are played. What’s even greater, though, is when Christmas carols come alive. That’s our theme tonight, on this joyous Christmas Eve: “Christmas Carols Come Alive!”

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Published in: on December 24, 2019 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near” (Luke 21:5-28)

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
November 17, 2019

“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near” (Luke 21:5-28)

“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near,” we just sang. Which day? The day “when Jesus, God’s anointed, in all His power shall appear as judge whom God appointed.” It’s the day when, as we confess in the Creed, Christ “will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.” This is a common theme in November. We’re approaching the end of the church year, and so our readings and our hymns emphasize the end times.

“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near.” Friends, we are living in the end times, the last days leading up to the Last Day, the great and glorious day of our Lord’s return. What will things be like as that day draws near? How should we react, knowing that the end is approaching?

Jesus forewarns us and forearms us for life in these end times. He does that in today’s Gospel reading. He forewarns us and forearms us for our life as his church, living in a hostile world full of conflict and distress. Jesus tells us what things will characterize this age. He wants us to know what we’re in for, so we can go forward with our eyes open. Jesus tells us how his church should live, knowing that the end is approaching. “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near.”

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Published in: on November 16, 2019 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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