“Wisdom from Above: Humble Yourself, Serve Others” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 19, 2021

“Wisdom from Above: Humble Yourself, Serve Others” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

In the Epistle for today, St. James asks, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” Well, I suppose all of us would like to be considered wise and understanding. To have people compliment us on how smart we are and what good decisions we make. And in the Gospel reading for today, Jesus says, “If anyone would be first.” Well, I suppose all of us would like to be first. We like it when we’re in the top spot. To be wise, to be first, to be great–we like it when we achieve those things and are recognized for it.

The only problem is, that’s not the way it goes in God’s kingdom. If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be the servant of all. That’s counter-intuitive to the ways of this world, where people are pumped up with loads and loads of self-esteem. But in the kingdom of God, lowliness goes along with holiness. Humility and meekness are the virtues that are praised and prized. We’ll see that now from both James and Jesus, under the theme, “Wisdom from Above: Humble Yourself, Serve Others.”

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Published in: on September 18, 2021 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus Speaks His ‘Ephphatha’ to Us” (Mark 7:31-37)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 5, 2021

“Jesus Speaks His ‘Ephphatha’ to Us” (Mark 7:31-37)

In the Holy Gospel for today from Mark 7, people bring to Jesus a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. Jesus says to him, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened.” And, sure enough, the man’s ears are opened, his tongue is loosed, and he speaks plainly.

Now what you’ll often get in sermons based on this text is something like this: “Friends, our ears are deaf to God’s Word, and our tongues fail to speak plainly the good news to our neighbors. We need Jesus to speak his ‘Ephphatha’ to us and open our ears and loose our tongues.” In other words, the preacher just spiritualizes the text and basically ignores the physical healing.

We ought not to do that. The physical healing itself is important. Oh, we can get to a spiritual application also, but we shouldn’t skip over the actual healing of the man’s hearing and speaking. And we won’t. Today we’ll see how Jesus heals us both physically and spiritually, under the theme: “Jesus Speaks His ‘Ephphatha’ to Us.”

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Published in: on September 4, 2021 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Great Storm, a Great Calm, a Great Fear” (Mark 4:35-41)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 20, 2021

“A Great Storm, a Great Calm, a Great Fear” (Mark 4:35-41)

Our text is the Holy Gospel for today, from Mark 4, the story of Jesus stilling a storm. It’s only seven verses long, but this story will take us from a great storm to a great calm to–perhaps surprisingly–a great fear. So let’s get in the boat now with Jesus and his disciples, under the theme, “A Great Storm, a Great Calm, a Great Fear.”

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Published in: on June 19, 2021 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Binding the Strong Man, Plundering His House” (Mark 3:20-35)

Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 6, 2021

“Binding the Strong Man, Plundering His House” (Mark 3:20-35)

When you were baptized, what did you get? Yeah, you got wet, sure. You had water poured on your head. But I mean, when you were baptized, what did you get, in the sense of what did you acquire? I’ll tell you what you acquired: You got an enemy for life. Did you know that? That when you were baptized, you gained a strong and powerful enemy who’s out to get you! You did! And his name is Satan, the devil. He is the “old evil foe” who “now means deadly woe.” He is your arch-enemy. He wants to destroy your faith, destroy you, and take you down to hell with him. And he is very strong.

Satan. The devil. We minimize his threat at our peril. But the Bible certainly does not. And Jesus does not dismiss the reality of Satan and the damage that he does to people. Jesus compares Satan to a “strong man” who has a bunch of goods stored in his house that he doesn’t want to let go of. Satan is strong; he’s hard to overcome. But the good news is that there is someone stronger, someone able to overcome the strong man. And his name is Jesus. For Jesus came “Binding the Strong Man, Plundering His House.”

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Published in: on June 5, 2021 at 12:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Who Will Roll Away the Stone for Us?” (Mark 16:1-8)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, April 4, 2021

“Who Will Roll Away the Stone for Us?” (Mark 16:1-8)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

That is our joyful shout on this glorious Easter morning. But that was certainly not the thought of the women on the first Easter morning, as they were heading out to the tomb. No, what they were thinking was this: “Who Will Roll Away the Stone for Us?”

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Published in: on April 3, 2021 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Follow Me’: The Crown of Discipleship” (Mark 10:17-22)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

“‘Follow Me’: The Crown of Discipleship” (Mark 10:17-22)

Today we conclude our series on the “Follow Me” sayings of Jesus in Gospel of Mark. Last week we took up “The Cross of Discipleship.” Today our theme is “The Crown of Discipleship.” And that’s a good order to go, because there is no crown without the cross, and there is no cross we endure that will not be far outweighed by the crown we will receive. And both the cross and the crown come as we follow Jesus.

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Published in: on March 24, 2021 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Great Servant” (Mark 10:35-45)

Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 21, 2021

“Great Servant” (Mark 10:35-45)

Are you familiar with what an oxymoron is? An oxymoron is when you put two words together that seem to contradict each other. The two ideas don’t belong together. The classic example is “jumbo shrimp.” Another would be “plastic silverware.” Or “civil war.” Well, today in our text we have two concepts put together that don’t seem to fit. It’s the idea of being “great,” placed side by side with the idea of being a “servant.” Those two thoughts would seem to cancel each other out. But not the way Jesus tells it. And not the way Jesus demonstrates it. For he is the ultimate “Great Servant.”

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Published in: on March 20, 2021 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Follow Me’: The Cross of Discipleship” (Mark 8:34-35)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, March 17, 2021

“‘Follow Me’: The Cross of Discipleship” (Mark 8:34-35)

“Take up your cross and follow me.” Today in our series on discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, we take up the cross. We take it up, not just as a topic for a sermon, but we take it up as a way of life. Because in our text, Jesus tells us what being his disciple will be like: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” And so our theme today, “‘Follow Me’: The Cross of Discipleship.”

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Published in: on March 17, 2021 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Follow Me’: The Candidates for Discipleship” (Mark 2:13-17)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, March 10, 2021

“‘Follow Me’: The Candidates for Discipleship” (Mark 2:13-17)

We just came out of an election year, in which we had to make choices among all sorts of various candidates. There were many candidates running for many different offices, at local, state, and federal levels. And in the campaign ads, each candidate would tout his or her qualifications for the position they were seeking. Because a candidate for office ought to have certain qualifications.

But how does that work when we’re dealing with qualifications for being disciples of Jesus? What qualifications do candidates for discipleship need–what do you need–in order to follow Jesus and learn from him? Well, there’s one essential qualification you must have, and today we’ll find out what it is.

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Published in: on March 10, 2021 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Follow Me’: The Call to Discipleship” (Mark 1:14-20)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, February 24, 2021

“‘Follow Me’: The Call to Discipleship” (Mark 1:14-20)

Today we begin a series of four messages based on the four “Follow me” sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. “Follow me”: In saying those words, Jesus was calling people back then to be his disciples. “Follow me”: Jesus is still saying those words to us today. He is calling us to be his disciples. So hear him now, as Jesus says to each one of us: “Follow Me.”

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Published in: on February 24, 2021 at 10:44 pm  Comments (1)  
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