“Stay Awake!” (Mark 13:24-37)

Last Sunday of the Church Year
November 25, 2018

“Stay Awake!” (Mark 13:24-37)

“Stay awake!” No, this is not just the plea of a preacher for his parishioners to keep their eyes open for the next fifteen minutes, while they’re still recovering from their tryptophan food coma from turkey on Thursday. Well, actually, I do want you to stay awake and listen to this sermon, not because it’s Henrickson speaking, but because it’s Christ’s servant delivering God’s word to you, as he is charged to do. Therefore you ought to listen and take God’s word to heart.

“Stay awake!” And not just for the next fifteen minutes, but really for the rest of your life. For that’s how Jesus would have us live, awake and alert and looking eagerly and expectantly for his coming. For Christ is coming again, and we need to be ready, because we don’t know when that will be. We do know that it will be. We just don’t know when. So our Lord tells us today, “Stay Awake!”

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Published in: on November 23, 2018 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Widow’s Might” (Mark 12:38-44)

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
November 11, 2018

“The Widow’s Might” (Mark 12:38-44)

Our text today is the story known as “The Widow’s Mite.” It’s the story of a poor widow who goes to the temple and puts into the offering box two “small copper coins,” as our translation has it. But the King James Version had as the equivalent for “small copper coins” the old English word “mites.” “She threw in two mites, which make a farthing,” the King James says. Thus the familiar title for this story, “The Widow’s Mite,” m-i-t-e.

But today I want to talk to you more about “The Widow’s Might,” m-i-g-h-t. For this story tells us much about the widow’s might, her strength, her source of power to do what she did. Where did she find such might, such courage, to sacrifice even her last two coins? And where will we find that kind of might in our day, in our lives? That’s what we want to find out.

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Published in: on November 10, 2018 at 4:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“An Idolatry of Works and Wealth, and the One Thing Lacking” (Mark 10:17-22)

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
October 14, 2018

“An Idolatry of Works and Wealth, and the One Thing Lacking” (Mark 10:17-22)

In today’s Gospel we meet a man who ran up to Jesus with great eagerness. At the end, though, he went away with great sadness. What happened in between? Our text today is the story of what this man had and what he didn’t have. What he had was an idol. Actually, it was a twofold idolatry. And what he didn’t have was one essential thing. So now let’s find out what his idolatry was and what the one thing he lacked was. And as we do, we may just recognize ourselves in this story and, by God’s grace, go away today not sorrowful but joyful. And so our theme this morning: “An Idolatry of Works and Wealth, and the One Thing Lacking.”

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Published in: on October 13, 2018 at 8:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Word Is Very Near You” (Deuteronomy 30:11-30; Genesis 2:18-25; Mark 10:2-16)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 7, 2018

“The Word Is Very Near You” (Deuteronomy 30:11-30; Genesis 2:18-25; Mark 10:2-16)

In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses is having a review session with the people of Israel. They’re about to enter the promised land of Canaan, and Moses has some things he wants to go over with them. That’s the Book of Deuteronomy in a nutshell. Moses reviews all that the Lord has done to bring them to this point. How he had brought them out of Egypt, out of their bondage there. How he had provided for them during their wilderness journey, in spite of their grumbling and unfaithfulness. And Moses especially goes over how the Lord had made a covenant with them at Sinai, giving them the Torah, the Law, a way of life that would mark them out as being God’s holy people. The Lord gave them his law as a blessing. It truly is the best way for his people to live. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That pretty much sums it up.

The Lord gave Israel his law in the form of the Ten Commandments. Moses got them straight from the Lord on Mount Sinai and brought them down to the people. He had gone over these things with Israel time and again. And he told them to pass these words on to their children, to talk about them when they get up in morning and walk along the road and go to bed at night.

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Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From Selfish Ambition to Humble Service” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 23, 2018

“From Selfish Ambition to Humble Service” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

In this long green season of the church year, the non-festival half of the year, the Epistle reading is not chosen to go along with the theme of the Holy Gospel, as it is in the festival half of the year. Instead, it’s just a straight reading-through of a particular epistle. Thus any correlation between the Epistle and Gospel is merely a coincidence. Well, we have such a coincidence today. The Epistle reading from James and the Gospel reading from Mark do have a common theme. It’s the theme of Christians, disciples of Jesus, being called to move “From Selfish Ambition to Humble Service.”

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Published in: on September 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus’ Sign Language” (Mark 7:31-37)

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 9, 2018

“Jesus’ Sign Language” (Mark 7:31-37)

How do you speak to a deaf man? With sign language, of course. You make the appropriate gestures and actions to communicate the message you want to convey. And that is what Jesus does to communicate with a deaf man who is brought to him. He uses sign language, of sorts, to get his message across. But in so doing, and then in actually healing the man, Jesus is also using sign language to send a message to us. And so now let’s read “Jesus’ Sign Language.”

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Published in: on September 8, 2018 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Windstorm on the Lake” (Mark 6:45-56)

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
July 29, 2018

“A Windstorm on the Lake” (Mark 6:45-56)

It’s a peaceful evening, and you get into the boat, along with a bunch of other people. You start out across the lake, and everything is going fine. Then suddenly a strong wind whips up from out of nowhere, and everything changes. The windstorm is whipping up the waves, and the boat is really struggling to make any progress. In fact, the situation is becoming downright dangerous. The wind is against you. The boat is in serious danger of sinking and taking everyone down with it. Will you make it to shore? It doesn’t look like it.

What am I talking about? Of course this describes the terrible tragedy that happened to those poor folks in the duck boat down at Table Rock Lake in Branson a week and a half ago. But it also fits what was happening to the twelve disciples in the boat, as we heard in our text just a few moments ago. They too were facing the very real danger of “A Windstorm on the Lake.”

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Published in: on July 28, 2018 at 7:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Daughters Delivered from Death and Disease” (Mark 5:21-43)

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 1, 2018

“Daughters Delivered from Death and Disease” (Mark 5:21-43)

Our text today is the Holy Gospel from Mark 5, the account of Jesus healing the woman with the flow of blood and raising Jairus’s daughter from the dead. Today we will look at this text under the theme, “Daughters Delivered from Death and Disease.”

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Published in: on June 30, 2018 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“How Does Your Garden Grow?” (Mark 4:26-34)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 17, 2018

“How Does Your Garden Grow?” (Mark 4:26-34)

It’s June, and everything is green. We’re in the growing season, and everywhere you look, you see the signs of growth. It’s green all around.

Oh wait, you thought I was talking about outside! No, I’m talking about in here, in the church! It’s growing season now, and everything is green. Look at the green paraments on the altar, on the lectern and the pulpit, and the green banners on the wall. Green is the color of growth, and it’s the primary color for this “Season after Pentecost.” This non-festival half of the church year is called “The Time of the Church” or “ordinary time,” because it doesn’t have any big festivals in it, like Christmas or Easter or Pentecost. It’s just a time for long, steady growth–growth in Christian faith, growth in the life of discipleship, growth as individuals and growth as the church. That’s why this season is sometimes called the long “green meadow.”

The Gospel readings during this season often consist of Jesus teaching about life as his disciples, life in the kingdom of God. Today’s lesson is a good example. And appropriately enough, it’s a parable about how things grow. Jesus uses the imagery of a seed being sown and producing growth. This is a common theme in his teachings, because the imagery works so well. Everyone around the world understands the phenomenon of things growing, of life being produced and sustained. Well, I say we all “understand” it, but maybe I should say we all have seen it. I don’t know if anyone fully understands how the growth of plants takes place. We may have seen a big, beautiful plant coming from the sowing of a small, insignificant seed. But who actually understands how that miracle takes place? And that’s one of the points Jesus makes today in his parable. It’s about the mysterious, miraculous power of a seed to grow.

So today I want to ask you a question: How does your garden grow? How does your life as a disciple of Jesus grow? And how does our life together as Christ’s church grow? Thus our theme this morning: “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

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Published in: on June 16, 2018 at 6:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“He Is Risen: No Fooling!” (Mark 16:1-8)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, April 1, 2018

“He Is Risen: No Fooling!” (Mark 16:1-8)

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

Yes, it’s true! This is no April Fools’ joke. Jesus really is risen from the dead! Just like he said he would. Just like the angel said he had. But who believed this? Do you believe this? This is no joke. This is the most serious–and yet at the same time, the most joyous–fact in the history of the world. And it is the most important reality for you, when I say, “He Is Risen: No Fooling!”

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Published in: on March 31, 2018 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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