“Finding Jesus: A Joyous Epiphany” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Sunday, January 6, 2019

“Finding Jesus: A Joyous Epiphany” (Matthew 2:1-12)

Today is January 6, and that means today is Epiphany. The Epiphany of Our Lord is a major festival in the church year, a big one, almost on a par with Christmas. And, like Christmas, Epiphany is a fixed-date festival, meaning it always falls on the same date, regardless of the day of the week. So most years we celebrate Epiphany with a special service on a day other than Sunday, and we have to make a special effort to get here. But this year January 6 happens to fall on a Sunday, when we’re here anyway. Most years we have our Epiphany service in the dark, and the weather might be bad. This year we’re here in the daylight, and the weather is no problem. All of which makes our Epiphany service this year very easy and convenient.

But that’s not the way it was for the first Epiphany service! It was by no means easy or convenient. The worshipers at the very first Epiphany service had to travel an extremely long way to get there. Plus, they didn’t even know exactly where the service would be until they got there! And to get there, they had to cross paths with a very dangerous and deceitful man. Then there was the offering they gave at the service–talk about costly! Well, even with all those obstacles, the first Epiphany worshipers still thought it was worth the effort. In fact, they were overjoyed! And so are we. Thus our theme today: “Finding Jesus: A Joyous Epiphany.”

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Published in: on January 5, 2019 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Who Is the Real Jesus?” (Matthew 16:13-23)

Midweek Lenten Vespers
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

“Who Is the Real Jesus?” (Matthew 16:13-23)

In Bible class on Sunday mornings, we just started a study based on the book, “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?” In this book, the author discusses twelve false christs that are popular in our culture today, but all of which miss the mark. These twelve redefinings of Christ are Jesus as: The Mascot; One Option among Many; The Good Teacher; The Therapist; The Giver of Bling; The National Patriot; The Social Justice Warrior; The Moral Example; The New Moses; The Mystical Friend; The Feminized Jesus; and The Teddy Bear. I encourage you to come to this Bible class, because I guarantee you, you are going to meet people in your circle of relationships who hold one or more of these false views. In fact, you may have held some of these views yourself. So a study like this can help you to be a better witness for Christ in your personal life and may help straighten out your own thinking about who the real Jesus is.

“Who Is the Real Jesus?” This is the theme for our midweek Lenten services this year, as we pick up on some of the ideas from the book. We want to ask: How does the real Jesus contrast with some of the false christs current in our culture? And so we begin tonight with that fundamental question: “Who Is the Real Jesus?”

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Published in: on February 28, 2018 at 4:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“What Epiphany Tells Us about Worship” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Saturday, January 6, 2018

“What Epiphany Tells Us about Worship” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Festival of the Epiphany of Our Lord always falls on January 6, regardless of the day of the week. In that respect, it’s like Christmas, which always falls on December 25. Both are what are called “fixed-date festivals.” And so right after the twelve days of Christmas comes Epiphany. This year Epiphany, January 6, falls on a Saturday, and that’s why we’re here today.

Epiphany has long been part of the church’s worship. In the early church, Epiphany was observed perhaps even more than Christmas. This was because, while at Christmas Christ was revealed to the Jews, at Epiphany Christ was revealed to the Gentiles, and the church rapidly included more Gentiles than Jews. At Christmas, remember, the angels said to the shepherds, who were Jews, “I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people,” meaning, the Jewish people. But at Epiphany, that good news of great joy was extended to the Gentiles, to non-Jews–in this case, to the wise men, the Magi. And so Epiphany is often referred to as the “Gentile Christmas,” when Christ was first made known to the nations outside of Israel.

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Published in: on January 6, 2018 at 6:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Sheep and the Goats” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Last Sunday of the Church Year
November 26, 2017

“The Sheep and the Goats” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Are you a sheep or a goat? You will be one or the other, you know. When? When Christ comes again. Listen again to today’s Gospel reading: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.” Dear friends, you and I will be there when this happens, either among the sheep or among the goats. So it’s important that we listen today and learn about “The Sheep and the Goats.”

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Published in: on November 25, 2017 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Faithful Stewards of Our Master’s Talents” (Matthew 25:14-30)

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
November 19, 2017

“Faithful Stewards of Our Master’s Talents” (Matthew 25:14-30)

Our text is the Holy Gospel for today, from Matthew 25. It’s the story known as the Parable of the Talents. A master gives his servants talents, varying amounts of money, to manage on his behalf. When he comes back, we see what they have done with those talents and what the master says to them about their stewardship.

This parable has real application to us, for you and I have been gifted by God with varying talents and abilities, as well as money, to be used faithfully for God’s purposes. You and I are stewards, entrusted with what our master has given us. Talents on loan from God, we might say. So how are we using what we’ve been given? Faithfully, or not so much? And so our theme this morning: “Faithful Stewards of Our Master’s Talents.”

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Published in: on November 18, 2017 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Render to Caesar, Render to God” (Matthew 22:15-22)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 22, 2017

“Render to Caesar, Render to God” (Matthew 22:15-22)

Our text today is the Holy Gospel from Matthew 22, the passage that includes the famous saying, “Render unto Caesar.” But as we’ll find out, that is only half of the verse. The other half is about rendering unto God, and really that is the main point of the passage. So today our theme: “Render to Caesar, Render to God.”

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Published in: on October 22, 2017 at 12:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant” (Matthew 18:21-35)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 17, 2017

“The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant” (Matthew 18:21-35)

Forgiveness doesn’t count. Oh, don’t get me wrong! I don’t mean that it doesn’t matter of that it’s not important. By no means. No, forgiveness counts for a lot in that respect. In fact, it’s everything. We’d be lost without forgiveness. But when I say, Forgiveness doesn’t count, I mean it in the way that Jesus teaches it, which is to say, forgiveness doesn’t keep score. Forgiveness doesn’t count. It doesn’t keep score or keep track of how many times it has to forgive or how much sin it has to have mercy on. That’s the way it is with God toward us, and that’s the way it is with us toward one another. God forgives us, freely, fully, completely. Therefore we are to forgive one another in the same way: freely, fully, completely, not counting or keeping score or keeping track. That’s the connection Jesus draws for us today in “The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.”

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Published in: on September 17, 2017 at 12:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Dealing Drastically with Sin” (Matthew 18:1-20)

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 10, 2017

“Dealing Drastically with Sin” (Matthew 18:1-20)

How seriously do we take the matter of sin? Our own sin? The sin of others? I think that is the theme running through the teachings of Jesus today in the Holy Gospel from Matthew 18: the seriousness of sin and our need to treat it as such. And so our message this morning: “Dealing Drastically with Sin.”

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Published in: on September 8, 2017 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Who Is This Man?” (Matthew 16:13-20)

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
August 27, 2017

“Who Is This Man?” (Matthew 16:13-20)

“Who is this man?” Who is this man Jesus? This is the most important question that has ever been asked. How will you answer it?

The question comes up in the Holy Gospel for today, from Matthew 16. Our text begins: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’”

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Published in: on August 26, 2017 at 11:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus and the Canaanite Woman” (Matthew 15:21-28)

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
August 20, 2017

“Jesus and the Canaanite Woman” (Matthew 15:21-28)

What kind of faith do you have, in what kind of God? That is the question that our text today will help us to answer. For what we will see in our text is this: What kind of faith? A persevering faith. In what kind of God? In a merciful Lord. Persevering faith in a merciful Lord–that is the story of “Jesus and the Canaanite Woman.”

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Published in: on August 20, 2017 at 2:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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