“Lord, Save Me!” (Matthew 14:22-33)

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 9, 2020

“Lord, Save Me!” (Matthew 14:22-33)

Who is this Jesus fellow? That is the central question in all four of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Who is this Jesus? As we read the gospels, we are discovering the same thing the disciples were learning: that there is something very special about this man named Jesus. And so it is, again today, in our reading from the Gospel of Matthew. The disciples are learning more about Jesus, and so are we. And knowing who Jesus is, knowing who he is for us–not only that he is God’s Son, with all divine power and authority, but also that he uses his authority to save us–knowing Jesus in this way, so that you will trust in him for your salvation, this is the most important thing in the whole world that you need to know.

We pick it up today in Matthew 14 right where we left off last week. Jesus has just done the feeding of the five thousand, not far from the Sea of Galilee. It’s been a long day, exhausting, and now Jesus wants some alone time, when he can pray in private. So he sends the disciples on ahead in the boat, while he stays behind. He’ll catch up with them later. And boy, howdy, will he!

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Published in: on August 8, 2020 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Masks of God” (Matthew 14:13-21)

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
August 2, 2020

“Masks of God” (Matthew 14:13-21)

The other day I went to the grocery store, and of course when I went in, I put on a mask. The other shoppers were wearing masks, the store’s workers were wearing masks, the cashiers–everybody was wearing a mask. Well, I had just paid for my groceries and was finishing loading my cart, when I heard the cashier greet the lady behind me. It was obvious he knew who she was, but at first she did not know who he was. She said, “Oh, I didn’t recognize you behind your mask.” And I thought to myself, “Thank you! You have just given me the introduction for my sermon this Sunday!”

“Oh, I didn’t recognize you behind your mask.” You know, I think that’s often what we ought to be saying to God: “I didn’t recognize you behind your mask.” Because that’s how God operates to provide for us and care for us, and we don’t recognize that he is the one blessing us. Behind a mask, so to speak. In other words, God blesses us through other people he puts in our lives. God uses those people to be the channels of his blessings toward us, but he ultimately is the source of those blessings.

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Published in: on August 1, 2020 at 9:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Not Peace, but a Sword” (Matthew 10:34-42)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 28, 2020

“Not Peace, but a Sword” (Matthew 10:34-42)

You are in a battle. It is a battle every Christian is called upon to fight, from the time we are baptized till the day we die. There is no opting out. You are engaged in this battle whether you realize it or not. So the thing to do is to fight it well. And that means we need help. For on our own we would not be strong enough to prevail.

What is this battle? The one I’m referring to today is a battle from without, that is, from the world attacking us Christians. Oh, there is also a battle from within, namely, our own sinful flesh fighting against the new persons we are in Christ. Both of these battles, the conflict from without and the conflict from within, are inescapable for every single Christian.

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Published in: on June 28, 2020 at 1:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Fear Not, for Your Father Cares for You” (Matthew 10:5a, 21-33)

Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 21, 2020

“Fear Not, for Your Father Cares for You” (Matthew 10:5a, 21-33)

In many of the Gospel readings during this time of the church year–as is the case in today’s reading–Jesus teaches his followers about the life of discipleship that we Christians are called to live. And this is not an easy life, this life of following Christ. For one thing, the world will be against us. And so, many of the Gospel readings this summer will describe the opposition we will get from the unbelieving world. And that opposition can be brutal, even deadly. But the amazing thing is, even though Jesus knows that people will treat us this way–indeed, he tells us they will treat us this way–even so, he tells us to fear not.

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Published in: on June 20, 2020 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus Extends His Compassionate Authority” (Matthew 9:35 – 10:8)

Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 14, 2020

“Jesus Extends His Compassionate Authority” (Matthew 9:35 – 10:8)

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” So we heard in the Holy Gospel for today from Matthew. And that particular verse, Matthew 9:35, sounds an awful lot like a verse from five chapters earlier, Matthew 4:23, where it says: “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” Those two verses are almost verbatim the same. What the writer, Matthew, is doing is framing this major section of his gospel, in which he recounts the early ministry of Jesus in Galilee. In this section, he shows Jesus doing these several activities: “teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”

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Published in: on June 13, 2020 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The God of New Beginnings” (Genesis 1; Acts 2; Matthew 28)

The Holy Trinity
Sunday, June 7, 2020

“The God of New Beginnings” (Genesis 1; Acts 2; Matthew 28)

Today is Trinity Sunday. It is on this day every year that we call special attention to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This teaching is true every day of the year, of course, but on this particular Sunday, we call special attention to it. The Scripture readings for today bring out the nature of God as being triune, that is, one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The hymns we sing on this day are trinitarian in their content. And Trinity Sunday is the one day of the year when we read out loud the Athanasian Creed, the creed that goes into the most depth and detail on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

Now when I say “doctrine,” maybe some of you, your eyes glaze over. You think of “doctrine” as “boring” or “academic” or “unrelated to life.” But no, that is not so! The word “doctrine” simply means “teaching,” and what the Bible teaches about God is anything but boring! And while Christian doctrine can be taught and studied in an academic manner–and there is great value in that–that does not mean it is “unrelated to life”! Indeed, doctrine is life! What God’s Word teaches us gives us life! God’s Word guides our life, and guides us all the way into eternal life, life with God, life forever.

And then when we talk about the doctrine of “the Holy Trinity,” again, our eyes may glaze over. How can we understand this great mystery, that there is only one God, yet there are three distinct persons in this one God? How can this be? We have trouble wrapping our heads around it. Our little brains can’t comprehend it. The circuits start to fry out.

Well, today you don’t have to figure everything out. Instead, I want you to relax and just take it in, who this God is whom we worship and adore, who God is, and especially, who he is for you. Today I want you to know God, more than just to know about God. Because today in his Word, God reveals himself to us. He shows himself to be “The God of New Beginnings.” And we could all use that.

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Published in: on June 6, 2020 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Alleluia! Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!” (Matthew 28:1-10)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
April 12, 2020

“Alleluia! Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!” (Matthew 28:1-10)

“Alleluia! Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

“He is risen indeed!” Over many centuries, this is how the church has joyfully responded to the great Easter proclamation. Why such an exuberant response? Because of the glorious good news that precedes it, the news that Christ is risen. This good news of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ brings reassurance and restoration to troubled, weary hearts. His resurrection calls forth our joyous response. On this Easter Day, then, on this most glorious of mornings, the whole church in heaven and the church on earth–all across the earth–hears the good news, “Christ is risen,” and we rejoice to respond, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

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Published in: on April 11, 2020 at 9:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Hand-Washing Won’t Do–Blood Is Needed” (Matthew 27:11-50)

Good Friday
April 10, 2020

“Hand-Washing Won’t Do–Blood Is Needed” (Matthew 27:11-50)

Right now in the news we’re hearing about governors making life-or-death decisions. Should we be open? Should we be closed? How far can I go to protect people’s health? What about the loss of freedom? What about the loss of jobs? Governors are feeling pressure from all sides to make a decision one way or the other. And these decisions do affect people’s lives and their livelihood.

No governor has ever made a more momentous life-or-death decision than the one we read about in today’s text, on this Good Friday. And that governor was Pontius Pilate. He had to make a life-or-death decision about one man who was brought before him, Jesus of Nazareth. How did Pontius Pilate do on this decision? Let’s find out. And let’s find out what this means for us.

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Published in: on April 10, 2020 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Apostolic Witness and the Prophetic Word” (2 Peter 1:16-21)

The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Sunday, February 23, 2020

“The Apostolic Witness and the Prophetic Word” (2 Peter 1:16-21)

“Cleverly devised myths.” That’s what we Christians are accused of believing. All that stuff about Jesus Christ being the Son of God and the only Savior of the world? “Just a bunch of fables, fairy tales, myths.”

But then this is nothing new. Even back in the first century, Christians were ridiculed for believing the same thing. People said they were falling for a bunch of poppycock, fables and fairy tales. St. Peter refers to this in our epistle for today when he writes, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And to counter that false accusation, Peter then cites two testimonies that support the message about Christ. They are the eyewitness testimony of the apostles and the Spirit-inspired testimony of the prophets in Holy Scripture. The Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles–these give us a firm foundation for our faith. They assure us that we are not following just some “cleverly devised myths.” And so our theme this morning: “The Apostolic Witness and the Prophetic Word.”

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Published in: on February 22, 2020 at 11:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Better Righteousness” (Matthew 5:21-37)

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 16, 2020

“A Better Righteousness” (Matthew 5:21-37)

Every week at the end of the Holy Gospel reading, I say, “This is the Gospel of the Lord.” Well, today at the end of the Holy Gospel reading, when I said, “This is the Gospel of the Lord,” I wanted to answer back and shout out, “No, it isn’t! This is not the Gospel of the Lord! This is all Law!” And indeed it is. Jesus is laying on the Law mighty thick. But he’s doing it for a good reason. He wants to strip away our self-righteousness, so that we will be ready to hear the good news of a better kind of righteousness than we can come up with on our own. And so our theme this morning: “A Better Righteousness.”

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Published in: on February 16, 2020 at 1:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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