“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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“See the Light, Be the Light” (Matthew 5:13-20)

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 9, 2020

“See the Light, Be the Light” (Matthew 5:13-20)

Two weeks ago, during this Epiphany season, the Gospel reading was from Matthew 4, and it included this verse: “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” The great light that they saw, the light that had dawned on them, was Jesus, as he began his ministry of preaching, teaching, healing, and gathering disciples. Jesus Christ is the light that shines in the darkness. As he himself would later say, “I am the light of the world.”

Now today we move from Matthew 4 to Matthew 5. And in our Gospel reading today, Jesus says to his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” So, which is it? Is Jesus the light of the world or are we, his disciples, the light of the world? The answer of course is “Yes. Both.” Jesus is the light of the world. And we, his followers, are the light of the world, also. But each in the proper order. First and foremost, Jesus himself is the light. And then secondarily, we are the light of the world. And so our theme this morning: “See the Light, Be the Light.”

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Published in: on February 8, 2020 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Walking in the Light Together” (Matthew 4:12-25)

Third Sunday after the Epiphany
January 26, 2020

“Walking in the Light Together” (Matthew 4:12-25)

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” So Isaiah prophesied, some seven hundred years before Christ. Then when Christ came on the scene and began his ministry, that prophecy was fulfilled, as Matthew records: “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

Who were those people on whom the light dawned? Certainly, it was those people in Galilee who witnessed Christ’s ministry, his healings and his preaching and his teaching. With Christ shining forth in his words and his works, the light was surely shining on them. But they’re not the only ones. For the light of Christ is surely shining on us, as well. Now today we want to find out what that means for us in our lives as Christians and in our life together as church. And so our theme this morning: “Walking in the Light Together.”

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Published in: on January 25, 2020 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Baptized with Sinners, Anointed for Service, Manifested as God’s Son” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Th Baptism of Our Lord
Sunday, January 12, 2020

“Baptized with Sinners, Anointed for Service, Manifested as God’s Son” (Matthew 3:13-17)

On this first Sunday after the Epiphany, the Gospel reading every year is the account of the Baptism of Our Lord. That was the great event when our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The heavens were opened. The Spirit of God descended on Jesus like a dove. And the Father’s voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Today I want to say three things about this event, three things on which your very salvation depends: 1) In his baptism, Jesus was baptized with sinners. 2) In his baptism, Jesus was anointed for service. And 3) In his baptism, Jesus was manifested as God’s Son. “Baptized with Sinners, Anointed for Service, Manifested as God’s Son.”

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Published in: on January 10, 2020 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Worship of the Wise Men” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Monday, January 6, 2020

“The Worship of the Wise Men” (Matthew 2:1-12)

Today is the Epiphany of Our Lord. It is a major festival of the church year, and it always falls on January 6–much like Christmas always falls on December 25, regardless of the day of the week. Epiphany likewise is a fixed-date festival, and that’s why we’re here today. Actually, we’re here today not merely out of strict adherence to an ancient tradition–although there’s something to be said for sticking to ancient traditions unless and until you have a good reason not to. No, we are here today because God wants to bless us today with his gifts of Word and Sacrament. We are here today because Jesus is here, and we have come to worship him.

“We have come to worship him.” That’s what the wise men said when went in search of the one who was born king of the Jews. “We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Well, we heard that Jesus would be here today at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, and so we too have come to worship him. You know, there’s a lot that our worship has in common with the worship of the wise men, so let’s explore that now, under the theme: “The Worship of the Wise Men.”

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Published in: on January 5, 2020 at 11:51 pm  Comments (1)  
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“The One That Got Away” (Matthew 2:13-23)

First Sunday after Christmas
December 29, 2019

“The One That Got Away” (Matthew 2:13-23)

Christmas is a joyous, happy holiday. At this time of year, we celebrate the “good news of great joy,” that to us is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. With the angels who give glory to God in the highest, with the shepherds who return glorifying and praising God, with the wise men who rejoice exceedingly with great joy, we too join in the joy of Christmas.

Yes, Christmas is a joyous, happy holiday. That is true within the church. But perhaps even more so, it’s true in the culture around us. In our society, Christmas is expected to be a time of happiness and laughter, a time for merriment and good cheer, a time for blocking out–at least temporarily–all the unpleasant and painful aspects of life.

And so, to the extent that we have been influenced by the culture, today’s Gospel reading can come as a bit of a shock. It seems to run counter to the mood of the season. For it’s the account of what’s called “The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents.” Now if there is any event in the Bible that could be further removed from an upbeat, cheerful holiday mood, I don’t know what it is. Herod’s slaughter of the innocent children of Bethlehem is a singularly horrifying and tragic story. Yet it comes hard on the heels of Christmas, this story of the brutal murder of innocent children. What saves the story for us, though, is “The One That Got Away.”

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Published in: on December 28, 2019 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Dreaming of a Savior” (Matthew 1:18-25)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 22, 2019

“Dreaming of a Savior” (Matthew 1:18-25)

The ancient Romans had a saying, “Nomen est omen.” “Nomen est omen,” which means, “The name,” nomen, “is a sign,” an omen. In other words, a person’s name will sometimes, mysteriously, be a sign of what’s to come for that person. For example, if a baby’s name is George, which means, “one who works the ground,” and that child grows up to be a farmer, well, that’s a case of “Nomen est omen.” The name is a sign of the future for that person.

That saying holds true in our text today, in a way far more important than whether someone named George becomes a farmer. When the angel tells Joseph that his wife is going to have a son and “you shall call his name Jesus,” here too the name is a sign. In fact, you could say that “the name as a sign” thing happens twice in this story. Two names, for two people, bear significance. Their names tell us something about who they are, as God arranges it.

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Published in: on December 21, 2019 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“What Do You Expect?” (Matthew 11:2-15)

Third Sunday in Advent
December 15, 2019

“What Do You Expect?” (Matthew 11:2-15)

What you expect and when you expect it will determine, to a large extent, whether you are satisfied or disappointed. For example, suppose that for Christmas your true love promises to give to you twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping, and so on, all the way down to three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. But now suppose that at the end of the day on December 25 all you’ve received is the partridge in the pear tree. You’re a little disappointed. Maybe you ask yourself: “Did my true love forget about the other stuff? Where are the laying geese and the milking maids and all the rest? Maybe my true love doesn’t truly love me, after all.”

But then, over the next few days, on December 26, 27, 28, you start getting Fed Ex shipments of various calling and non-calling birds. By December 31, you’re up to seven swans a-swimming. Now you’re starting to catch on. Your true love’s word is good. Your true love does truly love you. The promise will be kept in full. You remember now that there are twelve days of Christmas, and so you can expect the rest of the stuff is on the way. It will arrive on time, in due time. So even though you have not yet seen any dancing ladies, you’re satisfied you will see them. In this case, you really can count your chickens before they’re dispatched.

What you expect and when you expect it determine whether you’re satisfied or disappointed. That’s true of Christmas presents, and it’s true of Christ himself. What do you expect of Christ? When do you expect it? This is the question that comes to us this morning, just as it came to John the Baptist: “What Do You Expect?”

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Published in: on December 14, 2019 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Behold, Your King Is Coming to You” (Matthew 21:1-11)

First Sunday in Advent
December 1, 2019

“Behold, Your King Is Coming to You” (Matthew 21:1-11)

In the Holy Gospel for today, St. Matthew writes: “This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”’” But this raises some questions: How does this event from Jesus’ life, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey–how does this “fulfill what was spoken by the prophet”? Or another question: What does this Palm Sunday account have to do with Advent? And the even more important question: What does all of this have to do with us? Let’s get some answers now, under the theme, “Behold, Your King Is Coming to You.”

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Published in: on November 30, 2019 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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