“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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“Drawing Near” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost
November 18, 2018

“Drawing Near” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

“The day is surely drawing near,” we sang in our opening hymn. And our Epistle reading today, from Hebrews 10, closes with similar words: “as you see the Day drawing near.” “The Day”? What day? Notice, it’s “the” Day. Sounds important. So let’s find out what that “day” is. And let’s also consider what the implications are for us as we see that day approaching. For our text also tells us about another type of “drawing near.” It says that we should “draw near.” “Let us draw near,” it says. Thus our theme this morning: “Drawing Near.”

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Published in: on November 16, 2018 at 11:23 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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“Grumbling on the Way to the Promised Land” (Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29)

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 30, 2018

“Grumbling on the Way to the Promised Land” (Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29)

Our text this morning is the Old Testament Reading from Numbers 11. At the start of this text we hear the Israelites grumbling against God and against his servant Moses. It says: “Now the rabble that was among [the children of Israel] had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’”

This text, my friends, is a picture of us. For we too grumble and complain–against God, and sometimes against his servants also. How we grumble and complain! Even though, like the Israelites, the Lord has brought us out of bondage. Even though the Lord is leading us to the land he has promised. Even though he is providing for us along the way. And so our theme this morning: “Grumbling on the Way to the Promised Land.”

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Published in: on September 29, 2018 at 11:23 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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“Ears Opened, Tongue Loosed: Now What?” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 16, 2018

“Ears Opened, Tongue Loosed: Now What?” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a boy who was deaf and mute. In last week’s Gospel, Jesus healed a man who was deaf and mute. The man’s ears were opened and his tongue was loosed. And the crowd said about Jesus, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Now not one of us here is either deaf or mute. Some of us may be a little hard of hearing, but at least we can hear. And none of us is mute. We all can speak. Our ears and our tongue are working. But the question is: What are we doing with them? What are we using our ears and our tongue for? How are we using them?

And besides having functional ears and tongues physically, we also have had our ears and our tongue opened spiritually. In our baptism, God has given us ears to hear his word and tongues to praise his name. How are we using these ears and this tongue? To God’s glory? For our neighbor’s good? Or for different purposes? And so our theme this morning: “Ears Opened, Tongue Loosed: Now What?”

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Published in: on September 15, 2018 at 11:22 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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“Life in the Combat Zone” (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 2, 2018

“Life in the Combat Zone” (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Have you ever been in a combat zone? I mean, a real, live, active combat zone. A place where bullets are whizzing past your head and explosive devices are ready to take your leg off. That’s a combat zone, and it’s a very dangerous place to be. You could be killed or wounded at any moment. Making it out of there alive is a very precarious proposition.

Well, guess what? You are in a combat zone, whether you realize it or not. Every Christian is. It comes with the territory. The battle is real, and the battle is on! The battle is raging, and there are no deferments, no going AWOL. You are in this battle, automatically, and it is a fight to the finish, a life-or-death conflict. So what to do? Be prepared for this battle. Because it’s going to come. There’s no avoiding it. Are you ready? Are you prepared? And so our theme this morning: “Life in the Combat Zone.”

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Published in: on September 1, 2018 at 7:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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