“The Wealth You Leave and the Wealth You Receive” (Mark 10:23-31)

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
October 17, 2021

“The Wealth You Leave and the Wealth You Receive” (Mark 10:23-31)

Today Jesus speaks to us about wealth. He speaks of the wealth you need to leave in order to enter the kingdom of God. And he speaks of the wealth you receive when you do enter. And so our theme this morning: “The Wealth You Leave and the Wealth You Receive.”

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Published in: on October 16, 2021 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Oh That We Had Meat to Eat!” (Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 26, 2021

“Oh That We Had Meat to Eat!” (Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29)

“Oh that we had meat to eat!” Oh that we had meat we could afford to buy! Have you looked at the price of meat lately? I have. I was at the grocery store the other day, and the prices for all kinds of meat are very high right now: steak, ground beef, pork, even chicken. It confirmed what I read in a news article recently. Prices for meat have skyrocketed this year. Across the nation, beef prices have surged a whopping 12% over the last year. Pork prices have jumped almost 10%. Chicken, 7%. Looking at those price increases might almost drive one to becoming a vegan. Well, almost. I wouldn’t go that far.

“Oh that we had meat to eat!” But we would not be the first ones to cry that. The ancient Israelites said the same thing back during their wilderness wanderings. And they said it as a complaint against God and against his servant Moses. We heard it in the Old Testament reading for today from Numbers 11. “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.’”

“Oh That We Had Meat to Eat!” Was it just the ancient Israelites who complain like this? Or maybe we do too. Our text today serves as both a warning and an encouragement for us. It’s a warning against ingratitude and unbelief. But it’s also an encouragement for us to find our forgiveness in Christ and to give thanks to God for how he does provide for us.

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Published in: on September 25, 2021 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Wisdom from Above: Humble Yourself, Serve Others” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 19, 2021

“Wisdom from Above: Humble Yourself, Serve Others” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

In the Epistle for today, St. James asks, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” Well, I suppose all of us would like to be considered wise and understanding. To have people compliment us on how smart we are and what good decisions we make. And in the Gospel reading for today, Jesus says, “If anyone would be first.” Well, I suppose all of us would like to be first. We like it when we’re in the top spot. To be wise, to be first, to be great–we like it when we achieve those things and are recognized for it.

The only problem is, that’s not the way it goes in God’s kingdom. If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be the servant of all. That’s counter-intuitive to the ways of this world, where people are pumped up with loads and loads of self-esteem. But in the kingdom of God, lowliness goes along with holiness. Humility and meekness are the virtues that are praised and prized. We’ll see that now from both James and Jesus, under the theme, “Wisdom from Above: Humble Yourself, Serve Others.”

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Published in: on September 18, 2021 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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“To What Shall We Compare the Tongue?” (James 3:1-12)

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 12, 2021

“To What Shall We Compare the Tongue?” (James 3:1-12)

Do you know you carry around with you, all the time, a very dangerous weapon? It’s not very big, but it can do a lot of damage. And it’s a weapon that can be very hard to control. In fact, you and I quite often do not use it as carefully as we should. What is this dangerous, hard-to-control, little weapon you have on your person? Of course, I’m talking about your tongue. And so is St. James. He’s talking about it, also, in our Epistle reading for today. So let’s look at that now, under the theme: “To What Shall We Compare the Tongue?”

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Published in: on September 11, 2021 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus Speaks His ‘Ephphatha’ to Us” (Mark 7:31-37)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 5, 2021

“Jesus Speaks His ‘Ephphatha’ to Us” (Mark 7:31-37)

In the Holy Gospel for today from Mark 7, people bring to Jesus a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. Jesus says to him, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened.” And, sure enough, the man’s ears are opened, his tongue is loosed, and he speaks plainly.

Now what you’ll often get in sermons based on this text is something like this: “Friends, our ears are deaf to God’s Word, and our tongues fail to speak plainly the good news to our neighbors. We need Jesus to speak his ‘Ephphatha’ to us and open our ears and loose our tongues.” In other words, the preacher just spiritualizes the text and basically ignores the physical healing.

We ought not to do that. The physical healing itself is important. Oh, we can get to a spiritual application also, but we shouldn’t skip over the actual healing of the man’s hearing and speaking. And we won’t. Today we’ll see how Jesus heals us both physically and spiritually, under the theme: “Jesus Speaks His ‘Ephphatha’ to Us.”

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Published in: on September 4, 2021 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Put on the Whole Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 29, 2021

“Put on the Whole Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-20)

These days many people have taken up a variety of precautions and protections to guard against the Covid virus and its variants. They have put on face masks. They have put on face shields. They sanitize their hands. They keep social distance. They take zinc and an assortment of vitamins. They get injected with a vaccine and maybe now a booster shot as well. All these precautions and protections to guard against a virus.

But friends, there’s something much more dangerous and deadly than a virus going around. As St. Peter puts it, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” That’s the more deadly danger going around. But I don’t think as many people are as concerned about this threat as they are about the virus. Most people are not taking up the protections they need to guard against the danger the devil poses.

But you can. And St. Paul tells us how. In the Epistle reading for today from Ephesians 6, Paul urges us to guard against “the schemes of the devil” and “the spiritual forces of evil.” And we do well to heed this advice and to put on and to take up the protections that God provides. We do so today under the theme, “Put on the Whole Armor of God.”

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Published in: on August 28, 2021 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“This Is a Hard Saying” (John 6:60-69)

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 22, 2021

“This Is a Hard Saying” (John 6:60-69)

For the last couple of weeks, the Holy Gospel has been Jesus’ famous “Bread of Life” discourse from John chapter 6.  And last week I preached on the appointed text, under the theme, “Eat This Bread and Live Forever.”  But last week I only got through the first half of that text.  What I didn’t get to was the reaction to what Jesus said.  And that’s what I want to take up this morning.  And so our sermon text today is what is printed in your bulletin, namely, John 6, verses 60 through 69, as follows:

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”  But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?  Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?  It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  But there are some of you who do not believe.”  (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)  And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.  So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

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Published in: on August 21, 2021 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Eat This Bread and Live Forever” (John 6:51-69)

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
August 15, 2021

“Eat This Bread and Live Forever” (John 6:51-69)

The world’s oldest living person is a woman in Japan by the name of Kane Tanaka. She is 118 years old. She has held the title of oldest living person for over three years, which is unusually long for someone to be the world’s oldest living person. Usually, they relinquish the title before that long. What is Miss Tanaka’s secret? “Eating delicious food and studying,” she says. Her nurses say, “She has a strong appetite and likes eating chocolate and drinking Coke.” Well, I have a strong appetite, I like eating delicious food, including chocolate, and I do a lot of studying. But maybe I should take up drinking Coke.

Then there’s the world’s oldest male, Emilio Flores Márquez of Puerto Rico. He just turned 113 one week ago. Señor Márquez says of his life: “My father raised me with love and taught me to love everyone. He always told me and my brothers and sisters to do good, to share everything with others. Besides, Christ lives in me.”

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Published in: on August 14, 2021 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Strengthened for the Journey” (1 Kings 19:1-8)

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
August 8, 2021

“Strengthened for the Journey” (1 Kings 19:1-8)

I haven’t been following the Olympics, but I understand that this weekend was one of the main events, namely, the marathon. If you’re not familiar with the marathon, it’s a long-distance race in which the competitors run a total of 26.2 miles! 26.2 miles! Imagine that! What a grueling test of training and endurance that must be! The runners have to be in tip-top shape in order to compete, much less complete the race. And their training has to go on for months beforehand. Long preparation is required in order to run that long of a race. The runners have to watch what they eat and drink, if they expect to have the strength to finish the course. Otherwise, they might have a good first half, but in the second half of the race they’ll burn out, and the marathon will be too much for them. They need to be strengthened for the race.

Friends, that’s like how it is for us. The Christian life is like a marathon. This is no hundred-yard dash. Instead, it’s a long journey. And on our own, the journey would be too much for us. We would not make it the whole way. We need strength from outside of ourselves in order to complete the course. We need to be “Strengthened for the Journey.”

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Published in: on August 7, 2021 at 8:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“No Longer Aliens” (Ephesians 2:11-22)

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
July 18, 2021

“No Longer Aliens” (Ephesians 2:11-22)

Aliens are not very popular. I’m not talking about aliens from outer space. I’m talking about aliens who are illegal immigrants, people who come in as outsiders. Often there is hostility between the aliens and the people who’ve been there their whole lives. They feel like their territory is being invaded. Foreigners, strangers, outsiders are seen as a threat. In whatever the culture, throughout history, aliens generally have been unwelcome.

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Published in: on July 17, 2021 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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