“Law Questions and the Good Samaritan Answer” (Luke 10:25-37)

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
July 14, 2019

“Law Questions and the Good Samaritan Answer” (Luke 10:25-37)

Our text today is one of the most well-known parables in the Bible. It’s the story of the Good Samaritan. And Jesus’ parable is prompted by a couple of questions that someone asks him. Law questions, questions about what we have to do to keep God’s Law. And so our theme this morning: “Law Questions and the Good Samaritan Answer.”

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Published in: on July 13, 2019 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!” (Luke 14:15-24; Isaiah 66:10-14)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
July 7, 2019

“Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!” (Luke 14:15-24; Isaiah 66:10-14)

Recently I read this quote from an observer of the American church scene: “15 years ago, 40% of church members attended four times a month. In 2018, only 10% attended four times a month, a 37% drop in worship attendance. So you could have the exact same membership church, and on Sunday mornings it looks like you’ve lost over a third of your members.”

Now a certain amount of this can be attributed to aging. There are people still on membership rosters, but now they are homebound and no longer able to make it to church. And others who were in the pew fifteen years ago who since have graduated to the church triumphant. But at the same time, this big drop in attendance shows that we haven’t replaced those people. In our own congregation, attendance is down compared to what it was when I arrived here 13 years ago. And if you look across our synod–indeed, all across the American landscape–church attendance is down pretty much everywhere. Lots of empty pews, everywhere you look.

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Published in: on July 6, 2019 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“God’s Green New Deal: From Works of the Flesh to Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:1, 13-25)

Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 30, 2019

“God’s Green New Deal: From Works of the Flesh to Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:1, 13-25)

Last week we called our message “God’s Green New Deal: From Slaves to Sons.” We picked up on that phrase, “Green New Deal,” which has been buzzing around in political circles this year. Only God’s Green New Deal won’t cost trillions and trillions of dollars. Actually, it’s much costlier than that, for it cost the precious blood of Christ, God’s own Son, which is of absolutely infinite value. But for you, God’s new deal is absolutely free. A free gift, the new covenant in Christ’s blood.

And that is what has brought us into God’s new covenant, his new deal, so to speak, which changes our status radically. In Christ, we have gone from slaves to sons. We’ve gone from being slaves under the law, imprisoned, held captive under the law, thinking that we could work our way into God’s favor, which we cannot. Oh, we would be condemned to eternal death and hell under that arrangement. But now, in Christ, we have been redeemed from our imprisonment, set free from our slavery. We have been adopted as sons, brought into God’s household and family, because of Christ our brother. We have been joined to Jesus in Holy Baptism, and so now we are God’s sons also. All of us are sons and heirs, in line to receive a most marvelous inheritance: You and I will share in Christ’s resurrection and his eternal life. It doesn’t get any better than that!

So last week we emphasized the “new deal” aspect of God’s green new deal, that this is God’s new covenant, moving us from slaves to sons. Now today we’ll take up the “green” aspect of it, green signaling new life and growth for those in Christ. Being in Christ–this changes who we are. It changes the way we live. God has brought us out of darkness and into the light. Out of the darkness of this old world and into the light of God’s kingdom. Now we can see. Now we can walk in God’s good paths. No longer are we totally dominated by our old sinful nature–the “flesh,” as Paul calls it. Now we have new life in the Spirit, given to us in baptism. We are new people, and God will help us live this way. And so our theme this morning: “God’s Green New Deal: From Works of the Flesh to Fruit of the Spirit.”

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Published in: on June 29, 2019 at 11:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“God’s Green New Deal: From Slaves to Sons” (Galatians 3:23 – 4:7)

Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 23, 2019

“God’s Green New Deal: From Slaves to Sons” (Galatians 3:23 – 4:7)

Earlier this year a certain congressperson from New York proposed what she called a “Green New Deal.” She was picking up on the term “New Deal,” thus indicating a massive expansion of government programs. And she combined it with the word “Green,” because she thought this new deal would help the environment. Well, in one sense, it would have been a green new deal, because it would have taken a lot of green, as in trillions and trillions of tax dollars. Well, her Green New Deal came up for a vote in the Senate, and the Senate said, “No deal!” It got exactly zero votes, none even from her own party.

Today, though, I want to tell you about another “new deal,” only this one is a whole lot better. And it won’t even cost you a cent. It’s already paid for. This new deal is also “green,” in the sense that green stands for new life and abundant growth. And what’s more, it’s a new deal that changes our status, from a very bad situation to a very good one instead. So now let’s hear about “God’s Green New Deal: From Slaves to Sons.”

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Published in: on June 22, 2019 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Peace of Pentecost” (John 14:23-31)

The Day of Pentecost
Sunday, June 9, 2019

“The Peace of Pentecost” (John 14:23-31)

Jesus tells his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

How can you say that, Jesus? How can you tell your disciples to be at peace? You’ve just told them that you’re going away! And now they’re supposed to be OK with that? They’re just supposed to take it easy? Come on, Jesus, get real!

And how about us? Yeah, we here today. How are we supposed to be at peace? “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Yeah, right. You don’t know what I’m going through. And I’m supposed to have peace in all of this?

Well, yes. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Even when Jesus tells his disciples that he’s going away, and even in the midst of all our troubles, Jesus promises us the peace we need to sustain us and carry us through. And so this morning, on this day full of grace, we will be blessed to hear how we have “The Peace of Pentecost.”

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Published in: on June 8, 2019 at 5:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“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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