“A Fruitful Tree” (Galatians 5:16-25; John 15:1-5; Psalm 1)

Midweek Lenten Evening Prayer
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

“A Fruitful Tree” (Galatians 5:16-25; John 15:1-5; Psalm 1)

We just heard a bunch of readings from a variety of places in the Bible–Psalm 1, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and words of Jesus from the gospels of St. Luke and St. John–and all of these readings, about trees bearing fruit. This is an image of course of people and the fruits or works that they produce in their lives.

Now the first thing to recognize is that we all bear fruit. We all produce works in our lives. The question is, though: What kind of fruit are we producing? Good fruit or bad fruit? There is this distinction, you see, among fruit. Some fruit may be bad or rotten in God’s sight. Some fruit may be good and acceptable to God. So what kind of fruit are you producing in your life? Is God pleased with it? Our topic tonight, then, is this: How do I become “A Fruitful Tree”?


Published in: on March 14, 2015 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Restore Us, O God” (Psalms 80, 85, 126)

Midweek Advent Vespers
Wednesday, December 3, 2014

“Restore Us, O God” (Psalms 80, 85, 126)

We’ve just heard three psalms that are appointed for this Advent season, Psalms 80, 85, and 126. Did you happen to catch what they have in common? There was a connecting theme running through all three of these psalms. And here it is. It is the prayer, in one form or another, that goes something like this: “Restore Us, O God.”


Published in: on December 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Rejoicing in the God Who Has Taught Us” (Psalm 71:17-18)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 22, 2013

“Rejoicing in the God Who Has Taught Us” (Psalm 71:17-18)

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” These words from Philippians remind us that we have much to be joyful over. And indeed we do. Think of it: It’s Advent, almost Christmas, and so we rejoice over the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, first at Christmas, coming in the flesh to be born and live and die and rise again as our Savior, and coming again at the Last Day, a day we look forward to with great hope and anticipation, knowing that God will raise our mortal bodies to everlasting life and restore this fallen, sin-damaged creation to new and greater glory. This is real Advent hope, and it fills us with joy.

And if that’s not enough, today we have even more cause for joy. Today we rejoice in the confirmation of our adult catechumen, Michelle. She has been through our instruction class and is now ready to confess her faith and to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. We rejoice to welcome you into our church, Michelle! What a joy and a blessing it is to see how the Lord has been working in your life! What lessons he has been teaching you–and giving you the faith to believe and confess these sacred truths of Scripture. Oh, make no mistake, we may have been using Luther’s Catechisms in our instruction, and I have had the privilege of being your teacher, but ultimately it is the Lord himself who has been teaching you, through his holy Word.

And you know, all of us here who are confirmed, communicant members–we all have been catechized in this same doctrine. We all share in the same divinely given faith, all of us having been instructed by the same Lord in the same Word. And so our theme this morning: “Rejoicing in the God Who Has Taught Us.”


Published in: on December 21, 2013 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Marriage and the Family: The Cultural Slide and the Christian Response” (Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 128:1-6; John 2:1-11)

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 20, 2013

“Marriage and the Family: The Cultural Slide and the Christian Response” (Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 128:1-6; John 2:1-11)

The readings for today–the Old Testament Reading, the Psalm, and the Holy Gospel–these readings are filled with references to marriage and the family. They use the language and imagery of marriage and the family–and in the Gospel’s case, even the occasion of a wedding–to describe God’s love for humanity. The blessings of marriage and children are gifts that God gives to all people, and they are also pictures of the relationship that God has with his own people, the church.


Published in: on January 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Lonely Monk, Now Long Ago” (Psalm 119:46)

Reformation Day (Observed)
Sunday, October 28, 2012

“A Lonely Monk, Now Long Ago” (Psalm 119:46)

A Lonely Monk, Now Long Ago

A lonely monk, now long ago,
Nailed truth upon a door;
The echoes of that hammer blow
Rang out to many more.
And when he spoke his “Here I stand,”
Although he could be slain,
Throughout the realm a growing band
Soon followed in his train.

Confessors, princes, duty bound,
To Augsburg bold they came;
Before the king they stood their ground
And were not put to shame.
Their good confession made that day
Proved not to be in vain;
Gird us their sons, Lord, that we may
Still follow in their train.

With confidence in Christ alone,
Our faith we will confess;
For Jesus’ death made us His own,
And now He lives to bless.
Our Savior leads us heavenward,
Eternal life to gain;
Confessing truth that we have heard,
We follow in His train!

Text: Charles Henrickson, © 2012
Tune: All Saints New (LSB 661, 678)

The hymn we just sang tells the story of the Reformation, that great movement of God in the 16th century in which the pure gospel of Christ was recovered and brought to the forefront again. It is the story of Martin Luther, the great reformer of the church, whom God used in such a mighty way. It is the story of those who stood with Luther, the confessors at Augsburg, for instance. But the story of the Reformation, the story told in this hymn–this is our story, too. For we too have truth to declare. We too have the same faith to confess, the faith once delivered to the saints, the eternal gospel that Luther proclaimed so loud and clear.


Published in: on October 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“In the Green Pastures of the Twenty-third Psalm” (Psalm 23)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 29, 2012

“In the Green Pastures of the Twenty-third Psalm” (Psalm 23)

Today is what is known in the church as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Every year on this Sunday during the Easter season, the Gospel Reading comes from John 10, where several times Jesus calls himself the “good shepherd” of the sheep. And, every year, the psalm appointed for this day is Psalm 23, perhaps the most famous and well-loved of all the psalms, the one that begins, “The LORD is my shepherd.”

The danger with such a familiar and well-loved passage is that it can become for us just so much “white noise.” We hear the sound, and we turn off our minds. We don’t think about what we’re hearing. And that would be a shame. Because there is not only soothing sound here, there is real substance as well, strong assurance that gives true comfort and confidence to troubled souls. So just because Psalm 23 is familiar, don’t take it for granted. Instead, let’s consider more closely what we’ve heard all our life, as today we, the Shepherd’s sheep, graze “In the Green Pastures of the Twenty-third Psalm.”


Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer” (Psalm 67)

Day of National Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 25, 2010

“A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer” (Psalm 67)

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.” Including this nation, the United States of America! And so this day is a Day of National Thanksgiving, a day set aside to do just what the psalmist declares. On this day the people of our nation gladly and joyfully praise God for his many blessings on this good land he has given us.

Well, at least that’s the idea. How many still bother to thank God on Thanksgiving Day is a question I’d rather not know the answer to! I’m sure the number would be distressingly small. But if other folks are failing to fulfill the purpose of Thanksgiving Day, that’s their problem, they’re the ones who are missing out. In any case, we are here, you are here, and you have come to give thanks to God. So please, let’s do!

The practice in America of setting aside a day to thank God for his goodness to us–this goes back to the days of the Pilgrims in the early 1620s. But as far as a National Day of Thanksgiving, the first one we had as the United States of America was in 1789, just shortly after our Constitution went into effect. The proclamation was issued by President George Washington during his first year in office.

I want to read this proclamation to you, because it makes pretty much the same points I was planning to make today anyways. And that’s because the things called for in this proclamation are basically what the Bible calls us to do. These are laudable goals we find here. So now I’ll read the proclamation–you have it there on your bulletin insert–and then I’ll expand on it. This is to proclaim, as President Washington calls it, “A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer”:


Published in: on November 25, 2010 at 1:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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