“The Pharisee and the Tax Collector” (Luke 18:9-17)

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
October 23, 2016

“The Pharisee and the Tax Collector” (Luke 18:9-17)

“The one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Now I don’t know if our Lord was talking about my Chicago Cubs there or not, but finally my humble Cubbies have been exalted. Well, actually, I do know: Jesus was not talking about the Cubs, because he said, “the one who humbles himself.” And it wasn’t that the Cubs were humbling themselves all those years, it was all the other teams humbling them. So maybe the Cubs being exalted now is just a matter of them having a whole bunch of good players. So no spiritual lesson to be learned there.

But there is a spiritual lesson to be learned in the words of Jesus today. It has to do with how we position ourselves before God. Listen again to Jesus’ words: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” You see, now doesn’t that sound upside-down? But it’s true. And we see this principle at work in the story that Jesus tells, the parable of “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector.”


Published in: on October 23, 2016 at 5:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Continue in the Sacred Writings” (2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5)

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
October 16, 2016

“Continue in the Sacred Writings” (2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5)

In our Epistle reading today, St. Paul commends Timothy–and I would commend all of us–to the word of God. More specifically, I commend you to the continued study of Scripture, to a firm faith in the word of God, and to the living out of the Bible’s teachings in the form of a righteous life. And so our theme this morning, “Continue in the Sacred Writings.”


Published in: on October 16, 2016 at 3:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Remember Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:1-13)

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
October 9, 2016

“Remember Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:1-13)

Do you ever get a little worried or fearful about what you might have to go through in order to live out your calling as a Christian? I mean, that your being a Christian and living for Christ will cause you to suffer in some way? Does that ever weigh on your mind? If so, you’re in good company. Because that seems to have been a problem for St. Timothy in the New Testament. Timothy apparently had a problem with timidity, with fearfulness, over what might happen to him because of his calling to serve the Lord. But in our Epistle for today, Timothy’s mentor, the apostle Paul, writes to him and encourages Timothy to “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” How that strengthening takes place, for Timothy and for you, is the subject for our sermon today, under the theme, “Remember Jesus Christ.”


Published in: on October 8, 2016 at 10:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Teach Your Children Well” (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; 3:14-17)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 2, 2016

“Teach Your Children Well” (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; 3:14-17)

I don’t know if you noticed it, but today we’re having a Christian education emphasis in our service. Four of our hymns today are from the Christian education section of our hymnal. I’ve selected an alternate Old Testament reading, from Deuteronomy 6, which deals with teaching God’s word to our children. The Epistle reading, from 2 Timothy, mentions Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, who passed on the faith to Timothy. And to that, I’ve added a portion of a 2 Timothy reading that will come up in a couple weeks, about how from childhood Timothy knew the Holy Scriptures. Even the Gospel reading today includes a warning from Jesus about not leading the little ones astray. So there is a strong emphasis on Christian education in the service today.

Why? What’s the occasion? Well, the occasion is that today we are happy to start up a Sunday School class for our children, to give them a foundation in the Bible. And this week on Thursday, we will start up a class on the catechism for the older children, to instruct them in the basics of the Christian faith and to lead them to confirmation and first Communion. This is a joyous occasion indeed! We are so glad and thankful to have enough children in our congregation now to be able to do these things. We are glad and thankful that we have parents now who care enough about their children to want to see them in these classes. We are thankful that the rest of our members are and will be supportive of these Christian education efforts. And so we give thanks to God for this great blessing to our church!

With all that in mind, then, and picking up on the themes of the lessons, our message this morning is this: “Teach Your Children Well.”


Published in: on October 2, 2016 at 12:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Lazarus: The One Whom God Helps” (Luke 16:19-31)

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 25, 2016

“Lazarus: The One Whom God Helps” (Luke 16:19-31)

This is the tale of two men. Which one would you rather be? It’s in a story that Jesus tells. It begins like this: “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.”

Well, this is quite a contrast between these two guys. Which one would you rather be? I think we’d all agree, we’d rather be the rich guy in this story. He’s got it all going for him, doesn’t he? He’s got all the food and clothing you could want, and a nice place to live. He’s got it made in the shade.


Published in: on September 25, 2016 at 12:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Faithful Stewards” (Luke 16:1-15)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 18, 2016

“Faithful Stewards” (Luke 16:1-15)

In the Gospel for today, Jesus tells the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. This story is also known as the Parable of the Unrighteous Steward. The terms are interchangeable: dishonest or unrighteous; manager or steward. But keeping the titles straight is the least of the problems with this parable. This text from Luke 16, on its surface, is a difficult one to understand. It seems that Jesus is commending the dishonest manager, the unrighteous steward, for his unrighteousness! And what does Jesus mean by, “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth”? What’s that all about? This Parable of the Unrighteous Steward presents us with some difficulties. But since Jesus is the one who tells it, it must be important. And it is. For in this text Jesus is teaching his people what it means to be “Faithful Stewards.”


Published in: on September 17, 2016 at 11:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus Receives, Rejoices over, and Restores Sinners” (Luke 15:1-10; 1 Timothy 1:5-17)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 11, 2016

“Jesus Receives, Rejoices over, and Restores Sinners” (Luke 15:1-10; 1 Timothy 1:5-17)

Jesus receives sinners. Do you qualify? If so, great, I’ve got good news for you today. Or do you think you’re not that bad of a sinner? Well, in that case, you’re on your own. Good luck with that.

Jesus receives sinners. That’s the message that comes through loud and clear in our Gospel reading today, from Luke chapter 15. And when Jesus receives sinners, he rejoices over them, he rejoices that they’ve been found and brought back. And not only does Jesus receive sinners, and not only does he rejoice over them, he does one more thing. He restores these sinners to his service. That comes through in the Epistle reading for today, from 1 Timothy 1. And so our theme this morning: “Jesus Receives, Rejoices over, and Restores Sinners.”


Published in: on September 10, 2016 at 9:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“When You Walk through Fire You Shall Not Be Burned” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

Funeral Service
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

“When You Walk through Fire You Shall Not Be Burned” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

“When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” This is the Lord’s promise to his people. You heard it in the reading from Isaiah 43: “When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

“But, but, Pastor,” you say. “There it says that if we go through fire we will not be burned. But here we are at Doris’s funeral, and she went through a fire, that terrible house fire of a month ago, and she was burned. Burned very badly, airlifted to the hospital, and she was there for a whole month, and she ended up dying. So how can you say, how can God say, ‘When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you’? That didn’t seem to work for Doris.”

Well, yeah, you’re right. That fire did end up killing Doris. The flame did seem to consume her. So did God’s promise fail? Did God somehow forget about Doris? The Lord remembered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when they were kept safe in the fiery furnace, but I guess the Lord loved them more than he loved Doris. Is that it?

No. I’m here to tell you today that the Lord did not forget about Doris. The Lord did not love Doris any less. The Lord did not make a promise that he failed to keep. That has never happened, and will never happen, that the Lord fails to keep his promises. And so this promise of God in Isaiah 43 was absolutely true for Doris, and, dear friends, his promise is absolutely true for you as well: “When You Walk through Fire You Shall Not Be Burned.”


Published in: on September 7, 2016 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Like a Tree Planted by Streams of Water” (Psalm 1)

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 4, 2016

“Like a Tree Planted by Streams of Water” (Psalm 1)

One of the delights of late summer is all the delicious fruit that we get to enjoy, fruit that the fruit trees have produced: peaches, apples, cherries. Juicy, ripe, sweet–the fruit is so delicious. I think the peaches are my favorite. But those fruit trees could not have yielded all that good fruit unless they had a plentiful supply of water. They need the water to produce the fruit.

In a way, that is a picture of our lives as Christians. We need the “water” of God’s word in order for our lives to be fruitful. Today I want to commend to you the word of God–the study of it, the reading of it, the receiving of God’s word and your living from it. The word of God preached and sacramented and taught here at church. The word of God read and devoted on in your home. If your Christian life has dried out, this is the way to be refreshed and get growing once again. This is the way for you to be “Like a Tree Planted by Streams of Water.”


Published in: on September 3, 2016 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Friend, Move Up Higher” (Luke 14:1-14)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 28, 2016

“Friend, Move Up Higher” (Luke 14:1-14)

Suppose you’re invited to a banquet–a wedding banquet, for instance–so you get dressed up in your best clothes, and you get there, and you see some seats that are open at the various tables. You figure you’re a pretty important person, or you’d like to be seen as such, so you go up and take a seat up front, maybe even at the head table. But then some other guy comes in, and he doesn’t look all that impressive, and the host or the waiter comes over and tells you that you need to move down so that this guy can sit up front. Well, you wouldn’t like that very much, would you? You would feel put out and embarrassed. “Why don’t I get one of the top spots? And who is this guy that he should get more attention and a better place than I do?”

Well, that’s kind of the situation Jesus describes in today’s Gospel reading from Luke 14. But what Jesus has in mind is more important than mere dinner etiquette or table manners. What Christ has to say to us has to do with our place before God, our place in God’s kingdom, our place for eternity at the heavenly wedding banquet. Better to be called to move up higher than to be told to move down. Thus our theme this morning: “Friend, Move Up Higher.”


Published in: on August 27, 2016 at 4:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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