“Believing Is Better Than Seeing” (John 20:19-31)

Second Sunday of Easter
April 11, 2021

“Believing Is Better Than Seeing” (John 20:19-31)

The doors were locked. The disciples had locked themselves in, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, who had just had Jesus killed a couple of days earlier. And since they were Jesus’ disciples, if it became known where they were, the authorities might come after them, too. So the disciples were afraid and were staying behind closed doors.

But if a sealed tomb couldn’t keep Jesus in, a locked door couldn’t keep Jesus out. He passes right through and stands in their midst. “Shalom aleichem,” he says, “Peace be with you,” a standard Hebraic greeting. But when Jesus says it, it’s a little more than standard! Jesus really does convey peace when he speaks it! This is a blood-bought peace, peace purchased by the blood that God’s Son shed on the cross. Peace between heaven and earth. Peace between a righteous God and sinful man. Jesus made that peace for us on the cross, where he died for the sins of the world. Jesus packs real peace into his words, when he greets us with “Peace be with you.”

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Published in: on April 10, 2021 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Who Will Roll Away the Stone for Us?” (Mark 16:1-8)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, April 4, 2021

“Who Will Roll Away the Stone for Us?” (Mark 16:1-8)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

That is our joyful shout on this glorious Easter morning. But that was certainly not the thought of the women on the first Easter morning, as they were heading out to the tomb. No, what they were thinking was this: “Who Will Roll Away the Stone for Us?”

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Published in: on April 3, 2021 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Light Shines in the Darkness” (John 1:1-5, 9-14)

Good Friday
April 2, 2021

“The Light Shines in the Darkness” (John 1:1-5, 9-14)

Tonight we’re doing a traditional Good Friday evening service called “Tenebrae.” The Latin word, “tenebrae,” means “shadows” or “darkness.” This is the Service of the Shadows, the Service of Darkness–moving to complete darkness at the end of the service. This reminds us of the darkness that came over the land when Christ was hanging on the cross, the great darkness that occurred when the author of life was put to death. And then his lifeless body was placed in the tomb, and night fell, and all was darkness and shadows. The loud noise that will come at the end of this service, called the “strepitus”–that will remind us either of the earthquake at the time of Christ’s death or of the shutting of the tomb, when the heavy stone is rolled into place. In either case, the sound will signify the finality of death. Boom! Death wins.

This is the time of darkness and shadows. It seems that darkness has covered the earth. The one who had done only good, a righteous man–murdered. The one who had brought healing and had shown God’s mercy to so many–dead. The one in whom men had put their hope, now has been killed, and hope died with him. Jesus of Nazareth–crucified, dead, and buried. Now what?

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Published in: on April 2, 2021 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Washed Clean with Jesus’ Love” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

Holy Thursday
April 1, 2021

“Washed Clean with Jesus’ Love” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

One thing we’ve been reminded of a thousand times over the past year is to wash your hands frequently. Washing your hands, we are told, is an important way to keep you from getting the virus or spreading it to others. And so we wash our hands. Frequently.

But you can wash your hands fifteen times a day, eight days a week, and still, eventually, something is going to get you. We’re all going to die of something. But there is one type of washing that will keep you from dying eternally. And that is, when you have been “Washed Clean with Jesus’ Love.”

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Published in: on April 1, 2021 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Follow Me’: The Crown of Discipleship” (Mark 10:17-22)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

“‘Follow Me’: The Crown of Discipleship” (Mark 10:17-22)

Today we conclude our series on the “Follow Me” sayings of Jesus in Gospel of Mark. Last week we took up “The Cross of Discipleship.” Today our theme is “The Crown of Discipleship.” And that’s a good order to go, because there is no crown without the cross, and there is no cross we endure that will not be far outweighed by the crown we will receive. And both the cross and the crown come as we follow Jesus.

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Published in: on March 24, 2021 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Great Servant” (Mark 10:35-45)

Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 21, 2021

“Great Servant” (Mark 10:35-45)

Are you familiar with what an oxymoron is? An oxymoron is when you put two words together that seem to contradict each other. The two ideas don’t belong together. The classic example is “jumbo shrimp.” Another would be “plastic silverware.” Or “civil war.” Well, today in our text we have two concepts put together that don’t seem to fit. It’s the idea of being “great,” placed side by side with the idea of being a “servant.” Those two thoughts would seem to cancel each other out. But not the way Jesus tells it. And not the way Jesus demonstrates it. For he is the ultimate “Great Servant.”

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Published in: on March 20, 2021 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Follow Me’: The Cross of Discipleship” (Mark 8:34-35)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, March 17, 2021

“‘Follow Me’: The Cross of Discipleship” (Mark 8:34-35)

“Take up your cross and follow me.” Today in our series on discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, we take up the cross. We take it up, not just as a topic for a sermon, but we take it up as a way of life. Because in our text, Jesus tells us what being his disciple will be like: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” And so our theme today, “‘Follow Me’: The Cross of Discipleship.”

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Published in: on March 17, 2021 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“John 3:16, Up Close and Personal” (John 3:14-21)

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 14, 2021

“John 3:16, Up Close and Personal” (John 3:14-21)

It’s perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible. People know what it says simply by the reference, “John 3:16.” It’s so well known that folks will hold up a sign with just the reference on it, and people will remember what the verse says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” A brief, concise, beautiful summary of the gospel. In fact, this verse is often called “The gospel in a nutshell.” Well, let’s take a closer look at it now, as we explore “John 3:16, Up Close and Personal.”

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Published in: on March 13, 2021 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Follow Me’: The Candidates for Discipleship” (Mark 2:13-17)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, March 10, 2021

“‘Follow Me’: The Candidates for Discipleship” (Mark 2:13-17)

We just came out of an election year, in which we had to make choices among all sorts of various candidates. There were many candidates running for many different offices, at local, state, and federal levels. And in the campaign ads, each candidate would tout his or her qualifications for the position they were seeking. Because a candidate for office ought to have certain qualifications.

But how does that work when we’re dealing with qualifications for being disciples of Jesus? What qualifications do candidates for discipleship need–what do you need–in order to follow Jesus and learn from him? Well, there’s one essential qualification you must have, and today we’ll find out what it is.

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Published in: on March 10, 2021 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“March Madness: The Prophet-Driven Church” (John 2:13-22)

Third Sunday in Lent
March 7, 2021

“March Madness: The Prophet-Driven Church” (John 2:13-22)

“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild”: That’s how we usually picture our Savior. And in many respects, that’s true. Our Good Shepherd is kind and gentle with his sheep. But that image of Christ is not enough. It doesn’t give the full picture of Jesus and his character and his range of emotions. Especially is that the case with our text today. Because today we see our Lord getting downright angry–or upright angry, I should say, since it is righteous anger that he displays. Today Jesus gets a case of “March Madness”: He marches right into the temple like he owns the joint, and he is mad. How come? What’s the problem? What is it that makes Jesus so mad? And what does it have to do with the church in our day? Let’s find out, under the theme, “March Madness: The Prophet-Driven Church.”

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Published in: on March 6, 2021 at 11:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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