“How Does Your Garden Grow?” (Mark 4:26-34)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 17, 2018

“How Does Your Garden Grow?” (Mark 4:26-34)

It’s June, and everything is green. We’re in the growing season, and everywhere you look, you see the signs of growth. It’s green all around.

Oh wait, you thought I was talking about outside! No, I’m talking about in here, in the church! It’s growing season now, and everything is green. Look at the green paraments on the altar, on the lectern and the pulpit, and the green banners on the wall. Green is the color of growth, and it’s the primary color for this “Season after Pentecost.” This non-festival half of the church year is called “The Time of the Church” or “ordinary time,” because it doesn’t have any big festivals in it, like Christmas or Easter or Pentecost. It’s just a time for long, steady growth–growth in Christian faith, growth in the life of discipleship, growth as individuals and growth as the church. That’s why this season is sometimes called the long “green meadow.”

The Gospel readings during this season often consist of Jesus teaching about life as his disciples, life in the kingdom of God. Today’s lesson is a good example. And appropriately enough, it’s a parable about how things grow. Jesus uses the imagery of a seed being sown and producing growth. This is a common theme in his teachings, because the imagery works so well. Everyone around the world understands the phenomenon of things growing, of life being produced and sustained. Well, I say we all “understand” it, but maybe I should say we all have seen it. I don’t know if anyone fully understands how the growth of plants takes place. We may have seen a big, beautiful plant coming from the sowing of a small, insignificant seed. But who actually understands how that miracle takes place? And that’s one of the points Jesus makes today in his parable. It’s about the mysterious, miraculous power of a seed to grow.

So today I want to ask you a question: How does your garden grow? How does your life as a disciple of Jesus grow? And how does our life together as Christ’s church grow? Thus our theme this morning: “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

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Published in: on June 16, 2018 at 6:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Gospel in the Garden” (Genesis 3:8-15)

Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 10, 2018

“The Gospel in the Garden” (Genesis 3:8-15)

Did you know you have an adversary out to get you? A very strong adversary, too strong for you to handle on your own? You do. He’s out to get you, to destroy you, body and soul. And you would be powerless to overcome him on your own. You need help–big help, the kind only God can provide. Or else you would be lost, damned and condemned forever. You need this help day by day, every day, for your enemy will never give up on trying to take you down.

But the good news is, you have this help, this big rescue, in the form of a Redeemer sent from God. He is stronger than the strong enemy who is out to get you. In fact, he has crushed him in the head. Lean on this strong Redeemer, day by day, and you will be safe from your enemy’s attacks, saved and safe now and for eternity.

This is the message of our lessons today. It started back in the garden. And it was fulfilled in the coming of God’s Son, born the seed of the woman. Our brother Jesus has won the victory over our enemy. The promise was given way back in the garden, when man and woman first fell into sin. But in the aftermath of that tragic fall, our gracious God gave a wonderful promise of a Savior to come. It is, as we’ll hear about now, “The Gospel in the Garden.”

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Published in: on June 10, 2018 at 12:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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“In the Presence of the Holy God” (Isaiah 6:1-8)

The Holy Trinity
May 27, 2018

“In the Presence of the Holy God” (Isaiah 6:1-8)

What would it be like if you knew you were in the presence of the holy God? Try to imagine. Would it be cool, casual, awesome, inspiring, overwhelming? What would your reaction be? “Oh well, just another day in the park. Nothing to see here. Ho hum.” Or maybe you’d think: “Oh wow! I must be pretty special to be given this kind of revelation of God. Yay me!” Or would you be terrified and frightened, shaking in your boots, to be in God’s presence? Well, today on this Holy Trinity Sunday, we’ll find out what one man experienced. Because today we’re going along with Isaiah as he gets to be “In the Presence of the Holy God.”

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Published in: on May 26, 2018 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Tongues for Telling the Mighty Works of God” (Acts 2:1-21)

The Day of Pentecost
May 20, 2018

“Tongues for Telling the Mighty Works of God” (Acts 2:1-21)

It’s the Day of Pentecost. It’s nine o’clock in the morning. And the disciples are together in one place. It was true back then, and it is true today–yes, here, this morning. Back on the Day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts, it was nine o’clock in the morning–“the third hour of the day,” as our text puts it–and the group of disciples was together there in Jerusalem. Now today, on this Day of Pentecost, also at nine o’clock in the morning, this group of disciples is gathered here at St. Matthew’s in Bonne Terre. So in both cases, is there something we can expect to happen? There is. Both back then and now today, we can expect the Holy Spirit to be empowering disciples with “Tongues for Telling the Mighty Works of God.”

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Published in: on May 19, 2018 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“God’s Testimony: Eternal Life in His Son” (1 John 5:9-15)

Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 13, 2018

“God’s Testimony: Eternal Life in His Son” (1 John 5:9-15)

This week the Epistle reading once again is from First John. This has been the Epistle featured throughout this Easter season, and for good reason. The author, St. John, was an eyewitness of the risen Lord Jesus, and in this letter John bears witness concerning the life God has given us through the death and resurrection of his Son. John opened this letter by saying: “The life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life.” Now as we come to the end of this letter, John makes it clear that the eternal life he is bearing witness to is not just a matter of his or any man’s testimony. Indeed, it is God’s own testimony.

John writes: “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” And so our theme this morning: “God’s Testimony: Eternal Life in His Son.”

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Published in: on May 12, 2018 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Ascension: Past, Present, and Future” (Ephesians 1:15-23)

The Ascension of Our Lord
Thursday, May 10, 2018

“The Ascension: Past, Present, and Future” (Ephesians 1:15-23)

Today we’re having church on a Thursday. That’s because we’re celebrating the Ascension of Our Lord, a major festival in the church year that always falls on a Thursday. And that’s because the event it celebrates came forty days after Easter. It was that marvelous occasion when our Lord Jesus Christ, after his resurrection, ascended into heaven. And tonight we will see that this great event connects, ties together, the past, the present, and the future work of Christ. Because it does, our Lord’s ascension has great importance for us, for our past, present, and our future. And so our theme tonight: “The Ascension: Past, Present, and Future.”

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Published in: on May 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Spirit and the Water and the Blood” (1 John 5:1-8)

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 6, 2018

“The Spirit and the Water and the Blood” (1 John 5:1-8)

Our Epistle today from First John includes a section that at first glance may seem a little puzzling. But when we look at it a little more closely, we’ll see how it really does make sense. Indeed, it makes quite clear the very heart of our faith and salvation. The passage in question is 1 John 5:6-8, as follows: “This is he who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” And so our theme this morning: “The Spirit and the Water and the Blood.”

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Published in: on May 5, 2018 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Abide in the Vine” (John 15:1-8)

Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 29, 2018

“Abide in the Vine” (John 15:1-8)

“Stay where you are!” “Don’t move!” These commands sound rather restrictive. These imperatives can sound oppressive and limiting, like we’re being told what to do, and it’s to not do anything. The idea of remaining where you are sounds kind of boring, like we’re stuck in a rut. But when it comes to the Christian life, nothing could be further from the truth. Far from being dull and lifeless, for the Christian, remaining where you are–that is, “abiding in the vine,” remaining connected to Christ–is dynamic, active, and very productive. And so our theme this morning: “Abide in the Vine.”

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Published in: on April 28, 2018 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Love That Lays Down Its Life” (1 John 3:16-24)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 22, 2018

“The Love That Lays Down Its Life” (1 John 3:16-24)

“The King of Love My Shepherd Is.” What a beautiful hymn to sing on this day in the church year known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”! How we need a good shepherd to lead and guard and guide us! That’s why we follow Jesus and listen to his voice. We sing his praises, because of his great love for us. He loved us so much that he laid down his life for his sheep.

Today we want to see what the results are of Christ laying down his life for us. What does it mean for us to be on the receiving end of Christ’s love? What effect does his love have on our daily lives, in the way we live? That’s what we’ll explore today, under the theme, “The Love That Lays Down Its Life.”

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Published in: on April 22, 2018 at 12:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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“What We Are Now and What We Will Be” (1 John 3:1-7)

Third Sunday of Easter
April 15, 2018

“What We Are Now and What We Will Be” (1 John 3:1-7)

Last week we began a series of six straight weeks of Epistle readings from 1 John. Our theme last week was “Fellowship through the Word of Life”: We have fellowship with God and with one another through the Word of Life, enfleshed and proclaimed. Now today we want to find out more of what this fellowship with God means for us, both for now and for the future. And in today’s lesson the apostle John tells us: “What We Are Now and What We Will Be.”

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Published in: on April 14, 2018 at 6:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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