“Behold, Your King Is Coming to You” (Matthew 21:1-11)

First Sunday in Advent
December 1, 2019

“Behold, Your King Is Coming to You” (Matthew 21:1-11)

In the Holy Gospel for today, St. Matthew writes: “This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”’” But this raises some questions: How does this event from Jesus’ life, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey–how does this “fulfill what was spoken by the prophet”? Or another question: What does this Palm Sunday account have to do with Advent? And the even more important question: What does all of this have to do with us? Let’s get some answers now, under the theme, “Behold, Your King Is Coming to You.”

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Published in: on November 30, 2019 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“America’s Day of National Thanksgiving” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Day of National Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 28, 2019

“America’s Day of National Thanksgiving” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Ah, Thanksgiving! Turkey, football, movies, and the start of the holiday shopping season. No, wait, the holiday shopping season started back around Labor Day, I think. But seriously, is that what Thanksgiving has come to? Turkey, football, movies, and shopping? An opportunity to eat 2,000 calories in one meal, then fall asleep on the couch from all the tryptophan in the turkey? Or is it so guys can watch three football games in a row, from morning till evening? Or for the ladies to watch three Hallmark Christmas movies in a row? Then get up the next morning at 5:00 a.m. to go buy presents for people you don’t like, with money you don’t have, for stuff they don’t need? Thanksgiving has become the Eve of Black Friday. Turkey, football, movies, and shopping: Is that what Thanksgiving is all about?

Thanksgiving Day has fallen on hard times. Even Halloween seems to have eclipsed it in popularity. And the Christmas decorations and Christmas music on the radio and Christmas TV specials all started the day after Halloween. So Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle.

Oh, but it’s not as though Americans don’t like their Thanksgiving. They do. They like having the day off from work or school. They like being able to see their family and friends–well, except maybe for Uncle Fred, who gets the gas from the turkey, or Cousin Verlene, whose dentures make that clacking sound, or your vegan niece with the nose ring, who wants to argue politics over the pumpkin pie. But, for the most part, we Americans like our Thanksgiving. It’s just, “Don’t bother me with the ‘giving thanks to God’ bit.”

Well, I’ve got news for you: That “giving thanks bit” is the reason Thanksgiving Day exists! The purpose of this day is for Americans to gather in their churches and give thanks to God for his blessings on our country. That’s why Thanksgiving Day was started in the first place. This is “America’s Day of National Thanksgiving.”

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Published in: on November 27, 2019 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Whose Kingdom Will Have No End” (Colossians 1:13-20)

Last Sunday of the Church Year
November 24, 2019

“Whose Kingdom Will Have No End” (Colossians 1:13-20)

All good things must come to an end. And this week we come to the end of the church year. Today is the Last Sunday of the Church Year, and at this time of the year, we focus on the last things, the end times. Last week, for instance, we said that “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near,” that day when Christ “will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.”

But if we just stop there, at the Last Day, we have not gone far enough. There’s more to come after that. The end is not the end! Think about what we just said in the Nicene Creed, “to judge both the living and the dead.” What comes right after it? “Whose kingdom will have no end.” No end! There is a kingdom that has no end! A never-ending kingdom, an everlasting one. So today let’s find out more about this kingdom and how we get to be part of it.

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Published in: on November 23, 2019 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near” (Luke 21:5-28)

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
November 17, 2019

“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near” (Luke 21:5-28)

“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near,” we just sang. Which day? The day “when Jesus, God’s anointed, in all His power shall appear as judge whom God appointed.” It’s the day when, as we confess in the Creed, Christ “will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.” This is a common theme in November. We’re approaching the end of the church year, and so our readings and our hymns emphasize the end times.

“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near.” Friends, we are living in the end times, the last days leading up to the Last Day, the great and glorious day of our Lord’s return. What will things be like as that day draws near? How should we react, knowing that the end is approaching?

Jesus forewarns us and forearms us for life in these end times. He does that in today’s Gospel reading. He forewarns us and forearms us for our life as his church, living in a hostile world full of conflict and distress. Jesus tells us what things will characterize this age. He wants us to know what we’re in for, so we can go forward with our eyes open. Jesus tells us how his church should live, knowing that the end is approaching. “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near.”

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Published in: on November 16, 2019 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Thanking God for All the Saints” (Revelation 7:9-17)

All Saints’ Day (Observed)
Sunday, November 3, 2019

“Thanking God for All the Saints” (Revelation 7:9-17)

Last week we celebrated Reformation Day. We remembered how Martin Luther broke with the Roman Catholic Church by saying that we are saved by grace through faith, faith in Christ, and not in the slightest measure by our works. This is the eternal gospel that Luther proclaimed loud and clear. And this doctrine of justification is the central teaching of the Christian faith. It is the article on which the church stands or falls. Sad to say, Rome has never corrected her errors on this most important teaching. And so this is still the underlying issue that divides Lutherans and Roman Catholics to this day.

At the same time, though, some people think that being Lutheran means that we must avoid anything they regard as “too Catholic.” For example, making the sign of the cross or chanting the liturgy or going to private confession–they think that we must not do these things or else we are being “Romish.”

Well, then, what do we do with a day like today? Because today we’re observing All Saints’ Day. Now what in the world is All Saints’ Day doing on a Lutheran church calendar? I thought “saints” were strictly for the Catholics. What do Lutherans have to do with saints?

What we do with them is to thank God for them. And praise God with them. And so our theme this morning: “Thanking God for All the Saints.”

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Published in: on November 3, 2019 at 1:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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“An Eternal Gospel to Proclaim” (Revelation 14:6-7)

Reformation Day (Observed)
Sunday, October 27, 2019

“An Eternal Gospel to Proclaim” (Revelation 14:6-7)

Our text is one of the traditional readings for Reformation Day, Revelation 14:6-7. There St. John writes: “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’”

Now the question immediately arises: How did this text come to be a reading for Reformation Day? What does this vision of an angel flying directly overhead with an eternal gospel to proclaim–what in the world does that have to do with the Lutheran Reformation?

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Published in: on October 26, 2019 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Sound Doctrine or Itching Ears?” (2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5)

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 20, 2019

“Sound Doctrine or Itching Ears?” (2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5)

Our text this morning is the Epistle reading from 2 Timothy. In his two letters to his young assistant Timothy, St. Paul emphasizes, over and over again, the importance of teaching in accord with sound doctrine. For instance, Paul instructs Timothy to “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me” and to “guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Likewise, today he says to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.”

Paul puts a high priority on sound doctrine. It is in that vein, then, that he gives Timothy this solemn charge: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

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Published in: on October 19, 2019 at 11:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Encouragement for St. Timidity” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 6, 2019

“Encouragement for St. Timidity” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

Fear, or timidity, can paralyze a person and render him ineffective. This is true when it comes to our life as Christians. We live in a hostile world. We’re in enemy territory. The world is not friendly to the Christian faith. Where will we find the courage we need to be faithful Christians? Faithful Christians are those not ashamed of the gospel, nor afraid of suffering for it. Not ashamed, not afraid. The alternative is that we turn into tame and timid “people-pleasers.” St. Paul addresses this issue when he writes to Timothy in our Epistle reading. And the question comes to us also: Will you be a faithful St. Timothy or a fearful “St. Timidity”?

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Published in: on October 5, 2019 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Thanking God for St. Michael and All Angels” (Revelation 12:7-12)

St. Michael and All Angels
September 29, 2019

“Thanking God for St. Michael and All Angels” (Revelation 12:7-12)

Today in the Christian church year is Michaelmas, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. It always falls on September 29, and since this year that date falls on a Sunday, that’s why we’re celebrating it today. Angels, thus, will be topic of this sermon: who they are, what they do, and why we thank God for them. We’ll even get into who this mysterious figure St. Michael is. So now let’s get to it, under the theme, “Thanking God for St. Michael and All Angels.”

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Published in: on September 27, 2019 at 4:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“One Mediator” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 22, 2019

“One Mediator” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

Our text this morning is a portion of the Epistle for this day, 1 Timothy 2, reading from verse 3 through verse 7, as follows: “God our Savior . . . desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle. . . .”

This has to be one of the most hated passages in the Bible in our day. Think of it: It boldly proclaims that there is only one mediator between God and men, and that it is the man Christ Jesus. That is just unacceptable! It is way too narrow for most people today. “One Mediator”?

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Published in: on September 21, 2019 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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