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Sermon on 1 John 1:1-2:2, 2nd Sunday of Easter 2021 (B), "Raised for Fellowship"

    Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed, Alleluia! Easter called us to trust Jesus’ reliable Word, and witness how our Risen Good Shepherd comes to His beloved sheep. These next six weeks of the Easter season we’ll study 1 st John to explore Jesus’ resurrection gifts and blessings to His church. In 1 John 1, I want to zero in on verses 3-7. They tell the effect of the resurrection message: “ that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from

Sermon on Mark 16:1-8, Easter Sunday 2021 (B), "Just as He told you"

  Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia! We’ve been spending this year in the Gospel of Mark, which builds up to the final chapter, Jesus’ resurrection here in chapter 16. Mark 16 describes day one of Jesus’ Resurrection. He’d planned it; He’ described it in advance on at least three times. His entire ministry up to this point had been proof that His Word was absolutely reliable—everything He said came true. Jesus never says something and doesn’t follow through, like we’re sadly so used to seeing or doing. Therefore, they should have been ready for His Word to come true, “just as He said.” Instead, on day one of the resurrection, everything is chaos, surprise, and fear. Because they didn’t believe what Jesus had told them. Fear and disbelief controlled their thinking. Thankfully, we know things didn’t stay like they were at the start of day one. They eventually saw Jesus face to face, in the flesh, touched Him, ate with Him, conversed with Him. They got their composure back,

Sermon on Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Good Friday, "All!"

 Sermon on   Isaiah 52:13-53:12 for  Good Friday  by Rev. Reed Lessing, the "Singing with the Exiles" series.   “See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.” Isaiah 52:13.     Kol in Hebrew. Pas in Greek. Omnis in Latin. Alles in German. Todos in Spanish. Visi in Latvian. It’s the most superlative word in any language.   A-L-L all. Total, complete, entire, everything. ALL. The most superlative word for the most climactic section of the Old Testament, chapters 52-53, called the Fourth Servant Song of Isaiah. The Lord’s Servant, described here, had it all.               Isaiah 52:13, “See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.” These words “raised” and “lifted up” describe only one other person in Isaiah, who gets that royal treatment. In Isaiah 6:1 the prophet sees the Lord God sitting exalted on His heavenly throne: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on

Sermon on Isaiah 49:7-13, for Maundy Thursday 2021, "He Prepares a Table"

 Sermon on  Isaiah 49:7-13 for  Maundy Thursday,  from Rev. Reed Lessing, "Singing with the Exiles" series.  “They shall not hunger or thirst.” Isaiah 49:9.   When was the last time you gave this commentary on your life? “Deader than a door-nail; a lost cause; time to throw in the towel; Sayonara baby; the fat lady has sung ...or the mighty Casey has struck out!” Israel gave this very commentary on her own life during the dark days of the Babylonian exile. Today Isaiah speaks to this people of a lost cause. You see, Isaiah knew that the days were coming when Israel would have no temple, no Jerusalem, no Davidic king, no annual pilgrim feasts, no commercial or political significance, and no hope! Mighty Casey will strike out! Or, to use Israel 's favorite – “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion .” T heir preeminence and years of glory were but a mournful, distant memory. Isaiah 49:9–12 continues the message of redemption with the Se

Sermon on Zechariah 9:11 & Mark 14:24, Palm Sunday 2021 (B), "The Blood of the Covenant"

  Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Zechariah, the Palm Sunday prophet, describes King Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Some 500 years before it happened, Zechariah wrote about a humble King entering Jerusalem on a donkey, and the joy of the inhabitants. The following chapters of Zechariah go into greater detail and foretell many details surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and the events of Holy Week. But we’re just going to zero in on a narrow phrase today. In Zechariah 9:11, God says “ because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free”. Then in Mark 14:24, at His Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus gives them the cup to drink and says, “ This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” What is this “ blood of the covenant ?” First, we need some background on covenants. A covenant is a little like a contract made between two groups or individuals. Contracts or agreements usually have terms and conditions, as well as pro

Sermon on Isaiah 49:1-6, Lent 6 Midweek, "One Little Word Can Fell Him!"

 Sermon from the series "Singing with the Exiles" by Rev. Reed Lessing “One Little Word Can Fell Him!” Isaiah 49:1-6 Lent 6   “ He made my mouth like a sharp sword .” Isaiah 49:2.   Sometimes a single word speaks volumes. A characteristic slang, or a drawl, or accent might give you away, in just one word. If a single word can single out a foreigner or a stranger, can’t a word distinguish the Lord's Servant? In our text, the Servant says, “ He made my mouth like a sharp sword .” A “mouth like a sharp sword” echoes the description of the coming son of David in Isaiah 11 as the one who will “strike the earth with the rod of his mouth.” Unlike Cyrus, who waged war “according to the flesh” this Servant will employ weapons “not of the flesh but they have divine power to destroy strongholds.” This “sword” or “rod” of the Servant’s mouth is not even a literal steel blade or staff, but words. In a power-world of military might and weapons, the words of a prophet m

Sermon on Mark 10:35-45, for the 5th Sunday in Lent 2021 (B), "The Road Between"

  Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. When you are watching an intense movie or reading a great book, you can instinctively tell when the plot is building to the climax. Jesus’ disciples, James and John certainly sensed something big around the corner, in Mark 10. And they weren’t wrong about that. Jesus had made His third and final prediction of His death and resurrection. He had just talked about eternal rewards, their persecution, and His own betrayal, death, and resurrection. But with the particular skill of selective hearing that we humans are best known for, James and John were caught up anticipating great things, while completely ignoring all the sacrifice and crosses on the road in between. Their request seems audacious: “ Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at yo