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Showing posts from July, 2009

Sermon on Mark 6:45-56, for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, "Take Heart; I AM!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The miracles in today’s Gospel follow just after Jesus fed the 5,000 with the 5 loaves and 2 fishes. While Jesus was dismissing the crowds, He sent the disciples in the boat to cross the lake ahead of Him, and then He took some time alone for prayer. Today we’ll see how Jesus calls us to courage. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Try to picture the situation of the disciples. Jesus sent them out across the lake to Bethsaida late in the evening. Jesus finishes praying and sees that they’re struggling against a strong wind, and were making it across the lake with great difficulty. Their backs must have been bent hard against the oars, their muscles fatigued and failing, their spirits discouraged and distressed by the lack of progress. And it was the 4th watch of the night! That was the last watch of the night, which meant it was between 3-6 AM. This …

Sermon on Mark 6:30-44, for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, "They shall be Satisfied"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The setting for today’s reading is just after the disciples returned from their mission to preach the Gospel to the surrounding villages. They were tired and worn from the journey, and Jesus calls them to a desolate place to rest for awhile. Jesus knows that we all need a little time of rejuvenation, and that we need to take care of our bodies, as well as our souls. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Can you imagine what it would be like if crowds of people rushed to church every morning? That they were desperately hungry to be fed by the Word of God? And not only did they hurry, but they beat everyone else there? To be first in line? We have a hard time imagining it. Sometimes just to show up seems an effort. But it does happen. Just because we aren’t always so eager doesn’t mean that people elsewhere aren’t. In Madagascar, for example, the people …

Sermon on Ephesians 1:3-14 for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, "Predestined to the Praise of His Glory"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The reading from Ephesians today is rich and full in counting up the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ Jesus. Among those, it speaks repeatedly of our being “predestined.” Today we’ll take a beginning look at that difficult and often avoided mystery of “predestination.” Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

God has given us the knowledge of predestination to give comfort and assurance to believers. Yet oftentimes this Biblical teaching is ignored as too “abstract” or “impractical,” or it is sometimes viewed with some fear because we don’t understand it. At worst, it’s denied altogether, though there are many places in Scripture where it’s clearly taught. But first, what does “predestine” mean? It refers to that fact that God chose His children ahead of time for salvation. As verse 4-5 explains: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the …

Sermon on Mark 6:1-13, for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost. "Honor Jesus with your Heart."

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. In today’s Gospel we have a picture of Jesus being rejected in His hometown, and later how He prepares His disciples for similar rejection. But we also have a picture of how this rejection gave His Gospel, the good news, the momentum to scatter and spread to all sorts of new places. “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown,” Jesus said. Let’s honor Jesus today in our hearts by receiving His Gospel. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Many people live with a crippling fear of rejection. They won’t act to seize opportunity because they fear that they’ll be rejected. The anticipation of that pain holds them back from action. But thanks be to God that Jesus wasn’t controlled by any such fear of rejection! He faced harsh and real rejection again and again. In His hometown of Nazareth, among family and friends He’d known from childhood, He r…