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Showing posts from November, 2009

Sermon on Luke 19:28-40, for the First Sunday in Advent, "Your King is Coming!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Happy New Year! The new cycle of the church’s calendar begins this First Sunday in Advent, as the year begins with the expectation of Christ’s coming. Only we’re no longer awaiting the Christ child’s coming birth, as the prophets of Israel foretold, and has long ago been fulfilled. Rather we’re living in the expectation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead. In Advent we wait for our King, who’s coming to us, and we ready our hearts for His arrival. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

It may seem strange to you that the church year begins out-of-sync with the regular calendar, by beginning almost 1 month sooner. It may seem even more strange that we have a reading about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the First Sunday in Advent! Why is Palm Sunday, from the week before Jesus’ death, brought into the season of A…

Sermon on Philippians 4:6-20 for Thanksgiving Day. "Thankful Thoughts and Life!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a holiday where we especially desire and encourage thankfulness to God. In today’s reading from Philippians, Paul shows us thankfulness in two ways: in having thankful thoughts and in a thankful life, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. Paul wasn’t writing this from some position of comfort and ease, but he taught the Philippians contentment while he was writing from prison. He was in chains and facing possible death, yet in that dark place he rejoiced and gave thanks to the Lord. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Learning to have thankful thoughts and a thankful life is a spiritual discipline. It’s an exercise of our faith and a practice of growth in maturity. As a discipline, it’s something that doesn’t seem pleasant at the time, but in the end all discipline produces a harvest of righteousness (Heb. 12:11…

Sermon on Mark 13:24-37, for the Last Sunday in the Church Year, "From Survival to Salvation"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Today is the Last Sunday in the Church Year, a day on which we particularly focus on and remember the promised return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead. The text is the Gospel of Mark. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

If the popularity of Hollywood disaster movies is any indication at all, the spectacular and terrifying end of the world and/or civilization as we know it is a topic that fascinates a lot of people. Several times a year we’re treated with the newest scenario for the end of the world/judgment day. Humanity is alternately wiped out by aliens, giant asteroids, killer diseases, rampaging robots, vast computer intelligences, nuclear holocausts, global warming, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. What’s popular this month is the movie 2012, which says the Ancient Mayans ended their calendar in that year because they predicted doomsday then…

Sermon on Hebrews 10:11-25 for the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, "Draw Near With a True Heart"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. On All Saints’ Day two weeks ago we heard this verse from the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” To have access to God, to see Him, we must be pure in heart. Those words could strike fear in the heart of every sinner and shake their confidence, because who can claim to have a pure heart? But our reading today says that we do have confidence and the full assurance of faith. Today we’ll see what the Christian’s confidence is, and how it affects how we live out our Christian life. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Its common for us to say or hear someone say: “That person has a good heart.” Usually by this we mean they’re kind, generous, loving or something like that. And it’s not as though people only mean Christians when they talk this way. While this certainly can be true by our standards, that one person is nicer …

Sermon on Mark 13:38-44, for LWML Sunday, "Of Mites and Women"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Today on this Lutheran Women’s Missionary League or LWML Sunday, we remember that even the smallest gift, given in faith, can be of great effect. So we look to the example of the widow who Jesus describes in the reading, who gave her last two mites as her offering in faith. It’s faith, not the size of the gift that made this widow a spiritual “big-giver.” Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Psalm 16:5-6 reads: “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” A portion is your slice of the pie, it’s the piece that’s given to you. If you are a hungry eater, you go for the larger portions. A lot is your portion of an inheritance. It’s the property, wealth, or possessions that are designated for you in an inheritance. But the Psalmist says “The LORD” is m…

Scripture Alone in the Lutheran Reformation

Happy Reformation Day! This October 31st, 2009 is the 492nd year since Martin Luther began the Reformation of the Christian church on October 31st, 1517, by nailing 95 Theses or Statements to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. The events that followed that initial protest against the church’s corruption of salvation have reverberated through history and we in the Lutheran church are heirs of that Reformation. While most of us aren’t students of history, there are many valuable lessons relating to Christian faith and life, and to the definition of the church that we would do well to learn from that period, so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of history.

I want to briefly focus your attention this month on one particular issue of importance that was debated during the Reformation. That was the authority of the Bible, or Holy Scripture. You may be familiar with one Lutheran slogan of the Reformation: “Sola Scriptura” or “through Scripture Alone.” The question was this: “What is the…

Lutherans in the News Lately

Lutherans aren’t known for getting a lot of attention in the news. They tend to slip under the radar more often than not—while other Christian churches make the headlines. But things changed in August, as headlines like these flashed: “Lutherans adopt more open view on gays,” “Lutherans approve gay ministers.” What’s all this about? The 4.8 million member Lutheran denomination, the “Evangelical Lutheran Church of America” (ELCA), passed recent measures in their national assembly to endorse homosexual marriage and allow the ordination of homosexual pastors in their church. (Side note: a remarkable thing occurred at the same time these measures were being passed on the convention floor in Minneapolis: without warning, a tornado briefly struck downtown Minneapolis, and caused a highly selective bit of damage…It knocked the cross off of the steeple on the ELCA church across from the convention center! You can see the picture and read one ELCA pastor’s reflections on it here: http://www.wo…

Sermon on Revelation 7:9-17, for All Saints' Day. "Who are the Saints?"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. A blessed All Saints’ Day to you, dear saints and children of God! Yes, you also are saints! Not because any of us “have what it takes” to be considered “saints,” but because Christ Jesus has washed and cleansed us by His blood, and we’re “holy ones” or saints in His eyes. Today we remember the saints that have gone before us in Jesus’ name, and we look at the passage from Revelation to see a heavenly vision, and answer the question, “Who are the Saints?” Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The first answer our reading gives to the question of “who are the saints?” is that the saints are believers from every nation, tribe, people and language. The beauty of a diverse and colorful heaven is portrayed, with believers from every nation represented. Considering this was written almost 2,000 years ago, it’s a pretty remarkable statement against racial pre…