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Showing posts from June, 2012

Sermon on Luke 1:57-80, the Nativity of John the Baptist, "Heavenly Visitor"

Sermon Outline: 1.Nativity of John—not celebrated for the sake of the saint, but for the sake of the Greater One whom he gave his life in service to: Jesus. Also because he draws people to Christ. Sandals. John 3:30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Living in the shadow of another. John welcomed it, accepted his diminishing role. It was all for the glory of Christ. 2.Family, friends, and neighbors rejoiced together with Zechariah and Elizabeth. Zechariah’s song/prophecy, glorifying God. Song tells more about Christ and God than about John. So also our lives as saints of God should seek to give glory to God, and not ourselves. Arresting words: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.” What does it mean that God has visited His people? 3.Or what would it mean to say that we live on a “visited planet?” Modern fascination with extraterrestrials (lit. from outside earth). “Have we been visited?” Search for artifacts, eyewitnesses, tune in for e…

Sermon on Mark 4:26-34, for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, "The Automatic Seed"

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. We live in an automated age. A long list of conveniences relieve the drudgery of daily work, or simplify our daily tasks. We have automatic dishwashers to do our dishes, automatic sprinklers to water our yards, autopilot mechanisms that steer airplanes over long flights, automatic self-cleaning ovens, automatic coffee machines, automatic apps that send our pictures and files into “the Cloud”, and all sorts of other modern innovations that supposedly simplify our lives. Well in today’s reading we discover a much older innovation, a much older “automatic system” that has been at work for ages. It is the kingdom of God. How is it automatic, you ask?             Jesus tells a parable, that the kingdom of God is like a man scattering seed on the ground. Waking and sleeping, the farmer passes his days, and the seed sprouts and grows, but not by his knowledge or observation. Then in verse 28 our translations…

Sermon on Mark 3:20-35, for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, "Our Stronger Lord!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Are you familiar with the old-fashioned pastime of whittling? Carving a small, rough design out of a piece of wood? In grade school art we once carved a little dog out of a bar of Ivory Soap. As you whittle away, you carve off the pieces and edges that you see as undesirable, working down to find the shape you envision, locked inside the block of wood, or soap, or whatever you’re carving.             We’re tempted, all too often, to take the same approach to the Holy Bible, to God, and even Jesus Christ. We approach them like a block of wood, looking for the “real image” we have in our own mind, and we’re the whittlers with the knife, cutting away and shaping what we deem undesirable, so that we’re left with the God that we want. Smooth out the rough parts, knock down the sharp edges, sculpt Jesus until He’s mild and tame. We might find today’s reading to be an example of the sharp edges. Jesus sharpl…

Sermon on Acts 2:22-36, Holy Trinity Sunday, "The God of Action"

Sermon Outline: 1.How often do we really live according to the popular phrase, “It’s not about you; it’s about God/Jesus?” Our needs, desires, goals first—what’s in it for me? Not God and His Word first. Prayer is a good test of this: are we praying for “my will be done” or “Thy will be done?” Are we praying for God to change someone else, or do something that serves our needs, or praying for God to change us, for us to serve someone else? 2.A day like today, Trinity Sunday, and a text like our reading from Acts 2 are good ones for us. Like so many others, we’re just in the back seat, observing what God is doing. Good step back to see that it’s all about God, and Jesus. “God in Action”—God doing all the verbs, all the action in the reading. God doing stuff with, for, and through Jesus. 3.Just to review: God publicly attested to Jesus v. 22, God did the signs and miracles through Him v. 22, God appointed Him, had foreknowledge of Him v.23, God raised Him, loosing the bonds of death v.24,…

Sermon on Acts 2:1-21, Pentecost, "Call on the Lord!"

“Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen” The day of Pentecost has arrived, the name meaning fiftieth, as it has been 50 days since Jesus’ resurrection from the dead! Also 10 days since His ascension into heaven. On this 50th day, our church seasons shift from Easter into Pentecost, the season of the Holy Spirit and the growth He works through Christ’s church. On this 50th day, as you heard in our readings, the disciples gathered in the upper room, were “baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire” as Jesus promised, as tongues of flame appeared over their heads and they began to speak in other languages. Pentecost was already a festival day long before the New Testament, way back into the time of Moses, a harvest festival. But this first Christian Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection took on new significance as the disciples launched the Good News of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, out into the world in an un…