Showing posts from August, 2016

Sermon on Hebrews 13:1-17, for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, "Life in Harmony with God's Design"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. This is the fourth and last week where our readings are from the end of Hebrews. Previously we’ve seen how Hebrews makes the case that Jesus is superior over all things, and that our faith is centered in Him. The closing chapters show how to run the race by faith, endure hardships, receive God’s discipline, and be encouraged by the heavenly cloud of witnesses that cheer us on. In this last chapter, the author picks up what might seem like some miscellaneous pieces of advice on how to live. They are called “exhortations”, or encouragements to continue doing what is right. Exhortations are a form of the “Law”, or commands of God—but with the difference that they’re set in the context of the new identity we’ve been given in the Gospel—the reality that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, and made us a new creation and new community in Him. Let me explain a little more.

Sermon on Hebrews 12:4-24, for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, "Disciplined to Receive His holiness"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. The Olympics always feature dramatic stories of the struggle, perseverance, and the hard-fought victories of athletes, and the hardships and intense training that preceded their competition for the gold medal. The attention focused on the athletes is intense; often they are flattered with praise—but just as quickly they can bear the brunt of criticism, suspicion, or doubt, for their failures inside and outside of the game. Every athlete faces the specter of discouragement and the temptation to quit, when the road gets tough. The stakes are high, with the whole world competing, only once every four years, and with only 3 medals to be captured in each event Last week Pastor Roschke drew on the imagery of the “race” that we are running “by faith” as Christians. How “Team Emmanuel” is being cheered on by the cloud of witnesses in heaven, who are encouraging us as we run the race, with

Sermon on Hebrews 11:1-16, for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, "Living in God's Promises"

            Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Our reading from Hebrews 11 is a famous chapter in the Bible—sometimes called the “Faith Hall of Fame”. Chapter 11 holds a key place near the end of the book. Just to summarize the main thrust of the book—it’s that Jesus Christ is superior to all other things. From God’s former revelation in the Old Testament; to angels, to Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, to all forms of the priesthood, to all the sacrifices and worship forms of the Old Testament. The book of Hebrews builds a crescendo of reasons why Christ is over and above all things, and then concludes that we should place all our faith fully in Him. Chapter 11 fits into the book as a list of examples of Old Testament heroes of faith, who did not shrink back and give up when their faith was challenged or put to the test—but they held firm to their faith and lived on in the promise of God. The faith of these her