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Showing posts from January, 2018

Sermon on 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5, for Septuagesima ("Seventy") (1 Yr Lectionary), "Finish with Christ"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Today in 1 Corinthians, in two pictures, Paul shows us how to finish the Christian life with Christ—first, a runner competing to win a race, and second, the journey of Israel through the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt. Both picture the dangers and challenges of not finishing that race or journey—but they also point us to the imperishable crown of eternal life that we find only in Christ Jesus, our Spiritual Rock. Each picture has something to teach us about our Christian life, so let’s look at each in turn. First, Paul uses the picture of a runner trying to finish the race. Next month’s Winter Olympics help us remember that it takes dedication and hard work to compete at the highest levels. As he wrote this, Paul might have been remembering the Isthmian Games, which were held in off-years between the ancient Greek Olympics, near Corinth. Ten months of training was required for…

Sermon on Psalm 84:1-2a, 4, 10-11; 77:18b (Introit), for the Transfiguration of Our Lord (1 YR Lectionary), "How Lovely is it to be with God's Beloved Son"

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord... For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.”In just a few words, when Peter says to Jesus, at His Transfiguration: “It’s good Lord to be here” and offers to build dwellings for Jesus and the rest of them to stay there; Peter is echoing the thoughts of Psalm 84, our Introit. Like Peter marveling about the glory of being in Jesus’ presence, so the Psalm speaks of the delight of being together with God in His dwelling place, His courts; how his soul thirsts to stay with the living God forever. At the Transfiguration, when the Father speaks from the heavens, He does not answer Peter’s suggestion, but calls him to silence and to listen to Jesus. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” As God’s courts and dwelling place are lovely to the people, so God’s Son Jesus is lovely to the Father. Dear to both God’s heart and ours, is Jesus. Je…

Sermon on John 2:1-11, for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany (1 YR lectionary), "Jesus' Goodness did not remain hidden"

By God’s grace may I make the Word of God fully known to you, the mystery hidden for ages and generations, but now revealed to his saints…this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim! (Colossians 1:25b-26, 27b-28a). In 1 Timothy 5:24–25, it says: “The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.” This tells us that sometimes, when a good work is done, it’s not obvious or noticed. But even so, it can’t remain hidden. Jesus’ miracle at the wedding at Cana was this way. He worked behind the scenes, as secretly as could be done—with only His mother and disciples and the servants aware that He had miraculously changed water into wine. Jesus didn’t announce His good deed; He didn’t step in to take credit when the master of the banquet praised the groom for the excellence of the wine, and the surprise of saving it for la…

Sermon on Joshua 3:1-17, for the Baptism of Our Lord, "Deliverance in the Waters"

God speaks tenderly to His people in Isaiah 43:1b–2a,  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. God redeems His people and carries them safely through the waters. Redemption through waters is a running theme all throughout the Bible. Noah’s Flood, the Red Sea, the crossing of the Jordan River, Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan, and Jesus’ command to Go and make disciples of all nations—baptizing them. Waters of judgment against sin and enemies, and waters of deliverance washing over His people—God is with them as they pass through the waters. And when Jesus stands in those same waters at His baptism, we know how true those words are: I will be with you. In the waters of baptism He calls us by name: ______, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. And called by name, you were also given God…

Sermon on Luke 2:33-40, 1st Sunday after Christmas (1 Yr lectionary), "Blessings on the Christ Child"

By God’s grace may I make the Word of God fully known to you, the mystery hidden for ages and generations, but now revealed to his saints…this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim! (Colossians 1:25b-26, 27b-28a). In today’s Gospel Joseph and Mary are finishing their first visit with baby Jesus to the Temple, and performing the duties required by the Law. For those who keep track of dates and time, today we observe the 7th day of Christmas, and tomorrow would be the 8th—the day we remember Jesus’ circumcision and naming. The parting gift Joseph and Mary receive is the marvelous words and blessings of Simeon and Anna, two elderly believers who honor the infant Jesus and bless Joseph and Mary in their new responsibility of parenting Jesus. Age and youth are beautifully positioned side by side here, with aged Simeon and Anna as models of faith and hope in the promised Savior, and how they joyfully received the baby Jesus and thanked and praised God for Him. …