Showing posts from March, 2021

Sermon on Zechariah 9:11 & Mark 14:24, Palm Sunday 2021 (B), "The Blood of the Covenant"

  Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Zechariah, the Palm Sunday prophet, describes King Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Some 500 years before it happened, Zechariah wrote about a humble King entering Jerusalem on a donkey, and the joy of the inhabitants. The following chapters of Zechariah go into greater detail and foretell many details surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and the events of Holy Week. But we’re just going to zero in on a narrow phrase today. In Zechariah 9:11, God says “ because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free”. Then in Mark 14:24, at His Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus gives them the cup to drink and says, “ This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” What is this “ blood of the covenant ?” First, we need some background on covenants. A covenant is a little like a contract made between two groups or individuals. Contracts or agreements usually have terms and conditions, as well as pro

Sermon on Isaiah 49:1-6, Lent 6 Midweek, "One Little Word Can Fell Him!"

 Sermon from the series "Singing with the Exiles" by Rev. Reed Lessing “One Little Word Can Fell Him!” Isaiah 49:1-6 Lent 6   “ He made my mouth like a sharp sword .” Isaiah 49:2.   Sometimes a single word speaks volumes. A characteristic slang, or a drawl, or accent might give you away, in just one word. If a single word can single out a foreigner or a stranger, can’t a word distinguish the Lord's Servant? In our text, the Servant says, “ He made my mouth like a sharp sword .” A “mouth like a sharp sword” echoes the description of the coming son of David in Isaiah 11 as the one who will “strike the earth with the rod of his mouth.” Unlike Cyrus, who waged war “according to the flesh” this Servant will employ weapons “not of the flesh but they have divine power to destroy strongholds.” This “sword” or “rod” of the Servant’s mouth is not even a literal steel blade or staff, but words. In a power-world of military might and weapons, the words of a prophet m

Sermon on Mark 10:35-45, for the 5th Sunday in Lent 2021 (B), "The Road Between"

  Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. When you are watching an intense movie or reading a great book, you can instinctively tell when the plot is building to the climax. Jesus’ disciples, James and John certainly sensed something big around the corner, in Mark 10. And they weren’t wrong about that. Jesus had made His third and final prediction of His death and resurrection. He had just talked about eternal rewards, their persecution, and His own betrayal, death, and resurrection. But with the particular skill of selective hearing that we humans are best known for, James and John were caught up anticipating great things, while completely ignoring all the sacrifice and crosses on the road in between. Their request seems audacious: “ Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at yo

Sermon on Isaiah 48:17-22, Lent Midweek 5 2021, "Get Out!"

 Part 5 of Lent Midweek series "Singing with the Exiles" by Rev. Reed Lessing “Get out of Babylon , flee from Chaldea , declare it with a shout of joy.” Isaiah 48:20a.   Two urgent words are spoken to people in the following situations. Can you guess what they are? Three children are stuck inside a burning home. A family of five is stuck in a minivan plunging into a river. A talented young man is stuck in a dead-end job. Can you guess the two urgent words that are spoken to these people? What are they? “Get out!” In August of 586 BC Israel ’s world caved in. The temple collapsed, the monarchy lay in ruins, the land became a wasteland, and all hope was dismantled and destroyed. Then a massive aftershock brought further wreckage and ruin. Seven hundred miles from home, Israel ’s exiles became trapped in a basement called Babylon . And with every passing year, the Babylonian god Marduk seemed more and more powerful, while Yahweh seemed more and more incidental. Slowly bu

Sermon on John 3:16, for the 4th Sunday in Lent 2021 (B), "Healthy Rhythms"

  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. “Why do I have to go to church?” When we hear questions like these, maybe from children, or maybe from our own heart, we might ask more similar questions. “Why do I need to eat good food? Why do I need to sleep? Why should I exercise?” If we know how to answer those questions well, then we will better answer questions like “Why do I have to go to church?” Health. Well-being. We need it in body, mind, and soul. We need healthy rhythms for a healthy, wholesome life. Not a “law” or “demand” to “burden yourself” with nutrition, sleep, and exercise, or the spiritual rest and feeding of worship—rather, it is a gospel gift! It’s God’s generous blessing and a healthy rhythm for our own good! But sometimes “rhythms” seem boring and repetitive. Get up early every morning for school. Wash your face, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, make your bed. At the end of the day shower and clean up before bed and brush again. Go to

Sermon on Isaiah 45:1-8, for Lent 4 Midweek, "Breaking Down the Gates"

 Part 4 of series "Singing with the Exiles" by Rev. Reed Lessing “This is what the Lord says to His messiah, to Cyrus …I will break down the gates of bronze.” Isaiah 45:1-2. On the afternoon of August 5, 2010 the 121-year-old San José copper-gold mine in Chile, South America, caved in. Thirty-three men were trapped underneath 2,300 feet of solid rock. Seventeen days after the accident, a note written in bold red letters appeared taped to a drill bit when it was pulled to the surface after penetrating an area believed to be accessible to the trapped workers. It read simply, “ Estamos bien en el refugio, los treinta y tres. ” In English: “ We are fine in the shelter, the 33 of us. ” But they were in survival mode. They ate two spoonful’s of tuna, a sip of milk, and a morsel of peaches—every other day. They heard the voice that said, “You are locked in with no way out.” The Chilean miners knew; O God, they knew. But once the people at the top found out that the men we

Sermon on Exodus 20:1-17 and Hebrews 12:18-24, 3rd Sunday in Lent 2021 (B), "Two Mountains"

  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Our OT reading from Exodus 20 is the giving of the 10 Commandments on Mt. Sinai. I’ve substituted Hebrews 12 for the regular Epistle reading of the day. Hebrews contrasts two mountains. Mt. Sinai on the terrifying day when Israel came to the mountain to hear God directly speak the commandments out loud to them. And secondly, Mt. Zion, where we the gathered worshippers have come to this second mountain, and to Jesus Christ. Consider God’s work for us and our salvation at each mountain. First, Mt. Sinai. God delivered volumes of teaching, instruction, and laws to Moses and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai. Most of the 5 books of Moses. Sinai was the place of His revelation, God speaking to His people. But of all that God revealed to them, only the 10 Commandments God spoke directly to Israel without a mediator (Deut. 5; Ex. 20). Everything else came by Moses. But at the scene in Exodus and Hebrews 12 they heard the 1