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The First Sunday in Advent + Romans 13:1-4 + Matthew 21:1-9

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I once received an “Ask The Pastor” question that dealt with the choice of Scripture on this day. It went something like this, “Dear Pastor, why is the gospel lesson for the first Sunday in Advent Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which takes place at the beginning of holy week? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to begin Advent with the story of Zachariah and Elizabeth or something else that happened before Christ’s birth?” That’s a good question. If Advent were merely a “pre-Christmas” season then it would make sense to hear about the angel Gabriel appearing to Zachariah in the temple, the birth of his son John, or even Gabriel’s announcing to Mary that the she would conceive the Son of God in her womb by the power of the Holy Ghost. But Advent isn’t a pre-Christmas season. There’s no doubt that it prepares us to celebrate the Nativity of Christ on the twenty-fifth but the focus of this season is much broader t…

Last Sunday of the Church Year + Matthew 25:1-13

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
We’re used to waiting. We do a lot of it throughout our lives. We wait for our next meal. We wait in line. We wait for other people. We wait for test results and doctor’s appointments. We want for things to happen. We wait for things to change. We’re no strangers to waiting. On this last Sunday of the church year Jesus tells us that we must also wait for Him. He tells us how to wait for His return lest, through impatience or ingratitude, we give up. He says, “The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” The church consists of virgins. Not physical virgins but spiritual as St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:2. He writes, “I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Christians are virgins in that they are pure, not by their own works and preparations but because they trust Christ for their salva…

2nd to Last Sunday in the Church Year + Matthew 25:31-46

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
St. Paul tells the Athenians in Acts 17:31 that God “has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” The man by whom God the Father will judge the world is His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified, died, and was buried, yet rose from dead on the third day. As His resurrection is true, so is His second coming to judge the living and the dead. But as it goes for the resurrection, so it goes for His return. Mockers and scoffers who don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead have no reason to believe that He’ll return in judgment. The unbelieving world stops up its ears. People go on with their lives imagining that such a day will never come. And if there are some who think that that day might actually come, they calm their consciences by imagining that God will judge them base…

3rd Last Sunday in the Church Year + Matthew 24:15-28

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
At the beginning of Matthew 24, Jesus tells shows His disciples the beautiful Jerusalem temple and says, “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (24:2). Later they ask Him, “When will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (24:3). In the mind of the disciples, these two events would happen together. The temple, they imagined, would last until the Last Day. Jesus answers their two questions with one answer. He tells when the Temple will fall so that not one stone will be left upon another. Then immediately He tells them the sign of His second coming and the end of the age. Christ combines the destruction of the Temple and His second coming, not because the disciples think that’s the case, but to show them, and you, that as it will go for Jerusalem one day, it will go for the entire world.
When wil…

20th Sunday after Trinity + Matthew 22:1-14

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Many are called but few are chosen.” With today’s parable Jesus teaches us the doctrine of predestination or eternal election. The Greek work translated “chosen” is also translated “elect.” Whenever Christ or the Apostle Paul begins speaking about eternal election we’re tempted to think it as something it’s not. The idea in the mind of most is that God, from eternity, made an arbitrary and absolute decree of who would be saved and who would be damned. People imagine God gathering the entire human race before Him and electing this one and that one to eternal life, while electing the rest to eternal damnation. The idea of a “double” predestination, that God predestines some to life and others do damnation, is not found in the Holy Scriptures but comes from the imagination of sinful man. Neither is the idea that predestination is absolute, without regard for anything whatsoever, found in Holy Scripture. Chr…

Festival of the Reformation + Matthew 11:12-15

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Jesus isn’t speaking of persecution or hostility toward the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven isn’t something that violent men can take by force as if it were an earthly kingdom or institution. The violence the kingdom suffered during the days of John and Jesus was the violence of faith. Faith hears the words of John and Jesus that sinners enter the kingdom of heaven by God’s grace through faith in Christ, and it rushes into the kingdom. The violent who took the kingdom of heaven by force are those who, hearing the gospel of the free forgiveness of sins, stormed the doors of the kingdom which they had previously thought were closed to all except those who fulfilled the Law. “For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah wh…

18th Sunday after Trinity + Matthew 22:34-46

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Christ has silenced the Sadducees. The Sadducees denied the resurrection of the body on the Last Day. They were Jews that liked the Greek way of thinking a bit too much, which thought that body caused too many problem and it was the soul that lived on. So they tried to show Jesus the foolishness of the resurrection by pitting it against Mosaic Law. They put forward this scenario: A man marries a woman but dies before they have a child. By Mosaic Law, the man’s brother was to step in and produce an heir who would carry on his deceased brother’s name in Israel. Except that brother died. What if there were seven brothers? What if none of them produced a child? In the resurrection, whose wife would this woman be? Jesus responds by saying they know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. First He corrects their thinking about the resurrection. “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marri…