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2nd Sunday in Advent + Luke 21:25-36 + December 9, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The first Sunday in Advent focuses our attention on Christ’s first advent in the flesh when He came in humility and meekness to win salvation for sinful humanity. This Sunday draws our attention to His Second Advent when He will descend from heaven in glory. Before He returns, “there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.” These aren’t specific signs that each only happen once. These are signs that we see in every generation since the Lord’s ascension. We see signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars. Just last summer when we witnessed the solar eclipse. Because we live in a world where information races across the globe via the internet, we are acutely away of the distress …

Wednesday after Advent 1 + Revelation 2:1-11 + December 5, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
At the beginning of Revelation, Christ appears in the midst of seven golden lampstands, holding seven stars in His hand. The seven stars are the messengers, or pastors, of the seven churches which are the seven lampstands. Christ commands St. John to write to these seven churches of Asia Minor, that is, modern Turkey, to warn them of their sins and strengthen their faith. Since Revelation communicates through numbers and pictures, we see these seven churches as a symbol of the entire church, the universal church spread across all lands and all history. That makes Christ’s words to these specific seven churches words to all churches. Christ speaks to the universal church to warn her of temptations which, if they are not overcome, will disqualify her from everlasting life. What we will see in these seven letters is that these specific church’s temptations are universal to the entire church, even to ours. By God’s gr…

1st Sunday in Advent + Matthew 21:1-9 + Romans 13:11-14 + December 2, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The world is closer to Christmas than the Church is right now. The world has its Christmas trees up, its decorations hung, and its shopping going on. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things. But the world only has those things. The world’s version of Christmas, which is simply a gaudy imitation of the real Christmas, is in full swing, racing toward the 25th for the giving and receiving of gifts. Once the Thanksgiving turkey is put away, the world starts in on its version of Christmas immediately. Not so the church. The tree may be up but we are not yet celebrating the nativity of our Lord in the flesh. First comes Advent and Advent is its own animal. While the world is in the midst of its Christmas season already, Advent calls Christians to prepare their hearts for Christ’s second coming, for that’s what ‘advent’ means, “coming” or “arrival.” How do we prepare our hearts for Christ’s Second Advent? By conte…

Last Sunday of the Church Year + Matthew 25:1-13 + November 25, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Jesus asks in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” It’s a chilling question. The church will continue forever. There will be believers in Christ throughout all of history, but in the last days that number will be small. Jesus says something similar in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” So it will be, and already is, that the number of those who truly believe Christ are few and far between in spite of the size of visible Christendom. Paul’s words in Romans 9:6 that “they are not all Israel who are of Israel” should serve as a warning to anyone who imagines that simply being a member of the church will save them. For many who were physical Israelites were not…

National Day of Thanksgiving + Luke 17:11-19 + November 21, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Today we hear again of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed. We hear this gospel lesson every year on the fourteenth Sunday after Trinity. But it is good for us to hear it again on this National Day of Thanksgiving. The connection is obvious. Ten men with leprosy, a living death in which their flesh decays a bit more each day, cry out to Christ, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Christ shows them that He is gracious and compassionate to those who humbly seek mercy from Him. He says only, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” He tells them this because according to the Law of Moses, Leviticus specifically, the priest’s duties included examining sores on the children of Israel to see whether or not they were leprous. If the priest found the sore to be leprous he declared the man unclean. But if a leper was healed by the grace of God, the priest would examine him once again to publically testify that the man was now cle…

26th Sunday after Trinity + Matthew 25:31-46 + November 18, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
What makes a person a sheep? It’s tempting to look at Christ’s parable with a quick glance and answer, “Works!” And this is how many see it when Christ commends the good works of the sheep. “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” “Do this and inherit the kingdom.” But their works aren’t what makes these people into lambs of the Lord Jesus. They are sheep because during their earthly lives they heard the voice of the Good Shepherd and believed His word. In John 10:26-28 Jesus tells the Jews, “But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.” The Pharisees r…

25th Sunday after Trinity + Matthew 24:15-28 + November 11, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The final Sundays of the church year direct our thoughts to the end of all things and the return of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Last Day. In today’s Gospel lesson Jesus teaches His disciples about the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the world. He teaches them about both because they’ve asked about both. This chapter begins with Jesus saying of the Temple, “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” His disciples ask Him, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus answers both of their questions, using the end of Jerusalem and its temple as a prototype for the end of the age, so that as it would go for Jerusalem so it would go for the entire world. And just as there was but one way of escape from Jerusalem’s judgment, so too at the end of the age there is but one way to escape from th…