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Showing posts from December, 2018

Sunday after Christmas + Luke 2:33-40

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The world is finished with its Christmas celebration by now and has moved onto its celebration of the new calendar year. But for the Church today is the sixth day of Christmas and the Sunday after Christmas. The appointed gospel lesson jumps ahead forty days after Jesus’ birth to Mary’s purification in the temple at Jerusalem. The text picks up in the middle of things. “And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.” The words at which they marveled were the words of the aged priest Simeon, who had taken the child in his elderly arms and spoken the words which we now sing every Sunday in the Nunc Dimittis after receiving the Lord’s Supper where we see the salvation of the Lord prepared for all people. In the Lord’s Supper we, like Simeon, receive Christ physically, but under bread and wine, and our sins are once again forgiven. After saying that the Lord can now let him depart from thi…

The Nativity of Our Lord + John 1:1-14 + December 25, 2018

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The prophet Isaiah wrote in his ninth chapter, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” The child that is born for us, this Son that is given to us is no mere child, just as His birth is no ordinary birth. The child born of the Virgin Mary, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manager is God the Word, the one of whom St. John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word is eternal, being with God from the beginning. The Word was God, John says. He does not say that the Word became God, or that the Word was created by God in the beginning to stand alongside God or next to God. The Word was not fashioned like the rest of creation. The Word simply was. He has always existed, being eternally generated from the God the Father in a way that is ineffable and indescribable and unfathomable. Paul describes Him in a similar fashion in this morning’…

Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord + Luke 2:1-10 + December 24, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The birth of Christ the Lord is preached first not to princes or priests but to lowly shepherds. It matches the lowliness and humility of Christ’s birth. No room in the inn among civilized folk, only room among the animals. No crib for a bed, only the animals feeding trough. It makes sense that this good news would be preached first to shepherds who were generally poor and held a rather low station in life. But in spite of their lowliness they get quite a preacher. “Behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.” Of course they were afraid. You would have been, too. When an angel of the Lord appears, shining in heavenly glory, fear is the only proper response. In the Old Testament when Balaam sees the angel of the Lord standing before him, “he bowed his head and fell flat on his face” (Numbers 22:31). When Samson’s parents realize they’ve …

4th Sunday in Advent + John 1:19-28 + December 23, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
This is the testimony of John. All men should repent of their sins and receive baptism for the remission of sins. John was something new. He was less like his father Zacharias, a Levite and priest, offering sacrifices, and more of a prophet, prophesying that the Messiah who was to come was near. That’s why “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him” (Matt. 3:5). Many went out to confess their sins and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. But not everyone. The Temple folk from Jerusalem sent a delegation of Levites to the wilderness, to Bethabara where John was baptizing, to figure out who John was. “Who are you?” they ask, to which John responds bluntly, “I am not the Christ.” Apparently some were of the mind that John himself was the Messiah. You can see why. He appears in the desert, preaching repentance and baptizing as if he were sent by directly by God Himself becaus…

3rd Sunday in Advent + Matthew 11:2-10 + December 16, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
John the Baptist sends two of his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” These men doubted whether Jesus could actually be the promised Messiah. John had preached, “One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:16-17). None of that was happening. Jesus preached repentance, just as John had done. But there was no baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, at least at that point. There was not sweeping out the threshing floor in judgment. Jesus had not gathered the wheat, believers, into His heavenly garner while burning the chaff, unbelievers, in unquenchable fire. That would come at Christ’s second advent, not the first. …

Wednesday after Advent 2 + Revelation 2:12-22 + December 12, 2018

[This sermon was preached on Wednesday, Dec 19th due to pastor being ill on the 12th. There will not be a sermon on the letters to the three remaining churches in Revelation 3.]
In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Last week we heard the glorified Christ tells the saints at Smyrna, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). In Smyrna the church would face persecution for ten days, a relatively brief time. Although it was men that would apprehend the Christians and incarcerate them, it was the work of the devil. In the first letter for our consideration this week, Christ’s letter to the saints at Pergamos, we see that these saints have a greater share of persecution than the Smyrneans. Christ tells them, “I know your works, and where…

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…