Posts from 2019

Posts from 2019

A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE WISE MEN

Isaiah foretold it.  “Nations will walk to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:1-3  EHV).  The first example of this, as we edge toward the Epiphany season, is found not in the Gospel of Luke from which our Christmas themes are taken this year.  Rather, it is in the Gospel of Matthew that we learn about the Wise Men. The Wise Men arrive in Jerusalem asking:  “Where is He who has been born King of…

ADVENT’S UNSCRUPULOUS INVITATION

First, some dictionary definitions: “Scruples” –  doubts or hesitation about doing or allowing something because of conscience or principles.   “Scrupulous” – having scruples; being principled, very conscientious and exacting, strictly honest or honorable.”    “Unscrupulous” – you guessed it – without moral scruples or qualms of conscience.” C.S. Lewis once said that God’s grace was “unscrupulous.”  At first that sounds like God has no scruples, no morals, no standards.  God’s law has all kinds of morals, scruples, standards. They are holy…

IT’S ADVENT! EAT UP!

Advent is a season of preparation as we remember Christ’s first coming in lowliness and look forward to His second coming in glory.  The preparation may take the form of reading a chapter or two in the Bible each day, perhaps the opening chapters of each of the four Gospels. But in the hurry and pressure of the season, we might see it as one more time-bandit on our to-do list.    It can all become something we are doing…

A NEW SERMON SERIES – THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN

Today we begin a new sermon series – The Gospel According To St. John. During the week of Christmas & New Years, we will break from our series to consider the Christmas accounts from The Gospel According To St. Luke, and then we will return to John’s Gospel. God the Holy Spirit has chosen to record the life of our Savior in four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Each of these accounts pursues a different angle.  Even the…

TURN OUR HEARTS, O LORD!

Calling to mind the prophecy of Malachi, the angel Gabriel tells old Zechariah that his son, John the Baptist, will go before the Savior to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, to turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous”  (Luke 1:17).  Where this does not happen, said the prophet Malachi, then there is nothing left but “complete destruction” for those unprepared for the coming of Christ (Malachi 4:6).  So just what does this mean?  By…

VICTORY!

On this final Sunday of the liturgical Church Year, our thoughts turn to Christ’s final appearing, to the arrival of the King of Kings, to the sweet comfort of which Paul wrote in Romans 8:  “So then, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”    What will happen to us in that moment when He returns?  Here is how St. Paul so elegantly puts it in 1 Corinthians 15: 51 Look, I tell you a mystery. We…

SAINTS TRIUMPHANT

This particular Sunday has come to be called “Saints Triumphant.”   That word “saints” is a rich Bible word which deserves a look-see. The word “saint” is sometimes wrongly used to refer to a person of the past who was so holy and perfect that he or she earned their way to heaven and then had left-over “points” or merits to share with someone else.  This false teaching is compounded when people offer up prayers to such “saints.”   There are…

“NO CONDEMNATION”

In Christ’s own description of the sheep and goats before His throne of judgment in today’s text, and in Paul’s words from our epistle lesson that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” we have the plain teaching of the Bible that we are accountable to God.   This is the terrifying preaching of the law.  God is utterly seriously about every word He says. But there is another teaching of the Bible about which God is equally…

THE SONG OF RUTH

Today we examine the little book of Ruth.  The most famous verses of Ruth, as translated in the King James Version have often been sung at weddings: Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge: Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: The Lord do…

REFORMATION REVIEW

For Luther, the storm began in his own troubled heart in the monastery at Erfurt.  He learned quickly enough that his best efforts and sincerest attempts at devotion were not enough to erase the stain of sin from his heart.  For that he needed Christ. And Christ is whom he found when Dr. Staupitz sent him to study the Bible, to teach theology at the new university in Wittenberg, and to serve as pastor and preacher at the Town Church…

“SURVIVORS OF THE FOG”

In the final lines of Hebrews 11 – that famous “heroes of faith” chapter – the inspired writer hits the fast forward button.  He lists a roll call of people whose mere names bring to mind their heroic lives: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets.  Suddenly he stops listing the names – because there are so many. The writer simply refers to them as those who, through faith, “conquered kingdoms…shut the mouths of lions…quenched the power of…

FREEDOM FROM OURSELVES

It was difficult even to read about it.  Some years ago, a woman in northern Florida was obsessed with the Facebook game, FarmVille.  Apparently, “gaming” was her god. Her infant’s cries interrupted her game.  So she shook her baby to death. According to the Florida Times-Union, Alexandra V. Tobias entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder.   Tobias told authorities that she shook the baby boy, smoked a cigarette to compose herself, and then shook the boy again for interrupting…