Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent 1

Romans 13:8-14 - Advent 1 - November 30, 2014
The Dignity of Man
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.  

To have dignity is to have value.  These days there are all sorts of ethical issues that people talk about that deal with the question of human dignity – – ranging from abortion and euthanasia to homosexuality and so-called gender identity.  All of these debates seek to say something definitive about human dignity.   But with what authority can anyone really say anything?  What really is the value of man?  In order to answer this question, we need first to know something about God who created man.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Luke 17:11-19 - Thanksgiving - November 27, 2014
Thanking God by Returning to Christ
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. 
Let us pray:
Christ, the Life of all the living,
Christ, the Death of death, our foe,
Who, Thyself for me once giving
To the darkest depths of woe:
Through thy sufferings, death, and merit
I eternal life inherit. 
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.
Thou hast borne the smiting only
That my wounds might all be whole;
Thou hast suffered, sad and lonely,
Rest to give my weary soul;
Yea, the curse of God enduring,
Blessing unto me securing.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.  Amen. 
Today is Thanksgiving Day.  It is a national holiday.  It’s good and wise that a nation set aside a day for such a worthy celebration. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Trinity 27

Matthew 25:1-13 - Trinity 27 - November 23, 2014
The Fullness of Heavenly Wisdom is Mine
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. 
Wisdom’s highest, noblest treasure,
Jesus, lies concealed in You.
Let me find in You my pleasure,
And my wayward will subdue,
Humility there and simplicity reigning,
In paths of true wisdom my steps ever training.
If I learn from Jesus this knowledge divine,
The fullness of heavenly wisdom is mine.[i]  Amen. 
This morning I’d like to talk about wisdom, what it is, and how we get it.  We consider the parable of the ten virgins.  There are five foolish, and five wise.  Foolishness is a terrible thing.  To be foolish is to be self-destructive and willingly ignorant of what is good for you.  It is to be stubbornly unconcerned with true righteousness.  The word in Greek is μωρός, where we get the word moron.  A spiritual moron is one who does not take the word of God to heart. 
Wisdom, on the other hand, is a beautiful thing.  The Greek word for wisdom is σοφία.  To have σοφία is to have full knowledge of what is eternally true.  It is to love what is righteous and to completely delight in what is good.  To have wisdom is to know Christ and his saving grace.  Wisdom is a gift from God because faith is a gift from God.  When our youngest daughter was born, Monica and I had this very truth in mind when we settled on her name.  Sophia Dorothy translates straight from the Greek: Wisdom is God’s Gift.  And so it is. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Trinity 26

Matthew 25:31-46 - Trinity 26 - November 16, 2014
And Their Works Do Follow Them
In our Old Testament lesson, the prophet Daniel received a vision of the very same event that Jesus described in our Gospel lesson.  He saw the Ancient of Days gather the nations for the final judgment.  The Ancient of Days is God.  Ancient is not simply to say that he is very old.  It is to say, rather, that he is eternal.  It bends the mind to try and comprehend it, doesn’t it?  But we can’t, because God cannot be measured by time.  He has quite simply always been.  He lives in the eternal Day.  Time itself has a beginning, and it will soon have an end.  All that will remain is God and his word.  That’s why we listen to it now while time still exists. 
What a beautiful name God gives himself to express the fact that he is eternal: Ancient of Days.  This name got me thinking about another place in Scripture where the word day is used not for any specific period of time, but likewise for the eternal Day that has neither beginning nor end. It comes from Psalm 2 where the second Person of the holy Trinity says the following:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Trinity 25

Exodus 32:1-20 & Luke17:20-30 - Trinity 25 - November 9, 2014
Christian Worship Is Divine Service
Last week, I spoke of two mountains.  There was the mountain of curse, and the mountain of blessing.  The mountain of curse was Mt. Sinai from where God spoke the 10 Commandments to Israel.  It is the mountain of curse because the law curses all who disobey.  The mountain of blessing is where Jesus fulfills the law for us and blesses us with the righteousness that he earned in our place.  For the sake of contrast, last week I spoke of this mountain as the place where Jesus preached the beatitudes — “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and so forth.  But the mountain of blessing is more than just where God speaks the blessing.  It is where God earns the blessing.  It is Mt. Calvary.   It is where the curse of the law was spoken against the Son of God in our place.  Jesus placed himself under the law for us, and suffered and died as our holy Substitute.  Without the cross, there is no blessing.  Without Mt. Calvary, there is no Mt. Zion.