Monthly Archives: December 2017

Feet on the Mountain

Biblical Text: Isaiah 52:7-10
Full Sermon Draft

Christmas Day is always a smaller, more intimate time. Sometimes I wonder what it was like when that was not the case. But anyway, the sermon attempts to honor that. It is less a polished piece of rhetoric and more a personal message. An end to Christmas reflection for those who mostly have been on this church service tryptic (advent 4, Christmas Eve, Christmas day) in two days.

I’ve left in our opening hymn (A Great and Mighty Wonder) which the sermon owes a debt too, and our close, Away in a Manger. The simple invite to keep these things and ponder them in our hearts.

Hidden and Revealed

Biblical Text: Luke 2:1-14
Full Sermon Draft

Christmas eve evening is mostly about the people and the candles, the sights and sounds together. But after 10 years I finally hit a message that I felt was worthy of the night. I’ll say and post that now before tomorrow erases the feeling.

It always helps having both a wonderful opening hymn (Hark the Herald Angels Sing) and a fantastic liturgical piece by the choir (The Magnificat – Vespers Chant). Both are left in.

Wisdom from Mary’s Heart

Biblical Text: Luke 1:26-38
Full Sermon Text

An unfortunate circumstance of the reformation has been the tendency to look for things that say “not catholic”. One of the big ones is how Protestant’s tend to treat Mary. The first generation (i.e. Luther) didn’t have this problem. They went on as they had before. Mary just wasn’t an issue. She only became an issue in my historical understanding as later Protestants and Catholics made things that were not dogma prior into dogma. And it is a crying shame, because the Biblical Mary has a lot to tell us how to live the life of faith in her son. This sermon is an attempt to hear the annunciation story (advent 4) as original Jews and Gentiles/Pagans might have heard it, and then to to apply that to us moderns. I don’t think we are as far away as we might think. Mary’s faith and Mary’s wisdom are wonderful examples in contrast to our demands for signs and worldly wisdom. I’d invite you to give Mary a fresh look.

Worship Note: I’ve left in a bunch more music that normal. Our choir piece from this morning in is. The gorgeous hymn “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” is in. And I left in “Once in Royal David’s City” and the organ postlude.

2017 Christmas Services

From Heaven Above (A Shepherds and Angels Children’s Pageant)

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Today was our Children’s Pageant. The pageant this year was built around the hymn “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come”. That is LSB 358 is you would like to see all 15 verse by Luther. The recording here is my homily introducing the kids followed by the children’s songs and sayings. The photos are parson’s wife’s as I didn’t get a chance this year (thank you!). They did an outstanding job. Lend and ear and a voice if you would like to sing along.

The Beginning of the Gospel…

Biblical Text: Mark 1:1-8
Full Draft Sermon

All of the canonical gospels have their own spirit, a spirit expressed often at the very beginning. This is “year B” in our three year cycle of readings, so we are in the Gospel according the Mark. Mark’s spirit is one of immediacy, of now. It is a spirit of beginnings and ending. It relentlessly presses us with the oddness of the inbreaking kingdom. And with that very wonder and strangeness invites us to begin. To prepare the way. To make the paths straight. Now. Because you know not the time. The mighty one comes right behind, and all flesh will see the glory of the Lord. This sermon is a attempt to capture that strangeness, to experience the beginning of the gospel. To hear and fear the word to make straight the paths to our hearts.

Worship note: I have left in two hymns. The one before the sermon and the one after. Both share a word – Hark! It is the call of the herald, the Baptist, listen! Important information follows. LSB 349, Hark the Glad Sound, I believe reflect the pure Gospel content of that message. The greater one comes bringing a baptism of the Spirit. A baptism that bursts the gates of brass, and make the iron fetters yield. LSB 345, Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding, captures well the immediacy of the Hark and the pressure it puts on us. “Cast away the works of darkness, all you children of the day!” And that pressure it recognizes coming from its eschatology. “So when next he comes in glory, and the world is wrapped in fear…”. Two marvelous advent hymns that happen to have a couple of wonderful tunes as well.

Advent Inspirations

Biblical Text: Isaiah 63:15-64:10, Mark 11:1-10
Full Sermon Draft

Advent gets short shrift in modern America, and it shouldn’t. Of all the seasons of the church year, it is Advent that feels most like home to me. Christmas and Easter are holidays, by which I mean nice to visit but you can’t stay. Epiphany is an intellectual and meditative season which are not words to describe most Americans. The long season of Pentecost only takes meaning if we feel like we are living in the Pentecost. But for me I think most of us are “waiting of the consolation of Israel”. It feels like we are living in soccer’s “extra time”. That is advent. And that is what this sermon attempts to do, weaving around Isaiah’s desires for the Lord to “rend the heavens and come down” and Jesus’ Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem, I have tried to invoke the feelings of separation and drawing near, of desiring repentance, the face of God being hidden, and yet the reign of God is present.

Worship Note: Our closing hymn LSB 348, The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns, captures many of these advent inspiration. It closes out the recording.