A Sign of Opposition

Biblical Text: Luke 2:22-40

This sermon owes a bunch to Luther’s Postil sermon on this text for this 1st Sunday after Christmas. That published sermon of Luther’s is one of those great overstuffed things. There are about 6 different sermons attempting to break out. In some ways I imagine the great man might have been under some of the similar pressures. He’d probably preached three times in the week already and had a few other things due. And then the next Sunday is there. What do you say? There is always a lot in God’s word, the real work of preaching is picking and expressing one specific thing. But sometimes you just don’t have the bandwidth for that work. So you offer up a smorgasbord.

Solid potato dish – The faith of Simeon & Anna/Joseph & Mary.

Vegetables – The humility of Christ in this group

Fish – Typology, Anna as Old Testament Saints/Temple; Mary as New/Church

Desert (don’t take too much) – Some numbers, 7 & 84

Prime Rib – The sign of opposition

Ham – The Christmas promise against that sign

Virtual Bulletin – 12/27/20

December 27th, 2020 – 1st Sunday in Christmas

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Worship is at 10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Info: Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

Bible Study after service or 11:15ish.  I’ll keep the zoom line on. 

Devotion & Prayer Thought

Joshua Gibbs – writer/teacher – compiled an interesting book of essays on Christmas called “The 25th”.  The first essay addresses “The Christmas Season”.  It posits a strange future where we are visited by aliens.  These aliens are nice ones, no Star Wars.  And they largely find earth to be an entire planet of the French Riviera.  They come to earth about the same time every year give or take a couple of days, and they collectively leave almost immediately at the end of a month.  They have their own music, dress and food.  And we earthlings collectively for that month adopt their ways.  First it pays to do so, and second their culture is different.  Ours is mostly about that first category, it pays.  How can we acquire things?  Theirs is a gift economy.  They live to give things away.  And they want to make people happy by what they give.

Ok, even with my bad summary you can probably see the thin imaginary for the Christmas Season.  We are visited by something that starts give or take a day soon after Thanksgiving, and it ends every year on Jan 2nd.  (And yes, I’m a hold out, it shouldn’t end until Jan 6th, Epiphany.) We dress differently, we eat differently, our radio stations change formats, and we look for gifts.  Why?  Or maybe more insightful, why has our regular acquisitive culture not been able to commoditize and spread out the Christmas season? Why if I served Egg Nog for July 4th would people look like I’d done something terrible?  Everything else in our culture has been commoditized and spread out, why not Christmas?

Mr. Gibbs, I think rightly, does not jump immediately to Christ.  Because I think he is right, it is not like the birth of Christ has an exclusive claim to our Christmas season.  It is too paganized, and maybe always has been, for that.  But he doesn’t banish the Christ child either.  Why not Christmas year-round?  Holy things are things set apart.  A commodity can’t be holy.  And in the Christmas season, we recognize our last holy thing.  Serving Egg Nog, as good as Nog is, for July 4th would be stealing the holy things.  And no, Egg Nog itself is not holy, but we are talking poetically here.  There are always moments that we become aware that we are treading on Holy ground.  And even our acquisitive culture in full raucous commercialization realizes something Holy about the Christmas Season.  Something that we can’t have all the time, but that while it has been gifted to us, we should enjoy it.  And if we recognize the child whose Spirit comes down and blesses the time, so much the better.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Dec 28th – Jan 3rd

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…   NO Preschool

Wed……………………..   NO Confirmation (2 Week School Vacation)

Thursday: ……………….  NO Bible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Off for two weeks.
  • Confirmation:  Off for two weeks for school vacation.  Pick up with confession after.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Resuming January 13th (studying patience). See you on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary and on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: Watch your inbox.  The Sacrament of the Altar – part 3.

RHAFT delivery update:  We delivered 67 bags to RHAFT over the past six weeks! Thank you, members of St. Mark, for your generosity and willingness to help those less fortunate.

Christmas Day 2020

The text is Isaiah 52:7-10. The picture is a messenger bringing news of the war, and then how that message spreads. It starts with one. The watchmen see it. Those who had no hope receive it. And the good news spreads to the ends of the earth. The zeal of the LORD of hosts has done this. God has become man today, so that we might become Sons of God. Blessings on you and on your Spirit, and may the peace of God rest in your hearts this Christmas.

Christmas Eve 2020

The recording is the full lessons and carol service. The sermon though I believe is a good one for this year of many changes. A Christmas Eve reflection on the roll of memory, ritual and God’s repeated announcements of his grace. Merry Christmas. Time to get home to the kids.

Devotion

Biblical Text: Luke 1:26-38

In the Lutheran tradition the saints are example for us of living the Christian life. This sermon asks the question: what is Mary’s witness for us? And the answer this sermon meditates on is Mary’s example for us of Devotion. Mary was devoted to her son. Mary wish us to be devoted to her son. That is clearly the biblical Mary. That also appears to me to be the Mary of the various apparitions and religious experience. Mary wishes us, whatever our station, to be devoted from our heart to her son. As the body of Christ in this world, if not as fully as Mary did, we carry Christ to the world. And that requires understanding devotion. And Mary is the saint that teaches us clearly.

Virtual Bulletin – 12/20

December 20th, 2020 – Advent 4

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Worship is at 10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Info: Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

Bible Study after service or 11:15ish.  I’ll keep the zoom line on. 

Devotion & Prayer Thought

It is a fancy word – covenant – that isn’t used much anymore.  We tend to use contract. Contracts are more easily broken. They are just contained within the four corners of the page.  A covenant, at least the old ones, were signed in blood. An English covenant may not have been signed with blood, but it came with a seal. The honor of the house signet stood behind it.

In the Old Testament there are technically four covenants. There is the covenant with Abraham where God promises him a land and descendants as numerous as the stars. There is the covenant of Sinai where God tells Israel keep these commandments and you will live.  Which of course Israel broke almost immediately making a Golden Calf. There is a covenant with Noah. That one reflects a bit of both. God promises he won’t flood mankind again. The seasons will continue in their course until the end.  But God also grants mankind meat in exchange for ethical slaughter of the animals. And the fourth covenant is the one with David.  “Your throne shall be established forever.”  The distinction that runs through all of them is if the covenant is one sided, God promises to do something, or if it is reciprocal, God will do something if Israel does something.  Abraham, David and the first part of Noah are pure promise of God.  Moses and the second part of Noah are conditional.

And why this is important is because when God creates a covenant, he keeps it.  The world has never again been flooded wiping out everything.  The seasons have continued beyond our human historical record.  God brought Israel, the descendants of Abraham, out of Egypt and gave them a land.  This was a miraculous fulfillment, although we would not hold it to be the final fulfillment.  As Hebrews says, “they saw the fulfilment from a distance. They desired a city whose builder was God. They desired a better country, a heavenly one.  So God prepared for them a city.” And long after the Davidic dynasty was a historical curiosity, God put an heir of David on the eternal throne – the one at the right hand of the Father.  “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.”  And He sealed these covenants with His blood.

We are heirs of these covenants.  We have the advantage of having seen more of them fulfilled in Jesus.  The “mysteries that were kept secret for long ages have been revealed to all nations.”  But we are also like Abraham, longing for their final great fulfillment.  The mysteries have been revealed “to bring about the obedience of faith.”  God has given us his promise.  Unlike in the past where the questions might have been what kind of God is this and who his covenants are for, today those are answered in Christ.  He is love; they are for you and for your children.  The only question is do we receive them?  Do we say “Let it be to me, according to your word?”

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Dec 21st – Dec 27th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…   NO Preschool

Wed……………………..   NO Confirmation (2 Week School Vacation)

Thursday: ……………….  NO Bible Study

                                            6:50pm    Special Christmas Eve Prelude

                                            7:00pm    Christmas Eve Service

Friday: …………………  9:00am    Christmas Morning Service

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Off for two weeks.
  • Confirmation:  Off for two weeks for school vacation.  Pick up with confession after.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Resuming January 13th (studying patience). See you on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary and on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: Watch your inbox.  The Sacrament of the Altar – part 3.

RHAFT delivery update:  We delivered 67 bags to RHAFT over the past six weeks! Thank you, members of St. Mark, for your generosity and willingness to help those less fortunate.

Binding the Broken Hearted

Biblical Text: Isaiah 61:1-11

The text from Isaiah is one of promise, the anointed one (i.e. the messiah, the royal child) is also the sent one (the suffering servant). The anointed one is sent with one purpose, “to proclaim good news to the poor”. What that means is then accomplished through the purposes of his sending. This sermon walks through that promise. That is the good news which deserves the longest time which answers how Christ binds the broken hearted.

But promises always rest on something. You get the promise from Whimpy and you know you will never see that dime tomorrow. The promises of the messiah rest upon the Character of God who “loves justice…and has made an everlasting covenant.” And attached to this promise and the reassertion of the character of God are a couple of proof points. Israel shall be known by the nations and Israel shall be known as blessed of God. We spend a bit thinking about the promises to physical Israel, and also spiritual Israel, and how these are proofs for us today.

The final bit of the text is the reply of Israel – praise and exaltation.

A Voice Says “Cry!” What Shall I Cry?

Biblical Text: Isaiah 40:1-11

This is the call of 2nd Isaiah – a much better call than the first one. It is completely absorbed into the New Testament story in John the Baptist, but treating it as good news in its own right brings out a different emphasis. That is what this sermon does. Instead of a people already experiencing the inbreaking of the Kingdom, in its own context it is addressed to those who might rightly be despairing. The LORD has always claimed two things: 1) His love for his people is steadfast and 2) He is the only God of all the nations. Sitting in exile, neither of those seem right. But God tells his prophet to “Cry”. And the message is Good News.

It might be pride, it might just be the poorness of my file in general, but after delivering this one, it immediately feels like one for the portfolio.