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

Even the Least of the Brothers

Biblical Text: Matthew 25:31-46 (Matthew 10:40-42)

This was the last Sunday in the church year, so we say good bye to reading Matthew. (Hence the fading to blue in the colors above, the color of advent.) Most of my sermons tend to be serials. They are one offs on the text of the day. And there are reasons for that, but the gospel is a story, a narrative. And sometimes you need to understand the full narrative. And that is the case with the Last Judgement. This sermon attempts to understand the picture of the last judgement with: Jesus in all his glory, All Nations and The brothers in the context of the full story.

Usually this text is used in a very law based way. Do these “works of mercy” and you’ll be with the sheep. And it isn’t a terrible message, but it isn’t the gospel. And the last judgment really does have a gospel message. And that is what this sermon attempts to proclaim.

What is Repentance?

Biblical Text: Matthew 15:21-28

I’m sure that in many pulpits today, in attempts to be edgy and with the zeitgeist of the world, preachers will use this text to promote blasphemy. Which is terrible, because when you allow yourself to hear it, it is the most beautiful witness. If you ask “What is repentance?”, or compare this woman to Peter – the “little faith” one – you see a great witness of faith. That is what this sermon attempts to do. Put this episode in its context and allow us to understand better both faith and how repentance is the ongoing act of faith.

Fresh Courage Take

Biblical Text: Matthew 14:22-33

The miracles of Jesus are not just random events. God is not capricious, handing out bennies to some while stiffing others. The miracles have a purpose. This sermon sorts through a couple of different ways of thinking about those purposes. And then it focuses on how we often receive miracles, especially epiphany type. The disciples seeing Jesus walking on the water in quick succession go through the key ones. And Jesus is quick reply answers them. This is for us that we might understand and take courage. The New Creation is already ours.

Provident Compassion

Biblical Text: Matthew 14:13-21

The feeding of the 5000 is an easy jump to the Lord’s Supper, but in pondering it this week I wanted to focus on something a bit different. I’m still greatly worried about all of those online and the supper, so I wished to downplay that a bit. The latch for me was the specific situation in Jesus’ life. This is what happens immediately after the death of John the Baptist. Matthew is very clear about what Jesus wanted to do, and then what happened which is about 100% the opposite. It tells us something about the God we have, the inconvenience of compassion, and how God provides. Yes, part of how God provides is the specifics of the Lord’s Supper, but he provides so much more than that.

I’m convinced that more than a very OS daemons operate in the technology. It figures on a day that I hoped to address the online group a bit more explicitly the tech betrays us in a stupid way. But if I’m listening to my own sermon, out of meager loaves, the Lord provides.

Good Soil

Biblical Text: Mathew 13:1-23

Parables are strange little things. Everyone loves a good parable. If there is a part of the bible that remains common knowledge it is probably some of the parables, like the Sower and the Soils. But what makes them strange is that while the crowds might remember them, they don’t really hear them. If you are hearing the parables alone, it is because your ears aren’t working. The understanding, the explanation, only comes by faith. And that understanding is often at great odds with the surface friendliness.

In the case of the Sower and the soils, them point is not really to identify soils which is what we so often do. The point is to recognize the overwhelming grace of the sower. And to understand that you are good soil. You who have heard and accepted the Word, you are good soil and will be made fruitful. Because the Word of God does what it intends.

Virtual Bulletin – April 26

April 26, 2020 – Third Sunday of Easter

Devotion & Prayer Thought

The very first thing I wrote about all this was, “we are all going to get this”. And I think this is still the great unexpressed truth. Yes, all might be an over expression as herd immunity is reached somewhere around 60% around which it becomes harder to push it higher, but close enough. Then when you realize that this is really SARS-2, SARS-1 was also a corona virus, and that there is not a vaccine for SARS-1, and that these types of viruses return yearly, and that while your immune system maintains some recognition we can get the flu each year because of small mutations…saying that we are all going to get this still feels right.  This is now a fact of life more like what polio used to be if nowhere near a deadly, although dangerous enough. And being a fact of life means that it is not really a physical problem but a spiritual one.

The 23rd Psalm always contained two lines that caused us post-Salk folks to scratch their heads. “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” and “prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”  Constant opposition requiring perseverance is not our felt experience. Without downgrading our suffering, simply because it is still ours, it has been different than folks in most times and places who experienced physical risk all the time. And we are completely unprepared spiritually for this reality. We are using muscles that haven’t been flexed in a couple generations. And part of this is adapting to the reality that this virus may simply be the restoration of the pre-Salk situation.  Even if we do develop a vaccine, is it not likely to be like the current vaccines for flu -vaguely effective, but it keeps coming back? Not Salk like?

So part of the Spiritual task before us is to restore perseverance.  The new normal really isn’t what our “experts” think about.  Dramatic changes to ways of life. The new normal is more akin to the Cold War. Yes, nuclear bombs could be here in 20 mins. But only unstable neurotics focused on that constantly. The rest of us lived with it.  We walked through the valley. That is what we are relearning in the face of a virus. It is going to take some longer than others. Many have zero spiritual resources to do this.

It requires faith. A faith in the benevolent providence of God, even when seated in front of your enemies. A faith that God intends good. “Goodness and mercy will follow all the days of our life.”  Even as death stalks the valley. And a faith that this existence is a preparation. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

We have lived in a time theologically focused on love. And Paul does say the greatest of these is love. But love is the great eschatological virtue. Today, it abides though faith and hope. Faith and hope to keep walking. To dine in the face of your enemies knowing that “bane or blessing by his cross are sanctified. Peace there is that knows no measure. Joys that through all time abide.”

Baby Steps

So, knowing fully that many aren’t there, I’m still going to open a conversation of what things look like as we make baby steps out of our frozen fear.  The first thing is the recognition that we are not all going to become unfrozen at the same rate and pace. Like the old sodium lights, you can turn them off and they went off, but turning them on took some time to warm up. And that is fine, because we have to learn to walk this together. Also, I’m not putting hard dates on anything here, because I don’t know that yet, and some of that depends upon politics.

There are two particular baby steps I want to think about.  The first is the streaming of worship. This is something we originally did out of necessity. I think it is going to be something we keep. We are going to keep it for the immediate future because of different rates of people becoming comfortable gathering. I think we are going to keep it for the longer future because there are those who can’t be present. I have been heartened to see so many names and faces pop up on the screen over these Sundays. This is something that we can do to walk together. The second baby step I want to start thinking about is returning to regular worship schedule. For the immediate future, the two times divide us nicely to abide by the 10 people and 6 ft guidelines. I don’t know if those get extended by the Governor, but right now May 15th is the extent of his guidelines.  Sometime after that resuming a unified 10 AM service would seem correct.

There are other mileposts: the Lord’s Supper, Confirmation/Pentecost, Choir.  Those will come. But today, baby steps thinking together.


  • Thurs 10am: Roughly the same as worship, if you wish to be here, up to our normal 3-4, fine.  If our bible study gets crowded all of a sudden, I will throw you out! If you want to join on the Zoom line (same as the worship one) I’ll be logging that in.  We were prepared to read Zephaniah before all this.  It is strangely apt.
  • Confirmation: 

Year 1: We are meeting on zoom for the time being.3PM Tuesdays.Lord’s Prayer.We will be working through the worksheet as I share my screen.Please bring your catechism and a bible.

Year 2: Thursdays at 3:30PM on zoom.We are looking at the final review.Right now, confirmation proper is still scheduled for Pentecost, which is May 31st.I’m hoping that we will be open by then.And I’m working on what to do about the traditional elder board review of confirmands.Watch here.

  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Please join us!

Meeting Thurs. April 30th , on Zoom


Until we are back to regular worship schedule, we are foregoing the Lord’s Supper.  If you desire the sacrament in the meantime, private confession and the sacrament are available by talking with pastor.


Worship will continue to be as per the last month. 9AM and 11AM.  The bulletin will be posted online.  The service will be streamed on zoom.  The doors will be open.  We’ve had about 10 present, every family in their own pew, with plenty of distance.  Any choice is left to Christian Freedom.  Neither way is better or worse.  One big ask, if you have any prayer requests, please send them to pastor, or use the zoom chat line early to send them in.  I’ve got David monitoring Zoom, but to ensure we have good audio means that I’m usually away from the screen.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – April 26, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

BEEF ON WECK … May 23rd … save the date! 

In order to accommodate our new normal, we are setting up the Spring Beef on Weck as a DRIVE THRU.  This means that people will arrive in their cars, place their order and pay all while remaining in their cars.  Their order will be packed up and brought out to them.  Our workers will wear masks and social distancing will be applied in all possible situations.  If you would like to help please contact Mindy (489-4972) or Ellen (201-0756).

Do You Believe This?

Biblical Text John 11:1-45

When I first saw these texts for this plague week I felt “wow, lets change them.” But I’ve only changed the assigned texts of a Sunday less than 5 times. And I am glad I didn’t. In the midst of death, or at least the fear of death, these lessons tell us our hope. That is what the sermon does. Hopefully gives the saints God’s word to live in these times.

Service note: We are splitting our services to say under 10 people locally (everyone has their own pew), 9 AM and 11 AM with roughly the same number online. So, we don’t have music. We are using responsive prayer 2 in LSB. It is also wired up to produce the best sound for those online. I’ve put the entire service out. The back half after the sermon is collective prayer.

The Work of God Displayed

Biblical Text: John 9:1-41

The work of God is always being displayed in our midst. It is up to us how we respond to it. God’s desired response is faith in his son. The life of Jesus is the demonstration, the work of God displayed, of the Goodness of the Father. Even in bad things, God is good. This sermon, through examining the story of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind, is a mediation on both the purposes of God and faith’s response.

Believe and Live!

Biblical Text: John 3:1-17

This is something of a statement about the purpose of preaching. We attempt to put so much on the sermon. We look for all kinds of things there. And I honestly think we look for the wrong things. What the sermon is about is proclaiming the gospel. What the sermon is about is evangelism, our evangelism. And that is what this sermon attempts to do. It isn’t 7 words of wisdom for your best life. It isn’t 5 ways to life hack your way to Jesus. It is “God so loved the world that he gave his son.” He gave him for you. He gave him that we might hear and believe and live. There is a lot else that the Bible teaches that we should do, but preaching – that is about love, what God has done for us.