Sermon: Two Simple Words

Text: Matthew 4:12-25
Third Sunday After the Epiphany
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last Sunday, we saw Andrew bring Peter to Jesus. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus calls four fishermen with two simple words. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were partners in a fishing business with Zebedee. Jesus calls them away from the nets and their boat. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The astonishing part of this story is that they dropped everything, put their lives on hold, left their dad in the boat, and followed Jesus. They followed Jesus without any idea where it would lead or what it would cost. This morning we are going to look at these two simple words. We’re going to see that the command to “follow me” means we must be willing to renounce everything except him and know who we’re following.

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Sermon: We have found the Messiah

Text: John 1:29-42
Second Sunday After the Epiphany
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we hear preachers or evangelists ask, “Have you found Jesus?” It’s not a terrible question, but it can be misleading. Some people think that they found Jesus on their own. However, you did not come to Christ on your own. No one ever does. Neither did Andrew or Peter. Yet, Andrew could answer the question. “We have found the Messiah,” exclaimed Andrew to his brother Peter. An although separated by time and space, how Andrew and Peter found Jesus is the same way you can find Jesus today. The question we’re going to look at this morning is: where do you find Jesus?

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Sermon: Why was Jesus Baptized?

Text: Matthew 3:13-17
The Baptism of Our Lord
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Does the Baptism of Jesus surprise you? It certainly surprised John the Baptist. “I baptize you with water for repentance,” said John (Mt 3:11). Sinners of all sorts from every walk of life came to John to be baptized. That’s why John was shocked when Jesus came and stood humbly before John, asking for baptism. Jesus deliberately chose to accept a baptism of repentance. But it might never have happened if John had been running the show. He knew that Jesus was no ordinary man. John knows that Jesus is not a sinner in need of repentance. Jesus is the sinless Son of God. He is the greater one, great David’s greater Son. Instead, John recognizes that Jesus was far beneath Jesus. John confesses his sinfulness and places himself right alongside the multitudes he baptized. John is willing to take his own medicine. It would be fitting for John to be baptized by him. The Sinless One should baptize the sinner. The question before us this morning is this: Why did John baptize Jesus? Why does he accept a sinner’s baptism? How does that apply to you?

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Sermon: Follow the Star

Text: Matthew 2:1-12
The Epiphany of Our Lord
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We live in quite the technological age, don’t we? Google has successfully mapped out the entire world. Governments and corporations have put countless satellites into orbit. With the smartphones we carry in our pockets, we can pull up a wealth of information at a moment’s notice or send a picture of a cat halfway across the globe! Now, combine these three things, and you have GPS! That’s right! You can enter your desired destination on your smartphone, and it will get you there. It’ll even tell you what time you’ll arrive. It’s usually accurate too! But it may come as a surprise to you, but even Google can err. On the odd occasion, Google won’t bring you to your destination!

Well, tonight, we’re not following Google but a star. Our Gospel lesson discusses “wise men” from the east, likely Persia, perhaps Babylon. They were pagan astrologer-priests from Persia. They tried to figure out current and future events by the movement of the stars. We’ll see first that the wise men follow the star to the Scriptures. Then they follow the Scriptures to the Messiah.

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Sermon: He Was Named Jesus

Text: Luke 2:21 and Matthew 1:21
Circumcision and Holy Name of Jesus
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is the most controversial name you can think of? There is a name which people find scandalous and offensive. This name has caused kings to tremble, judges to judge, and legislatures to legislate. This is the name that sets many on edge. This name may not be uttered in the public square lest unbelievers are offended. No other Name causes such a stir. This is the holy name of Jesus. While the rest of the world wishes one another a “Happy New Year,” the Church has set aside January 1st, the eighth day of Christmas, to celebrate the Circumcision and Holy Name of Jesus. Unless you are Jewish by background, this might seem like a bizarre thing to celebrate. But, this morning, I want to highlight how the Holy Name of Jesus can tell us two things. First, this name tells us who Jesus is. Second, this name tells us what Jesus does.

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Sermon: God is One of Us

Text: John 1:1-18
Christmas Day
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Chirst. Amen.

Have you ever felt that God was distant and removed from your life? Have you ever felt God was uninterested and inaccessible? We can go through life feeling like God doesn’t care about what happens to us. God is way up there, and I am way down here. Maybe God has forgotten about me. He must have more important things to worry about, right? It’s not uncommon to feel like we’ve been left on our own.

Perhaps that’s why Joan Osborne released a song called back in 1995 called “One of Us.” “What if God was one of us?” she sings, “Just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on the bus, tryin’ to make his way home?” Isn’t that an interesting thought? What if God were an average-height, average-weight guy who looked just like a million other people? What if God were one of us—who snored and woke up with morning breath, got sleepy and grumpy, and didn’t always make his bed? What if God lived among us instead of being distant and removed?

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Sermon: Glory to God and Peace to Men

Text: Luke 2:1-20
Christmas Eve
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is your favourite Christmas carol? Perhaps you like Silent Night, Away in the Manger, or Hark! The Herald. There are many joyful Christmas Carols. We can’t even imagine celebrating Christmas without the old familiar hymns. But, one carol has been sung more than any other. In fact, most Christians continue to sing it nearly all year round. It’s been sung for a millennium and a half. What song is that? It is the song of the angels on that first Christmas Eve. Gloria in Excelsis Deo. This is what we sing every Communion Service. The pastor sings: “Glory be to God on high”, and the congregation replies: “And on earth peace good will toward men.” It’s also part of several carols. This song of the angels shows us the true nature of Christmas. The powerful song of the angels tells us two things: first, it gives all glory to the God of heaven; second, it announces that the God of heaven has established peace between himself and mankind.

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Sermon: The Gospel is God’s Good News

Text: Romans 1:1-7
Fourth Sunday in Advent, Series C
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 We live in a world that’s filled with bad news.  We are bombarded daily with stories about war, inflation, crime, pollution, injustice, drug abuse, oppression, and so much more.  And there’s a reason for that.  There is so much bad news in this world because our world is caught in the grip of the power of sin. Sinful behavior always results in bad news. It might be a good change of pace to get some good news for a change. Would you like some good news this morning? St. Paul the Apostle has some good news for us this morning. This good news was promised long ago. It is news about Jesus of Nazareth. And it is news for you.

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Sermon: Rejoicing in Christ’s Return

Text: John 16:19-24, 32-33
Third Wednesday in Advent
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What kind of things make you happy? What are your most significant sources of joy in this life? There are probably many different things that bring you joy. Is it the sight of your spouse at the end of a long day? Spending time with your children or grandchildren can bring joy! Some find joy in the satisfaction of a job done well. Others love taking time to enjoy a hobby. Perhaps it’s getting to enjoy the company of good friends. But there are times when it can be hard to find anything that brings us joy. Quite the opposite in some cases. You might even have reasons to sorrow! Sometimes we go through seasons of life, and it’s hard to feel joy.

The third week in Advent is about joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, will I say, rejoice” (Ph 4:4). In the reading from John 16, Jesus is in the upper room on the night he was betrayed. Jesus gives the disciples and us today reason for joy amid great sorrow. First, Jesus points out their present sorrow. Second, he predicts their future joy.

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Sermon: A Question for Jesus

Text: Matthew 11:2-15; Isaiah 35:1-10
Third Sunday in Advent, Series C
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A university professor once told his class that he would give any student an A in his course who asked one intelligent question. We might think that to be intelligent means we can give answers, not ask questions. But sometimes, the question is as much a part of knowledge as the answer—often the more important part. Men had assumed from the beginning of time that a heavier object fell faster than a lighter one—until Galileo asked, “Does it?” Sometimes asking the right question is just as important as getting an answer.

Last week, St. John the Baptist was in the wilderness. We heard John preaching repentance, calling us to turn from sin to faith in Christ. This week, he’s languishing in Herod’s prison. How quickly things have changed. This morning, John asks a question from the depths of Herod’s dungeon. And it’s the right question, an intelligent question. So, we will examine John’s question and our Lord’s answer.

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