Sermon: Jesus Revealed as True Saviour

Text: Matthew 3:13-17
Gospel Reading for The Baptism of Our Lord, Series A

The sermon illustration is borrowed from Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Through John’s Objection

It’s safe to say that John the Baptist was as surprised as we are. Or at least, as surprised as we should be if we read this passage without knowing what’s coming. Approximately thirty years have passed since Jesus last appeared in Matthew’s gospel. He was but a toddler then. With little fanfare Jesus suddenly bursts upon the scene in this text. He is grown to manhood and seeks a baptism from John.This is his great epiphany; his manifestation to the world. But, if John had been running the show it might never have happened. The question before before us this morning is this: Why was Jesus baptised by John? Why does he accept a sinner’s baptism?

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Sermon: Follow the Star

Text: Matthew 2:1-12
Gospel for The Epiphany

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. And, on top of those two feats, we carry in our pockets smart phones, which at a moment’s notice can pull up a wealth of information or send a picture of a cat half-way across the globe! Now, combine these three things, and you have GPS! That’s right! You can enter the destination you’d like on your Smart Phone, and it will give you directions all the way there. It’ll even tell you what time you’ll arrive. It’s mostly accurate too! But, it may come as a surprise to you, but even Google can err. I personally have been led the entire wrong direction by Google!

Well, tonight we’re not following Google, but a star. Our Gospel lesson talks about Magi from the East, likely Persia, perhaps Babylon. We call them, “wise men” but Magi actually means “magicians”. They were pagan astrologer-priests from Persia. They tried to figure out present and future events by the movement of the stars, which they held to be gods.

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Sermon: Finding the Jesus you thought you’d lost

Text: Luke 2:41-52
Gospel for the Second Sunday After Christmas, Series A

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Have you ever misplaced something? We’ve all been there: frantically searching the house for some item we lost. Of course, we never lose an item which we don’t need right this very second! You don’t realise you’ve misplaced something until you need it. No, it seems that sometimes the more needed the item is, the harder it’s going to be to find it: be that a passport, a credit card, your car keys, that form you were supposed to fill out last November which is due tomorrow,. We’ve all been there. Some of us know those feelings of panic and dread better than others. What do you do? You begin to retrace your steps so you can find what you have misplaced. It happens to the best of us. Even it seems, Mary and Joseph!

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Sermon: The Song of the Angels

Text: Luke 2:1-20
Gospel for Christmas Day

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Before the creation of the Christmas carol, the celebrations of Christmas had become so depraved and rowdy that the actual observance of the Christmas season was once forbidden by the English Parliament. The meaning of Christmas had become lost in a maelstrom of reveling, drunkenness, rioting, and depravity. Decent people found it necessary to stay indoors for safety. The situation became so shameful that in 1644 Parliament passed strict laws making it illegal to commemorate the season in any way whatsoever! How empty and devoid of meaning is a Christless Christmas!

Today, not much has changed. Christmas is a depressing time for most people. An article written by a director of the California Department of Mental Health warns: “The Christmas season is marked by greater emotional stress and more acts of violence than any other time of the year.” For many Christmas is an excuse to get drunk, have a party, get something, give a little, leave work, get out of school, spend money, overeat, and all kinds of other excesses. But, for the church, Christmas is an excuse for us to exalt Jesus Christ in the face of a world that has forgotten the one who is the reason for the season.

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Sermon: Advent with Isaiah – God Gives a Sign

Text: Isaiah 7:10-17; Matthew 1:18-25
Fourth Sunday in Advent, Series A

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Have you ever asked God to give you a sign? What circumstances might cause you to ask God for a sign? Usually, when we ask God to give us a sign, it’s because we need to make a major choice or decision. We have several options available to us and we are not sure which road to take. So, we hope that the Lord will provide some sort of sign which will indicate which way he wants us to take. What if God came to you and told you to ask him for a sign? What if God gave you a blank cheque for any sign in the world? Would you take him up on that offer? What kind of sign would you ask for? This was the position that King Ahaz was in. And his answer might surprise you. 

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Sermon: Advent with Isaiah – The Exile is Over

Text: Isaiah 35:1-10
Third Sunday in Advent, Series A

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Can you remember a time when you were homesick? I am sure most of us have known the feeling sometime in our life. You want to go and be at home where things are familiar. You want to be around people who understand you. You want that sense of safety and belonging which only home can provide. As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”

Well, most of us know that feeling but if I am guessing there are not many of us who know what it’s like to be barred from our home, to be kicked out of our home or to be run out of our house; to be exiled. That’s a different feeling all together. Removed from house and home forcibly, against your will. You desire nothing more to return home, to go back, but you can’t. Imagine, now, that your exile is directly your fault. The only person to blame for your distress is you. How would you feel then? Homesickness would quickly turn into sorrow and despair. Perhaps you can understand the desperate cry for help reflected in this popular Advent hymn:

“O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appears.” (LSB #357, St. 1)

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Sermon: Advent with Isaiah – A King Comes

Texts:  Isaiah 11:1-10 & Romans 15:1-13
Second Sunday of Advent, Series A

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Every time there is an election, it seems that our discontentment with the status quo emerges. Things are not the way they should be. And when the politicians start their campaigns, it occasionally happens that we can begin to have hope. We hope that things will finally be put right. Even though we know it is idealistic, we still feel the longing to dare to hope for “change we can believe in”. In fact, some politicians play to those longings and desires for change. In the campaign speeches during the 2008 presidential campaign, Barak Obama repeatedly stressed these two words, “hope” and “change”. But, now, no matter what your political views, we’d all agree that there is very little to hope for in politics, and very little of the change that will matter. 

Isaiah, writing during a time when war with the pagan empires threatened to destroy God’s people, calls Israel to place their hope in their faithful God, who will raise up a king who will bring in lasting change. So, Isaiah says that God’s promised king is coming from an unlikely source. He’s coming completely qualified to make good on his promises, and he coming to bring hope to the entire world.  Continue reading “Sermon: Advent with Isaiah – A King Comes”