Sermon: The Dangers of Pride

Text: 1 Peter 5:5b-11
Sunday after the Ascension, Series A
Listen to the Sermon here.

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

Overconfidence can get you into a whole heap of trouble. In the early 20th century captain Edward Smith said that his new ship was unsinkable. It was made with the latest state-of-the-art technology and had more safeguards than any other ship. On its maiden voyage across the Atlantic, Smith received several transmissions from other ships indicating that there were ice floes in the vicinity, yet he continued to speed ahead at full throttle. And so, because of pride, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and the “unsinkable ship” sank in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, with massive loss of life.

We can be guilty of much the same thing – placing too much confidence in ourselves and our own abilities. It can sometimes be quite difficult to acknowledge our own weaknesses. There is always the temptation to admire ourselves for our own strength, power, and worthiness. This is what is called “Pride”and it is a real danger to the Christian life. St. Peter the Apostle explains why pride is a serious threat, and what our attitude toward God should be. Continue reading “Sermon: The Dangers of Pride”

Sermon: Why should we care about the Ascension?

Occasion: The Ascension of our Lord
Readings for the Ascension of our Lord.
Listen to the Sermon Here.

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

Welcome to the Forgotten Feast! Today is Ascension Day, or, as it’s more properly called, the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. But there is reason to call it the “Forgotten” Feast. Ascension Day is classed in the church year as a major festival, which means it’s a day for all churches to hold the Divine Service. It’s a day on par with Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. The sad fact is that many congregations and many Christians have forgotten all about celebrating this important feast.

We understand the reason why we celebrate Good Friday: Jesus’ sacrificial, atoning death on the cross for the salvation of the world. We understand why we celebrate Easter: Because of Jesus’ resurrection, the tomb is empty, and death is defeated. He is risen indeed! Alleluia. But Ascension Day? For many, it isn’t even remotely on the radar. There are no Ascension Day parades, no Ascension Day sales at the mall. I have never heard anyone say, “Sorry, we can’t make it to church, we’re going to Grandma’s for Ascension Day.” When compared to Christmas and Easter, Ascension seems not to be very important.

But the Ascension of Jesus is important. It’s very important. If Christ is not Ascended, then we’ve got a big problem. Where in the world is He? So why should we care about Ascension Day? Continue reading “Sermon: Why should we care about the Ascension?

Sermon: Christ’s Work – Help for Troubled Christians

Text: 1 Peter 3:13-22
Epistle for the Fifth Sunday After Easter, Series A
Listen to the sermon here!

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

Are Christians being persecuted for their faith today? We could certainly answer that in some places in the world they are. It was just over five years ago that 21 Coptic Christians were martyred by the Islamic State in Libya. How about here in North America? Well, we are not being thrown to the lions or taken off to be executed. We enjoy a freedom to gather together as Christians and worship our Lord. However, because of our faith, our obedience, and refusal to participate in the sins of our society, Christians often face ostracism, ridicule and contempt by others. This happens in schools, at places of employment, and even among families. Can you think of times when your commitment to the Christian faith was the cause of some ill treatment? With Bible-believing Christians in the minority, we face an increasing pressure to conform to society’s beliefs and standards. We can’t even watch the news or enjoy many forms of entertainment without being exposed to perspectives at odds with Christian faith and morality. So, despite not being persecuted in an overt or life-threatening way, Christians in North America nonetheless face challenges and at times injustices because we are Christians. In the face of these challenges to our faith as Christians, St. Peter the Apostle offers us a perspective which will help us to endure whatever society might throw at us. Continue reading “Sermon: Christ’s Work – Help for Troubled Christians”

Sermon: The Spiritual Temple, Priests, and Sacrifices

Text: 1 Peter 2:1-12

Fourth Sunday After Easter, Series A

Listen to the sermon here!

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

The Temple, built by King Solomon as the central place of worship for all Israel, has been destroyed twice. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC. After it was rebuilt, the Temple was then destroyed for a second time by the Romans in AD 70 and it has never been rebuilt since. Many Jews believed it should and would be rebuilt; some still do. Indeed, it is the belief of Orthodox Jews today that before the messiah comes the Temple will be rebuilt with its attending sacrifices and priesthood. They put their hope on what the prophets foretold: that the messiah would come and the true God would return to Jerusalem at last, coming back to live for ever in a properly rebuilt Temple. In fact, it is also a popular belief among many Christians today. Many believe that before the second coming of Jesus, the Jews will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem on the temple mount and restore the priests and the daily sacrifices.

However, Saint Peter the Apostle understands these prophecies differently. Peter says those ancient prophecies are already fulfilled. He claims that the new Temple is already being built. He says that there is a new priesthood which is already offering sacrifices. What temple was he referring to? Continue reading “Sermon: The Spiritual Temple, Priests, and Sacrifices

Sermon: What is the Christian Duty Toward Government?

Text: 1 Peter 2:13-25
Epistle for Good Shepherd Sunday, Series A
Listen to the Sermon here!

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

Many today simply assume that governments are not to be trusted. It’s the belief of many North American Christians that governments are corrupt and dehumanizing, and they think that Christians should offer the government serious criticism and opposition, even, if it ends up costing them. We live in a world where every individual or group demands their ‘rights’ and liberty is understood as freedom to do whatever you want. This suspicion, cynicism, and sometimes outright antagonism to government, has increased of late. With government lockdowns in place throughout North America for over a month, some people, including Christians, have strongly opposed the government’s course of action. They may feel like their liberties and rights are being trampled by a power hungry government, and voice their complaints, dissatisfaction, and disrespect for the government. Some may even believe that the only course of action left to them is blatant civil disobedience. When we face these very real issues, and look to God’s Word for guidance, we may find ourselves a bit taken aback by St. Peter’s admonition. Our epistle raises some questions: What is the Christian duty toward government? What is Peter actually requiring us to do? What did Jesus do for us in that regard? Continue reading “Sermon: What is the Christian Duty Toward Government?”

Sermon: Bought by Blood, Called to Holiness

Text: 1 Peter 1:13-25
Epistle for the Second Sunday after Easter, Series A
Listen to the sermon here.

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

A man in Japan went into a junk-shop, in a little town not far from his home. He was looking for something specific, and after wandering around for a while he thought he saw just the thing. It was a bowl, about twenty centimetres across. Someone had obviously used it for flowers at some stage, and it was still dirty with soil and the remains of a few leaves. It looked, too, like it was broken into several pieces. The owner of the store had probably not thought much about it, since it was fractured, stained, and likely no good to anyone anymore. The man carefully fished the bowl out and its pieces. He disguised his pleasure as he went and bought it at the till.

Then, taking it home, he set about cleaning it. He took care. He had spotted (as the store-owner obviously hadn’t) that it was in fact made of very expensive porcelain. He could gradually get the dirt and soil out of its pattern and make each piece as good as new. At that point, the man still has a broken bowl. But the man is an expert in the practice of kintsugi. Kintsugi is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. Instead of trying to hide the cracks, the Kintsugi technique uses a special tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks, giving a one-of-a-kind appearance to each “repaired” piece. In Japanese culture this celebrates each artefact’s unique history, and makes them a unique piece of art more valuable than if they had remained unbroken. So when the man finished with the bowl, he put it in a place of honour in his home, and showed off it’s priceless artwork to perfect effect. Just what he had wanted. The main point in our Epistle lesson which Peter wants to get across is that we are like that kintsugi bowl. Continue reading “Sermon: Bought by Blood, Called to Holiness”

Sermon: A Reason to Praise God, Even in Hard Times

Text: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Epistle Lesson, First Sunday After Easter (aka, the Second Sunday of Easter), Series A
Listen to the sermon here!

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

Peter begins our Epistle by praising God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (v. 1). It certainly isn’t difficult to praise God when things are going well. When life is turning up daisies we will often bless, thank, and praise God readily enough. But, over the past several weeks things have not been going well for many people. Anxiety and fear are rampant because the world is changing before our very eyes in ways that we didn’t anticipate and don’t clearly understand and, for the most part, are out of our control. So, when things are not going so well, do we still praise God? If you or someone you love has a serious health issue, do you find yourself blessing God? If you are out of work or having a hard time on the job, do you still find it easy to give thanks to your Creator? Is God still being praised in your life when the money runs out? Often enough, life becomes hard, and that is when it can become much more difficult to thank and praise God.

St. Peter the Apostle wrote a letter of encouragement to Christians who were experiencing hard times. It would seem that their trials had not as yet taken the form of physical persecution. Instead, on top of the daily trails of life, they were experiencing social scorn, shaming, slander, and harassment. It is clear that their suffering was challenging their faith. Peter claims that despite our trials, we still have reason to praise God. Since God has shown mercy towards us in the past, have have hope for future, even during hard times in the present. Continue reading “Sermon: A Reason to Praise God, Even in Hard Times”