The Keys of St. Peters

Sermon: Jesus Our Great High Preist

Text: Hebrews 5:1-10
Epistle Lesson for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Series B

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Introduction

As Protestants living in North America we get a little fidgety when we hear talk of “priests” don’t we? When talking to people about coming to church or about going to private confession, one sometimes encounters a certain amount of resistance. The ideas and concepts associated with priesthood are not a popular subject. The common attitude of many is, “I don’t need a priest, I can go directly to God and ask forgiveness. I have a personal relationship with God. I often go to him in prayer, asking him to forgive my sins. Why would I need a priest to get in the way when I can do it myself? My faith is between me and God alone.” This kind of attitude can be a dangerous one though. Sometimes we feel perfectly capable of managing our relations with God in our own way, at our own pace, and according to our own desires. It’s that North American, independent, do-it-yourself kind of attitude.

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Sermon: Kept Safe by the Word

Text: Luke 11:14-28
Gospel Lesson for Oculi, Third Sunday of Lent (1 Yr.)

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

How’d they do that? Have you ever seen a feat of architecture and wondered that? Maybe it was one of those majestic Medieval Cathedrals. Or perhaps it’s the pyramids. “How’d they do that” is the question that has baffled Egyptologists and archeologists. Architects in the twenty-first century would find it a daunting task to build something similar, even with all the modern technology available. How did they do it thousands of years ago without the aid of technology? But the question, “How’d they do that” isn’t limited to ancient architecture. Go to see a talented musician play a complicated piece of music, or perhaps an acrobat or a magician and you’ll ask how. It’s the natural question to ask when we see something that seems way beyond our normal capabilities.

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Sermon: Honoring the Lord

First Petition – “Hallowed be thy name”
Midweek Service of Lent 1

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

In our midweek Lenten series this year we’re going through the Lord’s Prayer. Last week we were encouraged to pray the Lord’s Prayer not only when we gather for worship, but also throughout the week, and even multiple times a day. This week we’re looking at the first petition, “Hallowed be Thy name.”

Have you ever seen someone who you recognized but had no idea what their name was? Have you ever been in that situation and tried to do the nickname thing to get out of it? “Hey buddy!” “My name’s not buddy.” “Sure, it is partner.” When we meet someone for the first time, we introduce ourselves by our names. Why do you think we do that? We tell them our names so that they can get to know us and relate to us. Knowing someone’s name is important for our relationships, isn’t it? If your best friend never knew your name, you’d question how much they truly valued your friendship. “You’re my best friend Susan.” “My name is Debbie.”

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Sermon: The Sacrifice of the Beloved Son

Text: Genesis 22:1-18 LXX
Old Testament Lesson for the First Sunday in Lent, Series B

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

“God tested Abraham.” It’s one of the most brilliantly told and emotionally heavy narratives in all the Bible. Imagine the dialogue in the first scene for a moment. Abraham heard God’s thunderous voice call his name, “Abraham!” “I’m at your service, Lord!” Abraham was eager and willing to respond to God’s call. “You know your son?” “Yes, Isaac.” “Isaac is your only son, isn’t he?” “Yes,” Abraham replies. “You love him, don’t you?” “Oh, yes,” confirms Abraham, “He has brought me such joyous laughter. He means the world to me.” After a bit of a pause, God replies, “Kill him for me, then, will you?”

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Sermon: The Stairway to Heaven

Text: John 1:43-51
Gospel for the Second Sunday After Epiphany, Series B

In the name of Jesus Amen.

Have you had a chance to go into a Christian bookstore recently? It is quite an enlightening experience. You’re bound to see books like “Ten Steps Towards Christ”, “Six Ways to Empower Your Prayer life”, “14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family” “30 Thoughts for Victorious Living”. (Yes, those are real book titles). And they sell. Some of them may even be beneficial. But, it seems we’re obsessed with breaking Christianity down into manageable chunks. It’s a self-help society we live in and we want to be able to do it ourselves. We want a sense of accomplishment. We want to enjoy feelings of progress. We realize that getting to heaven is a difficult task, and so we want God to provide us with a stairway to heaven. We want God to break the Christian faith into manageable chunks which we can do on our own.

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Sermon: Finding Comfort in the Lord’s Advent

TEXT: ISAIAH 40:1-11 LXX
OLD TESTAMENT LESSON, SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, SERIES B

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Our Old Testament lesson is very famous. In the coming weeks, it will be heard throughout the world by large crowds of people. Why? Because this reading was used with stunning effect by George Fredrich Handel as the opening three parts of his famous piece of music, “The Messiah”. I’m sure many here have heard Handel’s Messiah. I had the privilege of hearing it live for the first time ever last Christmas. Blew my socks off! But, what does it mean? How does it point to our Messiah?

First a bit of background information: God had given Israel his Law, “You shall have no other gods.” The Kingdom of Israel hadn’t listened. They worshiped Baal, Asherah and Molech. So, God sent the Assyrians and annihilated them. The same fatal disease also infected the kingdom of Judah and its capital Jerusalem. Like today, Religious pluralism was the predominate view. There was a diversity of religious beliefs which were encouraged to co-exist in Israelite society. Baal, Asherah, and Molech were honoured right alongside the Lord. A few good and faithful kings tried to enact reforms, but only delayed the inevitable. People thought if they offered the Lord half-hearted lip-service in the Temple, that it would be enough. Throw God a bone, offer him a goat, and I can go off and worship Baal. The people refused to listen to the warnings of the prophets. So, Isaiah prophesied a time when God would send Babylonian invaders to strip the temple and take Jerusalem’s people into exile. God’s just judgment for Judah’s unrepentant idolatry.

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Sermon: Abraham Sees the Stars Of Promise

Texts: Genesis 15:1-6; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; Matthew 3:7-11
Midweek Service, for the Second week of Advent.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them,” the Lord God said to Abraham, four thousand years ago. And Abraham looked up and contemplated the stars, more than he could count. And now, four thousand years later, this Advent you and I are invited to look toward heaven and contemplate the stars.

God had called Abraham out of Ur. He promised that he would turn Abraham into a “great nation”. He promised him many descendants. But Abraham was already well into his nineties. He needed to be reminded of the Lord’s guarantee to fulfill that promise. In our text from Genesis, God promises that Abraham will have a son. God speaks his word to Abraham at night, in a vision, and Abraham is fully awake. When people meet up with God, they usually respond in sheer terror. The same is true of Abraham, he is afraid. “Fear not,” God says. Then God immediately proclaims for a second time his promise to Abraham. God is Abraham’s shield or defense in life. God will protect and guide Abraham. He also promises that his “reward will be great.” God means that his descendants will be very great or numerous.

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Sermon: “We Feebly Struggle, They in Glory Shine”

Text: Revelation 7:9-17
First Reading, All Saints Day (Observed), Series A.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Introduction

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Have you ever had a dream or nightmare that felt real? Occasionally, I’ll get a nightmare like that. I’ll have a dream and wake up and have a hard time for a moment or two distinguishing between the dream and the reality. Usually, it’s a bit scary. So, I get up, go grab a drink of water, and within five minutes I’m reminded that it was not real. It was just a dream. The accident didn’t happen, so-and-so is still alive after all, and the monster attacking you was just in your imagination. The clash of dream and reality can at times be powerful. Sometimes it may be hard to tell which is which.

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Article: WHOSE REFORMATION IS IT? A LUTHERAN REFLECTS ON THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION

I wrote an article this past summer about the Reformation. It was posted on the Gospel Coalition Canada website. The original article can be found by clicking the link below:

WHOSE REFORMATION IS IT? A LUTHERAN REFLECTS ON THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION

On October 31st, 1517, Augustinian Friar and University Professor Dr. Martin Luther posted 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. By posting these 95 Theses, Luther sought to voice his objection to the sale of indulgences. Far from starting a reasoned discussion, as was his hope, this was the spark which splintered western Christendom into pieces. Contrary to popular opinions, it was never Luther’s goal to overthrow the Roman Church, nor did he intend to splinter western Christendom. His objective was to reform the church. He saw an abusive practice and sought to correct it. Thus, this reformation movement is said to have begun there, at the door of the Castle Church. The objective of this reformation was to establish the truth and to do so upon the basis of Holy Scripture, with due respect given to the voices of the saints of old. It has been half a millennium since this reformation began, and the Church will never be the same.

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Sermon: Come to the Feast

Text: Matthew 22:1-14
Gospel reading for Series A, Proper 23.
(This sermon was revised for the one year Lectionary here.)

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Introduction

When was the last time you were invited somewhere for dinner? Perhaps it was last weekend when you went to friends’ or relatives for Thanksgiving. What was your table like? Was there a big, carved turkey? Were mashed potatoes and stuffing on the menu? Maybe some cranberry-sauce and some wine? Pumpkin pie for dessert? Perhaps you have been recently invited to a dinner at wedding? Maybe you went to a simple dinner at a friend’s house. Maybe you did the inviting! It seems like every special occasion or any important event involves a good meal. It’s also very much part of how we socialize. We invite people over for dinner, and we get invited over for dinner. Well today’s readings involve a great feast! The greatest feast you’ll ever be invited to!

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