The Keys of St. Peters

Sermon: The Lord Washes Us

Text: John 13:1-17, 31-35.
Gospel for Holy Thursday

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Introduction

What’s the dirtiest and grossest job you’ve ever had to do? Washing someone else’s dirty feet must be right up there. The reading from St. John’s Gospel is a bit odd to us because we don’t usually wash other people’s feet. In the ancient world, people wore sandals as they walked on the dusty roads. And then when people went to dinner, they didn’t sit on chairs, but reclining on their sides upon couches. So, unless you wanted stinky feet in your face as you ate, you made sure to appoint your lowest slave to wash feet. Not the most appealing job in the world, is it? This helps us to understand why none of the apostles did the washing. Read More

Sermon: Seasons of Temptation

Midweek Service for Lent 5
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Introduction

Imagine the scene: There’s a man’s dead body on the floor. Yellow tape quarantines off the doorway. Inside, the room is buzzing with forensic specialists and police officers. Over in the corner, the new widow is crying. The lead detectives ask her questions. This is a scene we’re familiar with. We’ve encountered variations of it in movies, on television and in fiction. What’s one of the questions that the detectives often asked the next of kin? “Did he have any enemies?” And it’s obvious why this question is asked. Enemies have motive to kill.

If someone asked that question of you, how would you respond? Do you have enemies? What would you do if you had enemies who you knew were out to kill you? You would certainly call to the police and get their protection and help. Luther’s response in the Small Catechism seems to indicate that you do have enemies. Your enemies are the Devil, the World, and your own sinful nature. And I hate to break it to you, but they all have motive to kill you. That is why in the Lord’s Prayer we pray “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” So, to know exactly what it is we’re praying for, let’s look at those three enemies. Read More

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: 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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Sermon: Unity through the Self-Giving God

Text: Philippians 2:1-18
Epistle Lesson for Series A, Proper 21

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

INTRODUCTION

Dear saints, have you ever been to a play, ballet or stage performance of any kind? Each performer does their bit, and plays their part. Back in St. Catharines, a few years ago they opened up a new performing arts centre. Laurin and I love choirs and classical

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music, so we have had the chance to see the Niagara Chorus and the Niagara Symphony singing and playing Bach, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Egmont Overature, and Brahms German Requiem. It is definitely something else to hear a choir perform live, instead of just in a recording. In any kind of live stage performance, all the individual performers work together in unity and the result is efficiency and beauty.

So that unity is important for a good production. All the performers know right where to be and what to do so that each move, each line, each note sung with precision. It is like watching a new or classic car engine with all its gears and pistons working together in perfect harmony. But, what if one performer is out of step or out of tune? What if one actor suddenly decides his minor character deserves a bigger role? What if the entire Bass or Soprano section decides to start singing a different tune? The beauty of the performance is ruined and chaos ensues. The beauty of the performance can only be seen when everyone involved was working together towards the same object, when they have the same focus.

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