The Keys of St. Peters

Sermon: Jesus: The Lord who Served Others (John 13:1-15, 34-35)

Text: John 13:1-15, 34-35
Gospel for Maundy Thursday
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Those who find out about the origin of the word Maundy are often surprised. The word comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning command. When we speak of Maundy Thursday, we mean commandment Thursday. So you may be surprised to discover that Thursday of Holy Week was not named for Jesus’ words, “Do this in remembrance of me,” but for his beautiful words recorded in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

This is especially good to highlight in our present circumstance. The current crisis prevents us from celebrating the institution of the Lord’s Supper. But, despite the fact that we are not able to share together in Holy Communion, we can indeed hear about Christ’s great love for us, and show love for one another. In our Gospel lesson from John 13 we see how Jesus demonstrated his love for his disciples, and how he encouraged his disciples to love one another. Read More

Sermon: Glory Hidden in Suffering

Text: 
John 12:20-43

Gospel for Palm Sunday
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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s estimated that one of every four-hundred thousand babies will be born with a rare genetic disease called dysautonomia. Victims are unable to feel pain and usually die early. Some athletes have their careers altered because they take drugs to dull pain instead of discovering and treating the source of the problem. Or think about leprosy, otherwise known as Hansen’s Disease. Those afflicted with leprosy don’t feel pain due to their nerve endings being destroyed. The result is infection and death, all because they could not feel pain! In this broken world, pain sometimes serves a useful purpose. This morning’s Gospel reading is about the glory that is hidden in suffering. 

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Sermon: Entrusting Ourselves to the Life-Giving God

Text: Romans 8:1-11
Epistle for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Series A
Listen to the sermon here.

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

“Unprecedented,” that’s the word we are continuing to hear on the news and media these days. With covid-19 now running through our communities we keep hearing that these are unprecedented times with unprecedented measures being put in place. Physical distancing, self isolation, and quarantine are the norm and we have no idea for how long. As this pandemic continues on, the government and health officials continue to put measures into effect with the specific purpose of keeping us safe. So, how safe do you feel? Have these measures calmed all your fears? If you’re anything like me, they’ve maybe taken the edge off. But, as we are forced to venture out to grocery stores and pharmacies, we come back home, disinfect, and hope and pray we haven’t caught it. What are we afraid of? Have you thought about that? What is it exactly that we are afraid of? We’re afraid of suffering. We’re afraid of dying. We’re afraid of our friends and family suffering and dying.

But, how safe do you feel living under the care of God? God in his grace has put measures into effect with the specific purpose of your salvation. How sure are you of the future which God has promised? Is it safe to entrust ourselves entirely to the God of grace? We can see just how much we trust God when we’re afflicted by suffering which is outside our control. Look at your reaction to this covid-19 crisis. How you responded to these experiences shows a lot about your confidence in God’s grace. You may have responded to this crisis with self-reliance and self-confidence. You may have trusted in your own ability to keep yourself safe or maybe your strong immune system. You may trust in your own judgement and think that the whole thing is blown out of proportion. Or, you may have felt the pains of despair. You may be confused as why God would allow such a thing. Either way, your response to this crisis shows just how much you trust in the grace of God. The point at issue here is the trustworthiness of God. The question before us is why should we entrust “ourselves, one another, and our hole life to Christ, our Lord?” (Litany, LSB p. 251). Read More

Sermon: Responding to the Word

Text: Luke 1:26-38
Gospel for the Annunciation of Our Lord
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have you ever been so excited about something that all you wanted to do is tell everybody? Maybe you had some piece of news or some major announcement. Did you notice the wide variety of responses you received from people? I remember when Laurin and I made the announcement that we were going to have a second child. Some people were so overjoyed and excited for us that it brought us closer together as friends. However, quite a few people gave us mixed reactions. “Really?! Another one? Didn’t you just have one? It’s only been 14 months!” It can be quite difficult to tell how people are going to react sometimes.

Every day announcements and news items elicit a wide variety of responses; God’s Word is no different. Start talking to people about God and the Jesus and you’ll receive a wide variety of reactions. Some people will even respond with bitterness and hatred. Canadians tend to have a different response: apathy. Most people today simply don’t care. God’s Word holds no place of value in their lives. Few today respond to the Gospel with joy, and even fewer with reverence and awe. So, how about you? When God’s Word of salvation and life comes to you, how do you respond? Today we will see how the Virgin Mary provides a perfect example of how we also ought to respond to God’s Word, even when its confusing. Read More

Sermon: Jesus – Our Spiritual Optometrist

Text: John 9:1-41
Gospel Lesson for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Series A
Listen to the Sermon here.

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

Our physical eyesight is one of the greatest gifts God has given to us. Those of us who have always had good eyesight can take for granted this wonderful gift from God. Now, if you had a problem with your eyesight, where would you go? Of course you would book an appointment with an optometrist. Once, there was a devoted Christian woman who suffered from dimming sight. One day, her optometrist was examining her eyes. He did not find much encouragement in his examination, and expressed his sympathy that there was nothing he could do to help her. She was not disturbed, but told him, how good the Lord had been to her and her husband. The optometrist replied, “You have no eyesight,” he said, “but you can truly see.” And he spoke the truth. Spiritual sight is something better than physical eyesight. Read More

Prayers in Time of Infectious Disease

For the end of the Coronavirus

O Almighty God, who in your wrath sent a plague upon your own people in the wilderness for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also in the time of King David, sent a plague of pestilence which killed seventy thousand, but, remembering your mercy, spared the rest: Have pity upon us miserable sinners, who now are visited with the coronavirus epidemic; and in the same way that you then commanded the destroying Angel to cease from punishing: so it may now please you to withdraw from us this plague and grievous sickness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Medical Professions

Almighty God, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ went about doing good, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people: Continue his gracious work among us especially by means of those who are attending to the sick and those who are working tirelessly to discover a treatment for this disease, console and heal the sick; grant to the physicians, nurses, and assisting staff wisdom and skill, diligence and patience; prosper their work, O Lord, and send down your blessing upon all who serve the suffering; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Those who serve in Industry and Commerce

Lord Jesus Christ, as once You shared in our human toil and thus hallowed the work of our hands, bless and prosper those who maintain the industries and service sectors of this land, blessing especially those who work at grocery stores, pharmacies, and all others serving in our communities. Give them a right regard for their labors, and grant them the just reward for their work that they may find joy in serving You and in supplying our needs; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

For those in authority

O merciful Father in heaven, from You comes all rule and authority over the nations of the world. Graciously regard Your servants Elizabeth our Queen, Justin her Prime Minister, Doug her Premiere, and all who make, administer, and judge the laws of this nation, and look in mercy upon all the rulers of the earth. Grant the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well being of all people and bring an end to this crisis; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Trustfulness in Times of Worry and Anxiety

Most loving Father, you will us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on the One who cares for us. Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested unto us in your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Our Congregation

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear our prayers, and grant that in St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church the pure Word of God may be preached and the Sacraments duly administered. Strengthen and confirm the faithful; protect and guide the children; visit and relieve the sick; turn and soften the wicked; arouse the careless; recover the fallen; restore the penitent; remove all hindrances to the advancement of your truth; and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church, to the honour and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

Resources for Isolation

Since we’re all stuck at home due to this coronavirus epidemic, here are a list of resources which you may find of use. Read More

Sermon: Reconciled to the God of Love

Text: Romans 5:1-11
Epistle Lesson for the Third Sunday of Lent, Series A
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A group of academics and historians have compiled this startling information: Since 3600 B.C., the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed. The value of the property destroyed is equal to a golden belt around the world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick. Since 650 B.C., there have also been 1,656 arms races, only 16 of which have not ended in war. The remainder ended in the economic collapse of the countries involved. War and conflict are things we humans seem to be pretty good at as a species. And our desire to fight one another doesn’t limit itself to war. We will fight about anything. We fight about religion. We fight about politics. We fight over the colour of the carpet. We even fight with our loved ones. This is perhaps best illustrated by a cartoon I once saw. A man was sitting and a computer typing furiously. Next to him, a clock reads: 3:00 AM. His wife comes in the room and asks why her husband hasn’t come to bed yet. He responds, “I can’t honey, someone on the internet is wrong!”

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Sermon: The Many Sons of Father Abraham

Text: Romans 4:1-8, 13-17
Second Sunday in Lent, Series A
Listen to the Sermon here.

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

What is a family? If you were asked to define what constitutes a family how would you respond? It isn’t quite as easy as we may think. A family isn’t just a bunch of people living under one roof. By that definition any hotel or prison would be a family. Neither is a family a group of people who have the same last name. Lots of people have the same last name from all over the world and are total strangers. To complicate matters, a family doesn’t have a specific composition either. A family can include parents and children, a married couple without children, a single parent and children, among others. You don’t even have to be a blood relative to be family, for example some people are adopted.  And so, if someone talks about family the natural question occurs: What kind of family is it?

What about God’s family? To be part of God’s family, you also have to part of Abraham’s family. “Father Abraham had many sons. Many sons had Father Abraham, and I am one of them, and so are you.” We teach our children that song: that they are children of Abraham. Abraham was the beginning of the covenant family. Of all the people on earth, God singled out this one man – seventy-five years old, married, and childless. A wealthy man who shared his abundance with his nephew Lot. God promised Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and him that curses you I will curse: and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3). God made a three-fold promise to Abraham which was the foundation of the Old Testament. God promised him a people, a land, and promised Saviour. To be part of God’s family, you also have to part of Abraham’s family, and Christians now belong to that family. But the question that the Apostle Paul begins in our Epistle is, what kind of family is it? To answer the question of what kind of family it is, we’ll look at two questions. First, “How does one join the family?” Second, “Who belong to family?”

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Sermon: Jesus Saw Through the Devil’s Doubts

Texts:  Matthew 4:1-11 & Genesis 3:1-21
First Sunday in Lent, Series A
Listen to the sermon here!  

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

Who had it worse? Which temptation do you think was the harder, Adam or Jesus? The temptation of Christ was more difficult, inexpressibly more difficult than the temptation of Adam. Adam had it all: a home that was literally paradise, the best looking woman in the entire world, all his needs and wants cared for and fulfilled. Jesus, on the other hand, was not in a paradise, but a barren and arid wilderness. Jesus had no one else with him, he was completely alone. He didn’t have a garden with plenty of food close at hand, he hadn’t ate food for forty day and forty nights. Satan came to Adam when everything was good and perfect. Satan came to Christ when he was weak, lonely, and hungry.  

But one thing they did have in common is the way Satan attacked. God speaks His words.  Are they to be trusted or not?  That is the only question that ultimately matters. Adam heard God’s words.  He knew that God had placed that one tree in quarantine.  Adam knew that death was the penalty for disobedience. But, Satan, always the cunning liar, planted doubt about what God had said:  “Has God said?” (Gen. 3:1).  Doubt moves aside for a bald-faced lie: “You shall not surely die.” And then come the empty promises: “the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5). Who will be believed?  Adam and Eve chose to believe the Serpent instead of the Almighty God. 

Of course, their God and Creator did not lie. They, indeed, did die, and plunged us, right along with them, into the depths of rebellion, sin, and death. But along with the curses came a promise – the promise of the Seed of the Woman who would crush the head of the Serpent. The Devil has haunted humanity ever since, enticing us to doubt God’s Word and put our trust in anything and everything but the one Creator God. When we finally come to our Gospel reading, we see that the more things change the more they stay the same. Upon the scene comes the long-expected Messiah, the promised Seed, the Virgin-Born Son of God. And the same old cunning serpent shows up, with his same old bag of tricks. He tries to sow doubt. Satan thinks that he can lure any man to distrust God, so why not this man? Where Adam failed, will Jesus prove victorious?  Read More