Sermon: God is One of Us

Text: John 1:1-18
Christmas Day
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Chirst. Amen.

Have you ever felt that God was distant and removed from your life? Have you ever felt God was uninterested and inaccessible? We can go through life feeling like God doesn’t care about what happens to us. God is way up there, and I am way down here. Maybe God has forgotten about me. He must have more important things to worry about, right? It’s not uncommon to feel like we’ve been left on our own.

Perhaps that’s why Joan Osborne released a song called back in 1995 called “One of Us.” “What if God was one of us?” she sings, “Just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on the bus, tryin’ to make his way home?” Isn’t that an interesting thought? What if God were an average-height, average-weight guy who looked just like a million other people? What if God were one of us—who snored and woke up with morning breath, got sleepy and grumpy, and didn’t always make his bed? What if God lived among us instead of being distant and removed?

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Sermon: Glory to God and Peace to Men

Text: Luke 2:1-20
Christmas Eve
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is your favourite Christmas carol? Perhaps you like Silent Night, Away in the Manger, or Hark! The Herald. There are many joyful Christmas Carols. We can’t even imagine celebrating Christmas without the old familiar hymns. But, one carol has been sung more than any other. In fact, most Christians continue to sing it nearly all year round. It’s been sung for a millennium and a half. What song is that? It is the song of the angels on that first Christmas Eve. Gloria in Excelsis Deo. This is what we sing every Communion Service. The pastor sings: “Glory be to God on high”, and the congregation replies: “And on earth peace good will toward men.” It’s also part of several carols. This song of the angels shows us the true nature of Christmas. The powerful song of the angels tells us two things: first, it gives all glory to the God of heaven; second, it announces that the God of heaven has established peace between himself and mankind.

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Sermon: The Gospel is God’s Good News

Text: Romans 1:1-7
Fourth Sunday in Advent, Series C
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 We live in a world that’s filled with bad news.  We are bombarded daily with stories about war, inflation, crime, pollution, injustice, drug abuse, oppression, and so much more.  And there’s a reason for that.  There is so much bad news in this world because our world is caught in the grip of the power of sin. Sinful behavior always results in bad news. It might be a good change of pace to get some good news for a change. Would you like some good news this morning? St. Paul the Apostle has some good news for us this morning. This good news was promised long ago. It is news about Jesus of Nazareth. And it is news for you.

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Sermon: Rejoicing in Christ’s Return

Text: John 16:19-24, 32-33
Third Wednesday in Advent
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What kind of things make you happy? What are your most significant sources of joy in this life? There are probably many different things that bring you joy. Is it the sight of your spouse at the end of a long day? Spending time with your children or grandchildren can bring joy! Some find joy in the satisfaction of a job done well. Others love taking time to enjoy a hobby. Perhaps it’s getting to enjoy the company of good friends. But there are times when it can be hard to find anything that brings us joy. Quite the opposite in some cases. You might even have reasons to sorrow! Sometimes we go through seasons of life, and it’s hard to feel joy.

The third week in Advent is about joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, will I say, rejoice” (Ph 4:4). In the reading from John 16, Jesus is in the upper room on the night he was betrayed. Jesus gives the disciples and us today reason for joy amid great sorrow. First, Jesus points out their present sorrow. Second, he predicts their future joy.

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Sermon: A Question for Jesus

Text: Matthew 11:2-15; Isaiah 35:1-10
Third Sunday in Advent, Series C
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A university professor once told his class that he would give any student an A in his course who asked one intelligent question. We might think that to be intelligent means we can give answers, not ask questions. But sometimes, the question is as much a part of knowledge as the answer—often the more important part. Men had assumed from the beginning of time that a heavier object fell faster than a lighter one—until Galileo asked, “Does it?” Sometimes asking the right question is just as important as getting an answer.

Last week, St. John the Baptist was in the wilderness. We heard John preaching repentance, calling us to turn from sin to faith in Christ. This week, he’s languishing in Herod’s prison. How quickly things have changed. This morning, John asks a question from the depths of Herod’s dungeon. And it’s the right question, an intelligent question. So, we will examine John’s question and our Lord’s answer.

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Sermon: Living Until Christ Returns

Text: 2 Peter 3:8-18
Second Wednesday in Advent
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Nearly all our food products have an expiry date on them. The other day, I opened the fridge to grab the cream for my morning coffee. There were several identical containers of cream in our fridge since my wife had bought a bunch on sale. I grabbed the closest one and put it to good use. However, my wife informed me that I was not paying attention to the expiry date. I opened the cream with the later expiry date, while the cream that would expire sooner remained unopened. How often do you check the best-before date? When we see that our food has a best-before date stamped on it, what ought we to do? The fact that the food will spoil if we don’t use it affects our actions. The expiry date reminds us to use our food before it spoils.

St. Peter informs us that our world has an expiry date. He says that “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat; and the earth and the works that are in it will be burnt up” (2 Pe 3:10). Since our world has a best-before date, Peter asks us a question. “Therefore, since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be?” (2 Pe 3:11). This evening, we’ll see what Peter has to say about our responsibilities and how that relates to God’s patience.

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Sermon: The Message of John the Baptist

Text: Matthew 3:1-12 & Isaiah 11:1-10
Second Sunday in Advent, Series A
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist will be our Advent preacher for the next two Sundays. But I need to warn you in advance. You may not like him. His message is challenging, particularly as we prepare for the Christmas season.  John’s message is similar to the church’s message today. This fact makes the message of John the Baptist appropriate for every generation. It is a simple message. It has two parts, summarized neatly in verse two of our reading. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt 3:2).  John proclaimed, firstly, that they should repent. The second concerned the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. The two go together; the coming of the Kingdom and the call to repent. This was true then, and it is still true today.

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Sermon: Watching for Christ’s Return

Texts: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:1-13
Midweek Vespers for the First Week in Advent
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

When it comes to being on the alert and ready at any moment, it’s hard to beat the Pony Express. The Pony Express was the mail service between St. Joseph, Missouri, and California. It depended on constant movement and readiness. Relay stations were established every ten to fifteen miles. A rider would shout aloud as he approached a station, giving the station master very short notice that he needed to be outside waiting with a fresh horse. When a rider came to the station where he would spend the night, another rider was already mounted and waiting. He had to be ready to grab the first rider’s bundle of packages and continue the trip.

When the transcontinental telegraph system was finished, the Pony Express became obsolete after just eighteen months. But the Pony Express gives us a great example of what it means to be always on the watch. The First Week in Advent reminds us that Jesus will return suddenly and unexpectedly.  The value of watching for our Lord’s return is what our two readings are about this evening. St. Paul says, “You yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Th 5:2). And that is why Christ our Lord says, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Mt 25:13). The question then is: how can I remain watchful? St. Paul tells us that we need to not be spiritually asleep and keep spiritually awake and sober. Let’s look at each in turn.

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Sermon: The Sudden and Unexpected Return of Christ

Text: Matthew 24:36-44
First Sunday in Advent, Year C
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 Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

How many of you like Advent Calendars? Some people find great joy in the daily routine of peeking behind the little doors. Each day has a door corresponding to the days leading up to Christmas Eve. Each day you find the correct number, pry open the little cardboard entry, and discover a piece of chocolate—a foretaste of the stocking to come. It is a slow but steady countdown. Each day you know Christmas is one day closer. Each door announces precisely how much longer until the big day arrives.

Advent calendars are good at building anticipation for Christmas. “Do not worry,” the calendar tells us, “there are still fourteen more days until Christmas.” We have got lots of time to get ready. There is plenty of time to finish shopping. Advent Calendars work for our annual celebration of Christmas, but Jesus is not talking about Christmas in our Gospel reading. And, when it comes down to it, the First Sunday in Advent is not about Christmas. It is about the second coming of Jesus. Unlike Christmas, you cannot countdown to Christ’s second coming. There’s no special calendar that tells you there are only a certain number of days left until Jesus returns. “Concerning that day and hour no one knows” (Mt. 24:36). As a result, Christ our Lord tells us his return will catch many unaware. And yet, his return will be our salvation.

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Sermon: Reasons for Joy in the New Creation

Text: Isaiah 65:17-25
Last Sunday of the Church Year, Series C
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 Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last Sunday, we discussed the signs indicating that Christ’s return is near. Jesus prepared us for the increasing difficulty of the Last Days by reminding us of God’s tender care. This Sunday, we are going to look at what happens next. After the Church makes it through the Great Tribulation, after the Battle of Armageddon, and after Christ, himself returns, and the dead in Christ are raised, what happens next? Have you ever wondered what life will be like after Jesus returns? What will life be like in this new heaven and new earth? What reasons might you have for joy in the New Creation? Today, the Lord reveals a life we can barely imagine through the prophet Isaiah. God tells us life will be so good that we will “be glad and rejoice forever” (Is 65:18). Isaiah, the prophet, gives us three reasons to have joy and gladness in the New Creation. For one, our joy will be the work of God. Second, our lives will not be short. Third, our labour will not be in vain.

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