Sermon: Good News for Dark Days (Isaiah 62:1-5)

Text: Isaiah 62:1-5
Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Listen to the sermon here.

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

Have you ever felt completely abandoned and rejected? We’ve all experienced rejection from time to time. Now, if you can, imagine being abandoned and forsaken, but then you suddenly and unaccountably find yourself welcomed and taken in. If you can imagine that, then you can understand what is going on in our Old Testament lesson.

Continue reading “Sermon: Good News for Dark Days (Isaiah 62:1-5)”

Sermon: Unexpected Gifts from God (Ephesians 1:3-14)

Text: Ephesians 1:3-14
Second Sunday of Christmas, Year C
Listen to the sermon here.

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

Well, happy 9th day of Christmas to all of you! This Christmas season, my children have grown to love the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Even little Katie joins in enthusiastically on “five golden rings!” In that song, a gift is given on each of those twelve days. This morning God has more Christmas gifts for you to unpack. Today’s reading from Ephesians delivers unexpected gifts from God. It’s like a surprise Christmas gift that the UPS man dropped on your doorstep long after you packed up Christmas for the year. This morning, St. Paul will help us unpack all these gifts. Our reading can be broken into three sections. First, the gifts were part of the Father’s Plan, which were then attained for you by the Son and are now distributed to you by the Holy Spirit.

Continue reading “Sermon: Unexpected Gifts from God (Ephesians 1:3-14)”

Sermon: The Biblical Family (Luke 2:41-52 & Colossians 3:12-21)

Texts: Luke 2:41-52 & Colossians 3:12-21  
Feast of the Holy Family, Year C
Listen to the sermon here.

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

At some point or another, we all have had a boss who, in our considered opinion, wasn’t quite suited to have his authority. There have been politicians, or even pastors who we thought were not fit to be in their positions. And, of course, we grumble and complain about how unfair it is and how we would certainly do a better job we were in charge. We have just celebrated Christmas and today we take a look at the Holy Family, focusing on the life of Jesus with Mary and Joseph. I want you to think about how different the example of the boy Jesus was. Mary and Joseph had parental authority over the Son of God! How unqualified do you suppose they were? Imagine it: in every argument, their son was always right! Yet, think about the cheerful obedience Jesus gave to his human parents. Do you see how incredible that is? The Son of God condescends to obey his creatures! Yet, this demonstrates how important family was to Jesus. The holidays are a time when we think more about family. How important is family to you?

Continue reading “Sermon: The Biblical Family (Luke 2:41-52 & Colossians 3:12-21)”

Sermon: Where is God? (Isaiah 52:7-10 & John 1:1-18)

Texts: Isaiah 52:7-10 & John 1:1-18
Christmas Day
Listen to the sermon here.

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

Have you ever felt that God was distant and removed from your life? We can go through life feeling like God is way up there, and I am way down here. We live in a world ruled by sin, ruined by injustice, violence, corruption, self-centeredness. We live in a corrupted world filled with despair, sickness, and death. Do you watch the news and scroll through social media, shaking your head, asking, where’s God? It’s not uncommon to look around at the world we live in and feel like we’ve been left on our own. That’s the question we’re looking at this Christmas morning: Where is God?

Continue reading “Sermon: Where is God? (Isaiah 52:7-10 & John 1:1-18)”

Sermon: A Birth Announced by Angels (Luke 2:1-20)

Text: Luke 2:1-20
Christmas Eve
Listen to the sermon here.

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

Most of us have received a birth announcement at one time or another. Maybe you got one in the mail, or you might have received a phone call about a friend or daughter who has just had a baby. In recent years, couples have become very creative, especially when putting their baby announcements on social media. My wife recently told me of one couple who simply added an extra stocking to their mantle when they took their Christmas photo, and left people to guess.

As creative or extravagant as birth announcements go, I think “a multitude of the heavenly host” gets top prize for the best birth announcement. We can imagine the fear that suddenly gripped the shepherds’ hearts that first Christmas Eve. Without warning, they were surrounded by the brightness of God’s glory. They were terrified at the appearance of an angel, but the angel quickly reassured them, “Be not afraid.” He had good news to bring them. The shepherds had no need to fear because they had a reason for great joy, and that joy will extend to all people, even you and I. This good news and joy come from the announcement of the birth of one specific child. But what kind of birth is announced by angels? The angel identifies this child using three terms. This newborn boy is the Saviour, the Messiah, the Lord. These three terms told the shepherds who this child was. So let’s unpack each one of them now.

Continue reading “Sermon: A Birth Announced by Angels (Luke 2:1-20)”

Sermon: Learning from Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45)

Text: Luke 1:39-45
Fourth Sunday in Advent, Series C
Listen to the sermon here.

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

What do you make of Mary? Looking around, we find a few different approaches to Mary in other church traditions, and it’s easy to be confused. At times it seems that some churches elevate Mary almost to the status of a goddess. They pray and sing hymns to her. Some even commend their souls to her keeping at the hour of their death. At the other end of the spectrum, many Protestant Christians believe her to be “just like us” — nothing special. She is barely mentioned or thought about at all. That surely is not right either. How are we to think about Mary?

Today’s Gospel lesson brings together two very unlikely mothers-to-be. Elizabeth, an elderly lady well past childbearing age, was three months away from giving birth to John the Baptist. Her younger cousin from Nazareth travelled to Judea to stay with her for three months. She was under sixteen years old, and her name was Mary. This morning, Elizabeth has taught us the right way to think about Mary, and she also teaches how that applies to us today.

Continue reading “Sermon: Learning from Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45)”

Sermon: Power Hidden in Weakness (Judges 6:11–24; 7:2–9)

Text: Judges 6:11–24; 7:2–9
Midweek Vespers for the Third Week in Advent
Listen to the sermon here.

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

Do you sometimes feel like Gideon? Maybe you can understand Gideon’s response to the Angel of the Lord’s greeting: “the Lord is with you.” Gideon said to Him, “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us in Psalm 78? But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” There are times when the people of God, feel like Gideon. Maybe there have been moments in the darkening days of this Adventtide when you asked questions similar to his. If God is with us, why is the Church struggling or mistreated or ignored if he really is Emmanuel? If God is with me, then why are things such a mess? Why do I feel alone? Why am I sick and suffering? Where is the power of God that we hear about in the Bible? The story of Gideon has some answers for us

Continue reading “Sermon: Power Hidden in Weakness (Judges 6:11–24; 7:2–9)”

Sermon: Reasons to Always Rejoice (Phil. 4:4-7 & Zeph. 3:14-18)

Texts: Philippians 4:4-7 & Zephaniah 3:14-18
Third Sunday in Advent, Series C
Listen to the sermon here.

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

We enjoy going on family walks at night during December to see all the pretty Christmas lights and decorations that adorn our neighbourhood’s houses. My wife pointed out to me one house which had the word “joy” in giant wooden letters on their lawn. Joy is a theme we encounter throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas. We find the sentiment on cards, holiday decorations, and in music. However, the real joy is not always so easy to come by. Experience tells us that “joy” is often hard to find, especially at this time of year. Loneliness, family strife, health problems, unexpected crises, grief, and national events make it seem like joy is always beyond our grasp. The only time we see joy might be when we watch holiday movies.

As hard as it is to find joy sometimes, this actually invites us to stop and think about what it is we are looking for when we speak of “joy.” Is it an emotional high? A state of perpetual happiness? An absence of conflict? Or is “joy” something that has become little more than an empty seasonal sentiment? Yet, today in our epistle reading, we find a command to “rejoice.” And that is not a call to just “be happy.” But, how can the Bible tell us to rejoice when we’re in the midst of hard times and circumstances? What reasons do we have for joy?

Continue reading “Sermon: Reasons to Always Rejoice (Phil. 4:4-7 & Zeph. 3:14-18)”

Sermon: God with us (Exodus 40:17–21, 34–38)

Text: Exodus 40:17–21, 34–38
Midweek Vespers for the Second Week in Advent
Listen to the sermon here.

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

During the season of Advent, we pray and sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Emmanuel means “God with us.” And that is what we desire: for God to be with us, for God to come and dwell with us. But how does God dwell with us? When we talk about God’s presence, what are we referring to? Some imagine that God’s presence is made known through our feelings, or maybe a vision or dreams. Is God’s presence just a spiritual experience you have? Or, perhaps this “God with us” is not just about having warm feelings?

Continue reading “Sermon: God with us (Exodus 40:17–21, 34–38)”

Sermon: What Then Shall We Do? (Luke 3:1-20)

Text: Luke 3:1-20
Second Sunday in Advent, Series C
Listen to the sermon here.

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

How are your preparations for Christmas coming? What kind of things do you do to prepare for Christmas? Do you have the tree and decorations up yet? Have you begun shopping for gifts? Are the stockings all hung with care? Advent is a season where we prepare for the comings of our saviour. There are three: his coming in the flesh, his coming in the Lord’s Supper, and his coming again on the last day. So, I’ll ask again: how are your preparations for Christmas? In our Gospel reading, we see that John the Baptist came to prepare a people for Jesus, the coming Messiah. We could summarise his message in a single word: Repent. So, this morning we will be looking at how John the Baptist prepares us for Christmas. We’ll first ask, “Why do we need to repent?” And then we’ll consider, “What does repentance look like?”

Continue reading “Sermon: What Then Shall We Do? (Luke 3:1-20)”