11/22/20 – Last Sunday – “The Shepherd’s Peace” – Ezekiel 34:20-24

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is the second half of our Old Testament Reading, Ezekiel 34:20-24.

1. But first, think for a moment about the more peaceful places or times in your life. For me personally, one of the most peaceful places I have ever been is a little place inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina-Tennessee border—a campground called Big Creek Campground. It’s a super remote place with towering pine, oak, and tulip poplar trees that are bigger, taller, and greener than any trees you’ve ever seen. And there’s a confluence of two creeks which roars in the background. Continue reading

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11/15/20 – Pentecost 24- “Children of the Day” – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

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

1. One of the most iconic, memorable movies of my childhood was the 1994 Disney movie, The Lion King. It’s this great story about the lion, Simba, and his rising to power as king after his evil uncle, Scar, killed his father and drove him away. Ever since the death of his father and his fleeing from Uncle Scar, Simba has been wandering aimlessly living like a nomad with his good friends, Pumba and Timon. With Pumba and Timon, Simba is living a life of freedom, no responsibilities, and ultimately “no worries.” It’s the good life, really. But in his selfish, nomadic life of “no worries”, Simba is living a life which ignores reality. His Uncle Scar, who is now leading the pride of lions, is abusing his leadership role and is running the world into the ground. Things are getting really bad. But Simba is complete oblivious. He sticks to his new life motto, “Hakuna Matata”, which means “no worries for the rest of your days.” Continue reading

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11/8/20 – Pentecost 23 – “Righteousness like an Ever-Flowing Stream” – Amos 5:18-24

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

1. As you probably know, this past Tuesday was a historic day in the life of our country. There was a record participation in the election, despite the fact that a growing number of voters weren’t exactly excited about the choices on the ballot. Yet Americans feel a civil duty to voice their opinion on Election Day, so an ever-flowing stream of voters poured into polling booths across our country. But, let’s be honest, other than maybe a slight decrease in political advertisements, not much has changed in our country or our lives. Politically, our nation is in turmoil, but everyday life still goes on—partially because it has to, but also partially because we’ve become so good in our country at compartmentalizing our lives. Continue reading

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11/1/20 – All Saints – “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit” – Matthew 5:1-12

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

1. All Saints’ Day is Sunday that would be really easy to look over on the calendar. But, it’s an important day for Christians for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that throughout the Bible God calls his people to remember. “Remember who I am. Remember what I have done for you. Remember how I have provided for you and your family throughout history. Remember.” And so, on this All Saints’ Day, it’s fitting that we take time to remember those who have gone before us in the faith. It’s fitting that we remember how the Lord has provided for them, and how he used those saints to provide for us as well.
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10/25/20 – Reformation – “The Eternal Gospel” – Revelation 14:6-7

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

1. I’m going to be honest, I’ve made a lot of dumb decisions in my life. One of those decisions I’ve always regretted was agreeing to run track my freshman year in high school. I can hardly think of a worse form of punishment—running in circles for hours on end to see who can get back to where they started first. Actually, I can think of something worse than running in circles endlessly…sprinting in circles endlessly. I started out running long distance, which actually wasn’t so bad. Our coach, Mr. Grossman, used to drive us several miles down the road to the next county over and make us run back to school. But at least that was interesting: running down the snowy, icy roads in January and February. Continue reading

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10/18/20 – Pentecost 20 – “Whose Image is This?” Matthew 22:15-22

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

1. Our text for this morning is the Gospel Reading from Matthew 22. This text immediately follows our Gospel Reading from last week, The Parable of the Wedding Feast. And, let’s be honest, this is a fairly well-known text, at least Jesus’ line “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Though, I’m not sure that the context surrounding this line is all that well-known. This is a shame because not knowing the context of this statement causes us to mis-hear what Jesus is actually saying. Some people assume (wrongly, I might add) that this text is primarily about politics. It’s not. There’s something deeper going on. The issue at hand in this text is identity – whose are you? And what does that mean for how you live your life? Let me give you an example to illustrate the importance of identity.
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10/11/20 – Pentecost 19 – “Honoring the Son” – Matthew 22:1-14

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

1. Who doesn’t love stories? Some of my fondest memories as a child are the stories that we would read as a family. We resonate with stories, don’t we? They allow us to relate to specific characters, to see what they saw, to feel what they felt. The thing with stories is, there tends to be certain moments that you remember because of the vivid imagery of the moment or the significance that moment held in the larger narrative. And the thing is, good storytellers know how to tell stories in such a way that you walk away remembering a very specific moment or moments in the story that they want you to remember. For example, one of those such moments in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit is that iconic moment where the dragon Smaug is flying over Laketown decimating and destroying the city and its people. Continue reading

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10/4/20 – Pentecost 18 – “The Vineyard Song” – Isaiah 5:1-7

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

1. There’s quite a bit about vines and vineyards going on in our readings today—Isaiah 5, Psalm 80, and Matthew 21. These readings all relate in an intriguing way. But what’s interesting about Psalm 80 and Matthew 21 is that both readings seem to be drawing language and imagery from Isaiah 5’s Vineyard Song. What’s fascinating about this song in Isaiah 5 (which is really more of a parable) is all of the different layers of meaning going on here. This song is a bit like an onion—the more you dig into it, the more layers of meaning you discover. So, we’re going to dig into the Vineyard Song in Isaiah 5 this morning and begin to discover some of the layers of meaning in this song.
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9/27/20 – Feast of St. Michael & All Angels – “The Cosmic Battle” – Revelation 12:7-12

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

1. Revelation 12 is a significant chapter in the story of the Bible. It gives us a window into the cosmic battle laying behind the suffering of Christ’s Church. The conflict depicted here in Revelation 12 is an ancient conflict that started in Genesis 3:15. The serpent, who deceived Adam and Eve, is portrayed as a dragon. But, to fully appreciate our text for today, we need to have a grasp on John’s complete vision, depicted more fully throughout chapter 12. This vision begins with the depiction of a stunning woman who is carrying a child. Her child represents Jesus and the woman represents his church. At first, the dragon is only concerned with the child. The dragon tries his hardest to devour the child, but John sees God “snatch him up” and enthrone the child in heaven. Jesus’ ministry, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension are summed up in this action, and Jesus, not the dragon, is exalted and enthroned. What happens next is really significant—the woman (again, representing the church) flees into the wilderness, to the place prepared by God, so that there they might care for her (Revelation 12:6). Keep this in mind as we turn now to our portion of the text.
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9/20/20 – Pentecost 16 – “Life is Christ” – Philippians 1:21

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

1. I remember the week of March 8th quite vividly. When the 2020 calendar came out, I had circled March 8th, because I knew that it was going to be one of the worst days of the year. See, I love my sleep, and March 8th was the day that we all get robbed of an hour of sleep. In case you haven’t gathered, I don’t like daylight savings time, so that week already started off quite badly! But I remember sitting in class that Tuesday…right after chapel, I had Pastoral Leadership and Theology with Dr. Weise. Now, Dr. Weise has his PhD in hematology, so he likes talking about things related to the medical field. Continue reading

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