I’m going to depart from the usual custom of preaching on the assigned readings for the Sunday. Instead, I would roll the calendar back three days to Thursday, forty days after our Lord’s resurrection, when the church rejoiced in Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father. I’m doing this because the ascension is the forgotten leg of our Lord’s trifecta of salvation, the triple crown of His death, His resurrection, and His reign. And because Ascension Day always falls on a Thursday, forty days after Easter Sunday, we all too often miss not only the celebration but the teaching of this important fact: Our Lord who was crucified and raised on the third day now reigns over all things as King of kings and Lord of lords ascended in majesty at the right hand of the Father. And we reign in Him.
It is forty days after Christmas and we’ve come to February 2nd and the Presentation of our Lord. The little high priest pays a visit to the temple. And being only forty days old, he can’t quite make it on his own so he has to be brought there by Mary and Joseph. What happens to Jesus is prescribed by the Law of the Lord – “Every male who first opens the womb shall be holy to the Lord.” If it is an animal you sacrifice it. If it is a baby boy, you offer an animal in his place, or in this case, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” Mary and Joseph were poor, we surmise. So it is: life for life. The Redeemer of the world is redeemed by the blood of a couple of pigeons. Go figure.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
We long to understand the universe and our existence. We want to understand where everything came from and how it was made. We want to know what lay behind the “Big Bang,” what came “before” the beginning. We want to understand not only how things exist but why they exist. Science, our reason, our senses can tell us only so much, but they cannot take us back to the beginning. Our reason and our senses can tell us that there is “something” there, but they can’t help us put our finger on it much less shake its hand.
Reformation Sunday. Five days before Reformation Day proper, but Concordia Publishing House put it on the bulletin insert, so why not? Besides, you probably wouldn’t have shown up for a Thursday night service anyway, being busy with that great holiday known as Halloween.
Reformation Day, October 31, the Eve of All Hallows (that is, All Saints) is the day when in 1517 an Augustinian friar and professor of theology at Wittenberg University named Dr. Martin Luther posted 95 theses in Latin concerning the practice of indulgence selling on the church door. Luther wanted to discuss what he saw were abuses in the church and a misunderstanding of the Gospel.
Good Friday 2013
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
THE LAMB IS BETRAYED. He is sold at market for 30 silver pieces, the price of a slave. He is betrayed by the kiss of a friend, one of His inner circle, the Twelve, those whom He chose not only to be disciples but apostles. One of His own “sent ones” turns Him in to the authorities.
This is Israel’s big night. The night Israel walked out of slavery into freedom through the blood of the lamb painted on the doorposts. This is the night when our Lord sat at table with His chosen disciples, soon to be apostles, and put Himself into the Passover. This is the night when Jesus left His disciples, soon to be apostles, both a remembrance and an example of His sacrifice. This is the night on which our Lord was betrayed to death by one of His own, one who had a share in His table, one who had received the morsel of bread from Jesus’ own hand. This is the first night of the three holy days of our Lord’s death and resurrection. And you are part of it.
This is a Reformation sermon by Rev. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, preached at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on October 28, 2012. The text is Romans 3:19-28.
John 3:1-17 / Trinity Series B / 03 June 2012 / Holy Trinity – Hacienda Heights, CA
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? – John 3:12
Poor Nicodemus. He comes to Jesus by night to have a little rabbi to rabbi conversation. Compare theological notes perhaps. Talk a little shop, teacher to teacher. He even offers Jesus the highest of complements: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Clearly, Nicodemus is impressed. Not bad for a Pharisee.
Acts 2:1-21 / Pentecost B / 27 May 2012 / Holy Trinity – Hacienda Heights, CA
Pentecost. Fifty. Fifty days after the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread there was the harvest festival. The ingathering of the winter wheat. And the celebration of the giving of the Torah to Moses on the mountain accompanied by wind and fire.
Fifty days after the Jesus’ passover from death to life comes the harvest, the ingathering of the first fruits. Three thousand baptized and added to the number of the disciples in one day. And again there is wind and fire. The wind is heard; the fire is seen. The wind is the breath of the crucified, risen, and now reigning Lord Jesus blowing out over His Church, filling it with His breath and His words. There is proclamation in all the known languages and dialects of the Mediterranean world, from the mouth of simple Galileans who had never taken a language course before. Everyone heard the good news of Jesus in his own language and dialect. “For you.” In your ears, no doubt about it.
1 Corinthians 15 / Easter Sunday / 08 April 2012 / Holy Trinity – Hacienda Heights, CA
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
The resurrection of Jesus is both a matter of fact and a matter of faith.