Category Archives: Sermons

God Prepares a Place

Text: John 14:1-14
Date: Easter V
+ 4/20/08
Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word, Rochester Hills, MI

On the first few Sundays of Easter Holy Church recounts those first amazing days when Jesus, risen from the grave, appeared to His disciples. We do not recount all of His eleven recorded resurrection appearances, though His final appearance we will celebrate at His ascension on the fortieth day. But the Easter season is more than just the final farewell come back tour of the late, great Jesus of Nazareth. Beginning with His conversation with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and culminating in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit beginning on the Day of Pentecost, the risen Lord now opens the minds of His disciples that they may understand the Scriptures and everything He had done and said in His earthly ministry. Therefore, we think back and hear again some of those things He said before His Passion, this time with the understanding of faith enlightened with resurrection eyes.

These words from our Lord’s Maundy Thursday farewell discourse are familiar to our ears probably most especially as we hear them most often at Christian funerals. “Let not your hearts be troubled” we hear Him say even as we come face-to-face with that which troubles us most, namely, death. “In my Father’s house are many rooms…I go to prepare a place for you.” And whenever we hear these words we think, mainly, of His ascension and of heaven as our final destination. And that is good and right. But these words were spoken that night in which He was betrayed first with reference to His leaving His disciples by way of the cross and His approaching death. He was going where they and we cannot go: the cross. He was preparing to leave them through His death. Yet, in the light and reality now of His resurrection these words do also speak of His leaving for a place we can go, and by a Way we do know. Continue reading God Prepares a Place

To Stand Before the Son of Man

Text: Luke 21:34-36
Date: Wednesday in the Last Week
+ 11/29/06
Zion Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Detroit

      The words of this short Gospel reading are the concluding words of our Lord’s last public discourse as recorded by St. Luke. They follow upon his promise, namely, that though heaven and earth will pass away, “my words will surely not pass away.” Therefore, to direct and encourage us to the importance of remaining in his Word he admonishes us to beware and be watchful. Beware of everything that would distract you from remaining in his Word and be watchful especially in prayer that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man when he comes in his glory. Continue reading To Stand Before the Son of Man

Lord, Open To Us

Matthew 25:1-13

      “Lord, open to us.” With the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, our Lord prepares his disciples for “the delay”—that seemingly long period of time between his first advent, his passion, death, resurrection and ascension, and his promised return as victorious Lord of all. Some 2,000 years later we easily forget the lively expectation of the Lord’s return in which the first disciples lived from day to day. So lively was that expectation that at First Church of Thessalonica, when fellow Christians began to die before the Lord’s return, they were puzzled and troubled and began to grieve like men who have no hope. Some even began to spin their own, homemade theology, beginning to think that Jesus must not have meant that he would really come again “as they had seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11), but meant only some sort of “spiritual,” invisible coming again. Hence the burden of St. Paul’s letter reassuring them of our Lord’s visible return. Like them, and on this day when we remember the faithful departed from our own parish and family, we are to comfort ourselves and encourage one another with the word of the Apostle, “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” [1 Thess. 4:14 (ESV)]. They are with the Lord because in faith, in this life they had said, “Lord, open to us,” and he did.
Continue reading Lord, Open To Us

The Last Judgment

Matthew 25:31-46

      Our Lord Jesus Christ, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, was incarnate, took on our human flesh by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. He was crucified also for us, suffered our sin and was buried in our death. The third day, however, He rose again because death could not hold him. He ascended into heaven and is sitting to this day, ruling and reining over all things so that death can no longer hold us who have here been buried with him by baptism into death. Finally, then, we believe that He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. Of that day his disciples asked him, in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” Seeing in his mind’s eye all the false prophets and teachers that would come along throughout history presuming to answer that question, our Lord’s very first word of response was, “See that no one leads you astray” [Matthew 24:3-4 (ESV)]. Then answering their question clearly, our Lord pointed to the convulsions of the creation, the warring madness of the nations, the atrocities and love grown cold among people as signs; he emphasized the necessity that the Gospel of the Kingdom be preached to the whole creation, that no one knows the hour or the day, and so commanded his disciples always to be ready in faith for his return, and, in today’s Gospel, described his return in judgment in no uncertain terms.

Continue reading The Last Judgment

The Gospel Call for Post-Moderns

Text: Matthew 8:18-22 (ESV)

Now when Jesus saw a great crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Another of the disciples said to him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."

In today’s text our Lord appears to have a problem we do not have today. A great crowd was gathered around him and two men step forward offering to become Christian disciples, learners and followers. In today’s world in The United States, on the other hand, people generally are not crowding our sanctuaries and few step forward with an offer of commitment. In addition, how different our Lord’s response from how we think we should handle similar situations! When he sees the great crowd he doesn’t maneuver himself to bask in his apparent popularity but leaves, distancing himself by going to the other side of the lake. And at the approach and offer of the two men who are of a mind to follow him Jesus appears to offer no encouragement. He doesn’t introduce them to his inner group of disciples or even invite them to the next pot-luck supper, but rather challenges them with curt comments that seem to imply the gentlemen don’t know what their asking. This text would certainly not find its way into today’s manuals or programs aimed at “church growth”!

Continue reading The Gospel Call for Post-Moderns