130127 Luke 4:14-21

Text: Luke 4:14 – 21

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

It was a couple of weeks ago that we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus. At that time we talked about the fact Jesus Christ is our Anointed Lord and our only Savior from sin. Throughout the time period of the Old Testament, God's Chosen People looked forward to the coming of the "Messiah." In the New Testament the Messiah is called "Christ". Both these names for Jesus, "Messiah" and "Christ" tell us that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, is the Anointed One. He is the One chosen to carry out the plan to save mankind. So we raise our voices today in song and praise saying in the words of the hymn we just sang: "Hail to the Lord's Anointed"!

Read more: 130127 Luke 4:14-21

130120 Ephesians 3:14-21

Text: Ephesians 3:14-21
Theme: A Pastor's Epiphany Prayer

Sometimes the context can make a big difference. For example, yelling out the word, "Fire!" can be a good thing or a bad thing. The camper who is shivering in the rain triumphantly declares "Fire!" when the small pile of sticks at his feet finally starts to burn. That cry is a far cry from the father who in a panicked voice yells "Fire!"to wake up his family and get them out of their burning house in the middle of the night.

Understanding the context also makes a difference when it comes to the second lesson and our sermon text for today. The words before us from Ephesians form a beautiful prayer, but they don't tell us much about the circumstances of the pray-er.

In the verse that comes right after our text (4:1) the apostle Paul refers to himself as "a prisoner for the Lord," but you wouldn't be able to tell that from the content of his prayer. Even though he was innocent he didn't ask for justice to be done. Even though he had done nothing wrong he didn't ask God to take vengeance on his enemies. Paul didn't pray for his immediate release from prison. He didn't pray for himself at all.

Read more: 130120 Ephesians 3:14-21

130113 Titus 3:4-7

Text: Titus 3:4 – 7

Theme: Is My Baptism Really that Important?

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

I am sure that everyone of us here this morning would agree that it is important to have clean hands. I read once that in order to have really clean hands, you should wash your hands with soap and water for as long as it takes you to sing two rounds of "Happy Birthday to You" or as long as it takes you to sing through the national anthem. Many people today make use of hand sanitizers to clean their hands, when they don't have any soap or water that they can use. During this cold and flu season, it is important to make sure our hands are clean. But even more important than clean hands, is having a clean heart before God. In our reading from Titus chapter 3, we are told that because of the kindness and love of God our Savior we are saved "through the washing of rebirth". On this Sunday, when we read about the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry and his baptism by John the Baptist, we ask the question: "Is my Baptism really that important?"

Read more: 130113 Titus 3:4-7

130106 Matthew 2:1-12

Text: Matthew 2:1-12
Theme: The Importance of Epiphany

Today is January 6th, the twelfth day after Christmas, the day also known as the Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord. That title sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it? Since Epiphany is a special festival day it must be one of the more important dates on the Christian calendar, or is it?

Like Christmas (which always falls on December 25th) Epiphany falls on the same day every year. But unlike Christmas most churches don't have special services on Epiphany unless January 6th falls on a Sunday, like it does this year. Because of this practice we might conclude that Epiphany (which is sometimes called the Christmas of the Gentiles) is not all that important, or at least not as important as Christmas.

But on those years when Epiphany doesn't fall on a Sunday, many churches (ours included) celebrate it anyway. Instead of holding special services on January 6th, we traditionally observe this festival on the closest Sunday either before or after Epiphany. And because so many other churches do the same we might conclude that Epiphany is important.

So which is it? Is Epiphany a big deal or isn't it? Is the Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord important or not?

Read more: 130106 Matthew 2:1-12

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