180325 Mark 11:9-10

Text: Mark 11:9 – 10
Theme: Sing Your Palm Sunday Song of Praise!

In his sermon last Sunday, Pastor Pagels reminded us that each time we come into God's House for one of our worship service we get to see Jesus. Today, on this Palm Sunday, through the inspired pen of the Gospel writer Mark, we get to see Jesus riding through the streets of Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. What do you see? What do you hear? We see people waving palm branches. We hear the crowd shouting and praising the Lord.

As all of us gather together today to celebrate this Palm Sunday, you and I are invited to join along with the crowd that we see and hear. The encouragement for you from God's Word is to combine your voice with the voices of the crowd of people that was gathered that day and SING YOUR PALM SUNDAY SONG OF PRAISE. Listen once again to that song of praise as we read two verses from our Gospel Lesson for this Palm Sunday. We read from Mark chapter 11, verses 9 and 10:

Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!"

Read more: 180325 Mark 11:9-10

180318 John 12:20-33

Text: John 12:20-33
Theme: We Get To See Jesus

If you could meet anyone in the world, past or present, who would it be? That was the question I posed to St. Matthew's kindergarten class a couple weeks ago, and I received some very interesting answers. Some students wanted to meet Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. Others must be diehard Packer fans because they chose Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson (after what happened last week that student might want to change his answer). Just to give you a feel for the broad spectrum of responses, one girl said Justin Bieber and her classmate said George Washington.

Out of all the students in the class, it was the last one who gave me the answer I was waiting (and hoping) for. With a great big smile on his face, he said: "I want to meet God." As far as I know his family isn't Greek, but that little boy made a statement very similar to some God-fearing Greeks in our text for today.

They had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover along with thousands of others Jewish pilgrims, but that was not the only reason they made the journey. Sometime during Holy Week they approached Philip with this request: "Sir, we would like to see Jesus" (21).

Have you have ever wondered what that would be like? What would it be like to see Jesus with your own eyes? What would it be like to talk to Jesus face-to-face? Someday we will know how it feels to stand before our Savior. On Judgment Day everyone will see Jesus when he descends from the clouds. And when he comes back he will take you and me and all believers to live with him forever.

Yes, we will see Jesus in heaven, but we don't have to wait until the Last Day to get a glimpse. We see Jesus whenever we enter God's house. We see Jesus every time we study God's Word, and that includes today. A sermon is more than a twenty minute spiritual lecture. The purpose of a sermon is not just to give comfort and encouragement. When we open our Bibles, when we meditate on God's Word, when we hear and believe and apply that Word, we get to see Jesus. And in today's text from John 12...


1. Embracing his mission
2. Embracing all nations

Read more: 180318 John 12:20-33

180311 John 3:16-17

Text: John 3:16-17
Theme: The Grace of God IS Amazing!

At the conclusion of our service today we are going to sing the hymn "Amazing Grace." The author of this hymn is John Newton. The hymn serves as a beautiful confession of how God's amazing grace worked in his life. John Newton grew up in a Christian home. But, when he became older he walked away from his Savior. He became a captain of a slave ship and used much of his time and energy speaking against Christians and making fun of them. But, by God's amazing grace, John Newton's heart was changed. Not only did God the Holy Spirit bring him back into a right relationship with his Savior-God, he also became a priest in the Anglican church. As he writes in the opening verse of his hymn:

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see

John Newton points to a couple of events that changed his life forever. The first event was when his ship was caught in a severe storm. The waves had torn a huge hole in his ship so that it started to sink. But then suddenly the cargo on the ship shifted and plugged up the hole so he and his crew were able to sail safely to land. The second event was when he had become so sick that it appeared he would die at any moment. Instead, the Lord, in his amazing grace, granted him healing. As John Newton writes in verses 2 and 3 of his hymn:

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far.
And grace will lead me home.

Based on two verses from our Gospel Lesson for today, you and I will have the opportunity to see that THE GRACE OF GOD IS AMAZING! I invite you to listen once again as I read verses 16 and 17 of John chapter 3:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Read more: 180311 John 3:16-17

180304 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Text: 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Theme: We Preach Christ Crucified

It was an article I will never forget. A church marketing newsletter was describing a campaign that had been developed to attract new visitors for Easter (by the way Easter Sunday is four weeks from today). The article suggested that the cross be removed from the sanctuary, and the thinking behind the change was that a new generation of churchgoers would consider the cross to be too "churchy." One pastor who was interviewed gave his wholehearted endorsement. He said: "We are going to concentrate on the resurrection, not on Jesus' death."

What do you think about that? What should we think about that? A quick look around the church might provide some food for thought. During this time of year, during the weeks leading up to Easter, we don't take down any crosses. We actually put more up. There is, of course, the giant cross above the altar. But there are more crosses: on the purple paraments, on the pastors' stoles, on the banner over my shoulder.

When Easter comes some of those crosses will come down, but the big cross will remain. It will stay up after Good Friday. It will be here on Easter Sunday. This cross will remain a fixture in this sanctuary throughout the Easter season. Why is that? Is it because that's the way we've always done it? Is it because it would be no small task to take it down? Or maybe it's because seeing the cross helps us remember the words of Paul in our text for today.

I know what Paul would have thought about that church marketing idea. He would not have considered it for a second. He would have tossed that newsletter in the circular file. Or he might have bypassed the recycling bin and passed it through the shredder.

I can hear Paul saying: "I could never separate Christianity from the cross, even though there were plenty of people who wanted me to try. They came at me from different angles. They came to me with different agendas. They pressured me to change my message, but no matter who I was talking to my answer was always the same: 'We preach Christ crucified.'"

We preach Christ crucified. That would make a pretty good sermon theme...because Christians today are facing some of the same pressures. We are being told that the cross doesn't market very well. It's too bloody. It doesn't make people happy. It might be a good idea for us to put our crosses away.

How should we respond to that? What should we say to that? We don't have to come up with anything new. We can say what Paul said. With the strength God provides...


I. A stumbling block and foolishness in the minds of some
II. A message of wisdom and power in the hearts of others

Read more: 180304 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

More Articles...

  1. 180225 Romans 5:1-11

Our Mission Statement:

Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.


Worship Schedule

8:00 A.M. & 10:30 A.M.

9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

Monday at 7:00 P.M.

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Thursday at Noon & 7:00 P.M.
Sunday at 10:00 A.M.
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St. Matthew's Lutheran Church
818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066




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