Category Archives: Jesus

The Feast

This morning the preaching text is John 2:1-11; Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. This miracle is labeled the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs.  It also serves as a bookend to the Gospel of John.  In this miracle we see the promise and then at the end of John we see how Jesus is going to accomplish the promise.

The promise ~ The best is yet to come.
How? ~ The cross and the empty tomb.

The rest of the Gospel of John fills in the blanks with proclamations of forgiveness; more miracles (in case this one wasn’t enough to show you that Jesus is the one who is to come), awesome acts of mercy, instructions on how to carry on with this ministry and encouragement to endure to the end.  The Gospel of John is plump full of “good stuff” that carries us to the BEST of what is to come.  This life is not it so don’t cling to it as if it is.

Let’s pray together as we prepare to worship this morning:
Loving God, through Jesus you show us that you have prepared something much better for us.  Through Jesus you give us hope that this world is not our final reality.  Through Jesus you give us a foretaste of the feast to come; a great feast that will have no end.  May we not cling to this life as if it is the final course.  May we not try to build this life in such a way that it ends up being our final course.  But…may this life just be a teaser for the Great Banquet that has been prepared and where; through faith in Jesus, we have a seat reserved.  Tempt our “taste buds” to seek Jesus more and more. And may we also seek to share this feast with others.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen!

The table has been set, let us feast together :)

The pastor -|—

Children of the Heavenly Father

On Sunday I said some words in response to the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT.   It was difficult to talk about this but I knew that something had to be said.  I shared the hope of Christmas, that God entered this world of suffering and overcame this world in Jesus Christ.  I shared words of peace and Good News.

Following the sermon I asked my small country congregation what hymn they would like to sing next.  And…without missing a beat, someone immediately said, “Hymn #781, Children of the Heavenly Father“.  I had to fight back tears when I heard that.  Here are the lyrics:

Children of the Heavenly Father safely in his bosom gather;

nestling bird nor star in heaven such a refuge e’er was given.

God his own doth tend and nourish, in his holy courts they flourish.
From all evil things he spares them, in his mighty arms he bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever from the Lord his children sever;
unto them his grace he showth, and their sorrows all he knowth.

Though he giveth of he taketh, God his children ne’r forsaketh;
his the loving purpose solely to preserve them pure and holy.

We are indeed his children who are wrapped in God’s loving arms.  Evil, sin and death may cause havoc now, but they have ultimately been defeated through the cross.

Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—

Christ the King

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
[John 18:36-37]

Today is Christ the King Sunday (according the the common lectionary).  This is considered the last Sunday of the Church year (with Advent beginning a new cycle next Sunday).  But whatever the so-called Church calendar says, I still want to get you thinking this morning what it means for Jesus to be the king of your life.

~ Does Jesus rule your whole life or only parts of it?
~ Do you go to Jesus with your hopes and dreams; joys and sorrows or do you look to worldly saviors?
~ Does Jesus get your complete worship or are there other “kings” you worship?
~ Do you seek Jesus for direction and guidance in your life or look to day-time talk shows or the self-help section?
~Do you celebrate and hold onto worldly kingdoms or seek the Kingdom of God?
~ Does Jesus sit on the throne in your heart or have you reserved that for something or someone else?

May this “Christ the King” Sunday shine a light on the defeated gods/lords/kings of this world that continue to seek your attention and alligence; and may your true KING, Jesus Christ, shine forth.  The gods/lords/kings of this world have lost but Jesus has won.  And because Jesus has won we also win through faith in him.

Jesus IS King!
Jesus IS Lord!

Alleluia and Amen!

edh -|—

Real victory

The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but the victory belongs to the Lord.
[Proverbs 21:31]

Prosperity theologians like to proclaim that victory is something we can claim through a right attitude.  They claim that if we can think correctly about ourselves or look at our situations in the right light we can claim victory or “favor” [ as one particular and misguided prosperity theologian likes to say].

But the author of Proverbs is saying that we can only prepare ourselves for battle but when it comes to “victory”…well…that belongs to the Lord.  And this is a victory we are given through faith in Jesus Christ.

Prosperity theologians don’t like to specifically mention the name of Jesus because that would give Jesus the power (which Jesus already has). To acknowledge that power takes power and control out on one’s hand.  The thing is, we have no victory (or favor) in this life without Jesus.  We have no future without Jesus.  We have no life without Jesus.

So prepare your horse for battle but don’t get too cocky.  Remember who’s in charge.  Any victory you win is from the Lord.  And favor?  Yup…through faith in Jesus Christ we have that too ~ the cross is proof of that.

Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
[1 Corinthians 15:54-56]
AMEN!

edh -|—

Bread of Life

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (ESV, John 6:35)

There is so much theologically one can do with this text, but all I want to say is “Thank you, Jesus!

When I get hungry during the day I eat.  When I crave something more for my life, you, Jesus are there.  Even when I seek after other gods to satisfy my “hunger” you, Jesus, prove to be faithful.  You remind me, “Dear child, I am the bread of life“.  I then seek you and am filled…

…and I wonder why I even tried to find other “bread”.

Jesus…YOU are the bread of life.
Jesus…YOU are the one who truly satisfies.
Jesus…YOU are the one I truly need.

In you, Jesus, we have eternal life.  Thank you, Jesus, for “feeding” me.  And giving me what I need to be truly satisfied.  And what do I need?

FORGIVENESS!

Wow…it doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you, Jesus.

-edh-

The “bronze snake”

Amazing and merciful God,

Our “bronze snake” has been lifted up.
Our Savior has won the day.
Our Lord reigns on high.

And through this “lifting up” we find forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ.  When we grow impatient,
When we become disobedient,
When we long for that which does not save,
you still show amazing love, grace and faithfulness.  As those Hebrews bitten by those snakes in the desert, we too deserve punishment and wrath.   But as you showed mercy to them you show mercy to us as we confess our sins.

May we look to our “bronze snake” and live.
May we look to our “bronze snake” and see victory.
May we look to our “bronze snake” and give you all praise and worship.

Amazing and merciful God…we give you thanks. 

Amen

“Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim till all the world adore his sacred name.”
“Come, Christians, follow where our captain trod, our king victorious, Christ, the Son of God.”
[ELW 660 "Lift High the Cross", chorus and vs.1]

edh -|—

Amazing compassion

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am will,” Jesus said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. (Mark 1:40-42)

Wow…is anyone else blown any by this?  It can’t be just me.  I mean…this is awesome.  This is amazing.  This is incredible.  Wow!

I never tire of reading these stories of Jesus “crossing the line” to show a love like no other.  I mean ~ this man had leprosy; he was an outcast; he was unclean; he wasn’t even supposed to approach Jesus.

 

The law dictated that this man announce his presence “Unclean! Unclean!”
…but nothing.

The law dictated that Jesus not associate with him or touch him
…but he did.

The law was clear
…but…well…it’s Jesus.

Filled with compassion” ~ that right there says it all.  Jesus was filled with compassion at how this man was separated from society.  Jesus could feel his pain.  And Jesus was willing to “cross the line” in order to restore him.

This story is more than just Jesus giving this man new flesh.  This is a story of restoration, renewal and new life.  It actually is a precursor to what Jesus is going to do for all of humanity.

Because of Jesus’ amazing love, grace and compassion for us, he went to the cross.

Suffered
Humiliated
Died

…and then three days later rose from the gave…

FOR YOU!

For you see, we too were outcasts; unclean; alienated from God because of sin.  But through Jesus’ compassion; his death and resurrection, we are restored to community through faith.  We are restored to life. But more importantly we are reconciled to God.  That is pretty awesome :)

So I guess that’s why I never tire of these leprosy stories for in them I am reminded of Jesus restoring this sinful man (me) to new life.

Wow…now that’s amazing! Praise be to God!

edh -|—

Authority of Jesus

Do you want to know what never, ever gets old with me?

What never gets old with me is the fact that when Jesus says something…IT HAPPENS.  No if, and or buts about it.  When Jesus speaks, people (and demons) listen.  I guess that is also why I enjoy preaching on texts, like what we have for Sunday ~ Mark 1:21-28 ~ the authority of Jesus/casting out evil spirits.

Jesus teaches with authority (not like that of the scribes).  The scribes, when they taught, would rely on the authority of the great teachers that came before them.  Their teaching would be full of phrases such as:

[So and so] said [this] about [this] Commandment and therefore according to [so and so] you should live in [this way].

This got old for the people.  The scribes never taught with their own authority.  They didn’t make their own judgments.

But Jesus did…and the people loved it.

You see…Jesus’ authority wasn’t just in the manner he spoke.  It wasn’t just in his voice inflection. It wasn’t just in his facial expressions and body language.  Jesus’ authority was much different…and powerful.  Jesus’ authority was his own’s and he didn’t need teachers who came before him.  Actually…no one came before him because he was God for crying out loud.  You don’t get any more authoritative than that.

And Jesus displayed that authority through his powerful words when he commanded those evil spirits to leave that man…and the evil spirits listened (kicking and screaming on the way out).  But that shouldn’t surprise you because…
…when Jesus speaks people listen.

…when Jesus speaks his words do something
["Lazarus, come out", "Take your mat and walk"]

when Jesus speaks he means exactly what he says.
["Your sins are forgiven"]

Wow…that is authority.  That is awesome.  That is powerful.

We are God’s children because He says so.
We are forgiven because God says so.
We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ because God says so.

Next time you are in worship and hear the pastor announce forgiveness, know that the pastor does that with the authority of God and therefore the words being spoken are from God himself…AND therefore…you can trust that the words will do what they actually mean:  YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN.

Thank you, God, for calling me your child, forgiving me when I stray and embracing me when I return.  May you be praised always and forever. Amen!

edh -|—

Fill ‘er up

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

Today the Gospel text inspired me to think about “the crowds” that followed Jesus.  In Matthew 4:23-25, the crowd was described as people who had been healed of many things ~ or as I saw them ~ invisible people.  They were people who society had cast aside and looked past them.  And this is not unlike what we do today.  There are many people among us who are invisible.  Sure…we see their bodies, but we really don’t see them because we are so focused on filling OUR lives with meaning through worldly pursuits.

But as I was reading more in the Gospel text I saw something else.  All the invisible people, after they were healed (essentially, made visible by the love of Jesus) continued to follow Jesus.  And this lead me to Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Isn’t that what we are all looking for ~ to be “filled” in someway?  We try to fill ourselves with stuff, time, busyness, etc when all we need is Jesus.  The people healed in the Gospel text could have returned to their communities, families, synagogues ~ restored ~ but they followed Jesus.  They followed Jesus in order to be filled more with his teaching ~ and love.  If only we would do the same.

Let’s pray…

Loving God, lover of our souls, you and you alone truly fill us.  You and you alone truly give us meaning.  You and you alone truly give us purpose.

Yet

We strive to fill ourselves.
We strive to fill our calendars with busyness.
We strive to fill our checkbooks.
We strive to fill our Facebook accounts with friends.
We strive to fill our homes and driveways.
We strive to fill our careers.
We strive for that which will not bring us life.

Humble our hearts, so much so, that we can see the only one who can truly fill us ~ Jesus Christ.  Heal our “eye sight”, so much so, that we can see the invisible people in our lives ~ so as Christ fills us with his love we can in turn fill others with that same love.  Help us to understand that all our striving to “fill ‘er up” is nothing more than a chasing after the wind.

Thank you, God, that through faith Jesus Christ, we are filled ~ with righteousness ~ that which we TRULY need.

Amen!

edh -|—

Claimed

Matthew 22:18-22
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

I share with you the following prayer with the invitation for you to use it as your own today. Dip your finger in some water and make the sign of the cross on your forehead as you say, “I have been seal with the Holy Spirit and MARKED with the cross of Christ forever.”

Almighty and merciful God, through my baptism you
sealed me
marked me
claimed me
and spoke to me: “Child of God, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and MARKED with the cross of Christ forever.”

Wow God…that is amazing.

When I consider this “marking” I can’t help but think that you claimed me because I am somehow valuable, otherwise why would you claim me?  After all…
I am sinful
I am unfaithful
I am disobedient
I am definitely not worthy

But despite that you have placed a claim on me through baptism.  You have said that I belong to you.  You have comforted me with the gift of life.  You have saved me from this world.  What belongs to Caesar is that which belongs to the world.  What belongs to you is that which you have marked and claimed…  

ME

Thank you, God.  May water be that everlasting reminder of you your:
Love
Faithfulness
Sacrifice
through Jesus Christ my Lord.

Thank you, God that I belong to you.  May your name always be praised.

Amen!

May God bless your day :)

edh -|—