Posts from the “Sermons” Category

Presentation of the Augsburg Confession

Posted on June 25th, 2017

Sermon for the Commemoration of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession June 25, 2017 Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Virginia “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Before there was an Apostles’ Creed, or Nicene, or Athanasian – before any of the great councils, before any catechism – before the New Testament itself was gathered together from the writings of the earliest disciples of Jesus – before all of this was the most important confession upon which all other confessions are built: “Jesus Christ is Lord.” “Jesus Christ is Lord” is the original confession of the Church. To understand what this means is the subject of all true Christian study; to confess with all your heart, soul, strength and mind Jesus Christ is Lord is the source of…

Sermo Dei: Psalm 121

Posted on June 23rd, 2017

Psalms 120-134 are called the Psalms of Ascents. This has taken on a dual meaning: People traveled up to Jerusalem, which is built on a high place; so  on the pilgrim feasts, such as Passover, people would sing these Psalms as they ascended up to Jerusalem. The Hebrew word for ascents also can refer to the steps of a staircase. In the Jerusalem temple, there were steps going up from the Court of Women to the Court of Israelites, and the choir stood on those steps singing Psalms. Tonight’s Psalm makes reference to the mountain paths that faced the traveler. How would they find safe passage? The terrain was dangerous, but even more dangerous were the unseen predators, both man and beast lurking, ready…

Sermo Dei: Trinity 1, 2017

Posted on June 18th, 2017

God built fatherhood into man’s nature. God made man and blessed him for fatherhood. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1.28). Man was made for fatherhood. The man we call Abraham is—as you can see from today’s Old Testament reading (Gen. 15:1-6)—originally named Abram. Abram means “exalted father.” That refers to God, Our Father. Abram, named for the Father, wants to be a father himself. Abram wants a son. But he is old, and his wife is old. Some of you know how difficult it can be to conceive a child. And as the years go by, you feel worthless, and hopeless. That’s where Abram and his wife Sarai are. They didn’t have the many options that confront…

Sermo Dei: Holy Trinity 2017

Posted on June 11th, 2017

Holy Trinity Isaiah 6:1-7 June 11, A+D 2017 I love the Athanasian Creed. The mystery of the Trinity – three coequal persons who each are God and yet there is one God – and then the mystery of the incarnation, that God the Son assumed our human flesh into His person – the more we know the less we understand; all we are left with is adoration. And yet I find the Athanasian Creed terrifying. It demands that not only my mind be conformed to God’s Word, but my life and deeds too. The books will be opened and I will be judged. Those who have done good will go into everlasting life; those who have done evil will go into everlasting condemnation. It’s…

Sermon Dei: 2017 Graduation

Posted on June 9th, 2017

Psalm 33 2017 Immanuel Lutheran School Baccalaureate Vespers Pentecost Wednesday +++ June 7, A+D 2017 Wherever you go to school next, you’ll probably find a counselor there. Many high schools have guidance counselors; they may advise you on what classes to take, what colleges to consider, what career paths to pursue. There are other kinds of counselors. Grief counselors help when someone dies, employment counselors help college students find work, and lawyers are called counselors for the help they give about courts and judges and laws. A good counselor might tell us what we don’t want to hear. Did I tell you about my advisor in college? I thought I was pretty hot stuff, but after he heard me play the piano the first…

Sermo Dei: Exaudi 2017

Posted on May 29th, 2017

He’s worried, the man who wrote our opening Psalm. “Hear, O Lord,” means, “Are you listening?” He seeks the Lord’s face – yet begs, “Hide not your face from me.” Why is He not listening? Why does His face appear hidden? ISIS blows up children in Manchester; Coptic Christians are gunned down in Egypt’s desert. Did the Lord not hear them? Why does His face appear hidden? There you stand, at the grave of your wife. There you stumble, at the difficult moments of your life. There you weep, as your child struggles and suffers. There you sigh, as no companion materializes for you. Did the Lord not hear you? Why does His face appear hidden? “The LORD is my light and my salvation;…

Sermo Dei: Ascension 2017

Posted on May 26th, 2017

The Ascension is like staring at the sun. The more you look, the less you see. It’s a mystery. It doesn’t make any sense, but then neither does Jesus walking upon the waters, or passing through closed doors, or being born of a virgin. The creation of the world, or the raising of the dead– it’s all incomprehensible to us. The Lord’s Ascension instead comforts the simple believer that Jesus is with the Father, and yet keeps on caring for us. Part of His care is calling us to repentance. “To repent means nothing other than to truly acknowledge sins, to be heartily sorry for them, and to stop doing them” (FC SD V). To this then is added remission of sins. This means…

Sermo Dei: Jubilate 2017

Posted on May 8th, 2017

Jubilate John 16:16-22 Immanuel, Alexandria, VA + May 7, 2017 Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia! It starts to fade after a few Sundays, doesn’t it? After the big celebration of Easter, life gets back to normal. And sometimes, normal isn’t great. What’s normal is disappointing, frustrating. Normal life isn’t like Easter, with trumpets and flowers and all the ladies in pretty dresses. After Easter, we still have our problems and our pains. After Easter, the Alleluias fade. I was thinking about this on Friday morning in the dentist’s chair. The big needle was coming for my jaw. The inside of my mouth was getting numb from the topical anesthetic the endodontist had applied, but the sight of that needle is…

Sermo Dei: St. Mark’s Day 2017

Posted on April 25th, 2017

Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana 2 Timothy 4:5-18 April 25, 2017 “The time of my departure has come.” Springtime at seminary prompts such thoughts. But your ministry will not be what you expect. For St. Paul, departure meant death. So it is for you. Your call is to go and die. It’s the call of Baptism. “Follow Me.” “Take up your cross.” Come and die. Paul summarizes his service as having been “the good fight.” More literally, “the beautiful, noble agony.” What is this good fight? What is the noble agony? The fight is not with the people God gives you to serve. Sure; we may find evil men fighting us. St. Paul mentions one, Alexander the Coppersmith. He hurt Paul. People will…

The Resurrection of Our Lord—Easter Day 2017

Posted on April 18th, 2017

The Resurrection of Our Lord – Easter Day St. Mark 16:1-8 April 16, 2017 Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Virginia On Friday, the weeping women heard His last words. “It is finished,” Jesus said, and they believed Him. It’s all over. You’ve heard those words. “Finish them!” the coach shouts, when the opponent is on the ropes. “You’re finished!” says the boss, as you get fired. “We’re finished!” she snarls, ending the relationship. “It is finished,” Jesus said. They believed Him. It’s all over. Death wins. So early in the morning, they do their duty. The women go to serve a dead Jesus. They show love and devotion. Yet hope is lost. They believe the jeers from Friday. “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” …