Posts tagged “Epiphany

Sermo Dei: Epiphany

Posted on January 7th, 2018

After describing the long, arduous trip that the Wise Men undertook,  T.S. Eliot says in his great poem The Journey of the Magi, A hard time we had of it. At the end we preferred to travel all night, Sleeping in snatches, With the voices singing in our ears, saying That this was all folly. Folly – the world’s voices sang in the ears of the Magi, “Your journey to worship the Christ-Child:  it is all folly!  Worthless; meaningless; foolishness.  Who would waste his time on such matters?” The world says that to you as well. Folly! None of this is true. You are wasting your life. Even if it is true – there’s no need to upend your life. A long journey, a…

Sermo Dei: Epiphany

Posted on January 11th, 2014

The Epiphany of Our Lord Matthew 2:1-12 Preached at Immanuel on January 6, 2014 When we read Holy Scripture, there are two important questions to ask. The first is, “Is it true?” We have the testimony of many martyrs and saints that the record of Holy Scripture is not only truthful, but truth itself, testifying to Jesus who is the Truth. But there is a question that haunts the troubled conscience: “Is it for me?” The Shepherds at Christmas, and the Wise Men at Epiphany, rejoiced with great joy. The good news is that this great joy is for all people. But when the conscience is troubled, when we know and feel our sin deeply, the devil torments us by saying, “This good news…

Sermo Dei: The Baptism of Jesus

Posted on January 13th, 2013

When the Scriptures describe us as being in bondage to sin, it certainly includes the sins we commit – the twisted lusts, evil inclinations, harsh words, pouting, and worse that we do: the things contrary to the commandments. But often we are also held in bondage by the sins committed against us: when someone betrays us, when a friend you trusted doesn’t keep his word or is working against you, when a woman is mistreated or abused. Perhaps you remember a cutting remark spoken against you even decades ago, but still it lingers in the mind, making you bitter, cynical. And so it’s not only the sins that we have committed, but also the sins committed against us, that need to be dealt with.…

[Sermo Dei] Wednesday after Epiphany: Isaiah 49:1-7

Posted on January 9th, 2013

Listen, O coastlands, to Me, and take heed, you peoples from afar! The glory of Isaiah, and the glory of Epiphany, is the beautiful manifestation that Jesus the Jewish Savior is a gift also for the nations – for the coastlands and the peoples from afar.   This gift was planned from the beginning: The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. In Isaiah there is a series of “Servant Songs,” and what we hear tonight is the voice of that Servant, namely, the Son of God, incarnate for our salvation. From the womb of the virgin the LORD called to His Servant, His Son; while still within the body of blessed Mary He was…

[Sermo Dei] Gold, Frankincense, and Good News: Epiphany of Our Lord

Posted on January 6th, 2013

They came bearing gifts, but found a greater Gift. They came bearing gifts, but departed with still more gifts to share. They came from the darkness, but found the light. They came from the gloom, but found gladness. They came to the Jews, and found something for the Gentiles. Who are “they”? They’ve been called Wise Men, Kings, Sages. St. Matthew tells us they are Magi, from which we get the word ‘magic.’ They are magicians—not illusionists, but astrologers: practitioners of the dark arts of witchcraft and the occult. Perhaps they are kings – nobility from Babylon. They must have some importance, for they obtain an audience with King Herod, and you probably couldn’t just walk in off the street to see him. They…

The Byzantine Hypacoi of Christmas

Posted on January 6th, 2013

O little Child, lying in a manger, through a star, heaven has called and led the Magi to you; these first fruits of the Gentiles are astonished to see neither thrones nor scepters but extreme poverty. What, indeed, is lower than a cave or humbler than swaddling clothes? Yet in them the splendor of your divinity shone forth resplendently. Glory to you, O Lord! -The Byzantine Hypacoi of Christmas, quoted in Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year

Transfiguration 2012

Posted on January 30th, 2012

2 Peter 1.16-21; Matthew 17:1-9 Last Sunday we talked about the temptation to add something to what God has given to us. On the far fringes of Christianity are groups that claim visitations from God through signs and wonders. Among the most notable of these is a loose coalition called the New Apostolic Reformation, with three prominent cult-like groups in Toronto, Kansas City, and Redding, California. Babbling gibberish, people rolling on the floor and barking like dogs, and people shaking and twitching uncontrollably are said to be marks of the Holy Spirit. I suspect they are marks of a rather different spirit. Most intriguing to me, however, is the alleged appearance of a “glory cloud” at Bethel Church in Redding. This group has in…


Posted on January 17th, 2012

Matthew 2:1-12 January 6, 2012 The ancient message to the children of Israel rang out in Advent: Behold, your King comes to you! The angelic message to shepherds rang out on Christmas Eve: The Christ is born in the City of David—David, the great king, whose Son would reign forever. Then on Christmas Day, we sang the prophecy: “And the government shall be upon His shoulder.” Now tonight, Epiphany, we recall with joy that this King is for all people, even us, as Gentiles come from afar, asking, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews?” News of a new king is, to Herod, a threat. And so it was to all Jerusalem, shaken and trembling at this question, “Where is He…

Today the Church is joined to her heavenly Bridegroom

Posted on January 10th, 2011

My colleague, Pr. Charles McClean, pointed out this antiphon to me while we were reading John 2 in Greek this afternoon: TODAY the Church is joined to her heavenly Bridegroom; because in Jordan Christ hath washed away her offences: the wise men with their offerings hasten to the royal marriage, the wise men with their offerings hasten to the royal marriage, alleluia. It is the antiphon for the Benedictus at Lauds on Epiphany. What a beautiful blending of the Epiphany themes! It strikes me how in the church’s song and the preaching of the Fathers, there is a sense that these things are happening TODAY.

"We are not saved by our ethics": Sermon by Prof. Pless before the March for Life

Posted on January 22nd, 2010

Immanuel hosts the Divine Service for Lutherans for Life before the March for Life in Washington DC every year. This morning we were privileged to have Professor John Pless (of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN) preaching. This is his outstanding sermon: Lutherans for Life Service 22 January 2010 Immanuel Lutheran Church Alexandria, VA +Jesu Juva+ In the Light I John 1:5- 2:5 The Psalmist prayed “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” We are living in a world where the shadow of death seems to ever lengthen, casting its cruel shade over public and private existence. Last week in Haiti an earthquake shattered the land causing buildings to crumble down delivering death to…