Sermon on 1 Kings 19:11-21, for the 5th Sunday after Trinity (1 Yr lectionary), about God's encounter with the prophet Elijah on Mt. Horeb (Sinai). Elijah has fled Queen Jezebel, after winning the contest with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, and is feeling despair, defeat, and self-pity. How does God respond to Elijah, and provide a gentle contradiction to lift him up? What does this have to do with how we answer the question: "What are you doing here?" and when we face times of hopelessness, loneliness, despair, or struggle? How is the question also a call to action?
Sermon on Luke 1:57-80, for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, about Zechariah and Elizabeth's naming of their son, and the prophetic song that Zechariah sung over his newborn when the Lord opened his mouth from 9 months of silence. What are the main themes of the song? What truth framed the life and ministry of John? How was the kingdom of God "on the move" in John's day?
Sermon on Luke 15:1-10, for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity (1 Yr Lectionary), about the parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, or rather the parables on the faithful redeeming love of God, who faithfully retrieves what is lost. Also a reflection on the fact that God has made a "way home" for us by repentance from our sins. How do these parables reflect the heart of God? How did Jesus live out this redeeming love on earth? How is this a model for our father's to imitate? Happy Father's Day, by the way, to my dad and all other fathers out there. I hope this may be an encouragement not only to fathers but to all men, women, boys and girls to rejoice in God's redeeming love, and also to rejoice in the unique ways that God has made us male and female.
Sermon on Luke 14:15-24, for the 2nd Sunday after Trinity (1 Yr Lectionary), about Jesus' parable of the banquet and the guests who wouldn't come. What is astonishing about the refusal of the guests? What does it say about their attitude toward the host? How do people run from God's generosity today? What is the blessing of coming into His feast? How broadly does He open His invitation? Why does He explain that some of them will need to be "compelled" to come in?
Sermon on 1 John 4:16-21, for the 1st Sunday after Trinity. What does it mean to say that "God is Love?" What is "perfect" and how does the Bible use the word? What is different about God's love than how the world often describes it? Whose love comes first? How does that instruct our growth in love? How does love to God relate to love for our brother? How can we know that God is perfecting His love in us?
A graduation address for the 8th Grade Graduates of Emmanuel Lutheran School, based on Proverbs 3:1-12 (with reference to Job 28). What is the "treasure mine" that Job describes, and how does it relate to Proverbs 3? How do we gain those treasures? Why are some treasure mines abandoned? Why should we never abandon the treasure mine of God's Word? What is the attitude that benefits from wisdom and learning? How does discipline fit into loving relationships?
Congratulations to all our grads, and blessings on High School!
Sermon on John 3:1-16, for Trinity Sunday (1 Yr lectionary), about Nicodemus' secret visit to Jesus to ask questions about discipleship. What does it mean to "be born again" or "born from above" or "born of water and the Spirit"? How is the mystery of the Trinity revealed to us in the actions of the three persons of the Trinity in our salvation? What are temptations to hide our discipleship, and what does Christ call us to instead? How do we see or understand the work of the Spirit and the kingdom of God?
Sermon on John 14:23-31, for Pentecost Sunday (1 Yr Lectionary), about Jesus' teaching to His disciples just prior to His death. Why do loving God and keeping Jesus' Word go hand in hand? Why does a person not really know the truth unless they first love it? What does it mean that God wants to make His home with us, and what does Christ bring to that home? What peace mission was Jesus sent on, and how is His peace different from that of the world?
Sermon on 1 Timothy 2:1-6, for the 6th Sunday of Easter, on how and why the church prays, and what it teaches us about the wideness of Christ's love. How does that knowledge shape our hearts, eyes, prayers, and actions? How does Jesus reorient our identity away from the things that artificially divide us, and create a new unity among us? What is a ransom, and how has Christ paid a ransom for us?
Sermon on James 1:16-21, for the 5th Sunday of Easter (1 Yr lectionary). What does it mean that God is unchanging? The Father of lights? What is the best and perfect gift from above? What is the relationship between listening, speaking, and anger? How is the righteousness of God accomplished? How has God brought us forth as His children? What is the "means" by which He has done this?
Sermon on 1 Peter 2:11-20, for the 4th Sunday of Easter (1 Yr Lectionary). How does this passage touch on an intersection of the 4th and 8th Commandments (Honor your father and mother & You Shall not bear false witness against your neighbor), as they relate to our Christian duty towards our public leaders? What are some biblical examples of believers honoring and being subject to earthly leaders? What was the ultimate outcome, and why? What does Scripture say about who puts governing authorities in power, and what does Scripture say about their plans vs. God's plans? What did Jesus accomplish by submitting to earthly authorities, and how did He finally defeat evil and injustice, and promise its future end?
Sermon on 1 Peter 2:21-25, for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, about how we follow the example of Christ's suffering. What does this mean? What broad categories of suffering does Peter describe? How are we able to grow in and imitate the example of Christ? How do sheep "return" to their shepherd? What kind of care and love does our Good Shepherd supply?
Sermon on Ezekiel 37:1-14 for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, about Ezekiel's vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, and what this passage teaches us about despair and hope, about life, death, and resurrection, and how we worship the God of the Living! How is the Spirit of God intimately tied up with the Word of God?
Sermon on Job 19:23-27, for the Resurrection of our Lord, Easter Sunday, about Job's great confession of faith in the bodily resurrection and his trust in his Redeemer. What does his example show us about the conviction we have, even in the midst of suffering? What is the source of that conviction?
Note: this sermon is revised and expanded by myself, from an original sermon by Rev. Dr. Reed Lessing, part of a purchased series of Lent and Easter sermons titled "Job: Blessed Be the Name of the Lord." The entire series is available for purchase through the Concordia Seminary Store as an inexpensive download. Our congregation has greatly appreciated the study of Job in both Sunday Bible class and midweek services, concluding with this message.
A meditation on Mark 14:27-31; 37-38, 66-72, for Palm Sunday/The Sunday of the Passion. We did a narrative reading of Mark chapters 14-15 in worship, and the meditation focuses on the theme of Peter's promised loyalty and subsequent denial, and how Jesus pegs our human nature with the statement: "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." How does all this tie into repentance and salvation?