Happenings

Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.





26 February 2017

Transfiguration Sermon: Rise, and Fear Not

Preached on Matthew 17:1-9
The Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Series A
26 February AD 2017

Title: Rise, and Fear Not (MP3 Audio)

Transfiguration Summary: In common vernacular, a “mountain-top experience” is generally considered to be both positive and life-changing. We can scarcely imagine the fear of meeting God in His glory atop a mountain. To our sinful senses, it would probably appear more life-threatening than life-changing.

So with Peter, James, and John — after the initial thrill, the Father’s voice from the cloud struck terror in their hearts. Only after Jesus comforted them were they able to rise without fear and go on their way. Likewise, the only way that we can listen to the Son and follow in His ways is when He removes our sins and raises us up from our guilt and fears.

Text: And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” Matthew 17:1-9

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Rise, and Fear Not.

NB: For some reason, a few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio if Windows Media is their default MP3 player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 2:6-12; Exodus 24:8-18; 2 Peter 1:16-21

Illustration: Transfiguration of Christ (c. 1550) by an unknown Cretan icon painter at Web Gallery of Art.

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18 February 2017

Epiphany 7A Sermon: Hearsay

Preached on Matthew 5:38-48
The Seventh Sunday After the Epiphany
18 February AD 2017

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Hearsay.

Sermon on the Mount Summary: Do good works save? Throughout Scripture, God commands them and often attaches promises to our doing them. Some will say that this is possible, but Jesus says differently: Without Him the promise is never realized, for none of us can attain the perfection of our heavenly Father though our deeds.

Yet we know that good works do save — that is, Jesus’ good works done on our behalf. The Father credits us with the Son’s keeping of the Law and counts us holy through them. We have, in Christ, already fulfilled the Law.

Now, the Holy Spirit leads us “sons of [our] Father who is in heaven” to live in love in thankful response for our salvation. And when our hearts and minds grow weary or we choose to do less than all we can, the Lord still loves us and forgives us once again ... and again ... and again.

Text: [Jesus said,] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:38-48

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Hearsay.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:33-40; Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; 1 Corinthians 3:10-23

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12 February 2017

Septuagesima Sermon: Tested and True

Preached on Exodus 17:1-7
Pre-Lent
12 February AD 2017

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Tested and True.

Massah and Meribah Summary: “Massah and Meribah” — “Quarreling and Testing” — define much of the human condition. Bickering and backbiting, pushing boundaries and defying limits — these extend beyond our misbehavior toward one another: They’ve been part of man’s relationship with God since the Fall.

As we wander about in our own “wilderness of sin,” we find excuses to quarrel with each other and test God whenever anything doesn’t go exactly as we desire. And if God held our rebellions against us, we would dread His presence. Already inclined to turn away from Word and Sacrament God’s wrath against sinners could drive us completely away. Even the testings He sends to guide, instruct, purify, or strengthen His people would be misinterpreted.

Yet try as we might to push against God, He works even harder to pull back. He sent Jesus to face the most severe testing any sinner could ever face, even though His Son was sinless. Rather than quarrel with His Father, Jesus came to end our sinful, selfish quarrels with God and humanity. Jesus brings peace and reconciliation to all who believe on Him.

He sends the Holy Spirit to lead us back to the promises of our baptism, to create a desire for pure Gospel proclamation and a hunger and thirst for the blessed communion of His Son’s body and blood. He pardons us and works His good through us. He will never abandon us in this wilderness into which we are born but instead shepherds us onward, leading us toward the eternal green pastures and still waters that await His beloved sheep.

Massah and Meribah Text: All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”

But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:1-7

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Tested and True.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 95:1-9; 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5; Matthew 20:1-16

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05 February 2017

Epiphany 5A Sermon: Excessive Righteousness

Preached on Matthew 5:13-20
The Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany
5 February AD 2017

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Excessive Righteousness.

Christ Crucified Summary: How do you enter the kingdom of heaven? All you need to do is be more righteous than the most righteous people walking the earth. That’s all. Just exceed the holy behavior of the holiest of humankind and you might get close.

Of course, this is impossible. All too often, we are flavorless salt and unlit lamps, vastly removed from the absolute righteousness of thought, word, and deed the Law demands.

Yet because Christ lived the life we couldn’t and died the death we deserve, the Father credits us with His Son’s righteousness. We possess the excessive righteousness of Jesus Himself. Our citizenship in the kingdom is secure because we are, by grace, the sinless sons of God.

Does this mean that we ignore Jesus’ words about righteousness? Are we exempt from being salt and light? Of course not! As God’s redeemed children, we desire to do His will, to glorify Him by our public testimony. And as still fallen creatures, we also need the Law’s demands to chasten, rebuke, and slay our sinful natures. So we are driven back to the Gospel, whence we again receive forgiveness and the freedom to live in faith toward God and fervent love toward one another

Text: [Jesus said,] “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:13-20

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Excessive Righteousness.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 112:1-9; Isaiah 58:3-9a; 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)

Illustration: Christ Crucified by Carne Griffiths

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