Happenings

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





23 August 2020

Proper 16A Sermon: Rock and Quarry

Preached on Isaiah 51:1–6
The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
23 August AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Rock and Quarry.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Rock and Quarry to hear the MP3.

Isaiah 51:1–6 Summary: Isaiah told Judah to look at its history in order to make sense of its present and have hope for its future. The same God who established Abraham as Israel’s father, who carved a nation out of Sarah’s seemingly barren womb, would likewise bless Abraham’s heirs.

The Lord’s righteousness and salvation that established and sustained Abraham and Sarah would likewise preserve their heirs in Isaiah’s time. By faith in Christ, we are also the heirs of Abraham and can be certain that the promises of consolation, preservation, and restoration for Zion belong to us as well.

Text: “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him.

“For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

“Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.” Isaiah 51:1–6

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Rock and Quarry.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Rock and Quarry to hear the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 138; Romans 11:33–12:8; Matthew 16:13–20

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Proper 16A Sermon: The Gates of Hades

Preached on Matthew 16:13–20
The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
23 August AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of The Gates of Hades.

Audio: Alternatively, choose The Gates of Hades to hear the MP3.

Matthew 16:13–20 Summary: The rock upon which Jesus builds His Church isn’t Peter but rather Peter’s confession. Confessing Jesus as the Christ, Peter thus identified Him as the “spiritual Rock” of whom Israel drank, for “the Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:4)”

Being built on this Rock gives us the fruits of His victories over sin, death, and devil. The “Son of the Living God” died for us yet He is still the living Son of God. Death comes because of sin. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees that our sins which He carried to the cross are blotted out and cannot hold Him — or us — bound by Hades and eternally trapped in the grave. Jesus kicked down death’s door and grants believers egress into everlasting life.

Text: Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. Matthew 16:13–20

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of The Gates of Hades.

Audio: Alternatively, choose The Gates of Hades to hear the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 138; Isaiah 51:1–6; Romans 11:33–12:8

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16 August 2020

Proper 15A Sermon: Gathered by God

Preached on Isaiah 56:1, 6–8
The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
16 August AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Gathered by God.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Gathered by God to hear the MP3.

Isaiah 56:1, 6–8 Summary: The Lord speaks of “foreigners who join themselves to God.” He promises those who love and serve Him full access to Him on His “holy mountain” in his “house of prayer for all peoples.”

Because we cannot love and serve Him fully — as His Law demands — we wouldn’t be able to claim the promise. However, the Lord God who “gathers the outcasts of Israel” also gathers us, reaching out through Christ to forgive, reconcile, and kindle faith in people of every nation so that we might live, love, and serve in His holy presence.

Text: Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my righteousness be revealed.

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant — these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” Isaiah 56: 1, 6–8

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Gathered by God.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Gathered by God to hear the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 67; Romans 11:1–2a, 13–15, 28–32; Matthew 15:21–28

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Proper 15A Sermon: Even the Dogs

Preached on Matthew 15:21–28
The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
16 August AD 2020

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Audio: Alternatively, choose Even the Dogs to hear the MP3.

Matthew 15:21–28 Summary: As Jesus seemingly ignored, insulted, and rejected the Canaanite woman, she persisted. She held Jesus to the Scriptures’ promises. The Messiah came first to “the house of Israel” but she pleaded with the One who also came to save the Gentiles.

From today’s other readings, the Lord tells us that His saving power comes “among all nations (Psalm 67:2).” He gathers “others” and not only the “outcasts of Israel (Isaiah 56:8).” We Gentiles “now have received mercy (Romans 11:30)” because of Jesus’ suffering and death.

Text: And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.

And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”

But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21–28

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Even the Dogs.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Even the Dogs to hear the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 67; Isaiah 56: 1, 6–8; Romans 11:1–2a, 13–15, 28–32

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09 August 2020

Proper 14A Sermon: Drinking from a Fire Hose

Preached on Job 38:4–18
The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
9 August AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Drinking from a Fire Hose.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Drinking from a Fire Hose to hear the MP3.

Matthew 14:22–33 Summary: Job wanted a few swallows of understanding from God’s well of wisdom as to why he faced his troubles. The Lord instead turned on the fire hose of His might and glory, never answering the particulars of Job’s questions.

However, Job finally learned that God knows best and is in control of all that befell him. So with us: We may never know why evils enter our lives. However, we do know that we’ll never face the ultimate evil of life now and forevermore without God as long as we believe in Christ crucified for our sins and raised for our justification.

Text: [The Lord answered Job,] “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements — surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken.

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.” Job 38:4–18

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Drinking from a Fire Hose.

Audio: Click Drinking from a Fire Hose to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 18:1–16; Romans 10:5–17; Matthew 14:22–33

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Proper 14A Sermon: Looking at the Wind

Preached on Matthew 14:22–33
The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
9 August AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Looking at the Wind.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Looking at the Wind to hear the MP3.

Matthew 14:22–33 Summary: “Looking at the wind” of life’s literal and figurative storms instead of remaining focused on Christ is an invitation to troubles physical, emotional, and especially spiritual.

Text: Immediately [Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.

And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come.”

So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22–33

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Looking at the Wind.

Audio: Click Looking at the Wind to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 18:1–16; Job 38:4–18; Romans 10:5–17

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02 August 2020

Proper 13A Sermon: Rich Food for the Poor

Preached on Isaiah 55:1–5
The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
2 August AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Rich Food for the Poor.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Rich Food for the Poor to hear the MP3.

Isaiah 55:1–5 Summary: How odd! The Lord calls us to come to Him to buy our staples and to pay for all manner of “rich food.” Yet when we reach for our wallets, checkbooks, and charge cards we discover that everything He offers costs more than we can afford.

How can we cover the cost? Faith is the only coin accepted in this realm. In His suffering and death, Jesus completed the purchase of everything we need to sustain us in this life and until life everlasting. We buy “without price” because the price is paid for us.

Along with the daily bread that even the wicked enjoy, God sustains His people with Jesus, “the living bread that came down from heaven. (John 6:51)” He nourishes us through Absolution, the preaching of Christ, and Holy Communion. The Baptismal water that first refreshed us flows freely whenever we claim the forgiveness that is ours.

Text: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

“Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.” Isaiah 55:1–5

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Rich Food for the Poor.

Audio: Click Rich Food for the Poor to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 136:1–9; Romans 9:1–13; Matthew 14:13–21

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Proper 13A Sermon: The Lord’s Suppers

Preached on Matthew 14:13–21
The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
2 August AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of The Lord’s Suppers.

Audio: Alternatively, choose The Lord’s Suppers to hear the MP3.

Matthew 14:13–21 Summary: Since God placed mankind on earth, He has continued to feed us, whether in ways mundane or miraculous. Seedtime and harvest, manna and quail, loaves and fish, or body and blood — He looks after His people.

Throughout this continuum of feedings, the Lord weaves one thread. He continually invites us to dine at His table at His expense. At times, we barely notice, at others we cannot help but see that something special is happening.

In the midst of this is the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Rooted not only in Israel’s past but in the history of all people, it looks forward to another meal with Jesus and these same twelve disciples. That meal “on the night He was betrayed” wasn’t the final “Lord’s Supper” because He continues to feed us daily and richly with our daily bread and with Word and Sacrament.

God showers us with all of this sacred sustenance in order to bring us to the last “Lord’s Supper.” It awaits us in the Resurrection. There we’ll join “the marriage supper of the Lamb,” a never-ending feast in His kingdom.

Text: Now when Jesus heard [about the death of John the Baptist], he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”

And he said, “Bring them here to me.”

Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:13–21

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of The Lord’s Suppers.

Audio: Click The Lord’s Suppers to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 136:1–9; Isaiah 55:1–5; Romans 9:1–13

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28 July 2020

Proper 12A Sermon: Nothing and Everything

Preached on Romans 8:28–39
The Week of Pentecost Eight
28 July AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Nothing and Everything.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Nothing and Everything to hear the MP3.

Deuteronomy 7:6–9 Summary: God works everything together for the good of His children and nothing can separate us from His love in Christ Jesus our Lord. He didn’t abandon Job during his trials and He doesn’t abandon us. He stayed with Joseph through his captivity in Egypt and He stays with us now.

As Christ carried our sins, He also experienced the pain and suffering common to all. He carried our woe to cross and grave so that He might carry us to the peace and joy of the Resurrection.

Even in the worst of times, God works good for those who believe in Christ. He restored Job many-fold and lavished wealth and authority on Joseph. Finally, He will unmake all the sin that is a part of us and all the evils that have happened to us when He raises us to eternal life and will bless us with more than we can imagine.

Text: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28–39

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Nothing and Everything.

Audio: Click Nothing and Everything to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 125; Deuteronomy 7:6–9; Matthew 13:44–52

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26 July 2020

Proper 12A Sermon: Treasured

Preached on Deuteronomy 7:6–9
The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
26 July AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Treasured.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Treasured to hear the MP3.

Deuteronomy 7:6–9 Summary: Even as Israel in the Wilderness was “a people holy to the Lord” and His “treasured possession,” so today is the Christian Church — that is all who believe in Jesus as their Savior.

Text: “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations....” Deuteronomy 7:6–9

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Treasured.

Audio: Click Treasured to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 125; Romans 8:28–39; Matthew 13:44–52

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Proper 12A Sermon: Pearl of Great Price

Preached on Matthew 13:44–52
The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
26 July AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Pearl of Great Price.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Pearl of Great Price to hear the MP3.

Matthew 13:44–52 Summary: God wants us to value His kingdom every bit as much as he values us.

Text: [Jesus said,] “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“Have you understood all these things?”

They said to him, “Yes.”

And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Matthew 13:44–52

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Pearl of Great Price.

Audio: Click Pearl of Great Price to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 125; Deuteronomy 7:6–9; Romans 8:28–39

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19 July 2020

Proper 11A Sermon: There Is No God but the Lord

Preached on Isaiah 44:6–8
The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
19 July AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of No God but the Lord.

Audio: Alternatively, choose No God but the Lord to hear the MP3.

Isaiah 44:6–8 Summary: Pick a god ... any god. It makes no difference because none of them can deliver, protect, and sustain you — except for one.

The only god worth choosing is the Lord who has already chosen you to be His own. He sent His Son to be not only Israel’s Redeemer but the Savior of all mankind. All who believe in Jesus possess this salvation.

His Holy Spirit calls us through the Gospel, washes us clean of our sins in Baptism, and guides us through this life into life everlasting. He establishes us on the Lord our Rock and nothing in the natural or the spiritual realms can tear us away, knock us down, or destroy us.

Text: Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

“Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.

“Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” Isaiah 44:6–8

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of No God but the Lord.

Audio: Click No God but the Lord to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:57–64; Romans 8:18–27; Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43

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Proper 11A Sermon: Growing Among the Weeds

Preached on Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43
The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
19 July AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Growing Among the Weeds.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Growing Among the Weeds to hear the MP3.

Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43 Summary: As God seeds believers in the soil of this world, so Satan plants a crop of wickedness in the hearts of evildoers. The Church’s task is not to remove sinners from this earth. Even the angels are forbidden to do so until the Last Day. Until then, we live and grow side by side with the unbelievers.

It is enough for us to know that Jesus continues to tend to His field, feeding and watering us through Word and Sacrament that we may bear good fruit. And while we still grow among the weeds, there is opportunity for us to speak and live the Gospel to and for them that they, too, might become new plantings and join us in the harvest unto life everlasting.

Text: [Jesus] put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.

“And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’

“He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’

“So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’

“But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”

He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.

“Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

“He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Growing Among the Weeds.

Audio: Click Growing Among the Weeds to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:57–64; Isaiah 44:6–8; Romans 8:18–27

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13 July 2020

Proper 10A Sermon: No Empty Words

Preached on Isaiah 55:10–13
The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
12 July AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of No Empty Words.

Audio: Alternatively, choose No Empty Words to hear the MP3.

Isaiah 55:10–13 Summary: We quickly tire of the empty words of commercial advertisers and politicians. No matter what the promise, we’ve learned to prepare for a letdown when results are tallied.

This isn’t so with God’s Word. Every bit of it is truth and packed with power. It accomplishes His purposes. Primarily, the Lord tasks His Word with forgiving sins, with reconciling and saving sinners. Conversion, absolution, love for neighbor, and lives lived faithfully are all part of the “everlasting sign” testifying to the Word’s effects and its glorious goodness.

Text: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:10–13

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of No Empty Words.

Audio: Click No Empty Words to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 65:1–13; Romans 8:12–17; Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23

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12 July 2020

Proper 10A Sermon: Divine Dirt Farming

Preached on Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23
The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
12 July AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Divine Dirt Farming.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Divine Dirt Farming to hear the MP3.

Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23 Summary: The God who formed the first man out of the soil continues to involve himself with us creatures made of earth. He sows His Word in the soil of our beings and rejoices when it sprouts, grows, and bears fruit. The Holy Spirit prepares us for this planting, that our “soil” might be rich and fertile. The yield of this planting is the faith and good works into which He leads us.

Text: That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.

“Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.

“Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.

“Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.

“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.

“As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Divine Dirt Farming.

Audio: Click Divine Dirt Farming to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 65:1–13; Isaiah 55:10–13; Romans 8:12–17

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05 July 2020

Proper 9A Sermon: Because of the Blood

Preached on Zechariah 9:9–12
The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
5 July AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Because of the Blood.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Because of the Blood to hear the MP3.

Zechariah 9:9–12 Summary: When God cut His covenant with Abraham, He alone passed among the sacrificed animals. In so doing, the Lord pledged Himself not only to keeping His side of the promises but ultimately also to upholding the obligations of Abraham and his heirs. We hear this through Zechariah, when the Lord speaks not of “our covenant” but “My covenant.”

The blood of the covenant with Abraham points to the blood of the covenant He would make to all people through Christ. He also made a covenant in which He pledged Himself to faithfully uphold the obligations of both parties.

In His life, suffering, and death, Jesus poured out the blood of the New Covenant. Fully divine, He established and keeps God’s promise of salvation to mankind. Fully human, He faithfully kept mankind’s obligations unto His death and continues in His resurrection to uphold humanity’s responsibilities.

Because His Son kept God’s Law on our behalf, the Father accepted the sacrifice of the blood of the covenant that Christ shed on Golgotha. God then honors His covenant obligations and credits Jesus’ faithfulness to all of us who believe in Him.

Text: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. Zechariah 9:9–12

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Because of the Blood.

Audio: Click Because of the Blood to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 145:1–14; Romans 7:14–25a; Matthew 11:25–30

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Proper 9A Sermon: Revealed to Children

Preached on Matthew 11:25–30
The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
5 July AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Revealed to Children.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Revealed to Children to hear the MP3.

Matthew 11:25–30 Summary: Simple, ordinary, basic: These aren’t the gaudy descriptions for ourselves that our sinful flesh craves. Christians rejoice that salvation is fully revealed and freely given to us “little children.”

There’s nothing we can add to the certainty of forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus. Those who are wise unto salvation rather than wise in the ways of the world occupy themselves not with plans and theories of salvation but rather how we can live out our lives in faith toward God and in fervent love for all people.

Text: At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25–30

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Revealed to Children.

Audio: Click Revealed to Children to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 145:1–14; Zechariah 9:9–12; Romans 7:14–25a

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28 June 2020

Proper 8A Sermon: Amen! But...

Preached on Jeremiah 28:5–9
The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
28 June AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Amen! But....

Audio: Alternatively, choose Amen! But... to hear the MP3.

Jeremiah 28 Summary: Jeremiah’s “Amen!” to Hananiah wasn’t because he agreed with the false prophet’s prediction but rather because he also earnestly desired peace. Peace between Judah and Babylon, of course, but more importantly, between God and Judah.

After apparently giving his seal of approval to Hananiah’s words, Jeremiah turned around and reminded his opponent how their prophetic predecessors “prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms.” The prophet reminds us that peace is a rare and precious gift and the one who accurately proclaims it is worthy of honor.

True peace comes only when sins are forgiven and we are right with God. Even when Satan and this sinful world resist the Church and “war, famine, and pestilence” are commonplace, Christians live in peace with God through the gift of the True and Greatest Prophet, Jesus Christ. This peace dwelling in us is God’s pledge of absolute and everlasting accord with Him and with all who believe in His Son when we are raise up to life without end.

Note that a few of of my comments during the sermon are directly addressed to the young people who would be confirmed later in the service.

Text: Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hananiah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord, and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words that you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles.

“Yet hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.” Jeremiah 28:5–9

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Amen! But....

Audio: Click Amen! But... to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:153–160; Romans 7:1–13; Matthew 10:34–42

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Proper 8A Sermon: Not Worthy ... Worthy

Preached on Matthew 10:34–42
The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
28 June AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Not Worthy ... Worthy.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Not Worthy ... Worthy to hear the MP3.

Matthew 10:34–42 Summary: No matter how worthy we or others think we are, by nature we have no true worth in God’s eyes. Our value comes not from building ourselves up but rather by admitting that we are nothing and can do nothing without Christ.

When we believe in salvation through Jesus and begin to know His love for us, His Spirit works love for Christ in our hearts. And as we grow in love toward Christ, the Spirit also moves us to truly love others. Our Savior counts us worthy not because of who we are but whose we are — for we are His.

Text: So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Matthew 10:34–42

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Not Worthy ... Worthy.

Audio: Click Not Worthy ... Worthy to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:153–160; Jeremiah 28:5–9; Romans 7:1–13

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21 June 2020

Proper 7A Sermon: Deceived

Preached on Jeremiah 20:7–13
The Third Sunday after Pentecost
21 June AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Deceived.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Deceived to hear the MP3.

Jeremiah 20:7–13 Summary: Jeremiah complained that being the Lord’s prophet wasn’t the easy job he might have expected and decried the nation’s resistance, even among his supposed friends. Yet he remained faithful and confessed faith that, no matter the odds, the Lord fought for him and his cause would finally prevail.

Text: O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me.

For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long.

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him.”

But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.

O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.

Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers. Jeremiah 20:7–13

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Deceived.

Audio: Click Deceived to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 91:1–10 (11–16); Romans 6:12–23; Matthew 10:5a, 21–33

Agnus Day

About the Cartoon: Jeremiah 20:7-13 cartoon by James Wetzstein at Agnus Day: The Lectionary Comic Strip.

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Proper 7A Sermon: Hated

Preached on Matthew 10:5a, 21–33
The Third Sunday after Pentecost
21 June AD 2020

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Hated.

Audio: Alternatively, choose Hated to hear the MP3.

Matthew 10:5a, 21–33 Summary: The Church shouldn't be surprised when the world dismisses, demeans, or threatens to destroy it. We know this hatred will come to naught because we belong to Christ and world, death, and devil have no power over us.

Text: These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them ... “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:5a, 21–33

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.

Video: Click to view the YouTube video of Hated.

Audio: Click Hated to listen to the MP3.

Other Readings: Psalm 91:1–10 (11–16); Jeremiah 20:7–13; Romans 6:12–23

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