Happenings

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





10 November 2019

Pentecost 22 Sermon: Praise the Lord!

Preached on Psalm 148
22nd Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 27C
10 November AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Praise the Lord!

Psalm 148 Summary: We usually think of praise as the conscious action of thinking beings. We might go so far as to include “higher” animals as capable of some sort of praise. This is particularly likely when we look at domestic animals, particularly our pets. We want to believe that they appreciate us and desire to show their love.

However, we rarely give thought to the idea that inanimate objects can actively praise someone. How can a star or a planet, a mountain, a snow storm, or a tree give praise? Yet that’s the picture painted by the psalmist.

By its very nature, the entire creation praises the Lord simply because it was made by Him. Perhaps under divine encouragement, even that which lacks sentience can actively praise God — after all, Jesus said just before the events of today’s Gospel that if the people’s voices were stilled on Palm Sunday, “the very stones would cry out. (Luke 19:40)”

We Christians especially praise Him because we are remade by Him as His redeemed children. Because of our faith in Christ, He now praises us as His holy people.

Text:

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
  praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
  praise him, all his hosts!

Praise him, sun and moon,
  praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
  and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
  For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
  he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
  you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
  stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
  fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
  creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples,
  princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together,
  old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
  for his name alone is exalted;
  his majesty is above earth and heaven.

He has raised up a horn for his people,
  praise for all his saints,
  for the people of Israel who are near to him.

Praise the Lord! Psalm 148

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 Praise the Lord!

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: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, 13-17; Luke 20:27-40

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Pentecost 22 Sermon: I Am

Preached on Exodus 3:1–15
22nd Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 27C
10 November AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of I Am

Exodus 3:1-15 Summary: I am — the God who is, who was, and who will always be — brought everything into existence. He also brought Himself into this Creation, coming to earth in human flesh, that He might take our sins upon Himself, making us into new beings, possessors of joy-filled lives everlasting.

Text: Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.

And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

“And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” Exodus 3:1-15

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 I Am

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 148; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, 13-17; Luke 20:27-40

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Pentecost 22 Sermon: God of the Living

Preached on Luke 20:27–40
22nd Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 27C
10 November AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of God of the Living

Luke 20:27-40 Summary: Not believing in the Resurrection, the Sadducees wanted to ridicule Jesus and discredit this teaching. They came up with the story of the woman widowed seven times, hoping to use earthly life to challenge what Christ taught that believers will experience in the New Creation.

The Lord turned their thinking on its head. He couldn’t answer their question as asked since it began with a faulty premise. He instead used the account of the burning bush to point to the correct question and answer.

Because the living God is also the God of the living, we know that in Christ we have lives that will never end. Therefore, many of this life’s institutions, including marriage, will have no place in the Resurrection.

Text: There came to [Jesus] some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.

“Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question. Luke 20:27-40

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 God of the Living

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 148; Exodus 3:1-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, 13-17

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03 November 2019

All Saints Sermon: What Kind of Love!

Preached on 1 John 3:1-3
All Saints Day
3 November AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of What Kind of Love!.

Fra Angelico: Saints Summary: Look! Behold! Pay attention!

Led by the Spirit and following those who came before him, John points clearly to Christ. Any good gifts, any true blessings flow through Jesus from the Father. Because He is the perfect Son who offered the perfect sacrifice, we are God’s children by faith. Because He lives, we live also — in time and throughout eternity.

Humankind can only define itself negatively before God. We are the rebels, Satan’s bastard children, heirs of wrath and judgment. Yet even the vilest sinner discovers by faith in Christ that no iniquity is greater than Jesus’ forgiveness. The most wayward and prodigal of sons still find the Father’s arms welcoming them as He redefines them by water and the Word as His dear children.

We don’t play guessing games, trying to figure out what eternal life will be like or what it means when Jesus returns and we are “like Him.” It is enough to know that we will be completely satisfied, absolutely joyful, and perfectly pure in heart and mind. No matter how exactly the New Creation resembles the various Scriptural images — green pastures and still waters, a never-ending banquet, or a city of gold and jewels — we know that it will be our home because it is where our Savior will lead us to dwell.

Text: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

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 What Kind of Love!

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 149; Revelation 7:(2-8) 9-17; Matthew 5:1-12

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27 October 2019

Reformation Sermon: Poor Comparison

Preached on Matthew 11:12–19
Reformation Day (Observed)
27 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Poor Comparison

Matthew 11:12-19 Summary: The text is the alternate Gospel assigned for Reformation Day in the Lutheran Service Book Lectionary. It illustrates mankind’s ongoing difficulty with receiving Jesus at His word.

Christ can just as easily compare the people of today — whether of the Church or not — with the same spoiled children He mentions here in Matthew. Too often, we make the same attempts to force God into our expectations or make Him act according to our wishes. Thus when He compares us as we are to us as we should be, we completely fail in comparison.

The faithful Christian realizes, however, that God calls the tune. He continues to play the same two songs of Law and Gospel, condemning our sins in wrath and forgiving them for Christ’s sake.

Text: [Jesus said,] “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

“Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Matthew 11:12-19

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 Poor Comparison

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 46; Revelation 14:6-7; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36

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Reformation Sermon: Fortified!

Preached on Psalm 46
Reformation Day (Observed)
27 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Fortified!

Psalm 46 Summary: Our powers are insufficient for the trials of this world. As the hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God declares, “With might of ours can naught be done.” We need fortification; we need the Lord Himself surrounding us.

Only He can protect us. Christ alone is the Gate. He opens to allow us in but closes to keep sin, death, and Devil at bay. The Holy Spirit extends Jesus’ invitation through the Gospel, brings us to faith, and leads us through the Gate into our refuge and dwelling place.

We also need internal fortification: God must dwell within us, strengthening us as we continue on our pilgrimage. He lifts our hearts, raises our heads, straightens our backs, and energizes our limbs. As we take shelter in Him, so He also makes His home in us through Word and Sacrament, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Text: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46

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 Fortified!

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: Revelation 14:6-7; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36; alternate Gospel Matthew 11:12-19

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26 October 2019

Wedding Sermon: A Threefold Cord

Preached on Ecclesiastes 4:9–12
26 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of A Threefold Cord.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Summary: Scripture defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Yet it also teaches that without God in its midst, a marriage isn’t as strong or healthy as it could (or should) be.

When Christ is central in a marriage, whatever frays the nerves or stretches the endurance of the other two strands cannot break the braid. His strength, made perfect in our weakness, supports husbands and wives. As He clings to them, He also leads them to cling to Him — and to each other — with similar tenacity.

Preached for the wedding of Albert Foster and Kelsey Keuhne at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Saline City, Missouri.

Text: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.

But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9–12

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.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of A Threefold Cord.

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: Genesis 2:7, 18-24; Matthew 19:4-6

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20 October 2019

Pentecost 19 Sermon: Wrestling for a Blessing

Preached on Genesis 32:22–30
19th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 24C
20 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Wrestling for a Blessing.

Genesis 32:22-30 Summary: God allowed — or forced — Jacob to struggle with Him throughout the night before easily taking the budding patriarch out of the fight. Yet even though a dislocated hip would prevent a physical victory, Jacob clung on for a blessing.

He received more than that, for the Lord also gave him a new name. Instead of being known as the Heel Grabbing Trickster, he was now the God Wrestler. We don’t know the exact text of the blessing but we know that it was be Israel’s new name, not Abraham’s, by which God’s chosen people would be called.

God also renames us as He blesses us. In Baptism, while we keep the names given by our parents, we receive a new family name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As God’s children, our new selves still struggle with Him, not in competition but rather cooperation. He moves us to strive against our own sinful desires, the allure of the world, and Satan’s temptations.

During our days of wrestling on earth, Peniel* times come as we meet God face to face in Word and Sacrament. Still, though, we only see Him in part. The fulness of this revelation must wait until our resurrection into eternal life.

*Peniel is Hebrew for “face of God.”

Text: The same night [Jacob] arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had.

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

Genesis 32:22-30 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.”

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

And he said to him, “What is your name?”

And he said, “Jacob.”

Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”

But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” Genesis 32:22-30

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.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Wrestling for a Blessing.

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 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8

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Pentecost 19 Sermon: Give Me Justice!

Preached on Luke 18:1–8
19th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 24C
20 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Give Me Justice!

Luke 18:1-8 Summary: Some people misunderstand this parable, thinking that it means that if we pester God long enough and hard enough, we’ll get whatever we want. If that were the case, He would be dumping an awful lot of counterproductive junk on us because we often fix our desires on things that aren’t good for us.

But Jesus tells this story after speaking about the divisiveness of the Gospel and the possibility of persecution falling on those who follow Him. The widow asks for justice. Jesus would have us also asking for justice, as well as faith and forgiveness. We pray not to enrich ourselves but to be protected from evil, particularly eternal death.

Text: And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’

“For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”

And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8

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.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Give Me Justice!

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 121; Genesis 32:22-30; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

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16 October 2019

Funeral Sermon: Master Craftsman

Preached on Psalm 139:13–116
The Funeral of Beno Messer
16 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Master Craftsman.

Waterfall Fountain Created by Beno Messer for His Wife Hannelore Summary: Craftsmanship means different things to different people but a true master such as Beno Messer leaves ample evidence of his artistic vision and the hard work necessary to bring the vision to completion. Through most of his life, this master craftsman worked in metal and other materials to make products both beautiful and functional.

Whether it was repairing others’ works or designing and constructing his own projects, he refused to cut corners or rush his tasks. He wanted to leave things better than he found them, and he displayed this same attitude in the rest of his life. He invested himself deeply in others and his craftsmanship extended into his family and friends as he always worked to make things better for other and to do better by others.

On an eternal scale, God also shows Himself to be a master craftsman. The psalmist confesses this in the sermon text. But the Lord wasn’t content to create beauty. When Adam and Eve fell into sin, breaking themselves, their world, and their relationship with Him, He set about to undo and remake the damage into new and lasting beauty.

His craftsmanship, then goes beyond physical beauty or effective function. He works through Jesus to make all things new and right. He creates clean hearts in place of our filthy, sin-damaged natures. He works all things for good for those who believe in Him. Through the instrument of the cross, He bent and broke His Son so that He might straighten and restore us and our relationship with Him.

In Baptism, He makes us new. The Holy Spirit continues crafting us into the creatures He desires us to be through the Gospel. Jesus remakes and re-forms us as He feeds us on His own body and blood. And at the end of time, God will unveil His final project as Master Craftsman when He brings us into the new heavens and new earth to live with Him forever.

Text:

You formed my inward parts;
  you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
  my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
  when I was being made in secret,
  intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
  in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
    Psalm 139:13-16

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 Master Craftsman.

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: Isaiah 25:6-9; John 14:1-7

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13 October 2019

Pentecost 18 Sermon: Until Death Us Do Part

Preached on Ruth 1:1–19a
18th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 23C
13 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Until Death Us Do Part.

Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 Summary: Initially established through Lot’s incest after Sodom was destroyed, Moab fully earned the Lord’s rejection by hiring the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Yet the Lord loved these outcasts and wanted them back as His own.

Through the love shared by Ruth and Naomi — a love flowing from His own boundless mercy and grace — He received Moab into His chosen people. He did so through the unlikely vessel of a Moabite woman. Ruth’s selfless love for her mother-in-law and her promise to never forsake her led her to travel back to Judah with Naomi.

There, God granted her a righteous and loving husband who more than cared for both her and Naomi. And beyond merely showing that He cared even for these often-despised Gentiles, the Lord included Moab in the line of the coming Davidic kingship and thus into the earthly family of the coming Savior.

Text: In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah.

They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.

But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”

But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again.

And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. Ruth 1:1-19a

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 Until Death Us Do Part.

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 111; 2 Timothy 2:1-13; Luke 17:11-19

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Pentecost 18 Sermon: If

Preached on 2 Timothy 2:1–13
18th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 23C
13 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of If.

2 Timothy 2:13 Summary: As Paul nurtured Timothy in the Gospel, so the apostle encourages Timothy to do the same for the next generation of pastors. Yet even though this is a pastoral epistle, Paul writes much that holds for all Christians. After all, the pastors must know the Word in order to preach the Word and must believe the same Word in order to be saved.

So here, as the section concludes, we have a series of “if” statements. The first connects us with baptism, in which we died with Christ in order to live with Him. Second is the promise that those who endure will enter His eternal reign. Even now, God moves us to reign over our own thoughts and passions, directing them in faithful pursuits.

Next comes the warning to avoid apostasy and rejection of the Gospel. We sometimes call this the “sin against the Holy Spirit,” for it is a rejection of the God-given faith and salvation we have through the Spirit’s working. We dare not tell Him that we don’t want or need Jesus’ suffering and death.

Yet Paul realizes that even our best intentions and holiest desires fall short and he comforts us with the reminder that God cannot deny His love and forgiveness any more than He can deny Himself, for His nature is love. No matter how weak we are or how many times we stumble, He continues to receive His penitent children into His gracious presence.

Text: You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:

   If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
   if we endure, we will also reign with him;
   if we deny him, he also will deny us;
   if we are faithless, he remains faithful —


for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:1-13

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.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of If.

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 111; Ruth 1:1-19a; Luke 17:11-19

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06 October 2019

Pentecost 17 Sermon: Slow Haste

Preached on Habakkuk 1:1–4, 2:1–4
17th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 22C
6 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Slow Haste.

Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 Summary: Everywhere he turned, the prophet saw the bad guys winning and he wanted to know when the Lord was going to come down and set things right. When would He stop using pagan nations such as Assyria to visit His wrath on sinners? When would He check the evil perpetrated among His chosen people? When would righteousness be its own reward?

Instead, the Lord sent a vision promising that another pagan nation, the Chaldeans, would be His next instrument of judgment. They would destroy Assyria but would also reach out against Judah, which continued to sin against its God. There was nothing the Israelites could do to save themselves for none could make themselves right before the Lord.

However, the Lord promised that the “righteous shall live by his faith.”

This righteousness came only through trust in the Lord’s promises of His forgiveness and coming rescue. During the New Testament and beyond, it specifically and solely came to mean belief in Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for us. He was the One to bear the full brunt of the Father’s wrath at sin and sinners.

How long will it be? When will our troubles end and our enemies be vanquished? The Lord has His own timetable. Even as He warns of hastening judgment, He also promises to delay on behalf of those who will still be brought to saving faith by the power of His Holy Spirit. He urges us to be slow to judge but quick to mercy.

God says, “‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)” Now you are baptized. Now you are forgiven. Now you are righteous and living by faith.

Text: The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted....

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end — it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

“Behold, [the wicked man’s] soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

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 Slow Haste.

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 62; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:1-10

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29 September 2019

Michaelmas Sermon: The Accuser Thrown Down

Preached on Revelation 12:7–12
Saint Michael and All Angels
29 September AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of The Accuser Thrown Down.

Revelation 12:7-12 Summary: The imagery of Revelation juxtaposes visions of past, present, and future. Today we have front-row seats to watch Satan, “the great dragon,” driven out of God’s presence and cast down. Similarly, Jesus says in Luke 10:18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning.”

Whether past tense or predictive, both accounts treat the devil’s downfall as a done deal. Christ’s suffering and death snap Satan’s hold on humankind. The Accuser can’t point his finger at us because Jesus removed our guilt.

In a classic “now/not yet” event of Scripture, the text celebrates the final battle and our ultimate victory even as the war between God and devil continues. The third stanza of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God says, “This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will.” Satan still tries to move us away from God by intimidation or enticement. But the hymn continues: “He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done; One little word can fell him.”

Text: Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

“Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12:7-12

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.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of The Accuser Thrown Down

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.

About the Art: War in Heaven by Wes Talbott

Other Readings: Psalm 91; Daniel 10:10-14; 12:1-3; Luke 10:17-20 or Matthew 18:1-10

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Michaelmas Sermon: Do Not Rejoice ... Rejoice

Preached on Luke 10:17-20
Saint Michael and All Angels
29 September AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Do Not Rejoice ... Rejoice.

St. Michael and All Angels Summary: It’s good that Satan and his minions have no power over us, when demons are driven out and tormented people given peace. Yet however wonderful these are, they are only signs of our true source of joy: Jesus Christ died to save sinners and because of Him we are God’s children.

The Lord’s true glory isn’t revealed in the demons’ submission to Jesus but in the Son’s submission to His Father’s will in His suffering and death. By His sacrifice, Jesus effected our salvation.

Yes, Jesus “saw Satan fall like lightning.” But Jesus also saw you raised up from the baptismal waters, named by God and recorded in the Book of Life. In Baptism, our names are “engraved on the palms of [God’s] hands. (Isaiah 49:16; see also the sermon Engraved on God’s Palms)” They are “written in heaven” and no matter what befalls us on earth, we know that we’ll be raised up as eternal citizens of the new heavens and the new earth.

How can we not rejoice in this!

Luke 10:18 Text: The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”

And [Jesus] said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20

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 Do Not Rejoice ... Rejoice

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 91; Daniel 10:10-14; 12:1-3; Revelation 12:7-12; Matthew 18:1-10 (alternate Gospel)

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22 September 2019

Pentecost 15 Sermon: I Will Never Forget

Preached on Amos 8:4–7
15th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 20C
22 September AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of I Will Never Forget.

Amos 8:4-7 Summary: In one way or another, each of us shares culpability for the world’s social injustice — injustice that’s certainly sinful of itself but also a symptom of mankind’s fallen nature. The wicked practices that Amos decries testify against a people who judge themselves better than others — a people just like us.

By accusing us of using unjust measures, the Lord also points out our unbalanced natures, ever inclined toward sin. We are out of balance. And if we approach God’s judgment thinking that we will save ourselves, we’ll find the balance weighted more against us than we would have seen in Israel’s most dishonest scales, for the Lord “will never forget” our deeds.

Yet when Christians hear the Lord swear by “the pride of Jacob” to remember our deeds, we rejoice! Jacob’s ultimate pride resides in his greatest offspring, Jesus Christ. He fully forgives us and credits us with His own deeds. The Lord now sees our deeds as kind, merciful, and done without counting the cost. Our hearts are holy, our motives pure.

Jesus continues working His deeds through us. He sends the Holy Spirit to move us to lives of mercy, serving our neighbor, loving our enemy, forsaking sinful gain, and seeking justice for all.

Text: Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?”

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” Amos 8:4-7

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 I Will Never Forget.

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 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Luke 16:1-15

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Pentecost 15 Sermon: God Knows Your Hearts

Preached on Luke 16:1–15
15th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 20C
22 September AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of God Knows Your Hearts.

Luke 16:1-15 Summary: Jesus cautioned those Pharisees who exalted earthly wealth: “God knows your hearts.” He also knows ours and knows that we, too, often long for and overvalue the things of this life.

However, in Christ, we know God’s heart and see how it overflows with love. Through the Gospel, the Holy Spirit creates new, clean hearts in us — hearts that, by grace, can withstand divine scrutiny since they are the heart of our Savior. Instead of seeking earthly riches, Christians are moved by the Lord to be rich toward others.

Text: [Jesus] also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’

“And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’

“So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’

“The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:1-15

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 God Knows Your Hearts.

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 113; Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-15

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15 September 2019

Pentecost 14 Sermon: I’ll Do It Myself

Ezekiel 34:11–24
14th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 19C
15 September AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of I’ll Do It Myself.

Ezekiel 34:11-24 Summary: Unable to maintain a positive relationship with God, humanity continually strays from His loving protection. He knew that even the greatest of His prophets would be unable to reclaim straying Israel and to reach out to the Gentiles also lost in sin. Therefore, He declared Himself to be the one who would seek and save us.

He did so by taking on our flesh and living among us. Jesus proclaimed the Good News of salvation and accomplished it by suffering and dying for His sheep. He leads us from disaster and death to full and abundant life now and in eternity.

Text: “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

“And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.

“I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

“As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

“Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep.

“And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.” Ezekiel 34:11-24

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 I’ll Do It Myself.

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 119:169-176; 1 Timothy 1:5-17; Luke 15:1-10

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Pentecost 14 Sermon: Dinner with Sinners

Preached on Luke 15:1-10
14th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 19C
15 September AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Dinner with Sinners.

Luke 15:1-10 Summary: Jesus received and ate with the type of people scorned by the outwardly righteous religious leaders and “church-going folk” of His day. These “sinners” were His people, not because He shared their sinfulness but because they were lost sheep who needed Him to shepherd them to forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life.

Text: Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’

“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:1-10

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 Dinner with Sinners.

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 119:169-176; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 1 Timothy 1:5-17

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