Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sermon Notes for January 15


Isaiah prophesied that the “glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together!”  Epiphany is a word that means “revealed” and in this season we are to contemplate how God’s divine nature was revealed while He was on earth.  The Gospel lessons in these next Sundays remind us of ways that God is still revealed today in the church and in our lives, so that we may see His glory together. 

January 15, 2017

During the sermon, we will be reading responsively from Luther's Small Catechism.  You can follow along in our hymnal, Lutheran Service Book by turning to LSB 326-27.  We will be reading from the section,“The Sacrament of The Altar”.

First Thoughts + In today's Gospel lesson, John the Baptist looks to Jesus and proclaims, "Behold, the Lamb of God...!"  Again, the divine nature and the divine work that Jesus was to do was revealed during His Ministry.  The words of John remind us of another way God's divine presence is revealed today and how His divine work continues in our lives.   

Sermon Title and Outline + " Holy Communion"

I.                 Welcome to The Lord’s Table
II.             Behold, the Lamb of God
    III.        Go in Peace, Serve the Lord! 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Sermon Notes for January 8


Isaiah prophesied that the “glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together!”  Epiphany is a word that means “revealed” and in this season we are to contemplate how God’s divine nature was revealed while He was on earth.  The Gospel lessons in these next Sundays remind us of ways that God is still revealed today in the church and in our lives, so that we may see His glory together. 

Sermon for January 8 – " Baptism!"

During the sermon, you can open our church's hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (LSB 325) and follow along using the section of the Small Catechism titled “The Sacrament of Holy Baptism”.  We will read portions of this together during the sermon.  

First Thoughts + The divine nature of Jesus was revealed when He stood in the water and the Spirit came down and the Father's voice was heard.  Baptism today is no less a revealing of God's presence in our lives. 

I.                   Water and The Word
II.             The Promise of God

III.        Living a Baptismal Life

You can go deeper into the sermon topic in the adult Bible Study offered alongside Sunday School for all ages at Bethany starting at 8:45AM.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sermon Notes for January 1

First Thoughts + Preaching on January 1, 1531, Martin Luther noted: 

We call this day New Year's Day - in the old Roman fashion.  As Christians we actually start our New Year on Christmas Day, as indicated by the way we count years, that is, in the year after Christ's birth, and so on.  The Romans began the year on the first day of January, and that's the custom we Germans have followed.  After all, we trace back to the Roman Empire, from which we have inherited a lot of other things also.  For example: our whole justice system, a large part of the papacy, our time system, or the names of our weekdays: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and so on.  Now, however, we are not concerned with New Year's Day in the Roman sense, nor with any other traditions from that time.
In Luther's Day, people were in church on January 1 to observe the eighth day after Christ's birth, which was not only the day He was circumcised, according to the law since the days of Abraham, but it was also the day He was officially named "Jesus."  The significance of this wonderful name and how it means salvation for all who believe what it says it could take up all our sermon time, to be sure.  

But, since Luther's day, there is a new custom that is associated with January 1, and that is the making of a New Year's resolution.  People begin to dream and make plans for the new year, perhaps resolving to better something that did not go so well the previous year.  So, in approaching this week's message, I would like to have it both ways.  I would like to think about the current custom of resolution making and the significance of the name given to God's Son on earth.

Sermon Title and Outline + "In The Name of Jesus!"

I.  Resolved to be well, and do good
II. Good work in the name of Jesus
III.  Trusting in the name of Jesus
IV. Resolved to be His

I hope to see you, this Sunday, at Bethany Lutheran Church for our 10AM worship service.

REMINDERS: Bethany AIM (African Immigrant Ministry) will host their "Watch Night" service the night before (roughly 8PM - 1AM).  Sunday School for all ages is taking a break, and will resume on Sunday, January 8 at 8:45AM.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sermon Notes for Christmas 2016

+ On my desk at Bethany Lutheran Church, this week, are the beginnings of the two sermons for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  These are two different services that occasion two different approaches for communicating the Gospel.  Christmas Eve is the popular one everyone loves, filled with music, beauty and rich traditions that come to life in our celebration meant to echo the angels and shepherds in Luke chapter 2.  Christmas Day takes a slightly more measured and thoughtful approach and with the Gospel from John chapter 1, we celebrate with reverence and love our God who comes to us.

+The Christmas Eve sermon will look back at the series we did in the season of Advent and see how some of the earlier births in Bethlehem foreshadow the precious birth of our Savior.  Despite that foreshadowing, did anyone in Bethlehem on that Holy Night take note that God was faithfully brought salvation through the King of Kings?  Our hearts and our minds will be there as we again receive the news “for unto you is born this night, in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

+The meditation for Christmas Day is inspired a little by C.S. Lewis and a little by a poet he mentions in his book, “Miracles”.  When the Word became flesh, it changed everything for us and our world.  The seasons have turned a corner, and when winter gives way to spring, "no corner of the Land" will be untouched.  While that is the truth of it, we Christians should always be thinking of how we are touched by this season, and how to affect those around us with its warmth. 

+ From one of his Christmas sermons, Luther wrote concerning the Christmas Gospels that “no one will receive more benefit from it that those who, with a calm, quiet heart, banish everything else from their mind, and diligently look into it.  It is just as the sun which is reflected in calm water and gives out vigorous warmth, but which can not be so readily seen nor can it give out such warmth in water that is in roaring and rapid motion.”  May God grant each of us time to reflect on the warmth of His love given to us at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Sermon Notes for December 11

This Sunday continues the Christmas story from both Testaments with the birth and early life of David and our Christmas connection to a shepherd/king.  

At 8:45AM, join the adult Sunday School for the final chapter and discussion of "A Man Named Martin" - plus, some bonus material all about Luther's marriage.

I hope you will get a chance to come to Wednesday Evening Prayer at 7PM to unplug from holiday stress and hear about some of the decorations recently put up by our youth group.  Next Wednesday, there will be a special service led by Bethany Lutheran Preschool at 6:30PM.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

St. Nicholas Day 2016

If you slipped your foot in your shoe to find a tangerine or a chocolate gold coin, someone in your home may be celebrating St. Nicholas Day!
If you are a Doctor Who fan, like me, you may have wondered why Santa Claus was often seen with a tangerine in the 2014 Christmas special.  

Whenever my kids would ask about a certain jolly elf who delivers presents, I always saw that as an opportunity to teach a little about St. Nicholas and some of the blessings we receive this Christmas season.  I wrote out one of those talks a few years ago and posted it here.  

There are not many primary sources of information about Nicholas of Myra, who was a Christian bishop.  A lot of the legends and stories come to us from the Middle Ages.  But, we do know he was a Christian leader, and likely at the Council of Nicea (affirming with the faithful that Jesus is "begotten of the Father from all eternity"), and that he was well loved by the people for his kindness and generosity.   

From there it is not hard to believe that he was an orphan whose parents left a sizable estate, that he gave said estate away and became a parish priest and that he was hard working and loved children.  Well, at least, there is no reason to disbelieve such things.  And if you go on to presume that the origin of the Christmas stocking comes from such an incident as Nicholas somehow (maybe with a little angelic help) getting some gold coins into the shoes of several poor girls who did not have a dowry to get married, and whose stubborn father would not take assistance from the church, why not?

At the heart of such legends and tales is Christian truth.  It is the truth of our mission here on earth.  Our Lord emptied Himself and became as a servant and calls us to serve others with that same self-sacrificing love.  If there is a personification of that force - call it generosity, or giving - in order to tell a good story, then why not?  Just be sure to remember that the root of it is not some sort of promotion of consumerism or a twisted way to get your children to behave, but a simple man doing the Lord's work of giving away God's love to others.  

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Sermon Notes for December 4

"Who Was Born in Bethlehem?" the sermon series continues this Sunday at Bethany Lutheran Church for our 10AM worship.  This week, we remember the birth of Obed, a special baby born to Boaz and Ruth.  Last year, we learned about how Ruth and her family fit into "The Story" of God.  That was in chapter 9 of "The Story" and in the book of Ruth in the Bible.  Feel free to bring your Bible to church as we take a look at the Christmas story presented in both Testaments.

The Adult Sunday School class at 8:45AM will see part 4 of "A Man Called Martin" - a special video study offered through the Lutheran Hour.

This Saturday, Bethany's youth need all hands on deck for the morning and afternoon as they put up Christmas decorations and offer a "Parents Day Out" babysitting event for our parents who need to get some shopping done, or just need a break!

Next Wednesday, retreat from the holiday stress for a special Advent Evening Prayer at 7PM.  There will be a special meditation on the history and meaning behind Bethany's Christmas decorations.

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