Sermons

Invocabit—Lent 1 (Mt 4:1–11)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

The Word of God comes first and is faithful and true: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” That’s what the Father said about Jesus at His Baptism. There the Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. There the Son goes through sinner’s Baptism, takes on the Spirit, His anointing as the King of the Jews, and in Jesus rests the pleasure and delight and righteousness of God.

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Now things are totally different. No one looked weaker than Jesus: “after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.” Then the devil strikes at Jesus. His weapon is his word that he wields against what is most faithful and true: the Word of God. Continue reading

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Sermons

Ash Wednesday (Joel 2:12–19; Mt 6:16–21)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. That’ll be you some day—dust, ashes. You’ll die. You’ll decay. You’ll be bones. Skeleton buried in the ground. Then, not even that—a pile of dust and ashes in a coffin.

Dust and ashes. That’s your life now, too. It’s how you live: ashes, dust, dirt. Are you willing to confess that? With the nasty parts of our life, sure. It’s easy to say that our sins are dust and ashes. The skeletons that rattle around in the closet of our consciences. The memories of deep, dark sins, the secret sins, the evil thoughts no one knows, the angry words maybe only a few know, the icky deeds only you know. But “your Father sees in secret.” No part of your past or present is hidden from Him. He sees everything: your actions, words, and even thoughts! The wages of your sin: death, dust, ashes. Continue reading

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Sermons

Sexagesima (LK 8:4–15)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

What sort of crazy sower is Jesus talking about? The modern day version of this parable would be: a farmer went out to plant, and he used his planter on the road, on the rocky parts of his field, among the ditches and easements, and eventually he used it on the best parts of his fields. No self-respecting farmer would do that. Even non-farmers know you don’t sow seed that way! But that’s how and where the seed is sown in the parable that Jesus tells.

All eyes off the soils! All eyes, all ears on the Sower, on His Seed. It’s then and only then that we will understand what the Lord’s talking about. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” For “to you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God.” Continue reading

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Sermons

Septuagesima (Mt 20:1–16)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

“Whatever is right I will give you.” What was right was the denarius the Lord of the Vineyard and those workers agreed to. Punching in at 6, punching out again at 6, that gets you a full day’s wage—one denarius. No more. No less. That’s what’s good, right, and fair. “After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius,” He kept on hiring. So His hiring pitch: “Whatever is right I will give you.” Again and again and again He said it. Sounds fair.

((2. We want what’s fair.))

We like that. We are the workers after all. In our daily lives we like fairness. Follow the rules. Get a job. Work. Get paid. Do a bad job, get fired. Do a great job, get a bonus. Don’t work, go homeless, go hungry. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. But that’s what’s fair. Actions have consequences.

The early bird catches the worm, and if you’re not hired at the crack of dawn, “whatever is right I will give you.” Less. That’s what that means. If you only work a half day: half pay. If you only work one hour, then one hour’s pay. That’s what’s fair.

That’s all well and good, but the problem is we start thinking that way in how we stand before God. When He’s handing out pay, how do we want to measure the payment. We compare. I’ve done more. Worked harder. I did this, and they didn’t do that. They did that sin, and I didn’t. I may do this, but at least I don’t do that.

We so often only mouth the words: “I justly deserve”—that’s what’s fair—“Your temporal and eternal punishment.” Not that person over there. The people not here. No I, me, me alone. No comparisons. What’s good, right, and fair is no blessings in this life, no eternal salvation. All things are free gift, whether temporal (this life) or eternal (the life to come).

And still we compare the worldly gifts He gives: more there, less here. “It’s not fair!” we might cry. “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” the Lord responds.

((1. The Lord does things His way.))

The Lord does what He wants. He’s the Lord, after all. Can’t quite tell Him what to do with what’s His. He does things not like we do things. “My ways are not your ways,”—what gift! He doesn’t do human “fairness.” His “justice” isn’t human justice. His right-ness isn’t fair, but it is righteous, righteousness! He gives what is good—too good! He gives generously to all: “When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.” One hour worked; a full day’s pay! Talk about gift!

This isn’t about fair wages; it’s about salvation. It doesn’t matter when you’re brought into the vineyard, He gives His “wage” by way of free gift. Whether you were brought in as an ancient Israelite or Gentiles, whether you’re baptized as an infant or an adult, whether you’re a life-long Christian or a death-row convert. The salvation is all the same: cross-won, empty-tomb assured.

Christ made the payment. Oh, you could walk off the job. Reject the free gift. Go off in search of human justice or fairness. Have nothing to do with the Lord or His vineyard. That would be a shame. He’d let you do that. He really would. At the end of the world, outside His Vineyard, where He, His Word, and His Gifts are—outside there, there’s His justice, eternal justice, perfect justice: eternal punishment.

But when you walk off, what will the Lord do? He’s good—too good! “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” He’d just use someone to call you back. He’d remind you, “Whatever is righteous, I will give you,” “that He might be the justifier of the one who has trust in Jesus Christ.”

So it is today. Here in the Vineyard, the Lord doles out the goods. That we might go about our daily father-ing, mother-ing, son-ing, daughter-ing, husband-ing, wife-ing, worker-ing, student-ing, farmer-ing, and wherever else the Lord has placed us. That’s the Lord being good—too good!

The Lord gives and does: not human fairness, not human justice. Much better. Too good! He died to settle the score. His blood the price. His coming back to life again is the guarantee. THE LORD GIVES YOU WHAT IS GOOD AND RIGHTEOUS. His righteousness. Washing it over you, like Otto today. Robing you again with it in the Absolution. Preaching it into your ears, mind, heart, and life. Placing it into your mouth with His real body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins.

“Whatever is right I will give you.” So He does: THE LORD GIVES YOU WHAT IS GOOD AND RIGHTEOUS. It’s not fair! Thanks be to God for that!

INI + AMEN.

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Sermons

Transfiguration of Our Lord (Mt 17:1–9)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

On the sixth day after Jesus talked about His death, He went up a mountain like many other times, but this time He didn’t travel alone. There were always people, crowds, mobs pressing in, just trying to get a glimpse, a snippet, a brush of Him or His garments. On this sixth day, no crowds were with Him, just Peter, James, and John. Continue reading

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Sermons

Baptism of Jesus—Observed (Mt 3:13–17)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him.” That didn’t sit well with John. (Maybe you’re confused, too!) We all know what John was about: blasting away at sinners with God’s judgment. Then Jesus shows up and acts like a sinner, just like us. What John had been doing didn’t fit with Jesus coming to sinners’ Baptism. John protested. He should’ve gone to Jesus for Baptism, not Jesus to John. So we and John think that Jesus must stay separate, and sinners must move to Him, by their doing, their repentance. He shouldn’t come and be a sinner with us. Continue reading

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Sermons

Epiphany of our Lord—Observed (Mt 2:1–12)

Epiphany of our Lord—Observed (Mt 2:1–12)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

The prophet said, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” That little point of light started Epiphany, and it brought the odd characters of the Magi to the toddler Jesus. Where’d they come from? No one knows. But these Gentiles, foreigners, outsiders were asking for the King of the Jews. Herod? No, not Herod. Quite troubling, indeed! We all know what he did…

The Lord promised where the Messiah, the Christ would be born. No star would tell that. These astrologer Magi needed more Word of God. They got it, and off they go to Bethlehem. They fell down and worshipped Him, gave Him their best. Then off to parts unknown. They had their 15 minutes of fame, and that’s it. No more Magi. Were they lost? No. The Magi were His men, His loyal subjects. It’s why they came: “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star…and have come to worship him.” Continue reading

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