“ARE WE READY?”

Text – MATTHEW 25:1—13

GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST.

Throughout my years as a pastor, one of the most often asked questions has been “Are we in the last days?” The question never surprises me because in the 1st Century, Jesus’ original disciples were already asking that same question – and it has been asked in every generation since.  Jesus warned that no one knows the day or the time when this world will end – and the signs of that ending have always been with us – growing more intense with each generation. Admittedly those signs have never been more prevalent and dynamic than in this present age.  

The end is coming and God Who alone knows when has given us fair warning which brings us to a far more important question. That question is “Are we ready?”

In this morning’s Gospel text, Jesus is focusing on that question and says “The Kingdom of Heaven shall be compared to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.”

Some knowledge about the marriage customs being practiced when Jesus spoke in our text is very helpful in understanding Jesus’ parable. God Who created human marriage and made it the foundation of every culture in modern and ancient times – until our own – often used marriage as a parable comparing it to the only relationship God honors more highly – God’s Own eternal relationship with us.

 

 

BLESSED ARE THE SAINTS

A Sermon for All Saints’ Sunday, 2017

 

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus, The Christ.  Amen

What a joy and privilege it is to share this celebration of All Saints’ Sunday with you.  Last week we remembered Martin Luther and the Reformation, which began 500 years ago.  The nailing of Luther’s 95 theses took place on October 31st, the day before or “Eve” of All Saints’ Day, traditionally celebrated on November 1st.  In his day, the church attendance at worship on all Saints’ Day was perhaps the largest attendance in the whole year.  There were some compelling reasons for that.  But, allow me to trace a little history.

The early Christian church was split in two over various disputes between those who followed the western, or Roman, leaders and practices and those who followed Eastern, or Orthodox, leaders and practices --- that split happened in or about the year 1054.  The leaders of the two branches of Christianity claimed superiority and excommunicated each other.  There had been many serious disputes even before that, as well as tenuous attempts at reunification after that.  But the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, led by the Latin Church, made for a final breach.   That division continues, of course, to the present day.  

“ALL IS READY! COME TO THE TABLE!”

    

Text – LUKE 14:15—24

 

GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST.

It had been a busy Saturday followed by an even busier night for Pastor Jorgenson who had missed out on a lot of sleep and a few meals so he was very happy to accept an invitation to accompany the Tharp family to Uncle Lars Nelson’s farm for Sunday dinner. The meal featured Pastor Jorgenson's favorite Sunday dinner with chickens from the Nelson's own farm.  The pastor enjoyed a hearty meal with lots of that tasty chicken.

After dinner, Lars Nelson took the pastor and Guenther on a tour of his farm.  As they walked, a rooster kept crowing.  "He sure sounds proud," said Pastor Jorgenson.

Guenther replied, "He should be.  During lunch he had a son go into the ministry."

In our Gospel text, we find Jesus as a dinner guest in the house of a prominent Pharisee. When one of those who sat at table with Jesus heard His sayings, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God!”  Jesus replied – as He often did – with a parable – this time about a man who once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for all is now ready’.

    

 

“ALL IS WELL - PASS IT ON"

Text — MATTHEW 18:21—35

GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR … JESUS THE CHRIST … THE PRINCE OF PEACE.  AMEN.

Mrs. Nielsen had just finished a unit on The Ten Commandments and her Sunday school class was now studying God’s Forgiveness. She began by asking the class, "What must we do before we can expect God to forgive our sins?"

After a long silence, Guenther Tharp raised his hand and said: "We need to sin?"

Well, it is truly basic to human nature for all of us to meet that qualification.  But what about after the sin and after the forgiveness?  What about after Jesus has forgiven and reconciled us to Himself and made us eternal members of God’s Kingdom?

In our Gospel text this morning, a forgiven and redeemed disciple named Peter who was no doubt growing in his understanding of that wonderful gift asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?”

Back when our text took place, the rabbis — particularly those of the Pharisaic sect — devoted many hours to analyzing and debating all of life’s theological and moral perimeters.  Their discussions of “forgiveness” brought them to the conclusion that a person should forgive his neighbor three times.  The fourth time you were offended by the same neighbor, forgiveness was not required.  Forgive a neighbor three times and you have fulfilled the teachings of the strictest religious authorities.

It is rather obvious where Peter came up with the number “seven”.    It appears that Jesus’ Own teachings about love and forgiveness had made a real impression on Peter so he took the revered rabbis’ requirement of “three”, doubled it to “six”, and added one for good measure.  “As many as seven times?”

His fellow disciples were probably impressed and nodded their agreement.

But Jesus said to Peter, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”    That’s literally 490 times.

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