Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11

Luke 1:46b-55

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

John 1:6-8, 19-28

 

“The Magnificat”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

Today is a day of rejoice, a day of mirth, a day of praise, a day to magnify the Lord. Whereas Advent is a time of preparation and expectations when we anticipate the coming of our Lord, today we rejoice amidst our preparations for God is indeed coming, and is here.

 

Our rejoicing is liken to that of Mary’s who upon hearing the good news from Gabriel that she was to be the mother of God, sang what is now known as the Magnificat. We spoke it in lieu of the Psalms today, and after this sermon we will sing it as one of our Hymns.

 

Now, when Mary lifted her voice in song, proclaiming her joy she said many things to include, “My Soul Magnifies” and “spirit rejoices” in the Lord. She also said she has been blesses by the Lord, that he has done great things for her. She is overflowing with joy! She is rejoicing!

 

Of course some may call her haughty because she did say that “from now on all generations will call me blessed”, but here is the thing she was indeed blessed, and she isn’t wrong, all generations from there on out have indeed called her blessed. Now we don’t called her blessed for anything she has done. She is a sinner, like all other humans born of natural birth, therefore there is nothing particularly special about her that merit her being the mother of God, yet God still blessed her. And the very fact that she not only birthed but raised Jesus, how could not acknowledge that she was truly blessed? God the Father gave her an amazing gift, she was to bear the Savior of the World. Now what type of mother or father would not want to brag about that? I do not know of a loving parent who doesn’t brag something about their children. Some dads may gather and try to one up each other, all in good faith, to the aghast of their wives. And some mothers would love to gush, alongside other mothers, over their kids and proclaim how blessed they are. Now imagine if you knew that your child was to be the Savior of the World? Of course you will rejoice.

 

Now we may not be like Mary, who was blessed to be the mother of God, but we are like her in that through Christ we do have a relationship with him. For through Christ we have been adopted as also sons and daughters of God, therefore, through Christ, we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus. And what better way to rejoice in such an amazing blessing than, just like Mary, through song?

 

So once again, I ask for volunteers to help distribute one silver chime to each person, please start with the chimes with the stickers on the front. And if there are any left overs you may distribute the rest of the silver chimes. Those who were here last week noticed the new color coded stickers I applied to each chime. I ask that as the chimes are being passed around that you take note of the colors.

As a reminder, I would like to demonstrate how to use chimes. Now your turn, first all orange chimes. Now all red chimes. Now all blue chimes. One more time for each. Very Good.

 

We begin our hymns of rejoicing, providing our own Magnificat, with an image of angels singing over the plains “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”, let us sing, “Angels We have heard on High”.

 

After the angels proclaimed their praise, much to the astonishment of wise men, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, many of the angels proclaimed the coming birth of Jesus and provided all an invitation. All ye who are faithful, come to Bethlehem, so you too may behold the King. So let us sing, “O Come, All ye Faithful”.

 

And after the invitation many left to see this new born king, many left to behold this child born in Bethlehem. So let us sing, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”.

 

There is much to rejoice, and as we rejoice, let us finish by wishing each other a Merry Christmas, by singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas”.

 

I ask that you please leave your chimes in the pews, and after service I will collect and wipe down all our chimes.

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we lift our voice in praise as we magnify your Holy Name, for you have blessed us through your promise and, through keeping your promise, you have delivered to us a child, a king. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11

Luke 1:46b-55

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

John 1:6-8, 19-28

 

“The Magnificat”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

Today is a day of rejoice, a day of mirth, a day of praise, a day to magnify the Lord. Whereas Advent is a time of preparation and expectations when we anticipate the coming of our Lord, today we rejoice amidst our preparations for God is indeed coming, and is here.

 

Our rejoicing is liken to that of Mary’s who upon hearing the good news from Gabriel that she was to be the mother of God, sang what is now known as the Magnificat. We spoke it in lieu of the Psalms today, and after this sermon we will sing it as one of our Hymns.

 

Now, when Mary lifted her voice in song, proclaiming her joy she said many things to include, “My Soul Magnifies” and “spirit rejoices” in the Lord. She also said she has been blesses by the Lord, that he has done great things for her. She is overflowing with joy! She is rejoicing!

 

Of course some may call her haughty because she did say that “from now on all generations will call me blessed”, but here is the thing she was indeed blessed, and she isn’t wrong, all generations from there on out have indeed called her blessed. Now we don’t called her blessed for anything she has done. She is a sinner, like all other humans born of natural birth, therefore there is nothing particularly special about her that merit her being the mother of God, yet God still blessed her. And the very fact that she not only birthed but raised Jesus, how could not acknowledge that she was truly blessed? God the Father gave her an amazing gift, she was to bear the Savior of the World. Now what type of mother or father would not want to brag about that? I do not know of a loving parent who doesn’t brag something about their children. Some dads may gather and try to one up each other, all in good faith, to the aghast of their wives. And some mothers would love to gush, alongside other mothers, over their kids and proclaim how blessed they are. Now imagine if you knew that your child was to be the Savior of the World? Of course you will rejoice.

 

Now we may not be like Mary, who was blessed to be the mother of God, but we are like her in that through Christ we do have a relationship with him. For through Christ we have been adopted as also sons and daughters of God, therefore, through Christ, we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus. And what better way to rejoice in such an amazing blessing than, just like Mary, through song?

 

So once again, I ask for volunteers to help distribute one silver chime to each person, please start with the chimes with the stickers on the front. And if there are any left overs you may distribute the rest of the silver chimes. Those who were here last week noticed the new color coded stickers I applied to each chime. I ask that as the chimes are being passed around that you take note of the colors.

As a reminder, I would like to demonstrate how to use chimes. Now your turn, first all orange chimes. Now all red chimes. Now all blue chimes. One more time for each. Very Good.

 

We begin our hymns of rejoicing, providing our own Magnificat, with an image of angels singing over the plains “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”, let us sing, “Angels We have heard on High”.

 

After the angels proclaimed their praise, much to the astonishment of wise men, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, many of the angels proclaimed the coming birth of Jesus and provided all an invitation. All ye who are faithful, come to Bethlehem, so you too may behold the King. So let us sing, “O Come, All ye Faithful”.

 

And after the invitation many left to see this new born king, many left to behold this child born in Bethlehem. So let us sing, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”.

 

There is much to rejoice, and as we rejoice, let us finish by wishing each other a Merry Christmas, by singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas”.

 

I ask that you please leave your chimes in the pews, and after service I will collect and wipe down all our chimes.

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we lift our voice in praise as we magnify your Holy Name, for you have blessed us through your promise and, through keeping your promise, you have delivered to us a child, a king. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Isaiah 63:16b-17; 64:1-8 

Psalm 80:1-7 

1 Corinthians 1:3-9 

Mark 13:33-37 

“Stay Awake” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

With a raise of hands, how many of you are Soldiers or  Veterans? Thank you for your service. Now keep your hand up if  you’ve had to conduct night guard. You may put your hands  down. It’s boring isn’t it? You weren’t kept awake because of  something that was indeed happening. You were awake because  of the potential of something happening. Now as night guards, I  can assume you weren’t night shift people who only worked  during the night, but your typical soldier who works throughout the  day, was slotted that night to be on guard only to work the  following day without any sleep. There is a potential, but you don’t  know if anything would happen that night. In fact, the night might  be so boring that would wish something entertaining would  happen that would help keep you awake but not hinder your duty.  Anything, maybe even a firefight again ambushing enemies, or a  visible casual stroller who is acting suspicious, or the dropping of  bombs. Anything to counter the dull wait. And as you wait, your  eyes starts to get droopy and every other minute you startle  awake. The struggle of staying awake during what may seem an  uneventful night is real. 

I don’t know anyone who likes to be put on night watch,  anyone who works also during the day that is. I certainly don’t like  it, but it   is necessary. Why? Because you never know what

might happen. Thus who cares if you don’t like it, the absolute necessity  outweighs the lack of convenience. Thus stay awake, be on  guard. 

During the time of the Israel Kings, the Babylonian Captivity,  and the post captivity, when Jerusalem was rebuilt, Israel was at  an indefinite stage of wake. They had faith in the promises God  provided for them, the coming mighty King. Some, most, did not  understand how this king would appear, but they had hope that he  would. They knew not when, nor how, nor where per se. But to those who opened Scripture, and were blessed with the Holy  Spirit, had their eyes opened to the reality that Christ was coming  and that Christ is here. But even during the days when Jesus  walked the earth, many were blinded to the truth and could not  fathom Jesus had arrived. They were in slumber. 

In the past, Israel waited and suffered long for the coming  king. They knew he would come, thus they were ever expecting  and anticipating his arrival. They were awake. But out of  misinterpretation and lackadaisicalness, eventually many in Israel  fell asleep. 

The Lord Comes, stay awake for you do not know when he  will come, stay on guard! Not everyone can stay on guard. It is  like sitting up in a watch tower through the middle of the night,  and the moment before the sky shifts from black to blue you fall  asleep and miss the coming Sun. So too, the coming Son of Man  caught many off guard for before the sky shifted colors towards  the darker shades of blue too many had already fallen asleep.

 

But to those who did stay awake, they saw the shifting blue  hues in the sky, the advent of a new day approach, the coming of  the rising son, the coming of the Son of Man, Son of God. Angels  preached and sang and gave warnings. Wise men had  revelations and marched across countries to see the birthed king.  A star was place above Bethlehem. Those who awaited long,  finally witnessed proof that the Lord was coming, for they never  fell asleep, they were on guard, expecting, anticipating, and their  patience was finally answered. No need to wait, the Lord is  coming. 

Now for us today, Christmas is coming but is not quite here  yet. So least we fall asleep and forget Christmas, missing the Day  of our Lord’s birth, let’s do that which will definitely keep us  awake. But first, let’s be honest, we the culture we currently live  in, with Christmas music blaring right after All Saints Day, even  though Christmas hasn’t even arrived yet, is it even possible to  miss it? It’s more likely you will fall asleep during my sermons  than miss Christmas. So what do I have prepared? Chimes! Every  Advent Sunday I thought it would be a good idea for us to play  some advent and Christmas music together using some noisy  chimes. At least this way you won’t fall asleep during the end of  my sermons… [hand out chimes, 1 or 2 to each, play several  carols]. 

Let us pray, 

Dear Heavenly Father, Christmas is coming and we wait with  much anticipation all of the glory and joy that comes with the  celebration of the Birth of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Help us to stay on guard and to keep awake, so that when your glory is  revealed we do not miss it but see it in all its grandeur. In your  most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen

Isaiah 40:1-11

Psalm 85

2 Peter 3:8-14

Mark 1:1-8

 

“He Comes”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

I grew up watching Full House, and in that TV series I’ve come to love the character that Bob Saget plays as, the father figure, Danny Tanner. What I remember most about him is his cleaning practices. He would organize the whole household, much like a sergeant with a squad, in an intensive endeavor to conquer every piece of dust that may or may not catch his eye. He was basically your comedic clean freak. But I liked him because he reminded me of my own household that I grew up in. Unlike Danny Tanner of Full House, my mom was not that much a clean freak, but like him she did organize the family in an endeavor to conquer the dust of the house every week. And whereas she wasn’t as bad as Danny, my mom was very good at finding the not as clean spots in the house and demand that such area be recleaned once again. When it came to cleaning, she ruled the house with an iron… broom. So we made sure the house was always clean and thus always prepared. But, if guests were expected at the house, like clockwork, the household was galvanized into recleaning the house, even if we already cleaned it the day prior, just to make sure it is prepared.

 

We are told through scripture to always be prepared, to stay awake, and to always be on guard for you know not when the Lord will come. But today, we read about preparation in a new light; for the signs of the virgin birth, with angels and the star, have been revealed. In the past, the Israelites prepared because they know not when the Lord will come, but here the dark night has turned blue and the signs of the rising sun are evident, thus now the Israelites are preparing the royal highway.

 

It is like having the red carpet on standby. You know not when the celebrities will come, so you have the red carpet stored and ready. You don’t just unfurl it and leave it on the ground at all times. But the moment you hear that a celebrity comes, you go to the back room where the red carpet is stationed and unfurl it at the entrance.

 

The King is coming, He comes! And because we did not fall asleep, we are ready and prepared to begin setting the highway and making clear the path for the coming king. And what better way to prepare for the coming birth than to set up Christmas decorations? We have Christmas trees, lights, garland, poinsettias, and more. And today, as we play with the chimes once again we will be singing carols that reflect this week of preparation.

 

So once again, I ask for volunteers to help distribute one silver chime to each person, please start with the chimes with the stickers on the front. And if there are any left overs you may distribute the rest of the silver chimes. As for all of you, you may notice color dots have been stickered to your chimes. I figured it was hard to see my tiny fingers, so I prepared color coded stickers and paddles to help assist. So let’s test this out. But first, this is how you use chimes… All orange chimes! Now All red chimes! Now all blue chimes. Very good.

 

The first of our carols is a hymn of rejoice for though we have waited long Emmanuel comes, so let us sing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

 

Yes Emmanuel is coming, and because of this we prepare our houses and our communities and this church for His coming, to include putting up Christmas Trees. Fun fact about Christmas Trees, it is a very Lutheran Christmas practice for it was Martin Luther himself who started the practice of putting lights in pine trees for the season of Advent and Christmas. Speaking of Luther, do you know that he is also the one who created the Advent Wreath? But speaking of Christmas Trees and lights, well back then they didn’t have electricity so their lights were in the form of candles. Now imagine the look on Luther’s wife’s face, Katherine, when she saw Luther putting lit candles in a pine tree… Well, let us celebrate by singing, “O Christmas Tree.”

 

And while we are still jolly and gay, let us continue our singing about decorations and decking the Halls by singing, “Deck the Halls.”

 

Yes there is much to celebrate, for Jesus is coming, and know this to be true so we celebrate by preparing the royal highway and decorating. Now the birth has yet to happen, but it is coming very close, thus it would be amiss of us not to conclude by preemptively wishing each and every one of you a Merry Christmas. So let us conclude by singing, “We Wish you a Merry Christmas.”

 

I ask that you please leave your chimes in the pews, and after service I will collect and wipe down all our chimes.

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, Christmas is coming and rejoice for the coming Lord, thus we make our final preparations. As we deck the halls and put up Christmas Trees we ask that let us never forget the true purpose of Christmas, and that is the Birth of our Lord. In Your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Cyrus the Anointed”

Grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

Several weeks ago I went to a bible study located in Port Clinton. This group was reading the story of Joseph son of Jacob, found in Genesis. During this particular study, we were reading the part when the Pharaoh appointed Joseph as his right hand man. Joseph had just deciphered the Pharaoh’s dream, and the Pharaoh decided to believe Joseph. While we were conducting this class I realized something. This Pharaoh was not a God-fearing man, he was not a Hebrew, yet God blessed him. How you might say? Well first, God revealed to the Pharaoh through his dreams of the seven years of bountifulness and the seven years of famine. God revealed this to him, God blessed pharaoh with these dreams. But the next is even more stunning. Pharaoh, a man who knew not the God of Abraham, said this, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” and to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are” (Genesis 43:38-39). How could the Pharaoh say this if not through the blessing of God?

 

On this day, we celebrate All Saints Day. This day is to recognize primarily all the saints who came before us, but to also celebrate all the saints who are here and yet to come, for through Christ we are all in union with the saints, but who are the saints? Do we not believe that though we are all sinners, through Christ we are all saints? This is most certainly true, for as Christians we are all sinners and saints. A saint is not a saint because of what they do. A saint does what they do because they are first a saint, and we are all saints not because of our actions but because of the grace of God. Therefore, on this day we celebrate alongside all who have been sanctified through Christ. We celebrate because through Jesus, we are and will always be in union with each other. This does not mean merely with Christians, but with all who have been sanctified through Christ. For did not the dead rose from the grave after Jesus died? They did, for Scripture tells us that after Jesus died the saints in the grave rose from the dead (Matthew 27:52-53).

 

Those who came before Jesus and died never got the opportunity to know Christ, so how could they have been saints? It is because Christ died on the cross for all of humanity, not merely for those who came after Him. Thus those who died before Jesus, who accepted Jesus, are most definitely saints, for through Christ they are saints. I would imagine that one of those who rose from the dead was the pharaoh found in Genesis, the pharaoh who was truly blessed by God.

 

Another person who was truly blessed by God was Cyrus, King of the Persians, which is now Iran. After Israel and Judah was sacked for their wicked ways and placed under Babylonian captivity as slaves once again, but as slaves to the Babylonians instead of the Egyptians, eventually there came a king who, through the grace of God, decided to free the Hebrews. He not only freed them, but he also fully funded the rebuilding of their nation, Israel, which was orchestrated by the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah. Cyrus was no Jew, but God still accounted this gentile as one of his anointed. In our first reading of Isaiah, it reads, “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,” and again, “For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me.” Cyrus did not know of God, but God still used him as an instrument for the sake of His people. And He didn’t just used Cyrus, but He blessed Cyrus, He anointed Cyrus. If Cyrus was anointed, then how could he, a gentile, not also be accounted as one of the saints?

 

Just like the Cyrus, there are many people throughout the Bible who, though not knowing God, was blessed by Him or guided by Him for the sake of His people. And after Jesus rose from the grave do you think these blessings from God to those who have the ability to affect God’s people ended? Far from it! God continued to guide the nations and bless various leaders all for the sake of His people. One example that pops in my head is Constantine.

 

During the early 4th century, He was one of four emperors who ruled the Tetrarchy of Rome, for at that time Rome was separated into four separate regions. During his rule, the four emperors decided that there needed to be one sole ruler, thus a civil war broke out to determine who would be the true Emperor of Rome. Yet something curious happened. Before Constantine entered the war, he and the Bishop of Rome, Eusebius, whom he was friendly with, had a dream. A new symbol was to be created and painted on every single shield. This symbol is the Xi Rho (pronounced “kie-row”) symbol, which looks like the capital P with an x on the bottom half. This symbol represents the first two Greek letters of the word Christ (Xpistos). We still use this symbol today, but Constantine, a gentile, ordered this symbol be painted. And on the first battle, with Bishop Eusebius present, Eusebius had a vision. In the clouds above the Soldiers bearing this new symbol, he saw the Cross above the Sun bearing the inscription, translated as “In this sign thou shall conquer.”

 

Eventually Constantine won the Civil War with little casualties to his own under armed forces and through his reign established the Holy Roman Empire. Later on his death bed, with his friend Eusebius present, he confessed his faith and converted to Christianity.

 

God has truly blessed many leaders throughout history, and through the death of Jesus he has anointed and sanctified many whom He directed for the sake of His people. And even today we wish that God continues to guide the nations, blessing all the leaders on earth for the sake of His people. Here in America, we the church pray that God blesses our local leaders, our governors, our judges, our legislators, and most especially our President. We do this not because we agree with their political stance, lest we stop praying for political leaders because we disagree with them, but because we wish for God to guide them for our own sake.

 

We wish that God would bless our leaders the same way he blessed Constantine, the Pharaoh in Genesis, and Cyrus; directing them so that they may fulfill God’s intent. But what is God’s intent regarding government? Within the Church we believe there are three Holy Estates, the family, the Church, and Government. Focusing on the latter two, the Church’s main goal with regards to the Government is to make sure it is and remains to be Holy. This includes getting politically involved so that our faith would have a strong influence on Government. The Government’s main goal with regards to the Church is to protect the Church. The Government is not the Church, but, through the intent of God, it is commanded and blessed with the directive to protect first and foremost the Church. Thus we pray, that God guides our leaders with his Spirit so that they may lead with wisdom, justice, kindness, and with faith.

 

Thus, as Election Day comes, let’s make a promise. Regardless of who wins, after Jan 20th we will pray for our President. Not because we like him or agree with him, but because we desire God to guide him for the sake of the Church, to guide him like He guided Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, to guide him like He guided Pharaoh, who appointed Joseph as his right hand man, to guide him like He guided Cyrus the Anointed who freed the Hebrews from Babylonian captivity and helped rebuild Israel. We don’t have to agree on who we like as President, but let us agree on this as American Christians, our desire for God to bless our President, to bless America, and to bless the Church.

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, you are the source of all blessings and the one who sanctifies all. We ask that you continue to extend your blessing to all leaders on earth for the sake of the Church and her people, and to also give us the humility to not be blinded by our politics but to continue to pray for our leaders. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

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