Jonah 3:1-5; 10 

Psalm 62:6-12 

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 

Mark 1:14-20 

“Fishermen of Eire” 

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

When I began formulating how I was going to address this  sermon, most especially what title I should give it, I was  attempting to be unique and not bland. Now this is my first time in  memory living near a large body of water, thus upon seeing this  Gospel I thought, “You know what, Fishermen of Erie sounds  unique.” Now, after thinking of this title, which too a good amount  of time and effort, I got all giddy over my perceived  accomplishment. I was excited over this hurdle I conquered, for  “Fishermen of Erie”, from my perspective, was incredibly unique. 

[Sigh]… 

Of course it is not unique, I would wager every pastor who  lives on or near the lake have thought of this title or something  similar once in their life time. In fact, maybe a bland title would  have been unique, because who uses bland titles for this Gospel  these days? Why not call it, “Fishermen” or simply “Fisher of Men”  or “The first Disciples”? This is one of those special cases where  uniqueness and blandness has swapped places; when the unique  become so common that they inevitably become bland and the  bland become so sparse that they become the unique.

And to top it all off, after creating this title, and figuring that  my sermon would tie the Gospel and Erie together, I present my  sermon title to our lovely secretary Linda, almost like a child that  caught a frog, or a pet that is presenting for you it’s prize kill. I  was so excited, and that’s when she told me that John already  gave a similar sermon fairly recently. And it dawned on me, what I  thought was unique, up here was utterly common. Now is that  going to stop me? No, because here is the thing, whereas I feel  like a sad balloon that has lost half its air and is now rolling on the  floor, this connection in of itself should be used frequently. Why?  Because it is a means of tying our daily lives and things we  commonly understand, the mundane, to concepts of the divine.  And if we frequently bring up these ties that binds us, then it  becomes easier for us to understand and appreciate the fullness  of God’s amazing grace and glory and mercy. 

When Jesus came to Peter and Andrew, Fishermen, did he call them to be Sowers of Faith? No, they were not gardeners.  That would be like me, who just came from farmland, preaching  about tractors to all of you. No, Jesus came to these fishermen  and used a very interesting play on words, you who are  fishermen, “follow me and I would make you become fishers of  men.” Fishermen, Fishers of Men, get it? Jesus loved his puns  and his play on words, and this is no different. In fact, I would  believe, had Jesus had a following at that time, that many would  have groaned at his pun. Most would have been fascinated by his  wisdom and the connection he made, but I would still believe that  there would have been some who would have groaned,  fishermen, fisher of men, [groan].

But here is the thing, should we expect Jesus to be the only  one who calls disciples to come and follow Him? Should we just  sit idly by and wait for the Holy Spirit to enter into our neighbors  and then act all surprised when they suddenly show up to our  places of worship? Do we go about our peaceable lives, not trying  to shake the boat, so as not to offend our non-Christian or  supposedly-Christian neighbors? Is it better to keep a friend and  wait for the Holy Spirit to enter into their live on account of nothing  we do, rather than the potential to lose a friend but gain a brother  or sister in with and through Christ? 

I ask you this, what is the most loving thing you can do for  your neighbor. Christ did tell us that the second greatest  commandment is to love they neighbor, so what is the greatest  way you can express such love? Why, preaching the Gospel.  That is the highest form of love. For we know that through Christ,  who died on the cross for our sake, was buried, took on our sins,  went to Hell so we wouldn’t go to Hell, but rose most gloriously on  the third day and will be with use now and forever – we know that  we are indeed saved and will be in Heaven and will live eternally  and will experience this joy alongside all of our brothers and  sisters in Christ. We know this to be true, as oppose to the horror  of experiencing eternal damnation and pain and terror in the fire  pits of Hell. Should we not, out of the kindness of our hearts,  proclaim the Good News and serve as a testimony of what Christ  has did for us for those who may not know Him yet so that they  too, through the Holy Spirit which proceeds from the Gospel we  speak, may obtain faith in Christ and experience this joy and  realize the truth which is revealed to us in Christ, that is that the  Love of God which surpasses all understanding?

There is a reason why the first thing Jesus tells Peter, Simon  bar-Zebedee, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of  men,” and one of the last things he tells Peter being the Great  Commission, to preach, baptize, and teach in the name of the  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is what it means to be a fisher  of men, it is to be one who has been given the human  responsibility, as disciples of Christ, of going out into the world so  that others may have faith in Him. We are to go out into the open  seas, which sometimes is calm and other times raging a fierce  storm. We are to go out and brave whatever comes our way, cast  our nets and our lines, with the Word being the bait and the hook,  and wait. 

Here is the thing; no amount of reason will convince anyone  of believing. No crafty arguments, no models, no logical charts or  rational processes, no nothing crafted and molded by human  intellect will ever lead a non-believer towards faith in God. Now all  these are important to teach to Christians not as tools to convince  non-believers but as armor and a shield to protect your faith from  the counterarguments of the world. Yet no amount, of reason will  convince anyone of believing; No, not anything, but the Holy  Spirit. For it is impossible for anyone to believe in Jesus Christ,  thus it takes a miracle for such a realization to happen, and that  miracle does indeed happen when the Holy Spirit enters into you.  But how will the Holy Spirit enter into you if no one proclaims the  Good News to you or baptizes you? This is how you convince  anyone of believing, by proclaiming that Christ died for them. This  is our human responsibility, this is what it means to be a fisher of  men.

Now we are of Erie, not Capernaum, like the first of the  disciples, but of all the disciples, the easiest to understand may  just be Peter and Andrew due to our close proximity to the lake  and the high likelihood that we either fish or are familiar to fishing.  This includes gentle fishing, ice fishing, and the more extreme  fishing during stormy winds. Fishing can be relaxing, sometimes it  is outright boring; other times it is refreshing, other times,  depending on how crazy you are, it is bizarrely cold; sometimes it  is gentle, and other times you are traversing through rain and  waves that would flip much smaller vessels; sometimes the catch  is small, and other times you may need another fisher to help you  reel in your big catch. Fishing comes with it its own fair share of  variations. But there are several things that tie them all together.  First, you go to a location where there are things to catch. Next  you use the proper equipment necessary for catching. Then you  wait. And last, you get your catch. 

As fisher of men, we understand, how could you reach out to  the people if you do not go out to where the people are? You  don’t just wait for them to go to you, but you too must go out to  them. And when you fish for men, you must always fish with the  Word of God on your tongue. This is your proper equipment, for  the Word whether through Scripture, vocal, or baptism is the bait  and hook and net that ultimately catches the men you are fishing  for. It is not acts of humanity or crafty arguments, though you may  use them, but the Word which in the end makes believers. If I  may, I have heard of so many supposed “mission trips” organized  by other church bodies and I would ask them, “What did you do?”  They would say things such as, “We dug a well.” “Uh-hung, and  pray tell me, did you preach the Word?” “Well, no.” If you don’t 

preach the Word, you did not conduct a mission trip. That is the  only requirement. I’m reminded of those funny jokes which say,  “you only had one job!” 

And the last thing, as fisher of men, before we make our  catch, is to wait. We may preach all we like, but in the end, it is up  to them to receive. Now they cannot receive that which is not  given to them, therefore we must preach, but just because we  preach to them does not mean they will definitively become a  Christian. Therefore we much have patience. Now this does not  mean we stop preaching, and then wait, that is like casting or  lines and after a couple seconds reeling in our hooks, placing our  rods on the floor of our boats, waiting for several minutes, and  wondering why we aren’t catching anything. The hook and the  bait is the Word, therefore you, a fisher of men, needs to keep on  preaching the Word so that eventually someone gets caught up  by the Word. And once they do, it’s time to reel in the catch. And  as the catch is being reeled in there will be much cheering and  excitement. 

That is what it means to be Fishermen of Erie.  

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, through your disciples many have  come to see the glory of your Son Jesus Christ who lived, died,  rose again, and lives for all eternity for our sake. Make us your  willing fishermen so that through us many may be caught up by  the Word. In your most Precious name we pray, Father, Son, and  Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 Samuel 3:1-10

Psalm 67

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

John 1:43-51

 

 

“Come & See”

 

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

 

        I was never good at remembering things audibly, you may speak to me and it’s not like it goes in one ear and out the other, it’s just that my mind was not wired to process audible information. I had trouble hearing growing up, this explains the problem, in that my mind had to wire itself so that it could better retain information through the not-so-compromised modes of information reception. I could see, touch, smell, taste, and I had muscle memory, it’s just hearing was difficult. So growing up, learning things through audible means was interesting, to say the least, but not impossible; for there was one teacher who was able to teach very effectively things of the Bible through audible means. My pastor used music to teach the books of the Bible, to teach about Martin Luther, and also to teach the Disciples. The song goes as such: “Peter, Andrew, James, and John, fishermen of Capernaum; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas the Doubter and Matthew too; James the least; Thaddeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas betrayed; Jesus called each disciple and you can be a disciple too.”

 

        Remarkably enough, the musical teachings has kept with me. They are catchy and the addition of notes, ability to remember was not hindered but rather enhanced. Now let’s go over the names of the apostles again: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas. Notice a name missing? What about the guy mentioned in today’s Gospel?

 

        In the Gospel, right after Jesus called the fishermen of Capernaum, He goes out and calls Philip, but before Philip goes he brings with him the man called Nathanael. Now what was Nathanael’s response to Philip’s enthusiastic invitation? Skepticism. A reasonable response, I must admit, but his skepticism is rooted in more so in a lack of faith in the city that Jesus came from. For this is what Philip said, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Oh well, I was following until you said the name Nazareth, now I’m not so sure this man of whom we have been waiting for is Jesus, because, well, Nazareth. Thus Nathanael says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” That is like me, a Bengals fan, saying can any good come out of Pittsburg… Well of course, the NALC’s Seminary is in Pittsburg, as long as we ignore those pesky Steelers… I’m kidding, the Browns is a good team too…

       

        Now maybe Nathanael is just using Nazareth as a convenient excuse and he is just naturally skeptical that the one of whom Moses and the prophets forewarned has truly arrived. I mean, Nazareth is just a small itsy town that isn’t even mentioned in the Old Testament. Not much is known about it. What is known is that there will always be those who are skeptical with regards to things of the Divine. The Jews all knew that a Messiah would come. Just not when, thus I would understand those who aren’t willing to fully get on board immediately. It’s one of the reasons why I believe Thomas gets too much of a bad rap. I understand where Thomas comes from, and, likewise, I understand where Nathanael is coming from.

 

        But back to my original question, who is this Nathanael? In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts there is one person who was a disciple of Jesus and was regularly with Philip, and was a close friend of Philip, but his name was not Nathanael. His name was actually, Bartholomew. In fact the two are one and the same. Bartholomew is Nathanael, thus when I sing the names of the twelve disciples, when I sing Bartholomew, I am also singing Nathanael, “Peter, Andrew, James, and John, fishermen of Capernaum; Philip and Nathanael; Thomas the Doubter and Matthew too; James the least; Thaddeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas betrayed; Jesus called each disciple and you can be a disciple too.”

 

        Nathanael isn’t just some guy who was called by Jesus and whom we don’t hear from again, Nathanael is one of the twelve disciples, and between Philip and Nathanael, the more interestingly vocal ones. For the two represents two pictures. The first is the disciple who believes and goes out trying to pull others to Christ; the latter is the reluctant one who is pulled towards Christ and eventually believes. Both proclaim their faith, but differently. The first quietly believes and is loud so others believe; the latter openly and loudly expresses their faith upon seeing the truth. Here is the thing, Philip believed, but before he followed he went to drag Nathanael with him. Philip didn’t say wait Jesus, I need to say good bye, He more like said wait Jesus, let me bring a friend. This is the stark difference between Philip and the fishermen of Capernaum. For the fishermen’s response to Jesus was to immediately abandon their family and follow Jesus. Jesus gave a command and they immediately followed. Philip on the other hand did not merely follow but he brought others with Him. Jesus told the Capernaum fishers that he would make them fishers of men; Philip acted like a fisher of men and all Jesus had to say was, “Follow me.” Philip followed, but he also brought with him other followers, to include Jesus’ next disciple, Bartholomew Nathanael.

 

        It’s interesting, because Jesus didn’t come to Nathanael like he did the others. Philip invited Nathanael, and Nathanael came to Jesus, who accepted Nathanael as a disciple. Let me say that again. Jesus did not go to Nathanael. Philip invited Nathanael to Jesus.

 

        Now Nathanael was a doubter, he didn’t believe, but he was a dear friend of Philip, so upon hearing Philip say, “Come and See,” he followed to give this Jesus of Nazareth a chance. And here is the thing, Nathanael may never of followed Jesus had not Philip invited him that fateful day. But because of his friendship, he was willing to try. And well Jesus is Jesus, all Nathanael had to do was interact and hear Jesus say, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” That was all Nathanael had to hear to proclaim that Jesus was the Son of God! Wait, that’s what caused him to believe? That was all. It did not take much for Nathanael to believe, which is what sparked Jesus to response. Wait, that was all? You believe because I said I saw you under a fig tree? Ok, umm, well, get ready to be surprised because greater things are about to happen.

 

        Now Jesus cannot be surprised, but I can imagine the oh-so knowing smirk on his face as he witnessed the lack of evidence needed to completely flip this mere skeptic into a disciple.

 

        But here is the thing, Nathanael wanted to believe, he just, by himself, couldn’t do it. He needed a push. He needed someone to invite him. He needed someone to come to him and say, “Come and See.” Philip was that man.

 

        Are we not surrounded by Nathanaels? There are many out there who would be more than willing to come to church and hear the Good News, be baptized, and to join the community of believers, but wait for an invitation. They might grumble a bit, but secretly inside they want to come. They might be putting up a façade, a false face in order to appear tough, but in all reality, they are all giddy inside. I for one would love to go to events left and right, and go to people houses, but if I am not invited I will never go. On top of that, usually I would not ask to be invited, I would just not say anything and wait to be invited. In college that got me in trouble quite a bit because the Army boys would go out dancing and I would never go with them. Why? Because they never invited me, I didn’t ask to go, and it was an open invitation, but I wasn’t personally invited.

 

        Same goes for the Nathanaels in our lives. Is not Resurrection Lutheran Church open to all? Do we not have an open invitation? So why won’t the Nathanaels in our lives come and see? Maybe instead of thinking that they may come of their own free will, maybe instead of thinking that they may already be a member at a different church and thus wouldn’t come to our church, maybe instead of assuming that they wouldn’t want to come and may became offended and we wouldn’t want to hear their grumbling, maybe instead of all this we just have the gall to be a Philip and ask these Nathanaels to come to Resurrection Lutheran Church. What’s the worst thing they could do? Say No? And even if they say no, do you end there or do you keep on asking them every now and then? Because who knows, maybe all they want is an invitation. So during this season of Epiphany, let us have the gall to ask our friends, our neighbors, or family, will you come to church with me? I’ll drive; I’ll pick you up; let us go together. It doesn’t hurt to try. Let’s do just that, try.

 

Let us pray,

 

        Dear Heavenly Father, through your servants many have come to see the glory of your Son Jesus Christ who lived, died, rose again, and lives for all eternity for our sake. Make us your willing instruments to reach out into the world so that others may come and see just as we have come and seen your righteousness, grace, mercy, and love. In your most Precious name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Psalm 147:12-20

Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18

John 1:1-18



“Mountain Proclamation!”

 

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

 

Do you ever get the feeling that you have something to say that is so important that you must get on the highest platform and shout for all to hear your proclamation? When you realize something and you just have to let all present know of your realization? For example, some good news is given to you about the birth of a new member of the family and you just have to call all your relatives, your friends, post on social media, hey might as well tell the random person in the grocery or fast food restaurant. You have a pathological need to express this news that is so important; why wouldn’t that random person fishing on the Erie be just as excited as you upon hearing the good news? But on the flip-side, say the news is daunting and terrifying, and needs to be said for the sake of other people’s safety. Say you see a man enter a building with a mask and a gun with his finger on the trigger? Say you see a shark in the water, a boulder from on high about to fall, green in the clouds, smoke? Or say you got wind of an attack from the west of planes coming and attacking a harbor, the assassination of a president, two towers attacked by two planes.

 

Whether good or bad, there are things that propel us to proclamations, proclamations where we wish we were on the highest mountains so all the world would know. And for us Christians, we too have a proclamation: God has become flesh and walks among us, He has come.

 

The Savior that has been promised of old who was to be the light in the darkness and life to the dead, who was to be the way, the door to heaven, and through whom eternal life in a glorious righteous Kingdom? He has come, He is here, and He will always be here. For it says in Scripture, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 

This Word was there in the beginning, it molded the earth, and the Word, which is and is with God, has always been there. Though we did not see Him, we knew He was there, always present and always providing. But on that most glorious day, with the angels singing, the star in the sky, the magi travelling, the Word became visible. The Word took on flesh and bone so that He may walk among us, eat with us, be merry with us, preach to us, touch us, heal us, and eventually die for us. God became a human.

 

What greater reason to proclaim on the highest mountain than that?

 

Now one great way of proclaiming the Good news of Jesus’ birth is through music. 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.

 

So once again I ask, what greater way to proclaim the birth of Christ, as if we are on a mountain top, than through music? Therefore, let us sing, “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”

 

Now we are not alone in our proclamations, the angels sing with us too, singing of His birth and calling all to come and worship Christ the newborn King. Let us sing of the angels through, “Angels, from the Realms of Glory.”

 

Now as the season of Christmas comes to an end, the season of Epiphany approaches. Epiphany, the season of epiphanies, a season of those who receive the good news and believe, a time to recognize the birthing of new Christians who heard our mountain proclamations, and a time to recognize those who were wise enough to realize the coming of our King, who were these wise men? Let us sing of them through, “We Three Kings.”

 

Christmas is coming to an end, and with that the chimes will be put away in the storage closet awaiting their next usage, whenever that may be. It was fun these last two seasons, Advent and Christmas, playing on the chimes, but all good things must come to a close. But, Christmas is not over, we still have two more days of Christmas left, therefore let us end our chime extravaganza by singing, once again, “We Wish you a Merry Christmas.”

 

Thank you and 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 are forever grateful to you for through you a son was given; a son who is our King, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Advocate, and our Messiah. Move our hearts so that we who are filled with the Holy Spirit shout for all to hear that the Christ Child is here and that through Him all may be saved. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Isaiah 42:1-7 

Psalm 45:7-9 

Acts 10:34-38 

Mark 1:4-11 

“Baptismal Epiphany” 

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

Today marks the first Sunday of a season that is curiously  named, Epiphany. Now why is this season we now celebrate, which follows the season of the Lord’s coming, called Epiphany of  all things? Well what does Epiphany mean? I would describe an  epiphany as an Aha moment or a moment of realization when the  fullness of all that has or will happen has hit home. An example  would be say during pregnancy. You and your spouse are about  to be parents and you are prepping for the coming child. You  know that you will be a parent, and you are mentally preparing  yourself, but as soon as you hold your first child in your arms it is  like everything changes. A fullness in this realization hits you like  a wrecking ball; you are a Father; you are a Mother. Many of  fathers have broken down in tears upon finally laying eyes on  their first child, and the emotions that you vaguely knew were  inside wells up and gushes out. You just had an epiphany. 

The season of Epiphany is all about people, touched by the  Holy Spirit, coming to realize that God did come down to Earth in  the form of a virgin born baby, who grew up like all humans, died  on the cross, went to Hell on our behalf, and then rose from the  

grave sitting at the Father’s right hand side, sanctifying all who  believe in Him. The season of Epiphany is all about celebrating 

how the light of the world has opened our eyes to the Truth, how  the Word has opened our ears to all that God has done for us,  and how the Holy Spirit has opened our hearts towards the  acceptance of Christ in our lives. This is what Epiphany is all  about. 

I am reminded of Peter’s epiphany, Matthew 16, after Jesus  asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” What did Peter  say? “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus’  response was, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and  blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in  heaven.” What happened to Peter was a miracle, for there is  absolutely no way Peter could have had this epiphany and truly  recognize Jesus as Christ had not the Father revealed this to him.  The Miracle of Peter’s epiphany, was not of flesh, but because of  the Holy Spirit, send by the Father, opened his eyes and ears and  heart to the Truth. 

I am also reminded of the Wise Men of whom this season  also recognizes. We know not how they came to the realization,  but somehow they realized that the King of the Jews was to be  born, so they journeyed so that they may lay eyes upon this Christ  Child. They had an epiphany, and I know with sheer certainty that  this epiphany came from the Holy Spirit, for without the Holy Spirit  there is no fathomable way that anyone, let alone these Wise  Men, could have come to the realization about Christ. They had  an epiphany and journeyed to see this Christ child and that is why  we celebrate Epiphany after Christmas.

And here in today’s Gospel a baptismal epiphany of sorts is  happening. For it says, “And when Jesus came up out of the  water, immediately He saw the Heavens being torn open and the  Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from  heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” 

John was the voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for  the coming King, preaching to all as he baptized many, cleansing  them of their sins, that whereas his baptism is just of mere water,  the Baptism from our Lord is more than water but also of the Holy  Spirit. He was preaching this and telling all that compared to this  coming King, he, John, is a nobody. Some may have heard, some  may have vaguely understood, but without the Holy Spirit, no one  could have fully grasped the depth of John’s words. He was  talking about Christ! 

And know Christ comes and is baptized, and upon being  baptized a fantastic event for all to see unfolds. The heavens  opens up, the Spirit descends not as a dove, but like a dove, and  a mighty voice booms out of heaven, “You are my beloved Son.”  To those listening, to those who witnessed this event, God is  practically telling them, “Listen, this is my Son.” 

I sure hope that upon that day many present had an Aha  moment. God is literally telling all present that this Jesus person is  His son. 

Here is the thing about our Epiphanies. Because we are all  fallen human beings it is impossible for us to know and love and  have faith in God. We are all born with Original Sin, with Original 

Guilt, that is we are all born lacking the ability to know and love  and fear God, therefore we are all born doomed to Hell. On top of  that, this sin acts as a veil that covers our eyes and prevents us  from seeing the Truth; from seeing and acknowledging that Jesus  is the Son of God. 

Luther writes in the Small Catechism, “I believe that I cannot  by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or  come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel,  enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true  faith.” 

Because we are sinners, it is impossible for us to believe in  Christ, but through the Miracle of God’s intercession we receive  through the Holy Spirit the means of faith which compels us to  have an epiphany. Peter’s epiphany was because the Father  revealed to him that Jesus was Christ. The Wise Men received  epiphanies through Scripture and dreams, which could have  come only from God itself. And here in Scripture God the Father  professes for all to hear that Jesus is His Son. Whether or not it is  God the Father or God the Holy Spirit, God is pointing us towards  God the Son and is providing for us our own epiphanies, for God  knows we cannot do it ourselves. 

Now do you remember last week’s sermon? I focused so  much, throughout the service on “Mountain Proclamations”,  ending Christmas with a bang, proclaiming that Christ is born and  that we should face the world and as the song encourages, “Go  Tell it on the Mountain, that Jesus Christ is Born.” As Christians,  Jesus gave us one final command, to spread the good news, then 

baptize, then teach. What naturally follows if we obey Christ’s  commandment, proclaiming the Good News? People receive the  Holy Spirit and through the Holy Spirit may come to have faith in  God, people may have epiphanies. For Paul said in Romans 10,  “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never  heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” 

The Season of Epiphany is a season of Aha Moments, when  others finally see Christ and confess Him as their Savior, just like  how we who were once lost received the Word and through the  Word an Epiphany, confessing that Christ has indeed saved us.  Yet how can others have epiphanies if they do not receive the  Word? And how could they receive the Word if we do not preach  and baptize? Therefore Epiphany is not only a season of Aha  moments, but also a season of preaching and baptizing so that  others may have these Epiphanies. 

You receive the Holy Spirit when you hear the Word, but you  also receive the Holy Spirit when you are Baptized, for baptism is  not an act of Man, but an act of God when He places His seal  upon you, gives you faith, and adopts you as heirs to the  Kingdom. We don’t baptize because you have faith; that is called  Confirmation. We baptize so that you may have faith. Therefore, I  ask as we walk together in the light of God, thanking Him for  providing us the Spirit which opened our eyes and receiving the  Epiphany that Christ died so that we may be saved and He is  Alive so that we may all be in union with, in, and under Him - I ask  that we profess our faith to others, spread the Good News,  encourage Baptisms, not waiting for someone to believe but to be 

baptized so that they may believe, and to encourage the baptizing  of infants, all for the sake that they too may receive an Epiphany  through God and be saved through faith. 

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, you are the light of the World who  shines in the darkness and reveals to us the Truth of the world,  for without your revelations we who are sinners would be lost in  the darkness. We thank you for being that light which not only  came into the world to die for our sins but also for unveiling our  eyes so that we may truly see our Savior and Lord. We ask that  you help guide us as we go out to confess your salvation so that  others may receive your Spirit and so too receive an epiphany. In  your name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Isaiah 45:22-25

Psalm 111

Colossians 3:12-17

Luke 2:25-40

 

“It’s still Christmas!”

 

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

 

Each year, after Thanksgiving, I will turn on the radio and I will hear quite a bit of Advent and Christmas music playing. Now whereas I have no problem with hearing Advent music leading up to Christmas, such as, “Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel”, I always find it odd to hear Christmas music. I get mixed feelings because I love the music and would sing them throughout the year for they are beautiful music, but I can be such a purist and go full Scrooge and say, “Bah Humbug! It’s not Christmas yet”.

 

What makes this even more interesting is some stations will just outright stop playing Christmas music during the twelve days of Christmas. They do all this build up, but as soon as the Day of Our Lord’s birth comes and goes so does the Christmas music. Now not all stations do this, but I feel so sad for those stations that do end this special music. “Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?” Sometimes I wonder if they do, because they may play the Song, “Do they know it’s Christmas,” throughout the season of Advent, but during the season of Christmas they stop.

 

We are still in the season of Christmas, the first Sunday of Christmas, the 3rd day of Christmas to be exact. And next week will still be Christmas, the 10th day of Christmas. So I ask this, what does Christmas mean? Is it just the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord who came so that he would die on the cross for the sake of all our sins? What if I was to say we celebrate Christmas every Sunday? Every Sunday do we not worship Christ, do we not conduct a mass for Christ? Do we not, every Sunday conduct a Christ’s mass, a Christmas? We do, for Christmas is all about worshiping the Lord who has indeed come into this world as a light to guide the nations and provide the much needed grace in order for us to be saved and obtain this guarantee of God’s inheritance. Yet, Christmas, the celebration of our Lord’s coming, started with that first fateful day, the day that the Lord was born.

 

In our Gospel, to Simeon, the day that he finally laid eyes on the Lord’s Christ must have been a Christmas for him, for he was promised that he would not die until after he saw the Messiah. Christ is the ultimate gift for humanity, and for those who exchanges gifts during Christmas, he is also the source of the greatest exchange, our sins for His righteousness. Jesus is indeed the ultimate gift, gifted on Christmas day, and he is the ultimate gift which is eternal. He didn’t come and go. His mercy and grace didn’t come and go. He is here, today, and he will always be here now and forever more. He is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

 

So, when spring and summer comes around and I turn on the radio only to hear Christmas music, I will go into scrooge mode, “Bah Humbug, It’s not Christmas”, but to be honest, I will be secretly surprised and pleased for do we not celebrate the coming of our Lord, Christmas, every day?

 

So unlike those stations that stop playing Christmas music during the season of Christmas, let us continue our playing of the chimes. 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.

 

In the night in which the King was born, there shone a light which engulfed the darkness and sin of our world, and behold on Mary’s lap was this sleeping babe, and in the sky singing angels. Now here I would ask you to sing a song that portrays the image I had just presented. But I am perplexed for I have two songs and will only choose one, so I need your help. Should we sing the much easier, “What Child is this?”, or the much more difficult, “O Holy Night”? For “What child is this?” please chime… For “O holy Night”, please chime. Let us play…

 

Yes, while the Christ child laid, in the sky angels proclaimed gloria’s and praise, for the lord has come. But what were some of their proclamations? Let us figure out by singing, “Hark the herald angels sing”.

 

And just like the angels who sing up above in praise we too here lift up our joyous song for earth has received her King. Let us sing, “Joy to the World”.

 

If you may recall, up to know we have ended each section with a “We wish you a Merry Christmas”, because Christmas was coming. Now that the day of Christmas has passed us should we still sing this song? Christmas has not passed us, we are still celebrating Christmas, today is Christmas and Christmas has 9 more days left. I say we wish each other a Merry Christmas for today and the rest of the Christmas season…

 

Thank you and 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 are forever grateful to you for through you a son was given; a son who is our King, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Advocate, and our Messiah. He is the gift that keeps on giving for he is still here, providing for us endless grace, mercy, and an abundance of love. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.

Bible Verse of the Day

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