The Baptism of Our Lord; Year B (1/7/2018)

Lessons:
Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm 29
Acts 19:1-7
St. Mark 1:4-11

Prayer of the Day:
Holy God, creator of light and giver of goodness, your voice moves over the waters. Immerse us in your grace, and transform us by your Spirit, that we may follow after your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

1.4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

St. Mark 1:4-11 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

A devotional message based on this text will be posted by Tuesday evening.

Merry Christmas… All Year Long

Date: December 32, 2017
The Seventh Day of Christmas
Liturgical Day: The First Sunday of Christmas; Year B

Anna, Simeon

faithful saints in the Temple

attentive to God

Summary:
Today we hear the story of Simeon and Anna — two Saints of God who spend their lives in the Temple, worshipping, fasting and praying. They are among the few who recognized Jesus for who he is: the promised Messiah. Their faithfulness, and awareness of the ways of God, invite us to become more aware of what God is doing in the world today.

Some discussion Questions:
1. What causes Simeon and Anna to recognize who Jesus actually is?
2. How might I become more intentional about studying the ways of God, and growing in faith?
3. Where is God involved in my world today?

Download Sermon: 2017-12-31 Sermon

Download Simeon and Anna Plan Commitment Form: form

The First Sunday of Christmas; Year B (12/31/2017)

Lessons:
Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Psalm 148
Galatians 4:4-7
St. Luke 2:22-40

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and yet more wonderfully restored it. In your mercy, let us share the divine life of the one who came to share our humanity, Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

2.22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”  25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;  30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”  33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed-and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.  39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

St. Luke 2:22-40, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Recognizing Jesus

This weekend we will gather for worship on the last day of the year. As we reflect on what was and wasn’t during 2017, and dream about what can be in 2018, we turn our attention to a two thousand year old story about an elderly man and woman who were worshipping in the Jerusalem Temple. Simeon (righteous and devout and hoping for the arrival of the Messiah) and Anna (a prophetess who lived day and night in the temple, fasting and praying) observe Mary and Joseph bringing their infant child to be purified, and they both break into words of praise, moved by the Holy Spirit to identify Jesus as the Messiah for whom they had all been longing. (more…)

The Word Become Flesh

Date: December 25, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Nativity of Our Lord; Christmas Day

God in human flesh
transcendent and immanent
that we might have life

Summary:
This morning we remember, and celebrate. From the simple tale of a birth in Bethlehem, to the expansive vision of God’s creating word. From the word proclaimed in the scriptures, to the real presence of Christ received in the meal. From the declaration of absolution in the liturgy, to the witness we share with our neighbors. The babe of Bethlehem. The word become flesh. The incarnate God, who enters into our lives, and draws us into this story.

Download Sermon: 2017 Christmas Day Sermon

A Simple, Beautiful Story

Date: December 24, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Nativity of Our Lord; Christmas Eve

the heart of our faith
Immanuel; God with us
with each one of us

Summary:
The simple, unassuming story of a baby’s birth in Bethlehem is the Christmas story. It begins in Bethlehem and continues in us. It is the story that bears Christ into our lives, and through us, into today’s world. “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” May we do the same!

Download Sermon: 2017 Christmas Eve Sermon

Gabriel, Mary, and the Birth of the Messiah

Date: December 24, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Fourth Sunday of Advent; Year B

a servant of God
Mary, Mother of our Lord
strong, bold and faithful

Summary:
The Annunciation (of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary) is an amazing story, told by St. Luke in an extraordinary way. And as we read slowly and carefully enough to notice what this story is telling us, and to wonder what it might mean for us, we find ourselves invited into the Christmas story in a new and fresh way.

Download Sermon: 2017-12-24 Sermon

The Season of Advent with Isaiah, the Prophet 

This year at Saint Peter Lutheran Church during the season of Advent, a four-week time of preparing for Christmas by preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ into our lives, we spent time with the Prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah is one of the greatest of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible; he appears at a critical time in Israel’s history. Israel (the northern kingdom) was conquered by Assyria in 722 b.c., and in 587 b.c. Jerusalem (capital of Judah, the southern kingdom) fell to the Babylonians.

Isaiah’s ministry most likely took place in Jerusalem from 740 to 681 b.c. In 740, Isaiah was called by God to ministry. Jewish tradition held that Isaiah was sawed in half by Manasseh (Hezekiah’s son) in the year 681 (a story referenced by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 11:37).

Isaiah is one book in our Bible, but it most likely began as three separate works. First Isaiah (chapters 1-39) includes prophecies from Isaiah while he is living in Judah, during the time when Israel is annexed by Assyria, and before Judah is destroyed by Babylon. Isaiah calls the people of Judah to stay true to God, or the same will happen to them. He is particularly concerned with social justice, and how Judah’s faithlessness in this area is an indication of its tenuous relationship with God.

Second Isaiah (chapters 40-55), written in Isaiah’s voice, but clearly not by Isaiah, is set during the exile in Babylon. Many historians date this from 587 to 538 b.c. Cyrus of Persia (who conquered Babylon) is seen as a Messianic hero, because his military victory over Babylon allows the people of Israel to return to their home — an event that is described with great joy. This section emphasizes God’s ability to use historical events to advance righteousness.

Third Isaiah (chapters 56-66), by an anonymous author, was probably written between 530 and 510 b.c., after the return to Judah. God’s people are putting their destroyed nation together, and it is a very harsh life. Isaiah offers them words of hope and encouragement.

During this season, Pastor Dave offered sermons during Wednesday evening prayer based on texts from Isaiah. These sermons intended to help us sit at the feet of Isaiah and explore how to understand better the relationship we are invited to have with God, as well as the historical context of the life and ministry of Jesus, the Christ. Texts from his sermon are linked below

November 29 — Wednesday before the First Sunday of Advent
“Oh That You Would Come!” (Isaiah 64:1-9)
Advent 1B.Wednesday.2017

December 6 — Wednesday before the Second Sunday of Advent
“Comfort, O Comfort My People” (Isaiah 40:1-11)
Advent 2B.Wednesday.2017

December 13 — Wednesday before the Third Sunday of Advent
“Righteousness and Praise” (Isaiah 61:1-4)
Advent 3B.Wednesday.2017

December 20 — Wednesday before the Fourth Sunday of Advent
“Unto Us” (Isaiah 9:2-7)
Advent 4B.Wednesday.2017

Advent 4B (12/24/2017)

Lessons:
2nd Samuel 7:1-11, 16
St. Luke 1:46b-55
or Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26
Romans 16:25-27
St. Luke 1:26-38

Prayer of the Day:
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that would obstruct your mercy, that willingly we may bear your redeeming love to all the world, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

1.26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

St. Luke 1:26-38, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Here Am I, the Servant of the Lord

Mary. Mother of Our Lord. Blessed Mother. Blessed Virgin Mary. Madonna. Our Lady. Queen of Heaven. Theotokos. Mater Dei. Mater Dolorosa. The importance of Mary in the story of Jesus and the history of the church is suggested by the many names and titles given to her over the years.

Mary and her story of faith have played significant roles in the church’s piety and practice. This has been the case at least since the middle of the fifth century when the Council of Ephesus declared Mary’s role as “Theotokos” (the bearer of God) to be essential to her nature, and central to the church’s practice. What developed in years to come was a subtle and complex relationship between Mary, Jesus and the Church. (more…)

Advent 4B (12/24/2017)

Lessons:
2nd Samuel 7:1-11, 16
St. Luke 1:46b-55
or Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26
Romans 16:25-27
St. Luke 1:26-38

Prayer of the Day:
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that would obstruct your mercy, that willingly we may bear your redeeming love to all the world, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

1.26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

St. Luke 1:26-38, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

A devotional message based on this text will be posted by Tuesday evening.

In the Wilderness

Date: December 17, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Third Sunday of Advent; Year B

in the wilderness
make straight the way of the Lord
the witness of John

Summary:
John was sent to prepare people for Christ. Matthew, Mark and Luke emphasize his ministry of baptism in the Jordan River. The Fourth Gospel emphasizes his role as a witness in the wilderness. To what wilderness settings does Jesus come today?

Some discussion Questions:
1. What is the central purpose of John the Baptizer’s ministry, according to this Gospel?
2. What are the marks of a faithful life that the Apostle Paul describes in this passage?
3. What promise does Isaiah make on behalf of God to those who were returning from exile to Jerusalem?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2017-12-17 sermon

Download Discussion Questions: 2017-12-17 TIH