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A sermon preached at Trinity-Mount Rainier on the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (LSB Proper 14B), August 12, 2018.

Food For Life
John 6:35-51
(Other Readings Appointed: 1 Kings 19:1-8; Ephesians 4:17—5:2)

All of us are familiar with the saying, “You are what you eat”. This statement bears out a couple of important things. First, it tells us that food is important for life, that we need it in order to survive and exist. The other thing this statement leads us to understand is that our use of food has an impact on us and who we are able to be and become as the food we eat shapes our health and well-being.

As we continue looking at Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse from John, chapter 6, what we heard today really gets to the heart of what our Lord would have us hear and know from Him. With these words, Jesus declares Himself to be food—the Bread of Life, the Living Bread from heaven. To those who hear this declaration, both then and now, these words ring strange to us. The objections to what is heard are the same. How can this Man say, “I came down from heaven”? How can He say that we are to receive Him as food? Continue Reading »

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A sermon preached at Trinity-Mount Rainier on the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (LSB Proper 13B), August 5, 2018.

Food for the Journey
Exodus 16:2-15 and John 6:22-35
(Other Reading Appointed: Ephesians 4:1-16)

The theme which I selected for today’s sermon was thought of a few months ago. And as I sat down to work through what I would preach today, my mind actually drifted back to the vacation which I just ended. Like many of you, as Kim and I packed the car to go to our “stay away” vacation destination, one important thing went into the backseat: the snack bag. We all have that bag of treats that we want to have at the ready, just to take the “edge off” of hunger between stopping for lunch on the road and having dinner later. And maybe Cheez-Its and Swedish Fish aren’t necessarily the most nutritious options one could choose, but they were the food that we wanted to take on our journey.

Today’s Gospel, as well as for the next two Sundays, come from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, often known as Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse. This passage has always been a favorite of mine, especially as we hear in these words of our Lord about the vital importance of the Food which He gives and provides to us His people for the life that we live in and with Him—the Food of His very Flesh and Blood given to us in His Holy Supper. Continue Reading »

A sermon preached at Trinity-Mount Rainier on the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (LSB Proper 10B), July 15, 2018.  During this Sunday’s Divine Service, Xavier Evander Elias was welcomed into God’s Forever Family through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

You Are Special
Ephesians 1:3-14
(Other Readings Appointed: Amos 7:7-15; Mark 6:14-29)

I do not believe that it would be incorrect to say that everyone, at one time or another in the course of their lives, or even quite frequently, wants to know and to hear that they are special. There almost seems to be something that is “hard wired” in us that craves affirmation of our value and worth, especially as that affirmation comes from outside of us, from others who either validate something we already see in ourselves, or who help us to positively see ourselves as others see us.

An example of this is seen in what perhaps many of us remember from our lives growing up. Remember when there was some game being played in PE class or during recess when teams had to be picked. First captains would somehow be chosen, and then these captains would start putting their teams together. And we all remember the drill. Usually the fast and skilled players would be called out first, and then on down the line until the captains could just pick, not from what they thought were the “best players” but just the ones that were left. Continue Reading »

A sermon preached at Trinity-Mount Rainier at the Funeral Service of Victory celebrated for Walter Benjamin Fletcher, Jr., July 9, 2018.

Prepared for Heaven
1 Timothy 4:8
(Readings Appointed: Lamentations 3:22-33; Psalm 23; Philippians 3:8-14; John 14:1-6, 18-19, 27)

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, especially to you, dear Pat, Tom and John, family of our dear Walter, church family, friends—brothers and sisters all.

Preparing for a Funeral Service of Victory, even for one who has been doing them for quite a while, can be a little daunting. Usually, the most difficult task to be done is selecting the Scriptures which will be read. The reason for this is that these passages function as the way God is able to speak His comforting Word to those who mourn, assure us all of the hope of eternal life which believers have, and sometimes giving us a glimpse into the life and faith of the person whom we come to remember and entrust into the Lord’s care today. For these reasons, even though one often uses a “standard list” of texts, they are chosen with each individual occasion in mind.

This is what I did as I worked to find the words which we have heard from God’s Word today as we remember our dear Walt. Now came the next part: how to bring these passages together into our reflection in this sermon. So, I looked for one more text, which at that time showed me that in my selection I was on the right track.

In our Lutheran tradition, when a young man or woman comes to the age of confirming their Baptismal faith, after a period of instruction in the Scriptures and Lutheran doctrine, they go through the Rite of Confirmation, where they publicly confess their faith and become communicant members of the Church. At that time, their Pastor who instructed them gives them a blessing along with a text of Scripture especially chosen for them; given to them as sort of “motto” and encouragement for their continued life of faith. When Walt was confirmed here at Trinity on March 30, 1947, before this very altar, Pastor Edwin Pieplow gave these words from Saint Paul’s first letter to Timothy in blessing to Walter: “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that is now and of that which is to come.” (NKJV) Continue Reading »

A sermon preached at Trinity-Mount Rainier on the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (LSB Proper 9B), July 8, 2018.

In Praise of Weakness
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
(Other Readings Appointed: Ezekiel 2:1-5; Mark 6:1-13)

Sometimes while filling out applications for college or interviewing for a job, one might be asked to name some words which we believe describe who we are. When we list these adjectives, we of course want to be as honest as we can in relating what we believe is true about ourselves. Yet at the same time, our honesty in these moments is perhaps a bit tempered by the fact that we really want to get into this school or land this job, so we might “fudge things a bit”—not lying about who we are, but rather “accentuating the positive”.

In today’s Epistle, Paul writes to the Corinthian believers concerning an issue which was plaguing them. Remember that Paul had founded the Church in Corinth during his second missionary journey, having stayed with them for a year and a half. After Paul’s departure, tensions and divisions arose among the congregation, causing problems which Paul addressed in writing through the two epistles named for the Corinthians, as well as other letters and even visits. Continue Reading »

A sermon preached at Trinity-Mount Rainier on the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (LSB Proper 8B), July 1, 2018.

Faithfulness, Mercy, and Love
Lamentations 3:22-33 and Mark 5:21-43
(Other Reading Appointed: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-15)

For as long as I can remember, worship, liturgy, and hymnody have always been interests of mine—from my growing up with my grandfather, through college and seminary, and right up to the present. The words that the Church has used over the years have shaped me and my life of worship and prayer, and as a Pastor, this interest has served me well as a leader of worship here in this place.

Many have noted at times what seems to be my great knowledge of hymns. And as I was preparing for this morning’s worship, after reading today’s lesson from Lamentations, my mind immediately recalled the words of the hymn we just sang, especially the refrain: “Great is Thy faithfulness! / Morning by morning new mercies I see; / All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; / Great is Thy faithfulness, / Lord, unto me!” (LSB 809)

However, as I reflected on our Scripture Readings from Lamentations and from the Gospel, and thought a little more about the words of this wonderful hymn, I was reminded of something that I seem to remember hearing in a hymnology class: not every hymn can perfectly capture every doctrine. Take for instance the words of the second stanza: “Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, / Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above / Join with all nature in manifold witness / To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love” (LSB 809:2) Continue Reading »

A sermon preached at Trinity-Mount Rainier on the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, June 24, 2018.

God’s Gracious Visitation
Readings Appointed
(Isaiah 40:1-5; Acts 13:13-26; Luke 1:57-80)

Today we interrupt the Sundays after Pentecost to remember an important figure in the history of Scripture: John the Baptist. The Church remembers and gives thanks for the part which John played in the story of our salvation, both as the final prophet of the Old Testament and as the first proclaimer of the New Testament. It is the life and witness of John that prepared the way for the arrival of the Messiah—calling those who were waiting for God’s gracious visitation to repent of their sins and be ready for the Messiah’s appearing.

It is this theme of God’s visiting His people, coming to them in grace and mercy, which is the common theme we find in the Scriptures we have heard today. In the Old Testament Reading from Isaiah we heard words which we may remember from our celebration of Advent and our preparation for greeting the Lord Jesus and His birth. In Advent, both Isaiah and John the Baptist are heralds who call God’s people to be ready for the coming of the Lord. Yet, as we hear their calls, especially their call to repent, this visitation from God that they prepare us for sounds anything but gracious. Instead, it sounds like we are being called to get ready for a day of doom and judgment. The promised revealing of the “glory of the Lord” which “all flesh shall see together” sounds less like of something we want to see, but rather something to be avoided at all costs. Continue Reading »