Sermon – Matthew 17.1-9 (Transfiguration – 2021)-

Let us pray: O merciful and everlasting God, heavenly Father: We thank You that You have revealed to us the glory of Your Son, and let the light of Your Gospel shine upon us: We pray that You would guide us by this light that we may walk diligently as Christians in all good works, ever be strengthened by Your grace, and conduct our lives in all godliness; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

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

  1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.  3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.  4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.  7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”

These are Your Words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Glory Hidden in Humility

Dear fellow redeemed,

Even while the pandemic continues, sports goes on. Many athletes are continuing to seeking the glory of victory. In a couple weeks, the Super Bowl will take place, and the athletes are working hard to be the one in glory holding the Lombardi Trophy. For such glory, most of these athletes dedicate their lives to their particular sport. Time, effort, and money are poured into their goals, only for the chance to achieve the glory of victory.

A few years back the winning quarterback of the Super Bowl said, “Jesus is better than the Super Bowl.” I don’t know what his theology is, but he is right on as far as that statement goes.

Even with the glory of victory of the Super Bowl, basking in the attention of over 100 million people, accomplishing his lifelong dreams, he still says, “Jesus is better than the Super Bowl.”

Worldly glory means nothing apart from the glory in Jesus Christ. Think of the many eulogies that have praised the dead about their accomplishments and good character, yet they die without Jesus, souls suffering in hell forever.

I’m not saying that we can’t enjoy the glories of this earth. In fact, Jesus gives us reason to enjoy those more, with thanksgiving. But compared to the glory of Christ, the glories of the earth are insignificant.

No matter what glory we may achieve on this earth, whether in sports, wealth, fame, popularity, career success, and moral living, without Christ, we remain people under the wrath of God, enslaved to sin, and subjects of death and the devil.

Consider what Paul writes to the Philippians. As far as earthly glory goes, Paul had it. If anyone could boast of his glory before the Lord, it was Paul. He writes, “I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” (Philippians 3:4-9).

The glory that matters is not our own, but the glory of the One to whom we’re joined through baptism. This epiphany season is about the manifestation of the glory of Christ. From His revelation to the Gentile wisemen, to His baptism, to His miraculous works of changing water into wine, and healing the sick, Jesus is revealed to us as God Himself who has come in the flesh to save us.

The most revealing display of His glory before His resurrection is what is recorded for us in this Gospel lesson, and that which Peter testifies to seeing in our Epistle lesson today. It is His transfiguration. Throughout His ministry, Jesus performed many miracles displaying His divine power. But here we have a special revelation of His divinity.

Jesus is transfigured. His image was transformed before the eyes of Peter, James and John. Like a hot fire causing iron to glow, so His divinity caused His human flesh to glow bright. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes were white as light. His mortal body, given to exhaustion and pain and death, for a time became a spiritual, immortal body, bright and glorious! What an incredible sight it must have been! Peter, James and John was astounded by it, and wanted it to remain in the presence of His glory, asking that they prepare tents for Jesus and the two prophets who appeared with Him, Moses and Elijah.

By the transfiguration, Jesus demonstrates that He is the eternal Son of God, of the same divine substance of the Father and the Holy Spirit. He fills all things, He is infinite, all powerful, and all knowing! But He displays His divine glory for only a moment. It is hidden in humility during His life on earth. We call it His humiliation and we confess it in the Apostles’ Creed when we say, “He was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.

Jesus didn’t come to show His glory through His majesty, rather He becomes flesh to show His glory through suffering and the cross. His majesty condemns us sinners. But He leaves His mighty throne of glory to assume human flesh and live among us as the friend of sinners. This is God who does this! The radiant Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration sets His face to another mount, called the place of the skull. He has the full power, might and authority as true God, but He hides it. He makes no use of it. Instead He humbles Himself to the point of death, even death on the cross for your sake and mine. That is where He wants us to see His glory, there in the cross! There God hangs for you, suffering and dying to cover the penalty of all your sins. There on the cross He wins salvation for us!

What a glorious thing the cross is! Yes, we see it on the one hand, as a horrid reminder of the wretchedness of our sins. There all hell literally rained down, the just punishment and wrath we deserve from God. But that is not us there suffering, it is God taking it for me! Yes, indeed what glory we see in our crucified Christ. Some of our hymns declare this glory. One of them is the 1500 year old hymn we sing, usually during Lent, “Sing my tongue, how glorious battle, Glorious victory became; And above the cross, His trophy, Tell the triumph and the fame, Tell how He, the world’s Redeemer, By His death for us o’ercame.

This is the glory that truly matters! The glory that gives each day of our lives meaning, and gives us a joyous life without end.

That glorious victory and salvation over sin, death, the devil and hell won for you by Christ remains with us today. Just as the power of Christ was hidden under His lowly appearance, so also His power is hidden under the lowly appearance of His Word and Sacraments.

Don’t we fail to realize that hidden in His divine Word, in the absolution which Christ has given me to speak to you, in His sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, is the saving power of God! Here, and in the Word which you have in your homes, and in your minds, and in your mouths, the blessings of the cross of God are given to you!

Come, then you sinners, in need of salvation, hear the glorious Word of God, and receive by faith, that which He died to give you, “You are forgiven all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Yes, it is good that we listen to Him. It is good that we are here, in the presence of the glory of the Lord.

With His glorious victory and salvation we have everything that we need! Whether or not we are blessed with glory in this world, we have through faith the glory of Christ, which truly matters. We see Christians in other nations dying for the sake of the faith. We are now living in a post-Christian nation, where the culture is now beginning to turn against Christians. We struggle against the evils of our own sinful flesh, and the evils of the devil inflicted upon our bodies, and we face death. Christ’s church on earth is not particularly glorious in the eyes of the world. But hidden under its small, weak and humble appearance, is a people who have the victory in our crucified and resurrected Christ, whose sin is forgiven. And by this account of His transfiguration, we are reminded that we shall live forever in God’s heavenly city, where there is no need for sun or lamp, nor will there be light, but it shall ever be day in the light of our Savior’s divine glory. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Forevermore. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto everlasting life. Amen.


Sermon – John 2.1-11 (Epiphany 2 – 2021)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You, that by Your grace You have instituted holy matrimony, in which You keep us from unchastity, and other offenses: We beseech You to send Your blessing upon every husband and wife, that they may not provoke each other to anger and strife, but live peaceably together in love and godliness, receive Your gracious help in all temptations, and raise their children in accordance with Your will. Grant that we all might walk before You in purity and holiness, put our trust in You, and lead such lives on earth, that in the world to come we may have everlasting life, through Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. 

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

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.

 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

 4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

 6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.

 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.

 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.

 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.

 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”

 11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

These are Your words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

The Epiphany season fittingly follows Christmas. In the Christmas we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We celebrate the fact that the eternally begotten Son of the Father, the Word, is made flesh to deliver us from sin, death, and the devil.

Epiphany means the revelation of a truth. In the Epiphany season, we have readings that reveal to us and to the world the person and work of Christ. And so our Gospel reading today certainly fits that theme. The last verse of the reading makes that case very well. “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory.

Jesus manifested His glory. He revealed His divinity. He showed that He is God with divine power. For He broke the laws of nature to turn the water into wine.

Man can make wine, but is confined to the laws of nature. If Jesus was no more than just a man, He, too, would be confined to the laws of nature. He would either have the servants go find some wine that had already been fermenting and aged for some time. Or else, say there is nothing more that I can do.

But Jesus miraculously turns the water into wine in an instant. He shows that He is not confined to the laws of nature. He is the mighty Word, who in the beginning, put all the laws of nature into place. He is the One who is above Creation, who upholds the universe and all the laws of nature, and who has the power to break the laws of nature. This is the definition of a miracle. A miracle is an act of God that transcends the laws of nature.

And so this guest at the wedding gives an epiphany here. He manifests His glory. He reveals that He is true God.

How many were blessed on that day by His presence, even for something as so little as more wine after it had run out. The guests were blessed, the servants, the family, the master of the feast, and most of all the bride and groom were blessed by Jesus presence and blessing

How blessed it is to have Him present with us, in our marriages, in our state of singleness, in our homes, in our relationships, and our lives each and every day. Indeed, He is everywhere present, even among the heathen. He fills all things and rules over all things. Through Him, the Father cares for all creation, causing the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

But we desire more than His omnipresence. We want that special presence and blessing, that He promised before He ascended into heaven, when He said to His believers, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We want that presence of Jesus that gives us contentment and confidence in life, as the writer to the Hebrews says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness, be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Heb 13:5-6).

His presence and blessing doesn’t mean that life will be easy and free of trouble. The wine does run out. The master of the banquet and the bride and groom suffer through the fear of embarrassment for running short. Mary makes the problem known to Jesus, but Jesus, at first, shows no interest in helping.

So also, our Lord will allow us to endure trouble for a while, and He will seem to be uninterested and even far away. Marriage and children, though being most wonderful blessings, add new crosses in life. There are troubles unique to the estate of marriage and family. Yet, we all suffer trouble of one sort of another, whether, conflict, lack, sickness, and even death.

And while Jesus may seem like He says, “What do I have to do with your problems?”, yet He is gracious, and knows our every need. He is your very present help in every trouble, and grants us what we need according to His good and gracious will. See how He comes through for the people at the wedding feast. If you think of all the miracles that Jesus could have performed to be His first, would you expect it to be this one? One little wedding celebration taking place in this little town among all the events and all the people of the world and all the troubles going on. And this really is not that big of a problem. It’s not like someone is dying. Yet Jesus shows His care for the people, and provides for them even in this little trouble, that they may enjoy their wedding celebration.

So do not think that you are too little or your troubles are too little for Christ to be present with you and to care for you in all your needs and anxieties.

Christ revealed His glory at the wedding. He showed Himself to be God. God was happy to be a guest there. In the same way, He wishes, in fact He promises to be present with you. He doesn’t wait for you to invite Him. Our sinful nature is dead in trespasses and sins. But He has broken through locked doors into your hearts through the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit created faith in your hearts. He turns your rebellious and inhospitable hearts into hearts that believe in Him as your Savior, and loves Him.

He has caused you to love Him and to hear His word, to repent of your sins, and to trust in His promises of salvation won by His sacrifice on the cross. And so as believers in Christ, this is what Jesus says about you. “If anyone loves Me, He will keep my Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with Him” (Jn 14:23).

And so let us welcome our beloved guest, our gracious God, who so loves us that He willingly gave up His life on the cross that we may be His, and that we may live with Him forever.

We repent of our sins, and every resistance to His presence with us. When we refuse to forgive our spouses, we refuse Christ’s forgiveness. When we are discontent with our lives, we are being covetous, turning our backs on God, and seeking happiness elsewhere. When we seek to do what is right in our own eyes, allowing sin to gain the ascendancy in our hearts, we have cast Christ aside to go our own way.

And so, we repent and turn, not to the special presence with which He is with us each day, but to the saving presence of Christ in the Word and Sacraments. He invites us to be His guests at His feast to receive the saving message of His cross, and consume His body and blood given into death for us. Through these He grants us His heavenly blessings, His forgiveness, His eternal salvation, and the Holy Spirit. He causes us to grow more and more into Him, that we may be firmly implanted in Him as the branches is to the vine.

And then, let us welcome Him at all times. Couples who marry in a worship service make God a part of their marriage bond, but we want that to continue throughout the marriage relationship. Through the power of the gospel, that humility, love, and forgiveness of Christ, may predominate between husband and wife. And also that in prosperity and difficulty, husband and wife may find their contentment in Christ, and recognizing the gift that God has given to one another in their spouse.  Not only in marriage, but in our homes, in all our vocations, in all our relationships, and in every thing, we welcome Christ to be present with His blessing. Isn’t it His presence and blessing we ask in the common table prayer? With Him the vanity of life disappears, and we have meaning and purpose. He is the source of our contentment and happiness, our strength in difficult days. To Him we look for every blessing and give thanks.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – Luke 2.41-52 (Epiphany 1 – 2021)-

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, You have given us the light of Your holy Word, the guiding star that leads us to the Christ-child: Send, we beseech You, Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may receive this light and make use of it for our salvation, and that we, like the wise men, when they were seeking the star, may not be afraid because of any hardship or peril, but put all our trust in Your only-begotten Son as our only Savior, devote our earthly possessions to the advancement of Your kingdom, and in all things serve Him, Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

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

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.

 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.

 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it;

 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.

 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.

 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.

 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.

 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

These are Your Words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Where the Father Conducts His Business

Dear fellow redeemed,

It was the last plague. The plague that would break Pharaoh’s back. It was the plague that would free the Israelites from their slavery under the Egyptians. In this plague, the Lord would bring death to the firstborn of man and animal to the land of Egypt. Those whose door lintels were marked with the blood of a lamb would be spared from death. The Lord would pass over them. This was the Lord’s Passover. God instructed His people to observe the Passover each year. He said, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast” (Ex 12:14). He even says where they should celebrate it, “You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, but at the place that the Lord your God will choose” (Deut 16:6).

Our Gospel text tells us of the faithful example of Joseph and Mary, who went to the place that the Lord God had chosen for the Feast of the Passover.

It was their custom, or their habit. The Greek word is ethos, which is the same word used in Hebrews 10:25, where it says, “Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some.” Whereas some make it a habit to neglect the meeting together of God’s people, it was the habit of Joseph and Mary to meet together with God’s people. And so they did, making the 70 mile trek each year to Jerusalem, at the very least three times each year for the three major festivals. And this besides his attendance at the local synagogue in Nazareth.

They were performing the duties of their vocation as parents. They not only provided for Jesus’ earthly needs, but they also did their duty of bringing Him to the Father’s house, to gather with God’s people, give sacrifices, celebrate the Passover, worship, sing psalms and learn God’s Word.

Now, I’m not speaking just to myself and the other parents of this congregation, but also to the grandparents, and adults who are of the same church family as the children here, are not the children of this congregation, also children of the heavenly Father? You children of this congregation are baptized into Christ and are made God’s own children.

And not only are the children here today present sons and daughters of God, but all of us are. And this is our Father’s house, and He calls us here to be in His saving Word. Since we consider the young Jesus in the temple our focus today is on the training of the young. So parents, are you making it your highest priority that you faithfully bring your children to the Father’s house, that you diligently teach them of their sinfulness and the salvation Christ has won for them by His cross? Members of the congregation, do you value the children here, and see it as an essential mission of this congregation to feed Jesus’ lambs the Word of God?

They need it, because they are sinners. You children, you have come to know this. Do you zealously study God’s Word? Do you delight in His law, and seek to live it out in every thought you think, in every decision you make, in every relationship you have, and in every word you use. Do you faithfully and willingly submit to the authority of your parents and superiors? Do you pray to God in every need? Or do you let a day or days go by without praying to your Father in heaven? If it were up to you, would you come to the Father’s House? While in college do you or will you seek out a church that faithfully teaches God’s Word? Do you grasp His Word, hear it, study it, and inwardly digest it with grateful hearts?

The youth get this sinfulness from their parents, don’t they? This is the sinful nature. This is our natural aversion to God’s Word and the Father’s House. We do not treasure God’s Word as the One Thing Needful. We sometimes lack the desire to grow in the knowledge of our Savior, to strengthen our faith, to become better equipped to share the faith, and to conform our lives more and more to God’s Word.

We need God’s Word of Grace don’t we, and we have a thousand reasons every week to go to His house and seek His mercy.

God makes His house here on earth because He loves us. His house is wherever His people gather around His Word and Sacraments. And He invites us in so that we may find refreshment, comfort and healing in His grace and forgiveness. In His house we are strengthened in faith, and made to grow in stature before God, putting on Christ that grow in godliness after the image of God. That is the business that goes on in the Father’s house.

But what about Jesus? He was there in the Father’s house, but He was not in need of forgiveness. He had no sin. So why was He in the Father’s house at 12 years old? Well, for starters, He provides a good example for both the children and the adults. But Jesus is more than just an example isn’t He. Otherwise, we would all be doomed, because His perfection puts our sinfulness to shame. Jesus is in the temple at 12 years old, because He was performing the Father’s business. Where we have failed He has succeeded. He perfectly loved God’s Word and the Father’s House. He perfectly submitted to His parents and authority. He lives the perfect life of a child that He may sanctify the lives of children. 

He lives the perfect life that His righteousness may be credited to their faith. He lives the perfect life, that He may be the true Passover Lamb without blemish or spot, who gives up His life as the sacrifice to save us from sin and death.

Jesus who was in the Father’s house as a 12 year old boy is still in the Father’s house as your victorious and ascended Lord. He is here with you and for you, children, and for you adults. He is present in the means of grace to forgive you children all the sins that you have committed against God and against your parents. He forgives you parents, whether your children are young or old, for the times where you neglected to bring your children to the Father’s House and to share with them the knowledge of the Savior. He forgives all of you whether you have neglected to gather in the Father’s house, whether you have despised His Word. He forgives you every sin.

Through faith, you are as perfect in the Father’s eyes, as that boy in the Father’s house delighting in His Father’s Word. Yes, you are righteous in His sight.

So by the grace of God, and motivated by His forgiveness, let us gain some good habits. Let us be about the business of our Father, who gives us His heavenly treasures through His Word.

The Psalmist said, “A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Ps 84:10). May the Lord grant us the joy and appreciation of being in the Father’s house, as though this is the very threshold of heaven. And may He forgive us when we are not so excited to be here. The awesomeness of God’s grace is that whether or not we have the joy and appreciation of being here, it is better for us nonetheless. Whether you come in here longing for God’s Word of forgiveness or whether you come reluctant or even kicking and screaming, it is better for you to be here, because this is the house of your loving Father in heaven.

Here He works through the Word, splattering the lintels of your heart with the blood of the Lamb. Through His Word, He clothes you in the righteousness of His dear Son. Through His Word He gives to you the freedom from the bondage of sin and death that Christ won on the cross. His Words are the words of everlasting life, giving you life eternal in Christ’s name. His Words works what He wills in your heart, creating and strengthening faith, recreating your in Christ, and giving you strength to have the Word of Christ on your lips, and the desire to do His law in your hearts. All this is yours today through Christ’s Word.

There are no better habits than to be in the Father’s house, and to have God’s Word in our ears, hearts, and upon our mouths.

And may God lead us to do this also for the sake of the children. I’m reminded of a visit we had with my Grandma a couple years ago. She held little baby Lana in her arms and said, “You are a baptized child of God,” and then another time when the boys were singing the great Lutheran hymn “On My Heart Imprint Thine Image” to her, she sang it right along with them by heart. What a blessing for my children to have not just her but many members of our families telling them about Jesus. Sadly, not all children have this. But may all the children find it here in the Father’s House, where the family of God gathers.

May God’s Word flourish here among us, for the comfort of our souls, for Christ’s healing of forgiveness, for strength to follow Him in our pilgrimage, and to give us eternal life. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be; forevermore. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto everlasting life. Amen.