The sermon text for 6 December will be based on the OT lesson for the day Isaiah 40:1-11. It promised the original hearer, the Judeans exiled in Babylon, relief from the punishment for their disbelief and idolatry. Ultimately it has been fulfilled in Christ. So today we’ll focus on the wilderness, highway, valley’s, mountains and plains in the life of Christ as he brings us his Gospel (see Mark 1:15). He invites you to receive, know, believe and keep returning to the promises of this text that he may ‘carry you close to his heart’ (Isaiah 40:11c).
The so-called parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46) is set down for the last Sunday of the church year, 22 November 2020. This Sunday is known as ‘Christ the King Sunday’ in which we keep in view Christ’s reign over all, and his return and last judgement. Frank Senn, an American Lutheran Pastor, in his book An introduction to Christian Liturgy makes the following observation: ’The last judgment is not just a judgment on individuals; it is judgment on human history… If we want to get “in” with the coming administration of Christ the King, we had better come to terms with the witness of Revelation: that the one seated on the throne is the Lamb who was slain, and that self-giving love is the agenda throughout his dominions.’ (P155; 2012, Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis MN) While we never earn our salvation, at the same time, the ones who are already his ‘sheep’ in today’s parable go about life in the care and service of others. Self-giving love in other words. It’s motivated and fed by Christ, but as it turns out, it is also directed at Christ who is hidden in the hungry, thirsty, new to town, naked, sick and imprisoned we care for and serve. What an honour and what an unfathomable gift. And all because Jesus loved us enough to die for us so we could be his own and say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father: take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
For the first week of this two week bulletin the sermon text is based on ‘The parable of the Ten Bridesmaids’ from Matthew 25:1-13. All ten bridesmaids are waiting to honour the bridegroom when he comes to the wedding. The problem is that he is a long time in coming, which means special preparations were required to make sure they would be able to their job well. As it turns out, five are wise and bring plenty of oil so that they are entirely prepared to meet the bridegroom when he comes. Five are ‘foolish’. To be foolish here is to be unprepared for the unknown time of waiting for the bridegroom. The bridegroom is Jesus. We are all waiting for him. So how do we prepare? What is it that determines that we don’t get the door slammed in our face by a bridegroom that says ‘I never knew you?’ (Matthew 25:12) Another way of asking that is ‘What makes you wise’? What do you think? We’ll look into this today.
Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis on the All Hallows Eve 31 October 1517. It’s thought his timing was deliberate on the eve of All Saints Day. Luther’s theses concerned the afterlife in large part (repentance, indulgences, ‘purgatory’, God’s grace). On All Saints day we remember those who have gone to the Lord in the past year. Today we both commemorate the reformation of the church and remember the saints. On the latter, we honour them for the example of God’s mercy they are, the faith they possess (and forgiveness therein they received), and the basis they provide for imitation – firstly in faith, then their virtues expressed through their callings (see the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXI). Today’s sermon will be based on Psalm 46 and consider some of Luther’s key writings of 1520 that vividly outline Christ’s relationship with Christians and how he brings us his grace.
For reference, his three key writings that year, and, in many ways, what went on to become foundational writings representing Lutheran theology are:
– To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation
– The Babylonian Captivity of the Church
– The freedom of a Christian
Take a look online, and speak to me if you are interested in more information or a decent history!