Proclaimation

Sermons and devotional material proclaiming Christ.

Daily Life Under Christ’s Sacraments

Daily Life Under Christ’s Sacraments

The human body is a marvel of God’s creative wisdom and power. The body has such strength and resiliency. Yet, without the Lord’s preservation…
Christ the Savior is Born!

Christ the Savior is Born!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.…

ADVENT 4 SERMONThe Unplanned PregnancyFourth Sunday of AdventMatthew 1:18-21…

ADVENT 4 SERMON The Unplanned Pregnancy Fourth Sunday of Advent Matthew 1:18-21 The 22nd of December 2013 Luther Chapel, Karen Hardy, Kenya Christmas is almost here! With all the thoughts on presents, food, and family reunion, everyone wants a happy and cheerful time. Everyone tries to make everything perfect. But in many families one member is going to disappoint the other members and bring shame. Whether it is a divorce, a child failing out of school, a father who lost his job, or the unmarried daughter who is pregnant, it brings shame and guilt to the family. We do anything and everything possible to hide the scandal until after the holidays. We try to sweep the dirt under the rug. We try to cover up the blemishes. We try to hide the skeleton in the closet. Mother and father are on edge fearing that someone will find out. Whatever you do, do NOT let grandma know! And yet it happens, just at the wrong moment, when everyone is seated at the dinner table before the great feast… the shameful secret is revealed. Everyone’s appetite is lost. Dinner is ruined. Some people might wonder why Advent 4 seemingly reminds us of bad news rather than good news. “Seemingly” being the key word. Our Gospel reading today began, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18) The dirty laundry is just laid out there. The engaged young lady is pregnant and NOT by her fiancé. Is this the type of story you want to hear days before Christmas? If you look at the context, the story is even worse than you might think. Matthew chapter one is more than a list of names. Many people skip over the first 17 verses thinking it is a boring family tree. But Matthew highlights specific names. Back up and look at verses 2-3. “Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar.” (Matthew 1:2-3a) Talk about ruining dinner! Who was Tamar? She was Judah’s daughter-in-law whom Judah shamed when he refused to give to her to his third son after the first two died. She is the one who removed her mourning garments and dressed as a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law. She is a great grandmother of Jesus. Then in verse six, “Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.” (Matthew 1:6). Matthew doesn’t mention her but everyone knows who the “wife of Uriah” was, Bathsheba, with whom David committed adultery and then had her legal husband, Uriah, killed. She too is a great grandmother of Jesus. Finally we come to verse 18. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18) If Joseph had been reading the Gospel of Matthew, maybe he would not have acted the same humble and gracious way. What were Joseph’s legal rights? My Bible gives the cross reference to Deuteronomy 22:23f. “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones.” (Deuteronomy 22:23-24a). Legally, Joseph had the right to put her to death. Too often in our society when an unplanned pregnancy happens the first idea is abortion, to kill the child. Why is that? The child didn’t do anything wrong. The child is innocent. Isn’t the Bible more just? Shouldn’t the adults be held responsible rather than taking vengeance on the child? Our society is quite cruel to punish innocent children for sins of lustful adults. Unplanned pregnancies often spoil holidays and family reunions and we try at all costs to cover them up. If there is still time a young lady might wear loose fitting clothes and avoid those who might get too close to her. But eventually the decision is made, life or death? I have seen and read amazing stories about children who survived a botched abortion. It is very rare, considering how abortions are done but sometimes a miracle happens and the innocent child survives. In the case of Joseph, he choses life. The Bible says, “Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:19) At first Joseph did not want to stay with Mary but he also didn’t want to punish her and the child with death. The whole situation must have weighed heavy upon him, just as the shameful situations in our lives weigh us down and make us sad. Shame, guilt, bad decisions, faulty thinking, mistakes, and the consequences that follow. These are many of the ingredients of sin. The ultimate consequence is death as it was for Adam and Eve. And yet they too looked forward to the Promised Child who would one day take away the reproach, shame, and guilt that brought us death and this broken world. Did Joseph think about these things after he heard the news from Mary? Who knows? The Bible simply says, “As he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21-22) The child already had a name, Jesus, baby Jesus. It might be easier to have an abortion when you can’t see the child. You do not know what he or she looks like. No name is chosen. He makes no sound. Maybe there is among you someone who is ashamed or hiding a secret. You might be afraid that if the rest of the family finds out you will be shamed and ridiculed. Your sin has a particular name and you do not want to reveal it. But here the name of the child is given, Jesus. Jesus means, “He will save his people from their sins.” (21) Jesus already knows the name of each and every one of your sins. You cannot hide them from Him but take comfort in this, He came to save you from every shameful thing you have ever done. This baby was born, not to be a moral standard, not to demand you live perfectly. Actually He was born for quite the opposite reason. This baby was sent to be born in Bethlehem to take away shame, guilt, and sin. He came for you who have skeletons in your closet and dirt under your rug. When the angel came next to Joseph who was suffering and hurting, the angel said to him, “Fear not! She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (21) This is the same message for you today, “Fear not, Jesus came to save you and to carry you through the most difficult times and situations.” It is not easy and I am not trying to say it is. Your family might look down upon you and hurl terrible words of condemnation. “Why? Why did you screw up? Couldn’t you just do the right thing? You are such a disappointment.” This is the law. It always accuses and condemns. And it hurts. Sometimes it will make you tremble and weep with grief. Is the name of your sin, adultery? Like Hosea, Jesus knows your defilement cannot be washed with water and soap but He can make you clean. You are forgiven. Is it called abortion? Jesus knows you can’t fix it. But He can by dying for you. You are forgiven. He does not hold you guilty. He takes the guilt. Have you been divorced? Have you ruined a relationship with a friend or family member? Jesus was abandoned and mocked by all. Yet He still wants you back. He forgives you. Maybe your sin is called shame or failure. Have you failed out of school or lost your job? Others are looking at you with disappointment. Jesus also came to take your shame. You are not a failure. Instead you are his treasured possession. “Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.” (Isaiah 62:11-12) Did you hear? You are not forsaken. He is seeking to save you. You are the pearl of great price that Jesus gives His life for. He gives up heaven and His heart beat to save you. That is his love toward you. Jesus doesn’t die for the righteous. He dies for sinners like you. As my favorite Bible passage says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV) Christ died for you. You might say, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” But God says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:14-16a) You see, this is why Jesus doesn’t come with a sword. Instead the baby Jesus is placed in your arms and looks at you with those precious eyes. There is no fear when looking at a baby because they can do no harm. This is the gift that is placed in your arms just days before Christmas. This is the gift of all gifts. This child came for one reason, to take the blame and punishment for what you have done. He will never accuse you. Instead when the judging parent looks at you with the eyes of disappointment, Jesus steps in and speaks, saying, “No, no, you are not guilty. It was me. I have come to take the shame. Speak no more, you, my dear, are forgiven.” True, you don’t deserve it but that is the meaning of grace. Grace is offering love and gifts to someone who doesn’t deserve it. This is what Christmas is really about, giving grace, giving hope, giving love and this is what Jesus gives to you. It is the perfect story to hear just days before Christmas. “In this way the birth of Our Savior took place, the Virgin bore a son, and Joseph called his name Jesus, for He would save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Now the Christmas peace of God which surpasses all human understanding will guard yours hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen!
We spell success e n d u r e. . .

We spell success e n d u r e. . .

Sermon for Pentecost 22, Proper 24C, preached on Sunday, October 20, 2013.. . . Read All     Of all the temptations prone to us as Christians, losing heart of the struggle, losing sight of the goal, losing focus on the purpose of your life in Christ, this is our greatest struggle.  Sure there are always those who get mad at the Pastor or the Church or the people or God and pack up their toys and go home, refusing to play anymore.  Underneath many of those folks, however, is a person who has simply lost his or her way in faith and uses the excuse to avoid facing up to it.    We might think that losing heart, losing sight, losing focus are all

Sermon for Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity

                                                                                                Trinity 21                                                                                                 Gen 1:1-2:3                                                                                                 10/20/13                         Tohu wabohu.  Tohu wahbou sounds like something Jabba the Hutt would say and it sure fits him.  Jabba is of course the gangster figure who appears in various Star Wars movies.  He is a massive slug-like creature and is truly disgusting – especially when his giant tongue comes out of his mouth.  A member of the Hutt clan, Jabba is a vile character who . . . Read All
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