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LCH Sermons—Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany 2010/11

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Last Sunday after Epiphany/Transfiguration of Our Lord—March 6, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Exodus 24: 12–18; Psalm 2; 2 Peter 1: 16–21; Matthew 17: 1–9
Summary: Today is Transfiguration Sunday, and we hear how the disciples saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain top. Even though that transfiguration led to a change in the disciples, they still went back to the valley and continued to pray, preach, and teach. When we listen deeply to the chord progression God plays for us through grace and love, we are compelled to provide the last chord, and God’s love is complete.

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Eighth Sunday after Epiphany—February 27, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 49:8–16a; Psalm 131; 1 Corinthians 4:1–5; Matthew 6:24–34
Summary: It can be difficult to follow Jesus’ admonition in today’s Gospel not to worry. The real question is how to balance the necessary attention to this world with following God. The key is not what you have but who you serve. We cannot compartmentalize; we must weave sacred and secular together into one beautiful piece. By trusting in God, our souls can be quieted. We can rest in the knowledge that—like today—God will be with us tomorrow. We belong to God who loves us and provides.

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Seventh Sunday after Epiphany—February 20, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Leviticus 19:1–2, 9–18; Psalm 119:33–40; I Corinthians 3:10–11, 16–23; Matthew 5:38–48
Summary: Today’s first lesson from Leviticus has a wonderful surprise. Instead of rules and punishments, we find God telling the people how to live as the holy people of God. And it ends with the call to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus builds on this foundation and calls us to love our enemies and be perfect. We are called to this mission because of God’s love, and we can be perfect because God is the Lord.

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Sixth Sunday after Epiphany/Faith and Arts Sunday—February 13, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Deuteronomy 30:15–20; Psalm 119:1–8; I Corinthians 3:1–9; Matthew 5:21–37
Summary: Today’s Gospel is one of those difficult texts that only comes around when Ash Wednesday is late, as it is this year. Jesus takes the law and expands it beyond what we expect. We are used to having what we want when we want it—just like Pandora, which gives us only music we like. Jesus reminds us that we cannot pick and choose. Law is about what God calls us to for the sake of the world; it is not about us. As in Deuteronomy, God give us a choice between life and death, and God urges us to choose life. But there is more: Jesus did not go to the cross so we could be good but so we could be loved.

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Fifth Sunday after Epiphany—February 6, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 58: 1–12; Psalm 112; I Corinthians 2: 1–16; Matthew 5: 13–20
Summary: In today’s Gospel from from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says we are salt and light. He also says that if the salt looses its taste, we should throw it out. However, scientists tell us that salt—as long is it remains salt—can never loose its taste, and light can never loose its light-ness. As salt transports taste, we are called to transport the Gospel. Paul writes that he did not come with arguments, and Isaiah tells us that when we do justice, our light will shine. We discover God not through arguments but by living out the life of Christ. You are salt and light. Nothing can change that. Now you must live it.

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Fourth Sunday after Epiphany/Reconciling in Christ Sunday—January 30, 2011

Preacher: Bob Zimmer
Lessons: Micah 6: 1–8; Psalm 15; I Corinthians 1: 18–31; Matthew 5: 1–12
Summary: Recent years have seen positive changes in the ELCA and across society. But bullying was a part of my childhood, and many over the years have not believed that God’s love was for them. In today’s lessons we hear of acceptance and justice, and there are many resources of welcome at LCH and in other churches who join in this Welcoming Sunday. Love is the greatest gift of God; share it.

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Third Sunday after Epiphany—January 23, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 9: 1–4; Psalm 27; I Corinthians 1: 10–18; Matthew 4: 12–23
Summary: In today’s Gospel Jesus calls the disciples to fish for people. We are surrounded by an ocean of fish, so I have been collecting fishing gear to go fishing. In the church, we often prepare to go out and fish for people, but like me, we often spend our time preparing and never actually go fishing. The disciples went out and shared the love of God, and Jesus calls us to go into the community with this same love of God as our bait. The world is hungry for this love, so let us go out on the water and do some real fishing for people.

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Second Sunday after Epiphany—January 16, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 49: 1–7; Psalm 40; I Corinthians 1: 1–9; John 1: 29–17
Summary: In today’s Gospel from John, John the Baptist points Jesus out to some of his disciples who go to Jesus and ask where he is staying. Jesus gives no answer, but they follow and become his disciples. At the beginning of the Gospel of John, it says that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. The word is “tabernacled” or “pitched a tent.” We like God far away, but God in Jesus chose to pitch his tent with us. The disciples were changed when Jesus dwelled with them, and we show that God is with us in the way we live our lives. We are called to sing the “new song in our hearts” in today’s psalm. Then the world will know that God has pitched tent with us.

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Baptism of Our Lord—January 9, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 42:1–9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34–43; Matthew 3:13–17
Summary: This pitcher sits on a shelf it my office. It looks pretty, but it doesn’t fulfill its purpose. In the same way, many Christians have put their baptisms on a shelf. In Acts, we hear how the world changed because of Jesus’ baptism. The church is not irrelevant, but many Christians are not engaged. If the church is to be revived, we must act out our baptismal calling. Earlier today, I found out that in the past this pitcher was used to pour water into the font whenever we had a baptism. We can say we are too busy and learn to be happy as pitchers on the shelf, or we can pour out baptismal waters.

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German Vespers for New Year’s—January 2, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Fritz Fritschel
Lessons:Ecclesiastes 3:1–13; Revelations 21:1–6a
Summary: Reflections on Bach Cantata 28: “The divine dream, the beloved community, communitas, the reign of God is not automatically present, but a lure.”

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Christmas II—January 2, 2011

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Jeremiah 31:7–14; Psalm 147:13–21; Ephesians 1:3–14; John 1:1–18
Summary: The Gospel of John begins with language about creation and new beginnings: from the beginning, the Word was present, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This draws us into what God is up to in the world. God is not like us but one of us. New Years is a time of beginning and looking back and planning. But we must remember that God is loose in the world, and when we are in touch with God, we have power and resources to be part of God’s activity. That activity does not depend on us, but God is calling us to be light for the world.

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St. Stephen’s Day—December 26, 2010

Lessons and Carols—No sermon.

Advent IV—December 19, 2010

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 7:10–16; Psalm 80:1–7, 16–18; Romans 1:1–7; Matthew 1:18–25
Summary: Advent began with promises from the prophets, and today’s Gospel tells us who is coming to fulfill those promises. There is much to talk about in this story, but the real miracle is in the name “Emmanuel: God with us.” God chooses not to come to us but to be with us. We should not miss the intimacy of this decision. As Advent and Christmas happen each year, God chooses to be with us every moment.

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Advent III—December 12, 2010

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 35:1–10; Psalm 146: 4–9; James 5:7–10; Matthew 11:2–11
Summary: Today’s first lesson from Isaiah promises a transformation of the present wilderness. This vision begins to unfold in unexpected ways with Jesus. In the Gospel, John the Baptist asks if Jesus is the one, and Jesus replies by asking if the signs given by Isaiah have come. Just as we want Christmas to be here, we often want to be taken from our wilderness, but James tells us to be patient because the work of the Lord has begun. God has set the transformation of the wilderness in motion, and we must live and serve in the present as God’s world unfolds.

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Advent II—December 5, 2010

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 11:1–10; Psalm 72:1–7, 18–19; Romans 15:4–13; Matthew 3:1–12
Summary: Today’s first lesson from Isaiah is a powerful vision of God’s transforming work in the world. It can seem so idyllic that we dismiss it as fantasy and settle for what is. We get comfortable with injustice. God is loose in the world and challenging us to have the courage to do ministry in these difficult times. We are called to be rooted in Jesse, to branch out into God’s kingdom, and to bear fruits of love.

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Advent I—November 28, 2010

Preacher: Pastor Jeff Lilley
Lessons: Isaiah 2:1–5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11–14; Matthew 24:36–44
Summary: In today’s first lesson, Isaiah talks about the future when people will stream to the mountain of the Lord, a place of transformation. Paul talks about Christ being within us now and calls us to lives of transformation. Matthew does not know when, so we are called to be ready. If we give up on Advent and do not demand the transformation of Isaiah and Paul, Christmas will not make a difference in our lives. But God is active, is coming, is already here. We must be watchful, active, and courageous.

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