Sermons

Category: Epiphany

The Greatest Miracle

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany - Sunday, February 7, 2021

Text: Mark 1:29-39

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What makes something count as a miracle? Miracle is a word you hear pretty frequently. Let me give you a few examples. “Miracle on the Hudson” – a label applied to the dramatic emergency landing of a passenger aircraft in the Hudson River in 2009. Miracles of modern medicine treat or cure diseases that at one time were fatal. You see it a ton in sports. “Miracle” is the title of a movie about the improbable victory of the 1980 US hockey team over the Soviet Union. NBA headlines this week included this one: "Wizards score 6 points in 4 seconds in miraculous comeback vs. Nets.” What is it that makes people call something a “miracle”? Examples like these would seem to be things that are improbable, things that are highly unlikely to happen but amazing when they do! You and I probably see a miracle as something even greater than that – something impossible without outside help! A miracle is what you hope for when all other options are exhausted and all hope seems to be gone.



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The Voice of Authority

Pastor Joel Leyrer - The Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany - Sunday, January 31, 2021

Text: Mark 1:21-28

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Dear Friends in Christ…We have just experienced a year of competing voices by those in positions of authority. Our recent presidential election cycle was marked by accusations and controversy. We’re closing in on a year long pandemic featuring all kinds of experts with lots of initials after their names presenting conflicting views on what should or should not be done – and we’re bracing ourselves for more of the same. And we’ve experienced civil unrest both nationally and locally with charges being made by one group and countercharges being made by another.



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Your Savior Calls

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Third Sunday After Epiphany - Sunday, January 24, 2021

Text: Mark 1:14-20

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How much change can a person expect in life when following God? I don’t know about you but that’s the kind of question that comes to my mind when I hear Scripture sections like we have before us today. How much change can a person expect in life when following God? Take Elisha, for example, in the first lesson. We find him plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, which probably means he had 11 hired workers helping him farm. Not too shabby for society at that time! But then one day a prophet named Elijah comes along and asks Elisha to put all that aside and become a traveling prophet, living off the generosity of others. A huge change when you think about it, but Elisha does it eagerly! You almost find yourself wondering if Elisha knew the whole story. Did he realize how this prophet thing had gone for Elijah? Did he not know that just a short time earlier Elijah had been on the run from the wicked queen, isolated in a cave on a mountainside, so depressed that he just prayed that God would take his life because his ministry had been such a failure? Why would Elisha put aside his life of wealth and comfort to follow someone in doing that?



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Jesus Has Called You

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Second Sunday After the Epiphany - Sunday, January 17, 2021

Text: John 1:43-51

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It was two weeks ago already that our family was having a game night at home. My wife’s phone rang first, and so we took a break from our game for a bit. Not long after that, my phone rang, too. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but I picked up anyway. “Hello, is this Eric Schroeder?” “Yes, it is…” “This is President Gurgel from Martin Luther College; I’m calling to let you know that in a meeting of the governing board this evening, the Holy Spirit has called you to be professor of theology and history at Martin Luther College.” And we talked for a few more minutes, but honestly, it’s hard to give full attention after hearing that opening statement. And now, as I continue to deliberate between a call here and a call there, life feels different than before. And it should feel different, because life changes when you’re called by God. You should know that, too!



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The Father's Approval

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Baptism of Our Lord - Sunday, January 10, 2021

Text: Mark 1:4-11

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I know a person who put all his effort into trying to earn his father’s approval. He started life as a generally well-behaved child – obedient and respectful to his parents even if he didn’t agree with them in every way. He worked hard in school, he was relatively gifted and made good grades. He sought to expand his horizons by using his gifts in a whole range of extracurricular activities and became a well-rounded person. He took extra classes when he could, and he pursued a degree and then a career that he thought his father would approve of. It all seemed good, very good. But no matter what he did, it never seemed to be good enough. His grades had been good, but they weren’t all A's. He was an exceptionally well-rounded person with ability in a lot of areas, but here were still things he wasn’t all that good at. His career had started well, but after a while it seemed to get stale and didn’t measure up to what his father expected. It was good, it was very good, but it was never good enough.



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Epiphany Messengers

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Epiphany Sunday - Sunday, January 3, 2021

Text: Matthew 2:1-12

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Dear Friends in Christ. One could easily make the case that after the birth of Jesus, the best-known event in the wider Christmas story is the account recorded in our Gospel lesson and serving as our text today – the coming of the Magi, or Wise Men.



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The Life That Pleases God

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany - Sunday, February 16, 2020

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

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It can be a little dangerous to base a whole sermon on a section like this, because there would be potential for misunderstanding. Of course, we would never say that any portion of God’s Word is inappropriate for us to consider—that’s not the issue. The danger arises whenever we pull a sermon text out of its biblical context and treat it as if it contains all we need to know to understand it well. These words from St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians are a prime example. Just look at the first word, and I think you’ll see.



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See Yourself Clearly!

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany - Sunday, February 9, 2020

Text: 1 Peter 2:9-12

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Take a minute and choose a word that you’d use to describe yourself. Then, ask this question: would other people who know you well choose the same word? Or something different? Back in 2013, the cosmetics company Dove put an aspect of this question to the test and created a short film both to make a point and use in advertising. Maybe you’ve seen it – it was pretty popular. The premise is this: Dove hired a sketch artist from the FBI and a number of people who had never met each other. While the cameras rolled, the FBI sketch artist drew pictures of the people, one at a time, but with one big wrinkle: he never saw any of the people. He sat behind a curtain and drew pictures based on how the people described themselves. Once he had finished, the whole process was repeated, only this time the participants described not themselves, but one of the others. The short film concludes when people see the pictures side by side and realize that the sketches based on their self-description were far less flattering than when someone else had described them. When it came to flaws and faults, people were able to See Themselves Clearly – more so than others around!



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The Ways of God

Pastor Joel Leyrer - The Fourth Sunday After Epiphany - Sunday, February 2, 2020

Text: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

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Dear Friends in Christ, In Isaiah chapter 55 we read this proclamation from God:“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Many of us know that passage. Many of us have no doubt contemplated and found strength in these words. Especially at times when things happen in our life that leave us mystified, or that according to our way of thinking, make no sense, we hold tightly to the promise that our loving God is still in control even during times of personal darkness. And that is an appropriate and comforting application of this passage.



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A Voice in the Dark

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Third Sunday After Epiphany - Sunday, January 26, 2020

Text: Isaiah 8:19-9:2

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You and I don’t remember those days, but we all started life in the dark. It was all we knew at the time, and we had everything we needed in that cozy little space. But as our tiny bodies developed, something changed early on, because we could hear voices even before we were born. One was the most common, you heard just about everything she said, but there were others, too. And sometimes they were talking to us, even though they couldn’t see us yet.



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