Sermons

December 2018

Searching and Finding - December 30, 2018

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: Luke 2:41-52

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Dear Friends in Christ, a span of 30 years lies between the record of Jesus’ birth and the beginning of his public ministry.  Within those three decades we have only one incident the Holy Spirit has chosen to share with us.  It is our Gospel lesson for today.



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The Face of God - December 25, 2018

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: Exodus 33:18-23, 34:5-7 

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Did you get the presents you were hoping for? By this point in the season, you may or may not already know. Some of us opened gifts last night, maybe you unwrapped them this morning, and others have presents still waiting for us. So maybe you had all your Christmas dreams come true and more, but if not, perhaps there’s still time. Did you get the presents you were hoping for?



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Are You Ready for Christmas - December 19, 2018

Pastor Kyle Bitter

Text:Luke 3:7-18

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Are You Ready For Christmas? What was your first sign of the approach of Christmas this year? I think for me, it was a radio commercial advertising Black Friday shopping and it ran a few weeks before Thanksgiving. But even before that, I think I saw Walmart put some Christmas decorations on display for purchase already in October. And you probably have more examples of your own. A few weeks ago, I heard a radio program bemoaning the loss of Thanksgiving as a holiday to ever earlier Christmas preparations and Christmas shopping and perhaps it seems like there might be some truth to that. One humor columnist has a term for this: Christmas Creep. Every year Christmas creeps a few weeks earlier, and this writer theorizes that in about 10 years Christmas will no longer be a holiday – it will be a year-round lifestyle. In some ways, maybe it’s comical to see how our country starts getting ready for Christmas so absurdly far in advance. In other ways, perhaps it’s sad to see the commercializing of this important religious holiday. But there is one advantage to Christmas Creep. While it might seem silly to us to start decorating our houses with lights in July, spiritual preparation for Christmas is something that we can never start too early. That’s been the message carried by God’s prophets in every generation – prepare to meet the Messiah! That’s what you heard from Malachi in today’s prophecy reading, and that’s also what you hear form John the Baptist in the section of scripture that is before us today. Produce Good Fruit! (v. 7-14)



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The Reason for the Season - December 23, 2018

Pastor Leyrer

Text: Genesis 4:1,2,6-8,25-5:5

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Dear Friends in Christ, to some degree its always been this way, but for the last few decades there seems to be an increasingly concerted effort to remove just about any religious element from the way in which our nation acknowledges Christmas, starting with the name itself. What used to be office Christmas parties have become “holiday” parties. What used to be Christmas breaks at non-religious schools have become winter breaks. Whether spoken or written, the common greeting of “Merry Christmas” has given way to the more neutral “happy holidays.” Even Christmas trees are referred to as holiday trees. This trend has not gone unnoticed and has created something of a mild backlash among those who understand that you can change the name or the emphasis or the focus of an event, but you can’t deny the event itself. In this unofficial “reclaim Christmas” movement, one of the more popular and catchy slogans seen on bumper stickers and lapel pins and Christmas cards is the phrase, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” Which, of course, is true. But our text for today drills down even deeper and explains for us why Jesus’ arrival on our planet was necessary in the first place. What becomes clear is that, in another sense, we – as in all of mankind – are THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.



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Celebrating Sukkot - December 16, 2018

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: Nehemiah 8:9-18

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How many of you have ever celebrated Thanksgiving by camping out in your backyard? Anyone? Seems like an awfully strange idea, doesn’t it? Especially in this part of the world, the end of November isn’t the ideal time for spending a night outside. Not to mention the fact that some of us might not like the idea of camping . . . no matter what time of year. We like our homes, and our beds, and our HVAC systems that keep the temperature inside right where we set it. So we have other ways of enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, with food and drink and family gatherings that accompany our thanksgiving to God.



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Prophecy Fulfilled - December 12, 2018

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: Luke 3:1-6

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Dear Friends in Christ, there is nothing subtle or difficult to understand about the connection between our first reading from Isaiah and the Gospel reading we just heard. What Isaiah prophesied approximately 750 years earlier was fulfilled in the person and message of John the Baptist. Without a doubt, John is one of the more interesting and compelling figures in the Bible, and we are given a lot of information about him in the Gospels. Every Wednesday morning we hold Children’s Chapel for our St. John’s school children. Today John the Baptist was the subject. We talked about the miraculous events surrounding his birth and the impression John must have made on those who came to the wilderness to see and hear him. We said he was probably one of those people you find yourself staring at when you think he isn’t looking.



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Different than Expected - December 9, 2018

Pastor Kyle Bitter

Text: Malachi 3:1-4  

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The first time I saw one of the newer Christmas traditions was just a few years ago, at my grandma’s house. There was a strange little red-clad doll sitting high up on the shelf above the window – seemingly at odds with the rest of the Christmas décor. No matter where you went in the room, it seemed like it was staring at you. Kind of a stern expression on its face rather than the blissful happiness characteristic of most Christmas decorations. Some of you might recognize one of the newer Christmas traditions in American culture – the “elf on the shelf.” Based on a book released around Christmas time in 2004, this addition to the Santa Clause tradition features one of Santa’s little minions sent to your home to watch you and see if you are behaving well enough to deserve Christmas gifts from good old St. Nick. Some people say it’s harmless and cute. Others find it kind of disturbing. No matter what you think, like the Santa Clause tradition, the elf on the shelf is indicative of a general mindset that permeates American culture – and not just at Christmastime. We have an expectation of rewards earned based on good or bad behavior.



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Signs of Deliverance - December 5, 2018

Pastor Schroeder

Text: Luke 21:25-36 

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Signs of deliverance can look quite different from one another, depending on the circumstances. For a child who is struggling to swim, the splash of a lifeguard diving into the pool is a good sign. It means help is on the way. For an individual suffering from pain or infection, a small pill bottle is a sign that medicine is available that can bring some measure of relief. For a shipwrecked crew, hearing the sound of helicopter blades in the distance gets everyone scanning the horizon as they await their rescue. In each case, the first sign of deliverance is exactly what we might expect. We’ve all lived long enough to know that different problems have wildly different solutions.



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A Precursor to Advent - December 2, 2018

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: Genesis 19:15-17, 23-29

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Dear Friends in Christ, while we don’t customarily greet each other with “happy new year” today, we could make the case that such a greeting would be appropriate this morning – at least in a religious way – because this Sunday is the beginning of a brand new “Church Year.” We have entered another Advent season – that four-week period of preparation, repentance and anticipation that leads us into Christmas. During Advent, which literally means “coming,” we focus our thoughts on the arrival of Jesus Christ, first as the meek and mild Babe of Bethlehem; next as the glorious and powerful King of Kings and Lord of Lords.



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