Sermons

Confidence Through Christ

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Third Sunday of Easter - Sunday, April 18, 2021

Text: 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6

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It seems like it’s about time to ask the question this year: Is the Easter season only a thing at church? Now that we are just two weeks out, the leftovers from Easter meals are either eaten up or thrown away. Most of the good candy is gone, except for maybe the jellybean flavors that no one in the house really likes. The stores have cleared out most, if not all of the decorations by now and replaced them with preparations for Mother’s Day, graduation season, and spring lawn and garden supplies. And even I have to admit it; it’s hard for me to keep the primary focus on Easter, because here at St. John’s, the upcoming week is going to be filled with everything that it takes to make sure that Confirmation goes well next weekend.



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The Transforming Effect of the Risen Christ

Pastor Joel Leyrer - The Second Sunday of Easter - Sunday, April 21, 2021

Text: John 20:19-31

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Dear Friends in Christ, If you are a baseball fan or a bit of baseball historian, you might remember the name Bill Buckner. He was a professional baseball player who played for five major league teams over the course of a 21-year career. He retired in 1990 and died a couple of years ago.



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Hope for the Hopeless

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Easter Sunrise - Sunday, April 4, 2021

Text: John 20:1-18

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Hopeless. Seems like that word would be good description of the people in today’s gospel – at least before they realized what had happened! Put yourself in Mary’s shoes for a minute. Mary and her friends had been with Jesus through the good and the bad – and sometimes it seemed like they were the only ones. Ceaseless energy and support for Jesus and his mission – even when his own disciples had wavered. They had thought he was the Messiah. They had seen the miracles. They had heard his teaching. But now he was dead – just another prophet in the long tradition of prophets being murdered by the very people they’d come to serve. Once his body was anointed one final time, it would all be over. And Mary’s hopelessness can be seen as she comes for that very task. She hardly seems to realize she’s talking to angels – instead, she sees insult heaped on top of injury. The empty tomb must mean Jesus’ body has been stolen! Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”  “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” (John 20:1-2, 11-13 – NIV84). Hopeless, and Mary wasn’t the only one.



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Certain Hope

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Easter Festival - Sunday, April 4, 2021

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26

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I had a churchgoing man try to convince me once that the idea of the resurrection of Jesus Christ came from the early church. His position (as I understand it) was that Jesus was a good man, a good teacher, a man whose teaching of love and acceptance of all was worth following—and his followers sensed all that, so after he died, they came up with this grand story of resurrection in order to establish his legacy and his legend, so that Jesus and his teaching would live on throughout the ages as this mythological message spread throughout the world.



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Once For All

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Good Friday - Friday, April 2, 2021

Text: Hebrews 7:26-28

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Dear Friends in Christ, These were the crucial hours. Today we are confronted with the crux of that which matters for all eternity.  



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A Covenant Signed in Blood

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Maundy Thursday - Thursday, April 1, 2021

Text: Exodus 12:21-30

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From 2005-2017 FOX produced a TV show called Prisonbreak, featuring a man with a comfortable career and life intentionally got himself thrown into a maximum security prison. Why? It was all part of a crazy attempt to break out an inmate who was on death row in the same prison – a man who had been falsely convicted. Why such dedication to this man? As the show unfolds the viewer finds out the two men were brothers. That blood connection serves as the motivation for all kinds of self-sacrifice as the plot develops. That’s not a unique idea newly discovered by this show. The ideal of loyalty stemming from being connected by blood is one that can be found in all kinds of movies, plays, and literature. And it goes beyond blood-line relatives. There have been many periods in history when an oath made between two unrelated people might be sealed in blood as a way of demonstrating commitment! Such practices are not common anymore in our part of the world, but a quick internet search will show you references to promises sealed with blood in most of the major cultures of history, from the far east to Africa to Europe to Native American and many more. There is something significant about blood and promises. 



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The Only True King

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Palm Sunday - Sunday, March 28, 2021

Text: Zechariah 9:9-10

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Dear Friends in Christ, Do the names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego ring a bell? These were the three men thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to give a powerful king by the name of Nebuchadnezzar the kind of honor they reserved only for God.



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Hands of Self Preservation (Pilate)

Rev. Dr. Mark Braun - Midweek Lent 6 - Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Text: Matthew 27:15-26

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15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. 19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”  23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified (Matthew 27:15-26).



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God's New Deal

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Fifth Sunday in Lent - Sunday, March 21, 2021

Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34

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New is always better…right? Maybe it’s all the advertising we see everywhere we look, always reminding us that it’s time to upgrade. Maybe the old one is starting to wear out and break down. Or maybe it’s just the fact that after a while, we become more aware of the flaws of what we already have: your car doesn’t handle well in snow (is it time for new tires or even a new car?) …your mattress is too soft, and you wake up with a sore back…your home doesn’t have enough storage space or room to entertain guests. Whatever it is, even if we don’t always act, we can all think of something new that we’d like to have.



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Hands of Brutality (Roman Soldiers)

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Midweek Lent 5 - Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Text: Matthew 27:27-31

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Mom and Dad took pride that they had raised a happy kid. She was ten years old now and growing into a nice young lady. It was during her fifth-grade year, though, that her parents began to notice a change in personality. The youthful exuberance, her joy for life, and the permanent smile on her face gave way to a visible sadness. During that school year she grew increasingly distant. Her parents approached her. They took an interest; they asked, “What’s wrong?” and said, “It’s okay to talk about it.” The behavior continued. It wasn’t until the bruises started showing up that they called a meeting with the school principal. Only after hours of prodding did their daughter break down crying, admitting that she was being bullied by a group of mean girls in school.



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