Sermon from the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2021

Sergio Rodriguez, Pastor for Community Ministries
Advent 4. December 19, 2021.

“From you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

O Root of Jesse, Come and deliver us, delay no longer. Amen.

Waiting, watching, warning: our advent season began with a call to attend to the signs of hope fulfilled all around us (Advent 1, Pr. Rodriguez). We heard of John beckon us to make straight our pathways for the long-expected Lord (Advent 2, Dn. Remmert). Just last week, God urged us to perceive the birth of our savior as proclaiming God’s all-embracing love, if only we allow ourselves to be astounded by its fruits (Advent 3, Rev. Derr). Now God sets before us the way of Bethlehem as our home where hope is revived. Hope for living each day as if we were living in a different reality. Bethlehem, this small mountain top, with no enduring political might, has always been a city of such hope, despite the centuries of occupation.A fellow native of Bethlehem, Pastor Mitri Raheb, friend of this congregation and founder of Dar Al-Kalima, the now first Lutheran College in the Levant, makes this observation about hope: “Hope is living the reality and yet investing in a different one (Faith in the face of Empire: Bible through Palestinian Eyes, pg. 130).” The subject of the sermon, “Bethlehem, place of home-restoring hope,” speaks of hope as a gift active every day, shaping our waiting for God’s tomorrow. Our text comes from our First Lesson, Micah chapter five, verse two, in particular where Micah perceives Bethlehem as place, from which, “one who is to rule in Israel,” shall come.

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Sermon from the Second Sunday of Advent -December 5, 2021

Deacon Ben Remmert, Deacon of Children, Youth and Family Ministry  

Second Sunday of Advent-December 5, 2021

Malachi 3:1-4, Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6

Well, here we are, today is the 2nd Sunday in Advent. We’re one week closer to the big day! We have lit another candle on the Advent wreath, so the countdown is on! Christmas must be getting close now! Things are starting to get busy for a lot of us. Over the next couple of weeks or so, many of us have parties to attend, plans to make, goodies to bake, gifts to purchase, and it’s getting close to the time of the year that college students have final exams to prepare and take. In any case, each of these events involves some degree of preparation, and that’s the theme of the season of Advent. Preparing to celebrate Jesus’ coming into the world, both in his birth at Bethlehem those many years ago, and as we look ahead to His promised second coming.

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Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent November 28, 2021

Sergio Rodriguez, Pastor for Community Ministries
Advent 1. November 28, 2021. Series C.
“Attentive to hope, from the outside-in”.

Stir up your power, O Lord, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, and show us your ways of justice and peace. Amen

Waiting, watching, warning; Jesus calls the church to live into such a hope defined. Wait. Wait for the Lord whose day is near (Taize). Jeremiah announced urged the people to wait for the days when God would fulfill his promise to his people. Living in exile by the rivers of Babylon, the people sang a song of longing and resilience: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! (Psalm 139:5).” The people waited for God to cause righteousness to spring up before them as a branch. They yearned for life to spring up all around them in the winter of their discontent. Watch. I wait for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning (Psalm 130:1). A people living in exile watch for signs that the Lord has returned. The people looked around for the descendants of the line of David, or for the Lord’s anointed. Or in the case for apocalyptic thinkers, they looked for the mysterious Son of Man to come and bring forth God’s reign; a reign as Daniel says, “an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed (Dan 7:14).” The people looked for signs of such glad tidings of comfort and joy. Warning. Jesus bespoke God’s hope as a reversal of human expectations. Redemptions shall come out of a hopeless place where, “fainting and foreboding of what is coming upon the world (Luke 21:27),” is the name of the game; a canticle of the turning made true.

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Sermon for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Amandus Derr, Interim Senior Pastor
November 14, 2021 Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-25; Saint Mark 13:1-8
In nomine Jesu!

There is general agreement among New Testament scholars that Mark wrote his gospel in Rome around 70 of the Common Era after most, if not all, of the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, ministry and death had died. In my mind’s eye I see Mark writing the words of Jesus we heard today while sitting at his window, watching the boisterous Roman legions, led by general, soon-to-emperor Titus, carried the treasures of Jerusalem’s Temple — the gold candlesticks and soaring seraphim and the bronze sea – and marched the leading citizens of Jerusalem, now shackled and dazed captives, through the thoroughfares of Rome. In August of that year, they had sacked and destroyed Jerusalem, torn down its Temple, and thrown its massive limestone walls into broken heaps at the base of the temple mount’s soaring walls. A triumphal arch, depicting these very scenes, still stands near the ruins of Rome’s forum to this day. Watching in horror as that triumph passed, Mark wrote the words of Jesus we heard today: “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

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Homily from the Veterans Day Service 11/11/2021

Amandus Derr, Interim Senior Pastor
Thursday in the Twenty-fourth Week after Pentecost
November 11, 2021
Wisdom 3:1-9; Isaiah 40: 27-31; Psalm 88: 1-5a; 13-14; 16b-18
In nomine Jesu!

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of others they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them forever. Those who trust in God will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with God in love, because grace and mercy are upon God’s holy ones, and the LORD watches over God’s elect. Wisdom 3:1-9

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