Sermons by “Pastor Ball”

The Risen Christ

In spite of all we have heard and all that we have seen, it is often hard to believe. Because it is hard to believe, we will invest ourselves in the Easter mystery for fifty days (a week of weeks). Because it is hard to believe, John the evangelist will proide sign after sign celebrating Jesus’ victory over death. Because it is hard to believe, the Lord Jesus will return to us again and again in the mystery of the holy communion, inviting us to touch and taste his presence, and offering us his peace.

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Easter Sunday

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” God has indeed raised from the dead the one who was put to death “by hanging him on a tree.” Alleluia! God allows Jesus to appear “to us who were chosen by God as witnesses” in holy baptism and invites us to eat and drink at the table of the risen Christ. Alleluia!

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Palm Sunday

The voice of the suffering savior, Jesus, can be heard in the prophet Isaiah’s words and the pleading of the psalm. We are invited into the agony of our Lord in the extended reading of the story of Jesus’ passion. We who have put on Christ in holy baptism are urged to let the mind of Christ be our own. Lent leads us to this holy moment. Embrace it.

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Prodigal Son

The psalm sets the tone this day: “Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is put away!” Happy are those who have “become the righteousness of God” in the merits of Christ Jesus. Happy are those for whom the forgiveness of God has “rolled away…the disgrace” of former times. Happy is the father at the return of his prodigal son. Happy are we that our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. Rejoice!

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Channel of Your Peace

The warnings are plentiful and blunt on the third Sunday in Lent. Lent is a season of repentance. Cut it out or get cut down! The warnings are accompanied by God’s invitation to attentiveness: “Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.” The landowner’s ultimatum is forestalled by the gardener’s readiness to till the ground one more year. That is good news for all of us. Thanks be to God!

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Love Your Enemies

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Joseph lives it in Egypt. Jesus preaches it in the gospel. The Spirit guides us into merciful lives with the power of forgiveness to reconcile what is fractured and divided. Such merciful living is the baptismal blessing of having put on Christ. It is the gift of the life-giving Spirit. It is a reflection of the glory of God revealed in the Christ.

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Blessed Are the Poor

“Blessings and curses abound on the sixth Sunday after Epiphany. We would do well to listen closely to whom the “blessed ares” and the “woe tos” are directed and to find our place in the crowd among those who desire to touch Jesus. The risen Christ stands among us in the mystery of the Holy Supper with an invitation to live in him and the power to heal us all.”

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The Widow’s Mite

Pastor Mark’s message this weekend was based on the Gospel of St. Mark, the twelfth chapter, with the story of the Widow and her Mite: “We should love God the way the widow does. As she drops her last two coins into the collection she knows her future is securely in His hands. She doesn’t look around for approval or for accolades. She isn’t paralyzed by the opinions of others. She also isn’t motivated by their evaluations of her. She chooses to give her all to God, to leave the rest to Him. What she is doing is very personal. It’s between her and God.

What happens next to this widow? Only God knows. But he does know, he does see and he does care.

And this is the jewel of this Gospel account. We have a God powerful enough to hold the world in His hands and personal enough to know us inside and out. God sees. God knows. God cares. Amen!”

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Postcards from Heaven

As we observed All Saints last weekend, Pastor Mark shares St. John’s glimmer of heaven in the Gospel.  “There may be many things about heaven that are unclear to us, things that we wish we knew, but God makes this much known – heaven is where we go to be with God the Father and to live together with all those who have died as children of God.  For all of us who have a close connection to the saints, heaven is the most beautiful realty.  A land of no more tears, and a home where once and for all death is defeated.  A place where we will never lose a loved one again.

All Saints reminds us that Jesus is Lord of the living and the dead and therefore we are truly never apart.  Jesus is Lord of all and we will see our loved ones face-to-face again in heaven.  And that’s all we need to know.”

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The Truth Will Set You Free

Pastor Mark tells us last weekend, “With Luther’s focus on the power of God, we explore today’s Gospel lesson of John 8:31-36. Jesus turns to the Jewish people who believed in him and says:

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

John’s Gospel begins: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God.” Today, we have more access to Jesus’ word than even the disciples who followed Him on His earthly ministry. Are we drawing closer to him, or becoming numb and apathetic? Abiding in Jesus word is the key to freedom.

Jesus crucified and risen is the truth that sets all captives free. Abide in His word. Not as a rule, or just a healthy practice, but as a gift from God given daily. The truth that sets us free. Allow it to free you too.”

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