The Wittenberg Trail

Charles Henrickson's Blog (385)

"The Great Christmas Gift Exchange" (Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11)

“The Great Christmas Gift Exchange” (Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11)

There is a game that is played at this time of year at Christmas parties all across the land. The game goes by several names, but I think most often it is called “Rob Your Neighbor,” and I’m sure many of you have played it. The rules may vary from place to place, but generally I think it goes something like this. Each person brings a gift that could go to anyone in the group, depending on how the game turns out. The…


Added by Charles Henrickson on December 18, 2014 at 12:12pm — No Comments

"Who Are You, John?" (John 1:6-8, 19-28)

“Who Are You, John?” (John 1:6-8, 19-28)

How would you like to be defined in terms of someone else? I mean, who you are, your life and identity--when people think of you, they always compare you to somebody else? Are you like this person? Are you like that person? I suppose it could get old after a while. Why can’t people just take you for who you are, on your own terms? Well, today we’ll meet someone whose life was always being defined in terms of someone else. And you…


Added by Charles Henrickson on December 14, 2014 at 1:26pm — No Comments

"Comfort, Comfort My People" (Isaiah 40:1-11)

“Comfort, Comfort My People” (Isaiah 40:1-11)

“Comfort, comfort my people.” Yes, comfort. A word so nice, they said it twice. Who did? Why, Isaiah did. Well, actually God said it, through his prophet Isaiah. You heard it at the start of today’s Old Testament Reading from Isaiah 40: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,” etc. God wants his preachers to bring comfort to his people, to speak tenderly to his church. And so this is what God has…


Added by Charles Henrickson on December 7, 2014 at 12:05pm — No Comments

"Restore Us, O God" (Psalms 80, 85, 126)

“Restore Us, O God” (Psalms 80, 85, 126)

We’ve just heard three psalms that are appointed for this Advent season, Psalms 80, 85, and 126. Did you happen to catch what they have in common? There was a connecting theme running through all three of these psalms. And here it is. It is the prayer, in one form or another, that goes something like this: “Restore Us, O God.”

In Psalm 126, we heard of a previous restoration: “When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we…


Added by Charles Henrickson on December 3, 2014 at 8:13pm — No Comments

"A Prayer to the God Who Acts" (Isaiah 64:1-9)

“A Prayer to the God Who Acts” (Isaiah 64:1-9)

Today is the First Sunday in Advent, the first day of a brand new church year. And this season of Advent is a time of waiting, a time of penitential preparation, as we wait for the coming of our King. Christ is coming, our Savior and Redeemer. We prepare for the celebration of our Savior’s birth at Christmas. And we wait for his coming again at the end of this age. Advent is a time for remembering God’s promises to send a…


Added by Charles Henrickson on November 30, 2014 at 3:47pm — 1 Comment

"A Very Ferguson Thanksgiving" (Habakkuk 1:2-4, 9-11; 3:17-19)

“A Very Ferguson Thanksgiving” (Habakkuk 1:2-4, 9-11; 3:17-19)

I’m sure many of us were watching on our televisions the other night when we saw what was supposed to be a peaceful protest in Ferguson suddenly and not unexpectedly turn quite unpeaceful. Looters started breaking store windows and stealing what they could get their hands on. Arsonists began to torch buildings and cars and burn them to the ground. Rioters were running wild and not much was being done to stop…


Added by Charles Henrickson on November 26, 2014 at 12:00pm — 1 Comment

"Separating the Sheep from the Goats" (Matthew 25:31-46)

“Separating the Sheep from the Goats” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Judgment Day is coming! Are you ready? This is an important question, because the Day of Judgment is indeed coming, and you will be judged. Now that judgment could be positive or it could be negative, but you will be judged.

In fact, everybody will be judged, all the people who have ever lived. Many people don’t want to hear this, but it is the truth. The Holy Scriptures throughout teach that there will be a…


Added by Charles Henrickson on November 22, 2014 at 10:49pm — 9 Comments

"Christ Has Brought Us out of Darkness" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30; Zephaniah 1:7-16)

“Christ Has Brought Us out of Darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30; Zephaniah 1:7-16)

Well, here we are in the middle of November. It’s cold. It’s dark outside. The trees are growing bare. The days are growing shorter. The earth seems to be dying. Darkness seems to be winning. So it seems appropriate that at this time of year--every year, in November--in the church we focus our attention on the end times. We’re coming toward the end of the church year, before…


Added by Charles Henrickson on November 16, 2014 at 6:21pm — No Comments

"The True Rapture" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

“The True Rapture” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Maybe you remember a bumper sticker that was popular a few years back, which read: “In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned.” What that bumper sticker meant is the idea that when Jesus comes again, all the Christians alive on earth at that time will be “beamed up” suddenly, leaving the rest of the people on earth behind. That’s why the cars and airplanes and so forth will be vacated when the Christians vanish. This is the…


Added by Charles Henrickson on November 9, 2014 at 11:33am — No Comments

"Justification: The Heart of the Reformation" (Romans 3:19-28)

“Justification: The Heart of the Reformation” (Romans 3:19-28)

Today is the last Sunday in October, and so we are observing Reformation Day. It will be 497 years ago this Friday, on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, thus setting in motion the great Reformation of the Christian church. We are the heirs of that Reformation, blessed to be so, and so we join with faithful Lutherans all around the globe…


Added by Charles Henrickson on October 26, 2014 at 1:30pm — 1 Comment

"Render--But Don't Surrender--unto Caesar" (Matthew 22:15-22)

“Render--But Don’t Surrender--unto Caesar” (Matthew 22:15-22)

“Render unto Caesar”: I think most of us have heard that expression. In fact, I would say that most Americans, whether they’re in the church or not, have heard it. “Render unto Caesar.” The average person might say: “Let’s see, I think that has something to do with what we’re supposed to owe the government.” And they would be right. It does have to do with what we owe the government. But don’t stop the saying…


Added by Charles Henrickson on October 18, 2014 at 10:03pm — No Comments

"Decliners and Recliners" (Matthew 22:1-14)

“Decliners and Recliners” (Matthew 22:1-14)

Do you ever get an invitation to an event--a party, say--and they ask you to RSVP? So you check your calendar, and you see you’ve got a schedule conflict, and so you’ve got to decline the invitation. There’s something more important going on that day--you’ve got to work, or a family obligation--just something that’s a higher priority to you than going to that party.

But now say you’ve gotten an invitation to a party, and…


Added by Charles Henrickson on October 12, 2014 at 12:02am — No Comments

"St. Paul's Rubbish Sale" (Philippians 3:4b-13)

“St. Paul’s Rubbish Sale” (Philippians 3:4b-13)

Yesterday our Ladies’ Guild here at St. Matthew’s held a rummage sale. You know how a rummage sale works. People donate their old, obsolete items that they don’t want or need anymore, and then those items are resold, usually at a much lower price than the original purchase price. And when I say much lower, I mean much lower! I saw a television set downstairs that someone may have paid a couple hundred bucks for originally, but…


Added by Charles Henrickson on October 5, 2014 at 11:36am — No Comments

"You Shine as Lights in the World" (Philippians 2:1-18)

“You Shine as Lights in the World” (Philippians 2:1-18)

In our Epistle for today, from Philippians 2, St. Paul appeals to us Christians to live as who we are, namely, “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.” Did you hear that? “You Shine as Lights in the World.” Yes, you do! And today we’ll find out why and how.

But before you can shine, first you…


Added by Charles Henrickson on September 27, 2014 at 10:00pm — No Comments

"Following Jesus with St. Matthew" (Matthew 9:9-13)

“Following Jesus with St. Matthew” (Matthew 9:9-13)

On the church year calendar, September 21 is the day for commemorating St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. And since this year September 21 falls on a Sunday, today we are celebrating the Festival of St. Matthew.

Who exactly was this St. Matthew, you ask, and why should we remember him? Well, first of all, as to who he is, as I mentioned, we refer to him as St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. Each of those terms,…


Added by Charles Henrickson on September 21, 2014 at 4:11pm — No Comments

"But We Preach Christ Crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

“But We Preach Christ Crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

You’ll notice that the color of our paraments today is red--in other words, something different from the ordinary green that we use in the non-festival half of the church year. This means that we’re observing a special festival today, one that happens to fall on a Sunday this year. And this festival is called Holy Cross Day. What is Holy Cross Day, you ask? Well, let me tell you the background of this…


Added by Charles Henrickson on September 13, 2014 at 10:15pm — No Comments

"Love Is the Fulfilling of the Law" (Romans 13:1-10)

“Love Is the Fulfilling of the Law” (Romans 13:1-10)

Do you want to know what you should be doing this week? I can tell you with sure confidence what God’s will is for you this week. It’s pretty simple, actually. I can sum it up in one word: Love. That’s right. Love. In terms of how you deal with the people you encounter this week, that’s about the size of it: Love them. How can I be so sure of this? Because God’s Word tells me this is so, that this is God’s will for each…


Added by Charles Henrickson on September 7, 2014 at 5:10am — No Comments

"Peter Gets the 'Who' But Not the 'How'" (Matthew 16:21-28)

“Peter Gets the ‘Who’ But Not the ‘How’” (Matthew 16:21-28)

Last week’s Gospel was Matthew 16:13-20. Today’s Gospel is the verses that follow, Matthew 16:21-28. Last week we heard Peter say something that brought a hearty commendation from Jesus, who told Peter that he was the rock on which he would build his church. This week Peter says something that brings a harsh rebuke from Jesus, with Jesus basically calling Peter “Satan” and telling him to get behind him. So in just…


Added by Charles Henrickson on August 31, 2014 at 1:27pm — No Comments

"Jesus and the Church: Inseparable" (Matthew 16:13-20)

“Jesus and the Church: Inseparable” (Matthew 16:13-20)

“I love your Christ, but I dislike your Christianity.” That is a quote that has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, the leading figure from India of the 20th century. Sometimes it’s quoted as “I like your Jesus. I don’t like your Christians.” Or something like that. Whether Gandhi actually said this or not, the point is the same: Some people want to have Jesus--or at least the Jesus of their imagination--they want to…


Added by Charles Henrickson on August 23, 2014 at 10:42pm — No Comments

"Jesus and People on the Fringe" (Matthew 15:21-28)

“Jesus and People on the Fringe” (Matthew 15:21-28)

People on the fringe. That’s what you might call them. People on the fringe of respectable society. Sometimes beyond the fringe. These are not the good, upstanding people who have their act all together and are living their best life now. No, these are people with problems in their life. People who have gotten off track and maybe now are regretting the bad choices they have made. Perhaps they’re looking for a better way,…


Added by Charles Henrickson on August 16, 2014 at 8:08pm — 1 Comment

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