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10:15 am Sunday School
Pastor Glenn Zimbelman
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America|
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|Pastor Glenn Zimbelman's Sermons
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For the next 5 months or so we will take a journey through the Gospel of John. In the normal cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary, this lesson is often read either on Christmas Day or the Sunday following Christmas. John by far is the most beloved of the four Gospels. We will encounter the I am sayings, the Wedding at Cana and woman at the well. The first chapter of John is called the prologue and it really contains all the themes found in the entire Gospel. This first chapter has lots of deep messages that it is hard to wrap your brain around many of the words. I hope this morning we can just touch a bit on some general themes.
This will be our last Sunday on the prophets and the Old Testament lessons. It has been quite a journey through the Old Testament this Fall. We looked at stories from Genesis like Jacob and Esau and explored Shadrack, Meschack and Abednego. Next week we will start our journey through the Gospel of John. If I am really good, I might even have new devotionals ready for you next week. So, today, we look at a very meaningful text, Isaiah chapter 55. Most scholars believe this was written after the Jewish nation returned from Exile. When they arrived back in the Promised Land it was a very bleak place.
As we live into our second week of Advent, our prophet this week is Ezekiel. Ezekiel is a Jewish refugee living in Babylon when the book was written. Much of the book is a judgement against Judah for their sins. It is because of their sins against God, that the Jewish nation ends up in Babylon. This of course is a theme that all the prophets address. As the end of the book, we have this vision about dry bones. So to get into the mood for the day I thought we could all sing along with the lyrics.
In Madison, Wisconsin there is this atheist organization called Freedom from Religion. They are staunch atheists. They are known for suing any city or civic organization that has anything to do with religion. Since we are entering our first week of advent I thought some Christmas stories are appropriate.
Today is Christ the King Sunday. One of the themes that emerges from Christ the King is a reminder that Christ will return to us someday. As a student I always hoped he would return before finals week and not after it! Many of us don’t think about the return much at all. While others spends way too much time thinking they have the secret code when Jesus will return. Rather than worrying about the if and the when, what matters most is the hope we have through Jesus Christ. When we look at our world we can certainly say things are much more complicated than even 20 years ago. The internet has become both a blessing and a curse. Our world is still a mess. We think that we are advancing as humans yet we have far too many places where war, famine and strife occur. So one way to deal with the matter is to have hope that someday Jesus will return and makes things good, and whole, and just and pure. This brings us to the text from Jeremiah. We continue our journey through the prophets.
Last week we looked at Amos the first prophet that we have written words for. Today we take a look at Isaiah. Isaiah ,means Yahweh is Salvation, was a southern kingdom prophet for 50 years from 740-681 BCE. During this time the Northern kingdom will be conquered by the Assyrians. Thus there is a foreign army on their doorsteps. This creates great uncertainty about the future of the southern kingdom Judah. Last week I talked about the phrase”
From this Sunday through the 3rd week in Advent we are going to take a journey through the prophets. Amos is the first and the oldest prophet found in the Old Testament. As we look at each prophet it is helpful to ask a questions first. Which nation is the prophet speaking to? At this time the Jewish Nation is divided because of a civil war. Yes, you can think of it as North versus South. The Northern Kingdom is called Israel which consisted of the 10 tribes. The Southern Kingdom was called Judah which consisted of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. Most prophets spoke to one kingdom over another, but some spoke to both. So what can we say about Amos?
I was reading a story about Lutheran pastors serving as Military Chaplains. Much of the work is listed under the phrase, Ministry of Presence. I had the privilege this week of pulling together 3 themes for you this morning. We have Elijah as part of our narrative lectionary. It is all Saint’s Day. Also, next Sunday is Stewardship Sunday where we receive an offering of our time, talent and treasures. I was tasked to also speak a bit on Stewardship as we pray about our commitment to our Lord for next year. So Elijah, All Saints Day and Stewardship. I dare say all 3 of them have a connection to the presence of God. There was a famous philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche who didn’t believe in God and had this famous quote.
Reformation Sunday is an important Sunday for Lutherans. This year we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the reformation. As a complete aside having nothing really to do with our message, did you know that the 500th anniversary made it into the story line of one of my favorite shows, NCIS. They did not have the license plate of a vehicle, but what they did have was a 500th Anniversary bumper sticker. So I kid you not. In the show, they are trying to figure out if someone was kidnapped. And one of the person says something like, looks like we have to find a Lutheran.
Eli is the high priest of Shiloh. It is normal that the sons of the High Priest would follow dad into ministry. Eli’s sons were terrible pastors. Yes, pastors are human too and some of they are simply not very good. So we read in 1 Samuel 2: 12
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