Rocklin, California

Tag: Advent

Prayer, Meditation, and the Cross for Advent

Prayer, meditation, and the cross

An Advent Meditation On The Three Things That Make a Christian

advent 2017 FB

Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio

Prayer, meditation, and the cross (affliction) are the three things that make one a theologian. And really, this is what makes a Christian as well.

In this Advent series, we will look at what it means for a Christian to be in prayer, to meditate on God’s Word day and night, and to suffer the Cross as our Lord did. We pray you can join us for this journey to the manger!

What: Advent Midweek Series

When: December 6, 13 & 20

6:00 PM Soup Supper

7:00 PM Prayer and Meditation

Where: Holy Cross Lutheran Church

4701 Grove St.

Rocklin, California 95677

(916)624-8185

www.holycrossrocklin.org

Advent 2 – Sermon: “The Brood” – Luke 3:1-14

Advent 2C, (December 6, 2015)


Holy Cross Lutheran Church


Rocklin, California


Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn


Luke 3:1-14

TITLE: “The Brood”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Luke chapter three.

Stir up our hearts, so we pray in the collect. And if there’s one thing that John the Baptist is good at, it is stirring things up. He is the great leveler, bar none. It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, high-born or low-born, Jew or Gentile. If you came to hear John preach, out there in the wilderness, you were going to be stirred up.

And this stirring up, at least at the beginning, well, it wouldn’t be pleasant. Listen again to those words about John from Isaiah:

““The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”” (Luke 3:4–6 ESV)

We have come to hear those words as part of the sweet saccharine of the Christmas season, but they aren’t. Imagine, if you will, a spiritual construction team coming in with graders, explosives, asphalt, backhoes, all of it coming to do work on your soul. What these words describe is God’s Law working upon your hearts, and the work, well, it’s messy, and hard, and you aren’t really meant to like it.

Because you see, you are broken. Your pride lifts you up like the Tower of Babel, and your despair brings you down to hell. Your path is not straight and clear, receiving from the Lord His mercy and grace. Rather, your path is crooked and windy. You go this way and that, one moment generous, and the next moment you are selfish, or full of gossip, or jealous of your neighbor. You never know from one minutes to the next which Christian is going to show up. Will it be the true one, or the fake one? The follower of Jesus, or the prideful, self-righteous one?

This is why John called the crowds a brood of vipers. Any way you look at it, calling a group of people a big pile of snakes isn’t good. You get the picture of everyone crawling upon each other, scrambling to get on top, when no one knows why or what purpose it serves.

John, it seems, may have been on to something there. Perhaps we are more like his brood of vipers than we would like to admit. Our lives are more scattered, more busy, and yet less generous than ever. When the people asked John what they should do, his answer was pretty simple: take care of your neighbor. Don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t steal. You know, the Ten Commandments. But when you are constantly trying to run over the other guy, in the serpent scramble to get on top of the pile, well, things like love and mercy tend to go out the window, and become snake bait along the way.

So I say to you the same thing that John said to his brood: Repent.

You see, beloved, you are not finally a brood of vipers, destined to bite and devour one another. You are children of God, baptized, beloved. The one who follows after John is the same one who crushes the head of the great serpent, Satan himself (Gen. 3:15). St. Paul said in Philippians that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV) God is at work in you and for you. He will not let you remain in your sins. He comes even now with His love and mercy to forgive your sins, to remake your heart into something altogether new. Jesus Christ goes into the pit of vipers, and in the greatest gift of all, turns them, that is, YOU, into something new.

And what is this new new thing that He is making? He is making you anew. In Holy Baptism you were filled with the righteousness of Christ, without spot or blemish. It was given to you, and is yours even now. You may forget and become more viperous, but He does not forget. So again and again, slowly but surely and with great patience and love, God continues to remove the scales of your sin, and give you that new life which can only come in Christ, Jesus our Lord.

The prophet Malachi wrote many years before, where the Lord said through him: “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6 ESV) God’s love and mercy for you is steadfast and enduring. His purpose for you does not end because you fall. He lifts you out of the pit, sets you up at His Table, and reminds you once again that you are not a brood of vipers, you are a brood of children, His children, holy and righteous.

Be who you are, beloved. Be his child, for He loves you with an everlasting love, which will never go out or be quenched, no matter how much the devil and the world may try. Be who you are in Him.

Let us pray:

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

2015-11-29 – Advent 1 – Sermon: “The Coming One” – Luke 19:28-40

Advent 1, (November 29, 2015)


Holy Cross Lutheran Church


Rocklin, California


Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn


Luke 19:28-40

TITLE: “The Coming One”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our text for this morning is taken from St. Luke chapter nineteen, our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem.

The church is always just a little bit off, isn’t it? When we are trying to be trendy, we’re usually about 20 years behind. What is new and exciting and even tempting to us as congregations has probably been done by the rest of the churches around us for years, never mind what the world things of as popular! Even our calendar is off. Today is the beginning of the church year for us. The first Sunday in Advent. Happy New Year!

What’s more, we don’t even have the sense to start the new year off in the beginning of the book! Here we go again, beginning our church year with Palm Sunday and Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. He’s coming, but His timing, well, it seems more than a little bit off.

Our Lord knew something about time, though, didn’t He? Advent means to come or maybe coming or something like that. And our Lord is always coming to us, His people. Throughout the book of Luke, indeed throughout the entire Bible, God is continually coming to His people. He is the creator. He is the one who makes things new. He is the one who sends patriarchs and prophets, priests and kings to His people to deliver His Word and Spirit. God is always coming, always leaning in toward you and I to see how He may serve us.

But while God is coming to us, revealing Himself to us and delivering Himself to us, we are running away from Him as quickly as we can. Do you remember the cry of God in the Garden to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” was His question for them. It is still a good question for you and I today. Where are you? Are you running from God, a Jonah in the making? Are you like the people of Israel, longing for the flesh-pots of Egypt, and wishing that God would leave you alone so could live your own life of desperation?

Oh make no mistake about it, friends. We are all runners. We run from our sins, we run and hide from each other. Our sins separate us, divide us, and make it so that you and I don’t even know what is good for us. We play this hide-and-seek game with God, hoping He won’t find us, yet needing Him so very desperately.

This is why Jesus is not satisfied to sit up in heaven, watching you as you flounder around like a fish out of water here on earth. Jesus is coming. As we pray in the hymn,

Then stepped forth the Lord of all

From His pure and kingly hall;

God of God, yet fully man,

His heroic course began.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is coming, and indeed has already come among us. He stepped forth from heaven itself and entered into our very flesh and blood through the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

God the Father was His source,

Back to God He ran His course.

Into hell His road went down,

Back then to His throne and crown.

In this topsy-turvy world of strange timing and stranger journeys, our Lord takes His trip to us. He is coming, dearly baptized. He is coming.

And His coming means change for sinners like you and me. It means that things are different, that they are, well, that they are better than we first believed possible. As we pray in the hymn:

For You are the Father’s Son

Who in flesh the vict’ry won.

By Your mighty pow’r make whole

All our ills of flesh and soul.

These ills of flesh and soul are what afflict us all. They afflict us so much so that we run and hide, like a child who is afraid of going to the doctor who can heal them. But Christ, in His mercy, slowly and surely comes, gently lifts you up upon Himself, and takes you home to be with Him forever.

In this Holy Season, do not let the things of this world, the distractions of life, and the sins which afflict us all, do not let these things pull you away from the true joy which can only come through the Shepherd-King, riding upon a donkey, who comes for you even now. We pray:

Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

In the name of our Coming King. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

via Advent 1, Series C

Coming (Advent 1C, December 2, 2012)

1 donkey

Todd A. Peperkorn, STM

Ad Te Levavi (Advent 1), December 2, 2012

Luke 19:28-40

12-02-2012advent1.mp3

TITLE: “Coming”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.  Our text for this morning is the Gospel lesson just read, with focus on the words from Zechariah, Behold, your King is coming to you.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and come to rescue us from the threatening perils of our sins, and save us by Your promised deliverance…we begin our Advent season with that ancient prayer.  Stir up your power, O Lord.  You almost get a picture of someone rousing out of a deep sleep to come and save us.  Or maybe of God baking a great big batch of salvation.  God rises up and comes down to earth to save us.  As Paul wrote in Romans, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  Advent is a time when we look forward and prepare for our Lord’s coming to save us.

But what are we saved from?  We are saved from the threatening perils of our sins.  If you were to ask people today what are the dangers in the world, I think the perils of our sins would be pretty low on the list, wouldn’t it?  This time of year, the threatening perils would be the economy, the Middle East, the violence that seems to shape our world today.  Those are the dangers.  To this list we could perhaps add things for some like materialism, hunger and how to put food on the table.

But what do I need to be saved?  Why does God need to stir anything up?  Why did our Lord have to come down as a humble servant?  This Palm Sunday reading really draws attention to the fact that the way the Church celebrates Advent and Christmas is totally different from how the world celebrates the holidays.  Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly, with palm branches and cries of “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  But He enters on a donkey, the animal of peace, and He enters from the Mount of Olives, the sign of mercy, and He enters as a King who comes to die.  What kind of an entry is this?  What kind of a King comes into His Kingdom in such a humble and lowly fashion?  Only the true King of Israel.  Only your King.  Only Jesus.  And He came because of your sins.  Nothing more, nothing less.

But this is something that is lost on all of us.  For the world and those all around us, Advent is a time of hurried preparations and excitement.  Advent is a time for baking, a time for parties and a time for buying presents.  For many, too, Advent becomes a time of great stress.  The bills go up, you see friends and family more, which is sometimes good and sometimes not so good.  Oftentimes you see people you frankly don’t want to see.  It’s a time when we long for peace and tranquility, but it always seems just around the corner, always just out of our grasp.

To this our Lord says, “step back, and remember that my life is your life, and that what is important to me is what makes you who you are.”  In other words, Advent is about Jesus, about who He is, and about why He had to come to earth to save us.

Our Lord comes down to earth to save you from the threatening perils of your sins.  You are held fast in Satan’s chains.  He is the one who has control over you by nature.  Your sins cling to you with cords of death.  The trials and troubles of this life are just glimpses of that great battle which goes own for your soul every day.  But our Lord enters into this world as a humble King, lowly and sitting on a donkey.  And when He enters into this world, He enters into your life.  The crazy, topsy-turvy nature of your life then becomes His life.  For you.

Think back to our text for a moment.  Jesus enters into Jerusalem, the Holy City, on a donkey.  People wave Palm branches before Him, and since this was the Feast of Tabernacles for the Jews, they are all wearing white robes, which they lay down on the road before Him.  But Jesus is not a King that comes to destroy.  He doesn’t ride a horse, the animal of war.  He rides a donkey, an animal of peace.  For He brings a peace that cannot be bought, it cannot be negotiated or won in the usual way.  The Prince of Peace comes to bring peace by His own death.

For dear friends, peace always has a price.  It’s true in places like Iraq and around the world, and it is especially true when it comes to our everlasting peace with God.  Sometimes when we search for peace, we want a peace with no cost.  Dear friends, that isn’t peace, that’s appeasement.  That’s avoiding the conflict which has caused the war to begin.

This is why Jesus great and wonderful title as the Prince of Peace is so comforting.  He is the price for your peace with God.  He is the payment for your sins.  That is why we pray that God would stir up His power and come.  It is a wonderful and amazing thing, but when God stirs up and power to come down and save us from the threatening peril of our sins, He does it in a way that we cannot even dream of.  He comes to take your place.  He comes to make everything right which you because of your sin have ruined and messed up.

What a comfort that is to hurting sinners like you and I!  You don’t need to feel guilty for your failures and shortcomings.  The burdens which plague you and trouble you are now his.  He takes them off of your shoulders and puts them on himself.  And in their place He puts His own life.

This is why we can say with the crowds that day, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!  Hosanna means Lord save us!  God has promised to come and save us.  This Advent we remember the beginning of that great journey for heaven to earth and back again for you.  God stirs up his power, and in His work things are far better than they ever were before.  We pray:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and come to rescue us from the threatening perils of our sins, and save us by Your promised deliverance; for You now live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

 The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting.  Amen.

“The Lord Has Need of Them” – Advent 1 (Ad Te Levavi) 2011

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our text for this morning is taken from the Gospel just read from St. Matthew chapter 21. We focus on the words, “The Lord Has Need of Them”.

Our Lord’s coming is one of humility and lowliness. One could hardly imagine a more contrary approach to what we call the Christmas season than Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Yet for more than a thousand years, the Church has welcomed each new church year not with the Annunciation or one of the pre-Christmas stories, but rather with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. If ever there was evidence that God’s ways are not our ways, this is it.

But there it is. While we shop ‘til we drop and have days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, in the Church our eyes are fixed on Jesus. This is a season of contrasts for the Christian. On the one hand, the themes of family and friends and gift giving are certainly good and appropriate. It resonates with our American sense of pride and the way things ought to be. Yet there is this nagging sense that things are not right. Surely there is something more than home and hearth or trees and tinsel.

Jesus, the Righteous Branch, knows something that our world does not remember. His understanding of who you are and what you truly need is deeper, far deeper than we can even fathom. Jesus knows that you are suffering. He knows that you are mourning over your sin and brokenness. He knows that this season, these months, are the hardest of the year for most people. He knows that while you put on a happy face and try to exude Christmas cheer, He knows that there is mourning.

So what do you mourn this holy season? Do you mourn the death of a loved one? Or the shattering of a marriage? The loss of income, of friendship, or of something deeper? What is it that you fear? The unknown? Those inevitable conflicts with family, and the spent expectations which seem so inevitable? Whatever it is that you fear, it is pretty likely that it will be on your mind and in your heart this month. Life has a way of getting in the way when all we want to do is forget. And no amount of forgetfulness pills in alcohol and food and shopping are going to change that.

But back to our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. The scene is set just a few days away from our Lord’s betrayal and death at the hands of sinners. They are in Bethphage, just a scant mile from the holy city. This city was really the dugout or batter’s box for the priests. They went there after their service in the Temple, and it was there that they prepared for service in the Lord’s house. You couldn’t travel more than a mile on the Sabbath, so this was the staging area for those getting ready to do the Lord’s bidding at His house. So here is Jesus, ready to do the ultimate service of sacrifice, getting ready to go. Jesus then tells the disciples to go into town, find a donkey and a colt, and bring them back. And if anyone questions you about it, say to them quite simply, “The Lord needs them.”

God has a way of pressing things into His service that we never planned or intended. Our grief and our joy. Our sorrows. Even our sins have been pressed into His holy service. For however broken and troubled you are, our Lord with gentleness and care takes all of these pieces of your crazy life and says to you quite simply, “I need this. Can I have this? It would fit in perfectly into my plan for your salvation.” It’s as if God takes inventory of all of the junk in your life, and everything you would toss as as too hard or too painful, that is what He wants to use for His own holy purposes.

I will be the first to admit that this is hard to see at times. Ok. Not hard. Impossible. How can God use all of this junk to prepare me for His appearing? And I’ll be honest with you: I don’t know. I don’t know in my own life, and I don’t know in yours, either. But what our Lord says to you today is that everything you have and everything you are is pressed into His service.

But this is very important to understand. What I am not talking about is the sort of cheesy “God has a plan” sort of talk that we so often try to comfort ourselves with. It goes much deeper than that. What God wants for you this week and every week is that you recognize what is really going on around you through His Word and Spirit. St. Paul put it this way in our Epistle,

“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

So what our Lord asks of you today is simple. Wake up! Remember who you are, a baptized child of God, holy and beloved. Remember that our Lord’s coming is about you. It is about your salvation, which is right here, right now. Jesus Word is here, His body and blood are ever present, offering you forgiveness, life and salvation.

 

The Lord is our righteousness, we hear in Jeremiah. You, like those people lining the streets for our Lord so many years ago, are here awaiting His coming. You wait, but you wait in the prison cell of your sin and brokenness. But your wait is not in vain. Our righteousness is coming, indeed He has already come for you. He is here, even now, ready to release you from all that binds you and holds in thrall. The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote this about this season:

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes – and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The door to your freedom has been opening in the birth and death and resurrection of our Advent King, the Lord of heaven and earth. Be free. Our king is coming to you. Rejoice, daughter of Zion! Shout and rejoice! Sing with palm branches in your hards and faith in your hearts as we cry out with the people of Jerusalem, angels, archangels and all the company of heaven, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

 

He is coming for you. He is coming now. He is coming with healing in His wings. He is coming to set you free. Blessed is He who comes.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

And now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.