Monday, January 18, 2021

Sermon Jan. 16-17, 2021

Title: Follow me! Jesus calls to you and me!
Text: John 1:43-51

Facebook live: Follow me! Jesus call you and me!

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”

In 1973, I graduated high school, I was playing in a band and the drinking age had just been lowered to 18. Bars began to get the teens in droves where bands played and teens drank. Teen clubs closed and I found myself evaluating the situation.

My band played in bars but I didn’t drink while there. Through sober eyes what I saw was sad and concerning. Normal well respecting people became less concerned with how they looked and what they did. It could have been easy to get caught up in the same activity. I was raised in the church, and though not active in reading the scriptures, I knew by my conscience that I needed to hold myself to a different standard. God had other plans for my life and I’m glad I did.

Now, I’m not saying that drinking is the problem but certainly drinking in excess can cause many problems both physically and socially, as well as publicly and privately.

When we are called to follow Christ we are called to a new hope and new life in him. It can be a rough road at times and for the Christian our lives must daily be conformed by God to his word.

44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Finding the savior is not our work but Gods. He finds us even though we at times don’t know we are lost.

Jesus found Philip and called him to “Follow me.” To this Philip responded in faith and called to Nathanael, “We have found him!” and “Come and see.”

30 years ago at another time God called me in a special way to a greater relationship with him.

Prayer was not an active part of my life and I always felt uncomfortable with public prayer. You may feel that too. I didn’t spend much time in prayer … except at church … and even my attendance had been falling away. So at times of distress I simply sat in my chair in the quiet of my room and brought to the Lord what was burdening me. As I sat, I prayed the Lord’s Prayer – the one prayer that I knew – asking the Lord for comfort and peace in whatever was troubling me.

God did the rest. He gave me comfort and peace in all things … and drew me to himself through his word. At times it can be in conflict with where we are and what we do. I felt that being in the bar was not the best place for me though at times the Lord even used that place as a place for his word to go forth.

God calls us to faith and then to action. He called me to a renewed relationship in Christ and then as he continued to work in me through his word – as I attended services and read the bible - he gave me a desire to serve him. I didn’t know what or how but God’s call – “follow me!” - was clear!

Many times the world and the word are in conflict.

One says yes, the other no.

One says speak up, the other be quiet.

One says you can, the other you can’t.

And notice that each can apply to the word or the world at different times, in different ways.

God doesn’t always call us to what seems clear to us.

He calls us all first to faith, where he opens heaven to us through Baptism, uniting us in Christ, with whom he is well pleased. It is then that he uses us as his people to serve others. For some, it is in service here at Peace and Lord knows we have many places to serve. For others he calls us to be a witness to our friends and neighbors just as my friend Rob was to me, and me to my friend Mark just as Philip was to Nathanael calling him to “come and see!”

I've had the joy of being in both places. Both being called and calling others. Where, when and how has or will the Lord called and use you?

Jesus calls you and me though the word to follow him!

At times it is when you least expect it. Take Samuel in our Old Testament reading for today:

8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

I felt the Lord’s calling me to service for the last 30 plus years but it took quite a while for me to discern his call, and to hear just how the Lord wished to use me and where.

These past 8 years we lost some blessed servants here at Peace who heard God’s call “follow me!” and followed and served. But every time we lose someone who dies in Christ, or moves away, we see the Lord work in the hearts of others to serve.

Over the last few years we've had needs of a few Elders. Jim Rich, Bob Poe and Bill Krueger and Matt Rich all answered the call. While others continued to faithfully serve. Bill Krueger and Scott Regentin answered the call to serve as this congregation’s President and Vice President not expecting the year 2020 would become and we thank the Lord for his blessing during this difficult time.

There is always a time to prayerfully consider what the Lord needs and how he might use you in service to others.

When becoming an Elder Jim Rich told me about his deliberation: “Pastor, I didn't want to accept the position unless I was willing to meet the obligations of the position and … God kept pursuing me.”

There are so many names and so many stories like this to tell. Ladies guild, Altar guild, Sunday school, worship committee … trustees and the list goes on and on – though for a time we are all sidelined a bit.

But know that the world and the word will always be in conflict. Even when Jesus calls … we sometimes only hear the sinful call of our own selfish desires or the world’s sinful ways.

Whether it is our own sinfulness, 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” or the work of the devil to put fear in the Lord’s church over Covid, the vaccine, or safety procedures in place or not in place here and in our community and in the world!

We all try to act in love towards one another but so often we stumble.

Service is hard. It requires sacrifice. Jesus knows you and he knows me. Truth be told, we all would take the easy way out … at first.

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

Or it might be interpreted:

“Behold one who is true to the name of Israel,

Or, as God says of the Israelites: they are a stiffed neck people.

In some ways we too might be in Christ but not of Christ, following the way of deceit and missing the opportunity to serve Christ, missing the mark which is sin.

You might ask, “How do you know me?” as Nathanael did.

Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

Christ sees you and me. He knows what we've done. He knows all our sins because they became his sins too. He took the sins you and I've committed and he has taken the ones that we have yet to commit to the cross. There he crucified your sins and mine. And no matter our guilt he has taken that away too.

Jesus calls us to follow him, to be in the world but not of the world. How will you respond?

49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

It is indeed, a privilege to serve God but God can use us all in so many ways. Desire it, enjoys it and thank those who serve here and in the world. It is a privilege and a responsibility. May you always be blessed - as you hear and serve wherever the Lord Our God - has called you to serve.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Sermon Jan. 9-10, 2021

Title: The Father is well pleased with you in Christ!
Text: Mark 1:4-11 

Facebook live: The Father is well pleased with you in Christ!

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Being well pleased is something I think we all would enjoy. At times we are pleased to be recognized for things we do. It might be at church, work, or school where the work we do is seen by others, or it just might be a self awareness of things we have done that we are pleased about.

This weekend we begin the Epiphany Season. Christmas is over and this is the time when Christ is revealed to the world, made known in the visit of the Magi bearing gifts – the wise men journey to visit this King of the Jews. But our Gospel reading for today is of Jesus – fully grown - and beginning his ministry.

In last weekend’s sermon, Jesus was the boy was in the Temple among the teachers, listening and asking questions to them and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers!

Today we read about the man Jesus - not the 12 year old boy - who is around 30, beginning his ministry, and the one recognized by John as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

Here, Jesus goes out to where John is Baptizing. We know very little about what went on over the last 18 years of Jesus’ life, from his sitting in the Temple questioning the teachers of the Law to this time now and the beginning of his earthly ministry. But Mark’s gospel begins with a quote from the prophet Isaiah:

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way. He calls the people to repentance – to recognize their fallen state as sinners – and to repent.

To this water, and to this repentance, Jesus comes to John as one, mightier than John and even one whom the sandals of Jesus - John is not worthy to untie.

So why baptism, why Jesus, and why by John?

Well, John was sent to prepare the way. He was sent to fulfill what the prophet had foretold. He was to be the voice and herald to the one who would come and is now here.

Mark believes that his gospel and Jesus’ baptism is a fitting place to start.

John had had great success and the people were going out to him, to repent of their sin and to receive this Baptism of Repentance from John.

Jesus came to this baptism to replace John (his work was done), and to replace you.

When Jesus was baptized he fulfilled what was promised, marked as a sinner in your place, he came to take away the sins of the world.

Jesus had no sin, he needed no repentance, but he came for you and for all who are born in the natural way, conceived in trespass and sin. His baptism was a baptism of death, in that Christ Jesus was marked to be the Lamb of God the once for all sacrifice who takes away your sin, and the sins of the whole world, so that you can be marked not for death … but for life.

We daily fall short and are not well pleasing to the father and others most of the time.

When I was about 15 my friend Jeff Bowdell lived across the street from me. His dad had a red 1965 Ford Falcon in the garage for his wife and got a new car every few years as an engineer for Ford.

One day I looked out my kitchen window as Bow opened the garage door went inside and gingerly backed the car out of the garage. I thought that was interesting as I didn’t have my license yet and was a few months older than him. He did this a few times – pulling the car into the garage and backing it out. On one attempt at pulling in, the car lunged a bit hitting the middle section of the garage between the two doors. A nice section of cut stone fell to the pavement. Bow got out of the car and surveyed the damage to the garage and the car. Needless to say his dad was not too happy with him but thankfully his dad loved him and he survived this encounter to live another day.

And you [and I] are dead in trespass and sins. Eph 2:1

Because of sin and its consequence we live with the reality of being separated from God and of being God’s enemies. We live with this disaster and we die with this disaster apart from Christ because the wages of sin is death. Rom 6:21

We all are born dead; Sounds funny?

But spiritually we are dead. We are separated from God and it will take an act of God to restore us, to make us right with God and this is done only by Christ and only in Christ. With you and with me God is not pleased as we stand in our sinfulness and covered by our own righteousness in a sense having pushed his table saw into the family room.

But, Jesus came to be your substitute; to stand in your place; to be marked as a sinner, in your place and for you.

9 … Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Here Jesus takes your place as the repentant one, he is without sin and acceptable by the father to be the once for all sacrifice.

10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Father is well pleased with Christ and in Christ the Father is well pleased with you!

The Baptism of Christ leads from the waters of repentance by John to Jerusalem, to Jesus and ultimately to the cross for you.

Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Jesus Christ has gone into the water of repentance for you. He then goes to finish the work for which he came and to give you what you need and could never attain on your own merit. He gives you life and salvation by his death and resurrection and he give you the kingdom of God by his saving act for you.

Sound improbable?

Though it may seem improbable for man - it is not with God who makes all things new in Christ.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:5-7

Dear friends you are united and made new by Christ in Baptism you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord and:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen

Funeral Sermon for Heinz K. Hoffmann Thursday, January 7, 2021

Title: Baptized into Christ!
Text: Rom 6:3-10 (English Standard Version) 

Facebook live: Baptized inro Christ!

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Dear friends, family and loved ones of our beloved Heinz.

It has been a blessing to know Heinz and Erika over these last 20 years of my life here at Peace and to be blessed to serve them as pastor for the last 8 years.

God’s love is certainly made know to us in his son Jesus.

It is also made know to us in the lives of family and especially in the life of Heinz Hoffman and his love for Jesus, this congregation, and his beloved wife Erika and their love one for another.

So though we grieve at Heinz’s passing we can also have comfort as well. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John in Chapter 10 that:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Heinz Hoffmann trusted Jesus.

This is a funeral and service of remembrance for Heinz but he and Erika have been so connected to one another over the last 65 plus years that it is hard to speak about one without the other.

The Hoffman’s came to Peace in April of 1972 and the blessing to this congregation through their servant hearts and hands began and continues to this day.

45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Heinz’s service began as he left his native Germany, becoming an immigrant and refugee in this country after WWII.

Heinz became a citizen and enlisted and served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany during the Korean War where he and Erika reconnected and were married.

Following the war they returned to the U.S. to make a home and life for themselves where Heinz had a long time landscape business with customers that he continued to serve even into his 80’s.

As Heinz would say,

“I have some customers that still call me so I go and do the work!”

The Love of God is made known in the person and work of his son, our Lord Jesus Christ. God makes this known to us by the revealing of his Spirit made know to us in Holy Baptism.

Heinz was marked in Baptism’s as redeem by Christ and adopted into God’s family as his beloved child – even as a foreigner adopted into his new home and country.

He and Erika were united in Holy Matrimony on July 23, 1955, and in the presence of God the two became one.

That is:

65 years as husband and wife,
65 years in loving devotion to each other, and
65 years together as God’s servants and ambassadors to a world that needs Christ and his love.

Much of this would not have happened had Heinz, many years ago, not uttered three very important words.

As a youth in Germany the Nazi’s had come to the farm where Heinz and his family lived. Among their meager possessions they had a horse, and when an officer grabbed the reins of the horse to lead it away Heinz protested, “Hey, what are you doing, that’s my horse!” The officer pulled out his gun and aimed it at Heinz and asked, “Whose horse is it?” to which Heinz answered with those important words, “That’s your horse!”

In this life we are all born to die, but by our Lord’s gracious love and will he is in charge of that time and for Heinz, the Lord has seen fit to call him to his eternal rest. I assume that the trees in glory might need a bit of trimming and Heinz and his service was required.

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16b

Clearly God’s love abided in Heinz, first for Christ as we know, and for Erika as the two became one united together as husband and wife and living in that love.

Blessed with their children Sylvia and Doris, those blessings continued with their families, with grandchildren, and now with three great grandchildren as well.

Heinz and Erika have been greatly blessed in this life and now Heinz has departed and is resting in the arms of his savior. Their marriage vows of long ago ring true:

For better for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health
to love and to cherish,
til death do you part

The Lord has made us new in the waters of Holy Baptism and in his hands Jesus has promised to hold us and never let us fall and that promise was for Heinz’s as his child made in his image.

During this past fall Monica had a Sunday afternoon that we spent with Heinz and Erika at their home. Heinz talked about the years in the house and acreage he had purchased around the house that stretched out all the way to Williams Lake rd. He was thankful for the blessings of the Lord to his this immigrant to the U.S. He said it was undeveloped land but he liked to go out in the middle of it and just stand and admire my kingdom, and as Heinz said it with a laugh and a smile - knowing that all of his blessings had come from the hand of the Lord.

Now, death causes tears to fall.

Death’s sting has been swallowed up in victory by our Lord Jesus Christ and we can have comfort in His blessed work and this blessed Good News that in and through Jesus Christ God and man have been reconciled.

As we together grieve the loss of our dear Heinz and think about this frail existence we all inhabit here in this world, we can still have peace.

The words of the apostle John ring true in Chapter 14 of his gospel:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Heinz knew the way of Christ prepared for him.

You too have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust.

Jesus has forgiven your sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in you, has given you the faith to believe in His saving work. That’s a place prepared for you, forgiven in Christ, and an eternity with our Lord and savior Jesus that you can trust.

May the Lord comfort you with this blessed good news now and forever!

Amen

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Sermon Jan. 2-3, 2021

Title: Christ as human and divine is wisdom and power!
Text: Luke 2:40-52 

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40 And the child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

When we speak of God's power, we may understand it by his Omnipotence, as the all powerful God speaks His creation into existence or even the parting of the Red Sea, or the raising of one from death to life.

We in our day certainly look for God's power in His ability to do things for us such as healing our sicknesses today – right now - even as He healed those who were blind, lame, and afflicted in the stories we’ve heard from His Holy Word.

Today’s gospel shows the power and wisdom in a 12 year old youth in the fully human Jesus who:

40 … grew and became strong, [and was] filled with wisdom. And [God’s] favor [rested] upon him.

And as was the custom of the family at this time, Mary, Joseph and Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of the Passover. On this occasion of their visit, unlike last week with the redeeming of the firstborn with a sacrifice, Jesus here is twelve years of age and 43 … as they were returning [home], the [12 year old] Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.

For any of you who have been on a trip and misplaced a child … well … it can be very difficult and tenuous time to say the least. Missing sight of my own children for even a few second in a store brought concern and slight panic.

His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.

You can understand as a parent Mary’s frustration at Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem. I can think of how I might have reacted if my son or daughter had done this to me … I would have been not too happy to say the least, and here is Jesus in the Temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And we’re told:

47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Of course they were amazed … Jesus was not your ordinary 12 year old. Twelve years on from the birth of the Christ child and Mary didn’t remember who she had carried or who she had given birth to. She was a mother concerned only for her lost son.

Back in the early 90’s I use to go to the Chet Atkins guitar festival in Nashville with my friend Rob. We would take our guitars and meet old and new friends who had great appreciation for Chet’s music and ability. It never ceased to amaze me how many young boys and girls who were in their early teens who could play circles around me! They had learned many of Chet’s songs and committed them to memory. They were a good imitation of the guitar style Chet had pioneered. But on closes inspection many of these child prodigies lacked a wisdom and maturity in their playing. Over time some would grow to become mature adult musicians while others would slip into obscurity or fall victim to their early success never able to attain that level of accomplishment again. Some of these polished 12 year olds even signed up to take lessons from my friend Rob where his years of wisdom and musical maturity could bring out the best in them.

This Jesus was different!

Those who heard him were amazed. It is something we all need to be reminded of. This child born of Mary on Christmas day is God in the flesh.

This coming Wednesday January 6th, we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord. It is the day that Jesus is made known and recognized as the savior of all people. It is why the wise men came to worship him and to bring him gifts.

This young boy who was recognized as the savior and who was brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh as a young child, is now listening and teaching at the feet of the teachers, not as one who simply copied what he had heard and was parroting it back to his teachers like those student guitarists, but as one who was and is the source of that very wisdom and knowledge from God on high.

The house of God, the Temple where Jesus sat and taught, is also here at Peace Lutheran church where the true word of God is made known through word and sacrament.

You are His Temple also, where God himself indwells all believers by His Spirit pointing you and me to the finished work of Christ Jesus and by his Spirit you see Jesus for who he is … the savior of the world … and that by faith you trust his word of promise, so elegantly proclaimed in John Chapter 14 to:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Jesus is the one who makes the way for you and for me. He is the ones that the Magi came to bring gifts to. He is the one revealed as the savior, of the nations come. He is the one who at twelve years of age was, as the writer of the book of Hebrews put it,

2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

The next time we encounter Jesus on his trip to the cross, he will be pointed out as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who will take your place being baptized by John the Baptist with the baptism of repentance, being marked as the chief of sinners for you and then will go to Jerusalem taking your sins to the cross and nailing them there, proclaiming, “It is finished!”

It is true. This is no ordinary boy sitting among the teachers, teaching with wisdom and power and gently reminding his mother that he needed to be in His Father’s house.

50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

But, in submission, this God who made the world and all things obeyed his parents.

51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

She, knowing who he is and what he was appointed to do, to be the consolation of Israel and the savior of the world as Simeon last weekend held in his hands the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel - God with us.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

God in Christ has been made know to you. May his peace and joy fill you each day of this New Year with hope and peace in the salvation that is your in him.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen

 

 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Sermon Dec.26- 27, 2020

Title: Christ has given you life eternal!
Text: Isaiah 61:10-62:3 / Luke 2:22-40 

Facebook live: Christ has given you life eternal!

2 The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

As we come to the end of the year that 2020 was there is anticipation for something better. We all hope for a new beginning or at least a blessed end to that which has plagued us all for the last 9 months.

Will the vaccines bring peace or is it even possible in this world of masks, lock downs and health concerns? Businesses are closed and many struggle to keep afloat and wonder what to do next. Is peace even possible?

It seems so very long ago, doesn’t it?

God’s deliverance for his children seemed long in coming too.

We see relief, joy and peace in the face of Simeon depicted on the cover of our bulletin as well as in the words he proclaims in our Gospel reading:

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

700 years before the time of Jesus Isaiah wrote of the hope that would come.

11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.

The Christ child brought to the Temple by Mary and Joseph is the Lord’s righteousness received by Simeon and spoken of by Anna to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

God’s redemption and word revealed the hope of the Messiah’s coming to Jerusalem as God spoke to the prophets of old, and he continues to reveal that same hope to you and me, and the whole world today in that same word and the word made flesh, our Lord Jesus.

The Lord’s peace was held by Simeon in his arms so long ago but continues to be our peace as in Christ as we are held in the arms of Jesus through the trials of life with our promised deliverance from sin and the curse of the fall.

Covid 19 is nothing new. It is how God’s perfect creation, tainted by sin behaves and the result is death. We see it all around us. Whether through sickness, accident or old age the devil wants you to see this life through the eyes of despair in a world without hope.

Vs 10 on our Old Testament reading today was also included in our Old Testament reading from 2 weeks ago so I think the Lord was want us to hear it and ponder it again.

10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

God has clothed and has covered you with the salvation of his forgiveness and the royal robes of Christ’s righteousness. As we went into the water of Holy Baptism our sinful rags were washed away and we emerged covered by Christ the spotless Lamb of God. That doesn’t change from infant to youth, teen to adult to old age.

One of my steel guitar friends online Jerry Roller at 81 found out that his cancer was terminal and posted this on facebook on December 18th.

I am under Mercy Hospice and checking out. Looking forward to seeing Jesus; I wish I had served him better. So thankful that he said whosoever comes I will in no wise cast out. Goodbye to my Facebook friends. –Jerry Roller

Jerry was an extremely talented pedal steel guitarist but in his final post on facebook it was all about Jesus and his mercy and grace.

Chapter 62 of Isaiah begins:

62 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.

The word continues until Christ returns and this light of Christ, like a burning torch, will continue to bring children into the father’s household through that same mercy and grace.

The Apostle Paul sums it up perfectly in our Epistle:

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. – to be his children -  6 And because you are sons, [his children] God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. 

So as God’s heirs – his children – God is our Father too.

We can also proclaim with Simeon the promised joy of his revealing to those in our homes and communities. The light of Christ has been shown to us and we reflect this joy in our lives.

Isaiah promises:

2 The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Christ has given you life eternal!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Sermon Dec. 25, 2020 Christmas Day 10:00 am

Title: The radiance of the glory of God is given you in Christ!
Text: Heb. 1:1-6
Readings - Isaiah 52:7-10, Heb.1:1-6, John 1:1-14 (ESV) 

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3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the king,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary!

Dear friends - God has come!

The radiance of God’s glory is seen in humility and weakness. In this child, this Jesus and in this time God has come.

Isaiah writes in the in Chapter 52:

7 How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

To publish peace, happiness and salvation in the Hebrew is to bring and to cause you to hear. To proclaim the Good News, “Your God reigns.”

The Prophets of old spoke to the people “at various times and in various ways” NKJV,

Publishing the word of God and proclaiming the Good News so that the people might hear and prepare for God’s redemption to come. When and in what way they were not sure. But in these last days God’s final revelation and revealing is made known in his Son – the word made flesh and born of Mary.

3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,

In this child we see God, all glory, honor and power, in weakness. God he is, who has taken on flesh and become man this Son, who is the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

This child, this Jesus, this God!

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear; for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary!

The joy of the child will lead to the death of the man. The creative word of God, his heir and the radiance of God revealed in human form …

… upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, by his death on the cross sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

As we proclaimed last night from the Prophet Isaiah in chapter 9:

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

The prince of peace in swaddling clothes has come for you and me and all who look for his arrival!
8 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion. Isaiah 52:8

Today though, we see the effects of sin in a world broken and decimated, life marginalized, families torn, from pandemics to politics our world is bathed in the effects of our sin-filled, prideful world with the little hope that remains placed in those who govern and promise much only to deliver crumbs when a banquet is required.

To deliver a feast in a life of famine one must be the author of life, the first and the last, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. The one who speaks and brings all things into existence and the one who in humility becomes what we are yet without sin, so that in him we might have all that he restored from original sin to original righteousness.

The babe the son of Mary has become flesh for you! The Gospel of John proclaims this very fact.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

Sin remains our human condition. We see it in our lives and in the brokenness of our world. We suffer and die and at times evil seems to prevail.

4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God's angels worship him.”

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
Come, peasant king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby;
Joy, joy, for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!

Isaiah concludes our reading today.

10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God. Isaiah 52:10

What child is this?

God in the flesh, Christ the Lord!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen

Sermon Dec. 24, 2020 Christmas Eve 7:00 pm

Title: The Son of God brings Joy to the World!
Text: Isaiah 9:2-7
Readings - Isaiah 9:2-7, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14 (ESV) 

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6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King:
Let every heart prepare Him room; And heaven and nature sing,

Tonight we celebrate the eve of our Lord’s nativity. The coming of Jesus the Christ of God, born of Mary and born to set us free from the inherited nature we are all born into, born in sin, and born to die.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.

The light of Christ has been brought to a world dead in darkness. For death came to all humanity and in Adam’s fall all die. The fall into sin condemns us as God’s enemies. No friend of God, we are all condemned to a life apart from God’s love and destined to live in time, daily, without faith, peace, or hope in the world.

You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

For those in faith and those apart from faith the Lord’s abundance flows. Sun and moon, day and night, rains, fields, flocks and harvest all provided from the hand of the Lord, give life and sustenance to all those created in the image of God. We all live by God’s mercy with each and every breath we take. In fact, life is a gift from God. We know that whether a Christian or not all die and so death is given to all born in the natural way form the child in the womb to the aged needing around the clock care. With Life, death is the promised fulfillment in the world. Long life or short, rich or poor we all will be brought to the doors of death and death will win.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ,
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains; Repeat the sounding joy,

The joy tonight is not in our station in this life or what we have achieved. Our joy is in the savior who came in humility and reigns in glory. As Jesus himself said as his disciples cried out at his triumphal entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

38 … “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

The rocks themselves would cry out repeating the sounding joy of our Rock Jesus “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”

For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.

The yoke of those burdened by sin has been broken and the rod of the oppressor has been overcome. Just as in the days of the Judges when Gideon and 300 men overcame the much larger Midianite Army by the power and word of the Lord. So too the word made flesh in the incarnate son of God will vanquish sin, death, and the devil for you and me.

For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.

The wages of sin is overcome in the blood of the lamb. Where we daily battle sin and death, God has placed the work of Jesus, apprehended in faith and made sure by the Spirit, we who believe have overcome the fires of hell and an eternity separated from God receiving the promise of eternal life in Jesus.

No more let sins and sorrows grow; Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow; Far as the curse is found,

The consequence of sin has been changed for you and me. To believe in Jesus, this Christ child gives us life. Life not to walk in sin – though we remain in the sinful tent of our flesh, but to walk in the Spirit, the promise of faith and belief in the one whom God has sent to redeem those born in sin and born to die. 

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace is Jesus!

His peace comes in this manger and in this child but it is made known to you and me in Baptism.

In Baptism we are marked as his.
In Baptism we are given faith.
In Baptism we receive Jesus by the work of his Spirit.
In Baptism death is swallowed up in victory and …
In Baptism we are raised to newness of life!

In Him, in Jesus, God restores the broken.

Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

By the Word of God and through his Holy Spirit our Lord calls and gathers his children. He sits on the throne of David forever and rules with justice and righteousness. His reign will never end and his love for the lost continues until his coming in power and glory to raise the dead in Christ and gather those who are longing for his reappearing.

He rules the world with truth and grace; And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness; And wonders of His love,

It is God’s desire and wonder’s of his love to rule your hearts and minds by his son the incarnate word of God. God who was made flesh in the person and work of Jesus for you and in him God gives hope and peace and true Joy to the world!

Our gospel today gives that same hope, promise, and joy with these concluding words.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen