Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sermon March 1-2, 2014

 Title: Eyewitnesses of His majesty transfigured!
Text: 2 Peter1:16-21

16b but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

On June 4, 1783 at the market square of a French village of Annonay, not far from Paris, a smoky bonfire on a raised platform was fed by wet straw and old wool rages. Tethered above, straining its lines, was a huge taffeta bag 33 feet in diameter. In the presence of "a respectable assembly and a great many other people," and accompanied by great cheering, the balloon was cut from its moorings and set free to rise majestically into the noon sky. Six thousand feet into the air it went -- the first public ascent of a balloon, the first step in the history of human flight. It came to earth several miles away in a field, where it was promptly attacked by pitchfork-waving peasants and torn to pieces as an instrument of evil!

Today in the Word, July 15, 1993.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

There is much to be considered here but also much that is said. The idea for many in our day and at the time of the apostles is that somehow these stories and accounts of Jesus were made up, didn’t happen, or were greatly exaggerated. Peter says a mouthful when he says,

but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of our Lord or as our bulletin put it:

“…not shining brightly on Him, as with a spotlight, but shining from him the one who is truly light of light and very God of very God.”

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Not a story told like one that might be about Big Foot or extraterrestrials or something that you read in the paper or see on TV or the internet. But Jesus … Transfigured … and Peter saw it with the others, and heard the very voice of God from heaven.

Old Testament lesson Exodus 24:16-17 KJV

16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

Here the convergence of the Old and New Testaments come together. Moses and the book of the Law and Elijah along with Jesus who is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets … come together … and Peter is an eyewitness … an eyewitness.

Eyewitnesses of His majesty transfigured!

To say that we have our work ahead of us is quite another thing. Doubt in the word, in the world is significant. Just in Bible Study last weekend it was brought up how many of our own brothers and sisters who have been made members of God’s family by His choosing, choose not to attend church and fall away, some even to unbelief. The reason, “I don’t need to be in church and worship or have a relationship to God!” That seems to be a common theme for many. I just do the things I like to do and keep my faith … if there is really any faith at all - to myself - and all is well with me and God. And God becomes nothing more than an idol where we place our trust – be it family, work, bank account, sports, friends …

As we continued the discussion the question of where IS God came up. He is surly in the world. We know of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God … that He is everywhere and that He is all powerful but God is everywhere only as it pertains to His Law. It is written on the hearts of his creatures and evident in His creation but by the Law we come to know sin and how far we fall short. Only by God, His Holy Spirit and through His means of word and sacrament can we know God and His saving love for you and for me. Only in church where His gifts are given can we receive the blessed forgiveness and know the Good News that you are I have the favor of God on account of Christ by faith in Him.

C.S. Lewis makes a wonderful point when he wrote:

Ill.
Believing things 'on authority' only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine percent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there is such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary person believes in the solar system, atoms, and the circulation of the blood on authority--because the scientists say so. Every historical statement is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Spanish Armada. But we believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them; in fact, on authority. A person who balked at authority in other things, as some people do in religion, would have to be content to know nothing all his life.

C.S. Lewis.

Eyewitnesses of His majesty transfigured!

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

Peter brings to his hearers and us what God’s means is … his holy and prophetic word. Do you believe it? Do you trust it? He then tells us that this word was not something made up but that it was given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

20 knowing this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.

I had a visit from a member with this very question as I was working on my sermon. Did the arc of the covenant have special powers and was Jesus married and did he have children? These things he had been told in conversation with others who were atheists and unbelievers and they are so farfetched that I had to look the questions up online just to see where some of it comes from. Trust me though when I tell you that the arc of the covenant had nothing to do with:

Ill.
Several advanced races of extraterrestrials collectively … made an agreement to aid planet Earth and its race of humans by providing an adoptive soul matrix secured within the Arc after the fall of man caused fragmentation of consciousness from its collective state (this is a concept virtually beyond human imagination and won't be pursued here).

The technology of the Arc of the Covenant was installed into our planetary system and time matrix to counter, repair and rehabilitate imbalances and distortions - including in the Divine blueprint - created by negative interference.

And Jesus and Mary Magdelane is more interesting because:

Jesheua’s parents weren’t Joseph and Mary, as depicted in the Biblical version. Another priest by the similar sounding name ’Jeshewua’ but slightly different spelling, was born to Joseph and Mary, and furthermore this spiritual leader married Mary Magdeline, hence the rumor that it was Jesus.

Jeshewua-9 was of the Hyksos Illuminati lineage and was on a bio-regenesis rehabilitation contract under the supervision of the Guardians.

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/huntley/esp_huntley_4.htm http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/huntley/esp_huntley_15.htm

Did you get that? Now which requires more faith … that story or … God by His prophetic word that simply says:

19 And we have the prophetic word …

21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

God’s word says Jesus was transfigured before them in the Gospel reading for today.

God’s voice says:

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
Friends,

God wants you to see no one but Jesus. If you harbor doubt … let God lead you into His light by His word. Trust the prophetic words of the eyewitnesses. Do not live in unbelief anymore … but believe.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Do not attack it like pitchfork-waving peasants did to that first balloon tearing to pieces as an instrument of evil!  Joy in the truth that your sins are forgiven by the one who was and is and is to come.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen


Sermon Feb. 22-23, 2014

Title: The blessings of God, temporal or eternal!
Text: Matt 5:38-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

There’s a story told of Rev. Tom Erickson: The public Library has a system called "Dial-A-Tale." Anytime a young child wants to hear a fairy tale, he can call the number and a voice comes on reading a short fairy tale to the listening young ear. However, the number is only one digit different from Rev. Tom Erickson. Because the small fingers often make a mistake, Tom gets frequent calls from a child listening for a fairy tale. After several unsuccessful attempts to explain a wrong number to the small child, Tom felt he had only one alternative. He obtained a copy of Three Little Pigs, and set it by the phone. Now, whenever a child calls, he simply reads them the tale - a beautiful illustration of yielding personal rights - he didn't, as you might have thought, change his telephone number to avoid the "invasion of his privacy."

Jesus seems to be always turning the tables on his disciples. After giving his Sermon on the Mount at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel in Chapter 5 and then telling them by illustration that they are to be salt and light in the world. Jesus continues to build on his theme that; unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:20)

The condemnation continued with “You have heard it said,” followed by his thoughts on anger, lust, divorce and giving oaths … concluding with:

37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matt. 5:37)
Now, he brings to the ears of his followers this joyful gem:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

I’m sure that this is not what the disciples wanted to hear as most were still looking for a king that was going to take back the kingdom and rule over those who had been persecuting them.

40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

God’s Law says, Thou shall not steal but Jesus says, Let them and not only that give what they didn’t take and don’t refuse the one who either begs or borrows from you.

You know, my wallet is really worn and empty … anyone here have a really nice full one I could have?

The blessings of God … temporal or eternal!

It is hard to not be consumed with the needs of this life. Things that might come in handy we tend to keep and set aside for when the need arises. We look easily at those things we might need should calamity fall upon us.

Ill.
I’m not sure what need my dad was expecting as I clean out his house and garage with my brother? But it had to include building things. See, we have done about as much as we could, giving things to family, friends and acquaintances and dropping those useful things that we … had no use for.

So it came down to the garage and an attached storage shed. A few things were gathered for my brother Tom who lives out of State and then the call was made by my brother Ron to 1-855-US-trash. When it was all said and done Ron wrote an email to all the siblings saying, “They hauled away a large truck load of mostly wood, but also all the paint, pesticides, fluorescent tubes, and general junk in a garage - including all the hazardous stuff – except paint thinner, propane, gas and dad's canned peaches.

Now, I have no place to talk because I have loaded my garage full of junk I could use … someday … from my dad’s … including wood, tools, a table saw, afghans, stuff the kids wanted and things I thought were long gone to history, only to find that that they've spent the last 40 years in the rafters of that old garage in Allen Park.

The blessings of God, temporal or eternal!

Jesus now comes to the meat of his message. He tells His disciples:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

While needed somewhat, the stuff of life and especially of that garage in Allen Park will not bring the joys of eternal life. We say so often that we are to love our neighbor but here Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you … not an easy task. It’s not even easy to give the things we love to those we love let alone to those who hate us.

Ill.
I had an interesting talk with a lady at Lakeland Place two Sunday’s ago. Following the service I told the people that I would be up front if anyone wanted to come and have me pray with them. Gerry came up and told me of a lady at the residence who as she put it “Hates me.” She said she didn’t know why and had never even talked with her but when the lady would see her she would call her stupid, dumb and other names. Well, you can imagine it can hurt feelings. Gerry said to me and it hits right at the heart of what Jesus was preaching: “I pray for her all the time.” Now friends, that is true love for your enemies and praying for those who persecute you; for as Jesus says:

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Vs 45b)

God’s desire is to love those that hate Him and as sinners we are all condemned. We fall short and can never no matter how much we love are enemies can we merit God’s love … because His love for us is unconditional and that it come as a gift and through faith.

45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven …  48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Perfect … not me and not you as we stand condemned in trespass and sin; but standing covered in baptismal grace and by the power of the Holy Spirit buried with Christ unto death and raised to newness of life … yes we are made perfect and acceptable by Him who loved us … by Him and in Him.

“And the perfection of the Christians consists in striving after those ideals which God has set before them in His holy will. Thus they are daily and continually renewed in knowledge, and in holiness and righteousness, after the image of Him that made and redeemed them, until the day of their final perfection will dawn in heaven.”

P.E. Kretzmann NT Vol. 1 Pg 31.

The blessings of God, temporal or eternal!

In life we at times have our lives invaded by those whose wrong number calls our attention to the brokenness of this sin filled world. May Christ’s love, in the lives and actions of His children fill this world, so that the temporal gifts of this life give way to the eternal blessings of his Kingdom.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen


Sermon Feb. 8-9, 2014

Title: The light of Christ shines forth in you!
Text: Matt. 5:13-20

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

There is a story about a rabbi, Hugo Grynn, who was sent to Auschwitz as a little boy. In the midst of the concentration camp, in the midst of the death and horror all around them, many Jews held onto whatever shreds of their religious observances they could, without drawing the ire of the guards. One cold winter's evening, Hugo's father gathered the family in the barracks. It was the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Feast of Lights.

The young child watched in horror as his father took the family's last pad of butter and made a makeshift candle, using a string from his ragged clothes. He then took a match and lit the candle. "Father, no!" Hugo cried. "That butter is our last bit of food! How will we survive?"

"We can live for many days without food," his father said. "We cannot live a single minute without faith and hope. This is the fire of hope. Never let it go out. Not here! Not anywhere!"

Pulpit Resource, Logos Productions, Inc, 2005

The light of Christ shines forth in you!

In the gospel reading for today Jesus, in talking to his disciples, speaks about salt and light as it pertains to those who follow Him. He points out, if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

There are a number of uses for salt:

Salt accents the flavor of meat, brings out the individuality of vegetables, puts "oomph" into bland starches, deepens the flavor of delicate desserts, and develops the flavor of melons and certain other fruits. No other seasoning has yet been found that can satisfactorily take the place of salt.

But, there are many other uses for salt around the home, as well. Salt is an excellent cleaning agent on its own or in combination with other substances. A solution of salt and turpentine restores the whiteness to yellowed enamel bathtubs and lavatories. A paste of salt and vinegar cleans tarnished brass or copper. A strong brine poured down the kitchen sink prevents grease from collecting and eliminates odors.

Salt helps destroy moths and drives away ants. A dash of salt in laundry starch keeps the iron from sticking and gives linen and fine cottons a glossy, like-new finish.

http://www.saltworks.us/salt_info/salt-uses-and-tips.asp

Jesus also speaks of the light that His disciples have in them by the power of the Holy Spirit calling them to not hide it but to:

16 … let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

When salt loses its saltiness or a lamp is hidden the usefulness of either is no longer of value. In the same way the disciples who no longer shine forth the light of Christ in their lives reflect no more the Love of Christ that has been given them, but only the brokenness that this corrupted world brings.

God’s gift of faith in Christ allows:

The light of Christ shines forth in you!

Ill.
A guitar without strings is of little value but string it up and the potential for wonderful music is there.

Years ago I use to attend the Chet Atkins Appreciation Societies convention in Nashville. While there the first few years Chet would come in and socialize and take pictures with those who were attending. He would sit and play guitar by himself and with others. One story I heard once while playing and inspecting a new guitar a man listening to him said, “Man, that guitar sounds great!” to which Chet stopped playing and responded, “How’s it sound now?”

The beautiful sound of the guitar is impossible to hear, hidden in silence until the musician moves the strings to bring forth the gift of music to the ears.

So too the voices of the students singing today in praise of Being Jesus’ little Lamb and that Jesus loves them. With voices and mouths closed … no one could hear their praise. So too a disciple of Jesus’ that no longer shines the light of the gospel and the pardon and forgiveness won for them at the cross in all they say and do. The merits of Jesus remain hidden and the word of God closed to the ears of those who need to hear. When we fail to shine the light of Christ we bury Christ again in the tomb … covering the light of the Christ’s resurrection victory with the dirt of the grave.

As one who received the light of Christ through God’s word and sacrament’s:

Let the light of Christ shines forth in you!

Jesus says:

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

And then He continues:

18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

So until heaven and earth pass away … until the end … you and I and all people are held to the requirements of the Law if we stand in our own righteousness, rejecting the give of God by faith and hiding the light of Christ that has been given to you and me.

19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The scribes and Pharisees did all they could to keep the Law and they still fell short. But you have been given light; the light of Christ and His perfect keeping of the law. God’s Law is fulfilled and kept perfectly for you and you receive it as a gift! Nothing to do … just believe and rejoice because God’s Holy Spirit is greater than the world, the flesh and the Devil who tries to draw you away from Christ. Jesus has given you the light of His righteousness and because of this gift of mercy and grace you can be salt and light to a world that is dying. Shine a lamp into a dark room and there is no longer any darkness … it flees in the presence of light and so too the light of Christ which has over comes the darkness of sin that was laid upon Christ at the cross and buried in the tomb with Him no longer to see the light of day.

Christ has risen and left your sin buried. His righteousness covers you so that you too can shine His light to those in need. When a lamp in placed in front of a mirror the light is doubled. So too your light that shines in the light of the world it get magnified in the lives of other and becomes a beacon which overcomes the darkness seeing it flee with no place to hide.

The light of Christ shines forth in you overcoming the darkness!

The light of Christ is faith and hope for a dying world. You and the light of the world, in Christ!
By the Holy Spirit you can shine forth Christ’s light in you!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Sermon Feb 1 -2, 2014

Title: Chris’s purifying death allows you to depart in peace!
Text: Luke 2:22-32

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.”

Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered.

The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled. As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd. A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner. The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace?

A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel it’s cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power.

A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.

Berit Kjos, A Wardrobe from the King, pp. 45-46.

Peace can take on the many different looks, from the baby Jesus being brought into the temple … to the man Christ Jesus hanging on a cross saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) But the joy and peace we can have is because:

Chris’s purifying death allows you to depart in peace!

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, [Mary and Joseph] brought [Jesus] up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

St. Luke finds it necessary to explain to his gentile audience the rites connected with the purification because they were not familiar with Jewish laws. The mother was unclean, according to the ordinances of Moses, for seven days after the birth of a son, and must then remain separate for a matter of another thirty-three days. These forty days denoted the days of the Levitical cleansing, or purification, Lev. 12. At the close of this period the parents went up to Jerusalem with the Child to present Him to the Lord, for the firstborn of man and beast belonged to the Lord, (Ex. 13, 2,) and had to be redeemed with a sacrifice.

Popular Commentary of the Bible PE Kretzmann NT Vol. 1 Pg 274

So Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple to make a sacrifice to the Lord of “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” And while there, to do as the Law required, they run into a man named Simeon who we are told was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, or the comfort and peace of God and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

You may get a feel for this as we here at Peace too see when a baby is brought into the Lord’s house and all the people come and gather around wanting to hold the baby with smiles and joy on their faces. But this brings a bit of a different reaction:

27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

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.”

The joy of seeing this child, this Jesus brought to fulfillment for Simeon what the Lord by the Holy Spirit had promised, that he would not die until he had see the Christ. The joy in Simeon’s song is and will be once again sung by this congregation following the reception of the Lord’s Supper as we too will sing in joy with Simeon what the Lord has given for the forgiveness of the sins of the world.

Chris’s purifying death allows you to depart in peace!

I had a joyful time this past Sunday traveling to my Uncle Ernie’s funeral in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. And though there was sadness in his passing we celebrated joy in his life and all the blessings he enjoyed and gave to those who knew him.

There were many stories told, some about all the things he built from his home and buildings for the church to an airplane he built and learned to fly to hangers at the airport for this EAA chapter that he served as President for many years. But, the greatest joy I heard was a story that my cousin Michael told of faith being something that they learned from their mom so it was quite a blessing to hear at Christmas when the family got together they wanted each member to get up and say or do something that they were really thankful for.

Michael said that when it was dad’s turn he got up and sang the Lord’s Prayer done by Andrea Bocelli … “now rest assured, Mike said, it sounded nothing like Bocelli.” But Ernie wanted to sing it because it was, as he said, so important to him. Faith in Christ is a gift and this gift is:

Chris’s purifying death  which allows you, His child, to depart in peace!

Death’s sting has been swallowed up in victory by Jesus Christ and we can all have comfort in His blessed work and this blessed Good News. As we lose loved ones and think about this frail existence we inhabit here in this world we can have peace. Charles Wesley wrote about peace in this way:

I rest beneath the Almighty's shade,
My griefs expire, my troubles cease;
Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed,
Wilt keep me still in perfect peace.

Charles Wesley.

Comfort and peace is in Christ who has come to rescue you. Comfort and peace knows the joy of Christ Jesus in your life. Comfort and peace is being called to follow Christ by God’s Holy Spirit who indwells all believers and is called the comforter by Jesus himself.

For Jesus Himself says that:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Dear friends, you have access to the father through Christ Jesus our Lord who came to live, suffer, die and rise again for you and will give you true peace found only in His saving arms that were outstretched upon the cross as He gave His life for you.

Chris’s purifying death allows you to depart in peace!

So when the trials of life burden you and the storms of life rage rest in the peace of Christ like the little bird who sees not the storm, raging waterfall or crooked little branch but rest in the loving hands of the savior who reminds us in John’s gospel:

7 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen



Sermon Jan. 25-26, 2014

Title: You are caught and Christ will make you fishers of men too!
Text: Matt. 4:12-25

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

A pastor who has spent long and fruitless day fishing picked out three fat fish in the market. "Before you wrap them," he said to the store manager," toss them to me, one by one. That way I'll be able to tell my wife I caught them and I'll be speaking the truth."

Bits & Pieces, July 21, 1994, p. 15.

Being a fishermen or as Jesus calls in the Gospel reading today “fishers of men” requires a very special lure … the word of God. And through this word and by the working of the Holy Spirit you too are caught …

… and Christ will make you fishers of men too!

In the gospel account today Jesus calls Simon and Andrew into apostleship and special service.
19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

This had not been the account of their first meeting for John records this in his gospel in chapter 1:

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

Both Andrew and Peter were disciples of Jesus but in the account today Jesus calls them into service in a special and profound way. They would be called to serve, leaving their nets and their old profession of catching fish and now would be fishers of men.

Life can bring about change too. Sometime it is intended change and sometime it is unintended change which may lead to service to the Lord in a new and special way.

The call of God on my own life and through this congregation also brought changes for me and my family. But God is still the active agent, just as He was for these two fishermen calling them to follow Him.
But it is not only clergy and those who serve in ministry part or full time who are called by God to serve. All Christians have a call to serve their neighbor. When Christ has made you His and has, by His Spirit, called you to believe you too are called to serve others in love as you would also have them serve you.

The call of God to faith changes everything. You are no longer your own because you have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20) and that price was the very son of God laying down His life for you.

21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Whether, Andrew and Peter or James and John the call from Jesus was received with immediate action. No hesitation. I don’t know about you but for me, pondering is a more and definite reaction that I have at least that’s what my wife would say. And well, it should be for faith and action. We don’t have Jesus here in the flesh to give the call a valid focus. Who and by whom are we called and for what purpose are we called? The means that is given for discernment is prayer and should be used in great abundance.

Ill.
A wonderful prayer that is listed of unknown origin reads:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me show love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

And I would add one thing … where there is opportunity, Christ!

We all need to be heralds of the truth and the Lord is the one who makes a way where there is no way. Through faith in Him we believe and are given life eternal and can now tell other that same good news.
Faith in anything else only brings false hope and death.

Ill.
Take for example the store of Ivan McGuire a veteran sky diver who fell 10,500 feet to his death. He apparently forgot to wear a parachute in his excitement to film other sky divers, police said Monday after seeing footage taken by the man during his final free fall.

''You could only see the instructor and the student falling on the video. But the release for his parachute is on his right hip, and when that right hand goes down, the left hand goes forward and it comes into . . . view.
''It's kind of boggled in there, and it sounded like he may have said, 'Oh no,' right after his left hand came into view.''

Nothing could save him, for his faith was in a parachute never buckled on. Faith in anything but an all-sufficient God can also be just as tragic spiritually. Only with faith in Jesus Christ dare we step into the dangerous excitement of life. But because of Jesus Christ:

You are caught and Christ will make you fishers of men too!

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Jesus is the great healer. He is the great physician and though in this life when we find the sickness that comes from a corrupted world we too know that there is a greater illness that we all face. But praise god He has taken that illness of sin that only leads to death and He has nailed it to the cross for you so that you can be caught by his and made His child. You then with faith in Christ can tell others that same good news, invite them to church and all the while the Lord uses you and your efforts for the glory of His greater kindom.

You are caught and Christ will make you fishers of men too!

St. Paul reminds us in the epistle that:

17 For Christ did not send him … with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1Cor. 1:17-18)

God’s power is the saving word of God, the Christ who came to live, suffer, die and rise again for you and for all who will be caught by the word and brought to faith by God’s Holy Spirit.

You are caught and Christ will make you fishers of men too!

And though at times the work can be a daunting task; the good news is that it is God working through you to accomplish His great work and will bring it to completion in his time and in His way.

You are caught and Christ will make you fishers of men too!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen


Sermon Jan. 11-12, 2014

Title: Baptized into Christ is baptized into life!
Text: Matt. 3:13-17

16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Dr. J.B. Gambrel tells an amusing story from General Stonewall Jackson's famous valley campaign. Jackson's army found itself on one side of a river when it needed to be on the other side. After telling his engineers to plan and build a bridge so the army could cross, he called his wagon master in to tell him that it was urgent the wagon train cross the river as soon as possible. The wagon master started gathering all the logs, rocks and fence rails he could find and built a bridge. Long before day light General Jackson was told by his wagon master all the wagons and artillery had crossed the river. General Jackson asked where are the engineers and what are they doing? The wagon master's only reply was that they were in their tent drawing up plans for a bridge.

Pulpit Helps, May, 1991.

We too find ourselves on one side of the river so to speak, separated from God and his loving forgiveness by sin. Through the “river” of Baptism we are washed clean and rise on the other side, cleansed, renewed and forgiven by Christ, because:

Baptized into Christ is baptized into life!

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.

Jesus came down to John … and we might ask why? Why would Jesus come to John? He certainly didn't need to repent, because He was not born in the natural way and conceived in sin. He also didn't come down to John like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who came in unbelief, in an arrogant and mocking manner … rejecting God’s council against them. But he came as those who were sinners and who needed repentance … though He had no sin.

John was certainly surprised to see Jesus coming:

14 … saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

John’s recognizes Jesus for who He is … “the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)
So the question is why does Jesus come and seek Baptism - as there is no sin and uncleanness in Him which Baptism would remove?

For He here takes your place and my place and stands - in place of all - who are sinners, and since all, especially even the arrogant people who do not acknowledge that they are sinners, Jesus must become a sinner for all; He assumes the form of our sinful flesh and proclaims, as many psalms testify to and on the cross … and in His passion, of the weight of the sins which He bears.

P.E. Kretzmann

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Because of Christ and His Baptism you and I can know that we are:

Baptized into Christ … that is baptized into newness of life!

Sinfulness is easy to see in another; especially those sins which are quite public and visible. But we all know that if measured against God’s scale, we would all fall short, we would not measure up, could not measure up and that we would all be condemned seen as we are sinners deserving God’s punishment.

So Jesus answers John:

15 … “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

The Reverend Phillips Brooks who lived in the 1800s in Massachusetts said:

“No man in this world attains to freedom from any slavery except by entrance into some higher servitude. There is no such thing as an entirely free man.”

Phillips Brooks (1835- 1893)

That is true in one sense. We are always in this life bound to our sin. All that we say and do is filtered through our sinful flesh. We are a slave to sin or as Martin Luther has taught in his book the “Bondage of the Will” … “we are all in Bondage to our sin.”

But Paul brings joy to light in our epistle for today when he says:

6 … 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.

Baptized into Christ is baptized into life!

Ill.
One of the church Fathers – Tertullian wrote of baptism in this way:

The primary principle of Baptism is that the Spirit of God, who hovered over (the waters) from the beginning, would continue to linger over the waters of the baptized.”

Tertullian – De Baptismo IV (ANF 3:670) 

This is made possible for you and me because:

16 … when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
In Christ the favor and pleasure of God rests:

For just as, after the waters of the (flood), by which the old iniquity (or sinful world) was ( killed and taken away) —after the Baptism, so to say, of the world—a dove was the (voice or herald) which announced to the earth the (removal of God’s) wrath, when she had been sent her way out of the ark, and had returned with the olive branch, a sign which even among the nations is the (fore-token) sign of peace; so by the self-same law of (God’s) heavenly effect, to earth—that is, to our flesh—as (we) too emerge from the (Baptismal) font, after (our) old sins, flies the dove of the Holy Spirit, (the same Spirit that rested on Christ and in whom God is well pleased) … bringing (you and me) the peace of God, sent out from the heavens, (through) (Christ’s) Church, (which is a type) of ark.”

Tertullian – De Baptismo VIII (ANF 3:672

Baptized into Christ is baptized into life!

As we celebrate Epiphany this weekend and the manifestation of God becoming man and the taking on of human flesh. We understand the visit of the Magi and the gifts that they bring to worship our lord. But the real gift is given by Christ.

His gift is his very body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. By His taking on humanity He was he was marked with His creation and with you and me. When He was baptized by John he received the weight of sin poured out and marking Him as the chief of sinners, though he remained sinless.

He went to the cross with the full weight of sin on him and received the wrath of god’s punishment that you and I deserve. And because of his atonement you and I receive what we don’t deserve … forgiveness.

Madelyn Deckard received that same forgiveness last Sunday. She was marked as one redeemed by Christ the crucified. She was washed in the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit and was given New Life and New Birth of water and the Spirit! She was made God’s Child and has been adopted into His family and given the inheritance of heaven and life eternal in Him.

Baptized into Christ is baptized into life!

The river was crossed by Christ. He has made a way for all to be found in Him on the other side of the river. The means is faith in His finished work and is given to you and me as a gift by God’s Holy Spirit in and through Baptism. Daily rejoice in God’s simple way of bringing you to him through water and the word.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Sermon Jan 4 -5, 2014

Title: Your inheritance is to be in your Father’s house!
Text: Eph 1:3-14

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

As we enter the New Year, the Apostle James has a word for you and for me to consider. He says:
13-14 And now for those who brashly announce, “Today—(or) at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.”  Well, he says, “You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. Because, you are nothing but a wisp of fog that catches a brief bit of sun before disappearing.  (James 4:13-14 the Message)

The truth is that we don’t and can’t know what tomorrow will bring. What we can know for sure is that most of the resolutions we make will be broken. We won’t lose the weight we plan to, quit smoking, learn something new, eat healthier, get out of debt and save money, spend more time with family, travel to new places or be less stressed or of all things volunteer more … or even drink less.

Those are the 10 most commonly broken resolutions that people make. But what we can know and be sure of that will never be broken is that:

Your inheritance … is to be in your Father’s house!

In the Gospel reading for today Jesus tells his mother Mary,”Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” - After her frantic search for him and finding him in the temple among the teachers. (Luke 2:49b) The house of the Father - and the inheritance that only He gives - will be an important part of the message from Paul to the early church in Ephesus and for all “whom the Lord our God will call.”

There is a nasty habit that we all have as humans in directing things in our life. We resolve to do better and to be better and then we fall short soon after. Now understand that we all can do better at some things in this life. But for many the hope of better is always directed inward. Paul, in his letter, directs the Ephesians’ away from themselves and towards the one outside of them who can and does desire to give them all things.

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

Pride can pull even a mixed congregation or Jews and Gentiles in Ephesus to look inward, to look to the differences that divide us as opposed to the unity that they have in the eyes of God as his children. Through worldly eyes we can only see the brokenness of fallen humanity, but Paul brings the joy of God’s choosing, which is according to his mercy and before the foundation of the world – creating Holy and blameless children. They have been appointed beforehand (which Paul calls predestined) to be His children through (adoption) and this is done in Christ, in keeping with the Father’s will.

This Paul tells them, is made possible through the blood of Christ, which makes satisfaction for their sins (or takes their sin away) strictly because of God’s mercy and grace and not by anything they have done … or could do.

As a result, Paul continues to teach that, you (those who are in Ephesus) receive the Kingdom. You get to inherit what you don’t deserve and what you could never earn simply because God himself wills that you get it.

Your inheritance is to be in your Father’s house!

In our world, inheritance is something to be fought over for many. For those with much, it can be a way of payback from the grave.

Ill.
Take Leona Helmsley will for instance. She left $12 million in her will to her dog, Trouble. But that, it turns out, is nothing much compared with what other dogs may receive from the charitable trust of Mrs. Helmsley, who died in August of 2007.

Her instructions, specified in a two-page “mission statement,” that the entire trust, valued at $5 billion to $8 billion and amounting to virtually all her estate, be used for the care and welfare of dogs. When she signed the mission statement in 2003 her goal was to help indigent people, (those who are poor and less fortunate) and the second goal was to provide for the care and welfare of dogs. A year later, she deleted the first goal.
She cut a few grandchildren out of her will altogether and others had to visit the grave of their deceased father each year or forfeit their inheritance altogether.

The “Queen of mean” as she was called was found mentally unfit by the courts in a judgment in 2008 and have reinstated the grandchildren who had been given no inheritance.

It sounds to you and me as silly I presume.  Leaving an estate, and a huge one, to a dog; but isn’t that what God has done for you and me?

22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matt. 15:22-28)

Through faith God has adopted those who believe into His family and:

Your inheritance is to be in your Father’s house!

What the Ephesians could never earn has been given them by God and by faith. Through adoption they have received what they did not deserve. Paul bring these praises to their eyes and ears 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places …

8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ   and that  10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

To unite all things … in Him!

Rejoice, because Christ has included you! You who have been called to believe; you who have been given faith in Christ; you who:

13 In him also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Christ Jesus is the gift of life and the savior of the world. His virgin birth, sinless life, death in your place at the cross, burial and glorious resurrection and ascension to heaven above was accomplished just for you. This childlike faith and adoption is given you by his glorious gospel bringing you to faith by God’s word and sacraments. Baptism is also called the liquid gospel because it brings with God’s word of promise newness of life and freedom from sin, death and the power of the devil connecting you to Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection.

In Him the power of Satan is destroyed and you triumph over the devil as his child by faith given to you as a gift of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Your inheritance is to be in your Father’s house!

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

Amen.