Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sermon March 26-27, 2016 Easter

Title: Jesus lives the Victory’s Won!
Text: Luke 24:1-12

12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

In a seminary mission’s class, Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push.

After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years. Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, "Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson's astonishment, the engine roared to life.

For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work.

Unknown.

Jesus lives The Victory’s Won!

Today we celebrate the blessed resurrection of our Lord. For in time past the world languished in sin and death reigned supreme. The hope of the Messiah and his coming had been prophesied. As the writer to the Hebrews makes clear in chapter 1

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 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. After making purification for sins, he 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. (Heb 1:1-4)

Jesus Christ the incarnate Son of God came down for this very purpose. To humiliate Himself, to put on human flesh and become man; to cover or veil his divinity for the purpose of keeping the Law, which we could not keep, and then to stand in your place as the, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

For the 30 or so years of Jesus’ life and earthly ministry, the power of His divine nature was there with him all the time, perfectly united with His humanity so that He might accomplish the work that He was appointed to do by putting His power to work in His resurrection from the dead, for you.

24 1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

This body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which took the scourging, the nails and the spear in his side and who truly died and breathed His last on the cross, was buried in a tomb, given for this purpose by Joseph of Aramathea, and then had the large stone rolled in place to cover and seal the tomb as a testament to the finality of death. Sealed, closed and finished. Jesus, himself used those last words of finality as He exclaimed on the cross, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Death was not a maybe, but was a certainty, (on Good Friday), just three short days ago.

4 While they (the women) were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen.”

The certainty of the grave and death has now been change forever. As Paul tells the Corinthians in our Epistle reading for today.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.21 For as by a man Adam came death, by a man Jesus Christ has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor15:20-22)

Jesus lives the Victory’s Won, for you!

What joy! This week, Holy Week has been changed forever for me. I along with pastor Merrell had the joy of preaching at Joan Kitzmans funeral on Monday of Holy Week. Her chosen text was Psalm 100 and her funeral hymn was “Praise to the Lord the Almighty.” At the committal service on Tuesday of Holy Week at the cemetery I once again shared Psalm 100m with the family.


100 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Followed by these selected verses from Psalm 118.

17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.

Jesus lives and for we, like Joan who believe, the Victory is Won!

10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,

But for the apostles:

11 these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

The Apostles didn’t believe even after the witness of the women!

As Pastor Merrell made very clear to me in one of our student / mentor discussions when serving here as Vicar; He said, “Vicar, Always, listen to the women.”

I had an opportunity to repay this advice just a short while later when the women, wanted a garbage disposal replaced that had broken. Pastor said, “Well, I’m not sure we really need it because we don’t do a lot with big meals and preparations anymore.” To which I said, “Pastor, remember your advice?” To which he responded, “A garbage disposal would be nice.”

Recognizing his lack of judgment too: Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Jesus lives The Victory’s Won!

We live, because Jesus lives! By faith we have eternal life and this eternity begins at the moment we believe. The reality of heaven is a present reality for you and me, trusting by faith in Christ’s finished work. We have all the joys promised now, though we only get a foretaste or the future reality when we too will be given our glorious resurrected bodies.

Christ is risen, He is truly risen!

May the Love of God, the blessings of Christ and his resurrection this Easter, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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

Sermon March 25, 2016 Good Friday

Title: In Christ, it is finished!
Text: John19:17-30

29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Thomas Edison invented the microphone, the phonograph, the incandescent light, the storage battery, talking movies, and more than 1000 other things.

December 1914 he had worked for 10 years on a storage battery. This had greatly strained his finances. This particular evening spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room. Within minutes all the packing compounds, celluloid for records and film, and other flammable goods were in flames. Fire companies from eight surrounding towns arrived, but the heat was so intense and the water pressure so low that the attempt to douse the flames was futile. Everything was destroyed. Edison was 67. With all his assets going up in a whoosh (although the damage exceeded two million dollars, the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof), would his spirit be broken?

The inventor's 24-year old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him, calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind. "My heart ached for him," said Charles. "He was 67--no longer a young man--and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, 'Charles, where's your mother?' When I told him I didn't know, he said, 'Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.'" The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew." Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph.

Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick, Thomas Nelson, 1978, pp. 82-3, and Bits and Pieces, November, 1989, p. 12.

In Christ, it is finished and your redemption is secure!

17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on both side, and Jesus between them.

As our opening illustration pointed out … there can be great value in disaster. For the followers of Jesus this was to for a time, a disaster of great proportions.

The one in whom they had trusted and believed, who they had thought was the one, the Messiah, was now tried, crucified, and in a manner that would be in keeping with that of a common criminal.

“But how can it be?” they might think. “In Him we we’re sure that the Kingdom would be restored and the power of the Romans broken. Now, we see only the one in whom we placed our hope gone; killed by the raging of the Jewish leaders, the scourging of the Roman guards and the cross of humiliating crucifixion.”

Even Pilate got his digs in for he wrote:

… an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

Those responsible for turning Jesus over to Pilate cried:

“Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” “But Pilate had written what he had written and in the languages of Aramaic, Latin, and Greek so there was no mistaking what was said of him.”

“Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The dead King of the Jews may have been the response that they all felt.

The world that we live in today too mocks this Jesus.

There was a story of a Florida Atlantic University student who says he ended up suspended because he refused to stomp on a piece of paper bearing the word “JESUS”.

In Christ, it is finished and your redemption is secure!

With these words:

“We sincerely apologize for any offense this has caused,”

“Florida Atlantic University apologized and said that they, “respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”

The name of Jesus and the cross is an offense. Why? Well, what if it is true? What if this Jesus is God and we are sinners as the bible says and what if there is no hope apart from trust in him? What if there is really a place called Hell and when we reject Him and His love we receive the eternal separation and torment promised – and that we have chosen?

These and many other questions about Jesus and the cross cause the anger to boil over because it bring the sinners sins to light and the law, as the Confirmation class learns in class, shows us our sins.

Tell someone that the Moon is made of cheese and that Moon Men are coming to save us all and if you just believe, they will show themselves to you and have a place prepared for you on the Moon where you can live forever in peace. Say this and you’ll get laughed at, ignored, evaluated by a psychiatrist and in a short while forgot about.

But when Jesus says in John 14:6:

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

The reaction is one of anger as you are called unloving, intolerant, and bigoted and may be you just need to be a bit more progressive and get with the times … but you aren't ignored or forgot about. Why? What if what you believe is true?

In Christ, it is finished and your redemption is secure!

The Rev. Scott Murray who sends out devotions through the email each weekday wrote:

The One who need not have been bound by chains and cords was bound by men who sought His death. The One who was the power of God, refused to let that power bring Him rescue. The One who had no fear of death became subject to death. The One who had no vices wrapped Himself in ours that He might free us from them. The One who is the triumphant King suffered His own skin to be nailed upon the stake as the trophy of His triumph over death. The One who hunted down death, allowed Himself to be devoured by it. He was pierced through that we might be made whole. The wood upon which He was set adrift under the storming wrath of God He fashions into the ship of our salvation. It is our cross too, but not a cross of punishment for us. Rather, He makes it the cross of salvation.

The One who was bound by the nails is bound that He might bind us to Himself through faith in Him. We, who might be bound to Him by force, are bound rather by His love for us; and that binding is the more powerful because it is His. Bound to Him by His passionate and bloody embrace, we no longer fear the bonds of death in our own lives.

Punishment cannot hold us, for He long ago took our punishment. Suffering cannot overwhelm us, because He suffered for us on the tree. Fear cannot defeat us, for there is nothing to fear that can harm us. The cross is the instrument of His death, and the source of our life. Come, blessed cross!

In Christ, it is finished and your redemption is secure!

As we today remember the cross let us look to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2)

May the Love of God the blessings of Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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

Amen

Sermon March 24, 2016 Maundy Thursday

Title: Christ gives Himself to you!
Text: Luke 22:7-20

13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

In 1962, Victor and Mildred Goertzel published a revealing study of 413 "famous and exceptionally gifted people" called Cradles of Eminence. They spent years attempting to understand what produced such greatness, what common thread might run through all of these outstanding people's lives.

Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact was that virtually all of them, 392, had to overcome very difficult obstacles in order to become who they were.

Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, p. 134.


This is and has been never more evident than in the story of Jesus and Holy Week. That God in Christ would become man for our sake, born of the Virgin Mary and without sin and grow as a man who being obedient to the Law … something that we could not do, celebrated His triumphant ride into Jerusalem as our humble King last Sunday to now overcome the very difficult obstacles that would free the world from the power of sin, death and the Devil in the lives of each one of us who believe by faith in His finished work.

Christ gives Himself as His gift to you!

Now, the culmination of Jesus coming; His work to accomplish what He came to do this Holy Week begins.

7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”

Jesus sent Peter and John to get things ready for the Passover. Last Weekend for the alternate Gospel reading for Palm Sunday we read in Matthew 21:1-2

21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her.

These two disciples are not named. It could be the same two that he now sends, Peter and John; it could be two others of the twelve. We don’t know.

What I find interesting here is not that those who got the Donkey for Jesus didn’t matter, they most certainly did but that for … The Passover … Jesus sent Peter and John and they ask a question:

9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?”

It had been the custom for Jesus and with others of the Jewish people to celebrate the Feast of the Passover in remembrance of their delivery out of slavery and bondage in Egypt and Jesus gives them specific instructions:

10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.”

It sounds very similar and very specific also to the reading again from last Sunday:

2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”

Both of our readings conclude in a similar fashion with the two disciples finding the colt or donkey and Peter and John finding it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

Ill.

Coming into the city from Bethany, very likely through the Sheep Gate, they would meet a man coming toward them bearing a vessel, a jug, or pitcher, of water; this man they should follow to the house into which he would enter.

To the master of that house they should make known their wants, asking him for the location of the guest-chamber, the dining-room, where Jesus might eat the Passover-meal with His disciples. The man of the house would then show them an upper room, a flight of stairs up, all furnished with sofas and pillows for such a meal: and it is here that they should prepare the Passover. It is generally assumed by many commentators that the owner of the house had been a friend, a believer or even a disciple of Jesus.

Paul Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible, NT vol. II CPH St. Louis 1923, Pg 383


We see in this description, as also in our Palm Sunday lesson, both the authority of Jesus in directing His disciples and specifically Peter and John, but also His divine omniscience or the all knowing attribute of God/man Jesus Christ.

Christ gives Himself as His gift to you!

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

It is very likely that Peter and John entered the city through the Sheep Gate to find the man carrying a jar of water that would lead them to the house where they would eat the Passover meal with the very Lamb of God Himself. The task for which Jesus came who be very shortly realized and He who takes away the sins of the world who be fulfilled.

In a short while, we too, will realize this same true revelation from Jesus as to the very nature of the Passover now being instituted in the Gospel reading for the disciples but becoming so much more for us as Christ himself institutes the Lord’s Supper.

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

What had been celebrated then is celebrated today as we receive the very body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith. This unfortunately for many of Christ’s followers today and we as Lutherans becomes a place of conflict, confusion and tension. What is the Lord’s Supper and who should partake?

For some of our Christian friends and those of other denominations the bread is just bread, and the wine is just wine. We remember what Christ did at the cross and we don’t give too much thought beyond that. Because, they would say: “Jesus is in Heaven and not able to be here and in the sacrament.”

The Roman Catholic Church, of which I was raised in would go further than Jesus by defining the moment that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ and the bread and wine no longer exist. We see bread and wine but they have been transubstantiated and now are only the body and blood of Christ.

As Lutherans we take Jesus and His words for what they are, not reading more into them than what He said or believing less than what He meant. In a real sense the Real Presence and our understanding of Jesus and the sacrament are truly profound but also very simple. Or, maybe it is just as Lutherans we like to Scripture interpret Scripture.

As St Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 11:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

But Paul adds this important bit of information:

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

So what is an unworthy manner? We’ll you aren’t found guilty, as St. Paul states, against the bread and the wine, but guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. St. Paul reminds us to examine ourselves, are we repentant of our sins, do we discern the true body and blood of the Lord, present in and with the bread and wine, in a miraculous way? The theologians and professors in our church refer to this, as Christ’s sacramental presence.

In this blessed gift we hear the words of institution and the elements are consecrated, we receive the bread and the wine by are mouth but in a mysterious way, that we can’t fully comprehend, we receive the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in and with the bread and the wine, not because we fully understand but because Jesus and His word says so.

Martin Luther says this in his Small Catechism about the Lord’s Supper:

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.

And then he concludes with this question:

Who receives this sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words:
“Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “for you” require all hearts to believe.

Christ gives Himself as His gift to you!

Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for you and for me so that we can receive Him and his forgiveness today and for all time until his return. Christ gives you as His child the blessed gift of His true body and blood so that you are connected to him and he to you in this blessed way.

The obstacle of sin was place in the way between God and man. There was no way for man to get out of this predicament. God in Christ can to restore this relationship and the original righteousness that man was created within his reflecting the image of God. In the sacrament you receive a foretaste of the joy and restoration that you have now but that which will be fully enjoyed in Heaven one day.

Christ gives Himself and is the gift that keeps on giving, for you!

May the Love of God the blessings of Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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

Amen

Monday, March 21, 2016

Funeral Sermon for Joan Kitzman Monday March 21, 2016

Title: In Steadfast faith Christ’s Love Endures Forever
Text: Psalm 100 or “Joan’s joy!” As it will be for me from now on.

100 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Dear friends, family and loved ones of our beloved Joan,

It is difficult, at times like these, to be joyful and glad in the presence of the Lord. But in the midst of sadness we can and will sing praises to our loving God for the Christian life of our dear Joan.

“You tell the people back at Peace that I’m praying for them!” Those words Joan shared with me many of times on our visits where I would come, talk, laugh, and bring her the Lord’s Supper. Whether in the hospital, in rehab, or in her home, this wonderful mother, grandmother, and dear Christian friend, was committed to those she loved and to her Lord.

My dear friends, Orville and Joan Kitzman and my wife Monica and I were received into membership here at Peace together on November 11, 2001.

I’ve now had two funerals that I’ve been able to proclaim that at. What a blessing that has been for me over these last 15 years. To know the Kitzmans … is to know Jesus. Not that they were without blemish or fault, or were sanctified beyond measure to a point of great holiness … far from that for we who knew them. But that Jesus Christ was the center of their joy and life and for Joan, over these last three years, her smile, comfort, and peace, reflected Jesus to everyone she saw.

For me as a pastor, Confirmation is a joyful time. We get to see our students or Catechumens as they are called, confirm what the Lord had done for them in their Baptism, in front of the congregation. They have been taught, and instructed in the Christian faith, and now it is time for them to confess what they believed.

For a pastor the Rite of Confirmation begins:

“You have been baptized and catechized in the Christian faith according to our Lord’s bidding. Jesus said, “Whoever confesses me before men, I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Lift up your hearts, therefore, to the God of all grace and joyfully give answer to what I now ask you in the name of the Lord.
And then just before the student’s confirms their Christian faith the pastor asks:

“Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all … even death … rather than to fall away from it?”

Well, way back in February of 1959, as a young adult in her early 20’s, Joan answered to that very same question: “Yes, with the help of God.”

Joan was a wonderful testament to the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer – her steadfast faith in Christ was evident to all.

The psalmist tells us what the life of the believer consists of:
3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, [you and me] and we are his
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Joan loved the Lord because the Lord first loved her. It was Christ himself, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who called her to faith and it was Christ in her that kept her in that one true faith … through marriage, children, grandchildren and illness; especially the trial of Orville’s illness and dementia over the last years of their marriage and family life together.

Joan said to me as I visited with her, “I guess I didn’t see some of the signs and problems associated with Orville’s illness. I guess, I was blind to it.”

That is what love is as Paul reminds us.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing … but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1Cor. 13:4-7

Joan kept that love close to her heart because she knew that God’s love for her and for Orville, despite the illness and even death … never wavers.

Joan carried the love of Christ in all she did, as seen in the pictures of her life, especially with her children and grandchildren that she was so proud of!

But it didn’t stop there, her love was given to all she came in contact with, and that too includes us here … the members of her church family … and also the many friends she had including these two pastors who had the pleasure to see her and visit her.

I had the joy of seeing Joan with Pastor Merrell and our wives on March 1st. It was a time for farewell.

God comforts us … as we go to comfort others.

Joan wanted this service to be joyful and to not simply be about her but to be about Jesus Christ in her.

As things got worse for Joan from the hospital to her home and as her illness progressed she said to me, “I’m ready to go and be with Jesus and have asked him to take me home … but he keeps leaving me here.”

Jesus says:

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. John 10:27-28

I had an opportunity to bring the Lord’s Supper to Joan on a number of occasions and to anoint her with oil as a reminder of the Holy Spirit, who lives and works in and through her. She loved the fragrance of the anointing balm of frankincense and myrrh. It brought her great comfort and I once again got to anoint her two days before the Lord called her home. She remembered me … which was nice … but more importantly the Lord always remembered her.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Today we honor Joan’s life, as we say our goodbyes. But, the grief that fills us all with loss and sorrow who knew her as beloved relative and friend will one day be replaced with our blessed reunion in heaven for all who believe.

Our loving God in Christ Jesus will wipe away every tear of sadness that we have today and in that day replace them with tears of joy, as we together rejoice in Heaven with our resurrected Lord who has come to conquer sin, death and the power of the Devil – not only for Joan - but for you and for me as well and for all who name the name of Christ!

In Christ, death is not the end for we who cling to the blessed hope. But, it is only a time of parting … for a while.

5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness [is] to all generations.

Heaven is now Joan’s home

You too, who trust in Christ, have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins - is the wonderful Easter message Joan trusted and you too can trust. He has taken your sins to the cross and has called you to faith by the Gospel of his glorious resurrection through the power of the Holy Spirit, and has given you eternal life in Christ’s blessed saving work.

There is a place that has been prepared for Joan that she has now taken possession of and there is a place waiting for you too and for all who believe by faith the Good News that:

In Steadfast faith Christ’s Love Endures Forever

Amen.




Sermon March 19-20, 2016 Psalm Sunday

Title: Christ lays down His life for you willingly!
Text: Deut. 32:36-39 Alt. Gospel reading: Matt 21:1-11

36 For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.
37 Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge,
38 who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you;
let them be your protection!
39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

There is a story that’s told about several cotton farmers were whiling away a winter afternoon around the potbellied stove. They soon became entangled in a heated discussion on the merits of their respective religions. The eldest of the farmers had been sitting quietly, just listening, when the group turned to him and demanded, "Who's right, old Jim? Which one of these religions is the right one?"

"Well," said Jim thoughtfully, "you know there are three ways to get from here to the cotton gin. You can go right over the big hill. That's shorter but it's a powerful climb. You can go around the east side of the hill. That's not too far, but the road is rougher'n tarnation. Or you can go around the west side of the hill, which is the longest way, but the easiest.”

"But you know," he said, looking them squarely in the eye, "when you get there, the man minding the cotton gin don't ask you how you come. He just asks, 'Man, how good is your cotton?'"

Los Angeles Times Syndicate - Beulah Collins


Or in that day … who is you savior? Where did you place you trust?

On this Psalm Sunday weekend we rejoice in the truth that we have a savior where we can truly place our trust. And that the very Son of God will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, being just and possessing the requirement of our freedom from sin, death and the devil by bearing and carrying our salvation with Him which the Lord had planned.

This humble servant who came down from heaven was not in the form of your everyday earthly King. This King and Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord, would rise through lowliness and suffering to the strength and glory which was hidden in Him in the state of His humiliation, and which now is leading, in one short week, to His trial and crucifixion at the cross.

37 Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.

The ways of the world and its Kingdoms are built by the power of the sword. The reach of man’s conquests is stretched into territories of his choosing. The rulers of the world come down on the unsuspecting to the glory of the one wielding power. Power in might is brought to bear over people places and things by the gods, Kings and rulers of our earthly Kingdoms…

… Hugo Chavez, the now deceased President of Venezuela, comes to mind, who will now forever be embalmed and kept for his subjects to see and worship in a glass case … and many of the world’s religions have hope in their false gods where they mistakenly place their trust.

In our day and age we too see the power of the sword wielded upon others. Most recently the religious liberty of a free people has come under attack and in a real sense the Christian church in all it denominational or non-denominational forms is the target. Real persecution comes to the Christian church daily around the world but with many of us its inactivity, non-involvement and quietly keeping our Christian worldview to ourselves. To profess and publicly acknowledge God - is fine and encouraged - as long as He doesn't have a name; and that name better not be Jesus – or you’ll be branded intolerant! Once His name is mentioned you are politically incorrect because you proclaim with all Christians from all time:

10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:10)

The truth is that words can be manipulated.”

Eric Metaxas, in his speech given on religious freedom, brought this point out clearly.

Ill.

“Okay, so where are the threats to Religious Freedom in America today? Well, for one thing, understand we are not talking about Freedom of Worship. In a speech - Hilary Clinton replaced the phrase Freedom of Religion with Freedom of Worship — and my friend noticed and was disturbed by it. Why? Because these are radically different things. They have Freedom of Worship in China. But what exactly is Freedom of Worship?

In [his] book Bonhoeffer I talk about a meeting between Bonhoeffer’s friend, the Rev. Martin Niemoller, who early on in the Third Reich was one of those fooled by Hitler. And in that meeting he says something to Hitler about how he, Niemoller, cares about Germany and Third Reich — and Hitler cuts him off and says “I built the Third Reich. You just worry about your sermons!”

There in a few words you have the idea of Freedom of Worship. Freedom of Worship says you can have your little strange rituals and say whatever you like in your little religious buildings for an hour or two on Sundays, but once you leave that building you will bow to the secular orthodoxy of the state! We will tell you what to think on the big and important questions. Questions like when life begins and who gets to decide when to end it and what marriage is… And if you don’t like it, tough luck! That’s Freedom of Worship and they have that in China and they had it in Germany in Bonhoeffer’s day…

http://www.ericmetaxas.com/writing/essays/cpac-2013-speech-on-religious-freedom/

But we who worship the true God Jesus Christ know that:

Christ lays down His life willingly for you!

39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand

This humble King, Jesus Christ, by his very death and resurrection will bring peace, He kills sin and makes us alive through Baptism, He wounds and heals and though we are dead he gives us life and the peace that passes all human understanding to the very ends on the Earth.

The reaction to this message of peace for many is the catalyst for anger and an erosion of religious distinctions. Recently I read an article about an interfaith service planned in Fort Wayne where my Seminary is located.

The headline read: Mayor endorses event to celebrate all faiths

The idea of gathering all faith to pray is not new but has become more accepted in the civic realm. It reminds me of the secular orthodoxy that has become so prevalent in our culture. But Jesus said that:

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

Peace only comes by the way of truth and Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life.

C.S. Lewis has said:

If you look for truth, you may find comfort; if you look for comfort you will find neither, and in the end you will only find despair.

C. S. Lewis

Christ lays down His life willingly for you!

It’s not that Christianity and our beliefs have changed but our culture’s tolerance and understanding of them certainly has.

Our Gospel text for today reminds us:

9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
God has set you free from the power of sin, the flesh and the devil. As our triumphant King Jesus Christ rides today into Jerusalem. His path to the cross from His baptism, where He was marked as the chief of sinners for you, also points to His ride today as a triumphant ride that is unique and different from every other faith tradition because in a short while Jesus Christ will accomplish the true freedom at the cross for you and for all sinners of all time.

You are set free from your sin because Jesus came for sinners! He came to set you free. He came for you! He gave His life at the cross to pay the price God demands to satisfy His justice and you are free. You are truly free!

Christ lays down His life willingly for you!

“Man,” the man at the cotton gin asks, “How good is your cotton?”

Or, Man, who is your God and in whom do you trust? Our God is Jesus Christ the spotless Lamb of God who did no sin, being pure and holy and bringing salvation to sinners who trust in Him.

Christ lays down His life willingly for you!

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

Amen

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sermon March 16, 2016 Lent Mid-week

Title: Knowing Christ by faith is eternal life!
Text: Phil 3:8-14 Pew Bible Pg.1018

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

All anybody needs to know about prizes is that Mozart never won one.

Henry Mitchel in Washington Post, Reader's Digest, May 1980.

Knowing Christ by faith is eternal life!

Many of you might be familiar with the prizes that consume the lives of we who are consumers. It might be the TV show - The Voice - and the talent that God has bestowed upon some with the singing talent and the prospect of becoming rich and famous because of it. Or, it may be the prize of a Lottery win that takes the cares and trials of this world and removes them with the knowledge that, “with these winnings I can take care of all my troubles myself!”

For some it is the prize of love and the hope of marriage and a happily-ever-after of wedded bliss or the prize of that new job or promotion that will now make a better life possible.

But in our epistle for today the Apostle Paul has a different take on what is the hope and prize for his life.

He begins:

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

Paul was one who lived and loved life. But, after his conversion on the Damascus road, the focus of his life was different:

2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Cor. 2:2)

As we can see, Paul had been changed. His change took the focus off the things of this world … for he says: For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, and placed them at the foot of the cross.

Paul Kretzmann, in his commentary on the bible, expounds it in this way as to the change of the Apostles Paul’s life:

“Formerly Paul had held it to be of great gain to be high in the councils of the Pharisees and to have honor before men.”

But now he considers …

“ All these external advantages of which the apostle might have boasted with much greater right than his opponents, the entire class of things which, including anything and everything, as ground of reliance other than Christ, he now disregards: But what was to me gain, this I hold, for the sake of Christ, a detriment.”

Paul Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible, NT vol. II CPH St. Louis 1923, Pg 309

… a detriment?

Knowing Christ by faith is the prize of eternal life!

So, Paul was not looking to be the next contestant on The Voice … or looking towards any fame and recognition for that matter. When you think of fame and recognition it becomes an Idol it is and remains that in which you place you highest trust.

So, the hope of wealth, while not bad in and of itself, can lead you away from Christ. Or, the focus on the things of this world … if I only had a better job, house, car or you name whatever can be a focus of life, can and does pull us away from the cross and what Jesus won for us.

The interesting reality is that, the prize that we should focus on and that which we hope to attain is a prize that we cannot win but, is a prize that has been won for us. It is a prize that has been truly won and then is given to you, as a gift!

Paul continues to explain his hope:

10 … that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Knowing Christ by faith is the prize of eternal life!

What the Apostle Paul states is that:

… forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I have had an opportunity to bring the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins over the last few years who were preparing to meet the Lord. And many would tell me they felt “So blessed,” for all that the Lord had given them in this life.

And though health issues now dominated the better part of their life. One of those blessings was the faith in Christ and the prize that was won for them at the cross.

The prize of salvation; given and shed by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of, not just their sins, but the sins of the whole world, is the prize that we could never win … but is given freely to us by faith in Christ’s finished work.

In Christ, death is for we who cling to the blessed hope of reunion in Heaven one day, only a time apart.

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Knowing Christ by faith is eternal life!

So we who remain live in this blessed hope.

The Apostle Paul states and I paraphrase:

12 Not that we have already obtained this or are already perfect, but we … you and I … press on to make Heaven our own, because we have the blessed assurance that Christ Jesus has made you and me his own.

This is the joy that we await during Lent and Holy Week and the resurrection to life.

Knowing Christ by faith is the prize of eternal life!

Though Mozart never won a prize and may be you won’t either, however, the greatest prize of all, eternal life, has been won for you and you who are in Christ, have been given it now and will celebrate that blessed victory won over sin, death and the Devil now and forever.

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

Amen

Sermon March 12-13, 2016

Title: You are adopted in Christ to be his child!
Text: Luke 20:9-20


13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow's flight, and then young Frank's tracks meandering all over the field.

"Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again," his uncle said. "And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that."
Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life. "I determined right then," he'd say with a twinkle in his eye, "not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had."

Focus on the Family letter, September 1992, Page 14.

We too who have spent some years of life as Christians and at times miss important lessons that God wants us to learn. In our Gospel lesson today we hear of the vineyard and the owner of the vineyard.

9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while.

In this parable, Jesus tells a story. It is a very clear story for those who were gathered to listen in His presence. The picture Jesus tells of the vineyard would have been very familiar to them. Here too they would have made the connection as to the point that Jesus was making.

In chapter 5 of the book of Isaiah, God had told a story of a vineyard that He had built and how he had taken care of it looking for a yield of grapes.

The vineyard was on a very fertile hill. It was dug and cleared of stones, and planted with choice vines; a watchtower was in the midst of it, as was a wine vat and the owner of the vineyard looked for it to yield grapes … but it only yielded wild grapes.

What else could I do he asks? “I gave the vineyard everything and it only yielded wild grapes!”

So He makes this statement. “I will remove the hedge from my vineyard and let it be overrun. I will break down its wall allowing it to be trampled becoming waste. No longer will I pruned or hoe it and briers and thorns shall overtake it and rain will no longer fall on it.” (Isaiah 5:1-6 paraphrased)

The leaders in Israel who were listening to Him and who would have known the reference to the parable of the vineyard, were the ones who had just questioned Jesus when they said to him: “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” (John 20:2)

God had come to Israel as His chosen people but had been rejected.
Time and time again God’s messengers, His Prophets, proclaimed God’s word to those chosen by God, hoping they would bring fourth good fruit, but were rejected and cast out.

As Jesus continued:

13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’

This is obvious that Jesus is speaking about himself in this parable and of His coming as the very Messiah proclaimed and prophesied about in the Old Testament. You might remember from our lesson reading from a few weeks ago when Jesus laments:

34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

You and I too are without excuse. Those of us who have been brought by God’s Holy Spirit to faith in Christ but have fallen away from the joy that has been given us by God are also under His condemnation.

Here is an interesting analogy:

Ill.

Had Adam and Eve retained their original state, they never would have died. But Eve and then Adam yielded to the serpent's temptation, and death came into the world. Before that moment, they were in a beautiful, pristine state. They existed on a level far above the present condition of the human race. It is difficult to imagine what man was like then by viewing him as he is now. It would require something like trying to reconstruct the original version of an aircraft from its wreckage. If we knew nothing of flying, we would hardly suspect that it had once soared above the earth. The material would be the same; the capability of flight, however, would be lost.

But, we who have been given faith know the truth of Christ and His victory over sin, death and the power of the Devil. So too we are under the same condemnation as those in Israel; who refused to recognize the Messiah, the anointed one sent to Israel, Jesus Christ.

14 But when the tenants those in Israel saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’

They recognized Jesus as the Messiah, which is all the more, heinous. This was not an impostor that they crucified but the very Son of God, the heir of the vineyard.

15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?

There is the death of the Son but:

Christ is the heir and in Him you are adopted!

Christ Jesus is the heir. He is the beloved Son of God. He is pointing to the work of adoption that he will accomplish, for you.

Ill.

Adoption is a special gift. That’s the way many people involved in an adoption see it. They believe and see adoption as God’s gift to the parents, child, and even to the people around them. One mother said, “When I look at my daughters, I see God’s work, I know God bought us all together.” She believes God knew what he was doing when he chose each person for their family. “It’s a perfect fit,” she added.

When strangers comment how much her daughter looks like her or how her other daughter looks like her husband? She just smiles and says “thank you.” Sometimes she tells them her children are adopted so she can amaze them. One elderly lady once responded, “Well, what they say must be true. If you feed ‘em long enough they start looking like you.”

My friend Bud, has a daughter that he adopted when she was very young. They looked, acted and became so close that it was hard for me, who knew that she was adopted, to almost believe it. Whatever it is, the fact remains, that many times adoptive children resemble their adoptive parents.

So what does that say about you as God’s adoptive child?

Adapted from http://www.examiner.com/article/adoption-god-s-special-gift


God has made you his own. In him you have been adopted and have been given a new name. Your birth father, the Devil, brought you fourth in the sin of his corruption of this world and you have been washed clean and made a child of God. By Christ and his saving act, you are covered with his righteousness, being conformed into His image. You look to me the same as the Father sees you. When God the Father sees you … you look to Him just like His Son. You are adopted and reflect the look of your adoptive family. When God sees you, He sees Christ Jesus. What an awesome and blessed gift.

Frank Lloyd Wright determined not to miss all of the things that this life had to offer like his uncle that just moved from point A to point B not seeing all the blessings this life had to offer.

Jesus has given you faith by his Holy Spirit in you so that you can see the blessing of the cross for you. Through the cross of Christ you see redemption, love, fullness and life eternal, in Him. In Jesus and by His Spirit you know that God’s love for you is so deep that:

In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 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 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

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, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you 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. (Eph 1:5-14)

Christ is the heir … but in Him you are adopted!

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

Amen

Sermon March 9, 2016 Mid-week Lent Service

Title: Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!
Text: Luke 13:6-9

6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vine dresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’

Alexander the Great, seeing Diogenes looking attentively at a parcel of human bones, asked the philosopher what he was looking for. Diogenes' reply: "That which I cannot find--the difference between your father's bones and those of his slaves."

Plutarch.

Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!

The question or the degree of value that we put on human life differs depending on age and perspective. It seems that for many those who are least able to take care of themselves are the ones most marginalized.
The child in the womb or the elderly in the bed of a nursing home both rely on the care of someone else for their earthly existence. But what really is the difference?

In our gospel lesson in Luke we read:

13 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

Neither, the child waiting to be born or the elderly person, waiting to be called to the slumbers of death, can do much about the situation they are both in at this point. Both are at the mercy of God as they wait for either birth or death.

The truth of these two examples though is that both are under the curse of sin. Should the child be born to life and rise to great stature or die from a miscarriage or be aborted does not enhance or diminish their value in the eyes of the Lord.

In the same way the elderly who remains healthy and productive for their entire life or spend many years in the care of others has no greater or lesser significance in the eyes of the Lord.

You and I who are alive too have value to our loving God … but not because of whom we are or what we do.

The Gospel reading continues:

4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?

Both of these examples that are given by Luke, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, conclude with the same words.

5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

These words are meant to be frightening to the person, of any age, who remains comfortable in their sin. The reality of death, from womb to grave and all of life in between, is real and so is the reality of an eternity separated from God and His love for those who resist God’s call to repentance and continue on their own path covered in their own righteousness.

But those who have been called to faith can joy in the knowledge that:

Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!

Jesus then tells a parable about a fig tree and a man who had planted it. The idea here is that this man had planted it to … bear fruit. He wanted figs and he had found none.

Ill.

I had a Silver Maple shade tree in my backyard which had provided great shade to my house in the summer. It stopped producing leaves and the shade that had kept us cool in the summer was gone. The tree had died and was of no value.

Prior to the trees death, we had had a few signs. One fall the leaves became a beautiful deep red. We thought it was a good sign but later learned that this was a sign of distress. I took special food and tried to do what I could to help the tree survive. An arborist, who I had come and look at the tree, said that these trees - in a very common way - suffer from a girdled root syndrome which spins a root around itself, eventually choking itself and its food supply, leading to death. There isn’t much you can do about it.

But, I said: “Let’s leave it alone this year and I’ll feed and water around it and put fertilizer on it and if it doesn’t produce leaves and shade next year … I’ll cut it down.”

Trees that do not bear fruit are of little value to the owner of the property where they are planted.

The truth of this parable though is using only trees and fruit as an example to bring to mind the greater problem and the need of producing fruit in the lives of believers.

Jesus Christ has reconciled the word unto himself and has called you to faith. But faith that is not fed, nourished, and strengthened eventually dies and like the fig tree in the parable, without figs, the fig tree is of little value.

You though are of great value.

Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!

He calls you to repentance by his word of Law that shows you your sin. Have you sin which you live in daily? Is it great or small? The truth is as we read from our Lord’s lips:

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

Do you at times marginalize your sin? Do you at times, like me too, see the sin of homosexuality as grievous to the Lord but the sin of gossip or cohabitation as tolerable?

Christ will not give up on you. He will dig around you and metaphorically put the fertilizer of spiritual food around you so that you can feed and be filled and produce the fruit that leads to repentance and eternal life.

Ill.

There is a story of uncertain origin that is a perfect focus for us during Lent and in our spiritual life in this world:

A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on "The Love of God." As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.

Source Unknown.

By the wounds that Jesus took upon Himself at the cross and because of His sinless life and death in your place you are forgiven. Though you die yet you will live. Whether productive or incapacitated, God has called you to faith and will sustain you through the trials of this world.

His love for you will continue to draw you by His Holy Spirit to look to his finished work producing faith that bears fruit in your life as God’s love in Christ produces fruit in you leading to your continued spiritual growth. Christ will feed you through his word and sacraments to life eternal in Him.

Though our bones, like the bones of all born in sin remain the same we have been given eternal life and the true and blessed hope of resurrection one day. We who believe will rise just as Jesus did on Easter Sunday and as Job has said, in chapter 19 vs 26:

And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,

He is risen and so you too will rise in Him because:

Jesus Christ has reconciles the word unto himself!

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

Amen

Monday, March 7, 2016

March 5-6, 2016 LSB Setting III with Holy Communion – Fourth Sunday in Lent
Title: Jesus Christ desires all to be his child!
Text: 2 Cor. 5:18-21

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Regardless of the number of children you may or may not have we can have comfort and true peace because:

Jesus Christ desires all to be his child!

Paul speaks in our Epistle lesson today about being a new creation. The old has gone away and the new has emerged. No longer will they be regarded according to the flesh. Even though Jesus Christ was once regarded as the man, according to the flesh – His human nature – he has now been raised and is no longer in His state of humiliation but has been raised and is seated at the right hand of the father.

The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

It is not always evident is it?

Sin permeates our very being; which means to spread or flow throughout or to penetrate something. Sin is not just an act of disobedience. It is not just the act of doing something or saying something wrong, or not doing what we should. It is in fact who we are.

Paul speaks of Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. His once for all sacrifice for sin pays the price for the Corinthians and Paul explains that:

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Jesus Christ desires all to be his child!

In the gospel reading for today we have the parable of the Prodigal son, but it’s really the story of two sons, one who leaves and one who stays. The one demanding the father’s life, which is really what’s happening when you want your inheritance before the father has died, and the other who has had everything the father has but still feels cheated.

‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, [though the text only says, “reckless living”] you killed the fattened calf for him!’ Luke 15:29-30

Essentially saying … “I’m good and he’s bad!”

Even in the worst of human endeavors reconciliation is possible. At times even at church separation occurs. Sometimes conflicts within a family cause separation, and other times there is conflict between two families or people in the church … causing one or the other to leave.

20 Therefore, Paul says: we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, give up these petty arguments and whatever separates you from fellow believers and be reconciled to God.

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

The Father’s forgiveness in the parable was both restoration for the wondering son …

‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.

As well as comfort for the longing son.

‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Martin Luther reminds us in the 5th petition of the Lord’s Prayer from our Small Catechism.

We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray,[ inheritance or a party with our friends] nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.

So too we who have been separated from God by sin can be brought back to His loving arms through faith in Christ who desires that all will be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

But do we? Are we? The cost of peace between God and man required the life of Jesus. The very Son of God came to be your substitute and took the sin of the world, your sins upon Himself so that you might be his child by faith.

Paul continues:

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus Christ desires all to be his child!

The very Son of God, Paul tells the Corinthians, came down to live, suffer, die and rise again just for them. So too we, who have been brought to faith by God’s Holy Spirit giving faith to both you and me in Christ’s finished work and reconciling us to God through this same faith in Him.

In this one sentence, Paul tells us that we have the entire essence of God’s work in Christ for the forgiveness of sins in the world.

Just as God’s great Gospel message from blessed John 3:16 tells us:

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Paul tells us how that will happen, because:

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This is the eternal hope for you and for me.

That:

Jesus Christ desires all to be his child!

The blessed joy in the midst of tears is what we are given even as we grieve the loss of loved ones who have gone to their eternal rest. Mom, dad, grandparent or dear friend … over time we have peace as we know that reunion will follow one day for all who believe. This blessed joy is yours and mine that we will all be reunited in Him, in Christ, because by faith we hold to the blessed hope that is Jesus who was raised from the dead. And so too all who believe will be raised to an eternity in heaven with our Lord and all who by faith have been brought to this blessed reconciliation with Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ desires all to be his child!

The joy of the birth of a child, pales in comparison to the blessed hope and rebirth that we are given in Christ.

God who has made Christ our substitute, brings us to faith in Him washing us clean in our baptisms and making us holy, by the once for all sacrifice for sin at the cross that Jesus won over sin, death and the Devil.

We who are in Christ are reconciled to Him by His all sufficient sacrifice for sin in our place. This is the joy that we all can have peace in. Christ has been raised and so will you be raised too.

May this blessed good news comfort you by his Spirit now and forever.

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

Amen
March 2, 2016 Lent Service of Prayer and Preaching Pg. 260
Title: Be Imitators, by keeping your eyes upon Jesus!
Text: Phil. 3:17-4:1

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

4:1Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

The great architect Frank Lloyd Wright was given the challenge of building the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, one of the most earthquake-prone cities in the world. Wright’s investigation showed that a solid foundation could be “floated” on a sixty-foot layer of soft mud underlying the hotel, which would provide a shock-absorbing but solid support for the immense building. Shortly after the hotel was completed it withstood the worst earthquake in fifty-two years, while smaller buildings fell in ruins around it.

Today in the Word, March 1989, p.6

The foundation of our faith is grounded on Jesus.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

This call of imitation from the Apostle Paul is a good word for the church in Philippi and for you and me as well. Look to those, he tells them, who have a life lived in the Spirit of Christ and keep your eyes on them. They are a good example for you and me and one that will make your walk with Christ better and more joyful.

Now you may think, who should I model myself after? Who would be a good example? Should I look to someone in the church who has the appearance of faith life and model them? Well, I’m sure that there are a number of people here who would be good examples.

But Paul brings up a few things for the Philippians to consider:

18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Boy, that’s hard to hear. Many people in the Philippian church have become, because of their walk, enemies of Christ. Not walking in the ways of the Lord. We see and know this as well.

19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

The question Paul, wants to know is why? Why place your trust in things of this world and in things that will not endure when there is a gift in Christ that brings the bliss of heaven to those who only deserve death and condemnation?

But in spite of our failures: Jesus is our hope!

Ill.

Glenn Chambers boarded a plane bound for South America to begin his ministry in missionary broadcasting. But he never arrived. In a horrible moment, the plane carrying Chambers crashed into a mountain peak and spiraled downward. Later it was learned that before leaving the Miami airport, Chambers wanted to write his mother a letter. All he could find for stationery was a page of advertising on which was written the single word "WHY?" Around that word he hastily scribbled a final note. After Chambers' mother learned of her son's death, his letter arrived. She opened the envelope, took out the paper, and unfolded it. Staring her in the face was the question "WHY?"

Matthew records in his gospel:

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Matt 20:17-19

Paul now reminds the Philippians:

20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Their citizenship is in heaven. Why? -Because of Christ and His sacrifice, and the gift of faith in His all sufficient death, for you. But, Paul here is calling those in the church to walk as imitators of him who is called by the Lord Himself to be Christ’s representative.

Now, Paul is speaking as he wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And so, his words are God’s words. In the same way, preaching today speaks forth God’s words to you in our day, so that you can hear from God and live out your faith according to God’s desires.

Now, what are those desires that God wishes for you and me? What is the work of God in the life of the believer? What is it that God wants for you and me and all whom the Lord our God will call to do?

29 “… that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29)

Ill.

Belief and faith and trust … are gifts to you from our heavenly Father.

I’ve mentioned Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the past and the wonderful biography about his life and ultimately his death by Eric Metaxas at the close of WWII.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested in April 1943 and imprisoned in Berlin. After the attempt on Hitler's life failed in April 1944, he was sent first to Buchenwald and then to Schoenberg Prison. His life was spared though, for a time because he had a relative who stood high in the government; but then … this relative himself implicated in anti-Nazi plots. On Sunday April 8, 1945, after he had just finished conducting a service of worship at Schoenberg prison, two soldiers came in, saying, "Prisoner Bonhoeffer, make ready and come with us," the standard summons to a condemned prisoner. As he left, he said to another prisoner, "This is the end -- but for me, the beginning -- of life." He was hanged the next day, less than a week before the Allies reached the camp.

His confession, and the confession of all who trust in Christ, is made possible, not because of our will, but because of the working of the Spirit of Christ in the life of the believer.

Because:

… our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body (after death) to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Christ will glorify those … just as He was glorified. So, Paul is making the appeal to them and to you and me, to stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Those who stand firm do so because: We are Imitators of Christ by keeping our eyes upon Jesus!

Christ Jesus by His Spirit working in us makes us imitators of Him, though so imperfectly. We fail and fall short, but by the Spirit of God working through the word we are being made into his image, being sanctified and being made Holy. Christ, by His all sufficient sacrifice, has made peace with God for you and now will conform you into His image by the Holy Spirit in you who points you to Christ and leads you through the word into Holy living.

Be Imitators, by keeping your eyes upon Jesus!

As godly people and imitators of Christ we can have the fullness of his Spirit working in us.

As Psalm 84:12 reminds us:

12 O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

By the power of the Holy Spirit we who are his children trust in Him. God be praised for his glorious gifts to His children now and forever!

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

Amen

Sermon Feb 27-28, 2016

Title: Christ is faithful and provides you a way!
Text: 1 Cor. 10:1-13

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Floyd Collins was exploring Sand Cave on his family’s property to see if it might have tourist potential. Suddenly, his lantern failed. Crawling through the darkness, Collin's foot hit a seven-ton boulder. It fell on his leg, trapping him in the coffin-like narrowness of a dark cave. For days Collins was trapped 125 feet below ground in an ice-cold space 8 inches high and 12 feet long. Though working to reach him in the end, Floyd Collins died alone in the icy darkness where rescuers found his lifeless body.

Today in the Word, Sept 20, 1990.
While death is real it is wonderful to know that:

Christ is faithful and provides you a way!

In the epistle to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of the reality of God’s work in the lives of the Israelites in the desert. Connecting the past working of God in the book of Exodus to those in the Corinthian church, Paul points to the reality that God was present and went before them in the pillar of cloud by day and also allowed them to pass through the Red Sea on dry ground.

God’s seal and pledge of his promises and care were evident to the Israelites and through the cloud and sea God saved his people from the evil bondage experienced under Pharaoh leading them to freedom.

Paul talks about those ancient Biblical texts and those being baptized into Moses through the cloud and sea which are types of our sacrament of Baptism; where God, through His means, washes us clean from the filth of sin, rescuing us from sin, death and the Devil and making us his children. God, just as he delivered them, delivers us today and transfers us from the power of Satan into His glorious kingdom, free and marked as redeemed by Christ the crucified. Last Sunday we saw, in the baptism of little Jack Matthews, the blessed freedom still at work by our loving God in the lives of his children as he washes away sin and covers His children with his righteousness.

But, Paul continues:

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
Now, some of the Israelites, who had been with Moses in the desert, Paul says that God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness:

… for in the desert they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

These were examples Paul says, for the Corinthians and for us. Be on you guard because temptation will come upon you and Satan will find a subtle way to draw you back to his realm.

8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

The call here is to honor what God has given for our own good in the 6th commandment:

Thou shall not commit adultery or as Luther says in the catechism:

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.

Paul continues:

9 We must not put Chris to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,

Maybe you remember the story of the fiery serpents that came into the camp and their bite caused death. God provided a way out and instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and place it on a pole and lift it in the center of the camp for all to see … and all who looked upon the serpent on the pole would be healed and live. But, some didn’t believe and continued to look away …

10 or grumbled, and some of them were destroyed by the Destroyer.

But when temptation strikes like a fiery serpent we can trust that:

Christ is faithful and will provide you a way!

We too, give in even to temptation even after a seeing beautiful gift like the one we saw given to little Jack Matthews last week at his baptism. He will fall, as we all do, he will sin and he will be tempted to fall away just as we all are. But, God has by his mercy sent His Holy Spirit to be with us and in us and to point us to Christ Jesus and his finished work for all of us.

So how do we stay protected?

Ill.

Charles Francis Adams, 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!" The father thought he was wasting his time fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is your perspective.

Silas Shotwell, in Homemade, Sept, 1987.

Satan wants you to believe that spending time in worship, praising God through the good times and the bad and fighting against the temptation of the world, which is to say, the temptation that points you away from Christ and His work and love for you is, as Charles Francis Adams said – a day wasted.

God, on the other hand, will use this time to equip you, to sustain you, to keep you grounded when things go good and He will continue to build you up, at those times, when things go bad. Giving you the joy of the Spirit in all you do, trusting in Christ to provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

Paul cautions the Corinthians:

7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

The Lottery can be a trial and a temptation. Money is called the root of all evil. But really it is the love of money that is the root of all evil.

Take the story of Mark and Cindy Hill for example. They are so far the exact opposite of what lottery winners are. They, you may remember, won $136.5 million dollars, take home, after taxes to do what they want.

Well, we all know too well the stories of those past lottery winners who got sucked into the temptation to lie and be of the world and all it has to offer.
To spend and to indulge and in the end to burn out, return to having no riches in the world, or even death as happened last year to Urooj Khan, who died just two months after winning $1 million in the Illinois lottery.

But, Mark and Cindy Hill, a Christian couple, are so far a bit different. They are building their little town a new fire station, and moving the ball field to a safer place for the teams to play and have given $50,000 to buy land so the town can build a new waste treatment plant so that all the residents can get off the old septic system. Mark was going to treat himself to a new Chevy Camaro but instead bought himself a new truck which was a more practical choice in his mind. The point is they are taking the opportunity to make a difference and to show Christian love to those that are in their community.
From what their friends say, it is right in line to the Christian beliefs that they live and practice. Love of God and neighbor.

They had said that they would take care of their children and give most of the rest away and they seem to be doing just that. But, if temptation does raise its ugly head, they will once again turn to into the word and to Jesus Christ the word made flesh for their strength and comfort.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/missouri-powerball
winner_n_2749795.html?1361825691&ncid=webmail17


Christ is faithful and will provide you a way!

God’s provision is faith is that gift that He has given you through the Gospel. Both in word and sacrament God gives the Holy Spirit to draw you to faith in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ who came to live, suffer, die and rise again for each one of us.

God, through those means that he has given, will keep those through those same means by hearing it proclaimed, reading and meditating on the word keep you in His blessed will which is to keep you, in Him, in Christ and to see that you have a way out of the temptations that plague us all and are common to us all.

Christ is faithful and will provide you a way!

Christ Jesus and his word are and will always be a way out of the temptations you face. He will comfort you in times of trouble when you feel stuck by sin and its consequences and can’t get away to safety; but also when the windfall of lottery winnings, so to speak, bring the temptation of joy and prosperity in this life God, through His word, will bring a word of caution and grounding at this time too. Be comforted with this blessed news that:

Christ is faithful and will provide you a way!

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

Amen

Sermon Feb. 20-21, 2016


Feb. 20-21, 2016 LSB Setting III with Holy Communion – Second Sunday in Lent
Title: Though you die, yet in Christ you live!
Text: Luke 13:31-35

34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

It is possible to live under a delusion. You think you are kind, considerate and gracious when you are really not. You think you are building positive stuff into your children when in reality, if you could check with them twenty years later, you really didn't. What if you could read your own obituary? How do people really see you? Here is the story of a man who did.

One morning in 1888 Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, awoke to read his own obituary. The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic error. You see, it was Alfred's brother that had died and the reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him.

“The "Dynamite King," the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This, as far as the general public was concerned, was the entire purpose of Alfred's life. None of his true intentions to break down the barriers that separated men and ideas for peace were recognized or given serious consideration. He was simply a merchant of death. And for that alone he would be remembered. As he read the obituary with horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. This could be done through the final disposition of his fortune. His last will and testament--an endowment of five annual prizes for outstanding contributions in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace (the sixth category of economics was added later)--would be the expression of his life's ideals and ultimately would be why we would remember him. The result was the most valuable of prizes given to those who had done the most for the cause of world peace. It is called today, the "Nobel Peace Prize."

We too have a prize but of significantly more value:

Though you die, yet in Christ you live!

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”

Death is a reality of life and a reality of sin. Here the Pharisees of all people tell Jesus about the intentions of Herod.

Herod, you may remember, beheaded John the Baptist from prison in response to a dance that pleased him and his guests by the daughter of his wife, Herodias. Herod had bound John in prison because he had told him that it was not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife and now Herod, by the nagging of his conscience for the death of John, believes that Jesus is the voice of John, come back from the dead.

The conscience that tears at Herod concerning John’s death for some reason Herod believes will not bother him if Jesus is killed. But, we all know too well that the conscience is not controlled by the human will but is the Law of God written on the heart of man.

So Jesus tells them:

“Go and tell that fox, (meaning one being crafty and sly) ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.

Jesus isn’t taking any of it from Herod. He has His work to do and has His sights set on Jerusalem or as He calls, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

So it is for you and me and in our day as well. Death is the end of this worldly existence. We are battered in this life with sin and its results. At times there are successes but all too often the failures of our lives and the trials we all face seem to be overcome the stories in the news.

Ill.

This past weekend Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died of an apparent heart attack while on vacation leaving a vacancy on the court. It didn’t take long for both parties to rise in support or opposition to who should be his replacement.

Last week, musician Glenn Frey of the Eagles who passed away in January had a street in Royal Oak renamed Glenn Frey Drive in his honor. No one spoke in opposition to that as the former Willis avenue had no addresses affected and is along one side of the school that Glenn attended making it a simply change with two signs, one at each end, and the schools and city councils approval.

Or, maybe it’s the many faceless people that are fighting cancer and the prospect of good or bad reports they all face wondering will we live or will we die.

The reality of death comes to both young and old alike. It is not a respecter of persons and no amount of money or status can hold it at bay or have it release its steel like grip. Death will come by and to whom it will. We will all get there. But where is hope and salvation?

Paul Kretzmann in his commentary poses this warning:

“On the last day those that were Christians in name only will try to frame similar excuses as those from the biblical text, reminding the Lord of the fact that they heard the Word of God in a church where the pure doctrine was proclaimed, that they were baptized, that they were instructed in the Christian doctrine.

‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ (Luke 13:26-27)

And even those that merely lived in a Christian Community, and occasionally permitted Christian influence to graze them, will come and try to state this fact as an argument. But all arguing will be too late. The fact remains that all such people did not [receive] Jesus and His Word, but stubbornly remained [bound] in their sins, and therefore will die and be condemned in their sins.”

Popular commentary on the Bible NT Vol 1 Paul Kretzmann pg. 342

Yet … though you die, in Christ you are made alive and live!

34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

This place, like many places we know, choose to cover their ears at the proclamation of the Gospel and desire to remain in bondage to sin, death and the Devil. However, it is not Christ’s intentions to leave you there!

He laments:

How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

The unwilling, those who cling to their unbelief and refuse the gift of the Holy Spirit and the faith He creates, will push off the saving gift of faith in Christ looking to the pleasures of this world and the joys they bring for a time.

35 Behold, your house is forsaken. (He continues) And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

So where is hope? Where is life? Where is peace?

In Jesus, in his word and in his gifts!

Jesus is our hope! Jesus is our life! Jesus is our peace! He has called you and me by the Gospel having written your name in the lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world! Through baptism he makes us alive in Christ and gives us by his Spirit newness of life! We saw / or will see the working of God again through the gift of Holy Baptism in the life of a little child marked and redeemed by Christ and given faith in him so that he is truly Christ’s child.

In Him, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we all who believe will be forever in His presence. The wings of our blessed Lord have gathered you under the pavilion of His rest and you can truly rest from all your labors and grief trusting in His all sufficient sacrifice for sin so that we who name the name of Jesus will be with Him for eternity

Though you die, yet in Christ you live!

Though the Nobel Prize is now known for the expression of Albert Nobel’s life's ideals and ultimately is why and how we remember him. You too can be known, not for your value of who you are and what you do in this life but in the value that the Son of God has placed upon you by His death in your place.

His love is shown by His sacrifice in your place so that you can be forever loved by him, redeemed, forgiven, forever that:

Though you die, yet in Christ you live!

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

Amen