Monday, June 27, 2016

Sermon June 25-26, 2016

Title: Those who follow Christ follow by faith!
Text: Luke 9:51-62

62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Theodore Roosevelt was certainly a leader. In 1901 he became the youngest President of the United States following the assignation of President William McKinley. But, Theodore was also a follower. He followed the lead of his father, Theodore Senior, who inspired him in his servant leadership; he followed mountain man Bill Sewall into the wilds of Main following the death of his own father … keeping up and learning from both Bill and his son to live in the wild and endure; he followed Joe Murray, a lieutenant of New York’s Jake Hess political machine into the Assembly of Albany politics.

On his honeymoon in Europe he followed a few guides up the Matterhorn a 15,000 foot peak which had remained unconquered until 1865. He was an author, writing the Naval War of 1812 from a historian’s perspective as almost a hobby. He nearly chose science as his field of endeavor with his love for birds and the outdoors. He was Lieutenant Colonel of the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War … serving with distinction.

As both a leader and a follower TR wrote:

“A leader should aim to build a life based on service …”

Those who follow Christ follow a servant leader by faith!

In the Gospel reading for today we see Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem. This is a very important time in the life of our Lord. Jesus knew what awaited Him in Jerusalem and he was determined to set his sights there.

Dr. Arthur Just in his commentary on Luke also sees it as important as his two volume set on Luke begins the second volume with this pivotal verse. Jesus is resolute. He will not be turned away. His reason for becoming man, the incarnation, is about to be realized. Jesus is moving towards the cross.

The Samaritans turned away the messengers of Jesus as they went to prepare lodgings for him. This brings the wrath of James and John to a boil looking to call down fire from heaven to consume them – bringing to the disciples the Lord’s rebuke.

Notice as Jesus continues on his way, his call to those to follow him, brings a variety of excuses.

59 Jesus called to another, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

There is nothing here to indicate that this man’s father was dead or even near death. For all we know this man’s father could have been in good health with years to live. The point is that to follow Christ requires a denial of self and self-interests and all earthly ties.

60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.

Here again Jesus calls him at his bluff saying if he’s dead you can’t really help him and there are people that can take care of his remains but also there is a connection to our spiritual state of being dead in sin and to this Christ calls him to, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Or …

Tell those that are dead, or dying … that there is life eternal in me, Jesus.

61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”

Another excuse of an earthly nature, “I must say farewell to those at home,” when the real excuse is I really need to go home now because I’m not really excited about following you.

62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Those who follow Christ follow by faith!

Ill.

There is a story that a pastor tells of plowing a field when he was a young boy:

He says, plowing a straight furrow was easy, I thought. I didn’t need my father or grandfather telling me what to do.

The first furrow plowed was the most important. It had to be straight, especially when you had acres of land to plow. Each time back and forth you had to put the right wheels of your tractor into the furrow you had just plowed. This was your guide. If you got the first furrow straight, the whole field would end up straight and square. If you got the first furrow crooked, every pass you made was then crooked. This resulted in more time and work at the end of the job, trying to square what was crooked.

Well, Dad had this notion that you should never look back when plowing. You should pick out a spot, such as a tree or fence post, at the end of the field (sometimes hundreds of yards away) and never take your eyes off of it. Keep focused and never look back.

I thought, “How dumb! How are you going to know if you are plowing straight if you don’t look back sometimes to see how you’re doing?”

Throwing Dad’s advice out the window I decided to do it my own way, just once. Looking back I tried to make a straight furrow. Problem is, you can’t steer very well looking back. You keep trying to jerk the wheel one way or another to overcompensate. You can’t straighten out something that’s crooked. (See Ecclesiastes 1:15a).

The words of Christ popped out at me, as I read the Bible one day: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) Dad’s advice was from the Lord!

Do you at times look back too? I think we all do. Ever since I joined the Lutheran church and began attending, there has always been one thing that bothered me… summer.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love summer, but as Lutheran’s we seem to see summer as a break from Church. I mean, it’s nice weather and we can only do so much outside during the year so we really need to get it all done in the three months of summer. And the church is just as much to blame. We have our summer schedule from Memorial Day to Labor Day and that indicates that something is different here at Peace. We stop bible study because; some won’t come, so we facilitate their not coming by not coming ourselves. During summer we look every which way … except to Christ.

Those who follow Christ follow by faith!

The truth is I love summer as I assume most of you do. We can have both a joyful summer and a strong faith life. Christ does not need to be put aside while we commune with nature. In fact we try to bring a little bit of summer to our worship when we gather in the pavilion during our praise in the pavilion service. The Gospel and its fruit reach beyond these walls. It is not confining but liberating.

The Gospel (Jesus) in our reading set His face towards Jerusalem. Jesus is the Gospel and the Gospel is about Jesus. This spotless Lamb who is fully God and fully man came down from heaven to take your sin upon himself. No, if and or buts about it. He was determined to go to Jerusalem … for you! See, Jesus didn’t look back. He set his sights in that wooden post in the distance, the cross, and kept plowing straight ahead … for you. There is no crooked path because the one Jesus plowed is straight. Straight through the Law to its fulfillment, straight to the cross - the price paid in full, straight to the tomb descending to hell to fully proclaim victory over sin, death and the Devil and resurrected to newness of life on the third day … for you.

Those who follow Christ follow by faith!

Jesus Christ is the path that has been laid straight for you. The Spirit directs your course and it is straight too on account of Him. When you fall He picks you up and plows on with you for He will never leave you nor forsake you. By him you are free of bondage to the past and now look forward to a forever forgiven in him. Receive the joy that the Lord has prepared for you.

Christ Jesus is that man of integrity and high purpose. For you he paid the price and made the way for eternal life and then He calls you by the Spirit and gives you freely all He has. This he does out of divine Love … for you. Joy in this good new by the Spirit now and forever.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sermon June 18-19, 2016

Title: Tell of God’s love for you to all!
Text: Luke 8:26-39

39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

A young man was to be sentenced to the penitentiary. The judge had known him from childhood, for he was well acquainted with his father--a famous legal scholar and the author of an exhaustive study entitled, "The Law of Trusts." "Do you remember your father?" asked the magistrate. "I remember him well, your honor," came the reply. Then trying to probe the offender's conscience, the judge said, "As you are about to be sentenced and as you think of your wonderful dad, what do you remember most clearly about him?" There was a pause. Then the judge received an answer he had not expected. "I remember when I went to him for advice. He looked up at me from the book he was writing and said, 'Run along, boy; I'm busy!' When I went to him for companionship, he turned me away, saying "Run along, son; this book must be finished!' Your honor, you remember him as a great lawyer. I remember him as a lost friend." The magistrate muttered to himself, "Alas! Finished the book, but lost the boy!"

Homemade, February, 1989.

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons.

In Luke’s gospel Jesus, having calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, now makes land fall in the region of the Gerasenes.

Ill.

Gadara was one of the Decapolis, or "Ten Cities," that were originally inhabited primarily by Greek people who settled in the region after the time of Alexander the Great's conquest (see Ancient Empires - Greece). After the Romans occupied the region from about 65 B.C. (see Ancient Empires - Rome), Gadara was made the capital of the Roman province of Peraea.

Gadara was located east of The Jordan River on a mountain about 6 miles / 10 kilometers south-east of The Sea Of Galilee. The people of Gadara were known as Gadarenes, although the general area was also known as the "[region] of the Gerasenes" after the city of Gerasa which was about 45 miles / 73 kilometers farther south. They were still mostly Gentiles in the time of Christ, as indicated by their keeping of pigs.

Wayne Blank http://www.keyway.ca/htm2003/20030210.htm


The region Jesus traveled was opposite from Galilee, it was not Jewish but Greek, not clean but unclean. But still he came. Those who had lived there had even been living in tombs … another reference to being unclean.

Jesus encounters a man who is possessed by a demon.

28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.”

It is not the man who speaks but the demon that controls and enslaves him.

It is so harsh a trial for the man that he is bound in chains, under guard and even breaking free is driven into the desert by the demon.

Jesus asks the demons name and is told “Legion.” How great a possession this must have been? In Jesus day a Roman Legion may have contained 3000 to 6000 Roman foot soldiers.

This Legion begged to not be cast into the Abyss … and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

Ill.

A missionary in Africa was once asked if he really liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. "Do I like this work?" he said. "No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonable refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse...But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to 'Go,' and we go. Love constrains us."

Our Daily Bread.

This past week there was an event at Peace. It was our annual Chicken BBQ. This time there was a twist though. It was a focus on going into the community for the community.

Peace President Jay Squanda took a leap of faith and wanted a program with a purpose. Not just our Chicken BBQ that had been fun and a time to celebrate the beginning of the summer season but a purpose and focus on Christ and the community.

It began with the Memorial Day Parade. It was a time to be visible in the community. It was a time to invite. It was a time to bring Jesus to those in need. There were flyers, there was news about the church and there was a day. June12 the Peace Chicken BBQ. How many would come? Where was the food coming from? How many will we feed? Much planning needed to be done. Many volunteers stepped up. Service was outside. God provided a beautiful day. We had some visitors. But more importantly … $565 dollars were raised for Oakland Hope. It is the start of a new outreach … a new focus … a mission of purpose for a place across the lake if you will where those bound in chains and controlled by demons - some from outside influence and some from within – pry and cast people into despair – sending them into the desert of this world with no hope.

How many? What will they eat? Will we have enough? I’m reminded of the loves and the fish. Jesus said: 13 … “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.”

A question was asked at the BBQ about the loves and fish. How many loaves and fish as their family was having a discussion. In one, the feeding of the 5000 5 loaves and two fish with twelve baskets left over. In the feeding of the 4000 there were 7 loaves and a few small fish and there were seven large baskets left over.

9 About 4,000 men were there. He dismissed them 10 and immediately got into the boat with His disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

It is suggested that this feeding was among the gentiles and that Jesus and his disciples then crossed back across the Sea of Galilee to the region of Magadan on the western shore of the sea.

Jesus went, Jesus fed, Jesus brought Good News. Our Chicken BBQ now has a purpose. Not just a time of fellowship and time of serving, a time of feeding, a time of bringing good news to those in need … both inside and outside our church.

Ill.

A one-legged school teacher from Scotland came to J. Hudson Taylor to offer himself for service in China. "With only one leg, why do you think of going as a missionary?" Asked Taylor.
"I do not see those with two legs going," replied George Scott. He was accepted. 

Pillar of Fire, January First, 1983.

Jesus came for all and to serve all. It is our joy to be God’s servants to neighbors in need. We do not have to create a pantry to serve the homeless; God has brought people and places in our midst for that. We do not need to invent a new mission or ministry … we can simply insert ourselves into community outreach that exists. We do not have to look for new ways to serve but to be simply vessels of service to those in need with the need of the body and the good news that feed the soul.
May God fill and bless these efforts as we walk among his people with good news for the lost and comfort for the broken.

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

Amen

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sermon June 11-12, 2016

Title: You are made well and forgiven through faith in Christ!
Text: Luke 7:36-50

48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (and no lunch) he arrived at a church having a Chicken barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished. As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.

"Excuse me," Governor Herter said, "do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?" "Sorry," the woman told him. "I'm supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person." "But I'm starved," the governor said.

"Sorry," the woman said again. "Only one to a customer."
Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around. "Do you know who I am?" he said. "I am the governor of this state." Well. She looked at him, "Do you know who I am?" the woman said. "I'm the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister."

Bits & Pieces, May 28, 1992, pp. 5-6

You are made well and forgiven through faith in Christ!

In our Gospel for today Jesus is invited to dine with a Pharisee. Now, the Pharisees were a bit self-absorbed; if you remember the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector:

10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

Now, as Jesus is dinning a woman of questionable character- a woman of the city, a sinner, who is only at this place because she knew Jesus was there, begins weeping and wets his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair.

At some point in her life she made some wrong choices (any of you ever do that before?) The burden of her sin, she carried by herself, until the weight of the Law of God caused a repentant heart in her. Hearing of Christ’s presence in the house she came to honor Him in blessed thanksgiving, washing, kissing and anointing His feet.

Ill.

The root of this practice appears to be found in the hospitality customs of ancient civilizations, especially where sandals were the chief footwear.

A host would provide water for guests to wash their feet, provide a servant to wash the feet of the guests or even serve the guests by washing their feet. A typical Eastern host might bow, greet, and kiss his guest, then offer water to allow the guest to wash his feet or have servants do it. Though the wearing of sandals might necessitate washing the feet, the water was also offered as a courtesy even when shoes were worn. Jesus even washes His disciple’s feet as a sign of humility in how they should treat one another.

As the Pharisee sees this he thinks to himself, “If Jesus really is a prophet, he would know that this woman is a low-life sinner of the worst kind and certainly not wish to be associated with her.” Many times we too lump people together with those whom they associate with.

Ill.

Father Mike was a young Priest when I was playing in the bars of Detroit in my early 20s. In 1978 he was newly ordained and installed at St. Francis Cabrini parish in Allen Park. One night as we were beginning to play our first set, in walks my friend Jeff and Father Mike. In talking with Father Mike between sets he related a bit of uneasiness at being in this place. After all, the Priest was usually seen at church among parishioners. So here is Father Mike, among sinners, alcohol, smoke, drugs, fights and yes even Rock-n-Roll.

His thought, “Yes, I am a Priest but maybe here is where I should be bringing the love of Christ to those in need.”

This unfortunately seems to place the weight of some sins that are more public and seem greater in the light of our own vision to the hidden sin we all have and fight against daily. At times you and I, like the Pharisee, see the sins of others … while neglecting the plank in your own eye; thinking it a speck of dust you can just wash out yourself. This self-justifying, self-redeeming sin is a greater corruption than the public sin which is recognized and repented of allowing the cleansing ointment of the God/man to wash you clean in the tears of baptismal forgiveness.
Jesus places the plank squarely back in the Pharisees eye with his story of two debtors. One who was forgiven a debt that was ten times the others and asks this question of the Pharisee:

“ … Now which of them will love him more?”

If you like the Pharisee answer, “the one who has been forgiven the bigger debt!” you too would have answered correctly! The gift of forgiveness is truly a blessing when you recognize especially the magnitude of your guilt. Even the smallest of sin brings separation for eternity from our loving God. At no time could this woman in our lesson see a repair she could make. What she saw was Jesus; Only Jesus. She could only, through repentance, see the comfort offered in Him and the justifying gift and forgiveness He offered.

The Pharisee struggled because he didn’t recognize Jesus for who He is and also didn’t recognize his own sin of self-righteousness. Not needing Christ’s forgiveness in his own view the Pharisee was to be forgiven little and he loved little. But not so you who place your trust in Christ because:

You are made well and forgiven through faith in Christ!
The epistle reading for today from Galatians brings to focus the gift of God’s justifying grace in Christ Jesus.

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The woman at Christ’s feet would not be kept from the free grace offered by the Spirit through faith.

48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The hymn Not What These Hands Have Done reminds us:

1. Not what these hands have done can save this guilty soul; Not what this toiling flesh has born can make my spirit whole.

2. Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God; Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

Again the hymn frees you and me from the work of the Law and points us to the joy we have in Christ Jesus and His work.

3. Thy work alone O Christ, Can ease this weight of sin; Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.

4. Thy love to me O God, not mine, O Lord to thee; can rid me of this dark unrest and set my spirit free.

50 And then he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

The hymn concludes with the Gospel’s Good News:

5. Thy grace alone O God, to me can pardon speak; Thy power alone, O Son of God, can this sore bondage break.

6. I bless the Christ of God, I rest on love divine; and with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.

Christ’s forgiveness is given freely to all who repent of their sins by faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting in Christ’s finished work. You are Christ’s not of your doing but of his choosing and he calls through the gospel of forgiveness by the Holy Spirit in word and sacrament. In baptism you have been call, washed and made God’s beloved child!

Shortly our Chicken BBQ will feed our physical needs and we thank all who made this possible … but today we thank Jesus for the faithfully standing in our place and giving us the gift of faith by the Spirit’s work that in Jesus we have hope and peace, comfort and forgiveness and that our sins are forgiven on account of his work and we rest in the savior’s arms.

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

Amen

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Funeral sermon Hilda Klein - Wednesday, June 2, 2016

Wednesday, June 2, 2016
Funeral Sermon for Hilda Klein
Title: At home with Jesus forever!
Text: John 14:3 (English Standard Version)

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

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

I’m Pastor Russ Tkac, Pastor of Peace and I've been blessed to know Hilda for going on 16 years and to celebrate her life with you her dear family and friends.

The back corner of the church will never quite be the same. It was where Hilda sat – at time by herself and many times with her family. It is where she got up to go sing with the choir - when we had a choir and when she was able. It is where her walker rested when she sat in the pew when walking became difficult, and it is where the wheelchair was placed when it became her more of transportation.

I would go and visit her at Autumn Ridge – her home away from home -asking how she was doing … she would always say in mock consternation: “They’re always pushing me around!” Referring to her chair and the way she needed to go. A slight smile coming across her face – like it was the first time she thought it or said it. As I would wheel her to her room or to a guest room to talk, she might exclaim, “See, you’re pushing me around too!”

Hilda was a fixture in my life here at church in many ways. Not only as pastor but for many years as a member here, singing in the choir or leading bible study that she always attended when able, or singing at her beloved home where the Christmas Caroling was made that much better because Hilda joined in to sing with us and we received some of her famous cookies.

In the Gospel text for today we read: (Jesus says)

1 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)

So though we grieve and are sad at Hilda’s passing we can have comfort as well. Jesus tells us that He has a place for us, and that included Hilda Klein, and it has been prepared for her and because of Hilda’s faith and trust in Jesus … she has now taken possession of it.

If you knew Hilda … then you knew Jesus. She trusted Christ, desired to be in church where Jesus promised to be and desired to receive the gifts Christ gives. She supported the work of the church with her time, talent and treasure and that included those near to her and those around her and as the church I was privileged to bring Jesus to Hilda when she could no longer get to Peace for regular worship. She told me also that his greatest hope was that all of you, her children, grandchildren, and dear friends would know and trust Jesus too.

Hilda’s trust was in Christ. Though at times during these last few years I know she questioned him. Why wasn’t Jesus leaving her in her home? The confusion of being unable to take care of her own needs and not being able to get to church every week were a few things that troubled her. Where was she going she wondered and why?

In Johns gospel:

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:5-6)

Hilda knew the way. I visited with her at the hospital after the stroke and at at Autumn Ridge during her hospice stay on many occasions she would say, “I want to go home.” We all will probably fight that same fight when we get close to our time of departure for heaven too.

Hilda’s hope was in the blessed hope of his Lord and savior Jesus Christ and the home she knew was waiting her in heaven. She was looking to be with Christ and today heaven is her home and her walker and wheelchair are here because in heaven Hilda won’t need them. She has been redeemed and in baptism her sins were washed away … and Christ promises to make all things new.

She knew her sins were forgiven too on account of Jesus’ death on the cross. She knew that because Jesus rose from the dead, she would too. She knew Heaven was her home and that Jesus had prepared a place for her, so that even with the veil of death lurking at the door and waiting to cover her, She had the blessed hope of reunion forever with Jesus and with all dearly departed who have gone to their eternal rest in the Lord before her.
Jim texted me that Hilda wasn’t doing well on Wednesday evening and I replied that I would go in the morning for a visit. When I got there at 10:45 on Thursday Hilda was laboring. I read her the 23rd Psalm and then these passages:

Psalm 4:8 (ESV)

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 27:1 (ESV)

27 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 31:5 (ESV)

5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Psalm 73:26 (ESV)

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I prayed and concluded with the Lord’s Prayer and said,

“Hilda it is okay to go and be with Jesus. We who remain behind will be alright. When he calls … go, rest in his arms.”

I got a text from Jim at 11:50 as I pulled into the church. It read:

“Marie got a call from Autumn Ridge. Mom passed away.”

Heaven is now mom’s home.

You too have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust. Jesus has forgiven your sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in you, has given you the faith to believe in His saving work and a place prepared for you, forgiven in Christ and forever with our Lord and savior Jesus, and that’s a Heaven and an eternity you can trust.

As we grieve today we remember …

Hilda loved home. When she when anywhere she always came home. And this time Christ Jesus called her to her heavenly home to be where he is.

Sin, the corruption of this world and the work of the Devil were going to do everything possible to make sure that we who remain saw that death was not peaceful, restful or kind. It is the consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve into sin … the fall and sin we share.

But, you too can know that the path and rescue that our Lord and savior Jesus followed, to the cross for you, was not peaceful, restful or kind either. It was a death that shook the very foundation of this world as Satan fought in every way to keep Christ Jesus from standing in Hilda’s place and your place too.

It was Hilda, you and me that the Devil wanted to see on that cross because it would have accomplished nothing … but death … in a most horrible way. Sin would not have been paid for and you would have been destined to spend an eternity separated from God … a true meaning of Hell … forever.

But Martin Luther reminds us:

“The Christian life does not consist of being but becoming, not of victory but of fight, not of righteousness but of justification, not of comprehending but of stretching forward, not of purity but of [being purified] purification.” – Luther WA 57

The death of sin - brings perfection in Christ.

In First Corinthians St. Paul writes:

54When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

"Death is swallowed up in victory."

55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Cor. 15:54-58)

Hilda received that victory in baptism marked as one redeemed by Christ the crucified and now has the fullness of that reality.

She was prepared, she was forgiven, and she will be … at home with Jesus forever because Christ has promised:

3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has prepared a place not only for Hilda … but for you and me as well.

Your sins have been forgiven on account of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and you who trust in Christ, will be forever in the presence of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ forever as well.

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

Amen

Sermon May 28-29, 2016

Title: Though we are unworthy Jesus comes and brings peace!
Text: Luke 7:1-10

6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.

The Medal of Honor was created in 1861, and it is awarded by the President of the United States, in the name of Congress at a ceremony attended by senior military personnel, members of Congress and other leaders.

It is, the highest honor for military valor and is awarded for “Gallantry in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty" by a member of the U.S. Armed Forces during combat against an enemy.

On Sept. 29, 2006 in an extraordinary act of courage, Michael Anthony Monsoor 25, petty officer of the U.S. Navy's Special Operations Command, shielded three of his U.S colleagues and three other Iraqi soldiers from the imminent blast by throwing himself onto the grenade. The resultant blast killed him.

President Bush praised Monsoor for his valor and selfless service to the nation at the ceremony. "Michael had two options," said the president, "save his life or those who were with him, but he chose to lay down his life for them."

http://www.christianheadlines.com/news/navy-seal-who-sacrificed-his-life-receives-medal-of-honor-11572817.html
On this Memorial Day weekend we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice laying down their life for their fellow man and for the freedom we so cherish and enjoy. We also think of Jesus who also laid down his life for the many so that by faith in him we too may know and trust all that Jesus came to do on our behalf.

So, who is Jesus? What is the truth? Do you believe? These and many other questions have been asked over the centuries. Last week we looked into the mystery of the Trinity, Father, Son + and Holy Spirit; the oneness of unity and the uniqueness of persons.

Today, in our lesson the question goes beyond the apprehending of the mystery of the Godhead to the truth of Jesus and His work.

2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.

This Roman officer had a servant or a slave that was important to him. He valued his work or where he served and this servant was now near death. Now, the idea of losing a valued worker is nothing new. Smart business people know that it is better and easier to keep good workers than to find and train good replacements.

But in our story today the centurion certainly valued not only his servant but also the Jews and their religion, having built their synagogue and loving their nation.

There is the story of:

Ill.

"The German Oriental society, which was carrying on excavations in Egypt (in the late 1800s in), Babylonia, and Assyria, undertook the investigation of the remains of ancient synagogues in Galilee. Among these they excavated the ruins of the synagogue at Tell Hum on the Sea of Galilee, the probable site of Capernaum. Here they found the remains of a once beautiful synagogue which was probably built in the fourth century A. D. But, beneath this synagogue is the floor of a still older building. The last is probably the synagogue in which so many of the incidents of the ministry of Christ in Capernaum took place … even the one built by a Roman centurion."

Kretzmann NT vol. 1 pg.300
Now, this Roman officer had the elders of the Jews come to Jesus on his behalf to plead with Christ to come and heal this servant. The Jewish leaders feel that this centurion is worthy to have Christ come to him and they plede with Jesus … but look at the centurion’s own view of himself.

When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. Luke 7:6b-7

He knows that he is unworthy but by faith he also knows that Jesus can provide what he needs.

Do you ever feel unworthy? Do you feel lost at times? Do you even sometimes feel useless?

Ill.

When Irving S. Olds was chairman of the U.S. Steel Corporation, he arrived for a stockholders' meeting and was confronted by a woman who asked, "Exactly who are you and what do you do?" Without batting an eye, Olds replied, "I am your chairman. Of course, you know the duties of a chairman--that's someone who is roughly the equivalent of parsley on a platter of fish."

Bits and Pieces, June 27, 1991, p.7.

The bigger problem is: Do you feel worthy? Do you feel in tune with the world? Do you feel useful or maybe at times very important? This is a problem that is faced by everyone at one time or another. Do you take yourself too seriously? Do you think higher of yourself than you should? Do you think that if you don’t do it, no one else will and it won’t get done?

Sin causes us to overestimate our own worth and to diminish the worth of others. In the lesson today, this Roman officer knows that he is a man under authority and also has those who are under his own authority.

This man recognizes the authority of Jesus Christ but more importantly he has faith to trust that this word of God - Jesus Christ - can heal his servant.

Do you fall short? Do you see your sin always before you? Do you do as Paul says in Romans 6:16-18:

16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Servant or slave …? Either, you are a servant to sin and corruption and the working of the devil or you are a servant to the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith through the working of the Holy Spirit in you?

The tension is there for all as we wrestle as both saint and sinner in this life and we all at times fallback into the sin nature that we all possess from birth, doing that which we don’t want to do, instead of that which we want to do. But the law of God which is written on our hearts is there to point us, as a mirror does to our sin, causing us to be burdened by guilt and by the Spirit’s work in us bringing us to repentance.

Through the Spirit’s work you once again see a savior who can meet your every need whether in sickness or health, rich or poor and as Paul reminds the Philippians:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always … 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The centurion knew and trusted that through the word of the Lord his servant would be healed. True faith, not wavering and by God’s word he was healed. He saw in Christ the same one who as Saint John beheld in the vision on the Isle of Patmos in the book of Revelation:

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Rev. 1:17-18)

Death could not have conquest over the centurion’s servant because, in Christ - by faith - spiritual death is conquered and new life is given through the working of the Holy Spirit.

“Lord, do not trouble yourself … But say the word, and let my servant be healed.” Luke 7:6b-7

9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

As we recognize today all of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy we honor their memory but you and I too need to recognize Jesus for who He is; the author and perfecter of our faith. He is the one who has taken away the sins of the world and in Him you have life eternal in Him. The good news is that through the working of the Holy Spirit you have been brought to faith and through the means of grace, of word and sacrament, you are continually built up in Christ being made holy in Him.

The truth we are given in Christ is not fiction, it is not a story. It is the true and blessed working of our Lord to redeem the lost. You have been forgiven and are him. Rejoice in the works of God!

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

Amen