Monday, October 30, 2017

Sermon October 28-29, 2017 Reformation

Title: The Freedom of the gospel and Truth in Christ has set you free!
Text: Romans 3:19-28

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Fredrick Douglas once said, “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet [deplore] agitation are men who want rain without thunder and lightning.”

Frederick Douglas

Martin Luther certainly felt the thunder and lightning that he did not expect when he nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg castle church door on October 31, 1517. What he intended for theological debate and discussion caused turmoil, divided the Christian church, and marked the beginning of what we know today as the Lutheran Reformation. The freedom that we who name the name of Christ received is in the Son and because of His wonderful work you are free in Christ!

Today we remember and celebrate the Reformation of the Church, began by the former Roman Catholic Priest and Augustinian Monk, Martin Luther. We also celebrate the joy that we who today benefit from this blessed freedom found in the Gospel message, will continue together with the whole church to reach the lost with this same gospel message.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law … 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

This was the crux of Luther’s struggle. How could a sinful man stand before a holy God? He would ask himself, “Must God condemn sin? Yes. Am I a sinner? Yes. Must God condemn me? Yes!”

This struggle and torment tore at Luther as he tried to understand the depth of the fall into sin and the rescue that was enacted on our behalf in the person and work of Jesus Christ. As one myself who came to Lutheranism as an adult, and also as one who struggled to find peace with God, I came to identify a great deal with Luther. One book that was important in my transition to Lutheranism was Heiko Oberman’s, Luther: Man between God and the Devil. It was not only a history of Luther and the reformation but it also was a perfect picture of where Luther stood … between God and the Devil. On the one hand judged and condemned as a sinner by God and on the other hand tempted and taunted by the Devil. Luther thought, “Where can peace be found in this life let alone the life to come?”

[Interestingly LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matt Harrison posted on his facebook page that 1/3 of all LCMS members are adult converts.]

For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Rom. 3:22b-24

You are free in Christ!

While verse 24 says pretty much the same thing it was Chapter 5 and verse 1 that gave Luther what he was looking for … peace.

5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace was God’s gift but the means that Luther now understood was through the instrument of faith. This gift of Grace and Faith gave Luther hope and peace in a God, not of wrath but of love.

25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

[The word propitiation carries the basic idea of appeasement or satisfaction, specifically toward God. Propitiation is a two-part act that involves appeasing the wrath of an offended person and being reconciled to him.]

http://www.gotquestions.org/propitiation.html


So not only is God no longer angry with you, because Jesus has accepted all of God’s wrathful anger in a once and for all sacrifice at the cross, but in Christ by faith you receive what Christ received … God’s favor … on account of that same sacrifice.

Luther was free and the Roman Catholic Church wouldn’t be the same.

Not that Luther was trying to topple or rebel against the Roman Church but just to reform its errors. It’s a little like a student finding an error that the teacher wrote on the blackboard. The student points out the error not to show up the teacher but to show that he was paying so close attention that this error jumped out at him. The proper response from the teacher is to thank the student and move on. That’s what Luther thought would happen, that his propositions in his 95 theses posted on the door of the Castle Church would bring theological debate and he felt confident that he could prove that his thinking was right by the word of God.

I was born on April 18, 1955 and baptized in May of that year. My first remembrance of Church was at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, in McKeesport Pennsylvania. The services were in Latin … and I didn’t understand a word. Not much different for the Church members in Luther’s day. Remember the only thing they knew about God was what the Church told them. The Bible was in Latin and they, if they didn’t read Latin were in the dark.

Ill.

One movie that I show to my confirmation students is a film called Martin Luther Heretic. The title says a lot about how the church viewed Luther … as one who taught falsehood. One scene that is especially poignant has Luther teaching his students the difference between the scripture in Latin and what he found in the ancient Greek. He points out that in the Latin it reads, do penance but in the Greek is reads, change heart. Luther saw that the Latin was a mistranslation of change heart.

The changing of our heart from being God’s enemies to being at peace with God is all God’s work.

This set Luther free to preach the freedom of the Christian who at birth is bound to sin, just like you and me, but who is freed from sin, death and the power of the Devil by God’s gift of Grace through faith and this is not of your doing, not a result of works (doing penance) so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8-9

This led Luther to the Diet of Worms, in Germany to hear the charges of heresy, in front of the Emperor Charles the V, which were brought against him and to give a defense for what he believed, taught and confessed. This happened on April 18, 1521, 436 years to the day of my own birth, so I felt a certain kinship with Luther as I wrestled with my own religious upbringing.

It is to [papal legate] Aleander that we owe the eyewitness account of Luther’s arrival in Worms:

I had already concluded my letter when I gathered from various reports as well as the hasty running of the people that the great master of heretics was making his entrance. I sent one of my people out, and he told me that about a hundred mounted soldiers, probably the Sickingens, had escorted him to the gate of the city; sitting in a coach with three comrades, he entered the city [at ten in the morning], surrounded by some eight horsemen and found lodgings near his Saxon prince. When he left the coach, a priest embraced him and touched his habit three times, and shouted with joy, as if he had a relic of the greatest saint in his hands. I suspect that he will soon be said to work miracles. This Luther, as he climbed from the coach, looked around in the circle of his demonic eyes and said:”God will be with me.” Then he stepped into an inn, where he was visited by many men, ten or twelve of which he ate with, and after the meal, all the world ran there to see him.

Oberman, Heiko A. Luther Man between God and the Devil, Yale University 1989 Pg. 198-99

To those inside and outside the church the Lutheran liturgy and Roman Catholic liturgy look similar.
We have many of the same elements, invocation, confession of sins, the creeds, and even the readings for the day are the same coming from the historic lectionary. We baptize infant, instruct our youth, have confirmation and receive the Lord’s body and blood in the sacrament of the Altar. So why was there this battle in 1521 and why does it still rage today? In a word … it’s the gospel.

Lutherans believe that we are saved by grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, and that we know this by the means of Scripture alone. No works, no penance, no merit Luther knew as those bound in sin from birth that, “the only thing we contribute to our salvation … is sin.”

In Augsburg Germany on June 25, 1530 the public reading of the Augsburg Confession first took place.

[Chancellor Christian Beyer, a member of the government of Duke John, elector of Saxony, read before Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and a gathering of princes (a “Diet”) in the city of Augsburg, Germany, a confession of faith signed by seven princes and two city councils in whose lands the teachings of Luther and the Wittenberg reformers had taken root in the previous decade. Luther’s colleague, Philip Melanchthon, is the principal author, though he used several previous documents in the preparation.]

http://wmltblog.org/2013/06/june-25-the-presentation-of-the-augsburg-confession/

Justification … how are men saved continues to divide the church.

Lutherans say in article IV of the Augsburg Confession:

1] Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for 2] Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. 3] This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

The Roman Church counters in Canon 9 of the council of Trent:

If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.

It is either all of Christ or we do something. It hasn’t changed in almost 500 years. There are many similarities and big differences still between Lutherans and Catholics but also between Lutherans and Evangelicals.

Matthew Block writes in First Things of the Evangelical Catholic tradition:

Jaroslav Pelikan in his 1964 work Obedient Rebels, attempted to situate Lutheranism’s place in the catholic tradition writing:

“Martin Luther was the first Protestant, and yet he was more Catholic than many of his Roman Catholic opponents,” Pelikan quips in the first sentence of the book. “This paradox lies at the very centre of Luther’s Reformation.” The rest of the book is devoted to exploring this [Lutheran] movement which was, at one time, both Catholic and Protestant.

https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/12/the-evangelical-catholic-tradition

Martin Luther brought the thunder and lightning but not to be a agitator - but to restore the Gospel. To give the peace of God to we who are bound in sin. To bring true freedom to those bound by the Devils lies … that we can do anything to merit forgiveness.

Let it be proclaimed!

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

You are free in Christ!

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

Amen




Sermon October 21-22, 2017

Title: The Father has given you all you need!
Text: Matthew 22:15-22

[And they said to Jesus] 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”

When Sgt. Ray Baarz of the Midvale, Utah police department opened his wallet, he noticed his driver's license had expired. Embarrassed at having caught himself red-handed, he had no alternative. He calmly and deliberately pulled out his ticket book and wrote himself a citation. Then Baarz took the ticket to the city judge who issued the fine. "How could I give a ticket to anyone else for an expired license in the future if I didn't cite myself?" Baarz asked.

Source Unknown.

Holding yourself accountable is important as we render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. We are compelled to live within that tension - between the spiritual and civil realm - every day of our lives. So daily we must remember that:
Christ has claimed you and made you His!

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle [Jesus] in his words.

The Chief priests and Pharisees had not been doing well with Jesus.

Previously in the parables they had been thrown out of the vineyard, having had the vineyard given to other tenants (Matt. 21:33-44) and last week they had ignored the invitation of the King to attend the wedding feast, (Matt 22:1-14) and unless you are clothed with the proper wedding garment which is - not certainly the filthy sin stained rags of our own righteousness – but the righteousness that comes only by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord and His finished work.

To say that the Pharisees are not happy would be an understatement and they begin to plot and make plans to trap Jesus. They want to catch Him in something that they can then accuse him of and turn him over to the authorities to have Him tried and ultimately … have Him put to death. This way they are sure that they can get rid of him once and for all.

6 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians …

The disciples of the Pharisees went to Jesus and also brought some of the Herodians with them. The Herodians are only mentioned 6 time in the New Testament and there is some debate as to whether they were a political party distinct from the Pharisees and Sadducees and supporters of Herod Antipas, or were actually soldiers in Herod’s court. Either way … the Pharisees were bringing politicians or soldiers with them to Jesus, and that was neither meant as a way to get Jesus’ political support or to have him enlist!

… saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.

This is what might be called … painting a picture.

“Yea, yea … we believe everything you say because we know you’re telling the truth. You don’t care with other’s say … even if they are the religious leaders so why don’t you say it in front of these politicians or soldiers of … Herod … yea … and of course we mean you no disrespect!

So ... 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

So, speak up so these Herodians can hear you.

Ill.

Church and State has been on the minds of many over these last few years. Much has been brought to light what churches can do to protect their rights and conscience as it pertains to a changing culture. One thing that became very clear is the need for we Christians to register to vote. The more true believers who take part in the process and exercise their right as citizens to vote in a biblical way, the more biblical and pleasing of an outcome we might have. But as Christians we also need to be informed voters.

The Pharisees and the Herodians – politics and soldiers - too had an agenda.

18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” as if they didn’t know 21 They said, “Caesar's.”

You and I know the laws. We know what or whom has been placed over us whether it is the laws that are on the books, or the police officer that has just given you a ticket for an expired driver’s license, or political official who has just voted in a way that is contrary to your desire and even God’s desire.

We are all called to proclaim God’s truth in light of civil persecution. We are called to love those who persecute us. If the laws call us to do something contrary to God’s word we need to sand firm and use our ability as citizens to also exercise our rights to bring about change.

Ill.

According to a traditional Hebrew story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw an old man weary from age and journey, coming toward him. Abraham rushed out, greeted him joyfully, and then invited him into his tent. There he washed the old man's feet and gave him food and drink. The old man immediately began eating without saying any prayer or blessing. So Abraham asked him, "Don't you worship God?"

The old traveler replied, "I worship fire only and reverence no other god."

When he heard this, Abraham became incensed, grabbed the old man by the shoulders, and threw him out his tent into the cold night air.

When the old man had departed, God called to his friend Abraham and asked where the stranger was. Abraham replied, "I forced him out because he did not worship you."

God answered, "Abraham … I have suffered him these eighty years although he dishonors me. Could you not endure him one night?"

Thomas Lindberg.


The things that in this life may grieve us as Christians grieve our loving God as well. But He who is righteous is long suffering.

9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 2:9

God is slow with you and He is slow with me. Not giving up on us and our failings but calling and bringing us by the power of His Spirit to believe. God in Christ has suffered with us for some of us many years as we at times choose to fall away from His word looking to what society and the civil leaders tell us what to believe and do. He is long suffering towards us and we need to be long suffering to those we encounter that also don’t see things as we do.

Then [Jesus] said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”

This image is very much simple to see. The question of should we pay tax is simple answered by Jesus give to Caesar or give to the State what it requires but then it becomes a bit harder. Give to God what is His.

You are called to respond to the call of the gospel. The Pharisees and Chief Priests had been called and they had refused to care for the vineyard and ignored the invitation to the wedding feast. We too look to things other than the things God’s desires and drift away from Him and his word. God’s desire is you and you fully trust in Him.

He has claimed you and made you His!

Despite the trials of this world God has sent His son to take the fullness of His wrath you deserve. It is finished Jesus said and you are no longer accountable. He has died for all flesh, heterosexual as well as homosexual and calls you to repentance. Broken as you are He restores, forgives and calls you to be his child forever. Your sin is never beyond his redemption.

Christ has claimed you and made you His!

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

Amen

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sermon October 14-15, 2017

Title: Bearing fruit is the work of the Spirit!
Text: Matthew 22:1-14

8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Yes, the Lord gives us daily opportunities to be his witnesses in the world.

This is LWML weekend. We celebrate the work of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League in witnessing the love of Christ to a broken world and all that they do to bring this witness of Jesus Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins to those who need to hear.

Many in our congregation have been or continue to be Christ’s servants through this faithful ministry. But at times others in our midst and in the world see the call to witness about Jesus and what he has done for us fall on deft ears.

The work of the flesh, the world, and the devil can bring to nothing what God intended for good.

Many opportunities are missed. Have you missed an opportunity? I have. The question always is, “Why did I forget to tell them about Jesus?”

22 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.

So Jesus moves right from the master and the vineyard parable from last week to the parable of the wedding feast. The chief priests and the Pharisees had just realized that Jesus was talking about them as the ones who would be removed from the vineyard and it would be given to other tenants.

Now, with the wedding feast parable He once again paints the picture of those who will be welcomed at the feast.

4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’

Jesus calls all to come. He welcomes all who believe and trust in Him

5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.

The chief priests and Pharisees are once again singled out as those who having abused the vineyard and the servants sent to get the master’s good grapes and now in this parable, they are the ones called to the feast but pay no attention or continue to abuse the servants.

So like the master in the previous parable who will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants:

7 The king [too] was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.

So He tells them to:

9 Go … to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Both … bad and good … those who, to human eyes appear to be worthy, and those who we might assume would never be invited, too are called.

It is very good news that:

Bearing fruit is the work of the Spirit!

The LWML – The Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League is and has been at the forefront of bearing witness for 75 years this year. What a great accomplishment. There Bi-annual budget to serve the needs in our area and around the world for this Biennium 2017-2019 is 2,075,000. Included in that mission outreach are:

Mercy house for woman and children in Flint
Christ for Veterans and Families in the CMS
LCMS International Missions
Lutheran Children’s Books for Families by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation
Lutheran Hour ministries
Labor of Love Lutheran Brail Outreach to name a few totaling $2,075,000 for mission and ministry outreach for these next two years. Thank you ladies!

Those little mite boxes when gathered together grow and it was a blessing for me a few years ago to serve as the pastoral representative for our local LWML.

Ill.

A story is told:

A man was headed home late from a wedding reception and had about a two hour drive when a friend said to me, "Remember that for every mile you drive there are two miles of ditch".

He said, “I was in the car before that really sunk in, and then it hit me, for every path we walk, there are two miles of ditch along the journey inviting us to veer off the road. There are twice as many chances to stray away from God [into the ways of the world.]

Few of us ever intend to go into the ditch. No one just drives down the road and says "Hey I'm going to drive into the ditch" For most of us, it is simply hugging the shoulder of the road and little by little we move ourselves from the patch of following Jesus and somehow we end up off the road and in the ditch.

The gift of grace and faith becomes rejected and little by little the wedding garment is removed as you once again put on the filthy rags of your own self righteousness. Those rags unfortunately are so comfortable at times that you might not even notice the change. But the reality is there - reject God’s word, reject God’s gifts, return to the ways of the world and if not you or me … maybe it is someone we love.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’

The wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ. It is give to you by faith through the working of the Holy Spirit. You are clothed with it in baptism and made Christ’s disciple and follower. The garment of Christ identifies you as one invited to attend the feast and your place is secure at the table.

You are seated there now … in Christ … you have on the wedding garment and by the work of the Holy Spirit he will bear fruit tin and through you.

Amen

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sermon October 7-8, 2017

Martin: The Man! Video series 5th Installment
Title: The Word, the Church, the Truth, and the World!
Text: Acts 4:19-21a; 5:27-29 (Readings below)


19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

As we conclude this video series we see God’s word coming out of hiding. As Luther is hidden away – in the Wartburg Castle - he works hard to make the word of God clear and available to the German people by translating the New Testament into the common language of the people.

The church had the power to keep the people subservient to what the church directed and wanted them to know … and we all know that control means power … for a few. Luther and the reformation returned the truth and the gospel to the people. The freedom of the gospel meant real forgiveness apart from the works of the Law. As the Lutheran church emerged it needed to see what this new freedom meant. Luther’s German mass was the beginning of what we understand as the Divine service along with the singing of hymns - another Luther gift and blessing - where we together sing together the one true faith into our hearts and live that faith out daily in love for God and our neighbor.

The Lord’s Supper is and has always been pure gift for us Lutherans who received the true body and blood of Christ in and with the bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins … nothing more and nothing less. The confessions of the Lutheran church contained in the Book of Concord makes our confession known. The Augsburg Confession in its unaltered state is what we as Missouri Synod Lutherans hold too.

Today the turmoil continues in our lives. It is not the same battle but it is the same fight. The world has become once more the arbiter of truth no matter the side you’re on as there is plenty of blame to go around. Marriage has been redefined and God’s word belittled. Respect is demanded … not earned. Traditional values are replaced with new ones and the family has been redefined. Children are aborted; lives are stilled in a shooting of mass proportions in Las Vegas and race relations are at an all time low. There is no place for that in the lives of Christians who see not the color of the skin but fellow sinners redeemed by grace.

As the gospel for today tells us in the words of Jesus:

38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
This son who was killed is the word of God made flesh Jesus Christ himself.

When the word is rejected, the Son is rejected. That which was not available to the people in Luther’s day – the word of God – has been available to you your whole life. For many in our day, in our life and even in our church it means little. “Take it away, they think, I live just fine without it.” But then we live according to the word of man and man at his core remains evil – as the Apostle Paul calls all born in sin to account in Romans 3.

10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”


Sounds like today.
Sounds like the protests.
Sounds like our country.
Sounds like our world.

We need a return to the word of God. A reformation if you will again to the truths that God has revealed in and through his word and to the cure that he alone can bring to a dying world

“We are only beggars (before God), it’s true.”

Each day we work as if it all depends on us. We pray, we help, we care, we provide, we love, we forgive and we hope, knowing also that … everything depends on God alone.

Let us pray that just as Martin Luther was used by God to bring Reformation to the church that God also will reform each one of our lives so that we can be a voice of reform and restoration in our lives and in our world.

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

Amen


Video A Man named Martin part 5

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sermon September 30 October 1, 2017

Title: By Jesus, who has authority, you are washed clean!
Text: Matt 21:23-27

24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?”

Following the Civil War, a dejected confederate soldier was sitting outside the grounds of the White House. A young boy approached him and inquired why he was so sad. The solider related how he had repeatedly tried to see President Lincoln to tell him how he was unjustly deprived of certain lands in the South following the war. On each occasion as he attempted to enter the White House, the guards crossed their bayoneted guns in front of the door and turned him away. The boy motioned to the old soldier to follow him. When they approached the entrance, the guards came to attention, stepped back and opened the door for the boy. He proceeded to the library where the President was resting and introduced the soldier to his father. The boy was Tad Lincoln. The soldier had gained an audience with the President through the President’s son who had authority to gain access.

Just like the confederate soldier, we are wounded by sin and live in misery. No matter how hard we try we are not able to gain access to God on our own merit. But through the merit of the Son, we are ushered into fellowship with the Father.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

Published: Abraham Lincoln as cited by Donald G. Barnhouse; "God's River" Grand Rapids; Erdmans 1958. p 39

23 And when [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”

Who gave you this authority? This is the questioned asked of Jesus. By what authority are you doing these things? Authority has to come from some place.

Ill.

In 1981 and 69 days into his presidency Ronald Reagan was shot. In the aftermath and confusion there was a famous miscalculation by Alexander Haig, Reagan’s Secretary of State. He claimed, wrongly that – he was in charge of the government. Maybe it was just the inclination of a former general who had once been in charge, or as has been suggested, there was much jockeying for power between those in the cabinet. To this Defense Secretary, Casper Weinberger said: “He’s wrong! He doesn’t have such authority,” Reagan eventually signed over authority to George Bush his vice President, because he had the authority to do so.

Jesus replies to the question of his authority with a question of his own because He knows from where His authority comes.

24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?”

This gets to the chief priests and elders as they know …

“If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

A least Secretary Alexander Haig was man enough to take a stand in time of crisis even if he was wrong and misguided while the chief priests and elders both show their fear of Jesus and the crowds.

By Jesus, who has authority, you are washed clean!

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee … 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The authority of Jesus was given to the disciples who would build the church through Christ’s means of word and sacrament.

Article VII: Of the Augsburg Confession, concerning the Church says:
1] Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

2] And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and 3] the administration of the Sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions, such as, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. 4] As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5-6.

But where is the church? Is it in a boat on a lake communing with nature and thinking about God and his majesty? No. Is it in the better home and living provided for the family? No. Is it where the children want to go because they have fun and feel welcome? No. It is where Christ is and where his gifts are and where forgiveness of sins is found in His name. It is here … at Peace Lutheran Church and countless churches around the world where the gospel is preached and the sacraments are rightly administered according to Christ’s institution.

As both saint and sinner the devil is quick to point our reason and understanding to other things. Yes, the sporting events the band camps the threat that is even imposed that should you miss a practice you don’t play the day of the game. The coach has that authority.

Here is a little cartoon that was posted on facebook by a fellow Lutheran pastor. It has the young boy who after practice tells his coach:

“Coach, I’m really sorry but I can’t play in the game Sunday morning. I’m signed up to serve as an acolyte.”

We all chuckle a bit but the reality of life impacting the church is real. It is real for families and real for kids too and we shouldn’t have to worry that Sunday mornings have to become and either or in life.

Truthfully I’ve heard it said from one parent that confirmation is more important than the sports related activity on Monday night so they worked their schedule around to be here. That is wonderful and a testament to the faith and working of God’s Spirit in the lives of this family.

God works through his means of grace to bring about his will. It is he who has the authority to forgive and retain sins and it is given to His church on earth for your benefit.

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy [Paul says] by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Phil 2:1-2

You have received your forgiveness from the one who has authority to forgive, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

Amen