Monday, September 17, 2018

Sermon Sept 15-16, 2018

Title:Sept 15-16, 2018 Setting III with Holy Communion
Title: The word of God casts out and restores!
Text: Mark 9:14-29

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

Life and death and love and caring are human emotions that have been seen and felt in our own lives many times over the years. It may be a dear family friend who passes away, the sickness of an elderly parent or child, or dear friends and their children who you’ve seen grow up and felt their celebration and joy as well as sorrow and pain.

At time we are brought into the lives of perfect strangers who we comfort or see their grief from afar. The loss of a child is especially hard to deal with and understand. We at times can feel the pain as if it is our own loss.

Last week our text showed us the compassionate Christ as he opened the ears and mouth of a deaf mute who then “spoke plainly.” Not only having his ears and mouth healed but being given the gift of speech, immediately, as Mark so often says in his gospel account.

In today’s reading:

14 And when they [those that had been following Jesus] came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw [Jesus], were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”

Jesus is known to the people as the one who brings peace, comfort, healing and the things that you and I also find of great value when things in our life need help. And here a voice from the crown answers Jesus’ question.

“Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”

A father’s pleading for his son. “I brought him to you … but your disciples were not able.”

The disciples fell short! They missed the mark! What was needed … wasn’t given … to a man in distress.

I can relate, how about you? Have you missed the mark? I think we can all agree with St. Paul.

18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. … 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:18-24

At times we miss the mark by things we do and at times by things we don’t do.

Ill.

Last weekend Rally Day was lightly attended. In the past it has been a great even with many beginning the regular schedule with a pot luck and return to Sunday school and Bible Study. I must admit to feeling a bit dejected at the 43 who did come. As I reflected on the weekend on Monday and the sermon for this week … “Oh faithless generation” spoke to me. I felt the weight of burden lifted from me as I looked to the Lord’s good work from last weekend. We welcomed six men members – two couples through transfer, a shut in transfer and an adult instruction and profession of faith and we have has the blessing of visitors in our midst.

Our faith is weak when we look to self and inward. Our focus need to be outward to Jesus and his cross for there is where true salvation and hope is found.

Jesus answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring [the boy] to me.”

What I didn’t want to hear from my boss, the disciples now hear from Jesus … pain and disappointment from the Lord of Glory at their falling short.

Jesus takes control, “Bring him to me.”

The solutions for the problems we face are always best helped when the focus is on Christ. Because the evil foe is Satan and the forces of demonic activity that perplex and attack us and those who remain lost in the world.

This father is grieving for his son as he has been plagued with this demon “From childhood.” We might reasonably look at our own sinful condition and malady as those brought forth in iniquity … conceived and born in sin. Psalm 51:5

But though we have been freed by Christ Jesus through the working of the Holy Spirit, we still remain in our sinful flesh … both Saint and Sinner.

On the one hand we are freed by the grace of God in Christ and have received all things being made new, but at the same time, we are bound to our sinful flesh and wrestle with faith and doubt, belief and unbelief!

The call … “I believe; help my unbelief!” is the call of a believing soul tormented by a demonic foe. We too call daily to God to lift the burden of sin we carry and to comfort us, and bring us peace … the peace … that passes all human understanding.

“You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.”

We too are born into this world dead to God, and it is by God’s command:

“19 Go … make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” that we receive life eternal promised from the lips of our Lord.

Having done a number of baptisms of little children, it always reminds me of this passage when they are baptized because when baptized there is crying out and convulsing. The devil cannot remain but must flee. Where light is, darkness flees.

“He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

Death, raised to life and caring, through the sacrificial love of the God man Jesus Christ are what God has given you.

The picture in the today’s lesson shows the condition we too are born and wrestle with. But it also shows god love and power to bring us both from death to life through the means he has provided of word and sacrament but also show the picture of the final gift of God when:

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

Dear friends,

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:52,56

God brings peace, comfort, victory and belief through his means!

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

Amen

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sermon Sept 8-9, 2018

Title: Hearing, we proclaim the Good News!
Text: Mark 7:31-37

36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

31 Then [Jesus] returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.

Jesus was traveling through Sidon along the Sea of Galilee. As we might remember from a few weeks back, the disciples had crossed over the sea after the feeding of the five thousand, and Jesus came to them walking to them on the water.

The crowds had followed Jesus who had fed them, healed them from illness, and he cast out demons and they are now in the region of the Decapolis – a region of 10 cities near the southeast corner of the Sea.

32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him.

The healings of Jesus are numerous in the gospel accounts. At times it is by faith in Christ that we see healing: “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” The old woman thought to herself who had been plagued by the flow of blood for many years in Mark 5:28.

Or, it is by the healing touch of Jesus and the words of Christ’s own command, “Little girl I say to you arise!” as Jairus’ daughter was raised from death to life in Mark 5:41.

In today’s reading a deaf mute is brought to Jesus. He neither knows nor understands what is going on. He can’t hear and his speech is muted and unintelligible to those who are around him.

… and they begged him to lay his hand on him.

The people knew of Jesus and his healing touch. Those who brought him to Jesus begged him to lay his hands on him … as if the laying on of hands from Jesus was the magic formula of healing and required to make one well and whole again.

Jesus sees the problem … here is a man who is deaf and mute.

Ill.

If you know someone who is deaf or have interacted with them before, you know that they communicate in ways their own. Those who use sign language know that communication with the deaf is highly visual. Our own Michigan District has an active ministry to the deaf and many churches work to accommodate the hearing impaired.

At Rev. Dr. Jacob Heckert’s funeral this year, while the service went on there was the traditional speaking of the liturgy as to accommodate those like me who can hear … and there was the signing of the liturgy for those who can’t.

Pastor Tom Dunseth who’s family is a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hartland provided the signing for those members and friends who came to the service so that they could more fully participate.

Communicating with the deaf is special and unique.

Jesus understood that.

33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.

We can speculate, as many do, that there was something significant about Christ’s touch and fingers in the ears, or that the spit upon Christ’s fingers that touched the man’s tongue … brought about a miraculous healing. But what I believe Jesus is doing here is communicating. He is speaking to the deaf man in a way that he could understand.

Taking him aside privately … away from the crowd … Jesus now can have the man’s attention without distraction. How often have you or I who hear … needed to get away so we can speak to someone privately, so the noise of the crowd doesn’t distract us?

Jesus gets his attention.

The text says he put his fingers into his ears. Again not the healing but showing that he understands what the man’s problem is and that he intends to correct it. You can almost see Jesus show his fingers to the man and reach to his ears as if to say, “I understand your problem.”

And now we read: … after spitting touched his tongue.

Again in the language of the deaf Jesus wants the man to focus on the problem of his tongue and lack of speech and that he desires to heal these problems. You can see in the depiction on our bulletin cover the man sees and understands what is about to happen. He is fixed on Jesus.

Your maladies and mine are greater than hearing loss and being unable to speak. You and I and the man who is deaf and mute in our lesson for today are born dead to God and as a result we are unable to come to Jesus and receive the spiritual healing we need and that Christ desires to give. It takes an act of God to satisfy God’s justice and in Christ, God’s wrath has been appeased. It also takes an act of God to bring you and me from death to life by God working in us through the power of the Holy Spirit … working through the word … opening our ears to hear … so that we believe in him “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev. 1:8

34 And looking up to heaven, [Jesus] sighed, not as a means to the healing, or a hope that God the Father would answer Christ’s prayer, but as a sign communicating the heavenly healing that he was about to perform, and a point of our own sighing in our own prayers mediated by God.

and said to him, “Ephphatha,” The common Aramaic language of the home intended by St. Mark to give us the very word Christ spoke … and what it means, “Be opened.”

Jesus has the man’s attention, privately; he shows what he intends to do with his ears and his mouth; that he understands his problem and he is willing and able to help; and he looks up to heaven, the place of all good and comfort, healing and peace and says “Ephphatha, … Be opened.”

35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

The healing of Jesus is complete, opening the ears and mouth of the man who was deaf and mute. And just as the man was healed and “spoke plainly,” as the gift of language was given him, you dear friends, too have had Heaven opened, the place of all good by Jesus Christ the only begotten son of God, and have received comfort, healing, and peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Interestingly, Jesus as he does at times tells them to “tell no one.” And what do they do? They tell everyone! [And] the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

You know that feeling too, don’t you? When we pray for good test results and they come back good what do you do?

You tell everyone! You joyfully proclaim that good news you have been given for all to hear!

There is even better news than the good test results you get and that is the good news that in Christ all things have been made new again. No more sin, death and the power of the devil to fear because Christ has opened heaven to you and me who were once closed to God as his enemies but now have access to him as his children, having been given faith freely in his son.

37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

And he brings we who were dead in trespass and sin back to life.
He has forgiven your sin and you have God’s favor on account of Christ!

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

Amen

Sermon Sept 1-2, 2018

Title: Your protection is in Christ!
Text: Eph 6:10-20

11 Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Songwriter: STILLS, STEPHEN, Published by Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. http://www.metrolyrics.com/for-what-its-worth-lyrics-buffalo-springfield.html

For What it’s Worth - the anthem of the unrest of the late 1960s, 1967 in fact … from the pen of Stephen Stills and the band Buffalo Springfield. The Vietnam War raged on, along with the draft and the draft dodgers who went to Canada; Kent State, and the students who died protesting at an Ohio University, an institution of higher learning. Richard Nixon and Watergate; the White House tapes and on and on … this was a hard and turbulent time in our nation’s history.

Today seems headed in a similar direction. Social unrest in the streets fill the headlines. Confederate statues come tumbling down, pro choice or pro life, politicians vying for mid-term election wins, and protests going on around the country. Battle lines are certainly being drawn, politically … socially … and morally.

Christianity and the church are being attacked from within and without. Young people are speaking their minds ... by their very absence from church – parents, grandparents and we the church are concerned.

In 1966 Time Magazine, on its cover asked the question: “Is God Dead?”
23 years ago Joan Osborn asked the question, in her hit song from 1995,
“What if God was one of us” you might remember the chorus:

What if God was one of us / Just a slob like one of us / Just a stranger on the bus / Trying to make His way home?

Today many may wonder and ask this same question as they struggle with the brokenness of their lives, in a world that is spiraling out of control, with ... it seems like … little ... or no hope.

Paul tells the Ephesian church to,

11 Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Many Christians today take this as their marching orders from God to get in the world being ready to do battle and to fight the righteous fight for truth, justice and moral purity. And while we are told always [to] be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; (1 Peter 3:15) we are also told to do this, with gentleness and respect.

For Paul reminds us who the enemy really is.

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, - not against those who appear to be the enemies we face - but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The darkness of the devil and his demons are the ones railing against Christ and the victory won at the cross.

The target is on you too. To cause you to fall back into the darkness that you have been rescued once and for all from.

God’s armor is for your protection.

Paul tells the Ephesian church and us to:

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand [or stand firm] in the evil day, days just like today … not to battle but, to stand firm … not to fall again into darkness and the temptations of the devil … but to rise, being clothed with Christ daily!

With the image of battle lines being drawn and battle armor being put on … belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet and sword Paul says that we are really armed and fitted with truth, with righteousness, with peace, and with faith through the Gospel, the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.

You dear friends are clothed in Christ with the armor of God and his saving gospel!

In the Joan Osborn song, the writer Eric Bazilian asks:

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to His face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?

Songwriter Eric Bazilian, Published by HUMAN BOY MUSIC http://www.metrolyrics.com/what-if-god-was-one-of-us-lyrics-alanis-morissette.html

When the Joan Osborn song was climbing up the charts and I was still pretty active playing music with a few bands back in the mid 90s I wrote a song in answer to “What if God was one of us?” It was simply called, “God was one of us.”

As a Christian rescued by Christ and shown mercy in the face of my own depravity I could only sing God’s praise for what he had done for me. We are not called to faith to escape the trials of this world, for from the words of Jesus himself he says:

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

But, in spite of these trials we are to sing the truth of God’s rescue in Christ. To call, by the power of the saving gospel, those to faith by the word of God through the working of the Holy Spirit, that in spite of the devils lies that question “did God really say” from the Garden of Eden, to the lie’s of our own day which questions the existence of the historical Jesus, our own sinfulness, or the working of the devil in the world, 

God was one of us!

He came to live suffer die and rise again just for you and me.

You are God’s child not because of your efforts, but because God desires you.

You are God’s child because he died for you and freed you from the curse of the law that you and I could never keep … with even 99% being a failing grade.

You are God’s child because by his Spirit he called you to believe the word of the gospel giving you faith and raising you from being dead in trespass and sin to newness of life in him, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The song asks the question:

If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?

Jesus gives answer to questions in Matthew to the sheep and the goats when he says in Matthew 25:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Matt 25:31


34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matt 25:34

But the questions the righteous will ask:

37 … ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King [Jesus in glory] will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matt 25:37-40


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

Amen