Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sermon November 26 – 27, 2011

Title: Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

Text: Mark 11:9-10

The Triumphal Entry
9And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

For one last time, on July 21st of this year, the Space Shuttle Atlantis made a long, steep turn, lined up with the runway and landed in the half-light before dawn at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"After serving the world for 30 years, the space shuttle has found its place in history," said Christopher Ferguson, the astronaut who commanded Atlantis' final mission, by radio to mission control. "Wheels stop." The ship came to rest at 5:58 a.m. EDT, after a flight of 12 days, 18 hours, 28 minutes and 55 seconds.
And that was that.  By NED POTTER ABC July 21, 2011

No parade, no big national celebration, plenty to look back at, many successes and a few tragedies …

But, back on March 1, 1962, to celebrate astronaut John Glenn’s return from his first space launch, 3,474 tons of ticker tape we’re dumped onto Broadway. Compare that to the 36.5 tons of confetti that was dropped after the New Your Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008 … They just don’t throw paper like they used to!

Now, I’m sure New York Giants fans probably don’t see it this way, but by one measure, the team’s Super Bowl victory in 2008 was almost one-hundredth of the significance of John Glenn’s space flight. KEN BELSON February 7, 2008

Today, we celebrate the first Sunday in Advent as we look forward to an event so monumental in world history that no amount of Ticker Tape could do it justice. The incarnation of the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary and became man, God with us, Emmanuel. And, while we don’t celebrate Christ’s coming as the Babe of Bethlehem today with a parade, we can all:

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

The Gospel reading from our text today is of a different celebration and a different time in the life of Jesus. But, it is all the same mission; Jesus, who came to Earth, to be born of the Virgin, to live a sinless life, to suffer and die for the sins of the whole world and to rise from the dead. His simple birth was not one of great notice. It was in a manger because there was no room in the Inn. It was in a little town, Bethlehem, prophesied of old.

"But you, Bethlehem, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." Mic 5:2

This babe would grow to manhood and begin his ministry that would ultimately lead to the cross and death but on this day we read of a celebratory parade.

Jesus called two of His disciples to Him and commissioned them for a peculiar service. They were to go to the hamlet of Bethphage, which was just before them, which Christ's entire company was about to enter. Without delay, without trouble or difficulty, they would there find a colt tied in a certain place, upon which no person had ever sat.

It was a solemn, important mission, foretold even by the prophets. In the Old Testament we read: For sacred purposes only unused animals could be employed, (Num. 19, 2; 1 Sam. 6, 7.)

This colt they should untie from the post and then lead it to Jesus. The directions are very exact and circumstantial, that no mistake is possible. It may, of course, happen that the owner of the animal would object to this proceeding. In that event they were to tell the owner: The Lord has need of him.

When He, the great Creator and Master of heaven and earth, is in need of anything, it must be forthcoming; anyone and every creature can be pressed into His service. But, he also promised, by His messengers, that the foal would be returned without delay, after He had had His use of it. Kretzmann Pg. 225-26

4And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5And some of those standing there said to them, "What
are you doing, untying the colt?" 6And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

Let us proclaim this good news together:
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Say it with me …
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

No ticker Tape parade, but a glorious entry and a fitting procession. The God of Heaven and Earth has come as the God/man and humble servant Jesus Christ. What had not been celebrated by the people at His birth was being celebrated by His entry – here - in Jerusalem. The King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s was entering the city, of King David, to fulfill His mission; to free the people from their sin and to restore the relationship between God and man.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

We too at our baptism are marked as “one redeemed by Christ the crucified.” We are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to newness of life, washed clean from our sin and wearing Christ’s righteousness in exchange for our sinfulness.

We confirm this blessed exchange in our Confirmation when we stand before the congregation and say what we were unable to say as baptized infants. We were marked with Christ at baptism and live to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, until Christ returns or we are called to our heavenly rest in Him. But, the sad truth is that many once baptized, don’t cling to this good and blessed Good News that on account of Christ merits we are forgiven. The numbers are staggering.

As I watched a presentation on the state of our church by Matthew Harrison, President of our Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, he related that of all the children who are baptized in Christ, in our churches, only about half complete their confirmation and of those that get confirmed, less than half become regular attending members …

I was listening to a radio program the other day and they were discussing church membership and the question was asked of the pastor: “Does your church have more members, or more that attend?” “Oh, he said, we have many more members than those that attend.”

The truth is that we who serve Christ’s church and all of us who have been blessed to be brought to faith by our loving and merciful God need to look in the mirror and say, “Thank the Lord for this free gift and for calling me to faith!” and then go and serve and love our neighbor as Christ has loved us.

Martin Luther said this of the Christian life:
Therefore the life of a Christian, from baptism to the grave, is nothing else than the beginning of a blessed death. For at the Last Day God will make him altogether new.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

This is the praise that those in Jerusalem celebrated. God with us, Emanuel! The God who is and was and will be coming again was here for them to see, and to celebrate as he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. But, in a short while He would be arrested, tried, condemned, mocked, crucified in the most brutal of ways and buried to complete His mission for you. His mission to free the world over sin, death and the devil would soon be completed; but, the grave could not hold Him and on the third day … He rose.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

God has come as the babe of Bethlehem, for you. He has stood in your place, in the river Jordan, and was marked with all sinners when he was baptized by John. He went to the cross willingly, and suffered the scorn and shame of a most brutal death, as the full measure of God’s wrath was poured out upon Him … for you.

He gives us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, faith in Him to believe and as St. Paul says:

9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Phil: 3-9)

This Advent season is a time to look back … and to look forward. To contemplate Christ’s coming to us at Christmas as the babe in the manger, who was born with no great human accolades and celebratory parades, but also to remember the cost for our freedom, paid by the sinless life, suffering death and glorious resurrection of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Christ came to reconcile God and man and to pay the price, for sin, once and for all. We celebrate this loving act and our freedom in Him as we also continue to wait for His glorious return when we and all believers will be gathered to our heavenly home.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sermon November 19 – 20, 2011

Title: Blessed by the Father He calls us, come.

Text: Matt. 25:31-34

The Final Judgment
 31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then 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. 

The descendants of Wellington R. Burt, who became fabulously wealthy in the age of the robber barons, will finally inherit his fortune -- 92 years after his death.

Burt, who died in 1919 at age 87 in Saginaw, Mich., made his wealth in the lumber and iron industries, and for reasons not described in his will, he stipulated that the majority of his fortune would be distributed 21 years after his last surviving grandchild's death.

That granddaughter died in 1989. Now 12 descendants will split the fortune, estimated at $100 million to $110 million.  ABC News 10, 2011

I’m not sure that anyone will ever know what caused Mr. Burt to deal with his inheritance, children and grandchildren like that but it is good to know that:

Blessed by our heavenly Father He calls us, come. 

On this last Sunday in the church year we focus on the gospel reading for today. The sheep and the goats, eternal life and eternal punishment, either one or the other awaits us all. 

The Final Judgment
 31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 

Jesus here is speaking triumphantly about His glorious return, when He with all the angles return for the final judgment of the world. He was still a few days away from His trial, crucifixion and brutal death but was already speaking of His victorious resurrection over sin, death and the Devil. 

34Then 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. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40And the King 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.'

Those in His company and within hearing listened to this lowly Nazarene who now speaks of His return as the King of Kings and Lord of Glory and who will call those on His right, His sheep, into the heavenly Kingdom and wedding feast of the lamb, while those on His left, the goats, are dispatched into eternal punishment. 

No distinction, no rank, no class just sheep and goats, believers and unbelievers. Sheep that hear the word and receive it by faith and goats that reject this same word and of their own volition, willingly choosing and resolving to enter an eternity separated from God, prepared not for them but for the Devil and his angles, for God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Tim. 2:4)

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Blessed by the Father He calls us, come. 

On the Sunday of Oktoberfest, we had a call to the church in the morning that one of our founding members, Lou Burmeister, was in the hospital. I went to make a visit that afternoon and was pleased to find Lou in good spirits as he waited to have some tests done the next day. We had a nice visit and I learned quite a bit about Peace and the beginning of our church.

This church began as a mission church to serve the Waterford area and Lou, who was 31 at the time, was contacted by the mission pastor to be part of this new mission congregation. Next year, here at Peace, we will celebrate our 50th anniversary of serving Christ’s church and reaching out to a lost world with the gospel of peace and forgiveness in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now, 50 years is a long time in earthly years 8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.(2 Peter 3:8) the mission congregation that began on February 3rd 1963 needs to continue to be a mission minded congregation.

If you haven’t noticed, we as a church are getting older. Just ask for someone to climb the ladder to change the spots that shine on the cross and you’ll see how many young men volunteer. Even veteran young guy, Vicar Tkac, is getting a bit leery of the high spots!

But, in all seriousness the face of our congregation is changing and needs to change. The Lord has work to do and needs workers in the mission field whether it is a mission church that’s just beginning or a missional outlook for an older congregation like our own. The word still needs to be proclaimed to a dying world. The gospel message needs to be proclaimed from this pulpit and from every believer’s mouth. For as Paul writes in Romans 1:16:

 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

You who have heard this good news and have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit are:

Blessed by the Father  ... and He has called you as His own to inherit eternal life. 

The call of our Lord to those first believers was efficacious, which is to say: it had the power to produce a desired effect our Lord intended. Those that had their names written in the lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world heard the gospel call and believed. When St. Peter preached that first sermon at Pentecost in the book of Acts he concluded with:

36Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
37Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."

The Gospel still has that power unto salvation for everyone who believes. It calls sinners to believe that this Jesus, who came to live, suffer, die and rise again - that He Lives!, and by the power of the Holy Spirit continues to call all who will come to a knowledge of the truth to Himself by this wonderful miraculous saving word.

Blessed by the Father He calls us, come. 

Ill. A remarkable rescue!

A remarkable rescue! 
Oct 13 2010 By Cesar Illiano and Terry Wade (Luke 15 parables)

Chile's trapped miners were shuttled up a narrow escape shaft to freedom and joyous reunions on Wednesday in a meticulously planned rescue operation that ended their two-month ordeal deep underground.

One by one, the miners climbed into a specially designed steel capsule barely wider than a man's shoulders and took a 15-minute journey through 2,050 feet of rock to the surface.

4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Luke 15:4-6a

Scenes of jubilation erupted each time a miner arrived to a hero's welcome above the San Jose gold and copper mine in Chile's northern desert.

Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:6b-7

Church bells rang out in Chile when the first miner was extricated and Chileans were glued to their televisions through the night, proud of their nation's ability to save the men.

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

63-year-old Mario Gomez, who suffers from the lung disease silicosis was brought to the surface breathing from an oxygen mask. Gomez, was helped out of the escape capsule, and immediately dropped to his knees to pray. 

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. Luke 15:21-23

Once believed dead, euphoric rescuers, relatives and friends broke into cheers -- and tears. "This is a miracle from God!" Rescuers had found the men miraculously alive with a bore hole the width of a grapefruit. Engineers deployed the escape capsule, dubbed "Phoenix" after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes, after boring the shaft down to the miners.

24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:24

The Chilean miners were rescued after 69 days underground. We are rescued by our loving savior Jesus Christ who came to live suffer and die and rise again just for you. 

Christ has called you. Christ has blessed you. Christ has given you salvation in His name. Christ’s righteousness has been exchange for your sin and you have eternal life! This is the good news that needs to be proclaimed.

When Paul speaks of the power of God in Romans he is speaking about the word of God. The word translated power in Romans is δύναμις, which is the root word for our English word dynamite. The word of God is like dynamite and will not leave things as they are. It will make a profound change in everything it touches. It has changed you from death to life eternal. Praise be to Him who was and is and will come again you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  

I recently completed reading a wonderful book my daughter Amy gave me called the “Big Burn” which recounts the story of the beginnings of the National Forest Service, the robber barons just like Wellington R. Burt and the railroad tycoons of the early 20th century.

The Great Fire of 1910 (also commonly referred to as the Big Burn) was a wildfire which burned about three million acres (approximately the size of Connecticut) in northeast Washington, northern Idaho and western  Montana. The area burned included parts of 10 national forests. 

The firestorm burned over two days in August 1910, killing 87 people, including 78 firefighters, some of whom sought refuge in abandoned mines, cabins and streams to escape the flames and intense heat. Many of the firefighters who died were burned beyond recognition and it is believed to be the largest fire in recorded U.S. history. 

The fire of God’s wrath was poured out, once and for all, upon the only begotten Son of God, who took the punishment for your sin and the sin of the whole world in exchange for the righteous reward and salvation He gives us freely in the beloved Son our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. 

This is the good news that you and I can hold on to and share, that we who have been buried with Christ in baptism will also rise with Him into eternal life.
Blessed by the Father He calls us, come. Enter into eternal life.

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


And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in and through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior now and forever.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Great Lakes Banjo

I saw my first Great Lakes in 1975 when I took a lesson from Jim "Willard" Spencer in Ann Arbor. I saw and played one in 1976 when I visited my friend Brian's house and tried his "Special." I wanted one but by the time I started looking they were out of business so I bought a 1980 Liberty and have been happy for 31 years.

I was talking to Mark Zimmerman and we'll be getting together to add a tone hoop and upgrade this very nice banjo. Mark told me that all the banjos were of the same quality materials but the less expensive models didn't have a tone ring, neck binding and nicer inlay. After 35 years, I finally found one! :)

The Great Lakes Banjo Company was in business from 1974-1979 with a few completed after that date. They built a great instrument that has stood the test of time ..


...and are played by some great players, like Jim Willard Spencer!