Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sermon Dec. 7- 8, 2013 Sunday Children’s Christmas program

Title: Prepare the way … for the kingdom of God is at hand!
Text: Matt. 3:1-12

3 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
    make his paths straight.’”

Several centuries ago, a Japanese emperor commissioned an artist to paint a bird. A number of months passed, then several years, and still no painting was brought to the palace. Finally the emperor became so exasperated that he went to the artist's home to demand an explanation. Instead of making excuses, the artist placed a blank canvas on the easel. In less than an hour, he completed a painting that was to become a brilliant masterpiece. When the emperor asked the reason for the delay, the artist showed him armloads of drawings of feathers, wings, heads, and feet. Then he explained that all of this research and study had been necessary before he could complete the painting.

Our Daily Bread.

As we prepare for the coming of the Christ child we joy in the wonderful voices of our children and youth as they together help us remember the gift that came in a manger and to prepare ourselves:

For the kingdom of God is at hand!

The story of John the Baptist is one of a herald (a town crier if you will) who calls sinners to repentance preparing the way of the Lord. This time of year should bring us all to remembrance for what … and for whom we wait.

John was quite the character as our reading describes:

4 Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

The call to repentance for and by John was not a teaching ministry. He was not called to pastor the Judean countryside. He was a herald proclaiming what God had given him. To call to repentance all who would hear, repent and believe that, This (Jesus) is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The call for this second Sunday in Advent is much the same. Prepare is the word on our advent banner this week. But, what do we prepare? Is it the decorations on the house and on the tree? Is it all the gifts that we need to buy and cookies that need baked? Is it traveling plans and vacation daydreams that drive you? How about the 8-10 nativity sets Monica that and I put up? I think we actually have 12?

The truth is you all get pulled to something and you prepare for something. Only you know what that is. But the call of john the Baptist is to you and it’s to me too. We are called to repent and look to the one who came to breathe life by His Spirit into those, who like the people called by John himself, recognize that the kingdom of God is at hand.

This past week the talk online and at home was about the death of the actor Paul Walker in a fiery car crash. I knew who he was, though I didn’t know much about or watch the movies he made. It seems ironic that his movie, “The Fast and the Furious” from 2001 began with a story line of street racing and now a high speed crash has taken another life in his prime.

All I’ve read about Paul and after watching a clip of an interview with his dad talked of a loving man who cared for his family and friends and who would go out of his way to be accessible to his fans. One comment after the interview with his dad was quite poignant:

It read:

“His Dad had no idea that last Christmas was actually going to be the last Christmas with his son. We need to love the ones close to us because no one knows how much time they have. We make plans for this year and next year.... and the ones we love are always in the plans. Mr. Walker Sr. is having a Christmas this year he never planned on. I am sorry for their loss.”


Prepare the way … for the kingdom of God is at hand!

John’s call to repent and to prepare was effective preaching. Jerusalem, Judea, and the entire region about the Jordan were going out to him. Prophets sent from God like John are called to speak forth what God has given and called them to do and they received a washing of repentance in John’s baptism. This call to repent was different from the one day, the collective Day of Atonement where confession of sins was publicly confessed. This was spontaneous response by God’s word through John’s prophetic preaching.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
False pride in the Law and it’s keeping as was the M.O. of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who were too rational to believe the inspired writings received rebuke from John. True repentance is a turning away from that which leads to death from our sinful condition and a return to that which saves.

9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Sin leads to death now and in eternity but repentance and faith by God’s Holy Spirit lead to life and life everlasting!

John’s washing was in preparation for the one who would come as a child. One who would ride into Jerusalem triumphant; one who would be tried and sentenced to death a death He didn’t deserve and one who as John said:

Is coming after me and is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Those unprepared will be cast into a Hell of their choosing; a casting, that upon Christ’s return will Fast and Furious!

But for you … who have come to faith; who have been given pardon; who see the Christ child and have been prepared by God Holy Spirit for His coming return in Judgment and Glory. You, His wheat, will be gathered into his barn, His house, his Kingdom … forever.

As our children blessed us with their voices in song I like to recite the final verse once again from the Christmas Hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem.

O holy child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sins and enter in,
Be born in us today.
The great glad tidings tell:
Oh come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

As you prepare all that needs done this Advent and Christmas season; Joy in the Christ the Son of the Living God who came to call you by His Spirit and redeem you by His word of forgiveness to be his child and with him forever.

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


Sermon Nov. 30 Dec 1, 2013

Title: The blessed Jesus and his coming is your salvation!
Text: Matt. 21:1-11

10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

There’s a story of a New York City businessman who decided to avoid a $20 service charge by replacing a fluorescent light himself. After he had brought a new light into his office and put it in place, he decided to get rid of the old tube by throwing it in the trash can near his subway stop.

That night he got on the subway holding the seven-foot light vertically, with one end resting on the floor of the car. As the train became more crowded other passengers took hold of the tube, assuming it was a stanchion. By the time the man reached his stop, he simply removed his hand and exited the car, leaving the other passengers gripping the fluorescent tube!

Have you ever been startled or surprised? Well, you can imagine the look of surprise on some of those other passengers on the subway when they finally reached their destination and realized what they held in their hands!

The stirring up of the whole city, as Jesus entered Jerusalem, and the surprise and wonder of their cries of - “Who is this?”  - brought the crowds in the city to proclaim that, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee!” It also brings to mind as we begin this Advent season that:

True thanksgiving is found in Christ’s forgiveness!

Surprise and wonder and stirring are all good descriptions of the anticipation that accompany us all as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child. With the beginning of Advent the focus is on the baby Jesus as you and I together watch, as our first advent banner reminds us.

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The coming of Jesus into the city was prophesied by Zechariah the prophet and was now being fulfilled. Some in the city wondered who this is. That Jesus came in humbly, on the colt the foal of a donkey and not as the Messianic King who would come to rule this earthly kingdom was a different entrance than most expected.

Though He was welcomed with; “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

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

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” as He traveled over the cloaks and palm branches that had been spread on the road in honor of his arrival, how quickly this joy would turn to despair and doubt and hatred for this humble man who came as the baby king to reconcile and restore the relationship between God and man.

Anticipating the “Holidays” as it is called in the retail world can bring grief for many. Shopping and buying gifts for those we love can become less loving and more stressful and you may find yourself being led away from the manger … or even walking and running away of your own accord.

What you seek, at this time of year, may be different than what the Lord desires you to receive. Hope in the holidays may blind you of the hope of the Christ child and the true gift his coming brings. It may be well intentioned relatives, friends, and coworkers, X boxes, holiday hours or advertizing or it may be sadness in the hope for the holidays that never comes … or a family divided by divorce and simply broken in grief. In this broken world death can be very close and life a precious gift.

2-1/2 year old Michelle Funk fell into a creek swollen by runoff from the winter snowpack near her home in Salt Lake City. Her brother saw the accident and called their mother, who searched for Michelle before calling, 911.

Within eighteen minutes, rescue workers began a search. When they found no trace of the girl, they reduced the outflow from a reservoir that feeds the creek. As the water level dropped, rescuers saw the child's arm sticking out of the water. She was wedged against a rock, and there was no evidence of an air pocket.
When rescuers finally pulled her from the water, 62 minutes after her mother's call, she was very cold and blue. She had no pulse and was not breathing. Her pupils were fixed and widely dilated, as they would be with severe brain damage or death. A monitor detected no heartbeat.

Nevertheless, rescue workers began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, forcing air into her lungs and blood throughout her body. They continued it in a helicopter ambulance that flew her to the hospital …

As death loomed there was also hope. Hope in re-warming from the hypothermia so as to restore her life … but how far should they go?

In the operating room, the doctors delicately inserted tubes into the narrow blood vessels of the child's groin and connected the tubes to the machine. It began pumping, and slowly her temperature began to rise.

When it reached 77 degrees Fahrenheit, she gasped. Then the doctors detected a faint heart beat. After 53 minutes of re-warming, Michelle was removed from the machine and sent to an intensive care unit. As the days went on, Michelle's brain activity showed steady improvement. After two weeks, she smiled when she heard her parents enter the hospital room. After three weeks she whispered a few words, and by four weeks she used four-word phrases and sat up for 10 seconds.

By the time she left the hospital, more than two months after the accident, she talked at the level of a 3-year-old and her motor skills were normal, except for a slight tremor in her hands that soon disappeared.

Where death was a certainty … we see a child, hope and newness of life. Through the God given talents of the “wise men and women” headed by Dr. Robert G. Bolte at the Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah … life from certain death was given back to a family in despair.

In the midst of death, despair and all that the world can bring upon you there is hope because:

The blessed Jesus, the Christ child and his coming, is your salvation!

Hope is not a blind hope but a hope understood and reasoned in faith. It is a hope from God’s own hands given as a promise in his word and brought to life by the Holy Spirit through the word proclaimed and sacraments given and received. Life re-warmed, so to speak, is life not rekindled but … life restored, born from above, born from death itself as we all have been born dead in trespass and sin. (Eph. 2:1)

But Paul comforts in his words to the Romans today:

11 Besides this you know the time … that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

The hope for you and me is the anticipation of the child. But not just any child … for this child is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus Christ himself! This hope in Him is not something you seek out, look for or find but it is a hope given from God to a lost world covered in sin by the joyful coming of a babe … in a manger.

Today we watch … knowing that salvation has come in the one who entered into the joyful celebration and triumphant entry into Jerusalem and also that He came as the babe … foretold of old and received in the manger stable because … there was no room ...

Christ has made room … for you. He has made room also for all the cares and trials that consume you. Everything that brings sadness He carries for you so you can see the joy in the simple things of life, a kind word, thanks given, a need met and hope for life forever in him.

The blessed Christ child and his coming is your salvation!

Don’t be surprised like those who thought they held a stanchion but instead held florescent tube in the subway train!

Christ has been promised and has come and will come again. The truth is evident by faith given in this blessed joy and eternal hope. You have this joy given in Christ and as you watch for His coming this Christmas remember that Christ has brought you from death to life. You were redeemed from the spiritual death given in birth and have been promised a place with Christ forever. Watch … and see by the working of the Holy Spirit Jesus Christ do all that He has promised.

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


Monday, November 25, 2013

Sermon Nov. 23-24, 2013

Title: True thanksgiving is Christ’s forgiveness!
Text: Luke 23:27-43

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Martin Luther once gave a brief, simple, but expressive eulogy upon a pastor at Zwickau in 1522 named Nicholas Haussmann. He said, "What we preach, he lived," - Martin Luther.

It is also fitting with end of the church year upon us, that the end of sin and death also be proclaimed and heard in Christ’s cross of triumph. For what we preach, He lived and died for, so that:

True thanksgiving is found in Christ’s forgiveness!

The story of the cross is one of pain and suffering but also hope. As Jesus was led away following His trial towards his impending death,

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. (Luke 23:32-33)

The cross of Christ is either death or life depending upon your perspective. Take the two criminals for instance:

One rebukes Jesus saying:

“Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

The perspective of the first sees not the wages of sin and the death that sin brings. His call to Jesus is to save, not from the once and for all death that we all must endure, but his call is to save me from this temporal death now, that will at some point in the near future, for him, need to be paid again and in full.

No one will escape death in this life because sin has made sure of that. So, for thief number one, the cross of Jesus is a failure and of no great value for him because it leads only to death for Christ and Him.

Thief number two sees the cross of Christ through eyes of hope when he says:

“Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And recognizes that the condemnation is right and just when he says: 41 for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

The mirror of the Law, written on his heart, has shown him that his deeds are indeed the result of sin and that he is being rightly condemned but in Christ he finds hope when he repents saying:

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Today too, the cross reflects either death or hope for you and for all broken by sin in this corrupted world as well. The perspective of the cross from our sinful nature can only see the death that sin brings and a hopeless future bound to death like the bonds and ropes that bind all flesh to the wood of their own cross … void of hope.

Timothy George writes in “Giving Thanks in Hitler’s Reich” of the life and death of German pastor, Paul Schneider, who preached the Sunday before Thanksgiving 1937 a sermon on Psalm 145:15-21, which says:

15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
    and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

He began by acknowledging how (inconsistent or incompatible) it might seem to be giving thanks “in this year of our church’s hardship.” Yet this is precisely what the psalmist calls us to do—to give thanks for the material blessings of harvest and home and also for the generous gifts of God in Word, sacrament, and worship. Yet God’s Word does not come cheap, Schneider said. “Confessing Jesus will carry a price. For his sake we will come into much distress and danger, much shame and persecution; Happy the man who does not turn aside from these consequences.”

He was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp and on July 18, 1939 put to death for his proclamation of the word of the gospel. But while there, this Preacher of Buchenwald as he was known, “Wholly and without fear … bore witness of his Christian faith. He called the devil by his name: murderer, adulterer, unrighteous, monster and throughout this witness … he presented the grace of Christ together with a call to repentance.”


And just like thief number two who cried:

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

True thanksgiving is only found in Christ’s forgiveness!

43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Paradise is not found in worldly wealth or in a pristine uninhabited Island. But it is found in the bloody cross of the God/ man Jesus Christ who willingly bore the sins of thief one and thief two on His cross placed between them.

And though one thief judged Jesus and his death as a failure and proof that the filthy rags of his own righteousness were the same rags and covering that Jesus wore, the second thief saw through repentant eyes the one true hope and victory over sin, death and the power of the devil.

Dear friends, hope in Christ is not only a thing of the past. It is not only a hope for those who witnessed the death and resurrection of Jesus but it is the true and certain hope for you and for me too.

39 For 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.” (Acts 2:39)

We live in the hope of the cross but also in the hope of the resurrection and of Christ’s future return in glory. As our epistle for today comforts us:

17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

True thanksgiving is found in Christ’s forgiveness!

As you gather together to celebrate the Lord’s blessing of family and friends this Thanksgiving, joy in the eternal thanksgiving of Christ redeeming grace!

He will gather his church on the day of His return, raising the dead in Christ first and joining the physical body of his saints, incorruptible, forever, and forgiven in the blessed name of Jesus.

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:13)

A truly happy and Blessed Thanksgiving indeed!

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


Monday, November 18, 2013

Sermon Nov. 16-17, 2013

Title: Christ is coming! Your redemption is drawing near!
Text: Luke 21:25-28

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

In a speech made in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."

Jeff Simms

5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, Jesus said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Redemption requires destruction. Before something can be rebuilt it must first be destroyed. To make new again requires demolition.

As Jesus and his disciples walked through the temple, some of His disciples remarked in admiration on the Temple itself, on its various buildings, porticoes, halls, and chambers, and especially did they mention the beautiful stones, the huge marble monoliths, which formed the Corinthian columns, and the gifts that were consecrated to the Lord, the many articles of adornment which were so noticeable throughout the Temple.

P.E. Kretzmann popular commentary on the Bible Pg. 378

Jesus then tells them of the things to come:

8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them.

Jesus warns His disciples that it is easy to be deceived into following false, messiahs and false gods. To know the true God is to know His word and to follow His teachings only.

He warns of wars, trials and persecutions when He says:

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

The coming end will not be a time of joy and for His children there will be a time of persecution.

… they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness.

To speak the gospel to those who persecute you, Jesus says, is a time for witness. It is a time to proclaim the gospel.

He will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict and promises that you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and that some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated, he says.

He tells them of the surrounding of Jerusalem by armies and the destruction that will come:

20 “… let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.

This will not be a good time:

 For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Trial and persecution are coming. You see it, read about and know it firsthand. To be a Christian means you will be an offense to some as Christ was and offense.


During China's Boxer Rebellion of 1900, insurgents captured a mission station, blocked all the gates but one, and in front of that one gate placed a cross flat on the ground. Then the word was passed to those inside that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitted their freedom and life, but that any refusing would be shot. Terribly frightened, the first seven students trampled the cross under their feet and were allowed to go free. But the eighth student, a young girl, refused to commit the sacrilegious act. Kneeling beside the cross in prayer for strength, she arose and moved carefully around the cross, and went out to face the firing squad. Strengthened by her example, every one of the remaining ninety-two students followed her to the firing squad.

Today in the Word, February, 1989, p. 17.

Today as well persecution runs rampant as was seen in the Westgate mall in Kenya where 137 were killed by Muslim extremists.  Coptic Christians in Egypt too have been targeted.


“Coptic Christians joyfully waited outside the Virgin Church in Cairo for the bride to arrive. … Instead, bearded men on a motorcycle pulled up and fired. … “We heard gunfire and ran outside to find people and children lying on the ground swimming in their blood,” said Father Sawiris Boshra.”

Reuters, Oct. 21


Can the persecution come to your country, your church and even your home too? We already see the beginnings of it in our own country. Sin affects us all. The sin of others can and will affect you.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14)

Apart from faith no one can come to God or call on him as a loving Father. The cross of Christ is an offence. It says that God, and salvation in Christ is an objective fact and that the humanistic and rational thought of the day that says that all ways lead to the heaven and to the same loving God is false.

The hope of the Christian is to the one outside ourselves who came down from heaven. You do not need to ascend to God because He came down for you and he will return.

Christ is coming! Your redemption is drawing near!

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

But then:

27 they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The fear of persecution is met with the joy of redemption. The joy of eternal life found only in Christ. This is the joy that these believers knew awaited them and that they were not abandoned … but rescued in Christ. In His death they too would find life … and find it abundantly.

The truth of trials is real but so is the rescue by Christ for all who believe. Officiating at my dad’s funeral brought this reality home literally for me. Here was death, close and personal but so to the eternal hope that Christ gives to you and to me. That in Him we all who believe will spend eternity together. It is a comfort when you morn and it is a joy that will take away the tears of sadness because Christ has wiped them away and replaced them with the tears of joy in the resurrection; in reunion in heaven one day; in a forever not covered in sin and death and the devil will no longer have the power to accuse and condemn because he and death will be cast down to the pit of hell forever.

Christ is coming! Your redemption is here in Christ!

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


Funeral Sermon for Albert R. Tkac Friday Nov. 15, 2013

Title: Loved, Forgiven, Forever!
Romans 8:28-39

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

"For your sake we are being killed all the daylong;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

It is a time of mourning and grief for us all as we remember our dear father, grandfather, father-n-law, uncle and friend Albert Tkac. I've had the blessing to be Al’s son for 58 years and for my sister, Bonnie and my brother’s Ron and Tom I want to thank you for honoring our dad with your presence here today.

Al had the blessing of a very healthy and active life for much of his 87 years. Unfortunately, over these last few months he spent quite a bit of time dealing with the illness that would ultimately call him home. And if you know my dad … being in and out of the hospital and rehab centers wasn't his idea of fun and certainly not where he wanted to be. And though he never complained about his situation  ... getting him home to his house was a priority for our family and a great comfort and joy for our dad.

Sadly, he was only able to enjoy his house for a few days. But, my dad was blessed to have spent time with family and friends, and finding joy even in the midst of his suffering. So it is with that in mind that during our time of grieving … as we say our goodbyes … that there is also a time of hope … for what lies ahead.

And, as we think about the loss of our beloved Al today we can have the utmost confidence as he did that:


The Roman’s text chosen for the sermon text today speaks of trial and comfort. These believers in Rome were being persecuted for their faith and the Apostle offers assurance to them that no matter the trial whether, tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Rom. 8:35) that they and we can be certain that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8-28)

The world, our sinful flesh and the Devil continued to bring these believers in Rome to doubt that their salvation was secure. Paul comforts them with the assurance that no matter whether trial, persecution in this life or even death … that God has redeemed them and bought them with the precious blood of His only begotten Son and that they cannot be separated from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:39)

My dad knew this …

If you knew Al, he gave himself completely in everything he did, whether in his service to our country, playing baseball at Penn State, golfing, ping pong, you name it. It there was a competition he would figure out a way to win. He was the classic example of the joke of two guys confronted with the bear. When the one guy says, “I don’t think we can out run a bear?” Dad would have thought, “I don’t need to out run the bear … I just need to out run you!”

He was a devoted family man and a loving husband and father.

Now dad also was the one who would meet our discipline as the need arose. He understood as a father he was to:

6 Train up a child in the way he should go; and
even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6)

So when he would come home from work on a typical night he might say to our mom, “Line them up and tell me which one I need to hit!” Now my dad could whip his belt off, fold it in half and have it in the ready to strike position faster than you could say Indiana Jones.

But, the truth is I never remember getting the “Strap” as it was called. There was a fear and a healthy respect for him and his “Strap” but little pain. “Go to your room and wait for me!” we would hear … except for Bonnie … because dad really loved her and she was his little girl. But, the boys, well dad knew he needed to mold us. Even when Ron and Tom, thinking they were being extremely helpful by washing dad’s car with Brillo Pads … the “strap” remained holstered. You see, dad knew the Law of right and wrong but he also knew forgiveness and he forgave us much because he too knew that he had been forgiven.

Death brings about a separation from our loved ones … for a time ... for we who believe. It is a consequence of sin and a corruption of this perfect creation of our loving God. We all see the evidence in our lives. At times, it is wonderful to grow older, to look forward to getting your driver’s license or graduating from High School … going to college, falling in love, getting married … starting a family … and all the while you’re thinking very little of your sinful condition, in a corrupted world … and time that is slipping away.
Before long, the kids are grown and out of the house … or … as in my case, they’re out but much of their stuff is still in the house … because in this life, the corruption caused by sin, can throw a wrench into the plans you've made for your life, that unfortunately - all too often - is cut short.

Some of the pain of sin in this life we cause and bring upon ourselves; some is thrust upon us by the sinfulness of others; and some, might have been avoided had we only been just a little bit more loving.

But death, none the less, makes us all look at the reality that at some point we all will breathe our last. For some sooner and for some, like Dad, at 87 years young … even though he had plans to 92 … the sin of Adam and Eve that we are all born into comes knocking and as much as we try, we all, like dad, will eventually answer that door and breathe our last.

So, what is God’s purpose and hope for you and for me? Well, we learn again from our epistle to the Romans that:

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God foreknew – or knew beforehand - these believers in Rome before the foundations of the world. He predestined – which is to determine or decree – that they would bear the image of His son; that they would be covered by the righteous, royal robes of the God/man Himself, Jesus Christ. He called them by name to believe the Good News of the Gospel and He justified them through saving faith in the blessed Gospel that they too, like the Son, would be glorified, forgiven in Christ and would be with Him forever in heaven.

God called our beloved father by name too, because Dad knew his savior and his call to faith. Last Sunday as I was teaching my confirmation class I received a call from my brother Ron telling me dad wasn't doing too well. Ron has been the one consistent care giver for our father over these many years. Always taking him to doctor visits and dad knew this well. Every time I would help and take him to a visit when Ron was unable I would tell dad, “If you need anything just call me.” He would always respond, “I’ll call Ron.”

Well, though we are all saddened by Al’s passing last Monday morning. And the tears that fall from our eyes are real because we all truly loved him. Ron and I had a great blessing as we kissed Dad on the forehead and told him we loved him. He said he loved us too. Usually, I would hear “same here,” because dad wasn't the mushy type but he truly loved his children and grandchildren and was so proud of them all.

But, how quickly it is that even one day can change our whole lives?

Unfortunately, even though the hospital was equipped, had all the talents of the Surgeons, Doctors and Nurses at its disposal, and the advances in medical science and techniques available to them, Dad was called away from his loved ones, friends and this life that he loved.

Despite our grief though the apostle Paul still can comfort us all:

Because 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)

My brothers and sister and I had many wonderful years with our father who loved life, his wife, his children sons and daughter-n-laws and grandchildren and took time especially to remember all their birthdays and anniversaries.

And though Dad had a lot of health issues over the last few years he looked lovingly at the blessings of his life, family, friends, golfing buddies, and spending time at the American legion. He would always tell me about Jack, and Freddy and Mikey and Nick and Phil and Jimmy, I thought, "who is hanging out with, the Little Rascals?”

One of the blessings we have in this life is our friends and dad was blessed greatly by knowing all of you. He was also blessed to be baptized and brought to faith in Christ and the salvation that Jesus won for him at the cross. The price of dad’s salvation was the very life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of, not just Al’s sins, but the sins of the whole world. It is the price that we could never pay but was given to Albert Raymond Tkac and to each of us who by faith trust in Christ’s finished work.

Today we honor his life, as we say our goodbyes.  But, the grief that fills us all with loss and sorrow who knew him as father, grandfather, dear relative and friend, will one day be replaced with our blessed reunion in heaven for all who believe. Our loving God in Christ Jesus will wipe away every tear of sadness that we have today and in that day replace them with tears of joy, as we together rejoice in Heaven with our resurrected Lord who has come to conquer sin, death and the power of the Devil not only for Dad but for you and for me as well.

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

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

Earlier I said, “How quickly it is that even one day can change our whole lives.”

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

… one day can change our whole lives …

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen!” (Luke 24:5b)

Heaven is now our dad’s home and Jesus has prepared a place for him.

You too, who trust in Christ, have this home waiting for you. That blessed Good News assures you that Jesus died for your sins and it is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust. God has forgiven your sin in Christ and has called you to faith by that same Gospel message through the power of the Holy Spirit, and has given you faith to believe in Christ’s saving work. There is a place that has been prepared for Al … that he has now taken possession of and there is a place waiting for you and for all who believe by faith in Christ.

Dear friends, you are:

Loved, Forgiven, Forever!



May our Lord comfort you with this precious Good News now and forever.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Albert R. Tkac 1926 - 2013

My dad, Al Tkac, went to be with the Lord at 3:45 in the morning Nov. 11, 2013 on Veterans Day. He served in the US Navy from 1944-46. He pitched for Penn State, was a fine dresser and a cool man about town! I'll miss him.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die." - John 11:25-26

Albert R. Tkac, a longtime resident of Allen Park died on Veteran’s Day, Monday, November 11, 2013 at the age of 87. Al was predeceased in 1988 by his loving wife of 35 years Eleanor (Lanyi). He is survived by his children Russell (Monica), Bonnie (Harry) Artinian, Ron (Sandy), and Tom (Melanie) and grandchildren Amanda, Alex, Amy, Jon, Sam, Nora, Vince, Spencer, Dylan, Harrison, Ethan and Lucas and great grandchildren, Claire and Patrick. He is also survived by his brother-in-law Ernest Lanyi and sister-in-laws Theresa Tkac and Beverly Lanyi and many loving nieces and nephews. Al was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania on May 15, 1926 to the late Michael and Anna (Buzek) Tkac. He was predeceased by siblings Paul, Joseph, Michael, Anna (Sentesi), Margaret (Strom) and Andrew. Al was a proud veteran of World War II and served in the United States Navy from 1944-1946. He attended Penn State University on the G.I. Bill where he played football as a half back and also pitched for the baseball team. He was a proud graduate of Penn State and a dedicated Nittany Lion fan for the rest of his life. Al worked for the Kelsey-Hayes Corporation for 33 years in many capacities. He and his family moved to Allen Park, Michigan in 1961 when he was transferred to Kelsey’s Romulus, Michigan plant. Al was an avid golfer for over fifty years. He was most proud in his eighties when he could shoot a golf score under his age. Regrettably for his sons, they were never able to beat him. He treasured the time spent with his many golf buddies over the years. After moving to Michigan, Al fell in love with the game of hockey and was a dedicated, die-hard Detroit Red Wing fan until he died. Al was a wonderful father who will be missed immensely by his four children. They are the people they are today because of the great ethics instilled in them by their parents. Visitation 1-8pm Thursday. Funeral Service 11am Friday at Weise Funeral Home, 7210 Park, Allen Park (313-382-1150). Interment Our Lady of Hope Cemetery. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to The Wounded Warrior Project.

Information can be found at their website:  www.woundedwarriorproject.com.

Sermon Nov. 9-10, 2013

Title: Just like Christ you have been raised!
Text: Luke 20:27-40

37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

A few years ago, an angry man rushed through the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam until he reached Rembrandt's famous painting "Nightwatch." He took out a knife and slashed it repeatedly before he could be stopped. A short time later, a distraught, hostile man slipped into St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome with a hammer and began to smash a beautiful sculpture by Michelangelo. These two cherished works of art were severely damaged. But what did officials do? Throw them out and forget about them? Absolutely not! Using the best experts, who worked with the utmost care and precision … they made every effort to restore the treasures.

Swindoll, The Quest For Character, Multnomah, p. 49.

The fall into sin brought separation between God and His creation. You have been severely damaged, so much so that you are brought into this life dead in trespass and sin. So what did God do? Throw away his creation and begin again?


16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Just like Christ you have been raised!

The Gospel reading for today tells a story of Jesus’ meeting with a group of Jewish leaders. If you remember from the lessons over the last two months we talked about Jesus and His dealing with the Pharisees and the Chief Priests and scribes. Now, this group, the Sadducees, were “sad you see” because they denied the resurrection. They also denied the existence of angles and didn’t accept the authority of any books of the Old Testament except the first 5 books, which were also called the books of Moses. So they came to Jesus with a question:

28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

Well, there are a few clear truths here:

Seven husbands will surely bring about the death of any woman! But, the Sadducees real objective was to put Jesus on the spot with this creative story as a means to dispel the truth and teaching of the resurrection.

But Jesus, as has been seen trough out these discussions with the Pharisees, Chief Priests, Scribes and now the Sadducees … has an answer for their trickery.

34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.

Now this didn’t sit well with my wife when she first this verse. “You mean I have to put up with him in this life for all these years and he’s not bound to our marriage in heaven?” Well, Jesus then gives the Sadducees a bit of Moses from the book of Genesis in answer to their question:

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:27-28)

God gave marriage for procreation (for children), to fill the earth … to be fruitful and multiply and Jesus continues his thought when He says:

36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are (all) sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

So rightly Jesus tells them that at the resurrection all who are God’s children will be in Heaven and will not be marrying or being fruitful and multiplying because all who are to be there will be there because of God’s choosing.

In Christ you too have been raised!

Now, their argument is not about marriage but about the resurrection. So the contention from Jesus hits them right between the eyes.

37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

Those even in our midst also deny God and his power and work. How can an infant who is baptized believe? How can Christ ascend to the right hand of God and still present in the sacrament? How can God take on flesh and blood and be both divine and human? How can God who is eternal die on a cross? How, as the Sadducees ask can the dead rise?

To deny the power of God and His word is to trust in one’s own reason and understanding and not God’s word. To be led by your own reason is to place your trust, not in the one true God by the working of the Holy Spirit, but in an idol made in your own image. That happens to you and to me too. We all fall short daily and need to daily repent of our sins asking God for forgiveness as the father of the boy with the unclean spirit too found out.

20 … And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If … you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:20-24)

Though you and I fall short daily, not trusting God and His grace; God can still bring good out of your failures, and even out of the corruption of sin you and I face daily in the world.


J. Stuart Holden tells of an old Scottish mansion close to where he had his little summer home. The walls of one room were filled with sketches made by distinguished artists. The practice began after a pitcher of soda water was accidentally spilled on a freshly decorated wall and left an unsightly stain. At the time, a noted artist, Lord Landseer, was a guest in the house. One day when the family went out to the moors, he stayed behind. With a few masterful strokes of a piece of charcoal, that ugly spot became the outline of a beautiful waterfall, bordered by trees and wildlife. He turned that disfigured wall into one of his most successful depictions of Highland life.

Swindoll, The Quest For Character, Multnomah, p. 49.

And though you are covered in sin in this life, God has made you a new creation again in Him, and at the resurrection will join your physical body to your spiritual body so that:
Just like Christ you are raised!

If you think of it this way; There’s life—the life we live right now, day by day. Then we die, and there’s life after death—when the souls of those who believe in Jesus go to be with him, while their bodies are left behind. Then there’s “life after life after death.” That’s the Last Day resurrection of the body when your body is reunited with your soul. That’s what Jesus was talking about: The resurrection of the body. There’s still more to come. Life after death communion with God will have a final day resurrection of the body. The Sadducees said, “There’s no more.” Jesus said, “There is.”

Concordia pulpit illustration Vol. 23 pt 4 – Rev. Glenn A. Nielsen PhD. (Note: The phrase “life after life after death” comes from an interview with N. T. Wright conducted by Preaching Today at the 2008 National Pastors Conference.)

And the more that God gives … is not a fallen world filled with sickness and death and marriage and remarriage - even seven husbands for goodness sake - but a forever eternity with Him, as we who are the bride of Christ are set free from all that this broken and all that is corrupted in this sin filled life. You dear friends are made new forever by the atoning blood of Christ!

Just like Christ you are raised forever!

Like the beautiful artwork that had come out of what had been damaged and broken in this life, corrupting their beauty … you too have been and will be fully restored to your created beauty, free from sin and death and the power of the devil by the one who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light raising you forever to be with him, Jesus Christ our Lord!

And May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sermon Nov. 2-3, 2013 - All Saints Day

Title: Christ has made you God’s children now and for eternity!
Text: Rev.7:9-17

14 … And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

There is a story that was once told in an Ann Landers Column:

“Dear Ann Landers it began … It happened again today. My two sons and I were in a shopping mall, and a total stranger felt the need to comment on the fact that my boys didn’t look anything alike. Apparently, my 6 year old decided it was time he explained the difference. "I’m adopted," he said. "That’s when you have the same family but not the same face."

Steve Ely

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

What a picture the book of Revelation gives us!

This heavenly picture has some wonderful and awesome truths depicted as well. There is an uncountable multitude – more than you can even imagine. This multitude is made up of people like you and me … real flesh and blood people. And they come from every nation and tribe – people from around the world – dressed not in the rags of their own unrighteousness but covered in white robes, the robes of Christ’s righteousness … and carrying palm branches!

Wow! It sounds like Heaven is a very tangible place too. Because to speak of palm branches … we might reasonably assume palm trees, but the image that also comes to my mind is the glorious ride of Christ into Jerusalem and the waving of palm branches by the people:

9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt 21:9)

Their cries of welcome led up to the cries of “Crucify Him” and the cross of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and now these cries of death are completed in the heavenly cries of glory in the gathering of the multitude before the throne of grace who have been brought to faith in this same Jesus Christ, crying:

“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

What had been anticipated before the cross is now fulfilled. What had been a triumphal entry for Jesus is now a triumphal fulfillment for you and me though the cross of Christ and though you - of many faces are many - you have been adopted into God’s family and are now His child, a child of His own choosing because:

Christ has made you God’s children now and for eternity!

A story is told of a couple had adopted a baby boy after trying to have a baby for five years. To their surprise, a short time after the adoption, the mother discovered she was pregnant, and she later gave birth to a boy. One day when the two boys were eight and nine years old, a neighbor came to visit. Observing the children at play, the neighbor asked, "Which boy is yours?" "Both of them," the mother replied. The neighbor persisted. "But I mean, which one is the adopted one?" The mother replied, "I’ve forgotten."

Randy Aly

That is the good news for you too. God knows you are His child. To see you is to see Christ. Unfortunately, you don’t see it the same way some times. You abandon God; you go your own way and even get led astray by others, things in this life, the ways of the world and can find yourself trying to make your own way instead of following His way. We’ve all been there. But, that’s not always the case … because for some … they’ve had little to do with their own situation and the circumstances of their own lives. Take the case of Davion Navar Henry Only for example:

At 15, Davion has been no stranger to foster care. He was born while his mother was in jail and has never had a permanent home. Last summer, he tried to find his biological mother. He was born while his mom was in jail. He can't count all of the places he has lived. He is and has been the perpetual orphan.

In June, Davion sat at a library computer, unfolded his birth certificate and, for the first time, searched for his mother's name. Instead he came up with her mug shot and saw her obituary. Davion talked to his case worker and wanted to take the opportunity to plead his case himself. He’s 15 now and not your typical adoptable baby but if he didn’t do something soon at 18 he would be on his own.

In late September of this year, Davion, dressed in a dark suit and borrowed tie arrived at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Florida. "Miss! Hey, Miss!" he called to his caseworker, who was driving. "I don't want to do this anymore." From the back seat, he hugged the Bible someone had given him at the foster home. His case worker, Connie Going told him, "You're going to be great."

The church appearance was Davion’s idea and was one way of "putting himself out there." He got his opportunity to address the congregation after the sermon. He wiped his palms on his pants, cleared his throat, and said: “My name is Davion, and I’ve been in foster care since I was born. ... I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”

He told the packed church that he was seeking a family to call his own. His requirements were simple:
"I'll take anyone," he said, "Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don't care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be."

The Huffington Post by Meredith Bennett-Smith Posted: Updated: 10/22/2013 9:11 am EDT / http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/10/17/orphaned-florida-teen-makes-adoption-appeal-at-church/

Following the service there were only two families who showed interest in Davion. Not hard to understand considering this isn’t what most expect to hear at a church service following the sermon. But since then, and a few TV interviews later, there have been over 1000 people who have contacted the agency asking to adopt Davion. We ask the Lord’s blessing for this young man that he gets a chance at all the Lord blessings would give him in this life.

But, when you think about it, isn’t that what God says too?  "I'll take anyone," … "Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple.”  The truth is that our loving God does care and has come for all, He has come for you. You dear friends have been adopted and your future is secure.

Christ has made you God’s children now and for eternity!

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Being brought to faith in Baptism makes you part of this great number from every nation and from all tribes and peoples and languages. And that was the good news for those early believers too. They knew that this Jesus who had died on the cross was the same one taken up to heaven was the same Jesus who said:

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:11-12)

And dear friends you too are part of this heavenly picture, clothed in white, having washed your sins away in the blood of the Lamb!

15 “Therefore (you) are before the throne of God,
    and (it’s you who will) serve him day and night in his temple;
    and He (Jesus) who sits on the throne will shelter (you) with his presence.
16 (you) shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike (you),
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb (of God who is) in the midst of the throne will be (your) shepherd,
    and he will guide (you) to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from (your) eyes.”
Christ has made you, dear friends, His children. And He himself will comfort you, as His adopted sons and daughters – in His family - now and for eternity!

Behold, you are part of that great multitude that no one could number! (Rev. 7:9)

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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


Monday, October 28, 2013

Sermon Oct. 26-27, 2013 Reformation Day

Title: Because of Christ and His merits, you are free indeed!
Text: John 8:31-36

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Rev. Dr. Peter Marshall the 57th Chaplain of the United States Senate prayed this prayer before the U.S. Senate:

Lord Jesus, thou who art the way, the truth, and the life; hear us as we pray for the truth that shall make all free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books. It costs too much to be hoarded. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please and do what is right.

Peter Marshall, Before the U.S. Senate.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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.

Jesus tells the believing Jews in our Gospel today who had been following Him that:

 “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.

To be a disciple is to be a follower of Christ. One who is connected to God’s very words and who abides in them – is one who accepts and acts in accordance with those words.

Martin Luther had this to say about discipleship in his lectures on the Psalms:


“In holy and divine matters one must first hear rather than see, first believe rather than understand, first be grasped rather than grasp, first be captured rather than capture, first learn rather than teach, first be a disciple rather than a teacher and master of his own. We have an ear so that we may submit to others, and eyes that we may take care of others. Therefore, whoever in the church wants to become an eye and a leader and master of others, let him become an ear and a disciple first.”

–Martin Luther, Lectures on the Psalms II, in Luther’s Works, Volume 11 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1976), 245-46.

And as a disciple Jesus tells the Jews and you as well:

32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

This freedom and liberty of the gospel is what we celebrate today. It is what Luther searched for and why he became a monk – thinking that being locked inside the walls, devoting himself to fasting, long hours in prayer, pilgrimages, and frequent confession would keep him away from sin and the power of the devil.

He said:

"If anyone could have gained heaven as a monk, then I would certainly have done so." He described this period of his life as one of deep spiritual despair. "I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailer and hangman of my poor soul."

But later he found peace in the words of Romans 5:1 which reads:

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

Because of Christ and His merits, you are free indeed!

Have you felt closed in by the walls of sin? Have you or have your loved ones fled the blessings and Peace found only in Christ and his gifts given in word and sacrament? Are you burdened by the Law and a slave to sin?

33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Once again from Luther:

“Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend--it must transcend all comprehension.
He continues: Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing (where he was going). He trusted himself to (God’s) knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey's end.

Behold, that end is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let (God) lead you as though you were a blind man. (So), it is not you, no man, (and) no living creature, but (Christ) Himself, who instructs you by word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire--that is the road you must take. To that, (Christ) calls you and in that (says) you must be my disciple.”

― Martin Luther

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
C.S. Lewis had this to say about slavery:


Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellow man. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him, Lewis says … but I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

C.S. Lewis in "Equality" from Present Concerns, quoted in Christianity Today, February 3, 1989, p. 31.

The truth is you are all bound to sin and its cravings. You desire to do the will of your sinful nature which is in opposition to God’s will and as a result you fall short daily. The world says, “Deep down he is really a good person” - when the truth is deep down we all are worse and worse. The more you get to the core of who we are in our fallen human condition the more you see the sinfulness of man, corrupted to the core from the beginning by our first parents Adam and Eve.

But Jesus reminds His hearers and you as well that:

35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The freedom for the sinner is found only in Jesus. That was the joy that Luther found and what we celebrate in the Reformation. In Christ, true freedom from sin is possible and true liberty for we who are bound with the chains of guilt and despair is broken.

Christ has set free those who could not free themselves by his own binding. The binding of His flesh to the cross in your place, the shedding of His blood for the forgiveness of your sin, the death worthy of a criminal for you and I who are guilty and the burial in a tomb meant for another …

In Jesus’ case … Joseph of Arimathea, for it was his tomb where Jesus was laid. But, the tomb and death was meant for you. Jesus took your place, He took your cross, He took your death and He took your tomb and He made them what you couldn't … life, freedom, liberty, salvation and forgiveness because …

… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!

Salvation is all of God and not of man. That is the message of the Reformation. Luther restored the gospel truths about Christ and His merits that had been lost, covered by sin in the church and the focus on earthly rulers, once again by shinning the light of the gospel on Christ’s work, for you.

Because Jesus came to live, suffer, die and rise again for you … because of Christ and His merits … because the Son has set you free … you are free indeed!

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sermon Oct. 19-20, 2013

Title: The righteous judge, our Lord Jesus Christ, has breathed life in to you!
Text: Luke 18:1-18

6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray once informed a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality, "I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law."

The thief who later on was surprised while burgling a house fled out the back door, climbed over a nine-foot wall, dropped down the other side, and found that he was in the city prison.

Oops: The Book of Blunders, 1980.

Justice has a funny way of working out at times. This parable of the unrighteous judge comes after the Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God will come so Jesus tells the Pharisees that:

“The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

He then tells of the final judgment that will come upon the earth and the parable of the unrighteous judge soon follows. Jesus tells a parable of a judge who neither feared God or respected man

Proverbs 9:10 reminds us:

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you and this Jesus is the kingdom and in fact is the Holy One which you do not fear and in whom you do not trust.

So, this unrighteous judge is hounded by a woman who is looking for justice. She has been wronged and though this judge does not fear God or respect man and would just as soon have her go away. She continues to come … with the same persistent plea:

“Give me justice against my adversary.”

Now, the unrighteous judge is not interested in justice. He doesn’t care whether she is in the right or whether she is in the wrong but so that she will finally shut up and stop bothering him he says:

“I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.”

How many of you remember the persistent cries of your children for whatever they desire and at some point you say to yourself, “Though I really don’t want them to have this now, I will give in … so they stop coming to me about this and I am beat down by it.” No justice … just peace and quiet.

But Jesus tells them to listen to this unrighteous judge. If he, in apathy, which is nothing more than a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern for this woman’s cries will give her what she wants, how much more will God, who cares about his dear children’s concerns – His elect – hearing their cries for justice delay in giving them justice. Not out of a lack of patience but out of righteous justice and as Jesus says it will be brought to his children speedily.

Now, justice as we understand it can be good and bad. For those who have been wronged it is made right and for those who have been unjust to others they get what they deserve. But Jesus turns justice on its head saying:

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The justice that is deserved is death. Whether you believe like the Pharisee that you are righteous and can love God enough or believe that persistent whining will bring about a just and good result. Because Jesus has breathed life into the dead by His Spirit, and for those trusting Him not standing in their own righteousness, but trusting in Him by faith He gives freedom to the bound and pardon to the guilty.

The righteous judge, our Lord Jesus Christ, has breathed life in to you!

The divine "scheme of things," as Christianity understands it, is at once extremely elastic and extremely rigid. It is elastic, in that it includes a large measure of liberty for the creature in this life to do as one pleases; it is rigid in that it includes the provision that, however created beings choose to behave, they must accept responsibility of their own actions in this life and must endure the consequences.

Dorothy L. Sayer in Dorothy L. Sayer: A Rage for Life.

The truly Good News comes when we look to the Judge. Who on the last day you will stand before with all your flaws and with all your warts and who will pronounce judgment on you. The judgment you deserve is death and though your sins are great, and though you are guilty as all sinners are, the judge will pronounce sentence and you will hear:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matt 25:21)

The joy is that the Judge, Jesus Christ, will find you in Him by faith and covered by a righteousness not of your own but a foreign righteousness … one given you by faith.

Christ Jesus will find faith for all who are brought to the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit and as we saw today are washed clean of their sins by the blood of the Lamb having been buried with Jesus in baptism and being raised to newness of life - covered in Christ righteousness for the forgiveness of sins; both as a sinner born from your mother’s womb and also washed of all actual sins done in the flesh in thought, word and deed.

You are witnesses of this blessed gift in this baptism of these beautiful children of God and have the joy and responsibility as parents and sponsors and even as the whole church of God here at Peace to raise these little ones to come to a greater knowledge and understanding of who Christ is and what He has done, not only for them, but for all the world. Jesus has breathed new life in them and He has breathed new life in you too at your baptism by His glorious word of promise that what He delivered at the cross He brings to you in His sacraments, His gifts.

Being brought to faith in Baptism makes you part of Christ and part of His church and the Lord’s Supper that Christ himself will serve you continues to sustain that gift of faith, feeding you on the very body and blood of Christ that was given for you at the cross and is now given to you for the forgiveness of sins, the strengthening of faith and will sustain you through this life and all the injustice that comes your way until the glorious promise of eternal life is fully realized.

The righteous judge, our Lord Jesus Christ, has breathed life in to you … Rejoice!

As supreme Court Justice Horace Gray said to our friend that escaped conviction on a technicality, "I know that you are guilty and you know it, - that is you and me dear friends- and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with. But is your case and in mine, not according to justice and not according to law, but according to mercy of our loving and forgiving God because you are free and you are forgiven, in Christ!

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sermon Oct 12-13, 2013

Title: Your faith has made you well!
Text: Luke 17:11-19

15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Senator, Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called "House of Dying," where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers face daily. "How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?" he asked. Mother Teresa replied, "My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful."

Beyond Hunger, Beals

Last weekend’s sermon concluded with what was called the saddest text of the Bible. This where Jesus says, “Where are the nine?” in Luke 17:17, and today we get to examine that very text as it turns out.

The story is told of Jesus traveling through the country side between Samaria and Galilee. And as we’ve discussed over the last number of weeks, Jesus, was on His way to Jerusalem and he was not taking a very direct rout. He was traveling between Galilee on the north and Samaria on the south heading south toward Jerusalem. The text tells us that as he entered a village he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance.

Leprosy is a disease that in Jesus’ time had no cure. Today the disease, which is also known as Hansen’s disease and is caused by a bacterial infection of the nervous system and upper respiratory tract, has over the last 20 years, through God’s blessing of modern medicine, seen over 15,000,000 people cured of this dreaded disease.

But for the 10 lepers in our story today there was little to no hope. They were to spend the rest of their lives in a colony with other Lepers, unable to share the joys of life with their families, confined to a living hell as it were until the time of their death. We all can only imagine how this might have been.

Now Jesus’ travel might have preceded him. The word of his coming having reached these in this dreadful condition, bringing them to faith by the Holy Spirit’s working and though they keep a distance as was mandated by the law, they all called out with a loud voice together. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” In some way this concerted call to Jesus, the Lord of life, to please have mercy on our dismal condition was an act of faith that this Jesus could in fact do something to cure this leprous condition they all faced together.
Either way, you see a call to Christ by faith from those who had no hope. This hopeless condition of the ten is a call of hope by faith in Him, Jesus our Lord, who is the only hope of life to a dying world.

During the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God's provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.

Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord's presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. "Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day."

It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in God's hands. Wait for His timing:

Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.

Your faith has made you well!

What about your trials? What about your faith? Do you feel beat down at times in this life? I think we all could answer yes to that question. Is it a sickness or a death in your family, a broken marriage or a loss of a job? I think we can all attest to things in this life that have burdened both you and me.

Last Sunday evening I had the pleasure of preaching and conducting a service for the residents at Lakeland Place which is a senior independent and assisted living apartment complex in Waterford on Elizabeth Lake road.  Their concerns as I had them fill out a prayer sheet sound very similar to those that you and I have:

“Pray for my two sons and my daughter, was one mother’s prayer, another is looking for more people to attend their Sunday night worship which is usually around 15 people. One lady is praying for the health of her three children who have all suffered from Kidney stones recently and another is mourning the loss of three dear friends who recently had passed away. However, the biggest request for these senior residents was for their children to come back to the faith and to the church once again.”

The gift of faith and being connected to the faith and life everlasting is the hope for these parents and for our church as well. Many in our church have fallen away from the faith. At times their our broken relationships in your family as well and you may experience bitterness towards others – even someone that you once loved and held dear – they may have wronged you or your loved ones and are now living in sin and outside the faith.

Martin Luther had this to say about our text today:

“Christ heals ten lepers, and he knew that only one would be grateful (Luke 17:1 1-19). This will also be our lot, and we should not on this account give up our eagerness to confer benefits on others.”

LW Vol. 3 Pg.183 CPH

Loving others is the call that every Christian is given in this life, to love thy neighbor as thyself, even though at times it’s really hard to love those who have wronged you.  It’s hard to love those who have not been thankful for what you’ve done for them. But you can all be truly thankful that God is a God of mercy and that He gave up His life for the sins of the whole world … even though many in our world refuse that gift or remain unthankful for all that He has done. Jesus still went to the cross for the sins of those who will never repent or have fallen back into sin. Their sins have been paid for but the benefit and Good News of salvation in Christ they continue to reject, so they stay condemned in their sin and covered in their own righteousness. It is our hope and blessing to continue to share the Gospel and the love of Christ with those who reject Jesus, so that by God’s Holy Spirit working through his word of pardon and in His time, they may repent of their sin and turn to Christ in faith, receiving the forgiveness of sins won for them at the cross.

Remember dear friends that faith is a gift and that:

Your faith in Christ has made you well!

14 When Jesus saw the lepers and heard their cries he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”  No on the spot healing … but by faith they went as was required by the law. It is suggested that had the priests known that Jesus was behind the healing that they might have refused to recognize the healing and release the lepers as cleansed so Jesus sent them on their way and as they went they were cleansed. Also note that this act of going was also an act of faith - in Christ - and his healing words trusting that as they showed themselves to the priests they would be healed.

15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks.

Christ has washed these lepers clean by His word and He has washed you clean as well through the washing of regeneration by His word in baptism.

5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)

Christ Jesus has heard your cries too. He hears and His desire is to heal the biggest problem that you have and that is eternal separation from Him.

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? The one who returned to offer thanks was a Samaritan, a foreigner just as you and I are foreigners graphed in to the vine so that we might bear good fruit. This good fruit is possible only because you have been given mercy.

A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death.

"But I don't ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy."
"But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied.
"Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for."
"Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman's son.

Luis Palau, Experiencing God's Forgiveness, Multnomah Press, 1984.

You have been given mercy and this is nothing you deserve. Whether you return thanks or not Christ’s mercy is still yours because you can never thank Him enough. Your sins have been taken away and you, like the ten, have been cleansed. Your cleansing does not depend on your thanks but on God’s mercy and thankfulness is a fruit of your cleansing and the joy that lives in you by God’s Holy Spirit.

Your faith has made you well!

By faith, you can be faithful. All you do for the benefit of others is gifted you by our loving God who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 2:2)

Your faith in Him has made you well!

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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


Sermon Oct. 5-6, 2013 LWML Weekend

Title: You are my witnesses!
Text: Luke 24:44-53

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.

There’s a story of a man who prayed this prayer every morning: "Lord, if you want me to witness to someone today, please give me a sign to show me who it is." One day he found himself on a bus when a big, burly man sat next to him. The bus was nearly empty but this guy sat down right next to our praying friend. The timid Christian anxiously waited for his stop so he could exit the bus. But before the bus stopped and the man could get off, the big guy bursts into tears and began to weep. He cried out with a loud voice, "I need to be saved. I’m a lost sinner and I need the Lord. Won’t somebody tell me how to be saved?" He turned to the Christian and pleaded, "Can you show me how to be saved?" The believer immediately bowed his head and prayed, "Lord, is this a sign?"

- Richard Crow

The truth is that in this life Christ reminds us all that:

You … are my witnesses!

Our Old Testament lesson begins:

62 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
    and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
    and her salvation as a burning torch.

Through the Prophet Isaiah, God promises to bring his righteousness and salvation as a burning torch. God’s salvation will not be limited but will bring brightness to this darkened world, illuminating the corruption of sin with the light of Christ.

From our epistle lesson we read:

11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Salvation is a gift for all and the Lord is the one bestowing his riches so that His name can be called on by those brought to faith by God’s Holy Spirit.

And then Jesus tells us in our Gospel:

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, with no distinction beginning from Jerusalem. And He concludes:  48 you are witnesses of these things.

Being a witness is not always a comfortable thing. If you are the one who happens to see and accident, it may be important to tell what you observed to help determine who was at fault and how damages are to be paid.

It may be a more serious matter that would cause a witness to come forward to either see that the guilty party receives the punishment deserved or that they be found not guilty and released as one who had been saved by the witness of another.

I had to sit in at a hearing at the courthouse where one of our members gave an account, as a witness, in the trial of a man who had been accused of fraud. To be a witness is never easy but it is always important.

Jesus says to his disciples:

48 You are witnesses of these things. The disciples were eye witnesses of all the Jesus came to do. They saw and ate with him, they remember the accusations, the trial, His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection … and they have been called by Christ Jesus to preach that … “everything written about  Jesus  in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Calling to repentance and proclaim forgiveness to all nations. And then Jesus tells them, 49 and behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.

When the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ sent his only son into the world to redeem the world, the Father went with Him. As Jesus reminds Philip in the book of John Chapter 14: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” And when Jesus stood before His disciples in the locked upper room after his resurrection, “he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  And where ever the Holy Spirit goes, so goes also the Father and the Son - one God in trinity and trinity in unity. The Spirit of our God will accomplish all that is the Father’s will to do, even through the weakness of His broken creation – to redeem the world.

Today we celebrate the work of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League or LWML and their efforts in witnessing the love of Christ to a broken world and all 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 them 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?”

John Newton, the former slave-ship captain, was so grateful for God’s gracious dealings with him that when the vicarage at Olney was refurbished he had two sentences from Isaiah 43:4 and Deuteronomy 15:15 painted over the fireplace of his study: 4 Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life: 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.

We must not live in the past but dare not forget God providential provision in life’s experiences and allow our sense of thankfulness to fade. One of the saddest moments in the Gospels is pictured in the words of Jesus when he said, ’Where are the nine?’ (Luke 17:17). He was asking as to what had happened to the nine men who had known such wonderful release from the misery of leprosy and had forgotten to come back and say, ’Thank you, Lord.’

Owen Bourgaize

Thank you Lord for the gift of being your witnesses!

49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Jesus will never leave you but He has cloth you with the power from on high and that gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit. As He comes to you and abides with you so do the Father and the Son. The Spirit intercedes for you in your prayers and Jesus mediates those prayers to the Father.

The Spirit points to what Christ Jesus has done for you and then gives you the words to say:
23 “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)

That same Spirit that empowered the disciples will also empower you to witness to the truth of the saving work of Christ.

Because you are my witnesses, Jesus says!

You have been give peace and reconciliation through the blood of Jesus Christ shed for the forgiveness of sins. This gift, won at the cross and given to you in baptism is God’s work and by the power of the Holy Spirit you believe. This same Spirit work in you as you remain connected to Christ through God’s word proclaimed, read and received in the sacrament of the altar which distributes the very body and blood of Christ given and shed - for you.

Ask God for a sign and He will point you to His table where he give you the gift of what He gave at the cross. Jesus died at that cross for you and now He distributes that very body and blood that He gave so that you receive forgiveness and strengthening of faith so that you can be his witness to a dying world.
You are Christ witnesses! Because He died for you.

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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