Monday, June 24, 2013

Sermon June 22-23, 2013

Title: In Christ we have been set free and cry, Abba! Father!
Text: Gal.4:4-7

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

I read about a small boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing.

At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father’s full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed.
The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son. When that boy grew to be a man, he said, “All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.”

J. Allan Peterson

In Christ we have been set free and cry, Abba! Father!

As the opening illustration points out, children are under the care of their parents. In ancient times as well as today the law places the well-being of children to the authority and care of their parents and guardians.
“At the time of Paul, the minor was legally about in the same position as the slave. No act of his had the sanction of the law, unless it was performed through his legal representative. He was under guardians, or tutors, and stewards, or trustees, until the time appointed of the father, who might even make a provision to limit the heir’s right to his property beyond the age of legal majority.”

Popular Commentary of the Bible P.E. Kretzmann NT Vol. 2 Pg. 245

Paul’s letter to the Galatians is an important letter as it points to the sufficient work of Christ Jesus over and above the demands of the Law that had been perplexing the Christians of Galatia. Though they had been recognized as Christians, and James, the head of the Jerusalem Church spoke of no circumcision for gentiles at the Jerusalem council, Paul in his letter has to once again distinguish faith from works.

25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, (no longer are you like a child or a slave under the care of a parent or guardian that will look out for your needs) 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. (Gal 3:25-29)

You too:

In Christ you have been set free and now can cry, Abba! Father!

A husband and wife didn't really love each other. The man was very demanding, so much so that he prepared a list of rules and regulations for his wife to follow. He insisted that she read them over every day and obey them to the letter. Among other things, his "do's and don'ts" indicated such details as what time she had to get up in the morning, when his breakfast should be served, and how the housework should be done. After several long years, the husband died.

Now, before you applaud…

As time passed, the woman fell in love with another man, one who dearly loved her. Soon they were married. This husband did everything he could to make his new wife happy, continually showering her with tokens of his appreciation. One day when she was cleaning house, she found tucked away in a drawer the list of commands her first husband had drawn up for her. As she looked it over, it dawned on her that even though her present husband hadn't given her any kind of list, she was doing everything her first husband's list required anyway. She realized she was so devoted to this man that her deepest desire was to please him out of love, not obligation.

Source Unknown.

Here Paul distinguishes that the Law was a guardian before Christ came. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Your sinful nature sure wants to place you back under a guardian. It wants to take your freedom in Christ which has set you free from the curse of the law as was discussed in the sermon last week and bind you in bondage again to your sins that have been forgiven in Christ.

And many times, you who have been forgiven … stay bound to your sin … why? Oh, I suppose it is because we are sinners from birth and can’t let go of our guilt.

The Galatians too, as noted in the text have been brought back into bondage by the Jews who are zealous for the law. They have great zeal to keep what time and again they know they can’t keep but try and try they might. Many try at times to justify themselves instead of receiving the free gift of forgiveness found only in Christ.

But not you or me! We never worry about the law, regulations or requirements in our lives. As I start my new class, I’m not concerned with what the professor requires, what I should read or how I can best pass his class with a good grade … Do you see how we all are creatures of the law? We all need and love to follow regulations. The law is a natural for us and it is easy for we who love to have a list of requirements so we can measure how well we meet the demands, rules or even what the professor requires.

But, in Christ you have been set free and can now cry, Abba! Father!

There is good news for the Galatians from Paul with one of the most blessed texts that I know:
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

The truth is the Galatians had been set free but continued to climb back into their jail cell of the Law thinking that they can do what it demands. Christ has set them free by his all sufficient sacrifice. He paid for their freedom and nothing that they do can add to their freedom. It is finished as Christ Jesus said from the cross

These Galatians are sill Abraham’s offspring, called son’s of God through faith, when? At their baptisms when they … put on Christ. No longer, Jew or Greek, neither slave nor free … no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is salvation that binds no one to any work, but truly comforts all to the Good News that on account of Christ you are free from what the Law requires because Jesus came and kept the Law perfectly for you. The Law still has relevance though because it shows you where you fall short and stops you with the knowledge of right and wrong and even guides you and me in how we should live. But for Paul the message that he wanted to get across to the Galatians is that their freedom is truly free on account of Christ and His sacrifice for sin once and for all!

You are free! You are forgiven!

There is nothing that needs to be added to Christ’s work. All that needs to be added is you … called by the Holy Spirit to believe, having your name written in the Lamb’s book of life … you are Christ’s, forgiven because of His work and needing nothing more but the faith in His work that is given you by God.

There is a great quote by Patrick Henry that reads:

“I have now disposed of all my property to my family. Though there is one thing more I wish I could give them … and that is faith in Jesus Christ. If they had that and I had not given them a single shilling, they would have been rich; but if they lack that, and I had given them the entire world, they would be poor indeed.”
Source unknown

You are rich indeed because you have your heavenly Father’s love on account of Christ. Because of him you are forgiven and have put on Christ Jesus. The sin you were born in has been exchanged for the righteousness of Christ and you have received His fullness and love by the power of the holy Spirit.

Your meal of a plate containing a single piece of bread and a glass of water has been replace with a seat at the table of God’s banquet feast and you are full and satisfied because of Christ. Be joyful at His love for you in the knowledge that He has redeemed you, loves you and will keep you forever by the care of his Spirit.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Sermon June 15-16, 2013 Father’s Day

Title: On account of Christ you receive God’s favor!
Text Luke 7:48-50

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

Bill Cosby insists that there is a difference between Mother's Day and Father's Day. He says that Mother's Day is a much bigger deal because Mothers are more organized. Mothers say to their children: Now here is a list of what I want. Go get the money from your father and you surprise me on Mother's Day.

For Father’s Day, Bill Cosby gives each of his five kids $20 so that they can go out and by him a present—a total of $100. They go to the store and buy two packages of underwear, each of which costs $5 and contains three shorts. They tear them open and each kid wraps up one pair, the sixth going to the Salvation Army. Therefore, on Father’s Day he’s walking around with new underwear and his kid’s are walking around with $90 worth of his change in their pockets.

Today we thank the Lord for our dad’s and for all the blessings that we've learned from them. Many times dad showed us favor and kindness when we've messed up and today as well we can be thankful that:

On account of Christ you receive God’s favor!

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

This unfortunately seems to place the weight of some sins that are more public and seem greater in the light of our own vision to the hidden sin we all have and fight against daily. At times you and I, like the Pharisee, see the sins of others … while neglecting the plank in your own eye; thinking it a speck of dust you can just wash out yourself. This self-justifying, self-redeeming sin is a greater corruption than the public sin which is recognized and repented of allowing the cleansing ointment of the God/man to wash you clean in the tears of baptismal forgiveness.

Jesus places the plank squarely back in the Pharisees eye with his story of two debtors. One who was forgiven a debt that was ten times the others and asks this question of the Pharisee:

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

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

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

On account of Christ you too receive God’s favor and the same gift!

The epistle reading for today from Galatians brings to focus the gift of God’s justifying grace in Christ Jesus.

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

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

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

The sermon hymn Not What These Hands Have Done reminds us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sermon hymn concludes with the gospel’s Good News:
5. Thy grace alone O God, to me can pardon speak; Thy power alone, O Son of God, can this sore bondage break.

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

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

As we today celebrate our earthly fathers and all that they have meant in our lives, influencing who we’ve become … we too remember that as a child of our heavenly Father, brought to him through the work of His Son, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, we have an eternal Father’s Day that we celebrate and joy in now and forever in heaven, Amen.

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


Monday, June 10, 2013

Sermon June 8-9, 2013 Pastor's retirement

Title: Jesus will take us home!
Text: Luke 7:13-16

13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”

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

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

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

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

As we prepare for our chicken BBQ I pray that we deal a bit more kindly and compassionately with one another.

In our gospel lesson for today we see the compassion of our Lord. Compassion can be defined as, a sympathetic awareness of another’s distress, together with a desire to alleviate it.

The bible is full of these opposites or contrasts. Darkness to light, blindness to sight, lost to found but nothing is quite as captivating as death to life.

In our Old Testament lesson for today the story is told of Elijah, the widow and her son. You might remember the story of how Elijah told King Ahab, who being the seventh King of Israel and reigning for 22 years, married Jezebel, and under her influence, built a pagan temple, and allowed idols into Samaria. Elijah the prophet warned Ahab that the country would suffer from drought if the cult of Baal was not removed from the land of Israel.

“As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”

So as the story continues, Elijah stays with this widow and her son, asks her for water and a morsel of food and assures her that the ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’ This all leads up to the lesson today where the son becomes ill, was so ill that he was not breathing … we all might say … that he died! Obviously, this would be very distressing to any mother and Elijah goes up to the boy’s room, stretches out on this dead body three times and pleads crying out to the Lord:

“O LORD my God, let this child's life come into him again.” 22 And the LORD listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. (1Kings 17:21b-22)

In contrast, the gospel lesson for today tells of a funeral procession and this takes place chronologically right after the healing of the centurion’s servant from last week’s lesson.

“Soon afterward” we are told, so that directly after the healing of the Centurion’s servant, Jesus and His disciples, along with a large crowd, travel to the town of Nain. Here they come upon this procession leading to burial. The Jews typically buried their dead quickly after death.


When I worked at ACORN building Components doing architectural drafting in Detroit in the mid 1970’s I worked with a man named Harold Adler. I saw Harold one Friday as I left work and said goodbye to him and his nephew Jess, as I went home for the weekend. When I returned to work on Monday I found out from Jess that Harold had passed away on Saturday and was already buried! Not unlike the account of our reading for today.

Biblical accounts of burial arrangements reveal that the Jews took great care in preparing the corpse. As with our Lord’s own burial, family and friends washed the body of the deceased, rubbed it with spices and fine oil, and wrapped it in cloths. The reading for today would have followed a similar procedure.

Jesus, seeing this, shows compassion at the death of this woman’s son and tells the widow:

“Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, (Now a bier is a coffin together with its stand) and the bearers stood still. And Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

Now, can you imagine! This is not a sleeping man but a man that has died and been prepared for burial and in fact is being carried to the tomb. You can imagine in your mind’s eye the look on the face of the mourners after carrying a dead man and seeing this man rise from the dead – burial cloths and all.

In both stories today the young men … are given back to their mothers. For all of us, Mothers, Fathers, Sons and Daughters alike … we can take great comfort that in Christ:

Jesus will take us home!

So, if you’re a mother with a son or daughter or a father for that matter like me, do you hope and pray that your child life is blessed, and that they have a good life?

Well, sure you do; but, what about everlasting life? Some conclude that, “Well, they’ve been confirmed, I did my part, now it’s up to them.”

Many children young and old should be in Sunday school but for some reason they aren’t. Again it is not the well who need a doctor but the sick. I’m sure you – as would any loving parent - would take your child to the Doctor’s office, emergency room or wherever was necessary to make sure they received the care that they needed. So why would their Spiritual care be any different?


The story that was all over the internet recently, was of the child in China that was found in the drain pipe … what an unbelievable story. This newborn had been brought to life and then found stuck and crying in a most unthinkable place. The latest update on the story says it was an accident?

The young woman who gave birth didn’t immediately say to police that she was the baby’s mother. Who keeps this info from the police? What do you suppose the chances of survival would have been for that child if no one had heard the cries?

Compare that to the spiritual birth of a child in Baptism. What chance does a child of God have to remain in the faith, apart from hearing the word of God, being taught all that the Lord has done … and receiving God’s continued gifts of word and sacrament? What might happen to the faith of a child who is left in this metaphorical drain pipe of discarded spiritual life? Could you even hear the spiritual cries for help?

Death is the consequence of sin and from this our physical life death awaits. But as we have already been raised from death to newness of life in our baptisms we have gone from death … apart from Christ, to a life born anew or from above in him. To allow this new life in Christ to die is the working of the devil and the sinful nature we all fight. But, by the working of the Holy Spirit through the word, God will keep you covered with the righteousness won by Jesus Christ at the cross and we can all have comfort that, in Christ and by faith:

Jesus will take us home!

Home … for many of us gathered here today, our faith was built in the spiritual home of Peace Lutheran Church being fed on word and sacrament through the faithful service of Pastor William Merrell. When Pastor Merrell retired it was the same day as my ordination … so his retirement took a back seat. Then we had our 50th anniversary celebration and once again his retirement was moved back. Soon after it was Lent and Easter so again let’s look at April or May. No, Confirmation is in April. But, all the while Pastor says … Nancy and I don’t want anything special.

So, what do you do for a man who has meant so much to us all, serving his Lord and savior here at Peace for 32 years! Well, I for one would not be standing in front of you today… if it were not for him. I found a Godly servant … an under shepherd who proclaimed Christ and the Gospel of forgiveness; who always illumined the light of the Gospel on the cross of Christ and never on himself. Who humbly served the flock here at Peace, feeding, caring and visiting those whom the Lord had place under his care.

In October of 2009 Pastor Merrell called me into his office to see if I might prayerfully consider entering the ministry and ultimately serving here at Peace. In hindsight, I’m humbled and honored to follow in (his) your footsteps which are quite frankly, all over this place because the footsteps that I follow … are Christ’s … just as they always were for you.

… and they glorified God, saying,  “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”

God has visited His people here at Peace because of faithful under shepherds who proclaim forgiveness of sins on account of Christ and the blessed exchange that removes sin and the guilt that leads to death replacing it with the pure white robes of Christ Jesus … that neither you nor I deserve.

But because Jesus is worthy … heaven is our home!

Death no longer has claim to you. Christ has named you in your baptism and washed you clean in the blood of the Lamb. During Confirmation it was a joy to have Pastor Merrell participate in the rite, giving a blessing to these newly confirmed members of Peace … being the instrument that God used to first (as Pastor later remembered that six of the eight confirmands, he first baptized) marking these babies as one redeemed by Christ the crucified and then to hear them confirm all that God has done in their lives- by faith. What a great blessing!

Jesus has confirmed our home and He has our room waiting!

Shortly our Chicken BBQ will feed our physical needs and we thank all who make this possible but today we thank Jesus for the faithful servant, and service of Pastor Merrell, who has fed and continues to feed the sheep wherever God calls him to serve whether in visitation or as a Chaplain for the Waterford Police. May God continue to bless you Pastor Bill and Nancy in all you do, wherever Christ leads. May you continue to be blessed as you have been a blessing to us all through Christ Jesus our living God who comforts the broken with the blessed Gospel of peace.

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


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sermon June 1-2, 2013

Title: Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith!
Text: Luke 7:6-7

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

There is a tale told of that great English actor Macready. An eminent preacher once said to him: "I wish you would explain to me something." "Well, what is it? I don't know that I can explain anything to a preacher." He said.

"What is the reason for the difference between you and me? You are appearing before crowds night after night with fiction, and the crowds come wherever you go. I am preaching the essential and unchangeable truth, and I am not getting any crowds at all."

Macready's answer was this: "This is quite simple. I can tell you the difference between us. I present my fiction as though it were truth; you present your truth as though it were fiction."

G. Campbell Morgan, Preaching, p. 36.

Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith!

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

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

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

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

There is the story of:


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

Kretzmann NT vol. 1 pg.300

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

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

He knows that he is unworthy but by faith he knows too that Jesus can provide what he needs because:
Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith!

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


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

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

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

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

“Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.” (Luke 7:6b-7)

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

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

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

Servant or slave …? Either, you are a servant to sin and corruption and the working of the devil or you are a servant to the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith through the working of the Holy Spirit in you? The tension is there for all as we wrestle as both saint and sinner in this life and we all at times fallback into the sin nature that we all possess from birth, doing that which we don’t want to do, instead of that which we want to do. But the law of God which is written on our hearts is there to point us, as a mirror does to our sin, causing us to be burdened by guilt and by the Spirit’s work in us bringing us to repentance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith and the one who gives eternal life!

Today you too need to recognize Jesus for who He is; the author and perfecter of your faith. He is the one who has taken away the sins of the world and in Him you have life eternal in Him. The good news is that through the working of the Holy Spirit you have been brought to faith and through the means of grace, of word and sacrament, you are continually built up in Christ being made holy in Him.

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

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


Sermon May 25-26, 2013 Holy Trinity

Title: Before Abraham was, “I AM”!
Text: John 8:53-59

53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

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

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

On Sept. 29, 2006 in an extraordinary act of courage, Michael Anthony Monsoor 25, petty officer of the U.S. Navy's Special Operations Command, shielded three of his U.S colleagues and three other Iraqi soldiers from the imminent blast by throwing himself onto the grenade. The resultant blast killed him.
President Bush praised Monsoor for his valor and selfless service to the nation at the ceremony. "Michael had two options," said the president, "save his life or those who were with him, but he chose to lay down his life for them."

On this Memorial Day weekend we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice laying down their life for their fellow man and for the freedom we so cherish and enjoy.

I am reminded of what John says in his Gospel in chapter 15 verse 13:

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

And on this Trinity Sunday (Weekend) we look to our one true God who has revealed himself as one divine essence, but also as three unique and coequal persons … Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And to this divine essence Jesus claimed Sonship, for the work He came to do and was to accomplish, in only what God could do in Christ by taking on human flesh and laying down His life for the sins of the world, paying the price that you and I could never pay and to this work and revelation Jesus claimed:

Before Abraham was, “I AM”!

The question that the Jews ask Jesus and the question that is asked many times over about Him; are you God?

The Jews first say that Jesus is a Samaritan and accuse Him of having a Demon! To which Jesus replies:

49 … “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

Well, this really gets under their skin because they are now convinced more than ever that Jesus has a Demon because they know that:

‘Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’

Unbelief really has them messed up. So they press the issue:

53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! (… and here comes the big question …) Who do you make yourself out to be?”

The question that the Jews want to know is the same question that human reason can never grasp. How can this man be God? Their reason tells them that this man Jesus is not yet fifty years old so how can he say that:

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. (and that) He saw it and was glad.” Then Jesus makes one more statement that really causes grief and anger among the Jews. He says:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Truly, Christ Jesus got their attention with this statement; claiming to be God and using God’s divine name!
In Genesis Chapter 15 God’s word says:

“… the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”  (Gen 15:1b) And then He says:

“I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” (Gen 15:7b)

To claim God’s name was an offense for the Jews. For many in our day as well, the divine name of Jesus is an offense. In the gospel of John Jesus uses the divine name seven times.

1. I AM the Bread of Life (6:35, 41, 48)
2. I AM the Light of the World (8:12; cf. 9:5)
3. I AM the Gate (10:7, 9)
4. I AM the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14)
5. I AM the Resurrection and the Life (11:25)
6. I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life (14:6)
7. I AM the True Vine (15:1)

On the Feast of the Holy Trinity we understand that I AM is one God and that this one God is revealed as Father Son and Holy Spirit. The Athanasian Creed is long, has a strange name, is repetitive and may even appear confusing. We as LCMS Lutheran’s hold to the three Ecumenical Creeds but recite the Apostles Creed on non-communion weekends and the Nicene Creed on communion weekends but the Athanasian Creed is recited traditionally on Trinity weekend so we can be reminded of what the catholic (small “c” universal) faith is.

To know the true God is to know who he is and to know what He has done.

Our Creeds help us know God and confess what we believe.

Martin Luther thought highly of the Athanasian Creed. He said of it: I
doubt whether, since the time of the Apostles in the New Testament
Church, a more important and glorious creed has been written.

(W 6:2315) JMK

So why is it important? Well, is it important to know the truth? Is Jesus truly God, the great I AM or is He an impostor? Is the Holy Spirit God? Is the Father God? The first commandment says: You shall have no other Gods before me. So if one claims to be what they aren’t … they are a fraud!


The tale of Fred Renz is truly awe-inspiring -- a fighter pilot in the Korean War, he swooped into enemy territory under intense, hostile fire to save the lives of 152 Marines and soldiers.

And then, 40 years later, his heroism finally appreciated by a grateful nation, a Medal of Honor is awarded by the president in the name of Congress, and the Menlo Park real estate executive is written up in the local weekly paper.

The only problem is that “this hero'' is a fake, and his medals were lie.

It’s a fabrication of war-story imagination by a man who let the farce drag on for years, deceiving his family, friends and even high-ranking military officers who warmly welcomed them to countless Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades.

Now, though, some real Medal of Honor recipients are going after the frauds and exposing them.

Fred Renz was sentenced after pleading guilty to unauthorized wearing of the medal, fined $2,500 and was given a year's probation and ordered him into drug, alcohol and psychiatric counseling.

After his prosecution and conviction Renz's said:

"I proclaimed I was a recipient based on my war record, but I admittedly wasn't. This is not me. Why oh why did I do this thing?''

To claim to be what you are not can be a crime. To claim to be God, if you are not, is blasphemy.

Before Abraham was, “I AM”!

49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

The glory that God seeks as Father is to honor the Son. This honor is pointed to as we heard last weekend by the Holy Spirit who is coequal with the father and the Son.

54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’

The glory that Jesus has is given because He is God in the flesh and truly worthy. Not a glory that Jesus gives himself but a glory that is bestowed because he is truly God.

The Athanasian Creed declares the truth of God as Trinity and the uniqueness of God in diversity of persons. God has come to stand in your place and you see the fullness of God in Christ Jesus who takes away your sin and the sins of the world. In Christ you have the fullness of God standing in your place and taking your sin upon himself, nailing it to the cross forever. In Christ the Father is well pleased and in Christ you are seen by the Father covered by Christ’s righteousness made possible by the working of the Holy Spirit who has created faith in you to believe and trust in Christ’s finished work.

This Memorial Day we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and also honor those who have served on our behalf. Their sacrifice is truly a gift that we all benefit from. It makes the sacrifice that Christ Jesus gave for the sins of the whole world all the more special because He did what could not have been by anyone in any other way.

Because of the Fathers sending, Jesus gave of Himself and we live in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit forever forgiven.

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