Monday, September 30, 2013

Sermon Sept. 28-29, 2013

Title: Childlike faith in Christ is the true gift of eternity!
Text: Matt. 18:1-11

1At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Robert Fulghum wrote in the Kansas City Times, "Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

"These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody . . . When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. “This writer has captured part of what Jesus meant when he said, "Unless you become like little children, you won't enter the kingdom of heaven."

Hugh Duncan.

Now we all know that it is not the things we do in this life  that bring us to God and his salvation but only ...

Childlike faith in Christ that is the true gift of eternity!

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Is it human nature to want to know who is the greatest? Or, maybe you want to know your standing compared to your fellow man? At least you and I can be sure that it is a true sign of the motivation of the sinful nature. If you like me grew up or were around in the 1960s and 70s you remember Muhammad Ali or Cassius Clay as was his given name and his statement:

I am the greatest! He said this and then went about proving it on the word boxing stage. Today he is an old man that struggles with Parkinson’s disease and at 71 years of age is not a factor in boxing any more as a contender or any other sport for that matter that I’m aware of.

But the disciples come to Jesus with this question of “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

And our Lord answers in reply in a very visual way as He brings a small child and places this child in their midst.

2 … “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  It brings to mind our Children’s message time here at Peace and the looks, wonder, answers and faith that these children exhibit by God’s working in them. The weight of the world has not quite torn them down and replaced this childlike faith with the cynicism of the world and the reason that drives your lives and your motives at times.

Jesus continues:

4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, who was once asked if he ever encountered situations where he didn't know what to do, responded, "More than once, and whenever I could not see my way clearly, I knelt down and prayed to God for light and understanding."

Morse received many honors from his invention of the telegraph but felt undeserving: He said, “I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and He was pleased to reveal it to me."

Tim Hansel, Eating Problems for Breakfast, Word Publishing, 1988, pp. 33-34.

Jesus goes on to reveal the blessing and curse in his object lesson for the disciples and also your benefit.

5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, in other words, to receive theses precious gifts of God requires the same childlike faith that is given to you by the Holy Spirit. With this faith you are given access to the blessings of Christ and are connected to all that He has merited for you.

6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,

Wow! This takes on a whole different character doesn’t it? How do you cause one of these little one to sin? Are children ever drawn into an illicit activity? Are they ever used for illegal gain?

In one incident in Philadelphia from June of this year, Police are looking for a woman who used a young child to steal someone’s wallet inside a nail salon after the entire theft was caught on tape.

The surveillance video shows the victim getting a nail treatment with her purse on the ground next to her.  The suspect tells the child to slide the purse over to where she was sitting, and then she reaches into the pocketbook.

The video shows the child taking out a small wallet and handing it to the suspect. The child then slides the purse back over near the victim before the suspect and the child walk out of the store.

Police hope that the video will help to bring the woman to justice.

Jesus tells of the consequence of sin involving a child when He says: it would be better for him or in this case her to have a great millstone fastened around his/her neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

What about your child and mine? Having been given faith by the Holy Spirit in their baptisms, have they been nourished or have they been spiritually starved, left without the word of God to strengthen and build their faith? The truth is that sin can be committed; the sin of commission or it can be a result of things not done, the sin of omission. Teaching your child the ways of Christ and bringing them up, as Paul writes to the Ephesian Church in his letter when he says:

4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)

I take a special note that he writes to fathers because you and I as dads have a special responsibility and are also specially called and gifted by God to do what he calls us to do. Our Men’s Breakfast Bible Study group has found in our study the requirements and Godly blessings we are called to give and receive from the Lord.
Jesus calls out, “Woe to the world for temptation to sin!”  and we who are of the world to understand the consequence of sin and the temptation that leads up to it. Jesus knows that in the brokenness of this life you will have tribulation ... and having my dad’s surgery and cancer diagnosis come to light, in the last few weeks, I can attest to the struggles of this life. But Jesus says that:

… it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!

And He talks about some severe medicine:

8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

Sin leads to death but you, dear friends, have been given:

Childlike faith in Christ which is the true gift of eternity!

Jesus in talking to the disciple brings them comfort in the storms of life as He tells them to not despise one of these little ones, but welcome them and the faith that they posses by God’s Spirit in them.

Christ is speaking His truth, from His mouth, to the disciple’s ears. You too hear the word of Christ Jesus our Lord preached to you from this pulpit but it is still God’s word and it is still His comfort just the same.
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Rom 10:14)

Childlike faith in Christ is given by God to you and is the true gift of eternity!

For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Christ Jesus is the gift of life and the savior of the world. His virgin birth, sinless life, death in your place at the cross, burial and glorious resurrection and ascension to heaven above was accomplished just for you. This childlike faith is given by his glorious gospel bringing you to this childlike faith by God’s word and sacraments. Baptism is called the liquid gospel because it bring with God’s word of promised connected to this water life from death, connecting you to His life, death, burial and resurrection.

In Him the power of Satan is destroyed and you triumph over the devil with this same childlike faith given to you as a gift of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Childlike faith in Christ is forever and the true gift of eternity!

What you learned in kindergarten is important in how we deal with our fellow man but what you have been given in the gift of childlike faith from God in your baptisms, comes for many shortly after their own physical births, because it is God who give faith and calls you to believe and trust in Him and it is God who by the Holy Spirit working in you will keep you in that same faith unto life everlasting.

Childlike faith in Christ is the true gift of eternity!

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 Sept. 21-22, 2013

Title: The Lord gives true riches through faith in Him!
Text: Luke 16:1-15

13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

In his book: I Talk Back to the Devil, A.W. Tozer reminds us:

"Money often comes between men and God. Someone has said that you can take two small ten-cent pieces, just two dimes, and shut out the view of a panoramic landscape. Go to the mountains and just hold two coins closely in front of your eyes--the mountains are still there, but you cannot see them at all because there is a dime shutting off the vision in each eye."

It doesn't take large quantities of money to come between us and God; just a little, placed in the wrong position, will effectively obscure our view.

Cedric Gowler.

But, despite these problems:

The Lord gives true riches to you, through faith in Him!

In our lesson today, Jesus brings to the ears of the disciples, both the twelve and the other followers of Him who were listening, a parable or story which illustrates a point in Jesus’ teaching. The previous parables, from the weeks leading up to this, had been directed to the Pharisees, teachers of the law and the scribes and they, now as well, would be included in the hearing of this parable.

How do you deal with a bad manager? One who was clearly wasting the owner’s possessions?
2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’

It is not an uncommon situation for many who serve in positions of responsibility. As managers, in companies, they deal with others money and possessions and have a responsibility to deal in a favorable way with it or as the parable says … be replaced.

Or as my brother-n-law has said in speaking of a co-worker: “He would make a great manager, if under constant supervision.”

Much conniving and cooking of the books ensue in the Gospel reading.

4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’

Self preservation is a strong motivator.

5 So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’

The object of the manager was to meet either contingency that might occur. If his scheme would prove successful, the shortage would no longer exist, for the income would appear to have been much smaller than the lord thought. Should the plan be found out, the bills of money owed would legally stand, and the debtors would show their gratitude by providing for him. It has even been suggested that the manager had falsified the amounts in the bills of indebtedness originally and pocketed the surplus, and was now returning to the original correct figures. This is not out of the realm of possibilities. At any rate, it was a clever scheme.

Popular Commentary on the Bible P.E. Kretzmann Pg. 354

8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

Even the master, when he received information concerning this latest trick of the steward, could not withhold a certain amount of praise. He praised him, not on account of his unfaithfulness and his fraud, but on account of the cleverness in handling the situation and getting himself out of a very unpleasant predicament.

Popular Commentary on the Bible P.E. Kretzmann Pg. 354

All of life has consequences, some that are good and some that are bad but again:

The Lord gives true riches through faith in Him!

Albert Lowry set out to prove that it was easy to get rich quick in real estate with no money down--and he did just that. Not surprisingly, his book, How You Can Become Financially Independent by Investing in Real Estate, was a bestseller. Money magazine, in a cover story, estimated Lowry's net worth at $30 million and called him a "real estate wizard." But something went wrong, and 5 years into his venture, the Success development Institute, which promoted Lowry's theories, collapsed with $2.5 million in debts. It was reported that Lowry's assets were being liquidated in Los Angeles under Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy code.

Today in the Word, November 22, 1991.

There was a saying that was said to me by my boss many years ago when I worked in his business, “Money easily gotten is money easily lost.”

Some years ago there was a book on the market called Rich Dad, Poor Dad and it was written by a man, Robert Kiyosaki, who had learned the secrets of making money in real estate from his friend’s dad verses the things he learned from his own dad who went to work and lived a very common middle class existence.
Fast forward to August of 2012 and Rich Global LLC is bankrupt owing 24 million to one investor, though Kiyosaki remains quite wealthy through some very questionable practices.

And though working for things that perish in this life has limited reward:

The Lord gives true riches through faith in Him!

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?

Now, one evidence of the wisdom of the children of the world consists in this, that they make provision for the future, that they make all their business ventures serve this end. To put themselves and their families beyond care as soon as possible is their object, and therefore they make use of every possible advantage to attain to this end.

God’s children, on the other hand, are often anything but energetic and diligent in the things that pertain to God and His kingdom. They forget, that the end is coming, that they will have to give an account to the Lord in regard to their business transactions for Him – in this life.

Jesus here admonishes them that they should so conduct their lives affairs, and principally those that concern temporal goods, wealth and money in general, like the manager, shall make friends with the goods, with the money entrusted to them. Christians will use their money in the interest of the kingdom of God, in establishing and extending the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world. And wherever they can, they will be actively interested in true charity in all its phases. In this way the poor congregations, those outside the Christian faith, and others that receive the benefit of such investments, and the poor and suffering of the household of faith, will be under obligations to them.


12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

The Lord gives true riches through faith in Him!

The truth is that money is needed and needs to be used wisely. To have money can be a blessing. As was said by a pastor once, “The only money that truly matters to God is money that is used in service to Him and His Kingdom.”

And the true blessing and gift that God gives you and me is faith in His son. He has given you life through the death of His son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to live suffer and die for you and for me. This motivates service to our neighbor, not by works of righteousness that we do, but by the true joy in Him, 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.

The Lord gives true riches through faith in Him!

The truth is that money like those dimes, which appear so small in the hand can in the right place block out God and his blessed gifts found only in Christ given and shed for you. This is the joy as managers of what has given we can joy in the faith we are given as children of God and know that all falls under His control those he uses you as his hands in the world as was said in a previous sermon this past summer.

You are rich and truly bless because God has given you riches in Him and they will surpass and far exceed those promised by the world.

The Lord gives true riches through faith in Him!

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

Sermon Sept. 14-15, 2013

Title: Jesus came for sinners and He has found you!
Text Luke 15:1-10

5 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

When the Squalus crew realized they had taken their last dive and that they were lying helpless at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean 240 feet below the surface, they sent up smoke flares and a buoy. Would one of the sister ships find them, and if so could they be rescued? Their help must come from above, and in agonizing silence they waited.

Within an hour after that fatal dive the submarine Sculpin set out in search. In a few hours the red smudge was found, then the buoy. But 24 hours passed before actual rescue work could be started. A giant 10-ton diving bell dipped and rose again and again, each time taking several men alive from those awful depths, until all 33 men who were alive in the submarine had been rescued.

When that huge diving bell came for the Squalus crew not one sailor refused to be rescued, but all gladly accepted the way to safety. Will you not today accept God's way of salvation for you?

—Good News Tract.

Jesus came for sinners and joy in the good news that He has found you!

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
The charge against Jesus has always been harsh. “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” How might that reflect on you and me and those with whom we associate? Are you accused of being like those with whom you associate?

Interesting, is it not? Jesus came for sinners and that very fact has the Pharisees and scribes grumbling.

Years ago in the distant eons of the 1970s I was playing at a club and a young Priest came with a friend of mine to hear us play. As we talked during a break he remarked, “I wonder what my parish would think of me hanging out in a bar and listening to a rock band.” And then he said, “It is probably the place I should be and the place I could do the most good.”

When you think about it … where did Jesus spend most of his time? And who did he spend that time with? For sure He was among the people, but here and in many other places in scripture He was with the Pharisees, rulers, scribes and the Jewish leaders teaching … and rebuking … and calling.

What does that say about sinners? They’re everywhere; in the church and out of the church. Those who are piously leading religious lives … or so the impression seems and those who are far away from God … at a bar … hanging out … or so the impression seems.

For Jesus and in His day the perceptions were the same. Some who seemed religious were not and those who were seen as sinners, as in the stories of tax collectors and adulterers, were those God called to faith and used as witnesses to the working of God, through the word, in their lives by His Spirit.

The joy is that there was a purpose for Christ’s coming and that is that:
Jesus came for sinners and He has found you!

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

She was a young woman. She loved her husband. He died. She was lonely and distraught. She hired an airplane and placed in the fuel tank enough gasoline to take her far into the air and to sea. When the gas was consumed she would plunge into the sea and that would end her sad and lonely life. No one could trace her or find her. This must not be called suicide—this she insisted. It was just her way out; it was her exit. The newspapers and columnists com-mented on this tragic flight into what they called the "unknown." But there is no "unknown" to God, to whom all things are known (Psa. 139:7-12) Her body is in the sea, but this does not mean extinction, for the sea will give up its dead (Rev. 20:13). This woman who flew to the sea by way of the air did not find her husband.

—The Wonderful Word.

On the other hand, Jesus came for you, the one lost sheep just as each one of us are lost at birth. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those that were lost.” (Luke 19:10) What the sinners need is Jesus Christ and His Word and Spirit in their lives; all else is hopeless.

Jesus came for sinners and He has found you!

5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

The place of strength … the high Priest’s shoulders is where the sheep is carried. In the Old Testament there is example of the making of the Ephod, which was an article of clothing worn by the High Priest of Israel:

6 “And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked. 7 It shall have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together …

 9 You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth …

12 And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for remembrance.  (Ex. 28:6-7, 9-10,12)

Jesus carries the lost sheep that have been found upon his shoulders we find as the parable continues.

6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The joy of the Good Shepherd is you!

Jesus came for sinners and He came for you!

The joy for sinners is that you are not so lost that Jesus can’t find you. As He says in the parable of the lost coin:

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, Greek - ten drachmas; a drachma was a Greek coin approximately equal in value to a Roman denarius, worth about a day's wage for a laborer if she loses one coin, the lost sheep or you does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? Jesus Christ by the working of His Holt Spirit will continue to seek you. 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’

It is a joy to find what was important that was lost because as has been said:

Objects are lost because people look where they are not instead of where they are.  Or, as might be said:
People are lost because we preach the gospel where they are not instead of where they are. 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Jesus rejoices over sinners and He rejoices over you!

So just as our lesson began today:

5 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Joy in the good news that Jesus is willing and able to meet sinners – you and me - where we are. He comes to you through the word preached and through the sacraments rightly administered and that is exceedingly good and blessed news. But He also is with you when the gospel of promise is used by you to reach those friends or strangers as a comforting balm for the hurting and sinfulness of this life … that breaks us and others … saying that the only way out is death and despair. The comfort of the gospel is there too because Jesus is the Gospel. He is the Good News. He is the comfort, and He is the Peace.

He will find the lost because He will never stop seeking you and those who need to hear this blessed joy that:
 Christ came for sinners, and you dear friends … are found!

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


Monday, September 9, 2013

Sermon Sept. 7-8, 2013

Title: Christ kills sin and gives life in Him!
Text: Deut. 30:15-20

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.

19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

It has been said that the tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.

Richard L. Evans, Bits & Pieces, March 4, 1993, p. 2.

The truth is that we can do nothing to begin our life as God’s children but that God has called us by the Gospel, through word and sacrament, enlightened us with His gifts, creating faith in us to believe, and through this faith we trust in Him, who is and was and is to come … our Lord Jesus Christ:

Kills sin and gives life in Him!

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

In our Old Testament lesson today we hear the very familiar call.

... choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

The idea of choosing sounds good to we who, living in a democratic society, get to choose quite a lot of things. We can choose where we live in the country, what career we might wish to go into and whom we marry. The call of … choose life … is often confused in the life of a Christian and applied to the work of evangelism as though we can choose  to believe just as we can choose to be born.

The gift of life is both given in our natural birth as well as the gift of faith is given in our spiritual birth from a God who came to redeem those who were unable to redeem themselves and that is why the text here today is a good one for us to understand and rejoice in.

The call of God in this text is not to the world but to God’s people Israel. Those chosen children of Abraham whom Moses had given God’s Law written on the tablets of stone by the finger of God, were called by Him to choose to stay in the relationship with Him apart from falling away into sin, false gods and idol worship. This keeping of God’s commandments, statutes and rules would bring God’s blessing as they entered into the land that He was giving them to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.

What is given you by God in your call to faith is Life and blessing, the very same gift given to those hearers in our Old Testament lesson for today. But were they to fall away, just as some among us unfortunately fall away from the faith, what they would receive as a consequence of their actions would be only death and curse.

With God is Life and blessing apart from God is death and curse. The true nature of being born in sin is death but our Lord and Savior:

Jesus Christ kills sin and gives you life in Him!

How about you, how about me, how about our time in this life together? Does this call of God hit home for you?


It does and it did for me here at church Wednesday morning. Vandalism of God’s house is no joy. It leaves you sick in your stomach for both what is done and also for those who did it.  I arrived to the church at around 9:15 and as I got out of my truck I noticed black paint over the backside of the paper recycling bin with pictures and words of a sad and juvenile variety. I thought, “So this is what life has come to in Waterford, where a recycling bin is even defaced?" As I walked up to the church, spray painted in large letters was (blank) God. I'll let you fill in the blank. It covered most of the door. The attack was on the church, and the recycling bin was on church property and therefore part of the church. It broke my heart, not for the church and not for the doors as the church does not exist because of doors or buildings but for the lost who Christ calls to Himself. In the afternoon I went to Lowes and bought some paint thinner that was of the weakest variety I could find in hope of cleaning off the paint but knowing that the one who did this is angry and crying out for help, a help that is waiting in the loving arms of Jesus. We can clean up the mess and take proper action in the hope of keeping ourselves and the church property protected, but only God can clean the human heart of sin, hate and destruction. The death and curse of the human heart apart from God both kills the soul of the person clinging to sin but it touches and affects us all – seen this week in a real and unfortunately tangible way.


Former member and Pastor of Lutheran Church of Christ the King, in Duluth Minnesota, John Wurst, just had the sad duty of seeing his church close after nearly 60 years of service to God’s people. As Pastor Wurst said in speaking with a reporter about the closing … “This building here it can't save us!"  He pointed out that the loss of young families, who have moved away in the hope of finding work and those young people who have chosen to stay home rather than come to church are a large reason his church and many small churches are closing or could close in the future. The vandalism of our church and others is a cry for help and we dear friends have much work to do. Not only to show the love of Christ but to show that we, as His followers are truly loving, and wish to be a beacon of hope for the lost and that true and lasting hope is found only in our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and His gifts of word and sacrament. That is the true gift and something that we can all celebrate and share!

So vandalism, church closings, and the like are a result of sin and though it hurts and it stings when it happens to you as happened last Wednesday, God and His saving gospel will keep you in the blessed faith unto life everlasting in spite of the sickness of this life, corrupted and covered by sin.

Christ kills sin and gives new life in Him!

20 loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him,

Is the call that you and I are called to. It is the call that Janice Gallipo was called to in her service to the Lord. And we celebrate today, her service here at Peace and joy with her in her retirement. 40 years is a long time and no easy task. It takes hard work, talent and surely the Lord’s blessings. Jan had plenty of that and gave of herself to the Lord … but to each one of us here as well. Whether serving as organist or choir director, financial secretary or lay reader and I’m sure at many other service positions and functions here at Peace, we, God’s people gathered here at Peace, thank you! Our Lord and savior Jesus thanks you; because, as one of His children you have chosen life, and received both life and blessing, in Him. Well done good and faithful servant!

… or he is your life and length of days that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

That is the gift that He gives all His children that stay connected to Him. You are His and the Lord blesses you, giving life and peace to you in him.

Christ kills sin and gives life in Him!

As we celebrate Jan’s retirement, and another Rally Day here at Peace Lutheran Church of Waterford, celebrating our 50th year of service to Jesus and His gospel, we call all who have heard that gospel message to choose life! Because Christ has chosen you and He desires to keep you in the palm of His hand never to let you fall:

God Himself will keep you from stumbling and it is God Himself who will present you blameless when you enter into the presence of his glory. This, dear friends will bring you comfort and great joy, 25 because the only true God, who also is our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ himself, has called you by the gospel and given you, His gifts, so that you have received His glory, and are covered by His righteousness, through His majesty, dominion, and authority, not for only now, but before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)

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


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sermon Aug 31-Sept 1, 2013

Title: In Christ your sin is covered and you are exalted!
Text: Luke 14:1-14

10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Anyone who travels to Edinburgh, Scotland will find Edinburgh castle a tower of seemingly insurmountable strength. But the truth is that the castle was once actually captured. The fortress had an obvious weak spot which defenders guarded--but because another spot was apparently protected by its steepness and impregnability, no sentries were ever posted there. At an opportune time, an attacking army sent a small band up that unguarded slope and surprised the garrison into surrender. Where the castle was strong, there it was weak.

Today in the Word, Feb 89, p. 36.

Humility, or pride and arrogance can drive the decisions that you make and though sin can cause you to try at times to reach places of honor for yourselves in this life. You can be comforted that:

In Christ your sin is covered and you are exalted!

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,


Saturday night the 17th of August, Monica and I attended a wedding. It was for a young lady that had been in Monica’s Girl Scout Troop. There was beautiful weather and the wedding was outside in a nicely set up garden area with the reception afterward in the hall, decorated with linen and the finest food that you might expect - in this particular price range. It was a beautiful wedding!

As we entered the hall with tables throughout … we noticed a table with our name and a little heart symbol. As we walked through the hall we found our table, in the back and off to the left of the head table. And as you might expect, it wasn't the table of honor. That was reserved for the wedding party and the ones closest were reserved for the parents of the bride and groom, relatives and close friends. Monica and I and her friends Lori and Sheila were friends ... but not elevated to the level of family or very close and dear friends.

Had the table seating designations not been clearly visible, you can imagine just how confusing the seating might have been. Possibly even coming to us and asking if we could move to the back corner so that the bride’s parents and relatives could take the seats closer to the main table.

In our lesson today, Jesus was in the house of a Pharisee.

And as a guest Jesus had noticed just how those who had been invited, Pharisees and lawyers, were looking to have the seats of honor at this dinner. Ordinary, feasts of the Jews were usually attended to in a more casual and informal manner, but with this diner and in the wedding feast of Christ’s illustration, rank and status among the guests was important.

… do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, Jesus says.

I always found the irony in Jesus statement here, as an invited guest to this diner, as the only begotten Son the God … who could be more distinguished?  Here, God in the flesh is among them, but as was read earlier in the Gospel, the ruler of the Pharisees and the lawyers who were in attendance had another agenda.

There just so happened to be a man with dropsy in attendance at this diner. Now, I looked up this medical condition reference and dropsy could be understood as the equivalent of congestive heart failure today.

We've all seen this condition in many of our friends, neighbors and relatives and Jesus, knowing the Law better than the Pharisees and lawyers, knows that it is quite alright to show acts of mercy on the Sabbath, so He heals the man, saying to those whose intent was to trap Him as a violator of the Law:

“Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?”

6 And to this question, they could not reply to these things.

So the intent of their false feast is crushed by Christ’s healing of the man with dropsy, but He doesn't stop there. He now points out the true arrogant nature of their sitting in the place of honor when one truly more distinguished than they … has been invited … and is now sitting among them.

The arrogant sinner will stand before the throne of grace covered in their own righteousness but:
 In Christ your sin is covered and you are exalted!

You too exalt yourself at times; taking too much credit for things you’ve done in the world or in the church. You do … and I do. The sinner always minimizes sin and exaggerates virtue. It’s what sinners do. The sinner sees the sin of others clearly … in view … with no distractions. But, their own sin remains masked in a veil of acceptance, false piety - which is nothing more than the quality of being religious or reverent - or indifference.


This past week, if you are unaware, it was MTV, their music awards and Miley Cyrus who captured the headlines. I didn’t see the show or her and really don’t care to. But I’ve been overwhelmed by the news of it on line, on facebook and through blogs and the like. It seems that she did something offensive to some or many depending on your perspective – a visual adaptation of a song of hers that is currently sitting at no. 3 on the Billboard charts. That means that it has been heard, seen and bought by quite a few; namely young, underage easily influenced girls and boys to young men who like seeing girls like Miley degrade themselves in this way with suggestive acts because it feeds some fantasy of their own, I guess.

The bloggers were ripe and all over this. As one mom blogger wrote:

Yes, this is what happens when you constantly hear everything you do is awesome. This is what happens when people fawn over your every Tweet and Instagram photo. This is what happens when no responsible adult has ever said the word “no,” made you change your clothes before leaving the house, or never spanked your butt for deliberate defiance.

To another blogger who wrote:

“Ms. Miley paraded around on stage in a skimpy outfit, babbled a bunch of inane lyrics, sang off key, touched herself suggestively, gyrated in front of the crowd … with some of the other performers. In other words, it was a pretty routine evening of cable TV programming. It’s not that I don’t find her behavior offensive and crass (he says) — I do, very much so — it’s just that I’m always a little surprised by the folks who seem to be only selectively opposed to the moral decay of our culture. I’ve seen outraged parents on Twitter and Facebook swear that they “won’t allow their daughters to listen to Miley Cyrus anymore”.
Anymore? (He continues)

You do realize that little display last night was an accurate portrayal of the CONTENT of the actual song? … So you let your daughter listen to music that actively encourages her to … do these things, you just won’t let her see the visual?

He goes on to say:

I don’t think she should see it, either. But maybe we ought to think about the consequences of having that messaged hammered into our children’s brains every day, all day —

So, the point is … that we, you and I, when we let sin deceive us, place our desire to not recognize sin for what it is, over and above God’s word … well, we just elevated sin to a place of honor, when someone more distinguished – the living, active and incarnate Word of God Himself, is among us and in us.

11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The truth of sin taking a place of honor in your life is nothing new. Luther called it the Bondage of the Will. That our will in and of itself is bound to sin and that is all it can do, but thanks be to God that because you have been raised to newness of life by God the Holy Spirit, there is truly Good News that:

In Christ your sin is covered and you – dear friends - are exalted!

So, Jesus goes up to the host, the ruler of the Pharisees, who had invited him and He says:

12 “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Those who Christ came to redeem are the poor sinners, crippled from birth and lame, blind to God’s saving work in Christ if not drawn to believe through the invitation and working of God the Holy Spirit in them by faith.

You too, dear friends, have received this blessed invitation to His banquet feast and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb by faith. And today, you will receive a foretaste of this feast when you receive Christ’s true body and blood in the blessed table of the Lord, the Sacrament of the Altar – given and shed for you! It matters not which seat at the table you occupy because the host of this feast comes to where you are – bodily – in, with and under the bread and wine so that you truly receive Him, who is and was and is to come, in a real and tangible way – for the forgiveness of all your sins. Even though these sins, sill at times work havoc in our lives, they are forgiven as far as east is from the west … not to be remembered by the Father ever again.

In Christ … your sin is removed and you are forever exalted in Him!

Though, like the Edinburgh castle in Scotland … that had good defenses all around … its greatest defense was left unprotected and proved to be their downfall. You have a defense and a protection that will never fail because it is God Himself, not you, who will protect you because He came to live, suffer and die for each one of you and as a result you are his, the table is set, and you are invited, in fact you have already received all that is promised … rejoice!

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