Monday, November 28, 2016

Sermon November 26-27, 2016

Title: Wake from sleep your salvation is here!
Text: Romans 13:11-14

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.

During the Revolutionary War, a loyalist spy appeared at the headquarters of Hessian commander Colonel Johann Rall, carrying an urgent message. General George Washington and his Continental army had secretly crossed the Delaware River that morning and were advancing on Trenton, New Jersey where the Hessians were encamped. The spy was denied an audience with the commander and instead wrote his message on a piece of paper. A porter took the note to the Hessian colonel, but because Rall was involved in a poker game he stuffed the unread note into his pocket. When the guards at the Hessian camp began firing their muskets in a futile attempt to stop Washington's army, Rall was still playing cards.

Without time to organize, the Hessian army was captured. The battle occurred the day after Christmas, 1776, giving the colonists a late present--their first major victory of the war. 

Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 21.

Colonel Johann Rall needed to be alert and wake from sleep! 

Today we begin the Advent Season. Advent in the church year refers to the four Sundays before Christmas which is a time of prayer and fasting as we prepare to welcome the Christ child.

Advent in the general sense means - coming into being. So as we wait for the coming into being of the God/man Jesus Christ we also prayerfully consider this a time to wake from sleep ourselves, recognizing the coming King and the salvation that he brings.

Some of us are morning people and some evening people. It depends at times on habits and needs which one you are … and that also can change. As a young adult I was an evening person. I worked as a guitar teacher and largely finished work teaching at 9:00 pm in the evening. Some days after work, I went to the bar to play with my band getting home very late at 3:00 am. It wasn’t out of the question to get home and unwind, having a meal or watching a bit of TV. One morning at 5:30 am as I watched TV oblivious to the time my dad came down to leave for work. “What are you doing up so early?” He asked. “I haven’t been to bed yet was my reply.” You probably can imagine the look I got from him.

On the other hand, today I would see myself as a morning person. Not 5:00 am morning but up early and getting about the work of the day and by 11.00 pm I’m ready to go to sleep and rest having worked a full day. 

Your schedule may vary. It might depend on age, life style, work, family, friends, or a number of issues. In years past even changing the service time on Sunday at Peace during the summer caused hardship to some members who couldn’t make the schedule work for them … hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock and going back to sleep.

The apostle calls us to wake: It’s time to get up!

11 … the time that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. Paul says: “It’s here!”

So what does Paul want you to see and why is now the time to wake?

In the Roman army the centurion’s staff quietly roused the soldiers with the day at hand. Sleep must leave them and rest turn to action. The beginning of the day meant armor, attention and duty and with this the Roman Empire was built in conquest of its enemies.

Lutheran study Bible pg. 1905

Paul calls believers to wake from sleep as well. We are called to get up! We are not to be lulled back into the slumbers of sin, death and the devil … no snooze button for the Christian. Get up and get ready for action!

For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

We can all be creatures of habit. We can all fall back into slothful ways. On that beautiful Friday only a little more than a week ago with 70 plus degrees … I bagged the rest of my leaves and cut the grass one last time mulching the remaining leaves as I went. Today you can still see the lawns of some homes filled with leaves that no rake has touched, no mower mulched or bagger has bagged. Some people feel I’m sure that it is God’s desire to blow those leaves from their yard to mine. I’m not buying it!

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.

As Christians we too need to be ready for action. Advent prepares us for the one who has already come as we look forward to celebrating the coming of the Christ child and his work on our behalf. But, also to be prepared for his promised glorious return.

We are bound to sin in this life by our sinful nature and we live as children of darkness sleeping the day away and leaving the leaves unraked if you will.

Luther says of natural sleep:

“The sleeper sees nothing about him; he is not sensitive to any of earth’s realities. In the midst of them he lies as one dead, useless; as without power or purpose. Though having life in himself he is practically dead to all outside. Moreover, his mind is occupied, not with realities, but with dreams, wherein he beholds mere images, vain forms, of the real; and he is foolish enough to think them true. But when he wakes, these illusions or dreams vanish. Then he begins to occupy himself with realities; phantoms are discarded.

But of Spiritual sleep he says:

“So it is in the spiritual life. The ungodly individual sleeps. He is in a sense dead in the sight of God. He does not recognize—is not sensitive to—the real spiritual blessings extended him through the Gospel; he regards them as valueless. For these blessings are only to be recognized by the believing heart; they are concealed from the natural man. The ungodly individual [the one falling victim to the lies of the devil] is occupied with temporal, transitory things, such as luxury and honor, which are to eternal life and joy as dream images are to flesh-and-blood creatures” 

Martin Luther, The Sermons of Martin Luther, vol 6 [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995], 11

Paul calls these temporal things orgies and drunkenness, sexual immorality and sensuality, quarreling and jealousy telling us that 12 the night is far gone; the day is at hand. So … cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Paul builds on this later in the Letter to the Ephesians in Chapter 6 calling us to put on the whole armor of God.

… fastening on the belt of truth, and the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 … taking up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and the helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

… and calls us all to do as the Season of Advent reminds us:

18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

The full armor of God is put on when you put on Christ. As st. Paul says:

14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

In him you have full protection. The one who comes in weakness and humility as a babe in the manger will come again in glory and power to judge the living and the dead. Through this time of Advent with prayer and fasting we daily remember that we have put on Christ in Baptism and that we never take him off. His armor is your armor; His forgiveness is your forgiveness; his peace is your peace; His Kingdom is your kingdom.

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


Sermon November 19-20, 2016

Title: True thanksgiving is in 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 the eyes of hope and faith 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 me, 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.


Sermon November 5-6, 2016

Title: You are blessed and have the Kingdom!
Text: Matt 5:1-12

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.

It’s almost over!

No, I’m not referencing the end of the Pentecost Season and the beginning of a new church year – though that is upon us. It is the election cycle which will culminate with our votes this Tuesday November 8th and the election of a new President.

I’ve almost finished reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, the first volume in a three volume biography by Edmund Morris of our 26th President. I am right at the point where Roosevelt – who is President of the New York Police Commission at this time – and is campaigning for William McKinley in hopes and ultimately being appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy in McKinley’s first administration. He only served one year as assistant Secretary. He then leads the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War, becomes Governor of New York, and then is tapped for Vice President in McKinley’s second administration which ultimately leads to his ascent to the Presidency.
What you may ask is the point of all this? Well, we don’t ultimately know how the Lord will work in and through our elected officials, but we do know that all things are under God’s control. So I would ask at this time that we pray the Lord’s blessing:

Heavenly Father, we lift our needs and the freedoms we enjoy in this country to your blessed care. Give us not what we deserve for abandoning you in so much of our personal and public witness, but give us leaders that are most beneficial for our needs as we look to your blessed and continued care. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

5 Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them … 

It is a very common thing as we read the scriptures to see Jesus as teacher. Here in our lesson he sits to teach those who will hear. The word of God in our text is spoken by Jesus. It is proclaimed to those saints … those followers of Jesus who had gathered to hear him.

In the same way God’s word comes to us who have gathered together to hear his word as it is read, sung and proclaimed in the Divine Service. As you go through the parts of the liturgy in setting one you’ll see a scripture citation for each part. This is true with all our services. The liturgy and our services are built on the very word of God.

As we celebrate All Saints Day this weekend we celebrate those saints who from their labors rest with our Lord Jesus, being brought to faith in this life through that same word of God we hear and by the same working of the Holy Spirit. 

This year I’m reminded of dear friends and former Peace members, Joan Kitzman, Hilda Klein, Ed Blasius, Betty Buchanan, and Roy Kusnereit among others, who this year went to be with our Lord.

They too heard the same word of God - first connected to the waters of Holy Baptism as they were washed clean and made God’s child, but also here at Peace proclaimed in word and song, binding them to Christ for forgiveness - just as you and I are also bound to him in the same way.

We are all indeed poor in spirit being brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin though we are blessed, rescue by another, and given the Kingdom of Heaven.

As we mourn their passing and the passing of all blessed loved ones who have died in the faith we are promised the Lord’s comfort. The blessing of comfort turns tears of sadness into tears of joy. We live a life on earth of mourning … both as sinner and saint … and at the same time dead in trespass and sin and alive in the Spirit. Our comfort is not in Country’s and Presidents but in a Kingdom given and received through the gracious and merciful hand of God.


On a visit to the Beethoven museum in Bonn Germany, a young American student became fascinated by the piano on which Beethoven had composed some of his greatest works. She asked the museum guard if she could play a few bars on it; she accompanied the request with a lavish tip, and the guard agreed. The girl went to the piano and tinkled out the opening of the Moonlight Sonata. As she was leaving she said to the guard, "I suppose all the great pianist who come here want to play on that piano."

The guard shook his head. "Padarewski [the famed Polish pianist] was here [once] and he said he wasn't worthy to touch it."

Source Unknown.

Meekness and humility are not part of our human condition tainted by sin. As we heard in the sermon for Reformation last week, true peace comes as it came to Martin Luther in the words of Romans 5:1

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

We inherit a new heaven and a new earth, Rev. 21:1 one without the taint of sin and death coming out of this life of tribulation having washed our robes white in the blood of the lamb. Rev. 7:14 Jesus, the true suffering servant who in true humility became man for us so that we might be satisfied. Though it is only through God’s working in us that we can hunger and thirst for righteousness. Left to our own evil desires … we only thirst for power, riches and the ways of the world.

It is very good news though that God is merciful. He gives us what we don’t deserve … Heaven and not what we do deserve … Hell. He sees you, his child, as you are in Christ.

Having been forgiven we too forgive. Having received mercy we also show mercy – these are fruits of faith.


The Pure of Heart shall see God. Bernard of Clairvaux in lamenting the loss of his brother he writes:
Through death’s jaws Gerard passed to his Fatherland safe and glad and exulting. When I reached his side, and he had finished the psalm, looking up to heaven, he said in a clear voice: “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” Then saying over again and again the word, “Father, Father,” he turned his joyful face to me and said: “What great kindness that God should be father to men! What glory for men to be sons of God and heirs of God!” So he rejoiced, till my grief was almost turned to a song of gladness.

Daily prayer Catechism The Lord will Answer CPH 2004 Pg. 428

God changes our hearts of stone to pure hearts so that we are blessed and see God through the eyes of faith. God makes us peacemakers as we are made his children called sons and daughters of God by his gracious and good work. Even through persecuted for righteousness’ sake, we received the blessed kingdom of heaven as a promise and a pledge through Christ’s merit.
It is through all these things that we can be and are truly blessed. As we will sing in verse 8 of For All the Saints:

From Earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost: Alleluia! Alleluia!

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