Saturday, April 25, 2020

Sermon April 26, 2020

Title: With burning hearts we tell others the Lord has risen!
Text: Luke 24:13-35

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32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem.

It is interesting to me how life has changed. Years ago, when I was young spending time with cousins and aunts that lived in other states was limited to a week or two vacation with the family and a trip to visit. There was then the longing and wishing that we could see each other more often. I tried writing letters and being a pen pal with a few cousins but it didn’t work for very long.

Today though, I’ve reconnected with cousins, and other relatives that live out of state. We do it through email but more and more frequently now through text, Facebook and messenger. That can be a very wonderful medium. It is nice to have instant connectivity with friends and loved ones. Much of what we do is to share memories, pictures and events in our lives and remember good times and celebrate special events like, graduations, weddings and retirements. Facebook provides a place to connect, reconnect and stay in touch. We even use this technology now to connect ourselves and services so we can stay in touch.

In the Gospel today we read of two followers of Jesus on the Emmaus Road.

15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself … came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

Remember this:

Now what they were discussing was the very hope they had … that this Jesus … was the promised Messiah. But, He had just been tried, and was crucified, dead and buried, and they heard something about being raised from the dead? They were distraught as they walked away from Jerusalem towards village of Emmaus, all hope seemed lost. If they had facebook you can imaging the their post of a sad death.

But they were kept from recognizing the resurrected Lord.

We all are kept from recognizing our Lord and savior too. It is only by a gift of God’s grace, through faith that we can see … who Jesus is and what he has done. It doesn’t come from our own reason and understanding, so that is why our children are taught from little children to hear God’s word and learn about Jesus and to be in worship … so they, like we, can recognize HIM!

It is also why the responsibility for their continued involvement in church is so important and is the responsibility of their … parents and grandparents, guardians and friends. So, they too can know Jesus.

John’s gospel tells us so.

3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

This Gospel truth gives faith to those who hear by the working of the Holy Spirit. This faith points back to Jesus, and tells us who he is as both God and man and what He came to do – for you and me. So that our eyes are opened and that we see and recognize Christ!

As the disciples continued walking:

25 Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Much like Jesus, those who bring God’s word to those who need to be taught, do the very same thing. They explain in the scriptures the work of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and how through the entire word of God, both Old and New Testaments, all that Jesus came to do.

Social media too is a way for the message to be shared both individually as Christians and by our church as we share our faith and proclaim God’s blessings in Christ. It is a way for the cloud of unbelief to be lifted by God’s word and working.

10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Cor. 10:1-4)

The reality of Jesus as both God and man is not one way of many ways to the Father, but he is THE only way. He is the way the trust and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus scripture teaches.

Social media is one place to shine the light of Christ in your life. When I worked in the piano business I had my Confirmation cross on my wall behind me as a silent witness to who I am and what I believe for all to see. It is important that we don’t hide who we are in Christ but share that truth in the way the Lord has given us. These live services give us also a way to proclaim who we are in Christ.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

Now pay close attention to this:

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

In communion we are fed in a miraculous way the same body and blood of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ when we receive the bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus and his forgiveness come to each of us through this same blessed gift and though we are confined at this time, we look to the joy of gathering and receiving - once again - this bread and wine along with the very body and blood of Jesus, for the forgiveness of our sins, and the strengthening of their faith.

32 They asked each other; “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

It is my hope and prayer that God by his grace will restore this sacrament to us all soon. But until that time may we all continue to grow in faith by the word proclaimed and the knowledge of being marked as his child in the waters of Holy Baptism, one faith, one hope, one Lord, one God and father of all. Eph 4:4-6

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sermon April 19, 2020

Title: In Christ’s wounds, peace is revealed!
Text: John 20:19-31

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26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

People refuse to believe that which they don't want to believe, in spite of evidence. When explorers first went to Australia they found a mammal which laid eggs; spent some time in water, some on land; had a broad, flat tail, webbed feet, and a bill similar to a duck. Upon their return to England, they told the populace of this, and all felt it was a hoax. They returned to Australia and found a pelt from this animal and took it back to England, but the people still felt it was a hoax. In spite of the evidence, they disbelieved because they didn't want to believe.

cf. J. McDowell, Answers to tough questions, under "miracles"

Apologetics, is the work of a Christian to defend what seems to some - especially those who don’t believe - as silly and not something one can prove in a reasonable way …
… that the evidence of a God who took on human form, died for the sins of the world by crucifixion and then rose from the dead three days later is just not believable.

Apologetics cannot prove that Jesus rose from the dead but it can help to show that what we as Christians believe as truth - is reasonable and trustworthy - and that a God who created a wonderful world and a humanity in his image … can also in love redeem those who have fallen into sin and have broken what God created perfect.

Richard Dawkins, an atheist, in a letter to his 10 year old daughter writes:

"And, how do we know that Earth is a small ball whirling round one of those stars, the sun?

The answer to these questions is "evidence." Sometimes evidence means actually seeing (or hearing, feeling, smelling ....) that something is true. Astronauts have traveled far enough from earth to see with their own eyes that it is round."

What I find interesting with this is that scripture knew and had made known what Dawkins needed astronauts to tell him.

In Isaiah 40:22 the prophet writes speaking of God:

22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; Isa 40:22

The word here proclaims what astronauts later confirmed by seeing. What I think Dawkins misses is that science has made wrong observations over the years that have had to be changed as new evidence became available.

Thomas in the Gospel reading too needed proof. He demanded evidence.

Many times doubt conflicts us all. We hear the word but find our own reason at war with God’s word. We hear about Easter and the resurrection and unbelief clouds our own understanding.

How can a dead man rise?
How does God take on flesh and become man … and why?
Some believe the flesh is bad and is the cause of all our problems?

Even Luther thought that if he beat into submission his own sinful flesh … hiding as it were in a monastery, that his sinful thoughts and actions could be controlled but he quickly found that his own sin went in to the monastery with him.

Many of those who come to church occasionally or only on the High Holy Days of Christmas and Easter … wrestle with unbelief.

They may say that their lack of attendance is not unbelief really, but only other pressing things in life that get in the way.

Some never come at all and are absent altogether … choosing to do something else or nothing rather than to get up and be fed on God’s word which is to give full acknowledgment that they really don’t believe or feel a need to hear God’s word.

How about you? Have you doubted God and His word? That question needs to be answered by us all … me included.

Our Gospel today gives one account:

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.

The Bible is silent on why Thomas wasn’t with them and if you remember the words of the angel that rolled the stone away from the tomb Easter morning when he said:

7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, (I’m assuming that this included Thomas too?) that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

So, it might have been just old fashioned unbelief and distress in this Jesus who Thomas had placed his trust and hope … who was given over to Pilate, crucified and killed … dead and buried that now when the other:

25 … disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Full unbelief there; No wavering on his part; this disciple of Jesus’ now cries out:


That is what Thomas wants, nothing more nothing less. So many in our day too just want the evidence, unless Jesus comes down to me and I can see, feel and taste … I won’t believe.

We all at times want to see the evidence. Those we love want to see it too. We want to touch the holes in His hands and put our hand in his side or we won’t believe. Some unfortunately die in their sin never coming to faith in the one who died in their place and then rose from the dead so that they too would rise.

But in spite and because of our sins:
In Christ’s wounds, peace is revealed!

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

Now, the irony here is amazing. Thomas, the one with unbelief, is now with those who have seen the risen Lord. They are all together and the doors are still locked! The other disciples have seen Jesus resurrected yet they also remember, very vividly the crucifixion, and all that may still come upon them. But in spite of the fear and unbelief, Jesus comes to them … in to this locked room of unbelief … and brings … peace.

Our Lord, through His word and sacraments, also comes to those who still live locked in unbelief.

By His Holy Spirit the lock of unbelief is opened and faith is given.

27 Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

The evidence is there and:

28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Christ, promises that His word will achieve all that he intends, as also was proclaimed by Peter in the book of Acts in chapter 2 verse 39:

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.”

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


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sermon April 12, 2020 Easter

Title: Christ is raised … so you too will rise!
Text: Matt. 28:1-10

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28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

Today we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ and His one life laid down for the many and raised up to the glory of the Father so that just as:

Christ is raised … so you too will rise!

2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

God’s word here gives a very wonderful description of what happened very early on that first day of the week, Sunday morning, as an angel of the Lord rolls away the stone … not as an aid to the resurrection but as a sign to the empty tomb and that Jesus had risen.

This angel rolled the stone away and used it for his own seat and such was his appearance that he appeared like lightening and as white as snow.

You can imagine the look on the guard’s faces that were placed there to make sure that the disciples didn’t come to steal the body of the Lord. At the sight of this angel they trembled and became as dead men out of fear. The evidence of who had been crucified, dead and buried and now raised from the dead was no longer in doubt and no more concern for those who were placed on guard.

As for the women … those faithful who came to contend with the Lord’s body the angle says:

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

For this is now a place where He, Jesus, had been laid in death and He is not there; No longer in the tomb … no longer dead … but alive!

Death … a part of life that we all have had some experience with … connects us too with the death of Christ. Even as little children we know death as a sign of fallen humanity. Whether it is the seasonal change and death in nature or family pets, the reality is there even if not realized with the loss of beloved relatives, siblings or parents and that reality becomes clearer as we get older.

Our own families become the evidence of this as we see those who sustained us through life, leave us, showing the reality of sin in their life and ours as they fall victim to the wages of sin. And these wages bring death, a death that is assured just as our crucified Lord who breathed His last was dead as He gave up the Spirit, commending his Spirit into the Father’s hands.

I have seen this reality with fellow believers and members of Christ’s body the church this Lenten season as well as they too breathed their last and gave up their spirit in this life.

The Rich’s the Tilley’s the Berlinger’s and the Deckard’s, all morning loved ones called away from the joys of this life and the ones that they loved.

How quickly it is that even one day can change our whole lives.

Those first disciples, those first followers of Jesus too felt loss. The one in whom they had placed their hope as the Messiah had been taken from them … and this loss brought confusion.

Was he too just a man?

Did he deceive all those who had placed their trust in him?
Did their hope too … die with him?
And what about our own hope?

As a pastor I get to preach at funerals and it is always a joy to remind those who are grieving and suffering loss that in Christ, death is not the end for we who cling to the blessed hope of Christ’s resurrection.

But, it is only a time of parting … for a while.

St Paul gives us the joyful hope in his epistle to the Romans in chapter 8 where he says:

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

7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Last Sunday Elizabeth and I were here at the church for Palm Sunday worship. As we prepared for the service, Elizabeth said to me, “This feels strange?” And so it did. We here – and you at your homes - Palm Sunday, was quite a bit different. But I saw Peace members online, and some or their relatives and friends …

I even saw my dear friend Mark and his friend Katie watching with us all the way from Green Bay, Wisconsin! What a joy.
Later that Sunday Mark called and we talked about the joy of worshiping together - even online - and the greater joy of being brothers and sisters in Christ together through the blessed gift of faith.

Earlier I said,

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

St Luke tells us in a parallel account:

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

… one day can change our whole lives …

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

Those blessed loved ones who just a few short weeks ago were here and struggling with their illnesses and consequences of sin are now resting in the arms of Jesus and the promise of an eternity with him.

You too, who trust in Christ, have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins - is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust. He has forgiven your sin and has called you to faith by the Gospel and through the power of the Holy Spirit, and has given you faith to believe in Christ’s saving work.

9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”


Christ is raised … so you too will rise!

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


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Sermon April 10, 2020 Good Friday

The Spirit Anointed Christ . . . to Proclaim the Jubilee!
Text: Isaiah 52:13-53:12

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4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Sermon April 9, 2020 Maundy Thursday

OT- Ex 24:3-11 Epistle-Heb. 9:11-22 Gospel-Matt 26:17-30
Title: The Spirit anointed Christ to bring forgiveness!
Text: Luke 4:18-19

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

Monday, April 6, 2020

Sermon April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday

Title: At the name of Jesus … death is overcome!
Text: Phil. 2:5-11

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9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

It was John Riskin who said, "I believe the first test of a truly great man is his humility. I do not mean by humility, doubt of his own power, or hesitation in speaking his opinion. But really great men have a ... feeling that the greatness is not in them but through them; that they could not do or be anything else than God made them." Andrew Murray said, "The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can bear to hear others praised while he is forgotten because ... he has received the spirit of Jesus, who pleased not Himself, and who sought not His own honor. Therefore, in putting on the Lord Jesus Christ he has put on the heart of compassion, kindness, meekness, longsuffering, and humility."

Today in the Word, August 5, 1993.

Paul begins his epistle to the Philippians:

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

This Palm Sunday we look at a different aspect of the triumphant entry of Jesus. That being His humility and emptying of Himself … becoming a servant … a suffering servant that our Old Testament Reading points to.

The Old Testament reading for today is one of the Servant Songs in Isaiah. It is the third Servant song and a testament to what awaits the Lord just a few days after His triumphant entry.

6I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting. Isa50:6

The Lord of all creation suffers, in humility, as a man cursed to bear the sins of the world. One who is despised and rejected and on whom the wrath of God is poured out.

It is here that the picture of the scourging, the striking of the Lord Jesus by those who would ultimately lead to His crucifixion. The pulling out of the beard which is a symbol of great disrespect and an insult (2 Sam 10:4-5) as also the slapping of the redeemers face (Mark 14:65).

The servant is faithful and listens to the voice of this loving God.

7But the Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame. Isa 50:7

In contrast to the rebellious people the servant listens to and does the will of His heavenly Father. The servant is abused but also sustained by the Sovereign Lord’s help just as Jesus would also be sustained in his passion at the cross.

Even this death will not bring disgrace to the servant who gives over his will, in humility to that of the sovereign Lord. The fear of the Lord and obedience to the word of the servant also connect the Father with the Son and salvation to those who fall away into a righteousness of their own making.

At the name of Jesus … even death is overcome!


M.R. De Haan used to say, "Humility is something we should constantly pray for, yet never thank God that we have."

The story of a truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.

The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. "It's perfectly all right, Madam," he replied. "Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a friend." She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.

Our Daily Bread.

The truth of this story is to never see oneself through the eyes of pride … but to see others through the eyes of Jesus … as precious Lambs of God worthy of redeeming.

But sin clouds our eyes at times. We turn away from the one in need. Feel bothered when someone needs help. Avoid a friend, because we know the problem and really have enough problems of our own. Don’t know what to say or how we can help.

Thankfully our Lord by His Spirit points to this Suffering Servant the God /man himself, Jesus Christ.

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil 5:6-8

This death he suffered … for you …

At the name of Jesus … death is overcome!

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Pete Maravich humbly receives Christ.

He was an NBA legend, NCAA scoring leader who averaged 44.2 pts. In 1970 he signed a 1.9 million contract and ultimately was inducted in NBA hall of fame. Yet he had nothing.

Pete’s soul sorrow gushed out, “God, I’ve punched you. I’ve kicked you. I’ve cursed you. I’ve used your name in vain. I’ve mocked you. I’ve embarrassed you. I’ve done all those things. Will you really forgive the things I’ve done?”

Four years of testimony reveal that Pete firmly believed that God spoke to him,  “I’ve got nowhere to go. If you don’t save me, I won’t last two more days.”

The weight of the world lifted from Pete’s heavy heart. He later said, “When I [received Christ], it was the first true happiness I ever had.” 

He spent his last years caring for his father and telling others about Jesus.

That should be how we all look at faith and what God has called us to do in and through our vocations. To live out our lives as followers of Jesus Christ as humble servants, in this world, and to reach those that we come in contact with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we know that even through our weak efforts God will use all things for the good, for those who are called according to His purpose, by His Spirit, to reach the lost and strengthen the saved.

11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. That is the mission.

Because: Jesus Christ has given us the heart of compassion, kindness, meekness, longsuffering, and humility."

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