Monday, September 28, 2020

Sermon Sept. 26-27, 2020

Title: The authority is Christ’s given for you!
Text: Matthew 21:23-27

Facebook live: The authority is Christ's given for you!

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to [Jesus] as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”

Who gave you this authority? This is the questioned asked of Jesus.

By what authority are you doing these things?

Authority has to come from some place.

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Rom. 13:1

God rules his church and has given the church the authority to call pastors to preach and teach his word and to administer his gifts. We cannot claim this authority by ourselves but it is given by God through the working of the Holy Spirit sent on the Day of Pentecost through the church.

Authority is given to the church by God in this Kingdom of grace. But, God also works in the Kingdom of the world, through his authority, given to governments and elected officials, and in Luther’s day, through princes, emperors and magistrates to keep the peace and care for the people.

In 1981, 69 days into his presidency Ronald Reagan was shot.

In the aftermath and confusion there was a famous miscalculation by Alexander Haig, Reagan’s Secretary of State. He claimed, wrongly that – he was in charge of the government. Maybe it was just the inclination of a former general who had once been in charge, or as has been suggested, there was much jockeying for power between those in the cabinet. To this Defense Secretary, Casper Weinberger said: “He’s wrong! He doesn’t have such authority,” President Reagan eventually signed over authority to George Bush his vice President, because he had the authority to do so.

During this pandemic year there have also been quite a few times when authority has been questioned. Who has the authority and power? The Governor or the Legislature; the States or the Federal Government; the courts that determine or the people that elect?

At times power is claimed.

And other times power is questioned.

Jesus replies to the question of his authority with a question of his own because He knows from where His authority comes.

24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come?

From heaven or from man?”

This gets to the chief priests and elders as they know …
“If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

A least Secretary Alexander Haig was man enough to take a stand in time of crisis even if he was wrong and misguided, while the chief priests and elders both show their fear of Jesus and the crowds.

Jesus has authority and Jesus gives authority.

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee … 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:16-20

Jesus gave authority to the disciples who would build the church through Christ’s means of word and sacrament.

Article VII: Of the Augsburg Confession, concerning the Church says:

1] Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

2] And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and 3] the administration of the Sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions, such as, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. 4] As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5-6.

But where is the church?

Is it in a boat on a lake communing with nature and thinking about God and his majesty? No.

Is it in the better home and living provided for the family? No.

Is it where the children want to go because they have fun and feel welcome? No.

It is where Christ is and where his gifts are and where forgiveness of sins is found in His name. Yes!

It is here … at Peace Lutheran Church and countless churches around the world where the gospel is preached and the sacraments are rightly administered according to Christ’s institution.

As both saint and sinner the devil is quick to point our reason and understanding to other things. Yes, the sporting events are back, and school has resumed and many other activities we enjoy can distract us from the one thing needful and that is the hearing of God’s word and receiving of his gifts.

Even the turmoil of Covid 19 and the political battles that rage, which bringing joy or fear for us in one outcome or the other, cannot comfort us with the blessings the church gives in Christ’s forgiveness and gifts.

God works through these means of grace, in word and sacrament to bring about his will. It is he who has the authority to forgive and retain sins and it is given to His church on earth for your benefit.

Our epistle reading gives us this charge:

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Phil 2:1-2

Friends, just like Saint Paul, you too have received your forgiveness from the one who has authority to forgive, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Sermon Sept. 12-13, 2020

Title: Forgiveness and mercy is Jesus!
Text: Matt. 18:21-35

Facebook Live: Forgiveness and mercy is Jesus! 

21 Peter came up and said to [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

You remember the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens, A Christmas Carol? He was a man of means and one who held onto what he had in this life with little or no love for those around him. He had no interest in Christmas, Bah Humbug! and were it not for the visits of the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas yet to come he would have remained in his state of miserly misery until death closed his dark eyes and he returned - in the sleep of death - to the earth awaiting the final yet to come visit without hope, without peace and without comfort in his life.

We too are all born Scrooge like in our sinful state and destined to die with the idols we cling to in this life left behind for others, while we await the judgment to come.

But in the Christ of Christmas, there is a marvelous change that takes place whereby we are made new and hope, peace and comfort are given freely in an eternity yet to come - that never ends.

“That is the mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: Luther writes, wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied Himself of His righteousness that He might clothe us with it, and fill us with it.

And He has taken our evils upon Himself that He might deliver us from them [and] in the same manner as He grieved and suffered in our sins … we rejoice and glory in His righteousness.”

–Martin Luther, Werke (Weimar, 1883), 5: 608.

In the gospel reading for today Peter asks Jesus a probing question.

“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”

It’s easy to see that Peter believes himself to be quite generous in his view of forgiveness. Maybe even thinking that at some point certainly after seven times, I’ll be able to justly not forgive my brother and end this nonsense.

To this Jesus replies:

“I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

It is not the Lord’s intent to show a definite number of times where forgiveness is to be delivered but that for God’s people who have been forgiven by grace, may understand that the content of their hearts should contain … only God given love and forgiveness.

But for we who are Christians, saved by the mercy and grace of our Lord, we live daily within that tension of being both saint and sinner. Both, brought forth in iniquity, and conceived in sin as Psalm 51:5 reminds us, yet justified by faith, receiving God’s peace through Christ’s work by the power of the Holy Spirit as St. Paul writes in Romans 5:1.

We have received in essence, the favor of God on account of Christ through this blessed exchange, our sin … for Christ’s righteousness.

“The idea is not simply that we have been forgiven, and therefore ought to forgive [others], but that God Himself, in Christ, has forgiven us, and therefore our debt is truly incalculable.

No matter how much has been done against us, it is little compared with the offense we have thrown in the face of our Lord.

Take for example the parable our Lord tells today in the Gospel:

The servant owes his master 10,000 talents.
This is a large sum.

1 denarii = a day’s wage
1 Talent = a hundred days wages
10,000 Talents = you are in big trouble!

For you and me when we think of billion dollars. It is a bit beyond comprehension.

$100, 1000, 100,000, 1,000,000, 100,000,000, 1,000,000,000, it’s beyond what we can even think or imagine in reality … the sum is that great.

Now, you are called in to the King and he gives you your debt. Let’s say it is $100,000,000. What do you do? If you are like me, you can’t pay. Even if you sell everything you have at the best possible price, your home, your stuff, and at the most favorable time and price you can’t even cover 1/100 of the debt.

So you go to the King, which in our case might be the IRS – it’s a joke - and you say as you fall on your knees:

“have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.”

You know you can’t … and you’re just pleading for mercy.

And this is the part of the story that won’t pertain to you or me,

27 And out of pity for him [the IRS] released him and forgave him the debt.

But Jesus says, in light of the great debt and the Lord’s great mercy, you and me and the servant in the parable are forgiven!

If we know anything of [our own] forgiveness, if we have glimpsed anything of the magnitude of [our own sin] and the debt we owe to God … our forgiveness of others will not seem to be such a large leap.”

–D.A. Carson, Love in Hard Places (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002), 80-1.

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God. … not even one.” Rom.3

The truth is that as sinners we have a very high view of self and a very low of sin. To that end, the indebtedness that we owe to Christ for our rescue is devalued and you either see your sin as really not all that bad or Christ’s forgiveness and rescue as really not all that good or necessary.

The servant in the parable’s joy didn’t last very long.

When he was confronted with a fellow servant who owed him 1/10,000 of the debt he himself had owed and had just been forgiven of, he showed no mercy to him and had him put in prison until he could pay.

What should he have done?

Well, he should have forgiven the debt, bought him the big Christmas Turkey in the window, picked Tiny Tim up in his arms and proclaimed,

“God bless us, everyone!”

As sinners, we too can be Scrooge like with grace. We expect it for our own wrongs but are stingy and hell bent at times when doling it out.

But, apart from God’s action and working, every one of us would remain, dead in trespass and sin. And like Lazarus who was unable to free himself from the bonds of sin, death, and the tomb, wrapped in grave cloths and dead until the voice of Jesus called, “Lazarus, come out!”
We too would remain entombed in our own sin, dead to God, forever separated from the love of Christ found only in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christ’s mercy for we who deserve death is a nothing but pure gift.

Even one sin would separate us from the love of God in Christ, not to mention the 10,000 talents, worth of sins and more that we have been forgiven of!

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,

This 5th petition in the Lord’s Prayer has real significance for you and me in how we see sin - our sin - and how we see the Lord’s forgiveness and grace.

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

God bountiful mercy is given us for the sake of Jesus, who paid the debt of our sin.
He has [freed] us from the imprisonment we deserve and has forgiven the debt.
Therefore, we have the obligation of gratitude resting upon us that we gladly forgive our fellow-men what they have sinned against us.
Even if such a [sin] great in the sight of men, it cannot come into consideration in comparison with the debt which God has mercifully forgiven [you and me].

Luther – Kretzmann NT pg. 103

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

You have been set free from eternal death may the love of Christ live freely in each one of us.

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


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Sermon Sept. 5-6, 2020

Title: Be childlike in faith and love!
Matt. 18:1-20

Facebook Live: Be childlike in faith and love! 

18 At 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.”

Last year after I finished one of our Sunday services, I was standing in the Narthex greeting the people by the door as they came out of church. It was a time of joy and laughter, hugs and handshakes as was the norm for that time. As I stood there, little four year old Atarra Rich walked out, looked at me, waved and said, “Hi Jesus!”

It’s funny. I laughed as did those who heard it. But in reality Atarra didn’t see me - Russ or even Pastor Tkac. In the robe and stole she saw the one called to be Christ’s under shepherd, here at Peace. She saw Jesus and heard his word proclaimed. Though she might have not heard and understood all that was proclaimed. God, by the working of his Spirit as one baptized and marked as God’s redeemed, she recognized Jesus by faith.

Today in our lesson we learn of this faith and that to be a true Disciples of Christ one must first:

Be childlike in faith and love!

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

Last week we talked about being a disciple of Jesus and picking up our crosses to follow Him. The bearing of one’s cross can in this life lead to death, or as Jesus said:

“… whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

But, the disciples start talking among themselves wondering who, among them, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? The work of Satan and their own sinful pride were at work as well as the pride of life. Though they had been discussing this privately Jesus knew what had been going on and in the gospel of St. Mark asks them specifically in chapter 9:

“What were you discussing on the way?” Mark 9:33b

So, Jesus, as has been his way teaches again the disciples an important lesson. He calls a little child to himself so as to illustrate the point in a very tangible way. St. Mark goes on to say that Jesus took the child in His arms [Mark 9:36] and we could understand the Lord’s comfort to this little one as he places the child in their midst saying,

“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.

To this we need to be reminded to be childlike in faith and love!

Sinful pride can become arrogance.


During the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War, Union general John Sedgwick was inspecting his troops. At one point he came to a parapet [which is a low protective wall or earthen defense along the top of a trench or place of concealment for troops], over which he gazed out in the direction of the enemy. His officers suggested that this was unwise … and perhaps he ought to duck while passing the parapet. "Nonsense," snapped the general. "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist--." And as his words fell silent … General Sedgwick fell to the ground, fatally wounded.

Today in the Word, August 30, 1993.

How too our own sinful pride can drop us once again to the ground of dirt and sin back into our own filthy rags from which we have been washed clean and made righteous in the blood of the Lamb. Pride can cause us to look at who we are in the Kingdom, and what status we hold or to even look at others with prideful arrogance. Jesus says that:

5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,

Those who trust Christ with simple faith have Jesus and receive all that Jesus has promised.

Luther says,

Consider Christ himself, how he draws little children to him, how urgently in Matthew 18 he commends them to us and praises the angles who wait upon them, in order to show us how great a service it is when we train the young properly.

LW Vol. 45 pg. 372

As we consider our regular worship, social distancing, pandemic, school and all that our normal life use to be and we hope will be again, we also need to get back to the holy work God has given us to do,

To, train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6

The responsibility even from the time of infancy calls parents of those who have been brought to faith in baptism to not let these little ones who believe in me to fall … back into the sinfulness they were born into … before being called to faith in Jesus Christ by the working and power of the Holy Spirit.

You have a Godly calling as a parent to raise your child in the faith, especially if they are baptized and to make sure that they are brought to God’s house for worship, where Christ gives his gifts of word and sacrament.

Also, the good work available in VBS this year was a take home program for parents and guardians alike to see to it that these little ones stay connected to Christ.

We all have, in Christ, a Godly calling to keep children connected to Jesus and his word.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:

27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph. 4:27-32

Be childlike in faith and love!

By childlike faith, God in Christ has given you faith in Him and life!

He has lifted you up as a little child giving you comfort and peace in him.
He has placed you in the midst of the world as his disciple to shine the light of Christ.
He has given those under your care the joy to teach them about Jesus and his love.
He will bring forth, by faith, those who believe in him to confess as the church confesses … “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God!”

May you be comforted and joyful as little Atarra was who sees in God’s church, word, and gifts, Jesus!

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