Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sermon Jan. 30-31, 2021

Title: God’s authority and salvation is known by his word!
Text: Mark 1:21-28

Facebook live:  God's authority and salvation is known by his word!

22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

For centuries people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all time, and surely, he would not be wrong. Anyone, of course, could have taken two objects, one heavy and one light, and dropped them from a great height to see whether the heavier object landed first. But no one did until nearly 2,000 years after Aristotle's death.

In 1589 Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten- pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same instant. The power of belief was so strong, however, that the professors denied their eyesight.

They continued to say Aristotle was right.

Bits & Pieces, January 9, 1992, pp. 22-23.

Jesus called his disciples Andrew, Peter, James and John to “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately followed him and now in Capernaum Jesus immediately begins to teach in the synagogue.

22 And they were astonished [which literally means blown away] at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

Authority means in the basic sense: The power to enforce laws, to exact obedience, to command, determine and to judge.

Jesus and his teaching did that, and in such a way as to make him recognizable to his hearers over the scribes and those teachers of the law that the people were familiar with. Jesus, for them, was different.

Those scribes, Pharisees and teachers of the law had the place of authority in Jewish religious life, but Jesus brings with him a teaching, and he teaches so that he is seen - as the true authority - and with his teaching the people are amazed or astonished.

Writer, William A. Ward in speaking about teachers and teaching has said,

The mediocre teacher tells.

The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates.

The great teacher inspires.

Progress Magazine, December 23, 1992.

Jesus is the good teacher, the superior teacher and the great teacher who by his word, his parables and his sacrificial life, death and resurrection brings those in darkness into his marvelous light and by this light - convicts and releases … condemns and forgives.

The gospel of Christ makes disciples throughout the world because Jesus’ words have authority!

23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

The words of the unclean spirit also recognize the authority of Jesus and speak through the man possessed. The demon’s words also speak the truth that the light of life – the Holy One of God will destroy all darkness.

“It was the evil spirit that cried out at the sight of Jesus, affirming that he and Jesus of Nazareth had nothing in common, that he and all the demons belonged to a company which are and always will [be in opposition] with the Son of God. His cry is a cry of fear, lest Christ should see [fit] to condemn them, to destroy them by chaining them forever in hell.”

Popular commentary of the Bible Paul Kretzmann NT Vol.1 p.168

The demon knows who Jesus is. But do we? Do we, through our own sinfulness and uncleanness, see this Holy One of God – this God in the flesh, as God, holy and set apart? Do we listen to his word? Or do we listen to the world?

We all fall victim to our own sinful desires and the temptation that the world, the devil and our flesh lead us. We hear the word of God on Sunday, but just as easily hear the devils call and tempting. At times we give in, whether it’s a little white lie, sinful lust, or blatant disobedience.

To be Holy is in opposition to sin and though you and I try we always fall short.

It is true with you and with me. It is true in church or out of church.

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said:

. . . when Satan cannot catch us with a big sin, he will try a little one. It does not matter to him what bait he uses, just so long as he catches his fish.

C.H. Spurgeon.

So how can you be protected? Be in the word. Hear the word proclaimed in service. Read the word in devotions, and study the word as taught rightly in Bible Study. Trust the word-not our own reason or understanding.

Our Thursday mid-week Bible study is beginning the book of Daniel. It will be Thursdays at 2:00 pm. Let me know if you are interested. It is a fun time and beneficial to our spiritual wellbeing. Young or old, you’re still not too old to learn something new!

Do not ignore it. Open the Bible, study the word, and talk to those who are in the word. There are different ways that Christian churches understand God’s word and teach it and you need to know what you believe, why you believe it and what the difference means.

Is Baptism God’s work or mans? Our Lutheran understanding teaches that it is God’s work.

In baptism we die to the sinful uncleanness that we are born into and are raised with Christ to newness of life - washed and marked by Christ as his redeemed.

Just as Jesus, the word of God made flesh, cast out that demon saying,

“Be silent and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. So too the word of God, connected with the water, in the Name of the Father and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit also conquers or casts out sin, death and the power of the devil and marks you and me as God’s child.

It is this Jesus – the word of God made flesh – who is teaching in the synagogue and who has and teaches with authority.

It is this Jesus - who by his word cast out the unclean spirit and freed the possessed man from the power of the devil.

It is this Jesus – who is the holy one of God – who came in the flesh to be the once and for all sacrifice for sin, in your place.

It is this Jesus - who they, saw and heard, and were blown away with his teaching in amazement … and then went and spread his fame and his name everywhere.

It is this Jesus - that during the season of Epiphany we recognize as the savior of the world who came down from heaven to set you and me and all captives of sin free.

It is this Jesus - who is the living word of God, that by the Holy Spirit and his work brings to faith all born dead to sin and are unclean and by his word, connected with the water in Holy Baptism raises those – you and me – from death to life in him, Jesus Christ our Lord.

For Galileo, who summoned the learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the power of belief was so strong, that they denied their eyesight and did not believe the truth.

God, by his Spirit, will bring you and all to the light of his truth and will keep you in this truth by his word and sacraments unto life eternal.

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




Monday, January 25, 2021

Sermon Jan. 23-24, 2021

Title: Arise and go! Where is your Nineveh?
Text: Jonah 3:1-5, 10 

Facebook live: Arise and go! Where is your Nineveh?

3 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them

Last weekend we heard the call of Jesus to “follow me.” In today’s gospel reading the call is to “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” As we learned last week as well, God calls us to faith in Christ by the gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit through word and sacrament, the means of grace, and then we are called to action.

The call to action is not always where and when we expect. It is not always how we imagine God might use us and at times it can be uncomfortable. Also, at times the will of those called is not in accord with the will of the Lord.

Take Jonah for example.

Jonah is one of the minor prophets of the Old Testament and a few years ago our midweek study group did an extensive study on the book of Jonah.

You might be familiar with the story and of the great fish that swallowed Jonah. As the reading in Jonah chapter three begins, 3 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time. We need to take a step back to Jonah chapter 1 to where the Lord first called Jonah. The call of God and Jonah’s reaction were a bit different.

1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah …, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

The work of a prophet was to speak forth the word of God to those that the Lord directed the prophet to, to bring the word God to them as he has directed. The Apostles also spoke as they were directed by the Holy Spirit and the entire word of God is given for our benefit.

The Apostle Paul in Romans 10:17 tells us: 17 consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. NIV

So even God’s word proclaimed here, during the sermon is speaking prophetically, speaking forth the word of the Lord … and the will of the Lord.

3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

By this we can see that God’s word is not always heeded and listened to.

At times the word of God is listened too, as we read in the gospel with Simon and Andrew.

18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

For others it may take longer and require a bit of coaxing. Even the gathering together regularly for worship, as the writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us can be hard for some:

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,

We may hear the call but may not always heed the call.

Jonah went the other way, down in the belly of the ship to sleep and headed in the opposite direction of where the Lord wanted him to go. You and I might have felt this way too.

What was your Nineveh?

What is your Nineveh?

Where had God directed you that you didn't want to go?

What did God desire you to do that you didn't want to do?

This weekend we celebrate the sanctity of human life. Whether it is the preborn and abortion or the aged and assisted suicide all life has value.

Can we sit silently by while the little ones in the womb are aborted in the Nineveh of our own world?

Do we speak to a world so anti-life and anti-God or do we climb into the “boat” of our own lives and comfort zones to hide from the reality of what has taken on a “life” of its own.

I’d like tom relate a story I heard while watching a nun speaking at the walk for life in Washington a few years ago.

She told a story of a Christian woman who was at a hospital to have a pregnancy checkup and while there met another woman there as she contemplated an abortion. The one lady spoke of the joys of her pregnancy and upcoming birth while the other said it wasn’t a convenient time to have a baby. As they talked the mother took the other ladies hand and placed it on her belly just as the baby kicked. As they departed for their separate appointments the lady joyfully expecting her child said … you’re not having an abortion your having a little girl!

A few years passed and on another trip to the hospital with her daughter in toe she saw the other lady again who was this time pushing a stroller … with twin girls! Speak the truth of life where and when you can and don’t hide from it as God can use us all in whatever way he has gifted us.

Jonah ran away from proclaiming God’s truth to those who needed to hear but God pursued him.

God sent a tempest, a storm of great proportions upon the sea, so that the way of escape was hindered.

You too have the way of peace with God broken by sin. Just as Adam and Eve hid from the Lord after the fall we too hide in darkness of sin and flee the light of forgiveness for fear of condemnation that our sins would be made known. Jonah too hid from our all knowing God.

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

And God sent a great fish to rescue Jonah.

And God has sent Jesus to rescue you.

The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.

Arise and Go! How will you respond?

The second call of the Lord upon Jonah was much different.

3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.

He didn't want to … but he knew he couldn’t hide from God. He hated the people of Nineveh … for they were wicked and despicable- much like so many in our country right now feel about each other who have different views than them.

Jonah also knew that when he called out for their repentance … that they would repent and God would forgive and Jonah couldn't stomach that; that these worthless sinners would be forgiven. He knew it. He hated it. He complained about it and … he was right.

4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

The city is big, three days to just go through it. It is probable the worst Godless place Jonah could think about and the people … the worst sinners imaginable. And Jonah does what God commands he calls them to repentance. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

And what happens?

5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

They repented.

10 [And] when God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

He forgave them. He forgives you, even when at times you can’t forgive yourself [abortion is forgivable and those who’ve supported it redeemable.]

When you forget God and hide from him, God pursues you, because he loves you, he has redeemed you, so that you to might be forgiven
“Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

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




Monday, January 18, 2021

Sermon Jan. 16-17, 2021

Title: Follow me! Jesus calls to you and me!
Text: John 1:43-51

Facebook live: Follow me! Jesus call you and me!

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”

In 1973, I graduated high school, I was playing in a band and the drinking age had just been lowered to 18. Bars began to get the teens in droves where bands played and teens drank. Teen clubs closed and I found myself evaluating the situation.

My band played in bars but I didn’t drink while there. Through sober eyes what I saw was sad and concerning. Normal well respecting people became less concerned with how they looked and what they did. It could have been easy to get caught up in the same activity. I was raised in the church, and though not active in reading the scriptures, I knew by my conscience that I needed to hold myself to a different standard. God had other plans for my life and I’m glad I did.

Now, I’m not saying that drinking is the problem but certainly drinking in excess can cause many problems both physically and socially, as well as publicly and privately.

When we are called to follow Christ we are called to a new hope and new life in him. It can be a rough road at times and for the Christian our lives must daily be conformed by God to his word.

44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Finding the savior is not our work but Gods. He finds us even though we at times don’t know we are lost.

Jesus found Philip and called him to “Follow me.” To this Philip responded in faith and called to Nathanael, “We have found him!” and “Come and see.”

30 years ago at another time God called me in a special way to a greater relationship with him.

Prayer was not an active part of my life and I always felt uncomfortable with public prayer. You may feel that too. I didn’t spend much time in prayer … except at church … and even my attendance had been falling away. So at times of distress I simply sat in my chair in the quiet of my room and brought to the Lord what was burdening me. As I sat, I prayed the Lord’s Prayer – the one prayer that I knew – asking the Lord for comfort and peace in whatever was troubling me.

God did the rest. He gave me comfort and peace in all things … and drew me to himself through his word. At times it can be in conflict with where we are and what we do. I felt that being in the bar was not the best place for me though at times the Lord even used that place as a place for his word to go forth.

God calls us to faith and then to action. He called me to a renewed relationship in Christ and then as he continued to work in me through his word – as I attended services and read the bible - he gave me a desire to serve him. I didn’t know what or how but God’s call – “follow me!” - was clear!

Many times the world and the word are in conflict.

One says yes, the other no.

One says speak up, the other be quiet.

One says you can, the other you can’t.

And notice that each can apply to the word or the world at different times, in different ways.

God doesn’t always call us to what seems clear to us.

He calls us all first to faith, where he opens heaven to us through Baptism, uniting us in Christ, with whom he is well pleased. It is then that he uses us as his people to serve others. For some, it is in service here at Peace and Lord knows we have many places to serve. For others he calls us to be a witness to our friends and neighbors just as my friend Rob was to me, and me to my friend Mark just as Philip was to Nathanael calling him to “come and see!”

I've had the joy of being in both places. Both being called and calling others. Where, when and how has or will the Lord called and use you?

Jesus calls you and me though the word to follow him!

At times it is when you least expect it. Take Samuel in our Old Testament reading for today:

8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

I felt the Lord’s calling me to service for the last 30 plus years but it took quite a while for me to discern his call, and to hear just how the Lord wished to use me and where.

These past 8 years we lost some blessed servants here at Peace who heard God’s call “follow me!” and followed and served. But every time we lose someone who dies in Christ, or moves away, we see the Lord work in the hearts of others to serve.

Over the last few years we've had needs of a few Elders. Jim Rich, Bob Poe and Bill Krueger and Matt Rich all answered the call. While others continued to faithfully serve. Bill Krueger and Scott Regentin answered the call to serve as this congregation’s President and Vice President not expecting the year 2020 would become and we thank the Lord for his blessing during this difficult time.

There is always a time to prayerfully consider what the Lord needs and how he might use you in service to others.

When becoming an Elder Jim Rich told me about his deliberation: “Pastor, I didn't want to accept the position unless I was willing to meet the obligations of the position and … God kept pursuing me.”

There are so many names and so many stories like this to tell. Ladies guild, Altar guild, Sunday school, worship committee … trustees and the list goes on and on – though for a time we are all sidelined a bit.

But know that the world and the word will always be in conflict. Even when Jesus calls … we sometimes only hear the sinful call of our own selfish desires or the world’s sinful ways.

Whether it is our own sinfulness, 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” or the work of the devil to put fear in the Lord’s church over Covid, the vaccine, or safety procedures in place or not in place here and in our community and in the world!

We all try to act in love towards one another but so often we stumble.

Service is hard. It requires sacrifice. Jesus knows you and he knows me. Truth be told, we all would take the easy way out … at first.

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

Or it might be interpreted:

“Behold one who is true to the name of Israel,

Or, as God says of the Israelites: they are a stiffed neck people.

In some ways we too might be in Christ but not of Christ, following the way of deceit and missing the opportunity to serve Christ, missing the mark which is sin.

You might ask, “How do you know me?” as Nathanael did.

Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

Christ sees you and me. He knows what we've done. He knows all our sins because they became his sins too. He took the sins you and I've committed and he has taken the ones that we have yet to commit to the cross. There he crucified your sins and mine. And no matter our guilt he has taken that away too.

Jesus calls us to follow him, to be in the world but not of the world. How will you respond?

49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

It is indeed, a privilege to serve God but God can use us all in so many ways. Desire it, enjoys it and thank those who serve here and in the world. It is a privilege and a responsibility. May you always be blessed - as you hear and serve wherever the Lord Our God - has called you to serve.

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


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Sermon Jan. 9-10, 2021

Title: The Father is well pleased with you in Christ!
Text: Mark 1:4-11 

Facebook live: The Father is well pleased with you in Christ!

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Being well pleased is something I think we all would enjoy. At times we are pleased to be recognized for things we do. It might be at church, work, or school where the work we do is seen by others, or it just might be a self awareness of things we have done that we are pleased about.

This weekend we begin the Epiphany Season. Christmas is over and this is the time when Christ is revealed to the world, made known in the visit of the Magi bearing gifts – the wise men journey to visit this King of the Jews. But our Gospel reading for today is of Jesus – fully grown - and beginning his ministry.

In last weekend’s sermon, Jesus was the boy was in the Temple among the teachers, listening and asking questions to them and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers!

Today we read about the man Jesus - not the 12 year old boy - who is around 30, beginning his ministry, and the one recognized by John as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

Here, Jesus goes out to where John is Baptizing. We know very little about what went on over the last 18 years of Jesus’ life, from his sitting in the Temple questioning the teachers of the Law to this time now and the beginning of his earthly ministry. But Mark’s gospel begins with a quote from the prophet Isaiah:

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way. He calls the people to repentance – to recognize their fallen state as sinners – and to repent.

To this water, and to this repentance, Jesus comes to John as one, mightier than John and even one whom the sandals of Jesus - John is not worthy to untie.

So why baptism, why Jesus, and why by John?

Well, John was sent to prepare the way. He was sent to fulfill what the prophet had foretold. He was to be the voice and herald to the one who would come and is now here.

Mark believes that his gospel and Jesus’ baptism is a fitting place to start.

John had had great success and the people were going out to him, to repent of their sin and to receive this Baptism of Repentance from John.

Jesus came to this baptism to replace John (his work was done), and to replace you.

When Jesus was baptized he fulfilled what was promised, marked as a sinner in your place, he came to take away the sins of the world.

Jesus had no sin, he needed no repentance, but he came for you and for all who are born in the natural way, conceived in trespass and sin. His baptism was a baptism of death, in that Christ Jesus was marked to be the Lamb of God the once for all sacrifice who takes away your sin, and the sins of the whole world, so that you can be marked not for death … but for life.

We daily fall short and are not well pleasing to the father and others most of the time.

When I was about 15 my friend Jeff Bowdell lived across the street from me. His dad had a red 1965 Ford Falcon in the garage for his wife and got a new car every few years as an engineer for Ford.

One day I looked out my kitchen window as Bow opened the garage door went inside and gingerly backed the car out of the garage. I thought that was interesting as I didn’t have my license yet and was a few months older than him. He did this a few times – pulling the car into the garage and backing it out. On one attempt at pulling in, the car lunged a bit hitting the middle section of the garage between the two doors. A nice section of cut stone fell to the pavement. Bow got out of the car and surveyed the damage to the garage and the car. Needless to say his dad was not too happy with him but thankfully his dad loved him and he survived this encounter to live another day.

And you [and I] are dead in trespass and sins. Eph 2:1

Because of sin and its consequence we live with the reality of being separated from God and of being God’s enemies. We live with this disaster and we die with this disaster apart from Christ because the wages of sin is death. Rom 6:21

We all are born dead; Sounds funny?

But spiritually we are dead. We are separated from God and it will take an act of God to restore us, to make us right with God and this is done only by Christ and only in Christ. With you and with me God is not pleased as we stand in our sinfulness and covered by our own righteousness in a sense having pushed his table saw into the family room.

But, Jesus came to be your substitute; to stand in your place; to be marked as a sinner, in your place and for you.

9 … Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Here Jesus takes your place as the repentant one, he is without sin and acceptable by the father to be the once for all sacrifice.

10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Father is well pleased with Christ and in Christ the Father is well pleased with you!

The Baptism of Christ leads from the waters of repentance by John to Jerusalem, to Jesus and ultimately to the cross for you.

Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Jesus Christ has gone into the water of repentance for you. He then goes to finish the work for which he came and to give you what you need and could never attain on your own merit. He gives you life and salvation by his death and resurrection and he give you the kingdom of God by his saving act for you.

Sound improbable?

Though it may seem improbable for man - it is not with God who makes all things new in Christ.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:5-7

Dear friends you are united and made new by Christ in Baptism you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord and:

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


Funeral Sermon for Heinz K. Hoffmann Thursday, January 7, 2021

Title: Baptized into Christ!
Text: Rom 6:3-10 (English Standard Version) 

Facebook live: Baptized inro Christ!

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Dear friends, family and loved ones of our beloved Heinz.

It has been a blessing to know Heinz and Erika over these last 20 years of my life here at Peace and to be blessed to serve them as pastor for the last 8 years.

God’s love is certainly made know to us in his son Jesus.

It is also made know to us in the lives of family and especially in the life of Heinz Hoffman and his love for Jesus, this congregation, and his beloved wife Erika and their love one for another.

So though we grieve at Heinz’s passing we can also have comfort as well. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John in Chapter 10 that:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Heinz Hoffmann trusted Jesus.

This is a funeral and service of remembrance for Heinz but he and Erika have been so connected to one another over the last 65 plus years that it is hard to speak about one without the other.

The Hoffman’s came to Peace in April of 1972 and the blessing to this congregation through their servant hearts and hands began and continues to this day.

45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Heinz’s service began as he left his native Germany, becoming an immigrant and refugee in this country after WWII.

Heinz became a citizen and enlisted and served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany during the Korean War where he and Erika reconnected and were married.

Following the war they returned to the U.S. to make a home and life for themselves where Heinz had a long time landscape business with customers that he continued to serve even into his 80’s.

As Heinz would say,

“I have some customers that still call me so I go and do the work!”

The Love of God is made known in the person and work of his son, our Lord Jesus Christ. God makes this known to us by the revealing of his Spirit made know to us in Holy Baptism.

Heinz was marked in Baptism’s as redeem by Christ and adopted into God’s family as his beloved child – even as a foreigner adopted into his new home and country.

He and Erika were united in Holy Matrimony on July 23, 1955, and in the presence of God the two became one.

That is:

65 years as husband and wife,
65 years in loving devotion to each other, and
65 years together as God’s servants and ambassadors to a world that needs Christ and his love.

Much of this would not have happened had Heinz, many years ago, not uttered three very important words.

As a youth in Germany the Nazi’s had come to the farm where Heinz and his family lived. Among their meager possessions they had a horse, and when an officer grabbed the reins of the horse to lead it away Heinz protested, “Hey, what are you doing, that’s my horse!” The officer pulled out his gun and aimed it at Heinz and asked, “Whose horse is it?” to which Heinz answered with those important words, “That’s your horse!”

In this life we are all born to die, but by our Lord’s gracious love and will he is in charge of that time and for Heinz, the Lord has seen fit to call him to his eternal rest. I assume that the trees in glory might need a bit of trimming and Heinz and his service was required.

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16b

Clearly God’s love abided in Heinz, first for Christ as we know, and for Erika as the two became one united together as husband and wife and living in that love.

Blessed with their children Sylvia and Doris, those blessings continued with their families, with grandchildren, and now with three great grandchildren as well.

Heinz and Erika have been greatly blessed in this life and now Heinz has departed and is resting in the arms of his savior. Their marriage vows of long ago ring true:

For better for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health
to love and to cherish,
til death do you part

The Lord has made us new in the waters of Holy Baptism and in his hands Jesus has promised to hold us and never let us fall and that promise was for Heinz’s as his child made in his image.

During this past fall Monica had a Sunday afternoon that we spent with Heinz and Erika at their home. Heinz talked about the years in the house and acreage he had purchased around the house that stretched out all the way to Williams Lake rd. He was thankful for the blessings of the Lord to his this immigrant to the U.S. He said it was undeveloped land but he liked to go out in the middle of it and just stand and admire my kingdom, and as Heinz said it with a laugh and a smile - knowing that all of his blessings had come from the hand of the Lord.

Now, death causes tears to fall.

Death’s sting has been swallowed up in victory by our Lord Jesus Christ and we can have comfort in His blessed work and this blessed Good News that in and through Jesus Christ God and man have been reconciled.

As we together grieve the loss of our dear Heinz and think about this frail existence we all inhabit here in this world, we can still have peace.

The words of the apostle John ring true in Chapter 14 of his gospel:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Heinz knew the way of Christ prepared for him.

You too have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust.

Jesus has forgiven your sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in you, has given you the faith to believe in His saving work. That’s a place prepared for you, forgiven in Christ, and an eternity with our Lord and savior Jesus that you can trust.

May the Lord comfort you with this blessed good news now and forever!


Saturday, January 2, 2021

Sermon Jan. 2-3, 2021

Title: Christ as human and divine is wisdom and power!
Text: Luke 2:40-52 

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40 And the child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

When we speak of God's power, we may understand it by his Omnipotence, as the all powerful God speaks His creation into existence or even the parting of the Red Sea, or the raising of one from death to life.

We in our day certainly look for God's power in His ability to do things for us such as healing our sicknesses today – right now - even as He healed those who were blind, lame, and afflicted in the stories we’ve heard from His Holy Word.

Today’s gospel shows the power and wisdom in a 12 year old youth in the fully human Jesus who:

40 … grew and became strong, [and was] filled with wisdom. And [God’s] favor [rested] upon him.

And as was the custom of the family at this time, Mary, Joseph and Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of the Passover. On this occasion of their visit, unlike last week with the redeeming of the firstborn with a sacrifice, Jesus here is twelve years of age and 43 … as they were returning [home], the [12 year old] Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.

For any of you who have been on a trip and misplaced a child … well … it can be very difficult and tenuous time to say the least. Missing sight of my own children for even a few second in a store brought concern and slight panic.

His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.

You can understand as a parent Mary’s frustration at Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem. I can think of how I might have reacted if my son or daughter had done this to me … I would have been not too happy to say the least, and here is Jesus in the Temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And we’re told:

47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Of course they were amazed … Jesus was not your ordinary 12 year old. Twelve years on from the birth of the Christ child and Mary didn’t remember who she had carried or who she had given birth to. She was a mother concerned only for her lost son.

Back in the early 90’s I use to go to the Chet Atkins guitar festival in Nashville with my friend Rob. We would take our guitars and meet old and new friends who had great appreciation for Chet’s music and ability. It never ceased to amaze me how many young boys and girls who were in their early teens who could play circles around me! They had learned many of Chet’s songs and committed them to memory. They were a good imitation of the guitar style Chet had pioneered. But on closes inspection many of these child prodigies lacked a wisdom and maturity in their playing. Over time some would grow to become mature adult musicians while others would slip into obscurity or fall victim to their early success never able to attain that level of accomplishment again. Some of these polished 12 year olds even signed up to take lessons from my friend Rob where his years of wisdom and musical maturity could bring out the best in them.

This Jesus was different!

Those who heard him were amazed. It is something we all need to be reminded of. This child born of Mary on Christmas day is God in the flesh.

This coming Wednesday January 6th, we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord. It is the day that Jesus is made known and recognized as the savior of all people. It is why the wise men came to worship him and to bring him gifts.

This young boy who was recognized as the savior and who was brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh as a young child, is now listening and teaching at the feet of the teachers, not as one who simply copied what he had heard and was parroting it back to his teachers like those student guitarists, but as one who was and is the source of that very wisdom and knowledge from God on high.

The house of God, the Temple where Jesus sat and taught, is also here at Peace Lutheran church where the true word of God is made known through word and sacrament.

You are His Temple also, where God himself indwells all believers by His Spirit pointing you and me to the finished work of Christ Jesus and by his Spirit you see Jesus for who he is … the savior of the world … and that by faith you trust his word of promise, so elegantly proclaimed in John Chapter 14 to:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Jesus is the one who makes the way for you and for me. He is the ones that the Magi came to bring gifts to. He is the one revealed as the savior, of the nations come. He is the one who at twelve years of age was, as the writer of the book of Hebrews put it,

2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

The next time we encounter Jesus on his trip to the cross, he will be pointed out as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who will take your place being baptized by John the Baptist with the baptism of repentance, being marked as the chief of sinners for you and then will go to Jerusalem taking your sins to the cross and nailing them there, proclaiming, “It is finished!”

It is true. This is no ordinary boy sitting among the teachers, teaching with wisdom and power and gently reminding his mother that he needed to be in His Father’s house.

50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

But, in submission, this God who made the world and all things obeyed his parents.

51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

She, knowing who he is and what he was appointed to do, to be the consolation of Israel and the savior of the world as Simeon last weekend held in his hands the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel - God with us.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

God in Christ has been made know to you. May his peace and joy fill you each day of this New Year with hope and peace in the salvation that is your in him.

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