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Victory Celebration

Sermon: “Victory Celebration”

Lectionary Series C; All Saints’ Sunday

Sunday, November 3, 2019 – Proper 27

First Reading: Revelation 7:9-17

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Washington Nationals just won the World Series of Major League Baseball. As the ninth inning of game seven came to a close, players and coaches from the Nationals jumped up and down like little boys in a school yard. The celebration continued in a plastic lined locker room as those same players and coaches put on goggles and sprayed champagne everywhere. Then yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of Washington D.C. as the victory parade and speeches ensued. What a party! What a victory celebration!

Everyone loves a good victory celebration. Everyone loves to be able to just let loose and rejoice in winning. We all love winning, am I right? Whether it’s a World Series win, a Super Bowl win, or just a good ole win at a game of Sheephead. We all love winning, and we love to celebrate the victory afterwards.

The image we have in our text for today is a victory celebration. The saints have come out of the great tribulation, and now it is time to party. No more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat, no more tears. Now all that remains is victory. Victory in Jesus!

Just imagine all those who are going to be there. Adam and Eve. Noah. Father Abraham…who had many sons. Isaac. Jacob. Moses. Ruth. Esther. Elijah. Joseph and Mary. Peter, James, and John. The apostle Paul. And countless others from all tribes and nations from every generation. Literally, countless, the text says.

Everyone will be wearing white robes given to them by none other than Jesus Himself who washed them in His own precious blood. Everyone will be waving palm branches in their hands celebrating the victory. Everyone will be shouting: Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!

This is the image of victory that we get to look forward to as we celebrate All Saints Sunday today. As we give thanks for the victory given in Jesus afforded to our loved ones who have died in the faith, we set our sights on our own future glory. We fix our eyes with the saints on the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Where are your eyes fixed? Are the set on Christ? Are they fixed on future glory? When John wrote these letters to the seven churches which we know as the book of Revelation, he was writing them to a persecuted church. He was writing them to a people that were daily being tested and tried for their faith. People were being imprisoned, wounded, and even killed. It was hardly a time for a victory celebration.

John invites those who read his letters to rejoice even now that this image of victory is a guarantee. Perhaps some of you remember back in Super Bowl III, three days before the game was to begin, Joe Namath, the quarterback for the New York Jets guaranteed a victory over the favored Baltimore Colts. When the game took place, Namath and his underdog Jets delivered on his guarantee securing the victory by a margin of 16 to 7.

Though Namath came through, most of us would agree that guarantees are hard to come by that live up to what they claim. We have guarantees that come with purchasing a vehicle. We have guarantees given to us by family members. We have guarantees that come with a new job. How many times have we had the guarantees in life wind up letting us down, because quite frankly, people let us down?

We hear of an image of victory like we do in our text for today, and it is difficult for us to believe that it will come to fruition. We want evidence. We want proof. Our lack of trust in the Almighty God coming through for us is why we live the way we do as we approach the Last Day.

All too often we live in fear, not as those who have a guaranteed victory celebration awaiting us. We look at life through the lens of our current suffering rather than the glory that awaits us. We look at the hunger, the thirst, the scorching heat, and the tears, and we fail to recognize that John tells us that all this will be no more.

By our own reason or strength we fail to comprehend just how grand things will be when Christ does return. How often do we think that if we can’t understand something then it must not be true?

This is why John describes the victory celebration as He does. He doesn’t tell us as much of what will be there as much as what won’t be there. There won’t be hunger or thirst or scorching heat or tears. In the 21st chapter he tells his readers: He (God) will wipe away ever tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

By the process of negation, John gives us a beautiful image of the future glory that awaits us in the resurrection. He tells us that God will eliminate all the realities of living in a sin-filled world. He paints a picture of pure joy and bliss as all the pain and suffering of this world will be no more.

Each time we gather for a funeral and the committal, this is what we have to proclaim thanks to Jesus for: Death does not get the final say. Jesus, who said that it was finished, gets the final say. He destroyed death by His death on the cross, and His victory over the grave is what gives us hope. Thanks to Jesus, we have hope even while living in this world of suffering and pain, even while living in this valley of the shadow of death.

Hope is a word that gets used so loosely today. Hope is a word that so often fails to offer any guarantees. Hope is so often misplaced. But Scripture tells us: Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:24-25).

And that’s where our problem arises. We fail to trust in God to come through for us because we lack patience. We want the suffering to end now. We want the pain to end now. We want the sin and death to be done for.

Thanks be to God, He guaranteed just that. All the way back in the Garden of Gethsemane, God promised that the offspring of Eve would crush the head of the serpent. We look back and see that this promise is now our sure and certain hope. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world to be our hope. He came into this world to shed His own precious blood with His innocent suffering and death, to forgive us for our lack of fearing, loving, and trusting in Him above all things, and crush the serpent Satan once and for all.

Whenever we fail to trust that victory celebration is ours, all we need to do is look back to the cross and the empty tomb and see that what He promised is an accomplished fact. It is finished. It is done.

The saints who have gone before us are already getting the party started for us. And we are invited to join them even now. Each and every Sunday, when we are invited to the table of the Lord, we feast on the foretaste to come. We feast upon Christ, the same feast the saints enjoy in heaven.

I have often told people that if I could redesign our church, I would have the altar pulled out from the wall and the communion rail be in the form of a half circle. There in the middle would be the body and blood of Christ. We would join in dining together, but recognizing that the other half circle is completed in heaven by all the saints who have gone before us.

Our liturgy clearly states this beautiful truth in the preface to communion before the Sanctus is sung: “It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God.  In the communion of all Your saints gathered into the one body of Your Son, You have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses that we, encouraged by their faith and strengthened by their fellowship, may run with perseverance the race that is set before us and, together with them, receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: (8am) Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of pow’r and might; (10:30am) Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty.”

What a victory celebration we have been given to participate in even here now, even here today. And it will only get better when Christ does fulfill His promise to return, when the separation will be ended, sin and death done for, forever. We will all be joined together. We will all be clothed in white robes, and wave palm branches in our hands. We will all give out a shout: Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!” Let the victory celebration begin! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

The Truth

Sermon: “The Truth”

Lectionary Series C; Reformation Sunday; Confirmation Sunday

Sunday, October 27, 2019 – Proper 26

Gospel Reading: John 8:31-36

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

Truth. What is truth? It was a question that Pontius Pilate asked of Jesus right before Jesus was convicted and crucified.

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38).

What is truth? We live in world that claims that truth is relative. We live in a world where people think they get to decide what is the truth that they will believe in. We live in a world where what is true for you, may not be true for me, and vice versa. Just don’t go thinking your truth is more right than mine. Because what’s true for me is true for me, and you must respect that.

Our text calls us out of this world of relative truth to The Truth. The One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The One who is the Truth that sets us free from sin, death, and the devil. The One who looked Pontius Pilate in the eye and said that those who are of the ‘truth’ listen to the voice of Jesus.

What is truth? The truth is, that Jesus loves you. How many years have you been singing that song? “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” Has it sunk in yet…that Jesus loves you?

Jesus came into this world of sin by humbling Himself to be born of a virgin in a stable and placed in a manger. He became sin who knew no sin. He lived the perfect life that we could not live. He laid down that perfect life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. He died our death and was raised back to life for us.

What is truth? The truth is that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. That was His promise as He ascended into heaven when He said “I will be with you always even to the end of the age.” Jesus keeps coming to us here in His house so that we can see Him, hear Him, and touch Him in the means that He reveals Himself to us. He is here right now in His Word and in His Sacrament.

What is truth? The truth is you are baptized into the very name of the Triune God. Through water and the Word, we were named and claimed to be beloved children of the heavenly Father. At the font is where our old sinful self was drowned, and the resurrected Christ reached down and grabbed ahold us and pulled us up in order to save us. And save us, He most certainly did.

What is truth? The truth is that you are a sinner. Each and every one of us has been conceived and born into sin. It’s called original sin. The sin passed down through our parents all the way from Adam and Eve. From that original sin, we do what we do best. Sinners sin. It’s called actual sin. Sin separates. It separates us from God. It separates us from our neighbors. And who are our neighbors? All people. And in this sinful separation, there is a deeper truth that we have to face. Because of our disobedience of God’s commandments, because of our sins, each and every one of us is doomed to die.

Have you ever been to a funeral before? If you have, then you have seen that the wage of sin is real. The last breath is real. The last heart beat is real. Death is real. It is a guarantee for us as sinners. What did Benjamin Franklin say? The only two guarantees in life are what? Death and taxes. Exactly! We are sinners, and we will die.

What is truth? You and I don’t like to admit that we are sinners doomed to die. We don’t like to admit that we are wrong. We don’t like to call sin a sin. We don’t like to confess that we are sinners in need of a Savior.

What is truth? If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1st John 1:8).

What is truth? You and I like to lie to ourselves to justify our thoughts, words, and deeds. We like to think that we are good people who are deserving of heaven. We like to compare ourselves to others so we can think that others are far more deserving of death and hell than us. We like to do what we want to do rather than abide in God’s Word and keep reading it, marking it, learning it, and inwardly digesting it as if our life depended upon it. We like the slavery to sin rather than the freedom that comes in Christ, because let’s be honest, we like our sins more than we love our Savior. And we like to think that our sins are not that big of a deal.

What is truth? For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus’ death upon the cross is proof that our sins are a very big deal. 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 (Isaiah 53:5). It took the death of the Son of God in order to save us. He had to endure the wrath of God so that we would be saved from the fires of hell. How can we not say that was a big deal? (Pause)

What is truth? Today is Reformation Sunday. Today we remember when a monk by the name of Martin Luther made a big deal about the Truth of Jesus being proclaimed. By posting 95 theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, he called the Roman Catholic Church to account for their sale of indulgences, for their abandoning of the Word of God. And so today we rejoice that the Word of God was restored to the Church. We rejoice in being Lutherans who believe and confess that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and by Scripture alone.

What is truth? Today is Confirmation Sunday. Today thirteen youth will stand before this congregation and publicly declare that the salvation won for them in their baptism by Jesus is a very big deal. It is such a big deal that they will publicly declare that they “intend to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word, and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death.” It is such a big deal that they will publicly declare that they “intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it.”

What is truth? The truth is that as we look back on over 500 years of our church body confessing the faith, a child being baptized today, and thirteen youth confessing their faith, is that the Truth is a big deal, and the Truth still matters. The Truth is not relative at all. The Truth is timeless. The Truth does not change. The Truth is a person. The Truth is none other than the crucified, dead, buried, resurrected, and ascended Jesus Christ.

Pontius Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Little did He know but the Truth he needed for salvation was standing right in front of him. The same is true for us.

Here today, Jesus comes to us in the hearing of His Word. He invites us to abide in His Word. He invites us to abide in Him as we eat His body, and drink His blood. Here today, we see firsthand that there is nothing more that Jesus wants than to have us close to Him…now and for all eternity.

What is truth? In a world of relative truth, how blessed are we to have the Truth…in our ears, upon our lips, and in our lives?! So, may we never stop confessing the Truth, and may we never forget what is most certainly true, that Jesus Christ loves you.

We join in singing the first verse of Jesus Loves Me.

Jesus loves me, this I know.

For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong.

They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

The Bible tells me so.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Always Pray and Do Not Lose Heart

Sermon: “Always Pray and Do Not Lose Heart”

Lectionary Series C; The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, October 20, 2019 – Proper 25

Gospel Reading: Luke 18:1-8

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer. The Catechism tells us that prayer is speaking to God in words and thoughts. Some prayers take the form of a confession, some are intercessions as we pray on behalf of others, some are thanksgivings, some are complaints, and some are praise and adoration. Prayer takes a myriad of forms in our lives.

Scripture tells us that we are commanded to pray and that God promises to hear and answer us. Prayer is an expression of trust in our Lord. From early on, we learn that prayer is a humble act before God as we are taught to fold our hands, bow our heads, and close our eyes. Prayer is a gift from God.

For some of us, prayer is a daily routine that we have set in the schedule of our lives. For others, it is more of a random, occasional practice when we think the need arises. For others, it may not be a practice much at all unless someone else is leading it.

For some of us, prayer is easy. They just start praying. For others, it is not so easy. They might be intimidated thinking they don’t have the right words. They might wonder what the point is and so they just don’t try to put it into practice. They might just think they are too busy to add another thing to their day.

Prayer. Where are you at in your life of prayer? (Pause)

And he [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).

Three years they had been following Jesus. Now, they were making their way to Jerusalem, closing in on the enemy’s foothold. The attacks by the religious authorities had been growing. The pressure was building. Little did they know what was actually going to happen. Though Jesus had told them plainly, they still did not understand. But how could they not see that things were getting pretty tense as Jesus continued His journey?

The disciples were about to watch Jesus enter into the streets of Jerusalem to shouts of praise, but then in a matter of days they would witness those shouts turn ugly. Shouts of “Hosanna!” would be traded for shouts of “Crucify!” They would witness Jesus be hauled away by an unruly mob, unjustly tried and convicted, and then crucified.

Jesus knew all of this was going to happen. He knew the going was going to get tough. Far tougher than had been experienced to this point. What’s more, it was going to get even tougher for His disciples after He was crucified, raised, and ascended into heaven. He knew most of His disciples would die for following Him. So, in a moment of pause, He lovingly and graciously took advantage of a teachable moment and told them a parable.

And he [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming’” (Luke 18:1-5).

At first glance this may look like Jesus was directing his disciples to beg and plead before God until they got what they wanted. “Just be like the widow who got her way, so it will be with God. He will give you all the desires of your hearts.”

If this were the case, then every child who has ever begged and pleaded before their parents is now validated in their behavior. You know what I am talking about. You are going through the grocery store checkout. There before the child is the ever so conveniently placed selection of candy. Then it happens, “Dad, Mom, may I please have a piece of candy.” “No,” says the parents. “But please, pretty please.” “No,” says the parents even louder. Then come the waterworks. The child starts saying through tear-filled eyes, “Please, can I have a piece of candy.” The parents look at each other, give in, and buy the kid a piece of candy. The child’s fake tears are instantly turned into an ear to ear smile as the child gets their way.

Let me be clear: This is not what Jesus was getting at in the parable. He was not telling His disciples to always pray and not lose heart because God is like a vending machine that will fulfill all of our wants in life. Imagine how much more chaotic and catastrophic this world would be if that were the case…if every sinner on earth got their way. Now that’s a horrific thought.

Instead, Jesus wants His disciples and us to be like this persistent widow. Even in the face of adversity and hardship, He wants us to keep crying out to Him for help. The end is in sight. Jesus will soon return, and He will see us through to the finish line. No matter how hard it gets, keep calling upon His name. Keep fearing, loving, and trusting in Him above all things. And we most certainly can trust Him to be faithful to His promises.

You see, this parable invites us to contrast the unjust judge and God Himself. We know that the unjust judge doesn’t fear God or respect man. Even though as a judge he is positioned by God to faithfully carry out justice in service to God and to humanity. But not for this judge. He is only concerned about himself. Which is why he gives in to the widow’s pleas. He just doesn’t want to put up with her any more. He doesn’t want her to (literal meaning) give him a black eye. So, to end the constant cry of the widow, he gives in and gives her justice against her adversary. He gives her what she wants. But listen to what Jesus says to set up the contrast:

And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to the elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he not delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:6-8).

Jesus knew there would come a day when His disciples would be crying out to God for mercy. The persecution would intensify. The threat on their lives would grow, and the temptation would be to stop praying and to lose heart. But Jesus directs His followers to cry out nonetheless…to always pray and not to lose heart…trusting in their God who saves…that even though the current outlook would be bleak, the end result would be victory…victory in Jesus for all eternity.

But that’s hard for us to believe two thousand years later when we look around and it doesn’t look like we are victorious. What are we to do in a world where so many bad things still happen? What are we to do in a world where Christians are killed in other countries, and the outlook here in America for the Christian faith looks worse with each day that passes? What are we to do in a world where we are being told we can’t speak about our faith in Christ, or else we may offend someone and be at risk of losing our job or taken to court? What are we to do in a world where we turn on the news and it looks like the whole world is falling to pieces?

When faced with such intense realities all around us, the temptation is to quit praying and to lose heart. The devil tempts us to turn inward rather than upward. He tempts us to think the situation is hopeless. So, we get discouraged. We lose sight of any hope. We think we have lost war, and that there is no chance for victory.

No doubt the disciples could have said the same when Jesus stood before an unjust judge and was falsely accused and sentenced to a punishment that should not have been His to endure. No doubt the disciples could have said the same when He was whipped and spat upon. No doubt the disciples could have said the same when He was forced to carry the cross that He was nailed to. A man nailed to a cross is hardly an image of victory by our estimation.

But Jesus’ body nailed to a cross is picture of victory nonetheless. There on that cross we see the justice of The Judge. There on that cross do we see our punishment paid for in full. There on that cross do we see the very character and love of our God on full display.

Our God is not an unjust judge who only cares for Himself and does not care for us at all. Our God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

Our God delights in doing the unthinkable by sending His Son to die for us…to rise victorious for us, to end the separation that existed because of our sins, to be the mediator between us and the Heavenly Father.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His victory over the grave is what gives us access to the Father. When the Father looks at us, He no longer sees our sin. He sees His children, covered in the shed blood of His Son. And he delights in hearing His children cry out to Him in prayer in all times of need.

So, where are you at in your life of prayer? God invites us today to put prayer into practice…to see that there is nothing more that He wants of us than to be in constant communication with Him. He knows that the going is tough, and it will only get tougher. But with His help along the way, we will be blessed to endure to life everlasting with Him. So, let us always pray and do not lose heart.

Let us pray. Almighty, everlasting God, Your Son has assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death. Strengthen us as the journey continues to be long and difficult by Your Holy Spirit that our faith in Christ my increase daily and that we may hold fast to the hope that on the Last Day we shall be raised in glory to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Mercy at the border

Sermon: “Mercy on the Border”

Lectionary Series C; The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, October 13, 2019 – Proper 24

Gospel Reading: Luke 17:11-19

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Borders. If you cross the border into from Canada to America, you better make sure you don’t have any extra walleye in your cooler. If you cross the border into California, you better not have any fresh produce in your car. If you cross the border from Kenya to another country, you better not have left the vicinity of the city of Nairobi, or prepare to be searched. I know from experience.

Borders. Over the past few years, we have heard a great deal on the news about the borders of our nation. President Trump campaigned for his presidency with the agenda of closing our southwest border with a wall that Mexico would partially pay for. Other politicians would like to see open borders with sanctuary cities. Among these dialogues back and forth on borders, we have heard more and more about the work of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We have had reports of rising racial tensions throughout the country, and especially near the borders. And now, if you live in New York, and utter the words, “illegal alien” you can get a $250,000 fine. All of this stems from all the talk about our borders in recent years.

But before you go thinking this will be a sermon with a political statement, it is really anything but. This talk of borders is a set up for our text for today where Jesus finds himself on the border.

On the way to Jerusalem he [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee (Luke 17:11).

It sounds like such a simple verse. Jesus was on a walk, and it just happened to be on a border. What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that back in chapter nine, Jesus had set His face toward Jerusalem. But this stroll between Samaria and Galilee was hardly the direct route. If anything, it was kind of a detour. And it was a detour that took him into some unfriendly territory as a Jew.

Jews and Samaritans did not associate with one another. Jews looked down upon the Samaritans. They were half-breeds, those that came from intermarriage with other nations. They were not pure-bred Jews. They didn’t deserve to be treated with the same respect a Jew was.

This begs the question of us: How do we treat those of different ethnicities? How do we think about those that don’t walk, talk, or look like us? Do we think we are somehow better than another race? Do we think we are entitled to better treatment than others?

Jesus, however, went out of his way while journeying to His death to take some time out to have mercy on those who were in need.

And as he [Jesus] entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (Luke 17:12-13).

Mercy is a cry that begs that we don’t get what we do deserve. Mercy is the cry we utter every Sunday when we join in the Kyrie. “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.” It is a cry for help.

These lepers were in need of help, that was a given. But oddly enough, they didn’t beg for Jesus to heal them. They begged for mercy. You see, the greater malady for a leper was not their physical condition. And that is quite striking when you think about the fact that their skin was flaking off, their nerve sensors weren’t firing correctly, and without any feeling of pain in their nerves, they were easily prone to severe injury. But no, that was not the primary concern of theirs.

A leper was a social and religious outcast. No longer could they be present in the town they once lived. No longer could they worship with their congregation. They had to evict themselves to the outer region. And should anyone get near them, they would have had to have yelled, “Unclean, unclean” in an effort to keep others away from them.

This is where Jesus finds these lepers. He finds them on the border between Galilee and Samaria, and they are begging for mercy.

What people are on the borders of our lives that could use a little mercy? Who have we treated like an outcast, be it with our thoughts, words, or deeds? Is it someone of a different race, or someone who thinks different than us or has different political views? Is it a family member that we have deemed no longer deserves our time? Is it a member of our congregation? Who is on the border in our lives that could use a little mercy?

Jesus had mercy with those who were on the border crying out for just that: mercy. When he [Jesus] saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed (Luke 17:14).

For all of the times we have failed to show mercy to others, we also are like these lepers who begged for mercy. We all know what it is like to be treated as an outcast. Maybe it was because of our race. Maybe it was because of the way we think or talk, or maybe it was because of our political views. Maybe we were left out of the game at recess, or left off the invitation list for the family gathering. Every one of us knows this hurt to some degree or another. Every one of us knows what it is like to have that cry for mercy well up within us.

See here that Jesus comes to the border and He doesn’t hesitate to go out of His way to have mercy upon you. Where this world may treat you as an outcast, Jesus welcomes you into His presence. He drenches you in your baptismal waters and claims you as His own. He says, “You are mine. You belong to me. You are not an outcast. You are my beloved child.”

This gift of faith and healing overwhelmed one of those lepers. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan (Luke 17:15-16).

The least likely one to return and give thanks did just that. The Samaritan leper. The one who had two strikes against him. He was not only an outcast because of his condition, but also because of who he was. And yet, he was the one to return and give thanks.

We return today to do the same. We come to give thanks because of who we are. We are sinners who are doomed to die if left to ourselves. There is no hope of our survival without a Savior. We are outcasts who are left for dead.

Which is exactly what Jesus came to this earth to become. He passed the border of heaven to enter into earth. And he became an outcast. He was directed outside the border walls of the city of Jerusalem, forced to carry His own cross. And there on the edge of town, He showed us what mercy really looks like and sounds like. It looks like the Son of God being treated as an outcast, getting what we deserved, yet He took our death upon Himself. It sounds like a cry that got no reply. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani”, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” “Why have you treated me as an outcast?” And the answer is that it was the only way to show you and me mercy.

You and I were doomed to die in our sin. For all of the times we have failed to show mercy to others on the borders of our lives. For all the times we have treated others as outcasts with our thoughts, words, and deeds. For all the times we treated people poorly, those of a different race or those who think different than us or those with different political views or whatever it may be. For all the times we thought someone didn’t deserve our time, or we left out a friend or a family member or a congregational member. For all those times and more, Jesus allowed Himself to be hauled beyond the border of those Jerusalem walls to die our death…the death that should have been ours.

It’s no wonder the Samaritan returned to give thanks as He did. That is the natural response when someone saves your life, and not just this temporal life, but grants you eternal life as well.

          Let us never forget to return thanks like that Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he [Jesus] said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well (Luke 17:17-19).

          Like that Samaritan, in faith, we return here to the house of the Lord to give thanks that God has saved us from sin, death, and the devil. As baptized believers, we rejoice that we are chosen by God to be His own.

          So, who in our lives needs to also hear of the mercy of God? Who are those on the edges and fringes of our lives, that perhaps we could extend the same mercy that we have been afforded in Christ? Let us each take time to examine our lives, and see where we might have mercy on the border. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Holy Help

Sermon: “Holy Help”

Lectionary Series C; The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, October 6, 2019 – Proper 22

Gospel Reading: Luke 17:1-10

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have you ever been given more than you can handle? Now I know people use the line that God never gives us more than we can handle, but when we stop and search the Scriptures, we find that it is not true. So, have you ever been given more than you can handle? I think it’s safe to say that we call all answer, “Yes.”

Having more than we can handle on our plate is overwhelming. It is humbling. It exposes our frailty and weakness. It strikes us at the core of our “can-do” mentality that we so often rely upon when we need to pull up our bootstraps and get down to business. Quite frankly, having more than we can handle is something we resist to be true, and we just don’t like it.

Instead, we prefer to think that we are capable of all things. As Americans especially, we like to think we can conquer the world, or at least our own world. But, in our moments of honesty with ourselves, we are forced to face the facts that we just can’t handle it all. We need, and dare I say it, we need help. We don’t like to think that, and we most certainly don’t like to admit it. To admit that we need help can be embarrassing, and it is obviously humbling. But all of us need to come to terms with the fact that it is the truth. We can’t handle it all. We need help.

The disciples came to that immediate realization after the following words of Jesus: And Jesus said to His disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him (Luke 17:1-4).

It is a tall order that Jesus lays out for His disciples and for us to follow. The text invites us to examine ourselves and our sins in very difficult ways. We are invited to consider how we are being tempted and to take very seriously how when we fall to those temptations might be leading others astray. We are also instructed to rebuke our neighbor who is caught in sin because contrary to popular belief, we are our brother’s or sister’s keeper. And then there is forgiveness. We are told we ‘must’ forgive, and forgive, and forgive again. Up to seven times in the day. That’s once every 3.43 hours. That’s once every 205.8 minutes. That’s once every 12,348 seconds.  

The disciples instantly realized that they needed some help with all of this. Some holy help. They couldn’t do all of this. They couldn’t even do one of the things that Jesus was asking them to do. Which is why they said in response: Increase our faith. No doubt we would echo those sentiments when we consider what Jesus asks of his followers. It’s a tall order. A difficult task. An impossible task from our perspective.

How are we supposed to steer clear of temptations when the devil is constantly deceiving us and we are far too weak to overcome him? How are we supposed to keep others from falling into sin when that is exactly what we constantly do? We constantly sin? How are we supposed to be able to muster up enough courage to rebuke someone else in their sin, especially when we consider that we are sinners too? And how are we supposed to keep forgiving those that keep sinning against us? It is all just too much too handle.

And it is. Not by our own reason or strength are we able to accomplish one of these things. We are far too weak to stand up to the devil and his temptations. We like sin far too much to avoid keeping others from sinning. We worry way too much about our earthly relationships to have the guts to speak the truth in love to someone who is caught in sin and putting their salvation in jeopardy. And when it comes to forgiveness, our tank is always on empty because for us it is just so much easier to bear a grudge than freely forgive.

So, there you have it. We are helpless. We don’t stand a chance. We are like the Detroit Lions trying to win a Super Bowl. It just ain’t gonna happen. Especially because we never get there in the first place. How’s this for a cheery, uplifting sermon?

But that is exactly the way the disciples felt. They felt helpless. They felt inadequate. Have you ever felt that way? I think we all have. We have all faced the challenges that were placed before the disciples, and we have all thought to ourselves. We just don’t have what it takes. We need help.

This is where Jesus enters in with His holy help. And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey you (Luke 17:6).

Now that is quite an image to behold. I looked up just how big a mulberry tree and it grows 30-50 feet in height. What’s more is that even though its roots may not grow that deep, they are very extensive, no doubt interlocking with the roots of other trees. So, to simply say to a mulberry tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea is obviously no small task.

But that’s just it. Jesus’ point is that because we are forgiven sinners who have faith, we already have all of the help that we need. We have all of the faith that we need. Whether it is a little faith or a lot of faith, it is more than enough. Even if it is as small as a mustard seed, it’s enough to do what God has given us to do. Now a mustard seed just so happens to average between one and two millimeters in diameter. That’s pretty small. But Jesus says that it’s enough.

The reason He says that to His disciples and to us is that He is the object of our faith. You see, faith must cling to something. In the water and Word of our baptism, we cling to none other than Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. And for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despised its shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. And from His throne, He exercises His authority in our lives. There is no task that is too big for Him. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

So when it comes to temptations, we have the One who overcame the temptations of the devil head on in the wilderness working in us. When it comes to steering clear from leading others into sin, we have the One who lived a perfect life pumping through our veins with His own blood shed for us. When it comes to the courage needed to rebuke those caught in sin, the One who stood toe to toe with the Pharisees, breathes His Spirit of courage right into us. And when it comes to forgiveness, there is none other than the crucified Christ filling our tank to overflowing so that we can forgive trespasses as we have been forgiven.

See here that Jesus is our holy help in all times of need. He does not leave or abandon us when the going gets tough. He is right here beside us. He is within us. And He is holding us up with His righteous right hand. It’s all because of Jesus.

And that is essential for us to always keep in mind. It’s not by our strength that we accomplish the things Jesus asks of us. It is only with His help and by His strength. My favorite verse is from Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

It can be far too easy to think that when we do the work God has given us to do to think that we deserve the credit. And as those who succumb far too easily to pride, Jesus makes clear that as Christians, to serve Him is simply doing our duty.

Jesus said: Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (Luke 17:7-10).

You see, when it comes to overcoming temptations, or avoiding leading others into sin, or rebuking someone caught in sin, or forgiving again and again and again, all of that is Jesus at work in us. We don’t get the glory. He does. And it is by His grace that He calls us to serve Him by doing our duty as Christians.

So let us delight in the fact that Jesus has called you and me to serve in His stead in the lives of others. We get to love others with His love. And in turn, they will see Jesus. They will see Jesus when we turn from temptation, when we look out for our brother or sister and don’t fall into sin, when we rebuke those caught in sin, and when we forgive every 12,348 seconds. They will see Jesus, our Holy Help in all times of need. In His name. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Care for God's Church

Sermon: “Care for God’s Church”

Lectionary Series C; The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, September 29, 2019 – Proper 21

Epistle Reading: 1st Timothy 3:1-7

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task (1st Timothy 3:1).

An overseer, a pastor, is divinely called by God through the Church to care for the congregation. A pastor is called to be a shepherd of sheep, while recognizing that he is an undershepherd of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. A pastor is also called to be a sheep, baptized into the family of God.

As you think through your life, what do you remember about your pastors? What impact did they have on you in your life of faith? What sort of memories stick out from childhood? How about from adulthood? How have your pastors helped you remain close in your relationship with Jesus?

I have had several pastors impact my walk of faith in many positive ways. My pastor growing up graciously took me under his wings for a week long interim while I was considering whether or not I would enter into the ministry. My mentor has Skyped with me almost every month for over thirteen years. Pastor Lucas answered so many questions and addressed so many concerns of mine, I simply could not count them all. Numerous other pastors have also helped to mold and shape my walk of faith.

How about you? What do you remember about your pastors, and what impact have they had in your life of faith, and how have they helped you remain close in your relationship with Jesus?

You see, today’s text has to do with the Office of the Holy Ministry. The text says that The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. St. Paul lets us know that it is a good thing when a man desires to serve as a pastor. It is a good thing when that man wants to be an undershepherd of the Good Shepherd’s flock. It’s a good thing.

But it’s not an easy thing. This text is filled with qualifications for the pastoral office: Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil (1st Timothy 3:2-7).

Such qualifications for the office of the holy ministry reveal God’s great desire to care for His church. He makes it clear that a pastor must lead by example with a holy life because ‘actions do speak louder than words,’ and in no way does He desire His name to be blasphemed by the very office that is entrusted with proclaiming His holy name to His people.

Make no mistake about it though, no pastor gets those qualifications down perfectly all the time. Pastors are sinners too. That’s why we wear the black clerical shirt. It reminds us pastors and our parishioners that we are all sinners before God. We are all sinners in need of a Savior.

St. Paul said it more clearly two chapters before our text for today: The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost (1st Timothy 1:15).

I am a sinner. Just ask Emily and our children. They will tell you. And you also are sinners. We are all doomed to death because of our sins for the wages of our sins is death.

But conveying this sinful depravity to people is one of the hardest things about serving as a pastor. It is not easy to say to someone that if they are living in sin, they are separating themselves from God. They are putting themselves at risk of death and condemnation in hell if they don’t repent. But it’s true nonetheless. It’s true for you. It’s true for me.

Now it could be so easy to stand up here and just tell nice stories with warm fuzzy thoughts where we all go home feeling good about ourselves. But that’s not what a pastor is called to do. A pastor is called to direct people to Jesus. And the only way that any of us will see our need for Jesus, is if we see that we are, in fact sinners.

That means that if your pastor stands in front of you or meets one on one with you and shows you your sin and calls you to repentance, it is not because he has something against you. It is because he is doing what he has been called by the church to do. It is because He has been called by God through the congregation to care for the church. To be the undershepherd that leads the flock in following the shepherd. And that always starts with repentance.

Not-a-one of us here likes to come to terms with our sinfulness. It’s hard. It’s painful. It takes admitting that we are wrong. It takes changing our sinful ways. It takes repenting over and over, and being forgiven over and over. It’s no wonder that Timothy was told by Paul to “fight the good fight of the faith”. It’s a battle. But it’s a battle worth fighting for.

It’s a battle that Jesus fought for you and I and He won for you on the cross and through the empty tomb. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1st Corinthians 15:54b-57). Through His blood-stained cross and His empty tomb, Jesus won the victory for us.

And there is no greater joy for a pastor than pronouncing that victory that Jesus won over sin, death, and the devil. It’s why there is a white tab over the voice box of the pastor. He is called to speak the Word of God, administer His Sacraments, and deliver His forgiveness given in Christ. Personally speaking, there is no greater joy that I have in serving you than sharing this good news of great joy that is for all people.

I have so many fond memories of sharing this great joy here at Zion over the past twelve years. I can remember one instance where I was visiting someone. And as I was leading them through confession and absolution before communing them, I asked them if they had anything specific that they wanted to confess. They said they did. And as soon as they confessed it, I pronounced forgiveness over them. And they said, it was like a weight of many years had been lifted. I can remember another time where I was visiting someone just before they died. I asked them if they would like to receive the Lord’s Supper. They said they did. It was only a couple hours later that they died. But I couldn’t help but shed tears of joy as I thought about the fact that the last meal they ate was the foretaste of the feast to come, and in a matter of hours they were dining with Jesus in heaven.

Yes, the Office of the Holy Ministry is indeed a noble task. It’s an honor and privilege to be sure. It is indeed a good thing that God gifts His church with pastors so that congregations may be cared for with Word and Sacrament. I say that not just because I am a pastor, but also because of all of the pastors that have served me with God’s gifts as well. Pastors need pastors too.

But the church needs more men to serve in this Office. The Church is facing a significant pastoral shortage. Consider this: when I graduated from Seminary in St. Louis in 2007, there were 144 pastors in my graduating class. That means that there were easily over two hundred pastors that graduated that year from both seminaries. In this past graduating class here in 2019 there were only about 90 graduates, from both seminaries combined.

This is why it’s essential that we encourage young men to consider the Office of the Holy Ministry. That even though it may be hard, it is a noble task. It is a good thing. And we need good pastors that will serve us and future generations.

As St. Paul wrote to the Romans: How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15).

I began this sermon by asking: What do you remember about your pastors? What impact did they have on you in your life of faith? What sort of memories stick out from childhood? How about from adulthood? How have your pastors helped you remain close in your relationship with Jesus?

I ask those questions for us to consider as Zion continues in the call process for an Associate Pastor. What kind of a man are we looking to fill this office? No doubt we want him to meet the qualifications that St. Paul sets forth for Timothy. That is a given. But beyond even that, let’s keep ever before us the noble task we are asking him to do to serve us. We want this man to faithfully serve us God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament, and lead us in a life of repentance and forgiveness. For that is what will truly help us remain close in our relationship to Jesus. And that is what the care of God’s Church is all about: connecting us to our Savior Jesus who fulfilled the noble task of dying and rising for us. In His name. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Thy Will Be Done- Rev. Marlin Rempfer

Thy Will Be Done! 1 Time 2:1 – 8, 9-22-19

 

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

 

Why did you that? What is your motivation?  Why do live life the way you do?  Why do spend money the way you do?  Why do you come to church every Sunday?

 

The dishonest steward is commended in today’s Gospel.  He knows he is about to lose his job so he calls people in and cuts their bills in half.  The text clearly tells us that he does what he does so that people will receive him into the houses.

 

In the reading from Amos business owners asked, “When will the new moon be over so that we can trample on the needy and deal deceitfully with false balances?  The Message puts it this way: Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak, you who treat poor people as less than nothing,  Who say, “When’s my next paycheck coming so I can go out and live it up? How long till the weekend when I can go out and have a good time?”

 

With every mass shootings they say, “We are still trying to determine the motive.”

 

Today’s epistle focuses our attention on God’s will and not our own.  It does so when it focuses our attention on prayer.  We often pray, “Thy will be done” but when we are asked why we do what we do how often is God in our answer?

 

1 Timothy is an instruction manual for a young pastor named Timothy.   Paul makes clear that God’s will is for us to prioritize prayer.

 

Many times we have heard people say, ‘If all else fails try prayer.  Paul writes, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

 

Why do we so often say, “Let’s begin with prayer?  Our text says that it is good and it is pleasing to God our Savior.  I don’t pray that God’s will conforms to mine but that mine conforms to His.  Let us pray is meant to take our mind off of what we want and put it on God and what He wants.  Luther said it so well when Jesus taught us the Lord’s prayer He taught us that our prayers should be God centered.  We want His name to be hallowed, His kingdom to come and His will to be done.

 

What do Governor Tom Walz, Senators Amy Kobuchar, and Tina Smith, Representatives Dean Phillips, and Ilhan Omar, President Trump, Vice President Pence have in common?    They are at the top of your prayer list.  Right?   God’s will is that we pray for rulers, for king and all in authority.

 

At the time Paul wrote these words the government was the Roman Empire, including names like Caesar and Nero. Caesar was no friend of Christianity. Nero poured tar on Christians set them on fire.  Nero would eventually have Paul executed.  That’s Paul’s government and he puts them at the top of the prayer list.  Why?   “It’s good and pleases God our Savior.

 

Why do we pray for our government almost every Sunday?  We do so because it pleases God our Savior and so that we may lead a godly life.

 

Our first concern when we pray for the government is not tax rates, not economic policies.  Our first request is that God would lead the government to fulfill its duty and make sure that we, the Christian Church, have the freedom to teach, to preach and to live God’s Word.  Paul put it this way in our text, “that we (Christians)  may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

 

We not only want to pray God’s will we want to do it.  Keith Green’s song, “Make My Life a Prayer for You” could easily have been inspired by these verses.

 

You make my life a prayer to You I wanna do what You want me to
No empty words and no white lies No token prayers no compromise

I wanna shine the light You gave Through Your Son You sent to save us From ourselves and our despair It comforts me to know You're really there

I wanna die and let You give Your life to me, so I might live And share the hope You gave to me, the love that set me free
I wanna tell the world out there, You're not some fable or fairy tale
That I've made up inside my head, You're God the Son
You've risen from the dead


I wanna die and let You give Your life to me, so I might live
And share the hope You gave to me I wanna share the love that set me free

 

Why do you do what you do?  Why do you spend money the way you do?    Why do pray the way you do?  Why does Zion have a Lutheran School?  Why do we pray for our government?  Our answer:  God desires the salvation of all.

 

One of those whose sins were washed away in the blood of the Lamb was Joachim Von Ribbontrop (Hilter’s Foreign Minister)  After WWII Ribbontrop and 20 other Nazi war criminals were placed on trial at Nuremburg.  While they were there they were ministered to by a Lutheran chaplain named Henry Gerecke.  During the 10 month trial Ribbontrop took instruction and received the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood.  When it came time for Ribbontrop’s hanging on October 15, 1946 Gerecke prayed with him and then accompanied him into the execution chamber.  His last moments in life are described in these words, “The doomed man, hands tied behind his back, mounted the gallows, 13 steps.  He was made to state his name and asked if had any last words:  “I place my confidence in the lamb who made atonement for my sins.  May God have mercy on my soul.  Then he turned to Gerecke and said, “I’ll see you again.”

 

Last week in our Gospel lesson we heard that the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents. When you came to faith it set off a celebration in heaven.  When we confess our sins and receive forgiveness the celebration echoes.   More than anything else, God wants the angels involved in non-stop rejoicing . . . and that’s why we pray for our government, in fact at the top of our list, because the rejoicing in heaven depends on the Good News of Jesus being freely proclaimed on earth

 

This text convicts us because we don’t pray for all people for kings and all in authority.  This text convicts us because we don’t necessarily want all to be saved.

 

Why do we do what we do? Ultimately we do it for the sake of the Gospel.  We do it because God wants all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  

 

What is the truth?  There is one God, one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself to ransom all

 

God wants everyone to be saved.  To save them He sent His Son into the world.  Then He sends His Sprit Who through baptism, the Word and the Lord’s Supper calls us by the Gospel, enlightens us with His gifts, bestows faith and keeps us in faith.

 

What is God’s will?  God’s will is seen clearly in the cross.  When you turn to the wonder of the cross you see His will - You find One in whose heart the idea of eternity without His children was so oppressive that in His mercy God did what we could not do.  Which of your children or grandchildren would you give up for others?  Few would lay down their lives for their friends but for your enemies.  How many here would lay down their life for all those today who could care less about worship, and Jesus or who could care less about the hymns of praise and the Sacrament, who could care less about the power of the Word and the memory of their baptism?  Would you die for all those people who curse the name God? 

 

The will of God is that His seeking searching heart reaches out to them.  That is what Christianity is all about.  That is what grace and mercy really mean.  That is the heart of God.  That is the will of God.  He desires the salvation of all.

 

The will of God is for you to walk with a sense of awe, that you come to the Sacrament and receive baptism and the wonder of God’s will in the water, that you come to the Lord’s Table and walk away with a peace that passes understanding,  feeling whole, comforted, encouraged, bright, strong, new, - that you walk away aware that nothing will ever separate you from God’s love.

 

Why do you do what you do?  We live and give so that everyone might know the truth that God sent His Son to live for you, to suffer for you, to bleed for you, to die for you, to rise for you and for them.    There could be no better prayer than, “Thy will be done”.  Amen.

 

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