"On Christian Unity"
A sermon on Ephesians 4:1-6
Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity, 8 October 2017
The "one, holy, Christian and apostolic Church," we believe, is indivisible. Unity in the Church is not ours to accomplish, the result of human effort or wisdom. Rather, Christian unity is God's own gift and work for us in Christ. The oneness Paul preaches is never ours to build by our own ingenuity, effort or power. Christian Unity remains the solitary handiwork of one Spirit through the pure preaching of God's Word and the right administration of His Sacraments.
This widow is not defined by her grief, her anger, her loss, but The Mistress of the House is defined by her faith that freely received Godâ€™s gifts and freely gives the Lord glory in return. The result of Godâ€™s miracles is faith in the Word of the Lord. The miracles serve throughout Scripture to create faith, to establish and confirm Godâ€™s saving grace confessing â€œthe Word of the Lord in your mouth is true.â€ So the conclusion Godâ€™s people draw in Nain, as Christ raises a widowâ€™s son, â€œGod has visited His people!â€
"On Anxiety and Faith"
A sermon on Matthew 6:24-34
Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, 24 September 2017
No one can serve two masters. Just the way it is, even for you. But we try, don't we?While our frail and fallen flesh worries about many things, Christ calls our attention to the abiding affection and constant activity of God as He reigns over all creation. He draws us in to remember both who we are as redeemed people and whose we are as Children of the Heavenly Father.
"Words of Life and Healing"
A sermon on Proverbs 4:10-23 / Luke 17:11-19
Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, 17 September 2017
Today, Immanuel Lutheran celebrates Rally Day and resumes Christian education for all ages. Bibles are gifted to our young ones, teachers blessed and entrusted before God with their sacred teaching takes. We pause to reflect with Solomon on the practical nature of spiritual life and learning. Not all paths lead to heaven, nor to a healthy family life. Some are downright dangerous and destructive.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. His Word shines as a lamp to our feet and light to our path. Though wounded and stained with sin, stumbling and sometimes astray, the Gospel brings return of life and healing along our way. God bless and preserve us by His Holy Spirit, that forgiven and forgiving we walk in His ways together in Christ.
"Take Care of Him"
A sermon on Luke 10:23-37 (The Good Samaritan)
Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, 10 September 2017
Upon the return of the 72 He sent, Jesus blesses His disciples for the spiritual care they received and delivered. Meanwhile, a Law-man shows up with a devilish desire to test Jesus and prove him a fraud, certainly no Soon of God. An echo of the Devil's own voice is put to shame such that the Law-man now seeks "to justify himself" under the Law, asking but "who is *my* neighbor?" (And who is not?)
The Lord Jesus bids us behold with compassion those neighbors like ourselves, people abandoned, beaten, bleeding and left lying helpless with deadly injuries. Meet neighbors like us, robbed of any comfort or hope self-help. Often unconscious of sin, wounded in body and soul, the Helper arrives with His mercy. He must come and do everything to deliver us with our neighbor, bearing all the burden and cost Himself. He takes our wounds to His cross, to His grave. He clothes us in His righteousness by grace, through faith. Jesus alone has loved God with all his heart, and the whole world full of neighbors as himself.
Christ provides for our neighbor's care personally today and bids His Church "Take care of him." His spiritual care is wine poured out on the lips, exposing and cleansing wounds to bind and heal them. He gives His medicine by means of Word and Sacraments, His life-giving treatment for every mortal injury, the deadly infection of all our sin. Blessed are your eyes, who yet see the care He commands first hand, ears who still hear His voice saying "Whatever it costs, I will pay." Truly, "the kingdom of God is near you," nearer than many self-serving passers-by ever care to believe.
"Confident and Competent in Christ"
A sermon on 2 Corinthians 3:1-11
Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, 27 August 2017
The ministry of Moses was such that God's people couldn't stand to look Moses in the face as he spoke the Word of the Lord. The letter of the Law proclaimed condemnation of sin and pronounced death upon idolatry, blasphemy and those who plowed or harvested on the Sabbath Day. (Exodus 32-34) As a Pharisees' Pharisee, before Christ opened his eyes and ears, Paul engaged in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of death by the letter of the Law. He personally saw to St. Stephen's death for preaching Jesus. But the ministry of death and condemnation is abolished. Ministers of the New Covenant in Christ's blood carry on a very different work. That ministry gives Spirit and life to sinners, pronounced righteous for Jesus' sake, made competent to serve and confident to stand before God, redeemed.
"The Fugitive's Faith"
A sermon on Genesis 4:1-15; Luke 18:9-14
Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, 27 August 2017
When I do something for God, I want Him to approve and praise it. When I give something to God, I want him to love it and thank me. However, Scripture says He just doesn't--and won't--unless Jesus acts through those signs given us...
"Hanging on His Words"
A sermon on Luke 19:41-48
Tenth Sunday after Trinity, 20 August 2017
Jesus weeps over those robbed of His peace. He visits judgment on those who steal away heavenly treasures. Christ comes to fill the temple with His teaching. He speaks mercy to His people. Jesus restores the gift of peace, visiting us personally, so that none will be robbed of His riches given freely by faith. His Peace is served at His table; peace he pours out at the font. He proclaims peace by means of His forgiving word. Have you been robbed? Or are you still listening, hanging onto His Words?
"Think You're Standing Strong?"
A sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:6-13
Ninth Sunday after Trinity, 13 August 2017
Is there such a thing as a strong Christian? Yes, but none so strong as to be able to escape and endure temptation on their own. None stand strong enough to rescue themselves from their slavery to sin. The Strong find God's help where God puts it, receiving it gladly in Word and Sacrament by faith. The "Strong" Christians use strength to glorify our gracious God, by employing this gift in service to others--even and especially those struggling now next to them in Church and world. Take heed, "Strong" Christian, lest you falter and fall to the same old boring temptations and sin which hounds us all. Whenever you do, the Lord stands near with His means of grace to deliver you right along with the rest of us.
"God Breathes Life"
A sermon on Genesis 2:7-17
Seventh Sunday after Trinity, 30 July 2017
From the beginning, God gives us a glimpse of His personal interest and affection toward each person He brings forth into the world. The fallen world continually diminishes personhood into biological accident, evolutionary anomaly or random combination of demographic statistic and psychosocial circumstance. Nonetheless, God declares each person His unique creature with identity, precious value to Him and divine purpose for neighbor. He grants us the gift of body and soul, ransomed in Christ to partake of the very Tree of Life. (Rev. 22:1-3)
Christ does not envision his church as a place where people come to be fired up against their neighbors. Christ does not envision the Holy life of his Holy people as life marked by anger and accusations. Rather, the Christian life is to be marked by reconciliation in Christ, life reconciled to God and one another. He would make of us peacemakers and loving servants to all. We acknowledge anger for the sinful thing it is, confess it and abide in absolution. The soft Word of God’s grace turns away anger.
Jesus asks the boat guys to lend a boat, move it out little. Jesus asks these tired fishermen to fish. Those nets they were mending, Jesus asks them to cast them out. These werenâ€™t difficult things. They did them all the time. It wasnâ€™t a strange, unfamiliar thing Christ bid them to do--until the Lord blessed it in spite of their failure and half-hearted misgivings!
"My Enemy is Unmade"
A sermon on Romans 12:14-21
Fourth Sunday after Trinity, 9 July 2017
Jesus keeps taking my enemies away! He scratches their names off my list faster than I can write them down! "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." Really, Jesus? Bless the hostile? The haters? The sinners who sin against me?!
"Overjoyed with Just One--and All"
A sermon on Luke 15:1-10
Third Sunday after Trinity, 2 July 2017
Pharisees and sinners want each other to "Get lost!" But Jesus keeps finding stubborn strays and bringing them back. He's doing this on purpose! "Rejoice with me, with them, with angels..." He says! "I found you! I found them! You belong here. Stick around." This is a good thing He calls "repentance."
God loves to give good gifts and do good things for people. Some go to great lengths making excuses, always rationalizing why it's OK to refuse the gifts and reject this gracious Giver. Christ invited you to gather with the rest of us poor, crippled, blind and lame people as we receive His good gifts with thanksgiving. That's all the excuse to show up you'll ever need.
"He Believed The Lord"
A sermon on Genesis 15:1-6
First Sunday after Trinity, 18 June 2017
Abram was not the perfect man, with the perfect marriage, perfect home or perfect family life. But he trusts the Lord to keep His promise, which faith alone is reckoned to him as perfect righteousness.
"Let's Meet at the Corner of Heaven and Earth!"
A sermon on Isaiah 6:1-7; John 3:1-17
The Holy Trinity, 11 June 2017
Dealing with the Athanasian Creed can seem a little like Abbot and Costello's famous "Who's on First?" routine. Here God's people confess the Biblical truth about Jesus: His divinity and humanity and the clear revelation of the Trinity in action in our midst.
The Babylonians were pioneers of mathematics and science, mixed with religious zeal and fervor. Their postulates and theorems are still taught today. Has our culture really abandoned religion, or merely embraced as new a very ancient and self-aggrandizing worship of Science? God reveals himself this Pentecost day as one well able to make himself known and understood to all, through the love of proud and confused sinners and the forgiveness of their sins proclaimed in the Name of Christ Jesus...
"Jesus is not simply our go-between or our middle-man, though he is that! He is our access. He does more than just relay our messages. Jesus brings us with him into his Father's house. He sets for each of us a place at our Father's family table. Or to put it another way, with Jesus, He doesn't just speak in our place--we speak in His. There are no notes, no emmissaries, no representatives. Just the words, "Our Father," from our lips to God's ears.
'26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you,'" [because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.] --Dr. Peter Scaer, Kramer Chapel Sermon, 7/24/15
For all the graduates and Moms and everyone dreading what tomorrows may bring: The Living Lord Jesus is our comfort today and tomorrow's cause for genuine, grounded hope. His resurrection is the reason we anticipate and embrace whatever the future brings. The Holy One of Israel goes with us into tomorrow as "my strength and my song, for He has become my salvation..." (Isa. 12:2)
Christ has made us a family, a royal priesthood in his blood. On account of the sinful flesh we sometimes lose sight of who and Whose we are, whether in the workplace, the civil realm, or wherever one wanders in this world. The Living Lord, who graciously called and gathered us as his own, sanctifies and keeps us with him in this communion of saints.
Jesus is the one Good Pastor, the Good Shepherd. Our town, our country and world has exactly one Good Shepherd who tends all His flocks. All others pale in comparison, though they strive to learn from the best. Your one Good Pastor Jesus laid down His life for the sheep. On the cross He bears the bruises and wounds of fierce battle. Yet He lives--He is risen and makes Himself known to you by the pure Word and clear voice of the Gospel. THE one Good Shepherd governs His church and tends His flocks all across the world. He finds the lost, binds up wounds, feeds His lambs and restores our souls.
One can't just shut the sinners out, though often we try... Jesus comes behind closed doors, bearing the marks people needed to obtain faith. Then, the Living Lord Jesus sends them out to forgive...
"Who Will Move The Stone"
A sermon on Mark 16:1-8
Easter Sunday, 16 April 2017
We have a lot to learn from the faith of these women. The apostles themselves must learn from them, too. In their haste to make right what went undone, do things right with regard to their beloved Lord's burial, they remembered the spices, the oils, but forgot a great stone stood in the way of their giving Jesus a proper burial. It was shameful, the hurry-up burial He had been given. They would go back, do it right. While the apostles hid huddled in the upper room, these women pressed on with the work that needed to be done.
The Lord has plans of His own. Heavy stones prove no obstacle to him. Neither does their guilt, nor their shame, nor their fear. Stones prove no barrier to His plans for them either--that they should be first to bear the Word "He is risen." These women of faith find in that Word all the direction and hope that they need to overcome their own stone-cold fear. The Living Lord Jesus changes our plans, usually before we are ready or able to explained what just happened or understand what comes next. So we go where we're pointed, meet Him where He promises to be, and in His word find faith to go forward.
"Faith Alone Works Our Righteousness in Christ"
A sermon on Romans 4:1-8 and John 18:7-9 (18-19)
Midweek Lent 8 Good Friday, 14 April 2017
The sermon series concludes with a clear distinction between the right and necessary preaching of good works as God commands them and the self-centered pursuit of "works righteousness," by which one hopes to earn salvation or deserve God's own favor and blessings. There is a good way to talk about the good works God commands of us.
But there are dangerous ways too, where people are falsely convinced they do God a favor or earn salvation for themselves or others by their "good" works--a way that leads to Christ's betrayal, to bloodshed and death. There is a dangerous way that abandons God's Law altogether, embracing a lawless and cynical corruption of religion and politics, preferring individual self-centered, self-serving endeavors to establish disordered righteousness of our own design. All this we see in play on Good Friday.
The Gospel we preach and teach is quite another message, one which locates our righteousness completely outside ourselves and forever to be found in Christ alone. This faith comes from outside ourselves. This faith receives a righteousness from outside ourselves, Christ's own righteousness now declared yours. It is not found within ourselves, our own efforts or means, but in Him and by the means He established outside of us.
Here we find the blood of that eternal Covenant which blesses and overcomes our weak, dying flesh with his living body and blood. Your heavy eyes may grow dim and take no note of his approach. Yet here He comes. At His Word faith awakens to His presence. Faith hears His voice. Faith receives this His gift for what He says it is. Receiving this by the hand and command of Christ, we return strengthened and sanctified to the task He has given.
Do not be alarmed that your flesh turns out to be just as weak as He says. None of us should be surprised to find out we have weakness. We fall short. We fail Christ and fall asleep now and then. He tells us as much, and it is true. Watch and pray, though you have heavy eyes. Christ awakens your faith with a Word. Jesus tells you take and eat what He gives, take and drink from this cup of blessing. Such faith alone works, though the flesh objects, to receive the gifts that Christ gives. Though the flesh objects, here again God wakes and works faith--He strengthens faith. By faith alone, this blood of his eternal Covenant "equips you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
"Hope Because of the Blood of My Covenant"
A sermon on Zechariah 9:9-12
Palm Sunday / 9 April 2017
"Why should I dare to have hope?" The Daughter of Zion endured captivity, exile, and seventy years raising her family far from home. She cast her hope into a deep well, there to die of starvation and thirst. You may be a daughter with little hope. We were born of a daughter, raised by daughters. We were taught by daughters, some married daughters and raise daughters of their own. How shall the Daughter live in hope?
Here God speaks hope to this daughter! He sends her Deliverer King! Secured in his reign, He extends it over all the earth by His Word of peace. God declares this Daughter's hope--your own hope, too--must be set free and live! The Lord guides her return to the stronghold, where her hope is safe and secure. Let her hope starve no more, but be fed at His table. May her thirst be quenched with His cup--the cup of the new Covenant in his blood. Rejoice, O Daughter--Christ, your King, comes to you!
Sixth grade kids now know as much or sometimes even more about other world religions than they do about their own faith. Public Schools who once saw the wisdom of Mosesâ€™ words and warnings no longer allow his voice to be heard there. Our young people have honest questions about God that didnâ€™t even occur to me until college. In truth, I havenâ€™t time enough to teach them and answer them all, I need your help. You parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and sponsors... There are answers to their questions, good answers for hard questions, that require patience and careful instruction. Weâ€™ve got our work cut out for us, but the Word of the Lord endures.
Trite, pat answers, slogans and memes just wonâ€™t do, not about worship or about the Christian life. Fortunately, God did not call Father Facebook, Bishop Bing or the Rev. Dr. Google to be your Pastor. He calls a living, breathing blood-bought man to help encounter and explore real questions, in a patient, faithful, loving and ongoing way. God has not abandoned you His people nor His pastors, but He remains present for them all in His Word and Sacrament ministry. His Holy Spirit always works there for you. He calls out, gathers in, and enlightens His Church in the darkness of this earth. There He sanctifies and keeps them one and all with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
"Faith Alone Works What the Word Commands"
A sermon on Deuteronomy 12:8,28-32 and 1 Corinthians 4:6
Midweek Lent 6, 5 April 2017
What do we do with such a feisty Jesus? What of this name-calling, disagreeable Jesus in John 8? Religious conflicts and arguments remain as plentiful as ever. God's Name most often gets dragged into these modern conflicts about laws and rules, rather than matters of grace and forgiveness of sins, the presence of the living God among his people on earth, and His gift of eternal life. People stand and fight about all the wrong things.
Jesus proclaims that heaven is for the living, not the dead. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is very much alive; "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:31-32) Abraham himself is alive and rejoices to behold the Son of God. The prophets who preached him are alive. Jesus lives and has come that he may give eternal life to all who hold fast to his word and keep it. A bold, audacious claim? "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." Likewise, Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Listen in as Jesus fights about the living God and true religion, for you...
"Have You Seen Abraham?"
A sermon on John 8:42-59
Fifth Sunday in Lent, 2 April 2017