Sunday, May 29, 2011

Homily for Easter 6a (Confirmation) - John 14:15-21

[With much thanks to Rev. Erik Rottmann for many of these thoughts.  The brackets are personal notes for changing my preaching from one congregation with confirmation, to the second congregation without it.]

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!       
He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!

               Our text [for this confirmation Sunday] is the Gospel reading, especially where Christ says to you, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  And then He speaks this great promise to you, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15-17).  This is our text.  You may be seated.
               Dearly beloved of God, [and especially you, Nathan,] grace, mercy and peace be yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
               [Quite the big week for you, eh Nathan?  You graduate from 8th Grade and finish Confirmation classes.  And just as leaving the 8th Grade does not mean you are done, but merely heading on to a harder school, likewise your confirmation means you head into the harder school of life. 
               The Lord for the first time today strengthens you with His Body and Blood – the same Body and Blood that Christ gave to save you from your sins, a salvation from sins that you take far more seriously now than before we discussed the Scriptures.  Truly a great blessing from God.  However, ] you need to understand that the enemies of your faith now will make your life harder.  Not only will the Devil (1 Peter 5:8) and the world (John 15:18) continually attack the faithful, but you yourself will be your own worst enemy.  Your sinful nature will tempt and torment you.  Your fallen body will aggravate you, not only when your aches and pains get in the way of you having fun doing what you want, but also when your body has its love affairs with destructive sins.  And you know how bad it goes when the human body falls for things like laziness, cursing, gossip, drunkenness, sexual unfaithfulness and so on. 
               [As you learned,] sin is not just what we do and say, but also corrupts our thoughts.  So our minds attack us not only with greed and lust and selfishness, but also tempt us to be bored with God’s holy things, to doubt His promises and to care less about “the living and abiding Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).
               Nothing is left untouched by sin.  Even our emotions turn against our life with Christ.  Our emotions fool us into judging God based on how we feel – which is not good for people who ride emotional roller coasters during the week.  So when life is good, we think God must be happy with us.  But when we are sad and lonely, then we are tempted to imagine God is far from us, or angry, or forgetting us.  And when we get mad at the world, we know how to blame God for failing at His job.
               Your Savior Jesus understands how hard it is for you to survive these ongoing attacks.  That is why He says to you today, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  And then Christ promises you, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.”
               [Now that you have been through Confirmation class,] when you hear the word “commandment”, you most likely think of the Ten, and how these not only teach you what is right, but also accuse and condemn you of sin.  You probably do not think that these commandments provide you with protection or defense.  Because of our guilty consciences, we know all too well that the Holy Law reveals God’s wrath and exposes our sin, as Romans says (4:15, 7:7).
               The good news for you is that God’s commandments do more for you than just condemn your sin.  They also help and support you.  And more than just in the way I explained in class, that with the Fifth Commandment, God says, “Hey world, this is my Nathan.  You shall not murder Nathan – he belongs to Me.”  Or, if God should bless you with a wedding day, “Hey world, this woman is Nathan’s wife.  Not one of you shall commit adultery with either one of them.  You shall not tear apart what I joined together.  Their marriage is precious to Me.”
               More than that, these Commandments also help to keep sin from destroying you with temptations.  For example, when you want to lash out physically or verbally against someone else, the Commandment provide the help you need.  You can insist against your sinful bodily desire that you must not commit the wickedness that God forbids.
               Or as another example, when your mind runs off to thoughts of greed, God’s command “You shall not covet” helps you to stand against being discontent.  It reminds you to be satisfied with the Lord, and to count the generous blessings He has given you.  We use this commandment as a weapon to take our temptations and “every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
               Unfortunately there is a limit to the help the Commandments can give us.  They can work to make our bodies and minds behave.  However, they fail miserably at taming our corrupted emotions.  It is pretty easy to spot the sinful words and deeds, and somewhat easy to identify the sinful thoughts.  But our sinful emotions are much more sneaky when they attack us.
               When we feel good, we want to think that whatever is making us feel good has to be a good thing (1 Corinthians 15:32).
               When we feel angry, we generally judge that we have a right to be mad (Matthew 5:22).
               Emotions have influenced the history of warfare [and I know that if I said that in class, Nathan would give me 5 minutes of examples of how wars went bad because the leader got caught up in emotions].  Emotions have divided families, and emotions have led people astray from the one true faith in Christ.
               Your Savior Jesus knows that your chaotic and shifting emotions get the better of you.  The Lord knows even His Holy Law is powerless to help you re-take control from them.  You might possibly get your body to submit to avoiding evil and doing good.  Perhaps some can even take their thoughts captive.  But who can master their inner storms of emotion?  You know how it  goes – you bury your hurt, sorrow, or rage deep inside and put on the mask of a happy face to pretend that nothing is wrong.
               We might fool some of the people some of the time, but we never fool Jesus.  He knows your struggle and failure, and He knows mine.  Therefore He went to the Cross after He never let His emotions get the best of Him.  He offered His perfect life to save us from all our sin – our unfaithfulness, our rage, our failures at temptation.  Not just in order to forgive us, but also so that He could make His promise to all of us in today’s Gospel:  “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.”  Jesus takes control back from our emotions for us by this indwelling Holy Spirit.  By the miracle of faith worked by the Holy Spirit, we know that God is pleased with us.  Despite what our loneliness might say, and not because of what our happiness tries telling us.  Rather we know we are precious to God because
     Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  
He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!
The Risen and Ascended Jesus uses the Holy Spirit to silence the lies your emotions tell, so that you will “hold God’s Word sacred and gladly hear and learn it.”  Sometimes you will feel better afterword you hear it, and sometimes you will not.  Sometimes you will feel different after you receive His Supper, sometimes not.  But by the power of the Holy Spirit, no matter what you feel, you will trust His Word and forgiveness are true.
               The Spirit came to you at the start of the service during the Invocation, reminding you with the sign of the Cross that you are the Baptized child of God, belonging to the household of Heaven forever.
               The Spirit spoke His great peace to you in the Absolution, telling you that all your sins of body, mind and emotion are fully forgiven “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
               The Spirit then uses the Scriptures and sermon to speak the demands and promises of God.  He teaches you and fills you with His living Word so that you may “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
               And today, for the first time, the Spirit will serve you the Body and Blood of your Lord Jesus.  In this way, you will receive into your mouth the same rich forgiveness of Christ that you have heard with your ears for years.
               You know the quote, I am sure, that “We have met the enemy and he is us.”  However, thanks be to God, your Jesus has asked His Father, and the Father gives to you the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit “dwells with you and will be in you” so that you will not be destroyed by your enemies.  Therefore not even your most powerful and sinful emotions now rule over you.  For
Alleluia!  Christ is risen!       
He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What others said...

Congrats to my online friend and brother, The Sober Peasant, for being awarded Issues, etc Blog of the Week by Jeff for his excellent post!  Go read it - it won't take long.

Saturday in Easter 5 - Gospel

Interesting.  I never noticed before that Jesus uses the same example of working on the Sabbath in both Luke 14:1-6 and Luke 13:10-17.  It also intrigues me that in ch. 13, Jesus waits for the synagogue ruler to express indignation.  Here in 14, Jesus addresses the non-vocalized accusations.

For something much more profound about this miracle, check out what I wrote two years ago.  Combine that with what I write above, and the repetition highlights how serious Jesus is about calling them to repentance and faith.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Easter 6a Devotion - 1 Peter 3:15

(You might be interested in reading/ listening to Rev. Heath Curtis' presentation to the IN District Pastor's Conference, which is the basis for this article.)

        “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

        Thinking about evangelism can scare an otherwise confident Christian.  “What if I mess it up and say the wrong thing?  What if someone I know is ready to hear the Gospel, but I do not talk to them?  What if I pick the wrong person to witness to and they get really mean?”
        St. Peter tells us a different approach that answers all these fears.  1 Peter 3:15 says not to worry about picking the right person.  Let people pick you!  Be ready to answer them when they ask you questions.  The book of Acts is filled with examples of this – people are constantly questioning Peter, Paul, Stephen, Philip, and other Christians about Christ, the faith, the Scriptures.  And the Christians give the reason for their hope – how they know they will go to Heaven and can trust God to answer their prayers.  It all has to do with being baptized into Jesus, who suffered once for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18).
Crucifixion of St. Peter by Caravaggio. The ea...                                    People getting angry with                                                                      St. Peter.  Image via Wikipedia
        What if they get mean and angry when you talk about Jesus?  Peter reminds us elsewhere that that happened to Jesus too.  And as you know from the life of Christ, “even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed” (1 Peter 3:13).
        What if you mess up when you talk to someone who would have believed the Gospel if you said the right things?  Remember, as much as you want the person in Heaven, God wants them there more.  If you mess it up, God will use another Christian.  His Word will accomplish the purposes for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11) – namely so that faith will come to that person by hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
        In this way, evangelism and witnessing become a lot less scary.  It is a lot less like carefully choosing your path through a field filled with land mines and traps.  Like my friend says, it is a lot more like an Easter egg hunt.  Only instead of candy, you rejoice to find God’s lost children – a treasure more precious to Him than silver or gold.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sermon for Easter 5A - John 14:1-14 (and 1 Peter 2:2-10)

Most of the thoughts contained herein are from Pastor David Petersen.

             On the night Jesus was betrayed, the disciples in the upper room were getting more disturbed the more Jesus spoke.  Our text starts with Him telling them, “Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in Me” (John 14:1) because just before this He told them that He would be with them only a little longer, and they would not now be able to follow Him (John 13:33). 
            Philip thinks he knows what the apostles need to make it through the dark days to come.  “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (14:8).  If you show us more, show us God’s glory and power, that will be enough.
            How often do God’s people make a similar request?  If only the Lord does this, that will be enough.  “If only I had money to pay off my credit cards and start over.”  “If only God had made me smarter.”  “If only it would not rain so much.”  “If only I could get organized.”  “If only gas prices were not so high.”  “If only we had better leaders for our country and our church.”  “If only God would show how good our church is by packing it full of people.”  “If only a few more members would carry a bigger load for the congregation.”  Then we think life would be good.  And we could do what we want.
            How many times a day do you find that your life is not what you want?  How much temptation is there to ask God, “Just give me this much money for my bills, a few frills, and the rest for charity.  That will be enough.”  But will it ever be enough if these desires are met?  Or will there always be something more once you get it?  New desires.  New demands.  In this way we replace God with ourselves, asking in my name, according to my will, to satisfy me when I want it in the way that I know is best.
            Repent.  God is good, no matter what sin’s greedy voice claims.  The Lord does not forget you.  He knows better than we do what you need, and when.  He knows what you do not need, and what will hurt you.
            Philip is just like you.  He is God’s child.  His heart was purified, for our Lord, on the night when He was betrayed, had given the apostles His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of their sins.  Nevertheless, the same temptations that take hold of you took hold of Philip.  He is neither better nor worse than us.  “Lord, show us the Father.  That is what we need.  That will be enough.”  Philip does not know what he is asking.  It is nearly blasphemous that he is not satisfied with seeing Jesus.  He considers Jesus as not nearly enough for him.  Philip wants something more.  And that is right where the Devil wants him.
            The problem is not that God has failed to give Philip what he needs.  The problem is that Philip is frustrated with all of sin’s failures.  He is tired of this fallen world.  And he probably is more than a little afraid of Jesus going away.  He wants temptation to stop.  He wants the past regrets to go away.  He remembers the emotional and spiritual high from the feeding of the 5000, and the crowds gathering to hear Christ’s words and see the healings.  He wants those joys in life to go on without end.  But instead the apostles have to go to dark Gethsemane.  They must face their own shortcomings.  They have to wait for Easter evening with no more proof that it will happen than the Scriptures – just as you have to wait for the return of Christ and the resurrection of your bodies with nothing more than that same proof, even as you face your shortcomings.
            Philip’s frustration – and ours – is not completely wrong.  The holy form of this  dissatisfaction moved our Lord to heal the sick, feed the thousands, cast out demons and raise Lazarus and other dead people back to life.  And Christ was certainly frustrated as He wept over Jerusalem’s unbelief and drove the moneychangers out of His Temple.  But where Philip goes wrong in that upper room is in saying that he was dissatisfied because God was holding out on him.  He wrongly blames Jesus for not doing enough.  He even knows exactly what the Lord should do to make it right: “Show us the Father.”  He was not content with Jesus.
            The amazing thing is Jesus says, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9).  The sad thing is Philip did not believe it.  What God has done and is doing is more than enough.  It is enough for Philip’s sins, for his doubts, his concerns, his misunderstandings, for all his shortcomings and regrets.  Philip was not willing to trust in the goodness of God.  But Jesus is willing and able.  Christ’s desire to die as the Lamb led to the slaughter, to turn the other cheek, to take upon Himself the guilt of guilty men who doubted Him – that is enough for Philip, for the rest of the apostles in that room.  And it is enough for you.  Christ’s willingness to be the sacrifice for sins to restore us to the Father – that is how the Father is shown.  In the Cross is how you know God.  And that is enough to redeem you, to purify you, to rescue you from death and the devil, and to open Heaven.
            As painful as it was, Philip needed to go to dark Gethsemane.  He needed to see Jesus die.  And, in a way, he needed to go through his own failures and shame.  Just as you do.  We need all of that before the Resurrection and the “Peace be with you” and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For God worked all of this out for good – as all of this was enough to make Philip an apostle, serving with the other apostles as the foundation of the Church built upon Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone.  All of this is enough to make you into a living stone, being built together with the rest of us as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5), the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
            All the things we want are found in Christ – all the honor, respect, wisdom, health, fame and fortune.  Not in the way we might first think, and definitely not in the way our sin desires.  In faith comes perfect peace, patience, and contentment with the Lord.  Whatever is asked in the name of Jesus, by way of His death and resurrection, according to God’s will, trusting His mercy and goodness – all these things Jesus has done and will do, so “that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13).  All these things He still does, so that where He is, you will be also.  Therefore, as we will hear in the coming Sundays, He sends the Holy Spirit who glorifies Christ by blessing you, by giving you the gift of forgiveness, and showing you the Father in the crucified and risen Son.
            Do not let your heart be troubled when you ask for what you need – whether they be spiritual gifts or worldly things.  Believe in God.  Believe in Christ.  Ask for the faith to desire what He promises.  Ask for the courage to act, for love to serve, for mercy to forgive.  And pray for good food and even a little extra money to have some good, clean fun.   Ask God to calm your heart that is troubled by the changes and crosses of this life.  Pray without fear.  For Christ knows how best to answer you – even when you ask for the wrong things. 
The Father loves you.  He invites you to come to Him with your requests as a dear child asks a dear Father.  Has He not provided for you up to this day?  You have worried over all sorts of things in the past, and most of them have not gone as bad as you thought they might.  Your Father loves you.  Don’t you realize you are more precious to Christ than the blood He shed on the Cross for you?  Has He forgotten you?  Has He forgotten this congregation?  No way.  You and this place are His blessing to the world, here to “proclaim to one and all the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light”  (1 Peter 2:9). 
Oh, we of little faith.  Let not our hearts be troubled.  Believe in the God and His Christ who loves you.  Your prayers please Him in Christ.  And at some point down the line, all of His answers will please you too.  Most likely you still have many dark Gethsemane’s to go through.  But soon your own Easter will come.  Gone will be all your sorrows, doubts, and regrets.  You know the way for this to happen, the way for you to see the Father in Heaven.  Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

anniversaries of sorts

Transfiguration (All Souls)Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr
Calculated one way, yesterday was my sister's birthday.  But calculated liturgically, it was the birthday of this Keeping and Treasuring the Word Blog.  Well, technically I wrote my first post on Thursday of that week about Monday of Easter 4's TDP Writing (after "losing" Tuesday to minor surgery.)  Cyril of Alexandria spoke of the Law and the Prophets being the bodyguard of our Lord Jesus Christ - which William Weedon suggested should be understood as Christ's honor guard.

Reverends  Tapani SimojokiWilliam Weedon, and yours truly.
by the way, I am much taller than this - but for the sake of the picture, I bent my knees!
Here is a picture of Weedon's honor guard yesterday, at the end of our time "on the mountaintop" with the Lord, feasting on fine food, theology, conversation and consolation.  

As William reports on his blog, Tapani announced the glorious news that the Book of Concord's translation into Swahili (1.5 million speakers!) has been completed!

Too soon it seemed we needed to descend.  But since Christ bid us leave this mount, He went with us to the plain.  

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sermon for Easter 4A - John 10:1-10 and 1 Peter 2:19-25

The Lord's my ShepherdImage by Lawrence OP via Flickr
          Good Shepherd Sunday brings images of peace and safety, green pastures, a strong Protector.  You have life, and have it in abundance.  “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand,” as we sang from Psalm 95.
          Yet Jesus Christ is not only the Shepherd, but here He says, “I am the Door of the sheep… If anyone eneters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:7, 9).  What great news for us sinners.  The doors of heaven were shut to us, and we had no hope of everlasting life.  Our lives were under God’s wrath.  Our deaths would be an eternity of restless wandering in the dry wasteland of Hell. 
           But now the Door has opened, for the Lord “Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree” of the Cross (1 Peter 2:24).  You have come through the Door, baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Your sins are forgiven.  You have access to the Father, who delights to hear your prayers.  You will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.  You know the Shepherd Jesus’ voice and you follow Him. 
In John 10, the voice of Jesus is rebuking other voices that are trying to lead people away from Him.  The Pharisees were upset that people were claiming Jesus healed the man born blind (John 9).  Because they want to rob God’s sheep away from Christ, He calls them thieves and robbers.  They try to steal and kill and destroy Christ’s Church by turning turn you inward to your religiousness, to your feelings, to your works, to yourself, and away from Jesus and His blood bought gifts.  [something along the lines of  - Now, we don't have people called Pharisees today, but we do have plenty of people who teach false things.  Listen to their preaching and see how they say you can get to Heaven.  Do they mention Jesus?  And if they do, do they talk about Christ's death paying for your sins, or do they talke about Jesus telling you what to do to get yourself into God's good graces?]  Christ warns us to flee from those like the Pharisees and do not follow them.  Their voices should sound strange to us because they refuse have anything to do with the Door, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.  They do not speak about His forgiveness to you because they refuse to believe they need Christ’s forgiveness.  Instead they rob Him of His glory by trying to save their lives with their own obedience to the Holy Law.  When Jesus spoke honestly to them about their sin so that He could lead them away from it, you know how they worked to steal, kill and destroy His life with the Cross.    
           However, the problem with thieves and robbers is they are not always so obvious.  Some rob you openly, and some are good at hiding what they do.  [something along the lines of  - Your sin responds to your faith in the forgiveness of sins by saying, "This is great.  I can do all the evil I want to do and God is just going to let me into Paradise anyway.  It does not matter if I do the right thing or not.]  St. Peter, in his epistle text today, rebukes this thought so that sin will not successfully rob you blind of Christ’s life before you know it.  We are to die to sin and live in righteousness.  Peter tells us that having life from God means to be called by God even to suffer for doing good (2:20-21).  We follow the Shepherd’s voice as we resist sin, entrusting our days and burdens and even unjust sufferings to God because Christ also suffered for you to follow in His steps.  “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to [God] who judges justly” (2:23).  We are not to take matters into our own hands through revenge, because we know that as Hebrews 13 says, the God of peace brought our great Shepherd of the sheep back from the dead.  And this same God promises to do the same for us.  When He leads us through valleys of shadows of death, be certain that He will deliver you safely to the green pastures and quiet waters of Heaven.  For His Scriptures promise this. 
           Sin, however, wants you thinking having life means doing whatever you can to avoid suffering – so that you confuse the good life with the goals of laziness and greed.  To achieve these goals, excuses are given, numbers are fudged, corners are cut, and God's Law is ignored.  Those in authority over you – the boss, the parent, the government - have all heard our lies so that we could get away with our evil.  And you also try to fool the spouse, the neighbor, the kids so that you can get what you want from this world.  As if we should be more concerned with what they think of us than with what God thinks as we pile sin upon sin.
           As sheep, we stray away from God’s ways because we think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  We look for love in all the wrong places – in health and wealth and job security, in possessions and popularity.  Sheep try to find life in being free from conflicts and keeping everybody happy with them.  Sheep try to find life in hopping from one person's bed to another and at the bottom of a bottle.  Sheep get tired of how hard it is to follow the Lord and so we go astray.  We try to live in, with, and under our sin.  No wonder God's voice seems so silent to us - we have wandered so far from Him.  Cut off from Jesus, we become easy pickings for our enemies.  Plenty of idols and false shepherds are eager to take Christ’s place.  Not because they care about you - they want to consume and destroy you.
           Sin blinds you so that you see life in all those things that are really your death.  But your life is not in this earthly success or popularity.  Rather, your life is in Christ Jesus who comes that you and I may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).  He loves sheep that have gone astray.  He lays down His life for the sheep on the Cross.   He serves as the open Door to Paradise even for a thief who dies with Him.  Scheming people who want to rob Christ of His glory even find forgiveness in His sacrifice.  Again and again men reject Him.  And again and again, the Good Shepherd calls out to us, reaches down to rescue us from the pit through His grace, forgiveness, and peace.
            Now you have been returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  Now you have life – and it is a life hidden under hardships and tough paths and forgiveness in this world.  But it is also hidden with Christ in God above.  When Christ your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Col. 3).  He will wipe away every tear from your eyes when He removes you from every sin-filled problem.  And you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen.
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday in Easter 3 - Exodus 40

My friend and fellow Doxolog-ist Rev. Paul Mumme and his boys had some fun building the Tabernacle out of Legos.

Saturday in Easter 3 - Gospel

Ressurection of Jairus' daughterImage via Wikipedia
Two thoughts on Luke 8.  Our five kids have to learn that mom and dad will respond to their request, but sometimes they have to take a number, so to speak, and wait for another sibling to be helped.  If I was the father, I may have gotten frustrated with Jesus for letting Himself get interrupted.  "Cmon, cmon - my daughter's suffering terribly.  Hurry up!.... oh, now she's dead.    Nevermind."  Little wonder that Jesus knows the need to encourage faith here.  

Once at the house, Luke almost reads as though Peter, James, John and the parents laugh about Jesus' claim that the girl is not dead.  Matthew 9 indicates that it was the crowd of mourners laughing before they were kicked outside.
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Thursday in Easter 3 - Gospel

the Stainned Gless of depicting the Holy Spirit.Image via Wikipedia
The Sower goes out to sow His seed.  And He sends out workers into His fields, not just to harvest, but also to scatter hither and yon, recklessly, repeatedly, abundantly.  They "Just say the word" (Luke 7 - Monday's TDP reading) - as was specifically and personally preached to me and sown in me 10 years ago this June 17 by then DP, now LCMS VP Rev. Herbert Mueller.  Through the years I give thanks to God for shepherding me and planting His Word in me through such men as him, Rev. Charles Rauschek, Rev. David Wobrock, Rev. Marvin Moon, Rev. Steve Mueller, Rev. Al Espinosa, Rev. Larry Rast, Rev. Bob Gray, Rev. Steven MacDougall, Rev. Ralph Laufer, Rev. Tim Scharr, Rev. Leroy Eckert, Rev. Gregory Schultz, Rev. William Weedon, Rev. Bruce Kesemann, Rev. Todd Wilken, and Rev. James Douthwaite, to name just a FEW.  I pray for the blessing of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom which comes down from above, that I may hand on to others what these men have given me as they just said the word and planted it within me. 
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday - Psalmody of Easter 3

psalm 84:2Image by joopvandijk via Flickr
since the birds were being especially loud this past Sunday, a relatively new member asked if I was hiding birds in the altar!  I told her to check out Psalm 84.  Here's what I wrote about it a year ago.
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Tuesday in Easter 3 - Luke 7

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...Image via Wikipedia
Had District Pastors' Conference yesterday, and one of the services used the TDP readings.  The similarity between John's disciples and the Emmaus disciples strikes me.  Expectations affect everything, as I have been told, learned personally, and try to teach pre-marital couples.  When I get most disappointed, I try to stop and ask, "What expectation of mine was not meant?  Was I realistic?  Could I even have verbalized it beforehand?"

John's disciples, the crowds Jesus speaks to after they leave, the Emmaus disciples, and us as well, have this in common - we are naturally theologians of glory.  We expect some messianic muscle to be flexed.  John the Baptist in prison makes about as much sense as the Redeemer getting crucified.  We get disappointed in God because we think He should have done things differently, which results in false belief, despair and other great shame and vice. 

But God sends the Cross to His only-begotten Son - and all His children - so that we can be saved from sin, so that the sin in us will be killed. 

The Good News is that Jesus did what was necessary
by the miracle of His death and resurrection
                                                                             as foretold in the Scriptures
to forgive us our false expectations. 

And to quote William Cwirla from our previous District Pastors' Conference,
                  stack up all our expectations and questions
about life in the world to come,
and the answer is "It will be better than that."
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday in Easter 2 - Psalmody

O Lord, enlarge my heart indeed with Your love and joy, that I may be ever more faithful to the wisdom of Your Torah.