Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sermon for Pentecost 3

Below is the sermon I preached today. I write my sermons in bullet form so not every sentence is completely “fleshed out.” Also, especially with Gospel portions I tend to dwell a lot longer than what might be indicated in the manuscript. However, what is below gives you an idea…

Pentecost 3 (Proper 7)/6.21.09/Fort Q & IH/Mark 4:35-41


·       We like to be in control. All of us.

o   We want to control what happens in our lives.

§  We want to control what happens to us.

·       We want to control what happens around us.

o   We want to be in control.


·       But there are things in life that make us realize often that we are not in control

o   An illness or injury to ourselves or someone we love

§  A broken relationship

·       Struggles with sin

o   If we watch the news on any given night we might find ourselves wondering if anybody is in control at all!

§  Many times in our life it can feel as if the world around us is spinning out of control and we ourselves have no control over anything

·       This feeling of a lack of control can fill us with fear, dread, and often also anger.


·       The Disciples felt that way too.

o   They felt that way when they were on the boat during the great windstorm that arose around them

§  The waves were crashing in, the boat was rocking, the water was splashing in on them and the boat was filling with water

·       They had no control over the situation

o   There was nothing they could do to stop the wind and the rain, to halt the waves, to stop from being tossed about wildly on the sea

§  Filled with fear, dread, and even anger, they come to Jesus who was sleeping through this

·       And what did they ask Jesus?

o   Don’t you care? Don’t you care that we are being tossed about by wind and waves?

§  Don’t you care that this is happening to us?

§  Don’t you care that there is nothing we can do to stop it or to help ourselves?


·       We feel like that too at times don’t we?

o   When things happen around us that we cannot control.

§  When things happen to us or the ones we love that we cannot prevent or help

·       When the events around the globe seem to point to the world spinning into decline

o   We might find ourselves asking God

§  Don’t you care?

·       Where are you?

o   Don’t you care that this is happening to me?

§  Don’t you care that I have lost control and there is nothing I can do?

§  Don’t you care?


·       At such times we do well to remember what happens next to the soggy disciples on the out of control boat on the wavy and windblown sea

o   Jesus calmed the storm

§  He hushed the wind

·       And He quieted the waves

o   And how did He do so?

§  He spoke a word of peace

·       “Peace! Be still!” He commanded.


·       The disciples feared that they had lost control

o   They feared what would happen and did not know what to do

§  But Jesus shows that He has control

·       Even though the Disciples didn’t see it – Jesus was in control

o   He had things well in hand

§  He did in fact care a great deal for the Disciples

·       He was in control

o   Even the wind and the sea obey Him


·       When we feel that we have lost control

o   When we are faced with the doubts and struggles this life presents us

§  We can take comfort in knowing that our Lord is in control

·       No, it may not always feel that way

o   We may not always see or feel that our Lord is in control

§  But by grace through faith we can trust that He is


·       We can trust that when we go through the stormy days of life our Lord is always with us

o   That the one who baptized us and claimed us as His own has never left our side

§  That He has always been with you, through the good and the bad

·       And that you can count on Him to be with you through the future

o   Even through your death


·       Friends, it can get pretty stormy out there

o   Our lives are often full of wind and waves

§  The waves and the wind around us can wreak havoc on our faith

·       We can be faithless like the Disciples were in the face of the wind and waves

o   You have been afraid. You have been without faith and trust in Jesus.

§  O Lord, increase our faith!

·       But know, dear Christian, that even your lack of faith has been forgiven

o   Know that for the sake of Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection – you are forgiven


·       And know, without a doubt that your Lord Jesus is with you, that the one who reached down with His hand in your baptism and claimed you,

o   He is with you even this very morning as He comes to you through His Word spoken, read, preached

o   He is with you as He comes to you and speaks a word of peace in the Holy Absolution

§  The same voice who spoke and rebuked the wind and calmed the storm is the same mighty voice who speaks you righteous, who rebukes the devil and all his accusations, who declares you forgiven in the Holy Absolution – that is why Confession and Absolution ought to be so treasured among Christians – it is the Lord Himself speaking through His called ministers speaking the word of Peace! He is with you!

o   And know, dear friends, He is with you this morning as He comes to you in His very Body and Blood in Holy Communion forgiving your sins and strengthening you to face the storms of life

§  He is with you, Emmanuel, God with us!


·       No, this does not mean that all will be smooth sailing

o   No, this does not mean that everything will be easy for you

§  This does not mean you will be wealthy or necessarily healthy

·       Despite what those crooks and heretics will tell you on TV

o   But this does mean that you can trust your Lord Jesus cares for you as you go through the storms

§  This does mean that you can rely on your Lord to give you the strength to face what life throws at you


·       “Don’t you care?” the Disciples asked Jesus.

o   We have asked the same question of our Lord also.

§  How does He answer?

·       He goes to the cross to die.

o   He cares so much for you that He would not have you die in your storm of sin

§  He cared so much that He spread His arms on the cross – there taking your punishment

·       And He rose again that first Easter morning

o   So that He would always be with you

§  So that you are never alone in the storms


·       Hear your Lord Jesus speaking to you this morning

o   He says: “Peace! Be still!”

§  Come, receive that peace at the altar.

·       Leave with that peace.

o   Live in that peace.

§  For Jesus is with you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thoughts on Sanctification

As I was driving home from Balcarres this morning after giving Holy Communion to some of the residents I had a thought. I don't know if it is original. Perhaps it is just something that I read or heard before that is bubbling up to the surface. Perhaps it is something that I put together in my brain. But here are some thoughts on sanctification:

In the Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans Luther wrote:

"Sin in the Scriptures means not only external works of the body but also all those movements within us which bestir themselves and move us to do the external works, namely, the depth of the heart with all its powers. Therefore the word do should refer to a person's completely falling into sin. No external work of sin happens, after all, unless a person commit himself to it completely, body and soul. In particular, the Scriptures see into the heart, to the root and main source of all sin: unbelief in the depth of the heart. Thus, even as faith alone makes just and brings the Spirit and the desire to do good external works, so it is only unbelief which sins and exalts the flesh and brings desire to do evil external works. That's what happened to Adam and Eve in Paradise (cf. Genesis 3)."

The root of all sin is - unbelief. So this got me thinking as I was driving home. Much talk surrounding sanctification is based upon outward acts. What one does. However, focusing one's view of sanctification upon what one does - upon the outward acts - is like focusing upon the outward acts of sin and ignoring the "movements within us." This is what we see in much "evangelical" theology. The denial of original sin leads one to focus only on the outward acts.

This has me thinking that we ought to think of sanctification not so much in outward acts but as a growth of faith and trust in Jesus. The true prayer of the Christian seeking sanctification ought to be "Increase our faith" (Luke 17:5) or "Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).

Furthermore, this helps clarify the source of sanctification. All too often sanctification is presented as something that must be attained. It is not. It is something that is given as gift. Just as faith is given as a gift (Eph. 2:8-9) so sanctification is given. Therefore - since we know that God gives His gifts through Word and Sacrament in the Church the place one ought to look for sanctification is not to themselves but to the faith strengthening Word and Sacraments.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Blessings of Brotherhood

Each year a pastor from Regina organizes a rather informal "Winkel" and invites pastors from the surrounding area and not just from his circuit. This Winkel is held in June out here at Fort Qu'Appelle and at Lutherland. This event includes golf on the Monday afternoon then after the golf we head out to Camp Lutherland and there we cook our supper over the fire and then enjoy the evening together around the fire.

We discuss the most mundane things. We also discuss the most profound things. We can at times be somewhat immature. We ask questions. We confess our struggles and weaknesses. We steal good ideas from each other. We admonish one another. We encourage one another. Isn't that what a brotherhood ought to do?

I think if brothers in the ministry would take time to get together in these informal settings more often it would go a long way to helping us live together in Synod. We talk about a marriage relationship not as something that just "happens" but that it takes work. I think we ought to look at our relationships in the Synod in such a way. It takes work. Spending time with each other - regardless of theological positions - is helpful. Having discussions with each other about both the mundane and the profound allows us to trust each other when we need to discuss difficult topics.
I thank the brothers for their willingness to spend the time with me. I am glad I beat them all at golf.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Little Better

Saturday morning I went for a round trip of about 16 kms. Everything hurt a little less this time. I have been away at the District BOD meeting since Monday morning so I have not been out riding. I hope to get out for a ride bright and early tomorro wmorning because Thursday morning I am on the road driving to Winnipeg and I won't get back until late afternoon Friday.

The other thing I am noticing - once you get a bike it doesn't stop there. Of course I also bought a helmet and some gloves. But now I am looking to get some tools. Likely a multi-tool to start with. But then what about a stand? Wouldn't that be handy? And a bike GPS computer thingy? And before I came home from Regina today after the meeting I stopped at the local bike store I bought my bike from and we got talking about how after I ride for a while I may want to look at getting a different stem to change the "geometry" of the bike (how upright you sit when you ride). So many things to consider!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My New Bike

I bought a bike yesterday. I have not had a bike since I was 16. I am on a health kick of late. Eating much better, exercising, lost 25 pounds so far. I live in the Qu'Appelle Valley and there are lots of really great looking trails. I have considered buying a bike for the last 5 years or so and finally yesterday I did. This is my bike - a Norco Scrambler. It is certainly not top of the line like some of the 3000-7000 bikes out there but is basically a decent entry level mountain bike.
When I got home with my bike I suited up and went for a spin. As is often the case with me I almost always jump into something with both feet (as the saying goes). So I started out with the intention of riding between Fort Qu'Appelle and Lebret. It is about 8 kms to Lebret so a round trip of 16 kms. That didn't go so well. There are hills and wind to contend with. I got a little more than half way and turned around. Apparently according to Google maps a little more than 10 kms I did. I guess since I have not been on a bike for something like 18 years it was a bit much to expect. So I will have to be a bit more gradual in my riding. The strange thing is that my legs are not sore today but my "behind" sure is! I am told that after a few rides my "behind" will get used to it. I do hope so. And soon.

What Is Going on Sunday Morning?

Below is a very thought provoking video clip. I saw it on Father Hollywood's blog and he Hat tipped Pastor Arron Koch's blog. It is below:

Divine Service is not entertainment. It is life and death. It is of a serious nature. It is being confronted withthe Word of God both in its severity and in its sweetness. It is to be in the presence of God. These considerations influence what we do and how we do it on Sunday mornings.