Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Pentecost 24/11.15.09/Fort Q & IH/Daniel 12:1-3
· Two weeks ago today was All Saints’ Day
o The day the Church as for centuries set apart to remember those who have gone before us and died in the Christian Faith
§ We give thanks to God for the gift they were in our lives and most especially we give thanks to God for the salvation He has provided them in Jesus Christ
· We take comfort in the promise of Jesus when He said: “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).
o We trust that those who have died in the faith are with the Lord
§ But what then?
· For too many Christians it stops there.
o Many of us have an incomplete understanding of what our Lord Jesus has promised us when it comes to eternal life.
§ Many of us picture eternal life as some “floaty” thing – like the Philadelphia cream cheese commercials - floating around on clouds eating bagels
· Many people think that eternal life is all spirit and no substance
o That when you die your soul goes to be with God your physical body is tossed aside, and that is the end of it.
§ Yes, many people believe that, but that is not Christian
· This is nothing new
o The early Christian Church wrestled with this also
§ There was a group of people who were called Gnostics who denied that Jesus had become a true man, they argued that He only appeared like a man
· They believed that the physical, material things of this life were evil, things to be shed, and that only the spirit was important
o So they viewed the body almost as a cage or prison for the soul and when a person died their soul was set free.
§ Does that sound familiar?
· Have you heard something like that in your time? Maybe even thought it or said something like that?
o I bet you have.
§ And it is completely unchristian.
· In our culture we have become essentially Gnostic, even if we had never heard that term before
o We tend to think that the spirit is good and the material is bad, or at least not as good
§ But this is not how the Bible presents this to us
· As someone once said: “God likes matter, He created it!”
o The material, the physical, is as much a creation of God as is the spiritual
§ The spiritual and the physical are both fallen and sinful
· But Jesus came to redeem not only the spiritual but also the physical parts of creation
o And so Christians for thousands of years have joined in saying: “I believe in… the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”
· “the resurrection of the body”
o Jesus did not just rise as a spirit – in fact the Gospel writers go to great pains to point out that His resurrection was a physical resurrection
§ Remember when Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection?
· From Luke 24: 36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  43 and he took it and ate before them.
o It is clear, Jesus did not rise a spirit, he rose physically
§ “Touch me and see!” He instructs the disciples
· And just to drive the point home he takes some fish and eats it
o No spirit here! No, a real body, a physical Jesus stands resurrected before the disciples
§ It is this physical resurrection to eternal life that our Lord Jesus has promised to those who trust in Him.
· In the Old Testament reading for this morning we read:
o “Those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”
§ The Christian Faith is not a “floaty” faith
· It is a down to earth, real life, flesh and bones, kind of Faith
o Our Lord Jesus came down and got His holy hands dirty by living a perfect life for you
§ He sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane
· He bled real blood and felt real pain on the cross
o He cried out in desertion
§ He died a real death
§ But He rose to a real resurrection!
· When we Christians say that Jesus has conquered death for us – we mean He has conquered death for us!
o Not in some “floaty” spiritual way
§ But in a real physical way!
· You see when God created us He made us soul and body, together
o Death is the separation of soul and body, death is the tearing apart of the way you are meant to be – that is the wages of sin – death, the rending of body and soul
§ Yes, by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, when you die your soul will go to be with the Lord
· But that is not the end, that is not all there is to it
o Because that is not the defeat of death that is promised – the defeat of death that Jesus has promised is a true defeat of death – your soul and body will be reunited again – in a glorified physical body that has no sin
§ This is the promise your Lord Jesus has made to you.
· When people die in the Faith their soul goes go to be with the Lord
o We can’t say too much here – it is a little bit foggy for us as Scripture does not give us a clear picture of what this entails
§ But we can take comfort in knowing that those who have gone before us and died in the Faith are with the Lord – and that is a very good place to be
· But we can look forward to the Last Day, the Day when our Lord and Saviour Jesus returns
o And upon that day we are promised: “Those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”
§ Body and soul will be reunited and we will live in the new heavens and the new earth forever in the physical presence of Jesus
· “I believe in… the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” we say.
· The physical body which God has created for you is not a cage or a prison for your soul
o It is you
§ God created you body and soul together
· When you die and we are standing at your grave the pastor will speak this ancient blessing over your body laying in the casket about to be lowered in the grave:
o “May God the Father, who created this body; may God the Son who by His blood redeemed this body; may God the Holy Spirit who by Holy Baptism sanctified this body to be His temple, keep these remains to the day of the resurrection of all flesh.”
§ Does that sound like Christians view the body as something to be discarded?
· Does that sound like Christians view the body as something unimportant?
o No, because God has created your body
o Jesus came to redeem that body by His life, death, and resurrection
o And that body has been washed clean and made holy by the Holy Spirit through Holy Baptism
§ Your body is not some disposable container like a Big Mac box because Jesus has promised us and told us to look forward to “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”
· “Those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”
o The resurrection of the body was what made the Greeks laugh and sneer at St. Paul when he preached and taught them
§ It was utter nonsense to them
· In our day and age – it may very well cause many around us to laugh and sneer also
o Many people will allow for some sort of spiritual afterlife
§ But a physical resurrection? Come on – that’s crazy they will say.
· I fear that many in the Christian Church have also bought into this Gnostic way of thinking – and perhaps the thought of the resurrection of the body is something that causes you to laugh and sneer
o But I urge you to not think as the world does – but think as God does – be informed by the Word of God
· God created everything – body and soul
o Jesus loved you so much that He came to save you – body and soul
§ And He has – His physical resurrection assures us that He has conquered sin, death, and the devil
· And Jesus promises that as He lives so shall you live
o That He has defeated death, and that on the last day you will be raised – body and soul to new life
· “Those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”
o We live in the peace and comfort of knowing that by grace through faith in Jesus we are promised this eternal life
§ And until the last day we are strengthened in this Faith and trust through God’s Holy Word and Sacraments in the Church
· And together with the brothers and sisters around us and with the saints who have gone before us and who now await in peace in heaven the Last Day, we look forward to “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Pentecost 23/11.08.09/Fort Q/Mark 12:38-44
· A pastor is not supposed to get up into the pulpit and go on and on about how he struggled and wrestled with a text the past week
o Because then the sermon is more about him and his struggles and wrestling
§ But you know what? I really struggled and wrestled with this text this past week!
· I have for sometime struggled and wrestled with how to interpret what our Lord says regarding the poor widow at the Temple.
o What I found out this past week is that many pastors were struggling to understand what Jesus was saying when He commented on the poor widow at the Temple.
§ And since I believe a sermon is not a place for a bunch of uncertainties and personal thoughts and opinions – but a place to find the sure Word of God – I am going to avoid the widow at the Temple – and maybe next time the text comes around I will have a more solid understanding
· But I do know what Jesus was telling us in the first part of the Gospel reading this morning
o “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretence make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
§ You see, the scribes were the professional scholars of their day, experts in interpreting the Old Testament.
· But technically they had no role to do so – since they were not part of the priestly tribe of Levi
o So in other words they took upon themselves this responsibility of interpreting the Old Testament and teaching the Old Testament when it had not been given them to do
· It had been given to the Levitical priests to teach God’s people His Word
· The Scribes were a “showy” bunch
o They liked to be seen and noticed for their religiosity
§ They liked to be seen as important, as pious
· They liked to be seen as above others
o Self important, self centred, self righteous
§ If there is one thing that really seems to get Jesus “worked up” is self righteous pride
· And in the reading we just had – Jesus levels the Scribes
· “Beware of the scribes” Jesus warned.
o I tell you this morning:
§ Beware of those who think they are holier than others because of the size of the cheque they place in the offering plate
§ Beware of those who think they are holier than others because they go to church every Sunday
§ Beware of those who think they are holier than others because they don’t drink or smoke
§ Beware of those who think they are holier than others because they are Lutherans
§ Beware of others who think they are holier than others because they have not had an abortion
§ Beware of those who think they are holier than others because they are not homosexuals.
· Beware of those who think they are holier than others because of something they do or don’t do.
o “Beware of the scribes” Jesus warned.
· Where do we find the scribes of our day?
o Where do we find such people who think they are holier than others because of what they do or don’t do?
§ In the mirror.
· Look in the mirror and you will find a scribe.
o “Beware of the scribes” our Lord Jesus said.
· What? What do you mean I am a scribe? What do you mean I think I am holier than others?
o This time you have gone too far pastor!
§ Am I not supposed to point out sin and disagree with it?
· Am I not supposed to speak up for the truth?
o What are you saying? Am I just supposed to ignore abortion? Should I just go out be a drunkard? Should I skip church?
§ No, I am not saying that. We must speak up for the truth. We must speak our disapproval of sin. We must seek to live lives according to out Lord’s Word.
· But we must recognize that doing so does not make us holy.
o We must recognize that doing so does not make us better than others.
§ We must recognize that we are damnable sinners like everyone else.
§ We must recognize that we are God’s people not because of what we have done but because of what Jesus has done for us.
§ If we do not see that: then we are scribes.
· We are all scribes at heart.
o It is so easy for us to become a scribe.
§ Because we would much rather see things according to works
· It is so much easier for us to divide the world up into bad people and good people by seeing what they do
o And as long as someone does not do something obviously bad – well, they are a good person
· We look down at others who have committed public and obvious sin
o When a politician is caught in a scandal we look down upon them with scorn and feel rather high and mighty
§ When the mighty fall, deep down we revel in it and enjoy it
· Because it makes us feel better than they
o It’s true isn’t it? You know it is… you don’t like that it is true about you, but it is. It makes you squirm that you know what I say is true. But it is true.
§ You are a scribe. How do I know this? So am I.
· “Beware of the scribes” our Lord Jesus warns.
· Jesus comes to stamp out the pride that dwells in your heart.
o Jesus comes to root out your self righteousness.
§ Jesus comes to put down your holier than thou attitude
· Jesus comes to turn you from your self centeredness
o Jesus comes to kill such thinking that He might make alive.
§ Jesus comes to turn you from relying on yourself to relying on Him
· “Beware the scribes” Jesus says
· You see, once we recognize that we are not better than anyone else
o Once we recognize that we are not holier than others by what we do or don’t do
§ Once we recognize that our holiness comes not from us and what we do but is a gift received by grace through faith in Jesus
· We can stop worrying about who is better than others
o Because we can recognize that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
§ And instead of trying to prove ourselves as better than those around us we can rejoice in the gift of righteousness we have received from Jesus
· Instead of trying to show everyone around us how good we are – we are moved to show everyone around us how good Jesus is!
· Give up your self righteousness
o Give up your self made holiness
§ Beware of such thinking
· Jesus is your righteousness
o Jesus is your holiness
§ The righteousness and holiness He has earned for you by His life, death on the cross, and resurrection
· He gives to you, freely – by grace through faith
o He gives it to you through His Word and Sacraments
§ He comes to you this very morning in His Body and blood in Holy Communion
· While we must not remain silent in the face of sin
o We must approach these things from a position of humility, not superiority
§ Christians have done a poor job of this
· Too often we approach this from the perspective of “Well, I don’t do that bad thing that you do, so I am better than you are, and I am here to tell you how bad you are for doing that!”
o No! We are to approach this as one sinner to another
§ Not necessarily agreeing with what someone has done or not done, but we come not from a position of superiority, but a position of humility, a position of love
· As someone once said – it is like one poor beggar telling another poor beggar where to find bread.
o That is the picture dear friends we ought to have in our minds.
· You are a beggar and by the grace of God He has shown you where to find bread
o The Bread of life – your Lord Jesus Christ
§ In Him you find your holiness and righteousness
· Rejoice in that good news and take comfort in it.
o For the sake of Jesus you are holy and righteous.
§ “Beware of the scribes” indeed
· But rejoice in Jesus and His gift of holiness and righteousness.
o It is yours freely by grace through faith.
Monday, November 2, 2009
All Saints’ Day/11.01.09/Fort Q & IH/Revelation 7:9-17
· People are freaking out! People are concerned. People are worried.
o We hear about it on the news almost everyday.
· Should we get the vaccination or not?
o What precautions should we take?
§ Where should we go?
· What are we going to do!?!?
· What we are told is that the most effective way to prevent getting sick is to wash your hands regularly or use sanitizing gel regularly.
§ We have all become a little more aware of this of late haven’t we?
· I bet there are a few more purses carrying sanitizing gel out there than a year ago.
o We have been using the sanitizing gel for quite a while up here before we distribute communion and before Service when the vessels are being prepared by the elders.
§ These are precautions that need to be in place
· And for good reason
· We all want to be clean
o The advertising agencies have picked up on this now too
§ Many commercials show you the microscopic little germs on the kitchen counter and then how their product can kill the germs dead
· Or how certain sprays can kill germs in the air
o If you go to the store you will get dizzy as you look at the shelf and all the different choices you have for anti-bacterial soaps
§ We all want to be clean
· But there is a deeper desire we all have to be clean
o Yes, we do want to be cleanly in our lives to prevent sickness and disease
§ We should be diligent in this, especially in our day and age
· But it goes deeper
o We have a desire to be clean
§ A desire to be clean deep down in our soul
· We see it all around us
o People who live with guilt and shame
§ People trying to forget their past
· People who try to justify their actions but deep down they know they can’t
o We see it all around us in the world
§ A particularly stark, yet strange, example of this is the great number of online sites for people to go and anonymously confess their sins.
· They type in their confession in an anonymous way, telling the world what they have done
o There is no forgiveness to be had there – it is just a way to get it off their chest, so to speak
§ Many people in our world have guilt and shame, they feel dirty and unclean, but have no idea where to go with it, they have no idea where to go with their guilt and shame, they have no idea where to go to become clean.
· But what about in the Church?
o What about the people who sit in the pews on Sunday mornings?
§ Do people in the pews in a church have guilt and shame?
· Of course they do. Of course you do.
o You come into this church not because you are perfect.
§ You come into this church not because you are better than others.
· You come into this church with all your junk, with your life not the way it ought to be, you come into this church “a poor miserable sinner,” you come into this church “unclean.”
o So do I.
§ But the question is: Do you know what to do with that? Do you know where to go to become clean?
· Friends, there is nothing you can do to cleanse yourself of your sin, your guilt, your shame.
o You can try and scrub and scrub and scrub your life clean by piling up good work upon good work, but it does not get the stain of sin out of your life.
§ You can try and sanitize your life by giving to this good cause and this charity – but the disease of sin and death still clings to you.
· You can try everything – but there is no cleaning agent in this life that can cleanse you.
· That is why the vision of heaven that John is given in the book of Revelation is such good news to us
o In the reading we have from Revelation for All Saints’ Day gives us a beautiful picture of heaven
§ We read: “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
· Those who are in heaven have been washed in the blood of the Lamb - Jesus
o They have been washed clean by Jesus.
§ Their sin and guilt and shame have been washed away by Jesus.
· They have been sanitized, they have been purified, they have been cleansed by Jesus
o Jesus has given them His perfect pureness
§ Jesus has wrapped them in His robe of righteousness
§ Jesus is the only cleaning agent that can clean the stain of sin
· That is the cleanness we all seek deep down in our soul
o We all want our sin, our guilt, and our shame to be washed away
§ And the only way this can be done, the only way, is through Jesus
· There is no other way – only Jesus can cleanse you of your sin, guilt, and shame
o What do we do with our guilt and shame?
§ Where do we go to be cleansed?
· To Jesus.
· Friends, we have the answer to the question many around us are asking, even if secretly and silently
o We have the answer to the silent suffering of so many who are weighed down by their guilt and shame
§ We have the answer for so many who think God does not love them because they have done some terrible thing or because they are somehow unworthy of God’s love
· The answer is JESUS!
o The answer is not try harder.
§ The answer is not do this or that and you will have earned forgiveness.
· The answer is not feel guilty enough, feel bad enough, suffer through life enough, and then maybe you will have paid the penalty.
o NO! The answer is Jesus!
§ Jesus did what needed to be done.
§ Jesus took upon Himself your guilt – so there is no guilt remaining!
§ Jesus suffered on the cross so you need not suffer the penalty for your sin.
§ Jesus loved the unworthy to make them worthy.
· The answer is Jesus and His cleansing blood.
o The answer is Jesus and His cleansing life, death, and resurrection.
§ The answer is Jesus who takes all your sin, guilt, and shame and nailed them to the cross
· The answer is Jesus who took all your sin, guilt, and shame into the grave and they are no more
o The answer is Jesus whose powerful Word of forgiveness in Holy Absolution erases your sin and removes it as far as the east is from the west
§ The answer is Jesus who cleanses you in the pure and holy waters of Baptism, washing away the guilt of sin
· The answer is Jesus who comes in His very Body and Blood in Holy Communion and removes your shame, forgives your sin, and strengthens you in your life
o The answer is Jesus who comes to you in the dark night of the soul, when you have fears, doubts, guilt, shame, worry, and He says: “Peace to you.”
§ The answer is Jesus.
· Friends, the picture we are given of heaven is of those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
o We can take comfort in the fact that those who have gone before us are in heaven, not because of what they have done, but because of what Jesus has done for them.
§ We can rejoice that for the sake of Jesus our loved ones are washed clean, and they are with Jesus.
· But you can also rejoice this All Saints’ Day and find comfort in knowing that you too have been washed clean by Jesus
o You too have been cleansed and in your baptism Jesus robed you in His righteousness
§ You can take comfort in knowing that when God looks down upon you He does not see your sin, your guilt, or your shame – He looks down and He sees the robe of Jesus’ righteousness that covers you
· Your sin, guilt, and shame have been cleansed by Jesus
o In Jesus you are clean.
· Dearly beloved, live with this knowledge
o Do not live under the weight of guilt and shame
§ But live in the joy and peace that comes from knowing that Jesus has lifted that weight from you
· This All Saints’ Day remind yourself of the white robe you wear – the white robe of righteousness that Jesus has given you in your Baptism
o Live in the joy and peace of knowing that in Jesus you are clean.