Tuesday, December 8, 2009



(The idea for this message came from a colleague of mine Rev. Terry Forke, the President of the Montana District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, who wrote an article in the November Lutheran Witness titled “Listen to Him”).

Over 2000 years ago, the angels announced to the Shepherds of Bethlehem the Greatest News in the world. Thus the angels spoke: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).

That is the Voice of Christmas, telling the world that the Savior has been born. That the heaven-sent Messenger has taken up flesh and blood, and came to live among us to redeem us from the punishment of hell and to forgive our sins.

The Voice of Christmas is telling the world the reason the Savior came. The Voice of Christmas is God’s gift to the world. The Voice of Christmas is God undoing the work of the devil and man in the Garden of Eden so that man may have life and peace and joy in His presence.

However, something has happened since that Voice of Christmas was first spoken. Today, the Voice of Christmas has nothing to do with Christmas at all. Some have even attempted to drown that Voice and replace it with something else because it is no longer “politically correct” thing.

To be sure there are many voices and noises that we hear during this time of the year. The weeks before Christmas we hear many different voices. But these voices are nothing but clinging noise that fills the air and our ears with empty, shallow and hollow promises and leave the most important part of Christmas out–the birth of the God-Man Jesus.

We hear all types of voices that vie for our attention. Have you noticed how long and winsomely the voices of the world have been wooing you into their stores for their godless version of Christmas? Wal-Mart began right after Halloween (skipping right over Thanksgiving). The Salvation Army bell is clanging. Clerks are wishing a politically correct “Happy Holidays” while the cash registers dance to the noise of change and credit cards being used. Children are chattering about this year’s sensational toy. Hollywood is barking over its year-end offerings. The family is arguing about where Christmas dinner will be at. And Wall Street is whining that we haven’t spent enough this season. Amazingly, we are rarely aware of this voice (the noise in the background). We live with it, without knowing what it does to our psyche or to our spiritual walk.

There are other voices too, that steal us away from the Voice of Christmas that tells of the Savior’s birth. Have you noticed how many songs that are sung on the radio, malls and even in our homes have nothing to do with Christmas? Here are but a few of these songs (don’t hit me on the head as you see me in the street since these could be your favorite). “Deck the Hall” “Jingle Bells” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” “I Am Dreaming of A White Christmas” and of course we can’t leave out the favorite of many, “Santa Claus is coming to town”.

Santa’s voice is jolly as he makes his rounds in the streets and chimneys. Have you noticed how Santa’s voice beckons us to experience the joy of giving? He speaks of laughter, of tradition, of suspense and of good little boys and girls. All these things are fun, they make you feel good, put a smile on your face and quick step in your feet; but they are NOT the Savior of the world. Santa’s voice is very, very loud. He is not just another voice, but he has become the Voice of Christmas for the majority of listeners. The world can ease its Christmas conscience by listening to him instead of the true Voice of Christmas–Jesus–the New Born King. The Savior comes to speak to our burdened hearts and guilty consciences, but we are eager to change the channel and listen to someone else.

Whose voice are you listening to during these Advent days? Now I am not a scrooge or one who doesn’t enjoy good music or laughter or traditions. I do. But in our Advent and Christmas preparations, let us not forget to listen to the true Voice of Christmas. Of course there are many things to be done and completed before we kneel at the manger. Care must be taken so that this preparation does not drown the voice of Jesus in our attempts to make Christmas more Christmassy.

The voice of the Savior was first heard as the cry of a little baby in His mother’s arms. His voice was heard as He read the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament), and explained the Scriptures to all who would listen. Later, His Father revealed Jesus to the disciples saying: “This is My Beloved Son, listen to Him”.

Regardless of how many voices vie for our ears and hearts, Jesus will not be silent. He didn’t remain in Bethlehem as a baby. His message became more emphatic and articulate than the cries of a newborn baby. He grew up and went to the cross to earn man’s salvation. In His death and resurrection, we hear most clearly the message of Jesus. All the other voices of the world can’t save us by taking our sins and giving us righteousness. His is a unique voice-the VOICE OF CHRISTMAS.

The Voice of Christmas is God’s Good News to man. The Voice of Christmas is the eternal coming to earth to make us live with Him in eternity. The Voice of Christmas is calling you to listen to Him and rejoice as you prepare to kneel at the foot of the manger, for there in you will know peace–peace that is heaven-made for the world.

My prayers for you during this Advent and Christmas Season, is by the Spirit’s power to listen to the Voice of Christmas–the Voice of Jesus as He calls you a sinner to be saints through Him.


In Christ’s love and in His service,

Rev. Nabil S. Nour Pastor and Foot Washer Phil. 1:6

“I Send My Messenger” (Malachi 3:1)

S-1151 12/06/09 2SIA/3C (O) #63; (S) #66; LSB; (C) #60

Texts: Malachi 3:1-7; Philippians 1:2-11; Luke 3:1-14

Theme: “I Send My Messenger” (Malachi 3:1)

Question: “Would you say you are messenger?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Second Sunday in Advent is from the O.T. Lesson: “Behold, I send My Messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:1).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Saints in Christ, there are many messengers that we know of. There is the messenger that is the news anchor on the radio or TV who delivers the news (mostly bad!) of the day. I am sure that you have listened to the bad news lately—Afghanistan, Tiger Wood’s problem and others. There is Instant Messenger that you may have on your computer or cell phone that allows INSTANT contact with someone a world away. But during this Advent season we turn our attention to ancient messengers. These ancient messengers would do heroic things to bring the message that they were called upon to deliver.
No greater example of this exists in antiquity than the messenger Pheidippides,( FUH-dip-I-dees). According to legend, during a time of war between the people of Ancient Athens and the Persians, the battle was not going well for the Athenians. The commanders send Pheidippides, from Athens to Sparta to ask for help. He ran the entire 150 mile ONE WAY trip. When he arrived in Sparta, the Spartans were not willing to send troops to help. So he RAN all the way back to Athens to deliver the depressing news. Then after getting to the site of the battle the next day Pheidippides, was again sent to deliver a message. This time the message was not bad news. He carried the message of victory over the Persians back over the 26.2 mile distance between Marathon and Athens. But the messenger service came at a price. All of the miles covered in such a short time cost Pheidippides, his life. According to lore, he delivered the message of victory as a last act before he collapsed and died.

Ever since Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens people all over the world have been trying to repeat what was done so long ago. We know it today as a Marathon. Today, we have a messenger sent by God not to run a Marathon, but to convey the Message of God to His people.

Listen to the way the Holy Spirit moved Malachi to write these words: “Behold, I send My Messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:1).

The reading from Malachi says that God will send His messenger to prepare the way of the Lord’s coming. The name “Malachi” means “My messenger.” Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. He was the last prophetic voice until John the Baptist, a period of four hundred years. His ministry took place following the return of the captives from exile in Babylon. He came pointing to another messenger John the Baptist.

John came as the forerunner who will prepare the Way of the Lord. The Baptizer came to call sinners to repentance. The Baptizer came to tell people to prepare for the coming of Christ. They needed to know they are in need of a Savior who will take away their sins and make them saints.

In these Words of Malachi the Lord of heaven and earth stated. “Behold, I send My Messenger…” This messenger is not John the Baptizer, not even Malachi himself; even though they are messengers of God. He was pointing to the True messenger—the heaven-sent Messenger Jesus the babe of Bethlehem.

Notice what Malachi calls Him: “The Messenger of the Covenant.” He is reminding the people of God of His covenant and promise in the Garden of Eden. There God promised our fallen parents that He would send His Son as the seed of the woman to crush Satan’s head; to take away their sins and cover them with His righteousness.

Down through the centuries, God’s people raised expectant eyes to the heavens waiting for the Savior to come. Now four hundred years before Bethlehem, Malachi says with great joy, “The Messenger of the Covenant” the Promised Savior will come. And the way he says it as if He has already come.

400 years prior to Bethlehem’s visit, the words were announced that He is coming. The Eternal God would come down to earth He had created to work among the creatures He had made and who in sin had turned away from Him. That’s the miracle in the manger. That’s the real reason for my joy. Others look at the poor baby wrapped in rags and miss the meaning of Christmas. They see only a man and actually see nothing. How sad for them.

If Jesus were only a human being, I would have reason to celebrate and rejoice. Then I could just as well forget about Christmas or change the name of the season for whatever makes me feel good. However, the One who has come, is the Messenger of the Covenant—Jesus the babe of Bethlehem.

And why did He come? He came for me a sinner. He took on flesh and blood for me. He lived for me a perfect life. He died my death and He rose for me so that I can be assured that I will rise from the grave some day.

The Messenger of the Covenant has come. And what a strange Messenger He is. It led Him from the throne of splendor into the poorest crib imaginable, a manger full of straw. It surrounded Him with our skin and saddled Him with our sins. It brought Him into our lives and hearts.

Behold, “I Send My Messenger!” God spoke the prophet Malachi. Sadly the messenger has been replaced with another. We know him as Santa Claus. But do you know how Santa Claus even came to be? Today, the Church remembers the man known as St. Nicolas. (My wife would enjoy this as she is of Dutch Origin). St. Nicolas in the Dutch language is Sente Klaus. And from the Dutch to the English we have Santa Claus. But Santa Claus is not the Messenger. Even thought many people think he is the reason for Christmas.

Malachi told us of the Messenger who is to come and has come. What about the 21st Messengers? Is it you? Are you willing to be the bearer of God’s Good News to the world? I pray that you are. For God uses all types of messengers. Just as Pheidippides brought the news of victory over the Persians, we, God’s beloved people His messengers of today, take the message of the victory that the Messenger of the Covenant has won for us; to the world—a world who still don’t know this Messenger—Jesus Christ.

God grant us the strength and stamina to be faithful messengers sharing with them the Grace and peace of the Lord, Jesus—the Babe of Bethlehem. Amen.

Now the peace…

“Gabriel and Zechariah—Two Different Kind of Angels” (Luke 1:18-20)

S-1150 12/02/09 1MIA/3C (O) #56; (S) #368; LSB; (C) #364 LSB

Texts: Daniel 9:20-24; Philippians 1:1-7; Luke 1:5-25

Theme: “Gabriel and Zechariah—Two Different Kind of Angels” (Luke 1:18-20)

Question: “How observant are you?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our First Sunday in Advent is the Gospel Lesson: “And Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’ And the angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time’” (Luke 1:18-20).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Saints in Christ tonight we rejoice that once again we are privileged and honored to walk on the journey of Advent. By the power of the Holy Spirit we shall continue this journey until we reach the manger, kneel and worship the New Born King who came and is coming again to take all believers to His mansion in heaven.

Beloved in the Lord, open God’s Holy Book, study it, dig deep into its goldmine and you shall see treasures beyond your wildest dreams. Within this treasure, the Holy Spirit has used angels to convey the messages of God and carry on the ministry of the Lord Yahweh.

We are introduced to angels after Adam and Eve sinned against God and fallen from His grace. God in love and mercy drove them out of the Garden lest they live in sin forever. To protect them from eternal death and eating from the tree of life, the angels stood guard at the entrance of the Garden.

Again, we see the angels as they make a pit-stop at Abram’s tent and proclaim to him that his wife Sari would have a child and call his name Isaac meaning laughter. In chapter 6 of Isaiah, the angel comes to the aid of this man of God as he cries out that He had seen the Lord. The angel comes to the rescue and removes a coal from the altar and touches Isaiah and wipes away his sins and commissioned him to go and share the message of salvation. In the den of lions, the angel shut the mouth of the lions and spared the life of God’s servant Daniel.

In the New Testament, the angles of God continue to play a prominent role in the lives of the saints. In the Gospel of Luke, we meet the angel Gabriel (God’s mighty one) speaking with Zechariah about the forthcoming son–the forerunner of Jesus who will prepare the way of the Lord.

Tonight by the grace of God, we come into God’s presence. And in this place we hear Gabriel speak to aged Zechariah. We rejoice in the story as told to us by Luke of Gabriel’s visit to the soon-to-be father in the promise of the giving of John {John means Gift of God} This story tells of how God brings life where death ought to win - at least according to the fall into sin; joy where sadness is.

Barren Elizabeth and Zechariah knew what it meant to have promise all around them, yet see the empty well in their own front yard - no child to hold and embrace, no child to help in their old age and no heir. Ah, but the Lord would provide - and so He did, and so He does! Yes, John, Gift of God was provided. John would go forth in the spirit of Elijah to turn hearts toward his God.

Gabriel, God’s mighty man comes with hope in his words and help in his message. He introduces Himself to Zechariah and informs him that God has heard his prayers. And his prayers will be answered. But Zechariah doubts the message and for his doubting God’s messenger and God’s message his tongue is tied until the birth of his son John.

For us who are living this side of the grave we at times are challenged by the Words of God. We doubt His power in our lives. We lack trusting Him to fulfill His promises.

Two different kinds of angels: one with message of certainty and the other with message of doubt until he sees his son and then his tongue is loosed and he praises the God of heaven and earth. And this second angel, is a sure and certain sign from God Himself that He provides for all our need, but especially the need of delivering man from death and hell replacing doubt with certainty, forgiving sin and restoring those who fear and doubt – folks like Zechariah… and you and me!. Our gracious Lord fulfills His promises by providing what is lacking. He provides life and laughter - not the kind that fade when the comic departs the stage or when age and infirmity strike their final blow. Our Lord, the Pre-Existent One He provides even for today, and even unto all eternity. Zechariah came to understand that over time.

Listen to Zechariah’s faith-filled words which tell us the blessings that he and you and I receive from the Lord because of the One announced by John (read Luke 1:68-79).

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace
(Luke 1:68-79). PAUSE.

Yes, two different angels – one from heaven – the other redeemed by heaven and destined to now call heaven his home. Even as Zechariah doubted but then declared: God’s gift, the Gift of God {John} is given… and lo and behold, the Seventy Weeks, the complete time, they are accomplished. Yes those who confess their sins, even as did Daniel the mighty prophet of God, now sees that the Seventy Weeks are done – the forerunner of Messiah, this Gift of God, he is come.

Now even as Gabriel, the messenger from heaven gave strength to this messenger born of woman, born in time, this second messenger, Zechariah declares that “God is Remembered” and that God has remembered” – that the time has come! Now His Son, this Gift of God would declare the coming of our Savior. This is a grand prophecy, given from heaven and from earth, for He who is from Above is about to put on the cloak of our humanity, to be clothed in our flesh, and in that, our need, that we would be clothed with His eternity, His forgiveness, His peace, yea, His life. To this God, our Coming One who is also the Pre-Existent One belongs all the glory, now and forever, Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Soli Deo Gloria


“Do You See the Need?” (Luke 19:32-34)

S-1149 11/29/09 1SIA/3C (O) #60; (S) #70; L.S.#73; #307; #74; (C) #72

Texts: Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 19:28-40

Theme: “Do You See the Need?” (Luke 19:32-34)

Question: “How observant are you?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our First Sunday in Advent is the Gospel Lesson: “So those who were sent went away and found it just as He [Jesus] had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ And they said, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” (Luke 19:32-34).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Saints in Christ a terrible car accident took 8 people to the hospital in critical condition. The hospital staff called upon people to come and donate blood to save the lives of those injured. Many came to donate blood.

A neighbor’s house was on fire. As firemen gathered and began to extinguish the fire, they needed help getting as many items out of the house as possible before it all burned to the ground. The call went out for help in the hour of need.

A 3 years old girl wondered into her father’s corn field and was lost. As the family began to look for the 3 years old, they realized they needed to get more help before the night came upon them. The call went out to get as many people to look for her. Neighbors, other family members and even strangers came to the farm. They formed the lines and began to search for the young girl. There was a need.

These three stories show us there was a need—a need to help someone get blood, another to save the precious family heirloom and a young child lost in a corn field. Today the Evangelist Luke tells us in our Gospel reading of Jesus’ need. Jesus has a need for a donkey to aid Him to come into the city of Jerusalem. Why such a need for the Lord of heaven and earth? Why would the One who Created all things have such a need? To fulfill the promises of God and the prophecies of old.

Jesus as the heaven-sent Savior is the promised Messiah. He came as the Son of David who will establish His Throne and Kingdom forever. When Jesus came upon the scene He didn’t come riding on a stallion as a conquering hero; He didn’t come with fanfare parade to show Himself as a King; but rather, He came riding on a donkey as the humble Servant of the Most High God of Israel. He came not to rule but to redeem those who are bound and captives as slaves of satan.

Jesus came on a mission—a mission that His Father sent Him on to earth. That mission is to save the human race from the punishment of sin, the destructive power of satan and the sting of the grave. His mission was the most important mission in the world to save you and me because without His help we would be doomed forever.

Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus clearly saw the needs of the people. In the Gospel of St. Matthew we are given this image that burns in our hearts forever. “When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9:36).

Yes, Jesus looked at the crowd and had compassion on them because He knew they needed Him. He saw their needs and for this reason He sent the disciples to bring the colt so that He may come into the city of peace to help those who were in need. But that city and its leaders would plot to destroy Him by hanging Him on a tree.

In interesting to note what Dr. Luke speaks in the text before us today: “And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as He rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As He was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Mt. 35-38).

Here they are crying out in praise and adoration to this King—a King that came on a mission to save them and all of mankind. In another Gospel account, we are told the same story however with a different twist. “And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Mt. 21:9).

The people of Jesus’ day cried out for help without knowing it. They cried out to Jesus saying: “Hosanna” which means “Save us now!” And Jesus came for that very purpose to save and deliver and redeem His children from satan’s hold and sin’s death.

Surely they cried out to Him Hosanna, but they had no concept how He would save them. The Parade of that Palm Sunday was a joyful day in the lives of the people of Jerusalem and the disciples but not the religious leaders. These religious leaders even complained to Jesus to quiet the crowd and not let them speak, but He told them, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk. 19:40). This cry on the Palm Sunday Parade was like none other. The parade doesn’t lead to giving Jesus the Keys of the city, or to the King’s palace, but rather to the cross of a criminal. Jesus rode into Jerusalem filled with expectations. And He delivered. He delivered by going to the cross to free the people both then and now from an oppression that was far worse than the Roman oppression. The King of Kings delivered His people from sin and death by dying on the cross. He did what the people of His day and ours don’t expect Him to do. For Christ’s death on the cross is not a defeat but victory. Because the very same Christ who died is the Christ that is still arisen from the dead for now and forever! PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, Jesus saw the need before Him and He acted upon it. How about us? Do you see the need that is before us? Do you see the multitude who are living but actually dead. They think they are rich but are poor in relationship with God. They think they are going to heaven, but are heading towards to hell.

Oh that we would see the need that Christ has told us about—a need that is found in this place, in this town and in this world. This need is not for material prosperity, peace on earth or social ministry. But to introduce them to the heaven-sent Savior, Jesus Christ who comes to us this Advent Season to remind us again of our need and His mission of mercy on our behalf.

Lift up your eyes and see the state of our nation and the people of this world. Many are concerned with getting more of earthly goods. Why then is Black Friday such a big day? Why do people get up in the wee hours of the morning to stand in line in the cold to buy this item or that, but we can’t get over a 100 souls on a Sunday in God’s house? Why is it that people spend and spend and spend on this gift or that, but we can’t meet the Church’s budget? Isn’t because people don’t see the need? Of course it is.

On this First Day of Advent, Luke exhorts us to hear the Words of Jesus. For He doesn’t speak of a need to take pilgrimages or fasts or to do penance. That’s not what He wants from us. He speaks of the love He has for you and the love He wants you to reflect in your life with those around you. Listen to Him. Do you want to please the King who gives you Himself, life, and salvation? Love and unselfishly serve all those in need. Do you want to bring a smile to the face of the Almighty God? Stoop down to help someone who can’t pay you back. Would you like to do God a favor to show Him your gratitude? Forgive someone who has hurt you and deserves no forgiveness. Are you looking for a way to thank Him for His help and generosity not only in spiritual things but in all that you are and have and hope to be? Give back some of what He has given you by giving to the church and the needy.

Do you see the need? Do you…? Jesus did. And He met that need by coming as a babe of Bethlehem to give His life as a ransom for you and me. Thank God with me today, that He has met our needs through His death and resurrection. Amen.

Now the peace…

“A Good Reason to…” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

S-1148 11/26/09 Thanksgiving Day (O) #574 LSB; (S) #36; L.S.#572; Choir; (C) #894 LSB

Texts: Deuteronomy 8:1-10; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Luke 17:11-19

Theme: “A Good Reason to…” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

Question: “How many reasons can you think of to give Thanks to God?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Thanksgiving Day celebration is from the O.T. Lesson: “And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD Your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Saints in Christ Lincoln’ original 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation came - spiritually speaking - at a pivotal point in his life. During the first week of July of that year, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. Four months later in November, Lincoln delivered his famous “Gettysburg Address.” It was while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he committed his life to Christ. As he explained to a friend:

When I left Springfield [to assume the Presidency] I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.

Listen to this Christian President as he gives the many reasons for this nation to give thanks and establishing Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday.


By the President of the United States of America

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Singed Abraham Lincoln

It has been 146 years since those words were spoken by this great leader of the free nation. President Abraham Lincoln encouraged all the Americans to give thanks to the Almighty Father for His gifts of grace.

146 years later, we still have many reasons to give thanks to the Lord. Here are but few of these reasons:

* America controls nearly 20 percent of the world’s wealth. There are around 6 billion people in the world, and there are roughly 300 million people in the U.S. That makes America less than 5 percent of the world’s population. And this 5 percent owns fifth of the world’s wealth.

* Every seven seconds, somewhere in the world a child under age five dies of hunger, while Americans throw away 14 percent of the food we purchase.

* Nearly a billion people in the world live on less than an American dollar a day. Another 2.5 billion people in the world live on less than two American dollars a day.

* More than half of the world lives on less than two dollars a day, while the average American teenager spends nearly $150 dollars a week.

* Americans spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half of the world does on all goods.

As you look at these statistics you come to see and understand what blessed people we are. Not because we have great material wealth, but because we are God’s sons and daughters. We who live in these great U.S. have freedom that many countries know nothing about. Freedom to worship. Freedom to bear arms. Freedom to travel without any restrictions.

To be sure we don’t need a president to tell us to give thanks. We do so because there are many good reasons. How many reasons can you count today for which you are thankful? We can speak of family, friends, loved ones, jobs. But how about having a house of worship; Bibles to read; the opportunity to witness; and to share and to grow? All of these are but the fruits of God’s love for us. Because of what He has done for us, we have a good reason to thank Him for all of His blessings and bounty. PAUSE.

During the slave trade business, some slaves were brought to the Auction market to be sold. Among the slaves was one young beautiful lady. She was brought up to the front and the rich men of Virginia gawked at her. Some touched her ribs and said, “She will be a good wench.” Others opened her mouth to check her teeth like a horse. The auctioneer began the bidding. And the amount was steadily climbing higher and higher. At last one young man paid a pretty price for this young. As the money was exchanged, the man took his possession and began to walk away. When they were all alone, the man who purchased her, turned around and gave her the bill of sales and said, “I bought you so that I can set you free. You may go where you want and no one will bother you again!” At hearing these words, the slave girl fell to the ground and thanked the man and said, “Sir, I am free because of your kindness and generosity, let me spend the rest of my life thanking you by serving.”

This lady was appreciative to the kindness of this man. She thanked him by becoming a willing slave in his house. Read the text of O.T. again and you will see how God’s hands of mercy and grace were caring and providing for the people of Israel throughout their wilderness. God set them free to be His chosen people and as such it was their privilege to thank Him.

How about us? We too, have been set free from the auction block and the wicked master—the Devil. As the price for our souls was going higher and higher, someone stood on the side and raised His hands high to pay the ransom price—a price not paid with gold or silver, not even in green dollars; but with blood and flesh on the wooden beam of the cross. Jesus set us free to be slaves to no man, but to love and obey Him as our Lord and Master. And just as that young lady ran in front of the man who freed her and said, “I will serve you for the rest of my life,” we too, as the blood-bought souls, with joy on this Thanksgiving Day say, “Lord, I will serve you with my whole life. I thank You for my freedom. I thank You for Your forgiveness. I thank You for the gift of faith. I thank You for the fellowship I will have around your table today and every day you make it possible.

Beloved in the Lord, fathers are a gift from the Lord to their wives and children. You know what I mean. There is nothing quite like hearing your father’s voice. You know I just returned from the old country (Israel), where I heard my father’s voice often. As I think about my dad’s voice, I also think of my heavenly Father’s voice, whose words at times may be as difficult to listen to as that of our own earthly fathers’ as it was evident in the text before us today. Yet, how thankful I am for the voice of my father—as most certainly, God’s voice—His voice brings comfort for trouble hearts and peace for guilty conscious. How thankful I am to have such a loving Father, who is so much greater than our President. The President issued a proclamation for Thanksgiving Day, but the King of kings gives us the true reason to be thankful for.

Today, in this house, we hear the voice of King of kings spoken again to give us joy in our hearts. We hear the loving Father saying: “On account of my Son, you all have become My children!” How reassuring is that? “Because of My Son, I will not hold your sins against you?” How wonderful is that message! “Because of My Son, I forgive you; feed you and fellowship with you!” How blessed we are to have such a loving Father!

Indeed, saints in Christ, we have a good reason to give thanks—we are loved by God—THE ALMIGHTY FATHER. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

“Ending and Dozing” (Mark 13:32-33)

S-1147 11/22/09 LSOY/3B (O) #599 LSB; (S) #609; L.S.#306; #308 (C) #52

Texts: Isaiah 51:4-6; Jude 20-25; Mark 13:24-37

Theme: “Ending and Dozing” (Mark 13:32-33)

Question: “Do you doze often?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel lesson: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:32-33).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Saints in Christ a story is told of a businessman who was building a bar right next door to a church. The owner also wanted to have some women dancers at his bar. The people of the Church were really upset with the building project and made their objections known to the businessman. The Church prayed that something will happen to the bar and be destroyed. The night before the grand opening a lightening struck the bar and burned it to the ground.

The owner was so upset with what happened that he sued the church for damages. As the court was in session, the bar owner said, “Your honor these Christians prayed that my business be destroyed. And now that it is destroyed I feel they should pay for the damages.” To which the Church responded, “Your honor we had nothing to do with it, this is an act of nature and we can’t control storms! We shouldn’t be paying any restitution for the burned down bar.” The judge mused over this for a while and said, “I will need to evaluate this more. I really don’t understand what is going on here. I have a heathen who believes in divine intervention and the power of prayer, but I have a church who denies the power of God and the power of prayers. Go figure!

We may laugh at this story. But this is not a laughing matter. Even though the people of the church wanted an end to the bar, they dozed off when they had the opportunity to witness about God’s power and love in their lives. Many who claim to be followers of Jesus, have wondered from the truth and are no longer holding to that which is absolute truth—God’s holy Word. This is a sign of the end times.

Here we are again, at the end of the Church year. We have made a full circle and soon Thanksgiving Day and Advent will be upon us. Thursday we will gather with family and friends and will do three things—eat, watch football and visit with family. But that is not the only thing that will take place. Dozing and Ending also will take place. The dozing that happens as the tryptophane kicks in after eating the Turkey and the ending of the day and meal. Dozing and Ending, two themes found in our texts today - both redeemed and fulfilled only in Christ our Savior!

In our Old Testament reading, the prophet Isaiah gives the promise that Christ is coming: He is the “Light to the Nations” – He is that Salvation, He has drawn near to all the world - to every sinner - and although the earth will wear out like a garment and come to an end - the ending is just the beginning - His salvation is forever, His righteousness will never be dismayed. Our Yeshuah- Our Jesus is forever and His righteousness will never end. We who are clothed with that righteousness, who were laid in the tomb of His death and raised to eternal life with Him - through our Baptism - we are to never be dismayed. Why not? Because ETERNITY IS OURS.

Today, you have witnessed the ending and the beginning of a new life. Through the means of the Water and Word the Gerber’s—Chareen, Baylee, Ashlee and Bryson (mother and her 3 children) died to sin in the baptismal font and rose again to a new life by the mighty miracle of water and Word. Today, a miracle took place. And ending of life of sin and death and a new life of righteousness began by the power of the Holy Spirit. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, do you remember as a child being carried by your mother, or taking your father’s hand? Do you recall going on an adventure with them! You asked, with the precision of a child, “Are we there, yet?” or “How much more minutes?” It didn’t matter if it was raining or getting dark, if we were tired - we were going there with the family and we were going to get “there.” Simple childlike faith/trust ruled the day. And what we realized, maybe later, was that the destination was not the main prize, but who was taking us!

Heaven is ours now, because our Yeshuah, our Salvation, He is forever, and His righteousness, not dismayed by the Cross, will never dim, diminish, or die, nor wear out; never be dismayed. The heavens and earth shall surely pass away - ah but He, and we who are in Him through Baptism, shall never die (John 11:25-26a).

Yes, the ending brought on by the grave gives way to a new reality, or maybe it’s an old one - the original plan - life forever with God - going through eternity with our Beloved - knowing He has us in the Palm of His hands. We will see earth and the heavens pass away, and we see that our Lord and our Salvation, He abides, and we get to be in heaven forever with Him. What a hope! What a promise! What a Gift! JUST FOR YOU!

Today we celebrate the end that is an eternal beginning. Jude, Jesus’ very brother, wants us to show mercy to those who are perishing, to those who doubt - yes, to snatch them from out of the fire. Yes, Jesus is able to present you as one who is blameless, without stumbling - and that is eternally so - His righteousness and salvation is yours. The King has transformed you - and you shine the glory of that newness. In that glory you are enabled to speak surety to doubt, the confidence (with faith) of Christ to doubting hearts, both in the church and in the world. Yes, every time you speak of His great love to doubting hearts, eternity, and more to the point, our Yeshuah, our Salvation, He brings another one along for the ride. And this is the ride that is ever and always, at His side. “Are we there, yet?” Of Course! For He is here - our Christ, our King - He is here with us.

But how can I know this is true, how can I be sure? You and I doubt, we fail, we fear and we falter. But Jesus says, “Behold the signs, like the changing of the seasons”. Know this, that when He comes, it will be at the Father’s directing only. Even He who comes does not know the time or the hour.

Now before we dismiss this too quickly - let us take comfort in and from it. Jesus tells us in v. 32 of our Gospel that even He does not know when He is returning to close out this age. What comfort! To use the child traveling with his parent’s analogy, Jesus models the simple trust in His Father that He gives, gives fully, to you and to me. He is not our good example, our older brother. Oh no! He is so much more: In His perfect obedience to the Father (And you thought that was only by His submitting to death on your cross!) Jesus continues to call us home by perfectly submitting to His Father and our Father, to His God and our God (John 20:17). He does more than “lead the way, or show the way.” He is the way, the truth, and the Life, and yes, no one comes to the Father, except, through Him (John 14:6). Here is comfort: In His submission to the Father, He brings us home for eternity.

As we look at our world today, we see so many things coming to an end. The good life in the USA is not what it used to be. All around, we hear of wars and rumors of wars. We see death and destruction. And we at times realize that the end is near, nearer than we like. The end of the world as we know it is here. Even the movie 2012 reminds us that the world is going to end; but not like the directors displayed it on the screen, but in accordance with the Word of God.

So what should we do with these two themes of Ending and Dozing? Should we be afraid of our failing health? Should we be afraid the way our economy is going? What about our children and their troubles... our grandchildren and their growing needs? Christ our King has us in His hands, so the trials we are enduring have an end. And, we and those we love who are found in Him - we have no end - and neither does His mercy in grace.

Jesus’ final command in our Gospel, to “Stay awake!” is not a fearful thing, but it is a joyous gift. We can stay awake. The tryptophane of the Turkey needn’t bother us. We are commanded to watch and wait for this coming in Glory of our Yeshuah - of our Salvation - for surely He is coming! We wait for what we do not see, true enough, but we wait in the assurance, in the surety of Him who was crowned our King with a Crown of Thorns, given the thorns of our Cross, numbered with the transgressors - that is with you and me - so that we might be raised to newness through His resurrection.

Ending and Dozing. We do a lot of it. Like the people of the Church in our opening story. Yet, we dare not do so. We are encouraged by our Savior, Jesus to Wait! And Watch! Yes, we’re on the journey with our Father. “How much more minutes?” The answer is joyous - for ever, and ever, Amen!

Now the peace of God…

“Where IS God?” (Mark 13:5-9)

S-1146 11/15/09 (O) #5; (S) #514; (C) #412

Texts: Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-25; Mark 13:1-13

Theme: “Where IS God?” (Mark 13:5-9)

Question: “How often have you heard someone say ‘Where is God?” SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel lesson: “And Jesus began to say to them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I Am He!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them.’” (Mark 13:5-9).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

The pastor sat in his darkened office late on Saturday night and wondered why did God place him in this church? These people didn’t care for him, or his style of ministry. They didn’t long to hear the Word of God. They were apathetic to the message of the Gospel. They turned there noses on the gifts of the Altar. They didn’t want to be in God’s house. In the darkened office the pastor lifted up his head heaven-ward saying, “Where Is God?”

The couple sat in the delivery room. They held tightly their still-born child to their breast. As they clutched to their child that the mother carried for 9 months in her womb, they wept tears over this gift that was taken away from them. With tears streaming down their cheeks, they cried out, “Where Is God.”

The father along with his three young daughters stood by silently as they watched the coffin of his wife and their mother slowly lowered into the ground. The young lady had died abruptly from cancer at a very young age of 44. Her husband spoke softly, “Where Is God?”

In a world full of sadness and sorrow, troubles and tragedies, death and destruction, we at times ask the same question, “Where Is God?” God if you love me as you say then why am I suffering like this; why am I hurting like this; why do you allow these things to happen?

The question of where is God is a question that has been asked by people in the Church and outside the church. That question is asked when things are not going well. Hardly ever is asked when things are going well. But when the evil of this world encompass us then we think about God.

Today, St. Mark speaks to our hearts about where God Is. In the Gospel reading today, we hear that those who endure to the end shall be saved. Mark speaks clearly of the destruction, of disasters and of death that will take place. But as these things take place don’t be alarmed. For God is still with us.

Sadly many have forgotten where God is. Many have forgotten what worship is. Many have forgotten the holy things. Worship is not an entertainment; but a place where God comes to us with His means of Grace. Some of us work at our play, we worship our work, and we play at our worship. This is not what God meant for us as His redeemed children.

We go to God’s holy house because is there. We go to church to meet Him who is love in person and be transformed by Him. The blessings come when worship is held in the highest form and revered as the noblest thing. For Here in this place in this oasis God comes and refreshes us with His Spirit, with His Word of forgiveness and with His gift of the Lord’s Supper.

What saddens me is the fact that many in our world have lost the sense of what is holy. They don’t fear, love or trust in God above all else. Many don’t even know anymore what it means to be in the presence of God. This is perhaps the greatest tragedy of our age and time.

We don’t know where God is anymore. We don’t have a place set apart and separate where we meet God. We’ve walled God out of our world, our hearts and even some of our churches. And if by chance, we have a place for God in our lives, we meet Him not as an awesome holy God, but a as a friendly buddy—only a little above. We no longer consider sin to be a disease that destroys life. We are not fearful of the judgment that will come upon us.

These times are evil. Evil is everywhere, and it wants to deceive you into thinking that it is stronger than Jesus, stronger than the Father’s love, stronger than the Holy Spirit’s call. On this Tuesday of Holy Week Jesus knows the disciples are confused, disoriented, that sin clings to them and death surrounds them. This is why He has come - to speak peace to hearts in need of His comfort. Yes, He knows what you need. He knows we like “sparkly things.” He knows that wealth and power and influence can deceive. He knows our hearts and He knows that we need to drink deeply from the Cup of Salvation - and so He drank deeply from the Cup of Suffering, that leaving not one drop of that suffering in that cup for us to consume, that the Cup of Salvation would be ours. That is the means that allows us to not lose heart, even amidst wars and rumors of wars.

Looking at the headlines we see despair everywhere. Looking at our own lives we see the upheaval of earthquake and the dryness of drought, of famine and pestilence, of warfare and darkness. The evil one wants us to despair and turn from God - to punctuate these words, where is God with a question-mark. Ah, but we may use these words with the punctuation of Grace, Where is God! Why, right here! Where else! He walks through the valley of death on our behalf, so that it now becomes the valley of the shadow of death. Death has been to the dentist. It has lost its bite, for although it bit at the heel of Jesus, He crushed his head (Genesis 3:15).

When Hebrews 10:24-25 commands us to meet together and to encourage one another, even as we see the day (both evil and its answer in Christ) approaching, we are given the gift of shining, not with stones and buildings that decay and decompose, but He shines through us, as His living stones (1 Peter 2:5). The Law to be pronounced here is that He has worked with common stones - our sinful hearts - and we need to die, and we need daily to die - and to be raised anew in the living hope of Him who endured to the end. And now, the Gospel: He has fashioned you, even as He did our dear saints, to shine and reflect His glory, a precious stone, a living stone. As you endure in His endurance you wait with patience, for He who could go through Tuesday, to get to Thursday and then Friday, He is faithful! Even so, Amen.

Now the peace of God. SDG

Friday, November 20, 2009

“Do You Know Who You Are?” (Revelation 7:13-15)

S-1145 11/1/09 All Saints Day, preached in Galilee (O) #10; (S) #376; (C) #437

Texts: Revelation 714:6-7; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Theme: “Do You Know Who You Are?” (Revelation 7:13-15)

Question: “Have you asked any questions lately?” SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Reformation celebration is from the book of Revelation: “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.” (Revelation 7:13-15).

Introduction: In Nomine Iesu

Saints in Christ, if someone asked you: “Who are you? What would you say?” I am sure some of you would say, I am a husband, father; wife, mother; son, daughter; brother, sister; banker, Doctor, Pastor, commander, retired, etc. But honestly who are you? Who do people say you are? Better yet, who does God say you are?

To get the answer to our question, we listen to the words of John in our reading today. “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.”

Dear Saints, you blessed by Your Father, what a legacy, what a future, what a promise is given to you in that sweet word in Revelation 7! The sun shall not smite you, your hunger and thirst are met…at the banquet with the Lamb (At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing, LSB 633)! But today I have even better news about who you are and what is to come: You are a SAINT of God in Christ Jesus now. Or, as John put it in our Epistle, you are a Child of God – fully adopted, received into the family, beloved, Baptized, forgiven, redeemed, blood-bought, heaven-bound and cherished!

Saints in Christ, this is the Gift we celebrate on All Saints Day. And it is for saints of every day, even today. Who can number God’s elect? Only He can. Who can know the depth of our need, of our sin, and of the cost to redeem, to cherish, to abide with us? Only He can. Who can make a sinner, lowly in spirit, to become an inheritor of heaven? Only He can. And notice, heaven’s kingdom is our inheritance. It is not our paycheck; it is not our position in life; and it is not even our name. We have not earned it, not one ounce of love, not one micro-gram of forgiveness, not one drop of blood that flowed from His hands and feet nor one drop of water and blood from His side. Yet it is all yours, for the sake of Him who alone is poorest in Spirit, having become chief of sinners in our stead. What a legacy, what a promise, what a present reality and gift!

Today, you and I are standing on the same spot the Sermon on the Mount was preached. The Gospel reading informs us that Jesus sees the crowd and so goes up to the mountain to begin teaching them, (point to my left-over there). That “seeing” is the same seeing that causes Him to have compassion on later crowds, like the sheep without a shepherd in Matthew 9:3, or at the feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14:14. Jesus sees them, and His words are gifts of grace for current trouble and need.

Blessed are we that He sees us, poor in spirit, and bequeaths us His kingdom – the realm and gift of the King of kings(Psalm 51:17). Yes, and blessed are we when we see how He mourned over our fallen lot. Blessed are we, when we have that same Spirit upon us through His Word and Sacraments, for comfort is our inheritance. Blessed are we when meekness is our calling. I love what Psalm 138:6 says of the meek, 6 For though the LORD is high, He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand delivers me. 8 The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Yes, we inherit everything now, the earth, and so much more.

Yes, hungering and thirsting for what we do not see in this life apart from Him, that is, His Righteousness, we are satisfied. Oh, we fret and fight, to be sure. We are not perfect… not yet! Ah, but He who has sanctified, that is Saint-ified us – He is, and so hungering and thirsting for what is ours today on the Table, the Meal of Forgiveness, for here we receive in the cup of blessing and in the broken bread that which alone satisfies our hunger and thirst – His righteousness.

Oh, and His mercy, it keeps us. To be sainted means to have been the object of mercy. The arrow of mercy flies to the bulls-eye of our heart and life so that now we may show mercy on others. Mercy is a heavenly gift. The world knows only Justice. It cannot know mercy, for this flows only from Christ. So, when you are merciful, all that you pour out on others then flows back to you again… only sweeter. You know this beatitude well, my saints and His saints. What a gift, what a legacy, now and forever.

Here we are today, walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Walking were He taught, healed, touched the sick and dying, and ate with former sinners made saints by His blood. As you look around you see with human eyes people from every corner of the world. If you pay close attention you will hear many different languages spoken. You see people that don’t look like, speak like, or act like you. But these people are the redeemed of the Lord—the one’s whose close have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus.

Here in this place, you and I with our eyes and ears see and hear a bit of the fulfillment of Revelation 7 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! (Rev. 7:9-11). As we continue to walk around this country pay closer attention, listen more attentively and you will hear Hebrew, English, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, French etc. These people have come just like you to know more about Jesus, His life, His ministry, and His mission in the world. For He came to wash us and make us SAINTS by the blood He shed on the wooden cross of Calvary.

For the next few days, you will walk in the footsteps of the Savior. You will see different sights, hear different sounds, and taste different food. But none of it matters. What matters is YOUR place in the Promise Land of Heaven.

I hope and pray that I will by the grace of God remind you of who you are, and whose you are—YOU ARE GOD’S SAINTS. Purchased not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood poured for the forgiveness of your sins. Here in this place, I hope you will see more than just buildings and boats; churches and cathedrals, people and places; but that you see God. What a legacy! Yes, on this All Saints Day we celebrate not death but life, we celebrate the gift of His having made peace with us, destroying death and all that separates us from Him. Surely He is our peace who has broken down the barrier between us and Himself (Ephesians 2:14) – therefore, being at peace by The Peacemaker, when we reflect that peace, it flows out from us, then returns, unabated, unharmed, even multiplied – and we are at peace, even now. What a legacy!

To be sure this is the legacy of the Saints: The Peace that more than abides, yes, the Peace that bore our sins… our Jesus. Let our legacy be summed up in this paraphrase of Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all, for indeed, the Lord is near unto you. You mustn’t continue to worry about anything now, but in everything, including these present trials, by prayer and petition make your requests known unto Him who abides, your Jesus, oh, and the peace of God, that Peace that outstrips your fears and needs by meeting them on His own Cross, He is guarding and keeping you in His perfect gift, in Him, now and unto eternity!

Beloved in the Lord, the next time someone asks you, “Who are you? What would you say?” Tell them clearly, confidently and completely, YOU ARE A FORMER SINNERS TRANSFORMED TO SAINTS BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS. Tell them you are GOD’S SAINTS for now and for eternity. Tell them of the joy of being blessed by Him who blesses us beyond our wildest imagination. Tell them, of your legacy, your inheritance, your eternity that is secured in heaven.

ON this all saints day, remember dear Saint of God, What a legacy! Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, October 25, 2009

“The Son of Honor!” (Mark 10:46-47).

S-1144 10/25/09 21SAP/3B Reformation Day Hymns: (O) #10; (S) #376; (C) #437

Texts: Revelation 14:6-7; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-32-31

Theme: “The Son of Honor!” (Mark 10:46-47).

Question: “Have you been honored lately?” SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Reformation celebration is from the Gospel of Mark: “Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and His disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Mark 10:46-47).


Saints in Christ, on August 31, 1972, I was about to embark on the long journey from Israel to the United States. As I was saying goodbye to my family, my father took me in his arms, looked me in the eyes and gave me two pieces of advice: 1). “Son, remember your family name. Always bare that name with honor and don’t make it mud.” 2). “Stretch your feet as long as your mattress is.” Those tid-bits of my father have been guiding my steps ever since I came to this country.

In 1501 another young man from a different country, was leaving his family to head to the University to study. Martin grew up as a son of miner. His father Hans wanted him to become a lawyer. To honor his father, the dutiful Martin went to the University of Erfurt and began studying law as his father desired. But something happened that changed the life of this young man and the world as we know it today. Luther loved his father Hans very much and wanted to honor him, but He had a greater love for His heavenly Father and wanted to honor Him even more.

Luther became a monk because he wanted to please and honor his heavenly Father. While studying the Scripture, he came to know the truth that set him free from the tyranny of the law, its requirements and the fear of being punished by the wrathful God and filled his heart with the sweet message of the Gospel of the crucified and risen Christ.

As we observe the Reformation today, we remember that Luther stood against papacy, princes, and powerful men of the Church. In 521, when Luther was commanded to recant his teachings uttered these words, “Here I stand, I can do no other, may God help me!” His conscience was held captive by the Word of God. This was the fulfilment of Psalm 119:46, I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame. The glory and the power for the confession made by Luther then, and you and me this Afternon is found in the nail marks, the scourged body, the thorn encrusted brow, the spear-pierced side of Him who set the heavens in their places, who breathed the breath of life into Adam: Only Christ! Luther is the first to tell us that the power and the honor and the glory are God’s ALONE. Soli Deo Gloria.

In our Gospel reading today, we hear of another strong confession made by a blind beggar, from Jericho. We know him as Blind Bartimaeus, but that name simply means “Son of Timaeus,” or “Son of Honor.” It would be like calling me “Son of Subhi!” This blind beggar’s name is not important. What God wrought in and through his life is what matters. What God brings to be in and through your life is the matter of Reformation. Only Christ can transform a mighty historical movement from Germany almost 500 years ago – to bring glory and honor to His holy name. Today, our loving and gracious God in Christ continues to speak forgiveness unto renewal and reformation every day - to you - and.... through you to a lost and hurting world.

The story of the Son of Timaeus is telling. Beggars would be left in public places - sometimes near temples or storefronts, or as in the case of this blind beggar, along the main roadway by the temple in Jerusalem. His family stationed him there, day in and day out. A shawl would be wrapped around the back and shoulders of such a beggar as he sat to keep him warm and protected from wind and cold. As people went by they dropped few coins of pity into that cloak.

All these beggars had was that cloak and the few coins - these were their safety net, their livelihood. One thing this beggar-man had that worked perfectly was his hearing. He had heard of this Rabbi and His strange new teaching - or was it the faithful keeping of the Old Testament?! It was the teaching of truth, and this man’s sight being gone, well, his ears would pick up and distinguish between truth and error. He heard the joyous truth of Jesus. He cries out in faith, yes, faith and not desperation (Remember, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God! –Romans 10:17). Timaeus’ son cries out in faith: “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”

Was this man courageous? Did he have some hidden, inner strength? No, and no! Ah, but the One who is able to bear the sins of every soul in His flesh, who has the strength to be handed over to sinful men, be killed by crucifixion and three days later rise, He has this beggar, a poor man now infinitely rich! He cries out all the more, not desperately, but with faith, silencing his silencers.

Jesus’ ears also work well for He stops His march and says: “Call him!” Indeed, he has already been called... by the Gospel. He is a captive of hope and help. So, when the disciples call for him to come to Jesus, this man is not careful with his cloak nor his coins. He is blind and he may be able to find neither if the darkness of his eyes remains - he will be cold and penniless. We are told that he sprung up and threw off his cloak. Nothing else mattered besides Jesus. This is a heart that has been reformed and transformed. On this Reformation Sunday behold the cloak-less, coin-less, joy-filled son of Timaeus, son of God.

Yes, like Luther some 15+ centuries later, this blind beggar made his confession with the rest of the Church, I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.... Both men knew what we know, and what we need to be reminded of daily as we confess our sins and confess His faithfulness - that Jesus has come to make the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the blind to receive their sight (Matthew 11:2-6; Isaiah 42:18). Yes, He has come to heal the broken hearted, to defend us against all our enemies (our own heart, the devil, and the world), to restore the remnant. As we make confession, it is in this place in a special, Word directed way, so that it will also be in our every-day lives.

Christ calls us - and we beggars on the journey of life, are to cast off cloak and coin, everything familiar but not Him. This is hard; it is not natural according to our fallen, sinful self. It can only be done because He calls and in that call is the means to answer. Yes, He calls us, calls us to ask Him for healing and to honor Him with our lives of service as did the Monk from Germany—Luther.

Luther left everything he had. His law books were given to others, but he took one book (lift it up high) the most important book—God’s holy Word which brought Him hope, help and heaven. This book he held near his heart and in his hand was God’s gift to man to show him the way of salvation. And through that book we too have come to know of the confession of the son of Timaeus. And the history books teach of Luther’s bold confession here I stand I can do no other.

Yes, the boldness of Luther, the boldness of the son of Timaeus, and your boldness to witness and to love and to give and to endure even as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear is because He abides with you. The son of Timaeus received back his sight - more than just what his eyeballs could perceive - he saw Jesus as Savior and Lord. Yes, it is this sight that is the joyous gift of the Reformation. Yes, it is this sight that is given and gifted to the world through your witness. Yes, He has called you today to follow Him.

When I left my country over 37 years ago, I attempted to honor my father with all of my power, but I must admit to you that I have failed many times. When Luther left Eisleben to Erfurt he too, tried to honor his father, but alas he failed too. But there is another son, who left His Father and He brought honor and glory to Him in all things.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God left the beauty and majesty of heaven and came to earth and became man. As the honored Son of God, He did honor His Father in Word and Deed. He honored Him by giving His life on the tree of the Cross for the sins of the world. And because this Son honored His Father, we are now the honored sons and daughters of the Father of all mercy and compassion.

Therefore, I say to you precious children of God, “Go your way; your faith has saved you!” This is the call and the gift of the Reformation. And as sons and daughters of Christ, you and I shall stand before kings and not be put to shame. He who promises this is faithful. Stand firm then, in His courage and confessing Him and be not afraid. Even so, Amen!

Now the peace…

Sunday, October 18, 2009

“Satisfaction Guaranteed” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, 19).

S-1143 10/18/09 20SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #10; (S) #376; (C) #437

Texts: Ecclesiastes 5:10-20; Hebrews 4:1-13; Mark 10:23-31

Theme: Satisfaction Guaranteed (Ecclesiastes 5:10, 19).

Question: “What Satisfies You?” SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Old Testament lesson: “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity… Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, 19).


Saints in Christ, Solomon a rich-wise man who had everything at his disposal teaches us today that the love of money does not satisfy. Anytime we think that money or materials, toys or trinkets, power or possessions are going to make us happy we are mistaken. As sinful human beings we tend to think that if we have just a little bit more of this or that, our lives will be much better. How foolish we are. None of these items satisfy the soul.

The author of our text clearly states: “That the one who loves money will never be satisfied”. As a matter of fact, wealth can even harm its owner if we pursue it as the number one priority in life. The prophet Job declared when he lost everything, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). We know that we cannot take money to the grave. Only a fool blindly pursues it. Happiness dear saints results when one enjoys such gifts of God without placing them at the center of life.

Many times as you listen to the commercials on TV or read ads in the paper we hear these words, “Satisfaction Guaranteed”. But we know from personal experience, that is not always the case. I am sure you have purchased something that stated satisfaction guaranteed. However, when you got it, it wasn’t what it clamed to be. And when you tried to return it, you got the run around because they forgot to tell you about the hidden “small print.”  But not when it comes to God’s Holy and Inspired Word. When God gives us a guarantee He has no hidden print, no hidden agenda and no tricks up His sleeves. Instead, God gives us the certainty that satisfies. The satisfaction guaranteed is “the gift of God” v.19. Study, the living Word and you will see that precious and lovely gift. The Gift of God comes to us through His Word. His Word points us to His Son, who gave us the gift of salvation on the cross by which we get the forgiveness He offers. PAUSE.

As your Pastor, I must admit to you that I can never satisfy all of your needs and all of your wants. In my 16 years of serving as God’s under-shepherd in this part of His Vineyard, I have heard all of these statements: “The sermon is too long, it is too short. You are too loud, you are too soft. You are boring, you are exciting. You are compassionate, you don’t care. You are self-centered and selfish, you are considerate.” Etc.

Beloved in the Lord, when I was installed as your pastor, I took a vow to do the best that I can in serving you. Teaching the young and old and being faithful in my ministry. But I need you to know that you are looking at a sinner—a man with clay feet. Even though I attempt to do the best that I can, it is not good enough. Often times the devil reminds us—you and me of our failings and foibles. I know that I have not satisfied you always, and will not satisfy you in the future.

Faithful followers of Christ, anytime, any human hands are laid on an item or project that claims satisfactions guaranteed, know for certain, that that item or project begins to crumble and be destroyed. Man can’t satisfy our hungry and thirsty soul. There is only one who can, that One is none other than the Lord Almighty.

Our precious heaven-sent Savior comes to us and says, “My Satisfaction is guaranteed!” My Words and actions are timely, tested and true. With Me you can be sure that satisfaction is guaranteed. I offer you peace through My death on the cross of Calvary. And by My rising from the dark and dead grave, I guarantee your resurrection from the grave. I offer you My gifts of faith, forgiveness and forever living with Me in paradise. I Am Your perfect Savior. You may have failed miserably, but My message is satisfaction guaranteed. I don’t hold anything against you. PAUSE.

You and I should know for certain that we fail to “satisfy” or be “filled as a good meal will satisfy” with anything but the true meal that our perfect Savior has prepared for us. The true satisfaction – is found in the gift of Him who was Crucified, Risen, Ascended and Returning Lord. His gift at the table satisfies us completely and joyfully.

Solomon, the wise-rich man uses a Hebrew word Yishbah. That word means being filled, content, and satisfied as with a good meal. Week after week, we as God’s sons and daughter are so privileged to gather around the Lord’s Table and His finished work in the broken bread and shed cup. Yes, we cannot satisfy one another – our sin is that deep – ah, but He and He alone satisfies. And He does so even today.

Don’t forget that you are the beloved children of God. You are baptized, forgiven, redeemed, blood-bought and heaven-bound. Remember therefore, that Christ’s mission of coming to earth was to redeem you from the unholy trinity—sin, death and the grave. Therefore, He accepted the challenge of this lot, He accepted His lot and rejoiced in His toil (Hebrews 12:1-2) as the gift from the Father – and in that – enabled the joyous response in us to also accept our lot and rejoice in our toil = that is, to stand beneath the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1) to stand beneath the shadow of the Cross (Matthew 16:24-26).

Today, in your hearing Solomon speaks. He speaks from personal experience. He states in another chapter of this same book, that all our toil is vanity (chp. 2) – but our toil as the gift of God, our wealth provided by Christ, is the toil that indeed satisfies. And what is that toil? It may be different for each one of us in its particular expression, but it is summarized in Matthew 22:37, 39, “loving the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, and mind… loving neighbor as self”. To do this is fulfilled in Christ. Only His perfect gift on the Cross “satisfies” the Father – so only as we are found in that Grace, does our “keeping of the law” find its fulfillment, its “satisfaction.” We can indeed love God with heart, mind, strength, for this is how He has first loved us – we reflect it as we stand beneath the cross. We can love neighbor as self – under the shadow of the Almighty, in His strength alone – this is the fulfillment of Ecclesiastes 5:19. PAUSE.

So are you satisfied with what you have? What will satisfy you dear children of God? What else do you need to make your life complete? Maybe these are not the right questions maybe they are. But in order for us to know if we are truly satisfied we need to remember few things. First, remember the words of Solomon: “That the one who loves money will never be satisfied”. Second, remember the warning that Paul gives to son Timothy saying. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

And Third, we ought to take inventory of all of God’s gifts to us in Christ the heaven-sent Savior. How should I go about taking this inventory? Where should I start but at the cross of Jesus? How could He love me so much to die for my sins? How can He keep on forgiving me so often? Let my neighbor worry about his sins. I have plenty of my own. But for each of them I have God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ blood. My forgiving God is also my providing God. He gives me what I need for body and life. I may not always recognize the form in which His blessings come, but that doesn’t stop them from being His good GIFTS to me.

Oh, my children, today, Jesus again assures YOU that He is the ONLY One who can satisfy you. You have Jesus, you lack nothing. But if you have everything and don’t have Jesus, you really have nothing. Give thanks therefore to the God of all Grace under whose watchful eyes of mercy, He gives us more than we need to satisfy our life not only here on earth but forever in heaven. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Sunday, October 11, 2009

“What Did You Say?” (Mark 10:17).

S-1142 10/11/09 19SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #349 v. 1-4; (S) #594 LSB; LS. #377; #336; #35; (C) #349 v. 5-7

Texts: Amos 5:6-7, 10-15; Hebrews 3:12-19; Mark 10:17-22

Theme: What Did You Say?” (Mark 10:17).

Question: “What Are You Lacking?” SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “And as He [Jesus] was setting out on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Mark 10:17).


Saints in Christ, we have all had those moments. You are having a conversation or listening to an interview and something that is said strikes you as odd and unbelievable. What is said is so unexpected, so out of the box, so out of the ordinary that you want to make sure that you heard the conversation correctly. “What did you say?”

We saw that not too long ago when we were watching the International Olympic Committee take the vote to see who would host the 2016 Summer Olympics. All of the hype and run up to the event pointed to Chicago being the winner. After all, they had put on the full court press. The President and First Lady, along with the Chicago goddess Oprah, personally made the rounds of the voting delegations. There was going to be some competition from Rio de Jenero, but it wasn’t an insurmountable task. The hopes of a city and nation were set on high results; because the President was going to save the day and bring home the bacon.

Then it happened. The first round of voting took place. The IOC spokesman broke the news. Chicago had been eliminated on the first ballot? As the cameras zoomed on the people waiting in the streets of Chicago, their faces were awestruck in disbelief. You could hear the shock in the voices of the reporters. The tone was disbelief. “What did he say?”

The answer to the hopes of a nation and a city was totally unexpected. The reputation of the American delegation would have never permitted us to think this result would be possible. But there, amid all anticipation, the result created disbelief.

Then on Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Barrack Hussein Obama. And many were saying, “What did you say?” Unbelief! Bewilderment! Puzzlement was evident by many.

Today we have a similar setting in our Gospel reading. Jesus is approached by a young man that seemed to have his presentation and life all in order. He was young and held a position of authority and respect. He was confident in his position, finances and work-righteous. And while this man seems to have it all together, he is driven to seek out Jesus. Perhaps this was to cement his conviction of his own status. But it could also have been that there was a seed of doubt in the man. But for whatever reason, self-righteousness or self-doubt, he brings his request to Jesus.

Mark paints the picture of this man beautifully as he comes running to Jesus, kneels before Him and says: Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” What did he say? He called Jesus, “Good teacher!” And now that is a something that we can’t go over lightly. We need to look deeper to those words and understand their meaning of what this rich man was saying.

In calling Jesus “GOOD” He was acknowledging that Jesus is God. For only God is good. Even though he spoke that word, he missed the point that God was standing right before Him. For this reason, Jesus says, There is no one good except God.” So Jesus responds by asking the rich man, “What did you say?” Are you saying that I am God? Are you acknowledging Me to be the Creator of the Universe? Are you looking at Me dressed in human form, walking among you to be God in the flesh?

With these words, Jesus begins to solve the spiritual problem of the man that is kneeling before Him. Jesus slowly begins to take the dark lenses that are covering the eyes of this rich man and allows him to see that before Him stands the Almighty God. But He didn’t get it. Many people today don’t get it either.

Many people claim that Jesus is a good teacher, an excellent moral example; a wonderful man imparting moral ethics and teaching us to be good. Even Bill O’Reilly said on his Friday’s broadcast that he is not sure if Jesus is God as he visited with an atheist. But Jesus is more than that. We dare not look at Him only as a human example, or a good teacher teaching us how to be good like Him. By the Spirit’s power we look at Him as God who is good. PAUSE.

Two words that are used in our text “God” and “Good”, sound alike and even look alike. They both come from the Old English word “god.” Many people believe in God and respect Him as the Giver of all good gifts. And it is no wonder that the English word for good and beneficial is given to the One who provides us with all good things.

Those two words “God” and “Good” bear similar relation in the German language too. Martin Luther noticed that and remarked upon it. He once wrote: “We Germans from times of old also call God by the very name ‘God,’ derived from the word good, because He is an eternal foundation which gushes forth nothing but the good and from which flows all that is good.”

Today, Jesus looks at the rich man and loves him. He opens the eyes of the rich man to the simple truth that He is God. He is pointing Him to that which is important, not in the doing but in the receiving. Not in keeping the laws or decrees but in getting what is not ours; such as our inheritance.

Now you folks know that you don’t work for an inheritance that is given to you by someone who knows you. It could be your grandparents, parents or relatives. They give it to you because you are part of the family, not because you have been so good; but only out of the abundance of their hearts.

The rich man in our text couldn’t believe Jesus’ Words when He said: “You lack one thing.” And thus the rich man says, “What did you say? You want me to sell everything I have and follow You?” We know the rest of the story. The rich man’s departure from Jesus who is good, indicates that he didn’t believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, are we willing to hear what the Savior says to us today? Are we saying to Jesus “What did You say?” Do you want me to leave everything and follow You?” And the answer is absolutely, positively yes. We who are baptized and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, know that self-righteous and self-confidence gets us nothing but what we work for—that is death, hell and damnation. Self-righteous doesn’t give us hope or heaven, but hopelessness and hell.

Jesus on the other hand, in love, opens the door to eternal life and gives us a greater inheritance than any family member can give. For this good teacher, this One who is God Himself, has prepared for all those who are adopted into the family of grace an inheritance that is beyond anything we could ever earn! This inheritance is something that Jesus would earn for us at the cross of Calvary. There, our big brother Jesus paid the ransom price for our freedom. And it is this that we inherit from Him. And we inherit it when He dies. His death brings freedom from sin and death. And this freedom is ours. It is given freely to us. He gives it to us by virtue of our adoption in Holy Baptism a place in the family. And when you are in the family, you inherit what belongs to the family. You have a name and a place and an inheritance! That inheritance is eternal life! PAUSE.

Did you hear what Jesus said? Your sins are forgiven you. You have an eternal inheritance! You didn’t earn it. It is given to you freely. You are freed from the foolishness of thinking that you “aren’t that bad.” You are freed from the slavery of doubt. You are free to look forward to what our Good and Gracious God has in store for you. For now, and forever!

Did you hear that! For those who believe and trust in Jesus lack nothing. Eternal life is yours. It isn’t about you. It is all about Jesus! In our sinfulness that answer is unexpected and undeserved! But that is exactly what He says! AMEN!

Now the peace of God…

Sunday, October 4, 2009

“A Helper fit for the Church” (Genesis 2:18).

S-1141 10/04/09 18SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #370; #39; (S) #123 (C) #LWML Hymn

Texts: Genesis 2:18-25; Hebrews 2:1-13; Mark 10:2-16

Theme: A Helper fit for the Church (Genesis 2:18).

Question: “Have you been called upon to help someone?” SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’” (Genesis 2:18).


Saints in Christ, throughout all of my life I needed help. When I was born, I needed help to be fed and cared for. As I grew up, I needed help to read and write. Coming to the States, I needed help in learning the English language, using the currency, and mastering living in this free society. I needed help to drive a car. When I got married, I needed help from my wife to raise our children. At the seminary, I needed help in learning Greek, writing sermons and using computer. In every stage of life, we all have a need from some help.

As we read the account of Moses today, it becomes evident that God sees the need of Adam before Adam knew he needed a helper. The need is found in the statement “It is not good for the man to be alone”. In that Creative story, we see that our God is a helping God who desires what is good and grand for Adam and all mankind.

At the risk of getting too much flack from my gender brethren, no kidding! Sure, we think that we are just fine on our own. We think that life would be grand if we didn’t have to deal with some of the issues that come with the creation of woman. But these are nothing other than foolish bravado and macho ignorance. Without that suitable helper, the world might just well have the appearance and aroma of a football locker room or a hunting lodge on the second week of deer camp! Without that helper the world would come to an end. Intellectual, emotional and spiritual honesty require us to admit that God was right, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

And God went to work on that right away. I will make a helper suitable for him." There was no helper among the beasts of the field or the birds of the air. And lonely Adam was not going to just get any helper, any partner. The Lord God would make one perfectly fit for Him and like him. The long parade of animals to be named wasn’t a talent search for a helper for Adam. Rather it was a clear indication that not just any helper would do. There would be that special creation that would fit the bill.

And, from his own flesh and bone, the man received that special gift. In this we see that the helper is part of the man, made for the man, to be a blessing for the man. The woman was taken and formed out of the very same substance of man. She is not taken from the head, where she would rule over the man. She is not taken from the foot, so that she can be trampled upon. Nor is she simply cloned in a way to be just like the man. No, in a stroke of Divine wisdom, the woman, this helper, this gift from God is taken from his side. The woman is not a carbon copy or a master or a slave. She is a helper fit for him.

This taking and fashioning also denotes a relationship. The man’s response makes this very clear. This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman’, for she was taken out of man. The woman that the Lord had formed out of man’s very being is to be part and parcel of the man. It is out of this relationship that man’s loneliness is overcome. And it is overcome by placing a counterpart, a compliment, a completion right by his side. We call this blessed gift marriage.

As you observe and attend weddings, our Lord reminds us again that it is not good for man to be alone. So God joined, at his side a helper fit for him. Not just any helper. Not just a convenient helper. No, that helper was fit for him. Fit to stand by his side from that day forward, until death parts them.

But alas, there are those in our world who would tell you that you don’t need that helper. There will be those who tell you that you can go it alone. You do quite well on your own thank you. But the Word of God still rings true. It is not good for the man to be alone. There are also those in our world today that tell us that just any helper will do. It doesn’t have to be that specially created one. In their minds, Adam’s helper could have just as well been Steve instead of Eve. But God’s Word still rings true. “I will make a helper suitable for him.” Man and woman have been created to be complementary parts, not interchangeable parts. We have been specifically and specially designed by God Himself to fill these rolls. To think or practice otherwise is challenged not only by biology and physiology, but also by the clear Word of God! Think about this: Without that suitable helper, without that one flesh relationship, there would be no generations to follow. And without those generations to follow, there would be no Savior born to a virgin named Mary who was also a suitable helper to a man named Joseph. Without that original suitable helper, and without that One Flesh, there would be no manger, no cross, and no empty tomb. In short, there would be no salvation! PAUSE.

Man and woman have been given to one another for a purpose. That purpose is to give glory to God. A Christian man married to a Christian woman, becoming one flesh and raising Christian children is one of the greatest praises the Lord can receive. It is there that this Genesis 2 relationship is repeated. It is there that another generation is taken from their cradle, to the font, from the font to the rail, from the rail to the grave and from the grave to eternity. All of this is carried out by the Christian dad and Christian mom.

This relationship also happens in the Church. God in His Word has assigned the task of Word and Sacrament ministry to the man. For millennia, men have to one degree of faithfulness or another, proclaimed the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have baptized and communed. They have ordained and organized. But God’s Word has remained true. It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.

In the Scriptures we meet faithful helpers like Mary and Martha, Priscilla and Phoebe. These faithful women have played the helper role in the progress of the message of salvation. There have been times when it was the women who carried the day for the Gospel. God’s suitable helpers have sustained the church.

On this weekend, we here in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod pause for a moment to thank our Lord God for continuing the practice of providing helpers suitable for the Church. This weekend we thank God for the on-going ministry of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. The LWML is the official auxiliary organization for women in the LCMS. In a way, they are the suitable helper for our church! These women, through their faithful service to the Lord and in the gathering of their Mighty Mites, have been that helper that is suitable for the Church. There are many congregations across this Synod who at times in their existence were sustained by the ministry of these suitable helpers for the church.

And they continue to serve in this capacity even today. This past summer the LWML women in convention committed to collect some $1.8 million dollars in mites, that’s nickels, dimes, quarter and the occasional folding money, to mission projects here in this country and in distant places around the globe. Just think about that! These suitable helper, are God’s gift to the Church, and come from every walk of life, young and old, white and black, red and yellow. While not taking the Gospel directly, are making it possible for the mission of the Church to move forward. They are a perfect complimentary part to the Church. And today, we are thankful to God for them!

You see, the Church, like Adam is not alone. The Lord has created faithful helpers that are most suitable. These helpers are used by God Himself to be the ones who nurture and nourish, support and sustain, work and witness through good times and bad.

It is not good for us to be alone. This is true of Man. It is true of the Church. Man needed a helper not only to compliment his life, but to save him from his sins. And the Lord, Jesus Christ came from heaven to be the helper for mankind. The help that Jesus offered wasn’t in the creation of another being to stand by the man, but by offering His life on the wooden beam of the cross. There on that cross the greatest help that man needed was offered. Because of Christ’s death and glorious resurrection, help came to man—forgiveness of sins, peace, life, salvation, faith and the Holy Spirit. The Lord has indeed been good to both man and the Church. For faithful helpers who bring comfort and consolation and yes, even at times the cross, we hear God’s clear word. It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. And in response, God’s people say. Thanks be to God! AMEN.

Now the peace…