Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bike for Life Update

image GOOD NEWS.

The Bike For Life money is the best and most we have ever gotten.

We are standing as of today @ $14, 236. 21


In Christ's love,
Pastor Nour a foot washer Phil. 1:6
In Christ's love and in His service

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

“Seeking the Savior” Luke 2:48-49

S‑1093 1/04/2009 2SAC/3B Hymns: (O)#133; (S)# 467; (C)# 136

Texts: 1 Kings 3:4-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Luke 2:40-52

Theme: “Seeking the Savior” (Luke 2:48-49)

Question: “Are Seeking A Savior?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel lesson: “And when His parents saw Him, they were astonished. And His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for You in great distress.’ And He said to them, ‘Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?’” (Luke 2:48-49).

Saints in Christ, there is a lot of ‘savior-seeking’ going on today. The people in Gaza are seeking a “savior” in the UN to end the hostility and blood shed by the Israeli air, and ground assault. The financial sector of our economy sought a “savior” in our government’s treasury secretary. A majority of our fellow citizens look to a president-elect to be a “savior” from our social and political ills. Even the atheists among us are looking to the Supreme Court to be their “savior” from having a Christian prayer or even the words “so help me God” used in the inauguration of President-elect Obama.

Still others seek a “savior” that is made of wood or stone. A town in California had a Christmas celebration called “Christmas in the Park” that included carols, Christmas trees, and Santa. The park committee decided that the manger scene was no longer needed; in its place, they put a 10-foot stone statue dedicated to an Aztec god consisting of a coiled snake with feathers. There was no room for Jesus in their hearts.

In a way, I guess we should take heart that so many people are seeking a “savior”. This is the admission by so many that they need to be saved. However, it is not enough to be seeking a savior. This is even truer when you find yourself seeking a savior in the wrong places. A person struggling with the stresses of life seeks a savior in a bottle. A spouse seeks a savior in the comfort of another” A teenager finds a “Savior” in pills rather in the love of family or friends. Congregations seek the answer to financial issues by fundraising “gimmicks” rather than seeking the true answers of stewardship that the Word of God speaks of. So many saviors being sought after. But these saviors will not be found. They will not be found because they can’t save. And those seeking them will not be saved because they are looking in the wrong place. And looking in the wrong place does nothing but cause worry, and grief.

On this Second Sunday of Christmas, we see the problem that comes from seeking THE savior in the wrong place. You will need to fast-forward in your mind from Christmas to understand this text. Just a few days ago we were urging All the Faithful to come to the Manger to see the baby Jesus that had been sung of by Angels and worshiped by shepherds. Last weekend we read of the 30 day old Jesus being redeemed and sung of by Simeon and Anna in the Temple. Today’s text finds us in the Temple again. However Jesus is no baby. Instead, we find the 12 year old Jesus.

This is such an interesting text. Jesus childhood is not explicit in the New Testament. But what we do know about it is that, aside from the early travels and travails and the visit from the Magi, His life was very normal. Joseph, Mary and Jesus would have traveled to Jerusalem often to observe the Passover. Passover brings the young Jesus and His parents to the Holy City again. You get the idea that they had been there before. They would have traveled with other families from Nazareth. The groups would have been large for safety and security. But with the large group came a false sense of security on this trip. “After the Feast was over, while His parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking He was in their company, they traveled on for a day”. Can you imagine the feeling of Mary and Joseph? They can’t find their son. They know who He is, but most don’t. Imagine being entrusted with the Son of God, only to lose Him in the shuffle of Passover. Imagine their anxious moments as they sought Him out. Imagine their fears about loosing their Son. Where would they look? He wasn’t among the relatives. He wasn’t among the neighbors and friends. Where would He be? Where would you look for this young boy who would be Savior?

There are so many places that would have appealed to a normal 12 year old. There would have been the wonder of the Market. Maybe the Roman garrison would have been enough of a curiosity to an adolescent man. These might be among the places where you would seek a normal 12 year old. I know that one of the last places that I would look for a lost 12 year old today would be in church!

But this 12 year old is not any ordinary 12 year old. I don’t get too many 12 year old boys WANTING to stay after church to discuss the finer points of theology. But this is exactly what Jesus is doing. “After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers”. There was Jesus. He listened to the teachers. He engaged them in discussion. But above all, He amazed them all.

He amazed all except Mary. Remember, Mary and Joseph had lost Jesus. They didn’t know where to find Him. They had searched everywhere a NORMAL 12 year old would be found. The worry is all over the face of the mother who had been through a three day ordeal! “Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.” I am not so sure I would have been so reserved! After all of this, as a parent I would want to take a pound of flesh!

But what is the most curious turn of events is Jesus’ answer. “Why were you searching for Me?” He asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?” It becomes subtly clear that the problem was not that Young Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. No the problem was that Mary and Joseph sought the young Savior in the wrong places. He would not be among family and friends. He would only be where He should be. And where He should be was in His Father’s house! There, the 12 year old Son of God would be at work. The Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the World SHOULD be in the very place that He has come to render irrelevant. The Word Made Flesh SHOULD be in the very place where the Word of God would be read and discussed. If only Mary and Joseph would have sought Him in the right place! How much of that three day ordeal could have been avoided?

Yet what do we do? When we are most in need of a savior, don’t we pull away from the very place we should be? You know what I mean! When life gets so busy so that it is out of control and what is the first place that is cut back? It is time in Church! When we get so burdened by the weight of the world, do we go running to our Lord’s house? I don’t think so! When finances get tight at home isn’t one of the first places we cut back is in our stewardship? You bet it is!

And when we do this, we find ourselves seeking a savior in the wrong place. My friends, it is here in this place that you will find the peace that you crave. There isn’t anything more that you need than THE SAVIOR! And you won’t find Him out there. You won’t find Him in your own contemplation, your own conservation or your own creation. You will only find Him where He has promised to be… “Why were you searching for me?” He asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?”

Here in this place you find the very Savior who will meet your greatest needs. And your greatest need is not financial. Your greatest need is not protection from the evils of this world that would seek to harm your body. No, the greatest reason that you need a Savior is the fact that you are a sinner. That sin is what separates you from the very Father who made you. That sin leaves you deserving nothing other than death itself. YOU NEED A SAVIOR to save you from sin’s curse and death’s birth.

But you don’t have to go looking for Him. He puts Himself where He promises to be! On that day in the Temple Jesus was where He was supposed to be. Today, here in the Father’s House, He is where He promised to be! This is so critical for us to grasp. This is no boring place. This is God’s place. Whilhelm Loehe says it this way… In worship the congregation experiences its Lord most intimately. Here it lives in nearest proximity to its Groom in a heavenly life on earth, and earthly life in heaven. Worship is the most beautiful flower of earthly life. Just like land in the middle of an ocean, the Word and the Sacraments stand in the inner life and worship of the congregation. You have one week behind you, a new week lies in front of you. Between these two weeks is the day of Communion Sunday.

Here is where God makes Himself available. And what does He make Himself available for? Nothing short of salvation! Here you receive Holy Absolution for the sins of the past. Here children receive new life in the waters of Holy Baptism. Here you are fed with the Word that sustains you as you battle against the powers and principalities of this dying world.

HERE! RIGHT HERE! Even when your sinful flesh wants you to look to yourself or to another, the Savior is right here for you. Here you grow in wisdom. Here you grow in forgiveness. Here you grow in righteousness. Here you grow in service of the Master. Here you grow to be what the Father desires you to be.

You need not seek the Savior in the wrong place as the people of the world do. Looking in the wrong place only causes headaches and heartaches. But you need not suffer them. Instead, as children of the Word, we hear the voice of Isaiah saying: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while His is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

Beloved in the Lord, we know better. We have seen the light and tasted the sweet message of the Gospel. We need not be like the people in California having a Christmas without Christ; or the world who seek a Savior in all the wrong places. But look where He promised to be. Whenever we read the Bible, He is there with us. He is found where two or three are gathered in His name. He is found in the Sacraments, and He is right here right now and always—FOR YOU! AMEN.

Now the peace…

“Until Tomorrow, Treasure Today”

S‑1092 12/31/2008 New Year’s Eve/3B Hymns: (O)#124; (S)#123; L.S. #125; (C)#47

Texts: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Romans 8:31-38; Matthew 6:25-34

Theme: “Until Tomorrow, Treasure Today” (Luke 2:29-30)

Question: “Do you know who tomorrow holds?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel lesson: “he [Simeon] took Him [Jesus] up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.’” (Luke 2:28-32).

Saints in Christ, I am sure if it were possible to peek into the New Year; it would be fun to see what God has in store for us. On the other hand it would spoil the fun if the surprises would be pleasant. And if the future was turbulent and troublesome we would be frightened indeed

Many people don’t live for today. They live for tomorrow. They often say “When I grow up, when I get out of high school, when I get done with college, when I get married, when I get the good job, when I have enough money, when I retire, etc. etc.” The sad reality is that “when” never arrives. We keep looking for tomorrow without enjoying today.

Even children have the problem we adults face. They don’t enjoy the moment of today either. Have you spent any time with a young kid lately? If you have, you would agree that is so real. I remember when we got together for a Christmas get together; one of the kids opened a Christmas gift he had gotten. No sooner had the gift been opened, he threw it on the floor and said, “What’s next?” How many times we ask “What’s next?”

In the text before us today, Luke reminds us again by looking at an old man—Simeon to learn from him to cherish this day. For as the saying goes, yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come, but today is a gift from God. Yesterday’s mistakes are behind us, tomorrow’s have not arrived; and all we have is the present.

Simeon was a man who waited on the Lord for tomorrow, but he cherished today. He waited for the right time when God would reveal His salvation to him, but while he waited he treasured the day. The days of Simeon were filled relying on God’s mercy and grace as he spent it in the Temple of God. When finally the day arrived by the revelation of Jesus in the temple Simeon was ready to leave this earth in peace.

Oh, how much we can learn from this wise man. He took God’s Word to heart. He trusted that what God said, He would do. But while he waited on the Lord he cherished today. He enjoyed today like it is the last day of his life. And when God in His mercy revealed the Savior, Simeon had no problem saying, “I am ready to depart and go to be with You Lord forever”.

Did you know dear saints in Christ that the life of the believing child of God, the Christian, is always a life of waiting. That waiting becomes more and more difficult as time passes and, oh, how more eager for the end or the gift or the awaited answer. Perhaps you young people and children felt these as you were getting ready for Christmas: CAN WE OPEN OUR PRESENTS NOW, MOM, DAD?” and then, when the time finally came, “OH, WOW, THIS IS JUST WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR!” or, “THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED OR HOPED FOR”.

It was Christmas for Simeon so long ago. He was a child of God. He had been taught of the blessings and promises of God. And he was waiting. He experienced that waiting even until his old age. Finally that day came! There in the Temple, Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus! Joseph and Mary had brought the baby Jesus to the Temple to fulfill the requirements in the Law of God. And there in the Temple, Simeon gave his praise to God. He had been given that special privilege to see the baby Jesus. He certainly cherished that day.

In the Bible, God gives so many promises. And at this time of the year we are especially thinking of the promises that God gave about the Savior coming into the world. We just celebrated again the birth of that Savior at Christmas.

As we picture this scene in the Temple, we can also think of Simeon who was indeed celebrating the birth of the Savior—it was like Christmas Day for him. Tomorrow for Simeon had come. Tomorrow was unveiled for Simeon. Tomorrow began to take place in the life of this child of God who waited patiently for God to fulfill His promise.

Until Tomorrow, Treasure Today. Why? Because today is what the Lord has given us as His beloved Children. And what better time to cherish today than the present. Tonight we stand at the portals of one year closing and another year beginning. Tonight, we can be like Simeon realizing that the Lord is the pilot of our lives and He will guide and guards our steps in the future. Tonight, we are assured again that we may not know what tomorrow holds, but we do know who holds tomorrow. Worrying doesn’t necessarily empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but it can empty today of its strength. (repeat twice)

One of our saints shared this tid-bit with me that I have included it in the August Goel of this year: “I don’t know what is ahead in this journey, but I know that Jesus is ahead. I don’t know what chapter will follow this one, because it’s the Lord’s story to write, not mine. All I have is today. He hasn’t given me tomorrow yet, and maybe He won’t, but I have His promise that even if He doesn’t, I will still be alive in His presence but then face to face. That means the best is yet to come.

Certainly we can cherish today, because Jesus is with us now and in the future. Jesus has assured us that His promise is sure and certain. We had just knelt at the foot of the manger. We had heard the messages of the shepherds, angels, and others telling us about our Jesus who was born to save us. And we also remember that this baby was born as Simeon reminded us saying: “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed” (Luke 2:34).

Beloved in the Lord, Simeon rejoiced in God’s gift today, and so can we! And the good news is we don’t have to wait till tomorrow to receive the blessings from God. For the blessings of God comes to us daily in His Word and here at His table. We know that we are the blood-bought by the Lord. We know that we are forgiven now. We are the baptized children today. Today, we cherish the blessings of God coming to us in His holy meal. Today, we cherish the forgiveness we receive from the loving hands of God our Savior. Today, we receive the joy that we are the redeemed of the Lord.

Today, we stand as it were, on the border between two great regions through which the way of our life, the way to salvation leads us. Today, we leave the one through which we have already traveled and to which there is no way to return to it. But we also soon enter, the land that is unknown to us, but known to God. And so we are inspired by the past and Spirit-spired by the present and future-spired by the Savior who stands outside of time yet dwells within us. We do well to daily sing the Simeon song!

Until Tomorrow, Treasure Today, because this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.

Now the peace…