Sunday, January 31, 2010

Speaking at Hannover, ND

Pastor Nour will be the guest presenter on Saturday the 25th and 26th of September at St. Peter Lutheran Church 2095 Hwy 31 in Hannover, ND

On Saturday Pastor Nour will lead a workshop on “Who Are The Muslims?”

And on Sunday, He will be the Mission Preacher for both St. Peter Lutheran of Hannover, and Zion Lutheran of New Salem, ND. You are welcome to join us for this blessed event.

The time of the workshop and preaching will be posted at a later time. Hope to see you there.

In Christ’s love and in His service,


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

“Purpose Driven” Luke 4:42-44

S-1166 01/31/10 4SAC/3C (O) #5; (S) #507; L.S. #370; #376; #16; (C) #283

Texts: Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13, Luke 4:31-44

Theme: “Purpose Driven” (Luke 4:42-44).

Question: “What is your purpose in life?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Fourth Sunday after Epiphany is from the Gospel Lesson: “And when it was day, He [Jesus] departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought Him and came to Him, and would have kept Him from leaving them, but He said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.’ And He was preaching in the synagogues of Judea” (Luke 4:42-44).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved Rick Warren senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, wrote a book in 1995 titled “The Purpose Driven Church.” This book is intended to help pastors and other Christian leaders be more effective in leading their churches. In 2002, Warren wrote a follow up called “The Purpose Driven Life” as a 40-day devotional book. This has become an international best seller, with over 30 million copies in print. This book took the same five purposes and focused on the life of the individual Christian.

According to Rick Warren’s web site: “This devotional booklet invites Christians to embark on a journey of discovery during 40 Days of Purpose and answer life’s most fundamental question: ‘What on earth am I here for?’ This intensive campaign has changed millions of lives all over the world, moving people to live out God’s five eternal purposes.
He continues: “Nothing brings more glory to God than having His people fulfill His purposes here on earth. The goal is not to simply take your congregation through the campaign but to compel your members toward Kingdom work. As the Body of Christ, we must all work together ‘to serve God’s purpose in our generation’ (Acts 13:36).

Even though Rick Warren’s book starts out with the words, “It’s not about you,” meaning the life that God created us to live is one driven by His purposes, not our own desires. A person who goes through this 40 day campaign can’t help but begin to think of what He is doing with/to God.

If you paid close attention, you would have heard the words, MUST, GOAL, NEEDS AND WORK a person should be doing for God. Let me be frank by saying to you Rick Warren’s books are a terrible and dangerous message to all Christians even if it sold over 30 million copies for these two reasons: 1. He doesn’t know the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what that Gospel accomplishes in the lives of the believer. And 2. It is ALL ABOUT WHAT I HAVE TO DO FOR GOD. It is law oriented and man-centered work

Today’s text speaks of another purpose which is not what am I doing for God, but what God in love is doing for me through His Son, Jesus Christ. In the Gospel reading before us today, the evangelist Luke tells us of the purpose for which Christ came to earth—to preach the Good News—to bring about healing, deliverance, forgiveness and peace

Christ was sent to destroy the works of the devil. In His preaching, healing, teaching, Jesus manifested the purpose to which He was sent. The devil even knows and believes that Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God, is sent of God; to accomplish the work of God.

The purpose of Christ’s coming was the breaking of satan’s power. Both the enemy that is conquered shows his malice and shows His over-ruling grace the Conqueror and Christ.

What is Jesus’ purpose for coming?

  • To bring the rule of God’s Grace in Christ to all people.
  • To assure them of His forgiveness and redemption
  • To bring about salvation and eternal life.
  • To be loved by Him.
  • To open their eyes and hearts that He is the heaven-sent Messiah, the freeyer of the Captives and the slaves of sin and death and hell
  • To be partakers with Him and His Kingdom.

You see we are not subject of God’s Kingdom, but partakers of it. Jesus came to earth for one purpose and one purpose only to deliver man and to proclaim the Good News of our salvation. This He did on the cross of Calvary.

For this reason in the reading today we hear Him tell how He must go to other places to preach the Good News. Jesus will go on to other towns and Preach, He will! Along the way, He will miraculously liberate and compassionately renew those who hear His preaching. And finally this journey of preaching will end up with His arms outstretched; wearing a crown of thorns on a Roman cross on a pulpit we call Calvary. This Gospel, this Good News, now from this pulpit in Armour reaches our ears, our hearts and accomplishes the same task. We are forgiven. We are renewed. We are FREE!

Yes, dear fellow redeemed, Christ’s purpose in coming was to take you into His Kingdom to free you, to love you and rejoice over you as a groom rejoices over his bride. Our purpose in life is to be loved by Him who is love—Jesus Christ. This love is rooted and grounded in Him and not in us. For the truth needs to be told, that it is not we who loved Him, but He who loved us first – so our love and all actions, all behavior, all service that we render is always and only the fruit of His having first loved us.

And so that brings us to the next part of our sermon. What is our purpose in life? Not like Rick Warren’s idea in that we have to do something for God. NO! But rather, to be loved by God in Christ. Your purpose in life is to be loved by Him who is LOVE and the Author of life. That is why He came to give the certainty YOU ARE HIS FOR TIME AND FOR ETERNITY.

What is the fruit of that love? His Incarnation given to and lived out in us as we humbly go in His name doing His will and sharing the Good News with one and all; to the weak in faith to strengthen them, and for the lost to show them the light of the Gospel.

Even in the Old Testament reading for today, we see by the Divine ordinance of God, the prophet Jeremiah’s purpose is clearly identified before He was born—that purpose is to speak the Word, utter the Word and make the Word known to all people. That Word was placed on his lips by God Himself.

Today, we will install new officers who have been chosen by God’s saints to begin serving on different boards. Remember you have been chosen for one purpose and one purpose only—to serve the Lord and His Church. This is the fruit of the Good News being active in your lives and words and works.

People of God, chosen and beloved don’t forget that you are God’s beloved child. Don’t forget that you have been redeemed. Don’t forget that you have been purchased with a price—the blood of the Lamb—Jesus. Don’t forget that you are not a slave in His Kingdom but a partaker of His. Soon, very soon you will partake of the fruit of this love.

Therefore, realize this: The fruit of Jesus’ amazing love is found in the cross, the font, the table with bread and wine on it. This is love in action for you. Jesus reveals His love not simply in words but in deed. Look again at the cross and see His purpose for you. Here in His love, we see clearly and concretely the fruit of that love – service! When you receive His Divine Forgiveness, you are forgiven, and now you are free to serve as freely and fully as you have been loved, that is, with thanksgiving!

What a blessing and a privilege the Master Jesus Christ gives us today, to know our purpose in life—to be loved by Him forever. Having been loved, truly loved by the Author of Love and Life, we arise from this vineyard and go forth in His name and by His authority and preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to others. We do this not for our glory, but for His. After all He is the One who is using us to spread His wings of love to all. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bike-For-Life Update

What a privilege it was for me and 26 other riders to ride The Bike For Life (12th annual) trail from Armour, SD to Sioux Falls SD a distance of 100 miles to save babies from the abortion mill.

By the grace of God we have received so far $9, 500. 00. All Glory be to God ALONE. If you would like to donate, it is not to late.

Thank you for your support in speaking out on behalf of the unborn and saving lives from the butcher blocks of abortion.

In Christ's love,

Rev. Nabil S. Nour Pastor, Foot Washer and Biker-For-Life Phil. 1:6

My challenge for SD this year, is that we would surpass the amount raised last year.  Last year we raised over $10, 000.00.  May the Lord bless our efforts once again.  For your information about this worthy cause; ever since LFL placed the Ultra Sound Machine at the Alpha Center in 1998, we know for a fact that over a 1500 babies have been saved. S. D. G. TO GOD ALONE BE ALL THE GLORY.

If you would like to pledge any amount of money. Please make checks out to:
South Eastern, South Dakota Lutherans For Life or SESDLFL
C/O Redeemer Lutheran Church
P. O. Box 158
Armour, SD 57313-0158
ear mark the check for Bike-A-Thon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

“Longing To HEAR!!!” (Nehemiah 8:1-3).

S-1165 01/24/09 3SAC/3C (O) #1; (S) #285; L.S. ##473; #296; #315; (C) #52

Texts: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Luke 4:16-30

Theme: “Longing To HEAR!!!” (Nehemiah 8:1-3).

Question: “Do you remember the last time you were longing to hear some news”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Third Sunday after Epiphany is from the O.T. Lesson: “And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law” (Nehemiah 8:1-3).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved a couple is in love, but are separated by miles. There is a longing, a deep longing to hear a word from the other. The man sits by his computer longing to receive a message via the internet or to hear the phone ringing. And when that phone or message comes there is smile on his face, his heart is filled with happiness and he is joyful… A family is sitting in the hospital waiting room. Their father is having a quadruple by-pass heart surgery. As the moments tick away ever so slowly, they sit at the edge of their seats longing to hear word from the doctor that their father is going to be ok... 12 days ago, Haiti was struck by a terrible earth quake. Among the missing are six American students who had traveled to Haiti to conduct humanitarian work. They were staying at Port-au-Prince’s Hotel Montana. But ever since the terrible tragedy the parents have been longing to hear a word that their children are alive or their bodies have been found.

One of the parents Len Gengel, Father of Brittany Gengel said, “This is a nightmare. This is a living nightmare!” Appearing on the “Bill O’ Reilly Show” and “Today” Show pleaded saying: “As parents of people that are buried in that rubble, we need troops at that hotel. I have pleaded with [President Obama], father to father, to please get troops to the Hotel Montana.”

In these three different situations people were longing to hear something. The lover longed to hear his lover’s voice; the family longed to hear the doctor’s report about their father; and the parents of the missing Americans Longed to hear a word, any word about the condition of their children.

Certainly, we all know what it means to wait longingly for someone we love or something we desire. Because we are humans and are connected to those we love, we want to know of their condition and long to hear word from them and about them.

Today’s text speaks of such longing. Not a longing of lovers, the outcome of surgery, or missing children in earthquake, though they are important, this text conveys a longing that is so much greater than those who long for their lovers, news on a surgery or the missing children in an earthquake. Our text speaks of longing to hear the Word of God.

In this portion of God’s Word, we meet Ezra the Priest on the Seventh month (which is the New Year) gathering all of God’s people men and women by the Water Gate and begins to read to them the Word of the Law. These people have gathered here having come back from exile with Nehemiah the cup bearer of the King of Persia. They had been taken captives and exiled from their homeland for years.

But now they have returned to the Promised Land. Upon their return they found Jerusalem and the temple destroyed. At the urging of Nehemiah and many prayers to the God of Israel, they began to rebuild the walls. After 52 days of hard work, the walls of Jerusalem were built and the people gathered and asked Ezra to bring the book out and read it to them.

Ezra, the Priest, with great joy begins the reading. These men and women stood silently from early morning till Midday hearing the Word of the Living God of Israel. They were very attentive to the Word. They didn’t complain, they didn’t look at their watches, they didn’t try to rush to head home, but stood for hours longing to hear the news about their compassionate and gracious God—the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. PAUSE.

Isn’t wonderful to read of men and women who long to hear the Word of God? Wouldn’t be wonderful that in our churches today the people of God would stand at attention to hear the Word without looking at their watches? Wouldn’t be wonderful if we would remember the third Commandment and take it to heart? Yes, it would. As a Pastor, I would love to know that the people of God don’t get tired of hearing that which brings about healing and forgiveness and joy and peace. As a carrier of God’s Good News, I would love to know that His redeemed people cherish and long to hear that word anew.

Dr. Billy Graham once called the Missouri Synod “The Sleeping Giant.” Because we have the truth and teach the truth but our people don’t know much of the truth found in Scripture. Another person—the Monk from Germany, Dr. Martin Luther taught the people as he wrote in the Small Catechism regarding the third Commandment saying: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” WDTM? “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” PAUSE.

Can you honestly say “that you long to hear the Word, study the Word and know the Word?” Can you sincerely say “that you long to be in God’s house often so that you may rejoice at the preaching of His Word?” Can you truly say, “I love hearing the Word and don’t mind it if I stay in His house from early morning till midday.” But the truth of the matter is that is not the case.

We have lost the joy of longing to hear the Word. We get upset if the Word is preached too long because we have either a place to go, or the Vikings are going to be on and we want to make sure we are home in time. We are not happy if we have to be here more minutes than we had planned on. Would we feel the same way if we would regularly recall that the very Word that we are gathered to listen to is the same Word Made Flesh? Would we be this impatient if Jesus were here in our midst? HE IS!

Beloved in Christ, today the Lord God of Israel and ours invites us again to hear His Word with great joy. He bids us to long to hear that message just like the lover desires to hear his sweetheart’s voice, the children the outcome of their dad’s surgery and the parents’ long to hear a word about their missing children.

This is why we are here today. Because we the exiled by sin, have returned to our Jerusalem, not to build the walls but to be built up, not with mortar and bricks, but with the Living Word, that flows from Jesus’ lips. For after all that is why He came. He came because He longed to restore us to the perfect relationship He had with our ancestors in the Garden of Eden.

For the Word is read and explained as Jesus is in the Nazareth Synagogue.  What tore the hearts of the returning exiles tore the hearts of the Nazareth congregation - first, among the exiles to repentance, then among those who “knew Him?” to a hardening of the heart.  Jesus was found in the Words of Moses and in the Words of Isaiah and in the lips of Jesus.  The Word of God gives life for it gives us Him who is life - even Jesus.  The hard hearts of His detractors here in Nazareth at the start of His ministry are the reason He came - for all who have been exiled from heaven, all who are indeed strangers in a strange land.  He died for those who rejected Him as much as for the eager ears and hearts who were commanded to consecrate the fast—and rejoice.  That Word that was read by Ezra was read by Jesus - with the same result - it revealed Him to be the Only Savior.  It is always and in all ways, about Jesus and His love for the lost world of sinners.

Today is a good day. For here in this place we hear the voice of Him who loved us, sweeter than a sweetheart’s voice. Here the author of life comforts all who are going through difficulties such as surgeries and walking through the valley of the shadow of death—including missing children. Here in this place you see once again with eyes of faith the gracious and compassionate God who gave His life for all people so that He may bring them back from the exiled land to the Promised Land of heaven.

Beloved in Christ, today the Word is taught and preached among you. And we who know the depth of our sin and how far we have been exiled, long to hear that our sins are forgiven. We long to hear that we are the chosen people of God. We long to hear that we are the Baptized, redeemed, forgiven, blood-bought and heaven-bound. Oh, my beloved, know for certain that Jesus longed to be with you. He longed for that so much that He offered His body to be put to death on the cross so that He might bring us to the fold once again and have peace with Him.

What a joy for the lover to hear the voice of his sweetheart. What a blessing for the children to hear that their father is going to be ok. What a miracle it would be if the parents of the missing Americans would hear that their children are alive. But how much more Critical is it for us, today, to hear of the longing that Jesus desires to have us with Him in heaven forever. Praise God with me today for He has filled our every longing by the Gift of the sweet hope of forgiveness and the resurrection. Amen.

Now the peace…

“Behold, I Make All Things New” (Rev. 21:5)

S-0164 1/22/10 Hymns: #878; #744; #748 All from LSB

Texts: Psalm 23; Revelation 21:2-7; John 14:1-6

Theme: “Behold, I Make All Things New” (Rev. 21:5)

Celebration of the New Life for Erma Lorraine Nedved

Saints in Christ, family and friends, we have gathered here this morning to celebrate the new life promised to our Princes of Grace—Erma by her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The text chosen for our meditation this morning is from the epistle lesson “And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said unto me, ‘Write; for these words are true and faithful” (Rev. 21:5).


Dear redeemed in Christ, all of us like to receive new things. Like a new car, computer, cell phone, Xbox 360, or clothes. When we get these items, we are happy. This happiness remains with us, as long as these items are good or functioning. But eventually, they will wear out, become useless and out of date and style. They perish because they are all man made.

However, in the text that is before us, Jesus makes one of the most profound promises in Scripture, “Behold, I make all things new.” What a promise from the lips of the One Seated on the throne to declare these precious words to us.

This new life was given to our grand Princes of Grace in the faith, through the water and the Word, on October 24, 1926. On that day, our beloved Savior washed her clean from all her sins, gave her the white robes of righteousness, opened the door of heaven to her and granted her new life.

What our Savior promised He fulfills because He is the author and Perfecter of our faith. And when Jesus promises, He fulfills it. He fulfilled it on the cross of Calvary, when He said, “It is finished!” And with that He fulfilled the requirements of the Law. To everyone who believes in Jesus, the New heaven is his by faith, the faith which has been given to us in Baptism.

With this promise, God declares that there will be no more pain/sorrow/tears. What a needful and wonderful thing for you to hear this morning. That your beloved mother, mother-in-law, sister, Grandma Erma, has ceased to know sorrow, pain is not even a distant memory, for surely her loving Savior, Jesus, has already wiped every tear from her eyes. She sees Him as He is, and she sees herself as His beloved daughter—the princess of grace. Whole, without any spot, wrinkle, or blemish. What a promise...what a Savior. She is with her Savior, for surely He has always been with her, He who bought her with His own precious blood! While the Father has always been with her, now she is, forever and ever, amen, she is with her heavenly Father, for in all her earthly life with all its weaknesses which burdened her, one constant remained. Her Heavenly Father cherished and cared for her. Now she sees this, not by faith… ah, but by sight! What a promise, kept! What a Father! PAUSE.

God fulfilled His promise to us, because God does what He says, and says what He does. God promised our first parents in the Garden to send a Savior to redeem the world and deliver them from the curse of sin, and the punishment of hell. And so His Son came to earth to be like us in every way, fulfilling the Law completely and dwelling with us and among us.

When Jesus walked the Palestinian dirt roads, He experienced everything that you are going through. He felt the pain that is tugging at your heart right now. He knows your anguish, and knows how you feel. Unlike me, I can only sympathize with you, but Jesus knows your hearts, your pain and sees your tears. Jesus the God-Man went through the same experiences over the death of His very close friend-Lazarus. And He hated what sin did to His creatures.

He didn’t only feel for us, but He suffered the punishment of death in our place. He suffered the beating, the humiliation, the mockery, so that we don’t have too. Our loving and gracious God understands what you are going through. He, too, lost someone very close and dear to Him. He lost His only son, so that He may win the whole world to Himself. Be comforted as you grieve for the Princes of Grace. Certainly, we grieve, we miss her; but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. So grieve, you loved her and received so much love from her – Christ was exchanged between you. And while that has not gone away, for He has not disappeared, this relationship has changed, for the moment. You miss her. Good! In Christ you will once again see her.

You will see her because Jesus suffered, died and rose again to give new life to all who trust in Him. In Him we have the victory over the unholy three—satan, sin and death. In Him, we have the certainty and the assurance that we will inherit heaven. To all of those who believe in the power and victory of Jesus, they live by faith; the faith that was given the Princes of Grace Erma, and to each one of us through the precious gift Baptism. Surely, Erma lived by faith. She demonstrated in her life the faith that carried her through life and its challenges. Throughout her life, she made it a habit to be in the Lord’s house to receive the blessings of the Word and Sacrament.

For the past few years, I have been ministering to one of God’s princes of Grace—your mother while at the nursing homes of Wagner and Armour. She always looked forward to that special time when she could lift in her hands the precious Cup and eat the life-giving Bread. But as the days and years went by, even that small activity was difficult, and so I placed the bread and the cup on her lips and with great joy she ate and drank from the cup of healing.

Erma believed in the promise of God, and lived in the new life that God has promised her. She left you a wonderful heritage. This heritage is not about money or position but about the love of Jesus! On many of my visits you could see her lips move as we would pray together and worship together. What a blessing to see faith in action through one of God’s princess of grace.

By the grace of God, this Princess of Grace looked forward to the New Life that awaited her through her Savior, Jesus. Even though she looked forward to it and the peace He offered, she didn’t experience this peace on this earth, but now she is because she is in the presence of her Savior the Prince of Peace—Jesus Christ.

Indeed, as Erma taught her children to live by the faith which was given her in baptism, (as one of her daughters told, “Pastor, mom made sure that we would be in the Lord’s house always”). I encourage you to do likewise—be in the Lord’s house often, study His Word, grow in the knowledge and grace that He has given you. And always look to the power and victory which Jesus has conquered for all who believe in Him. PAUSE.

The last few years have been challenging for the Princess of Grace. She had difficult time breathing and at times even seemed so distant. At other times she couldn’t lift her head up. Even in her final earthly hours she couldn’t lay in bed for her breathing caused her pain. So they set her in a chair to comfort her. But that comfort was not totally there. Only God can and does comfort her.

At times we would like to have new things, but can’t get it, because it is either too expensive or out of our reach. So, too, with our Princes of Grace Erma; she longed to have a new leash on life—her health, but it never materialized. But now, her Savior has welcomed her home. He has overcome death and hell and granted her the New Life. No need for nursing home. No need for hospitals, doctors and pills. No, she has a new life. And that life is the perfect life without any pain, sorrow, or tears. Rejoice for her because, she truly is in the arms of her Savior, who died and rose for her.

Family and friends, God’s princes of Grace Erma has fallen asleep in the Lord this past Monday and yet she has given you a good and valuable lesson. Don’t abstain from God’s house. Don’t abstain from the Sacrament. Don’t abstain from being in the Word. Read it, learn it, depend on it, and watch what God will do for you. Indeed, to all who believe in Jesus, we have the certainty and the assurance, that we will have the new life promised by Jesus. We too, will experience it in full, when we fall asleep and see the Lord. But meanwhile we live by hope, the sweet hope of the resurrection of our new life because Jesus said, “Behold, I Make All Things New!”

Rejoice then, because Jesus has given her the new life He promised. What a wonderful and awesome God we have who fulfills all of His promises! And so we join St. Paul by saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them that also that love His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

I want you to look beyond the casket, beyond this body, to the new life, the new body, the new mansion, the new heaven and earth. And rejoice in spite of your mourning, because Erma the Princess of God’s grace is not dead, but alive in Christ. Thanks be to God for His wonderful promises. Amen.

“Speaking The Truth for Life” (Ephesians 4:15)

S-1163 01/17/10 Sanctity of Human Life Sunday/3C (O) #14; (S) LSB 526, v2, 4; (C) #32

Texts: Job 10:8-12; Ephesians 4:14-16; John 17:14-19

Theme: “Speaking The Truth for Life” (Ephesians 4:15)

Question: “Do you have trouble balancing truth and love?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is from the Epistle Lesson: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15)

Introduction: In Nomine Iesu

Beloved of the Lord, chosen and redeemed, the devil has been lying to people ever since the Garden of Eden. The father of lies has been manipulating men’s hearts continuously telling them there is no absolute truth. So much so, that many have bought into the lie that a fetus is nothing but a blob of tissue. However, you can’t twist the truth or deny it, because the truth always wins out.

Jesus Himself taught us saying, I Am the Way, and The TRUTH, and the Life. But even before Jesus spoke these words, the truth was already evident in Holy Scripture. When a young virgin was told by an angel she would conceive and give birth to a son—He was telling her the truth. This young lady—Mary traveled to Bethlehem and while greeting her relative Elizabeth, Elizabeth stated, “At the sound of your greeting the child leaped for joy within my womb!” Both ladies were with child and the truth of the matter is that wonderful gift in the womb wasn’t a blob of tissue that began to leap because Elizabeth had a Middle Eastern burrito or indigestions, but rather because it is a living, moving, active child.

On this day that we set aside to observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, we want to speak about the Truth for Life. It is very important that our voice be heard by all people, whether they acknowledge it or not, whether they believe it or not, or whether they practice it or not. What is important for us is to speak the truth in love for Life.

Paul in his letter to the Ephesians charged them saying: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15). The question then becomes important for us. How do we as God’s beloved children, speak the truth in love for Life? How do we convey the message that every human being in this world born or unborn is precious in God’s sight? How do we, tell the world that has been deceived for so many years with half truths, that you can know the truth; believe the truth and live in the truth that what is in the womb is not just a glob of tissue, or nothing, but a human being fashioned and formed in the image of God.

Today, we are not talking about ideology, philosophy, or idolatry but about theology—that is, God’s Life-Giving Word. This Word is truth, regardless of how that truth affects our lives. We often look at truth in the short term, how it affects me now, not how it will affect me for years and eternity to come. This is exactly what the devil likes to do by leading us to think of half-truth rather than the Truth that God speaks about in His Word.

Keeping truth alive is important. It’s important in the Church. Paul recognized that in his time. To keep from being tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, to keep that which is wrong from ruling in the world, in the church and in the lives of God’s people, Paul says speak the truth, the truth of Christ and His Word. It’s VERY important in the Church today. We need to speak it to one another, to help each other grow in the knowledge of God’s truth so we will not be so easily influenced by the latest fashion, fabrication and falsification. Yes, we need to speak the truth, but not in a way that condemns or condescends. Rather, Paul says, we are to speak the truth in love.

So often we only get that half right. We either forget the truth or we forget the love. Just speaking in love is not enough. Trying not to say anything that would offend or trying to be tolerant of false teaching so you won’t rock the boat leads us to confuse what truth and love. How loving is it to keep someone perishing in a lie to remain in that lie? Just speaking the truth is not enough. Yelling and screaming truth at someone sets up walls of defense. And they don’t hear the truth at all. But when we speak the truth in love, Paul says we “grow up”! We “grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ” (15b). Ignoring falsehood and wrong does not make the Church “one big happy family.” Lovingly confronting falsehood and wrong with the truth of Christ on the other hand, unites us as the Body of Christ with Him as our head.

Today we observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Keeping truth alive in the Church when it comes to the sanctity of human life is important. Of course, we stir things up a bit in the Body of Christ when we talk about the life issues, things like abortion and embryonic stem cell research and assisted suicide. These issues can be divisive. Some may think such things are political issues that we should not be talking about in the church. Some may think the opposite—that Christian participation and action is needed to influence society. Others might think they are personal issues and decisions and we shouldn’t be judging. For some it may indeed be very personal because they have been involved in such decisions in the past and it hurts to hear it talked about. So talking about the life issues in church can stir things up, but our purpose is not to divide, destroy or to damn; but to bring about deliverance with the Truth of the Gospel. PAUSE.

As caring brothers and sisters, we want others who have heard the father of lies speaking half truth, to know and be certain that the Word’s of Christ are TRUTH. And this truth sets them free from guilt, and sin and death. You may have swallowed the half truth—the lies of our society, that is promoted so often by planned parenthood that it is nothing but a choice—A choice of convenience, a choice of ease, a choice of denial, a choice of freedom.

But this is not a matter of choice. Rather it is a matter of life and truth and love. For this reason Jesus came into the world to let us know the TRUTH, that life is precious in His sight. David in that blessed Psalm wrote: “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. our eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (139:13-17) read this Word again and again and you will know how precious you are in God’s sight.

How precious you might ask? Then lift your eyes from where you are and look to the cross. Do you see Him…hanging there. Look closely at His face; do you see the blood trickling down His cheeks? Do you see the nails piercing His hands and feet? Do you see the split in His side? Do you see the choice the religious leaders of His day made, to end a life that did not fit into their plans, to get rid of someone who was standing between where they were and where they wanted to be? You see that choice was not so much different than the choices people make everyday. Choices that end the lives of the unborn. Choices that end the lives of the infirmed. Choices that end the lives the unloved. Choices that would take God’s power into their (our) own hands.

The difference was that that choice was part of God’s plan from the beginning. A plan that would take Satan’s lies and turn them into truth. A plan that would take death and turn it into life. A plan that would give help to the helpless, and light to the blind. You see, on that cross Jesus paid for all of the sinful choices you and I have made. There in the giving of His life He gives us new life. Life that allows us to know His love and His promise, life that allows us to be able to share His truth in love with those in love with Satan’s lies.

You see, just as Jesus said, He is the Way, the TRUTH and the life, so too, did Zechariahs and Elizabeth had no real choice but to nurture and raise John. Joseph and Mary had no choice but to nurture and raise Jesus. You and I have no choice but to sing praises to our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For it is He who cares for us. He washes us clean in the waters of holy baptism; He feeds and nourishes us with His Body and His Blood. He comforts and protects us with Word. Preparing us to go forth proclaiming His truth in love for life. So that all might know that He cherishes all life. Yes, the life of the unborn, the infirmed, the unloved. Yes even your life and mine.

By the Grace of God and His Spirit, we want to make a difference in this world of ours. We, who know the truth, ought to speak up in love for the truth of life. We will by the power of the Holy Spirit speak the truth in love for life more among ourselves. May we educate ourselves, not just on the life issues, but on what Christ’s Word of Truth has to say about them, so that we can grow together in every way into Him who is the head and bring glory to His name.

I pray that as the Redeemed children of the heavenly Father, we speak the truth in love about the value and dignity of human life out there into our society and share it, boldly and courageously but always in love. God grant us the joy, privilege and compassion to speak the truth in love for life now and always. Amen.

Now the peace…

“YOU Are Mine!” (Isaiah 43:1).

S-1162 01/10/10 B. of the Lord/3C (O) #298; (S) #427; L.S. #129; 127; 132 (C) #32

Texts: Isaiah 43:1-7; Romans 6:1-11; Luke 3:15-22

Theme: “YOU Are Mine!” (Isaiah 43:1).

Question: “How often do you say, ‘You are mine’?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the baptism of Jesus is from the O.T. Lesson: “But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; (Isaiah 43:1).

Introduction: In Nomine Iesu

Beloved of the Lord, chosen and redeemed, a 10 year old boy, Tom, had gotten a gift for Christmas—a sail boat that needed to be put together. After painstaking time, he got it completed. He carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tom sat in the warm sunshine, admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tom tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream.

Tom ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom sadly went home.

A few days later, on the way home from school, Tom spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see—sure enough—it was his! Tom hurried to the store manager: “Sir, that’s my boat in your window! I made it! And lost it in the wind the other day in the river.” “Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you’ll have to buy it for $20 dollars.”

Tom ran home and counted all his money. He only had one dollar. So he began to work odd jobs and save to buy the boat. When he earned enough, he walked to the store, leaned on the counter and spoke to the manger: “Here’s the money for my boat.” As he left the store, Tom hugged his boat and said, “Now you’re twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you.”

The text from Isaiah today, is a golden treasure that needs to be memorized by all of you and underlined in your Bibles so that you don’t forget the promises that God gives us in His Word. This golden treasure is a GIFT from God’s lips to our hearts and ears, to remind us that we belong to Him and that we have been redeemed.

Listen to Isaiah again as He relates this golden treasure to us. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine”. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.... What an astounding promise. We all pass through the waters - of death to life - this is Baptismal grace. Epiphany, the season which declares that God has revealed His light to all the nations - to all flesh - and that He receives peoples of every tribe and nation, reminds us that we ARE His; and that He is with us, even us.

Did you hear what I just said: “WE ARE HIS” That is to say we belong to God our Savior. That you and you and you (point the finger) belong to the Lord of heaven and earth. The Lord God created us and He redeemed us. Psalm 139 reminds us of this blessed promise: “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well” (vs. 13-14). David, the Shepherd boy declares to all, that we have been fashioned by the hand of God. Just like the boat Tom put together.

Yes, “You ARE Mine!” says the Lord. We belong to Him. In the Baptismal water we become His very own. As we pass through the waters, we die to sin and death; but are raised to a new life—life made possible by the blood of Jesus.

You are mine God tells us: The Lord has His own marking on us. Of course you can’t see it with the naked eye. It is not a brand like many farmers use to identify their cattle, but it is a brand none-the-less—a baptismal brand marking us to be His for time and eternity.

The Lord has a distinctive brand too for those who belong to Him. When he says “I have redeemed you,” He’s pointing to the cross of Jesus. I was a maverick who didn't belong to God. With sins’ strands, Satan had me tied hand and foot. When the time for the eternal roundup came, the devil would want to lock me forever inside his corral of hell. But the God of all grace and mercy stepped in. He sent His ONLY begotten Son to buy me, the “SINNER” back from Satan. Not so many dollars like Tom did for his lost boat, but the precious blood of His only Son was the ransom paid. And this price was sufficient for all sinners of all times including YOU.

When God says “I have called you by name,” He is speaking of His overflowing grace to undeserving sinners. Not only did He pay for me with his Son’s blood, He also brings me into His fold. Through Baptism He marks me as belonging to Him—putting the sign of His Son’s cross on my heart. Through His Word and Holy Communion He works to refresh that cross by strengthening my faith. My loving Heavenly Father with these promises reminds us that He is the One who keeps me and all whom He has made His own through faith safe for the glorious gathering on the Last Day.

Beloved and Redeemed people of God, yes, you belong to Him…twice. He made you in His image. But because of sin, you were held captive in the satan’s prison. But Jesus wouldn’t let us rot in that prison cell. He asked to free you, but satan said, “NO!” Jesus said, “What would it take to free you?” The devil smiled and said, “Your life!” Jesus didn’t hesitate. He laid His life gladly for you and me so that we might be freed from the bondage of tyranny and persecution. The author to the Hebrews put it this way: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

On this Baptismal day of Jesus, we hear anew the promises of God. This golden treasure assures us the Father’s beloved Son, with whom He is well pleased, took on the payment for every evil - that of the world and of those of us blessed to be called His own. Baptismal living is crossing over from the death of sin to the renewal of Grace every day - it is daily passing through the waters - with Jesus, by Jesus, in Jesus.

We are in the Epiphany Season and this means the season when we rejoice that just as Jesus received the gifts of the Magi and received them, so also does He receive you and me - He has received us as His own - by name. By name I say, by name!

When we can name something, we own it. This is true for our pets and our cars, even our children. We are responsible for that which we can name. So, when the Name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit is upon you - know this - God has chosen to walk with you as a Father with His beloved Child. PAUSE.

What a golden treasure Isaiah shares with us today. Today, remember again that you belong to Your God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Today, remember again the name of this BELOVED congregation—Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church. You are the Redeemed of the Lord. He has marked you as His very own in the waters of Baptism and will keep you safe until He brings you to the other side of the Jordan—to be with Him forever.

Beloved and chosen people of God—YOU ARE HIS. At the end of the service we will sing our final hymn: I would like to share with you the first stanza of that great hymn to remind you once more that YOU ARE HIS: Redeemed, restored, forgiven, Through Jesus' precious blood, Heirs of His home in heaven, Oh, praise our pardoning God!
Praise Him in tuneful measures Who gave His Son to die; Praise Him whose sevenfold treasures Enrich and sanctify.
(Redeemed, Restored, Forgiven TLH p. 32).

Today, beloved and redeemed, as you consider the Baptism of our Lord, rejoice, for even as the Father could rejoice over His Son in whom He is well pleased, so also is He well please with you... for the sake of Jesus, He says to you and me: YOU ARE MINE! Amen.

Now the peace…


“Real Imitation” Phil. 3:17

S-1161 Sermon TV 2SIL 2/28/10 Hymn: (O) #644; (S) #783; (C) #725

Texts: Jeremiah 26:8-15; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35

Theme: “Real Imitation” Phil. 3:17

TV. Main Street Living

(This sermon was taped at Zion, Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, SD on 1-28-2010,to be broadcast on the Main Street Living Program on February 28, 2010)


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our homily is from the Epistle lesson: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” Phil. 3:17

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, I live in Armour—a small community under 800 people. I love the small town living because it provides me with so many blessings. One of the blessings is meeting all kinds of people at the local co-op for coffee or just visiting. On one of my visits with my wife, I saw a father and son come in. The father and son were dressed alike—blue jeans, boots, western shirt and caps. His young son proudly walked behind his father imitating his every move. But what really struck me most is that little boy had on his belt a pliers’ holder, just like his father.

That little boy was proud. He walked the same step, did the same thing, and stood the same way his father did. It is a joy to look at a beautiful sight like that. They say: “Imitation is the highest form of flattery!”

Paul in our text this morning exhorts and encourages us to be Real Imitators of him. Notice the emphasis on being a real imitator, not fake or pretend. But real, authentic and genuine in our walk faith, in our words, in witness to the Gospel, in our work place; and in worship life.

The great man of God—Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” .ESV The New King James Version translates the passage this way, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” The word “imitator” in our English language is derived directly from the Greek word in this passage, “mimetai.” The word means to follow a pattern of behavior set forth by another, to mimic that behavior. It means to behave exactly as the one who sets the example behaves. In so following their example—their pattern of behavior—we can be like them in our behavior. To be simply and clearly we are to Mimic the Messiah, Imitate Immanuel, Copy Christ!

Paul urges all those who are children of the heavenly Father to follow his example—being imitators of him who is imitating Christ His Lord. In other places of Scripture, Paul writes: “I urge you, then, be imitators of me” (1 Corinthians 4:6); “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, (2 Thessalonians 3:7). Again and again Paul tells those whom he taught to be imitators of him. To fail to imitate Paul as he imitated Christ is to fail to live the way that Christ would want us to live.

In our reading today Paul is in a Roman jail, writing to his beloved church at Philippi to encourage and spur them on their walk of faith. Even though he is about to be executed, he still finds joy in writing to them to follow his example of walking in the footsteps of His Savior and Lord Jesus. Listen to him Paul today with ears of faith as he speaks to your hearts and heads, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Phil. 3:17). Paul wants all of God’s children, bought by the blood of Jesus to be real imitators of him and the Christ he serves.

To be real imitator is never easy. As a matter of fact it is down right dangerous. In our Old Testament reading for today, Jeremiah is about to be put to death because He took to heart his calling—sharing the Words of Law and Gospel to all people. He didn’t mince words when he spoke with the religious leaders about turning away from their sins. For speaking the truth in love, for being a faithful follower of His God, for being true to the Word, he was at the risk of being put to death.

And we are no different than Paul, Jeremiah or others of the prophets and apostles. We are to be Real Imitators of Christ. However, we can’t be real imitators unless we ourselves know the real Christ. We can’t serve Christ with all of our hearts, unless we know that He served us first. We can’t show, demonstrate and delight in being Real Imitators unless we ourselves know the real Savior.

To know the real Savior, is to spend time with Him and in His Word, to ponder deeply the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross. To be real imitators means the cross of Christ becomes our cross; His suffering becomes our suffering; His shame becomes our shame; His death becomes our death. This is never easy. I don’t say that lightly. It is down right dangerous today to be a Christian and live your life as a Real, Genuine, True man, woman, boy and girl belonging to Christ.

To be Real Imitators, the Holy Spirit works on our hearts and heads to know the Savior for who He really is—the heaven-sent Messenger who would suffer our punishment, would die our death, and would raise our resurrection. Jesus is the Real reason, we become like Him in every way. By His grace alone, we are privileged to be in His house of worship, hearing and learning the message that sets us free to be children of the heavenly Father. How blessed we are to be emboldened in our walk of faith by His Word, through confession and absolution, and nourished and nurtured by His Life-Giving Sacrament. These are the Means by which Christ moves us to be real imitators of Paul even to the point of death.

But in today’s culture it is very difficult to live as real and genuine Christian. It is hard to mimic the Messiah when there are so many counterfeit Christ’s; so many that deny the inerrancy of Scripture and the truth that it teaches. Know for certain Jesus is not like God, He is very God of very God. Most of the world is aping Darwin with his survival of the fittest worldview rather than the crucified Risen Savior’s invitation to love one another as I have loved you.

But as the Baptized, Redeemed, Forgiven, Blood-Bought and Heaven-Bound Children of God, we can’t be but authentic and true to our calling in imitating Paul to forsake all that the world offers and hold unto that which lasts—the treasure of heaven—Christ Himself. PAUSE.

In 1982 there was a commercial called, “It Is It Me, Or Is It Memorex?” The commercial begins with a lady speaking: “Look at me, do you like what you see?” Good! Because it is not me, it is a recording of me on new Memorex video tape. This remarkable tape has been recorded and re-recorded 100 times. But I bet you still couldn’t tell if it was Memorex or me, which really isn’t me—it’s Memorex. New Memorex video tape even after 100 recording you would still wonder is it live, or is it Memorex!

The point of the commercial is there should never be any difference in what you see or hear. And so it is with us as God’s holy and beloved children. God’s Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel to be real imitators of Jesus Christ. In this Gospel we see who this real Jesus is. And in light of that, we willingly and joyfully, like St. Paul, follow. We do this not to flatter Jesus, but in faith to praise Him for all He has done for us!


Here we have Christ imitating us first, that we would then imitate us.  He took on all that we are - our full humanity, and even became sin for us, so imitating us that sin found its home and answer on His striped back, His nail pierced hands and feet, His thorn crowned head, all delivered according to the perfect will and love of the Father.  Perhaps starting with Christ and His imitation of us, we can see our imitation as the sincerest form not of flattery but of faith rooted and grounded in our adoption as His beloved children.

People of God, chosen and beloved, children imitate not only “dad or mom” but also one another - adopt the same clothing, actions, speech, same idioms, mannerisms.  To imitate Christ is to imitate what my older “Brother” has done - as we hear Him speak, watch Him bleed (for us and for all) - as we watch Him heal the sick, forgive the sinner, rejoice over the lost sheep now on His shoulders, as He weeps for joy as the Lost Son now wears the robe of sonship, the shoes of peace, the ring of family.  Baptismal power to imitate Christ comes from our place as one who has first been loved from the very “side” not just from above - as our brother

I pray that we would be Real Imitators of Paul—sharing the Good News every opportunity that the Lord lays before us. Remember my opening story, with the boy imitating his father and wearing the plier’s holder on his belt? What are we wearing on our belt today? I pray that it is the Gospel of salvation that helps us go in the name of the Savior, to a world that is still don’t know Him, and by our words and works show them the love of Jesus for now and always. Amen.

Now the peace…


“Learning the Trade” (Luke 2:48-49).

S-1160 01/03/09 2SAC/3C (O) #98; (S) #133; (C) #625

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

Theme: “Learning the Trade” (Luke 2:48-49).

Question: “Are You Learning the Father’s Business?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Second Sunday after CHRIStmas 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).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, I remember my childhood. I remember the first time I went to work with my dad. You see growing up all I wanted to do is be a good house painter like my father. Then it happened. Dad told mom, “I believe Nabil is old enough he could come and learn the trade.” So at age 12/13 I began to go with my father in the summer to work. First, I learned that the wood needs to be sanded very smooth and ALWAYS with the grain. I learned how to make paint, mix the colors, and prepare the walls. I learned to walk on a ladder. I loved being in the presence of my father. I Cherished the moments we would sit down and have coffee, tea, or lunch together. Those were beautiful memories that I still cherish even now. And now that I am a father, I wish that my children would follow in my footsteps and learn the trade (not that it is) of being under shepherds of God’s flock.

Since I have been living among you, I have seen many family operations of father and son. Many of the fathers rejoice that their sons learn the trade—farming, carpentry, electrician and the like. I even remember a long time ago, while having coffee with my wife at the Co-Op, we saw a father and son come in. The father and son were dressed alike, the boy proudly walked behind his father imitating his every move. But what really struck me most is that little boy had on his belt a pliers’ holder, just like his father.

It is such a joy when a son learns the family business. There are families that advertise “Father and Son operation.” The father is so proud that his son[s] are taking over the business that he spent a lifetime building.

In today’s text, St. Luke tells us of another father and son business. Listen once more to Luke as He tells us of this family business: “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?’”

At the age of 12, as the holy family made their journey home Jesus stayed behind. His parents didn’t know about it. When they looked for Him they didn’t find Him among their relatives and neighbors so they headed back to Jerusalem looking for Him. And when they found Him, He told them, ‘why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?’” Now the word “house” is supplied by context. We could also supply “business.” Jesus had to be about His Father’s very essence - to love sinners and bring us from the death of sin into this same “Father’s House.” This is the “Father’s Business.” This is the business of the Holy Spirit and the Son - to bring us Home with Him.

St. Paul tells us of the Father’s business in 1 Timothy: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). The Business of the Father ever since that fatefully day when the serpent deceived our parents in the Garden of Eden has been about seeking and saving the lost. The Business of the Father and the Son is about salvation of mankind.

When Jesus addressed His parents with these words, He wasn’t condescending to them or dishonoring them, instead He said, “You should have known that I would be in My Father’s House carrying out His Business.” Jesus’ mission was learning the trade.

Certainly, as Jesus grew up in Joseph’s shop He learned the trade of carpentry. Jesus learned about butterfly patches, dove-tail joints, and proper measuring. He learned how to dry the wood, mix glue to strengthen a joint and how to mix finishes to preserve the wood – and all that went with the trade of being a carpenter. But today we find Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem being about the Father’s Business—the business of restoring the broken relationships, the business of healing the sick and helping the needy, the business of dispersing His forgiveness of sin, the business of opening the eyes of the blind that they might see; and the business of bringing to life those dead so that they may live in His House forever.

We should not be surprised at what Luke tells us in our Gospel reading today, that Jesus was in the Temple doing the Father’s Business. Why not? Because Jesus’ whole life has been about Father’s Business and fulfilling the Law of the Father perfectly in our stead. We meet Jesus in the Temple first at age 8 when He was circumcised and given the name the angel told His parents about. We meet Him again at 40 days old as His parents brought Him to fulfill the purification Law. We meet Him today at age 12. We meet Him as the Tempter asked Him to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple. We meet Him throwing out all of those who abused His Father’s Temple. PAUSE.

Learning the Trade was the mission of the Savior. Already, before the foundation of the world, God the Father gave this command to His Son, “Son, I need You to Build a Bridge; here are all the tools you will need. See you soon—Love, Dad” (as I say this sentence I am carrying in my hand a picture of this and in the picture along with the words are a sledge hammer and three nails).

Indeed, people of God, beloved and chosen—Jesus was about learning the trade of the Father. And that trade was building a bridge between the big chasm of heaven and earth and the bridge would be built by the tools of the trade that Jesus had in His carpentry shop—wood, hammer and nails. It is a very expensive bridge indeed—the most expensive in the world. It is NOT the kind of bridge that leads to nowhere. But rather a bridge that leads us home—to the Father’s House—that bridge is the Cross of Calvary.

Jesus, the Son of the Father came to do the will of the Father completely. He came to learn the trade well. The trade of building a place where we can be in the Father’s House forever as we are reminded of in the Gospel of John: “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will come back to take you to be with Me forever.” (John 14:3).

Dear Christian friends, you and I are adopted Children of the heavenly Father. Are we then, like our big brother Jesus learning the trade of the family Business? Are we about fulfilling the Law of God in our lives and in our deeds? Are we about seeking the lost and the erring? I pray that we are. By God’s grace the Father has sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts to remind us of the privilege that He lays before us yet again in 2010—going out in His Name, doing His will and sharing the Words of hope with all people.

But, I am afraid that NOT many of us take this family Business to heart. We say, “We have a professional man, we pay him to do this work; let him do it”. We say, “We are not equipped to do this kind of work, or don’t know what to do, or I am afraid I might fail to do it right.” So we don’t. PAUSE.

Today, beloved and chosen by God, know for certain even though you and I may fail in fulfilling the Law of God, though we neglect the business of the Father, Jesus never has. He has and always been faithful in doing the Father’s will. We find Him today in the Temple building the TEMPLE. And this building is done by blood, sweat, wood and nails. The Temple is built by the Jewish Carpenter—my boss—who equips us to go in His name and share His love and the Good News with all people.

I learned the trade of painting from my father, and when I came to this country I was able to make a living and provide for my family. The Babe of Bethlehem learned the trade of the Father not to make a living, or to live in comfort; but to bring about salvation. Surely He has saved You… you are Baptized... in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.... that is, you live with forgiveness for your sins, fully and freely given through this self-same Babe. Yes, Jesus was about His Father’s business then and still is about the Father’s business even today—calling us to repentance, and forgiveness of sins. He was in His Father’s House – and He was in our flesh – this is His Father’s business, and we are approved, He has taken pleasure in you, He has adorned you with His Salvation and all we can say is “AMEN!!!”

Now the peace…


“A Name With A Meaning” (Luke 2:21).

S-1159 12/31/09 NY/3C (O) #123; (S) #114; L.S. #124; # 125; (C) #47

Texts: Isaiah 9:2-7; Acts 4:1-12; Luke 2:21

Theme: “A Name With A Meaning” (Luke 2:21).

Question: “How valuable is your name?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our New Year’s Eve celebration is from the Gospel Lesson: “And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved; blessed New Year to you and yours. This evening we gather in the Lord’s house NOT only to observe the passing of the old year and prepare for the New Year; but to observe and celebrate the naming of the Child of Bethlehem in accordance with the Law of God.

By God’s com­mand in the Old Testament (Genesis 17), every male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day. By circumcision, the child was incorporated into God’s covenant with Israel. This was the command God gave Father Abraham. The chief purpose of the circumcision was the child would receive his name. Just as when God changed Abram’s name to Abraham at his circumcision.

We often underestimate the importance of names in our world today. Many of us have been given names simply because our parents liked how they sounded. It hasn’t always been so. At one time, a person’s name was a literal definition of who they were or what they had done, and in some places that remains true yet today. Many family names have been derived from the vocation of some long-forgot­ten ancestor, such as Sawyer, Smith, Potter, or Cooper. Some came from where people lived, such as Rivers, Burger, Hill, and so on.

Your “good name” is your reputation; it is how you are known as a person. Companies spend vast sums of money to try to make their brand names recognized and respected in the marketplace, and the curse of a name that is poorly selected or damaged in the marketplace can haunt a product for years. Just as we have observed recently with Tiger Woods. PAUSE.

After the American Civil War the managers of the infamous Louisiana Lottery approached Robert E. Lee and asked if he’d let them use his name in their scheme. They promised that if he did he would become rich. 

Astounded, Lee straightened up, buttoned his gray coat, and shouted, “Gentlemen, I lost my home in the war. I lost my fortune in the war. I lost everything except my name. My name is not for sale, and if you fellows don’t get out of here, I’ll break this crutch over your heads!”

People of God, chosen and beloved, Names are very important indeed. You can have a good name or a bad name. The name identifies you. The name lets people know of your reputation whether good or bad. Names truly matter.

Sometimes simply the name of a person, place, or thing conjures up vivid images or recollections, favorable or unfavorable. Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, Vietnam, Watergate. Twin-Towers, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Calvary.

Tonight, the Holy Spirit has gathered us in this place to learn more about the name which is above every—the Name of Jesus. Luke put it this way: “And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb”. This is a heavenly name given to the Christ child before He was born. Jesus’ name comes from the Hebrew word Yeshua, or Joshua. Literally, the word is taken part of the name of Yahweh and part of the word for rescue or salvation. Taken together, the very given name of our Redeemer is Yahweh Saves.

Yes, indeed, the name of Jesus is a name with Meaning. When the angel told His parents what to name Him, it is yet another example of God saying what He will do and doing what He says! This name identified Him as the One who would come from heaven on a mission to save man-kind. That name was not given lightly, because God doesn’t take sin lightly. He gave the name that fits the work and ministry of what the Heaven-sent Messenger—Jesus would accomplish in His birth, life, death and resurrection.

We heard this evening of other names for Jesus. In our Old Testament reading Isaiah put it this way, “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6b). All of these names fit the Babe of Bethlehem to a tee. And again in our Acts reading Peter declared this Gospel truth: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). That is to say there is no one or nothing in this world or the next that can save you except the Savior, Jesus Christ. PAUSE.

The whole Bible is filled with references to Jesus in one way or another. Beyond that, the primary message spread by the Lord Himself and His followers was to go directly to Jesus Himself, place a submissive-obedient faith and trust in Him and continue [endure] to the end for salvation. It is very easy to see why we are directed by God to do this after noting the various ways the Lord Jesus is described by His many names and titles. Each refers to yet another important place or position that Jesus holds in God’s plan for man’s salvation. Please ponder how precious and preeminently important Jesus is for man’s salvation. The truth is: Jesus is the all-sufficient Savior. No other savior is needed besides Him or with Him. (There are over 100 names given to Jesus. Please know that the following is just a partial listing of the many Scriptural names and titles of the Lord. There are others not listed here.) I shall name but few for you to consider

Advocate (1 John 2:1)
Almighty (Rev. 1:8; Mt. 28:18)
Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8; 22:13)
Amen (Rev. 3:14)
Apostle of our Profession (Heb. 3:1)
Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins (1 John 2:2)
Author of Life (Acts 3:15)
Author and Perfecter of our Faith (Heb. 12:2)
Author of Salvation (Heb. 2:10)
Beginning and End (Rev. 22:13)
Blessed and only Ruler (1 Tim. 6:15)
Bread of God (John 6:33)
Bread of Life (John 6:35; 6:48)
Bridegroom (Mt. 9:15)
Capstone (Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7)
Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20)
Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4)
Christ (1 John 2:22)
Creator (John 1:3)
Deliverer (Rom. 11:26)
Eternal Life (1 John 1:2; 5:20)
Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11)
Faithful Witness (Rev. 1:5)
Faithful and True Witness (Rev. 3:14)
First and Last (Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13)
Firstborn From the Dead (Rev. 1:5)
Firstborn over all creation (Col. 1:15)
Gate (John 10:9)
God (John 1:1; 20:28; Heb. 1:8; Rom. 9:5; 2 Pet. 1:1;1 John 5:20; etc.)
Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20)
Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14)
Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23)
Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2)
High Priest (Heb. 2:17)
Holy and True (Rev. 3:7)
Holy One (Acts 3:14)
Hope (1 Tim. 1:1)
Hope of Glory (Col. 1:27)
Horn of Salvation (Luke 1:69)
I Am (John 8:58)
Image of God (2 Cor. 4:4)
Immanuel (Mt. 1:23)
Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42)
King Eternal (1 Tim. 1:17)
King of Israel (John 1:49)
King of the Jews (Mt. 27:11)
King of kings (1 Tim 6:15; Rev. 19:16)
King of the Ages (Rev. 15:3)
Lamb (Rev. 13:8)
Lamb of God (John 1:29)
Lamb Without Blemish (1 Pet. 1:19)
Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45)
Life (John 14:6; Col. 3:4)
Light of the World (John 8:12)
Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5)
Living One (Rev. 1:18)
Living Stone (1 Pet. 2:4)
Lord (2 Pet. 2:20)
Lord of All (Acts 10:36)
Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8)
Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16)
Man from Heaven (1 Cor. 15:48)
Master (Lk. 5:5; 8:24; 9:33)
Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15)
Mighty God (Isa. 9:6)
Morning Star (Rev. 22:16)
Offspring of David (Rev. 22:16)
Only Begotten Son of God (John 1:18; 1 John 4:9)
Our Great God and Savior (Titus 2:13)
Our Holiness (1 Cor. 1:30)
Our Husband (2 Cor. 11:2)
Our Protection (2 Thess. 3:3)
Our Redemption (1 Cor. 1:30)
Our Righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30)
Our Sacrificed Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7)
Power of God (1 Cor. 1:24)
Precious Cornerstone (1 Pet. 2:6)
Prophet (Acts 3:22)
Rabbi (Mt. 26:25)
Resurrection and Life (John 11:25)
Righteous Branch (Jer. 23:5)
Righteous One (Acts 7:52; 1 John 2:1)
Rock (1 Cor. 10:4)
Root of David (Rev. 5:5; 22:16)
Ruler of God’s Creation (Rev. 3:14)
Ruler of the Kings of the Earth (Rev. 1:5)
Savior (Eph. 5:23; Titus 1:4; 3:6; 2 Pet. 2:20)
Son of David (Lk. 18:39)
Son of God (John 1:49; Heb. 4:14)
Son of Man (Mt. 8:20)
Son of the Most High God (Lk. 1:32)
Source of Eternal Salvation for all who obey him (Heb. 5:9)
The One Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5)
The Stone the builders rejected (Acts 4:11)
True Bread (John 6:32)
True Light (John 1:9)
True Vine (John 15:1)
Truth (John 1:14; 14:6)
Way (John 14:6)
Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24)
Word (John 1:1)
Word of God (Rev. 19:13)

To be sure Jesus has a name with a meaning. When we say, “Jesus” we are calling upon Him to hear us and do what we ask. We can’t use the name of God in the wrong manner. God opposes this. The Name of God is so important that He warns us in the Second Commandment NOT to use His name in the wrong way; but to honor that Name and speak of it in the most reverent way possible.

Jesus’ name is a name with a meaning. Throughout our liturgy Services the name of Jesus is used often. We begin our worship service by calling upon the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—reminding us of our Baptism. In the Confession we call upon God to forgive our sins for the sake of Jesus. In the Absolution, I forgive you, your sins in the stead and by the power of Jesus. And at the conclusion of the service, I bless you when I share with you the great benediction of Numbers 22:6 to remind you that you belong to God and His name is over you as you go into the world.

Names are very important indeed. The Divine name is the most important of all, because it is a name that saves, delivers, frees and brings peace and joy into our hearts. And yet sometimes we don’t value the names that we have.

At least in this culture, (I don’t make myself better than others) we sometimes shorten the name because we think it is too difficult to say. Here is what we do with names: William = Bill; Robert = Bob; Patricia = Patty, Elizabeth = Liz; Michael = Mike; Gabriel = Gabe; Nathaniel = Nate; Donald = Don and so forth. But we dare not shorten the name of Jesus, or allow it to be changed to something other than what it means—for He is the Savior—Your Savior and mine. That is the name given Him by the angel before He was born.

What do we get when we have the Name of Jesus on US? We get Peace, and the Prince of Peace. We get Righteousness, and the Righteous One. We get Counsel, and the Counselor. We get Wonders, and the Wonderful One. We get the Kingdom, and The King. We get Salvation, and the Savior. We get forgiveness, and the Forgiver.

Beloved in the Lord, you are more than a number in a system. You are more than merely a name; you are God’s chosen and beloved children. And His name is over you even as we close one year and begin another. And that name brings us joy and life eternal. What a blessing to know the name with a meaning—the name of Jesus our Savior. Amen.

Now the peace…

“Set Apart” (Exodus 13:1-2, 11-12).

S-1158 12/27/09 1SAC/3C (O)

Texts: Exodus 13:1-3a 11-15; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:22-40

Theme: “Set Apart” (Exodus 13:1-2, 11-12).

Question: “Have you seen the Salvation of the Lord?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Fourth Sunday in Advent is from the Gospel Lesson: “The LORD said to Moses, Consecrate to Me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine…When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s.” (Exodus 13:1-2, 11-12).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU (this sermon was not preached due to the inclement weather)

People of God, A Blessed Christmas to you my Beloved and His Beloved,

Two turtle doves - the gift for this, the Second Day of Christmas, are what Mary and Joseph brought with them on the 40th day of Jesus' young life as they brought Him to the Temple to provide the sacrifice of the of the Firstborn. Consecrate the Firstborn to the Lord - this is the command given in Exodus 13 - for they are Mine, declares the Lord! Yes, this Child, He belongs to the Lord - that is true enough - but more than just belonging to the Lord, Jesus was given, yes, as our Sermon Hymn put it:

Of the Father's Love Begotten, ere the worlds began to be.

He is alpha and omega, He the source the ending He,

Of the things that are that have been, and that future years shall see

Evermore and evermore. (LSB, 384, v. 1)

This command to consecrate the firsborn is the first command after giving the Passover is given - the first command. Yes, the Passover and the blessing of life to the firstborn is now fulfilled through The Firstborn of Mary and Joseph. Just as God used the gift of the firstborn to deliver Israel, His beloved, from the bondage of Egypt some 14 centuries earlier, now He uses the Firstborn, Jesus, to deliver the world through this Beloved Son. Mary gave Him up to the Lord, even as Hannah did with Samuel - this consecration by the mothers was to show that the life of their boy belonged to the Lord.

To this mighty gift we may add two older folks, Simeon (hearing) and Anna (favored or graced one) - Simeon came to the Temple, waiting for the Consolation of Israel. Now the Greek word for "consolation" literally means "to bring one close into oneself" the way a mother would hold her newborn close in to her heart. God's consolation for His beloved Church is to hold us close unto His heart. That means He must first extend that Heart, high upon the Cross where He would die for the sins of the world! Simeon tells Mary that the sword, the same sword that pierced Jesus - that is the Cross would pierce hers - especially hers, for above all others in this life, she literally and fully, held Him close unto her heart.

Old Man Simeon saw in the 40 day old infant the fulfillment of every prophecy of Holy Scripture - the salvation, the holding close again, returning close again to God's heart, the world who had wondered away from Eden's bliss and now knew only death. Dear old Anna, a widow for 63 years, was graced to behold Him who made those many years of waiting all worth while.

Beloved, we wait, and become impatient. Yet God remains faithful. Shortly Karl and Carolyn Stevens will come forward to celebrate the Consolation of the Lord - How He has held the "One of them" close to His heart for 69 years as man and wife. In their age, these two, like the two older ones waiting at the Temple teach us a wondrous lesson - God holds His beloved close. The world's wisdom says, Hold your friends close, and your enemies even closer. Well, in the sense of Romans 5:10, this is true for you and me -NKJ Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life! But I believe this consolation, this holding of us close to His heart is the gift that says, you are worth it all - all that the incarnation means - God taking your pain, your tears... yes, all your sin and the sin of all humanity... so that we could sit on His lap as His own. We see Him turning Christmas right side out - not that we get to hold Jesus, but that He gets to hold us! Rejoice with Karl and Carolyn, with Simeon and Anna, for not only do we behold the glory of God in this Child - He more than "beholds" us - yea - He holds us close - so close that heaven is ours, for He is come to forgive, to heal, to adopt, to breathe life into us - to hold you. A most blessed Christmas to you, my beloved and His beloved. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria

“The Blessings of Knowing Him” (John 1:10).

S-1157 12/25/05 CD/3C Hymns (O)87; (S) #370 LSB; L.S. #647; #310; (C) #94

Texts: Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-9; John 1:1-14

Theme: “The Blessings of Knowing Him” (John 1:10).

Question: “Do You Know the Lord?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Christmas Day is from the Gospel Lesson: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him” (John 1:10).

Introduction: In Nomine Iesu

Merry Christmas People of God, Beloved of the Lord. I know a lot of people. A lot people know me. Some I know about, others I know very well. And so do you. Some of the people you know or heard about, and others you know extremely well. Many of us know Bret Favre the Quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. We know him as a great football player, has had a long career and made amazing plays; but we really don’t know Him. Sure we know things about him because we followed his career. But honestly, how well do we know Bret Farve?

Today, John speaks to us about the sad commentary in his gospel about the GIFT of heaven. That when Jesus came to the world the world didn’t know Him, recognize Him, worship or adore Him. Oh, yes, they heard of Jesus the Nazarene. They heard of the Man from Galilee who could do many wonders. They heard of the Galilean Prophet, but they really didn’t know Him because their eyes were closed by the darkness of sins and the filth in their hearts.

But today, dear Christian friends, we will dig deeper, climb higher, and scan wider to know the One who came as the Gift of heaven to the manger bed so that we may know Him as the Eternal One who came from the Father. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better” (Eph. 1:17). And again, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” (Phil. 3:10). Paul is asking us not only to know about Jesus, but know Him intimately, joyfully, faithfully and completely as the GIFT of heaven—that He would come from Eternity unto eternity to save us.

How well do you know Jesus? Are your prayers like Paul “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection?” This is the ultimate—that we would know Him as the Savior who came to earth and closed Himself with human flesh. PAUSE.

“To know Him [Jesus] is to love Him.” This is an old saying. But you know what? It is not that we know Him, but rather that He knows us. And for us who are clothed by sin flesh and death, it is impossible to know Him. He reveals Himself to us in His Life-Giving Word. For everything that we know, everything that we have, everything that we own and possess will grow older, grayer, break down and fade away. Correct? Remember when I came 16 years ago? What was the color of my hair? Pure black. I am getting older; I am getting grayer and feel the aches and pains of age (just like you). There is nothing in this world that we know and have that is not going to fade away or break down.

But the GIFT of heaven is from Eternity to Eternity. For the Babe of Bethlehem, in that magnificent prayer taught us saying: For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen. PAUSE.

HE KNOWS US. He knows us intimately. Even as we confessed in the confession this morning; do you remember what you read? He is not repelled by our sin, yet comes among us from Eternity, and clothes Himself with humanity so that He might make of us—the dust of the earth eternal dwelling places for Him in Paradise.

How well do you know the Savior? Sure you might know things about Him. You may know the miracles. But how intimately do you really know Him? Do you know Him fully, completely, intimately as your personal Savior? Do you know Him as the Lord of heaven and earth who reveals Himself from Eternity unto eternity?

You and I might know a lot of information. We might have statistics about football players, BB players, and Baseball players even about the Presidents. We might know all of these things, but they count for naught unless you know Him intimately, completely and joyfully. That is the great blessing that you and I have as the Redeemed people of God who have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Sometimes we boast, “Oh, yes, I know the Lord! Oh, yes, I worship Him and adore Him!” But how many times do we deny that we really know Him? Consider Peter—the Great Apostle—that “rock.” What did he do in the moment of need? Remember what he said in John 18? “I DON’T KNOW THE MAN!!!” Peter, the Great Apostle denied that he knew the Savior. Don’t we act just like Peter at times? How many times do we act and think that we really know about the Lord, but we really don’t.

Last October, my wife and I were part of the SD District Pastors Conference in Rapid City. For our entertainment night, we had a cowboy poet who shared with us some of his writings. I would like to share with you part of a poem that he wrote titled the “Sortin Gate” Listen carefully to what I am about to read as we connect this together:

On the ranch it’s where decisions are made

Of a life been lived and dues been paid.
Where every an animal is judged to determine its fate

By the hand that swings the sortin’ gate.

Now boys, I’m no sky pilot”—

I punch cows to draw my pay.
Yet I believe there’s a reason

the Lord has allowed our trails to cross today.

I don’t understand life’s mysteries,

but one thing I can state
When we go to that last roundup,

There will be a sortin’ gate.

We are created by a perfect God

who can tolerate no sin
Only those who ride for Jesus’ brand,

heaven’s gate will enter in.
Because God made Him who had no sin

to be the sin for us
So that through Him we might become

God’s own righteousness.

The price was paid upon the cross

for our victory in the end.
No greater love has any man

than to give his life for a friend.
And Jesus said, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and The life.

No one comes to the Father but through Me.”

The devil and his legions are spreading pain and strife

and they’re saying, “It’s all a lie, Boys, wait and see.’

We prepare a horse for battle

but victory is for the Lord.
Open up His book and study His word

and it will be your sword.
Not all who are crying out Lord, Lord

are living by His ways,
and their hearts are just as black

as the mavericks, slicks and strays.

The herds will all be gathered—

They’ll be there from ever land—
With the purpose of determining

Ownership by brand.

For some, the trail is long and winding;

For some, it’s short and strait—

But it’s “who” you know, not “what” you know,

When you reach that sortin’ gate.

Printed by permission from R.P. Smith, A Ride Through Rhyme And other Cowboy Poems (Field Mouse Productions Grand Island, ne pp. 23-24).

Did you get it? PAUSE. Did you get it? It’s “Who” you know that matters. It’s not what you know. Today, beloved in Christ we unpack the GIFT of Christmas. That God loved us for who we are NOT because of what we do. He came in flesh from Eternity to Eternity so that we might be with Him forever and ever. Today, we unpack, unwrap, and unravel the mystery of the Incarnation that God would become man, lay in a manger, grow up and go to the Cross so that we might know Him intimately.

How well do you know the Lord? “Open the Book” R. P. Smith said, study it. For in that Book you will learn not only the miracles of Jesus, but of the Mystery that God would come to us (a miracle in itself). He comes to us so that we might know Him intimately, because He wants to be known. That is why Christmas is so special. That is why we celebrate it. That is why we gather together as family. If you listen to the advertisements on the Radio and TV, people talk about what makes Christmas so special. (What do you think? My people respond out loud because I motion for them to do so).

Here are some of the comments. You may add your own answers to the list. Families getting together. It’s all of the preparations of cooking and making goodies. It’s the powdery stuff (we have 20 inches of it outside). It’s the ringing in the cash registers. Is that really what Christmas is all about? If that is all, we are poor people pitted more than any human beings.

You see it is indeed wonderful to have family getting together. It is wonderful to have my grandchild (trying to outdo me during the sermon). It is wonderful to be together over the holidays. But some of you who have had families can’t wait for them to leave. It’s not about families getting together; it’s not baking the cookies and decorating the house that makes Christmas or opening the gifts, you have the wrong idea because you don’t know Him.

But to know Him intimately, is to realize that He is YOUR SAVIOR and LORD. As the prophet Isaiah told us: “God comforted us by giving us a double portion of His grace for our sins.” Do you know Him? Yes, you do!! That is why you are here today in spite of the snow. You know Him. You come to this place to be comforted. Because the trail for us is sometimes long and tedious, sometimes is hard and sometimes it’s painful.

Yes, everything that we have; everything precious that we have someday will wear out like a garment; like a tie that goes out of style; like a car that breaks down. Even loved one that we have someday will put into the ground.

From Eternity to Eternity God knows us by name, claims us as His very own and shares with us the Hope of Eternal Life. What a joy and what a blessing to know Him intimately, but of greater blessing that He KNOWS US; AND LOVES US JUST THE SAME. PAUSE.

Isn’t wonderful to have Christmas? Isn’t wonderful that from Eternity God comes to us to love us, and to share with us the Greatest GIFT—His Only Begotten Son? We are indeed blessed. Why? Because we know Him and because HE KNOWS US! Amen.

Now the peace…

“A Visitor from Bethlehem” (Luke 2:15-17)

S1156 12/24/09 CE/3C Hymns: (O) 102; 92; LSB 364; 368; 647; (S) 388 LSB; (C) 646

Texts: Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:8-20

Theme: “A Visitor from Bethlehem” (Luke 2:15-17)


This sermon will be preached in a first person dramatic narrative. The visitor from Bethlehem is an older Shepherd who was a young man at the time of the angels visit on the first Christmas Eve. He is dressed with Shepherd’s clothing has a white beard and a holding a shepherd’s staff. Luke 2:15-17).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Please forgive the interruption and the smell of my clothing. I don’t mean to be barging in on you like this on this festive night. However, ever since that night (so long ago), I can’t help myself but tell of what I had seen and heard in that little manger in Bethlehem.

Oh, I am sorry, how rude I am. In my excitement to tell you of that great night of so long ago, I failed to tell you who I am. I am Ishaac Ben Yackov (Isaac son of Jacob). I remember the night as if it was yesterday. I was only a young man of 14. It was my first year to be away from home and spend it out in the Judean hills along with the other shepherds in my family—my father, uncles and grandfather.

The day had been wonderful we had grazed the sheep near the village of Bethlehem. As the evening was approaching, we all gathered the sheep close to us. We were sitting near the fire listening to my grandfather telling us about the king of Israel David; who, too, was a shepherd and how he killed a lion and bear after they took a lamb from the herd. Scarcely had grandpa finished telling the story and all of a sudden there was this heavenly being right above us. I, along with the rest of the shepherds was frightened. We had never seen anything like this. I got so scared when the angel began to speak. The hair on my neck stood up, (rub neck and show fear), my legs shook from fear, I felt my heart beating so fast and I didn’t know what to do. I tried to hide for fear of what might happen to us.

Then, the angel spoke softly, yet with angelic heavenly voice saying, “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” (Lk. 2:10-11). I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Could it be? That the long expected Messiah, the true Son of David promised to my ancestors has come? Is it possible that I, a shepherd boy might get to see the true King of Israel the Savior of the world? Surely, it can’t be. Why, we are nothing but shepherds—insignificant people, yet the angel spoke that night.

My mind was racing wildly thinking of the angel’s words and all of a sudden the sky was lit up above as if it was noon day over Bethlehem. There were so many angels singing above, it was terrifying and yet exhilarating. My neck (look up) hurt as I kept looking up and listening to what they were saying. Oh, if you could have heard the angels’ choir that night, it was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard in my 14 years of life. They sang a song that I don’t believe I will ever forget. They said, “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”
(Lk. 2:14).

Shortly after the singing the angels left us to our sheep and the hills. I looked at my father wondering what does this mean. He looked at his father and wondered what does this mean. And I heard my grandfather say, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us” (Lk 15b).

Excitement ran through our camp. The news had made us jump for joy. Without a thought about our sheep, I grabbed the torch light it up from the fire and ran as fast as possible trying to keep up with the adults as we headed towards Bethlehem. When we arrived, we found Joseph and Mary two proud parents looking at their infant child. There before my very own eyes, was the long expected Messiah. The King of kings is born in the most humble places among animals. And I, Ishaac Ben Yackov got to kneel by His side, and…. touch Him with my own hands (look at hands). His parents were so happy. I was so happy I got to see the Savior. All of us were happy.

When we left the little manger, we couldn’t stop telling the people what we had seen. I told Moshe the Butcher; Ephraim the Carpenter; and Yosef the Potter. Everywhere we went, my father, grandfather and I would tell the people of the angel’s visit, our running to Bethlehem and seeing the New Born Savior of the world. PAUSE.

After that night things went back to normal. I kept my duties as a shepherd boy watching the flock by night with my father and grandfather. Making sure they had enough to eat and kept safe from the wild beasts. But I still remembered the night and wondered about the Savior and how He would save us from the Romans; what kind of Savior He would be and what His Kingdom would be like. PAUSE.

33 years later another event happened that is etched in my memory as that first night the angel’s told us about the Messiah. But this one was not a joyous night. I was still living in Bethlehem at this time. Both my grandfather and father had long gone to sleep in the earth and now I had my own children who helped me with the family business-taking care of the sheep. And yet that Friday afternoon is as alive in my heart as the night of the announcement of the angelic hosts in the sky above Bethlehem. Word had gone out from other shepherds from Jerusalem that Jesus the Savior of the world and the King of Israel was hanging on a Roman cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem. I couldn’t believe my ears. It can’t be!!! The long expected Messiah was not meant to die. He came to deliver. He came to save. There must be some mistake. Those shepherds must have heard wrong.

Well, I determined to travel to Jerusalem and see the thing I heard about. And sure enough as I was getting closer to Jerusalem I knew something was wrong. The sky got darker and darker and there just outside the city walls, there were three crosses. Right in the middle between two thieves was Jesus—the One who laid in the manger, the One whom I knelt before and the One whom I touched with my own hands. I knew because Pilate had written in my language a sign and put it above His head saying, “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.”

I stood there looking at this figure and wondered why. Why would they kill Him? What did He do? Why such hatred for the Savior of the world. And just then, I heard Him speak. I drew closer to the cross and the others. And what I heard I didn’t understand. Do you know what He said, Father, FORGIVE THEM, for they don’t know what they do!” How can He do that? How could He speak such forgiving words to those who persecuted Him and nailed Him to the cross? I didn’t know. But figured it must be love.

Many of the people began to leave as the darkness descended. And just as I was about to leave I heard one of the soldiers say, “He is dead! The King is dead! The Savior is dead!” Those words pierced my heart. But not as much as the laughter in the soldiers voice.

I left to go back to Bethlehem, broken hearted and teary eye about what had taken place. I told my family about what I had seen that afternoon in Jerusalem and we all wept together over the fate of the Savior of the world.

Few days later I heard word that this Savior has been raised from the grave; that He is alive. Again, I couldn’t believe my ears. Again I traveled the miles road to Jerusalem. I saw many people in the street speaking about the empty tomb. And that the Savior really has been raised from the grave. And that He died to earn forgiveness for us sinners. That was the promise the angels sang about that night: “Glory to God in the Highest and peace on earth…”

Right then and there, I fell to the ground (fall down) and wept realizing that the Savior had come for me. He was born in the manger as the angel told us for me; that the Savior suffered for me; that the Savior died for me; that the Savior rose for me. Me, Ishaac Ben Yackov, a shepherd man came to understand the night of so long ago.

Many years have come and gone since that first night when I was 14 years with my father, grandfather and uncles watching over our sheep as the angels announced to us the “Good News” that is born to us. I am now an old man, but no matter how old I get I never get tired of telling the story to anyone who listens.

I hope you, too, in your visit to the manger can hear the angel’s voice, see with your eyes the Savior of the world and tell all you meet what you have seen and heard.

(The visitor leaves the stage.)