Monday, January 24, 2011

“God Can USE You!” (Mt. 4:18-20).

S-1231 3SAE//3A 01/23/10 Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Hymns from LSB (O) #851; #725; (S) #826; #866; LS. #867; #620; #862; (C) #924

Text: Isaiah 9:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-25

Theme: “God Can USE You!” (Mt. 4:18-20).

Question: “Do you value LIFE?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Third Sunday of the Epiphany is from the Gospel: “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him” (Mt. 4:18-20).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who are the most treasure possession in God’s sight and loved by Him eternally hear the words of life so that you can celebrate life because life is a most precious gift from Him who is the Lord of LIFE, Jesus Christ.

Today, as we gather in His house and read the Book of life, we see how the Savior takes simple fishermen, common ordinary men from Galilee and make them the best fisher of men in the world. They go on His mission; they carry the torch of life and love, and share the hope of glory that their teacher and Rabbi has taught them. For 3 years these men walked with the Savior, accompanied Him, saw Him heal the sick, raise the dead and taught that life is precious from the womb to the tomb.

From Capernaum they go out and reach the end of the world—even reaching you. And today, the Savior equips you, common ordinary men and women, boys and girls to be used by Him to bring about the healing ointment of the Gospel to those who are walking in the darkness of sin.

On this Life Sunday, I implore you fellow saints in the name of Him who is Life, Jesus, to join me on this journey and see how the God of the universe will use you as He used others.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard the Savior calling these Galilean men to follow Him and He will make them become fishers of men. And indeed, by His power and might they did become the greatest fishermen the world has ever seen. They went far and near to proclaim the salvation that is found in Jesus. They spoke with young and old. They told them of His life and ministry. They told of His death and resurrection. They spared no expense to get the Word out that Jesus is the Lord of life and love. They even paid the price with their lives to be used by Him, so others might know Him and become His fisher of men. PAUSE.

These Galilean men are not the only ones who have been called by Jesus to follow Him. You, too, have been called. Yes, you sitting here in the pew have been called by the Gospel, and through Baptism have been marked as one who has been touched by the loving hands of Him who knit you together in your mother’s womb.

So why then, are we not at all time being used by the Savior to tell His story? Why don’t we stand up for the life of the unborn? Why don’t we do all we can to promote and preserve life at every stage including the unborn? Simply, because we choose not to be used by God. We want to do what is good for us and shut our eyes against the inhumanity of the unborn.

This past week I was visiting with one of our members and he was relating to me of what Kimberly Martinez (the director of the Alpha Center “a pregnancy crisis center in Sioux Falls”) said to our Lutherans For Life chapter while meeting in Alexandria. Kimberly stated that a pregnant woman walked to the office. After Kimberly spent considerable time attempting to convince her that life is precious and she shouldn’t abort the baby. She refused to hear any of Kimberly’s advice. Kimberly suggested an ultra sound, perhaps seeing the baby moving and having all of his fingers and toes might deter her, again she was adamant about the destruction of that little gift in the womb. Kimberly thought of one final plan. She took her behind the office and showed her the many plaques of baby’s lives that were spared in the Garden of Life; the woman was still not convinced. Finally, the woman said, “I know I am killing a human being, but I DON’T CARE, I’m going to do it anyway!!!”

Now we may sit here and wonder how could any woman be so callous, cruel, cold-hearted and calculating on destroying life? How could you see a life knit together in your womb and still end that life because you want to? How could you terminate it by destroying not only one life, but many who will never hold that child! Think of the father, uncles and aunts, cousins, grandparents and friends. Why? Because she has chosen not be used by God to be a caring and loving mother. She has chosen to walk in darkness instead of the light.

But we are not any better. Don’t think for a moment you are better than that woman because you have not ended the life of a child. Why do I say that? So many of us don’t let God use us. Yes, you heard me right. It is discouraging that in a congregation of 100 + we can’t get a slate of volunteers to serve as ushers or be greeters. We can’t meet the budget. We can’t always get people to stand up for what is right. We can’t get people to do what is right for the benefit of all. We are so selfish and desire only that which is good for us

Do you know that on the average 10% of the people of this congregation carry the weight for the other 90%. Many of you come to God’s house and expect everything to be ready. Lights on, heat on, bulletins folded, side walk cleaned. But do you ever wonder who does it? Do you even care? Sadly many of us DON’T. Many of us don’t even care about Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because we make it out to be a political problem. This is not a political problem but a spiritual problem.

But it doesn’t have to be that way my beloved and you His most treasured possession. God wants to use you like He did the men of Galilee. He wants you to continue to invite the little ones to come to Him. For He specifically stated, “Let the little children come to Me!” Jesus loved the little one and old ones too. He died for all so that they may have life to the full. The cross is for them just as much as it is for YOU.

God wants to use you to speak and speak loudly of His grace to those who are still walking in their selfish and self-centered ways; who pe rmit the darkness to rule their lives and hearts. Who have no joy in their lives because they let circumstances rule and reign on them. How sad, we are part of that group. How sad that we don’t protect the little ones, the vulnerable ones, the innocent ones and the precious ones—for they belong to Him. He knit them together by His grace and love. Even they have been purchased and won by the holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death of our dear Lord Jesus Christ!

So why are we here today? Why are we observing a Sunday called, “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday”? Isn’t that getting a little political? Are we doing this because we live in a society that does not uphold the God-given value of human life? No, there is more to it than that. We do not uphold the sanctity of human life because we live in a society that doesn’t, but because we serve a GOD WHO DOES. Why are we observing this Sanctity of Human Life Sunday? Is it because life is precious? No, there is even more to it than that. We uphold the sanctity of human life because life is precious TO GOD! Life is so precious to Him that He was willing to sacrifice the life of His One and ONLY Son!

The Word of God On the page, in the flesh and on the Cross, before us today raises the life issues—things like abortion and assisted suicide—way above the political realm. The Word of God before us today reminds us why it is important for us who are members of the Body of Christ to address these issues. The Word of God before us today tells us that every human life is a life created by God, every human life is a life for whom Jesus Christ died, and every human life is a life Jesus desires to take into His arms and call to an eternal relationship with Him.

Yes, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God wants to use you. Yes, I am talking to each and every one of you here today. God brought you here today to equip you as you hear His Word of forgiveness for all sins. God brought you here to feed you, nurture and equip you to be fishermen for Him. God brought you here to show you that you can be used by Him, who was used by the heavenly Father to give His life for all sinners—YOU.

But this call is for more than just today. It is a call that is more than for us just to sit here. God is here with us to make us fishers of men. We are His net to be cast into the sea of this sin darkened world to bring life. As we have been made whole by Christ, we are used by the Holy Spirit to catch them so that they too might be brought to Jesus and made whole. This includes even callous sinners like the young woman Kimberly was ministering to. May we by the power of the Holy Spirit continually be used to share the words of hope with all people by going fishing daily, defend the unborn, preserve life and share the good news with a world that desperately needs it. God grant it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Now the peace of God.

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, January 10, 2011

“DON’T Miss It!!!” (Isaiah 42:5).

S-1229 Baptism of our Lord/3A 01/09/10 Hymns (O) #5; (S) #833 LSB; LS #307; 298; #312; (C) #50

Text: Isaiah 42:1-7; Romans 6:1-11; Matthew 3:13-17

Theme: “DON’T Miss It!!!” (Isaiah 42:5).

Question: “Have you planned to do something and you missed it?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Baptism of our Lord is from the O.T:  “Behold My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:1-3).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, His most holy Bride: in today’s age and media electronics we have signs all over to grab and draw our attention. Throughout all the large cities there are marquees, posters, billboards with flashing lights to cause us to look at them and see their advertisement. Now, even churches and small towns, like Armour have a sign as you come into town advertising the latest events and movies going on in town.

But there was a time in our history when people didn’t rely so much on the internet, face-book, instant messaging, billboards or neon signs to give them the latest news. There was the newspaper which people read. And if an event of great importance occurred there would be a special edition of the paper. Paper boys would stand on street sides with a bundle of papers and hollering, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”

Why do they do that? They don’t want you to miss out on what they are selling, peddling, or promoting. They want you to see and hear the latest news.

Today, the prophet Isaiah points us to God’s own billboard. God has a very important message to the world. He is not giving this responsibility to anyone like a prophet or a teacher but He Himself speaks in the O. T. lesson. In essence, God is saying to us, (lift my hands up and motion back and forth); DON’T MISS WHAT I HAVE TO SAY TO YOU. God’s marquee, neon sign or billboard announces the coming of the Servant—the the One who will bring justice to the nations and make His Law known to all people. This Servant of God has a very important mission of making the Law of God known to one and all, young and old. His mission is making known the Law as Law and Gospel: First, you need a Savior, a Lover, the only One who can help you, and Second, this One, this Savior, “He is My beloved One, in whom I am well pleased!”

The term “Law” as used here is Torah, meaning both Law/Gospel. God’s message and ministry is of the utmost importance and He wants us along with all people who lived in the past, living today, and will live in the future to hear it, learn it and live by it. For this reason He says, “DON’T MISS what I am sharing with you. DON’T miss the important message I have of the coming Servant. Note: He doesn’t come as a Master in the sense of a “Task Master” a Despot, or a Ruler who needs to be served. Rather, His title is “SERVANT.” “He has come not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as the Ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45).

The importance of this message by God is even confirmed in the Gospel lesson for today. Here, again, the Creator of the Universe doesn’t delegate this responsibility to anyone like a prophet or teacher. Oh, N0 He Himself takes center stage and speaks from heaven with a booming voice giving His approval of the coming Servant—the One who has come already in the flesh—His Son’s mission and ministry is to bring about the ointment of the Gospel to all in need. He is Servant, and a Servant who will lift up the hurting, mourning, afflicted, lonely, and oppressed by their sins, in short, you and me! PAUSE.

This is His mission, something He will declare just 11 chapters later, in Isaiah 53: Behold Him being led like a lamb to the slaughter outside the city gates on the cruel cross of Calvary. He goes, but He never opens His mouth to complain nor cry out. Instead, He gives His life for you and me. Behold again, with eyes of faith the marvelous gift of Baptism: Baptism is joined to death. Death is not the final chapter, dying with Christ we rise daily. Death ALWAYS brings victory. His death is our death, His resurrection is our Resurrection. His victory is our victory.

This is not a victory just for the history books. This is a very personal victory, a victory with your name on it, not as “victor” but as one who is an inheritor of the peace. You are, by virtue of your Baptism, not the victor, but “More than A CONQUEROR, MORE THAN A VICTOR. You are in inheritor of the Kingdom of God, even now.

We saw this victory just three days ago when we celebrated Christ’s victory and its completion in the life of our saints Herm. His empty place in the pew is felt by us all. His sage words of Godly wisdom will be missed. Ah, but they have been planted in our hearts, just as our Baptismal grace is. The Gift of Holy Baptism is this: God has called us into His Son’s Victory. He is the King, the Servant King who welcomes home His children. Herm and others who dies in the Lord, received their crown, but we who are left; we continue to walk by faith that is by light, and not by sight. He holds on to us with His Servant hands, those hands that are nail-pierced. He cradles us next to His heart, that heart that was pierced through, all because He has placed us, in our Baptismal Grace, into the Tomb He borrowed from Joseph of Arimathea.

Listen again to our Epistle: 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. We are placed in His tomb with Him, and just as it could not hold Him so also it cannot and does not hold us. Yes, Baptismal living right now is this: We are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who loved us. Jesus’ Baptism, the coming of the Servant King, humbly submitting to a Baptism unto forgiveness of sins (even though He was without sin) makes it possible for us to receive what He brought: Forgiveness for us, for indeed, in His Servant Reigning, He who knew no sin became sin for us that we would become the Righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Yes, what Herm and others know now, so do we… the God who came to serve and give His life as our Ransom is here with us today and always will be.

Don’t miss it, beloved! Don’t miss this amazing gift, that in His Baptism not only is the Father is well pleased with Him, but on account of This Servant Son He is well pleased with you too.

The prophet Isaiah spoke so well, of this Son, this Jesus: who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 "I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. Don’t miss it, you are His beloved. Don’t miss it, He has breathed the breath of Eternal Life into you. Don’t miss it, He has called you in His Son’s perfect righteousness. Don’t miss it, He is using you and your Baptismal place as His son or daughter, to reflect with Epiphany light, the goodness of the God who bursts open prison doors, who opens formerly shut eyes, who gives light, the light of life to those who have sat in the great and deep darkness.

Even so, Amen. HE hasn’t missed you! Amen and Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, January 7, 2011

“I wished I was Here!” (Luke 2:49).

S-1227 2SAC/3A 01/02/10 Hymns (O) #129; (S) #133; (C) #294

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

Theme: “I wished I was Here!” (Luke 2:49).

Question: “Have you said, ‘I wished I was here!’”?


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 He said to them, ‘Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house’?” (Luke 2:49).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, His most holy Bride: I’m certain you are just like me, at times have said, “I wished I was here.” I have said that many times. When I came to this country, I would call home for Christmas or Easter and would tell my parents, oh how “I wished I was here”. Even as recently as November and December I said that. On November 20th, I was saying to my children, “I wished I was here” to hunt deer and on December 11th, I was saying the same thing “I wished I was here” with my family to celebrate our Nour’s Christmas together.

Today, as we gather in the Lord’s house for the first time in the year of our Lord 2011, our hearts, ears and eyes look forward with great anticipation to what the Lord has in store for us and to us. Certainly the boxes and bows are gone, the booming music of Christmas are no longer being heard in shopping malls or on the streets, but the celebration of the babe of Bethlehem continues. Why do we celebrate? Because the Lord of heaven and earth is right here with us.

Yes, the Lord is here and this is not a wish but a reality. From the beginning of time, God’s desire was to be with His children. You might say, He always said, “I want to be here with you.” The Babe of Bethlehem is the fulfillment of God’s desire. The Prophet Isaiah put it this way, “… You shall call His name, Immanuel which means God is with us.” Indeed God’s desire has ALWAYS been to be with His people at all times and in all places.

And today, is no different. Jesus is here, with us, in His Father’s House and being about His Father’s business. It is interesting that Luke 2:49 simply says, “I must be in My Father’s ___.” That blank is either house as we have it here in the ESV or business as with other translations. The key thing is that our thanksgiving, our celebration need never end, for God is here, in Jesus, with us today. He is still about His Father’s ___!

And why is He Here? Why would He want to be with us? What is His business? He carries out His business here. In this place He cares for His holy bride. His business is to forgive you all your sins, smother you with His LOVE, and assure you that you have been restored to the Family and to know you have full rights of adoption through the gift of Baptism! As this New Year dawns, know that you are not orphans and that whatever this New Year brings - God is more than “here” - He is here – “for you” as a Father is for His beloved son or daughter!

Yes, Jesus is here. When His parents asked Him “Why did you this to us?” He responded (dei in Greek = it is necessary) for me to be here to fulfill the Father’s will and carry out the Father’s business which He sent me as His heaven-sent gift. PAUSE.

In the text, Luke tells us that Jesus is now 12 years old. It is important to know that. For every Jewish boy at the age of 12 was to receive his bar-mitzvah (literally son of the Commandments). It was the entree into manhood. This newly minted man would still be obedient to his parents and learn the family trade, giving back 18 years for the 12 of his youth. He would learn the family business and honor his family. Jesus is no exception. He was about the Father’s business down to every minute detail.

He received His bar-mitzvah and going to the Temple in Jerusalem from His home in Nazareth, Jesus was coming home. That is, He came home, for His home is with us, for He is Immanuel. He chose to go to the temple and city where He would prove to be the True Temple (Revelation 21:22). There He sat and learned and listened. There He submitted to the will of both fathers—His earthly and heavenly. With wisdom He gave honor to both. He went where He would ultimately be found guilty of your sin and mine, and He went way, obediently, under the care of His mother and father. He learned the art of carpentry—to “measure twice and cut once” from Joseph. Joseph also taught Him what it meant to love His mother and honor His God.

In this humility and obedience we see that He was about the Father’s business. To honor, love, obey and fear His Father and do His will. In the temple the true and living Temple was speaking to the learned men of Himself and of His Father. He was teaching them what they needed to learn—that the Father of love is His Father and this love encompasses all humanity from the first Adam to the last Adam.

Today, as we gather in the Temple we hear the voice of Him who is love and who has taught us all about love by dying our death and rising to raise us from our graves. In this Temple we see Wisdom in the person of Jesus. Wise beyond any 12 years old man could be—teaching those who would listen and learn from Him of the Father’s love. Here in this Temple, we see again and celebrate often the coming of Immanuel for the purpose of carrying out once-for-all-time sacrifice for sin—yours, mine and the world. By the Holy Spirit’s power we who have gathered in this place—the Temple of the Lord see Him as our Lord and Savior and give thanks for what He has done. PAUSE.

Don’t for a moment forget the GIFT of CHRISTmas my beloved and His beloved. For in the Father’s house you will learn of His love, sacrifice, service, salvation and business. Look around and see what man gives us. Every single gift you have gotten whether a car, Ipad, toaster, Crockpot will not last. We see and know that everything man puts his hand to will decay and fail.

But God in love and mercy has given us something far grander and greater: The True Temple... wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a bed of straw in a small and humble village. Now all this comes together in the iron-clad gift that cannot fade and does not fail. Listen to how Paul paints this grand picture of our adoption and salvation—the ever faithful Gift and Gift-Giver: “In Him you also, when you heard the Word of truth, the Gospel of your Salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His Glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14)

Guarantees are only as good as their guarantor. Jesus is the guarantor who is the true Temple spoken of in Revelation 21, the One who welcomes us home, a) to His Father’s House, b) for this is His Father’s business, and this is c) given in His Father’s perfect Love. This guarantee is not limited like those attached to the Wii we received or toaster we gave just 9 days ago. This is the guarantee that is of our Salvation and not just our “salvation” but our Eternal Salvation which is guaranteed by Him whose business it is to love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable, folks just like you and me. PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, remember how I began my sermon? Saying, “There were those moments when I said, ‘I wished I was here!’” When you love someone so much you want to be with them. When the miles and ocean’s wave separate you, you long to be with them and be near them. And so it is with our loving and amazing God.

Sin had separated us from the love of God. Miles and ocean waves kept us apart. But Jesus had a remedy—He would come to do what we couldn’t do—He came to be our Savior and Redeemer. He came as the Second Adam to undo what the first Adam did—bring about restoration and adoption in order that we may never have to say, “I wished I was I here.” For Jesus is here now and always. Here you see His business of loving you. Here you will touch Him in the Chalice and Wafer. Here you will Hear Him in His Word. Here you will know Him as He comes to you daily with His love, grace and favor.

Oh how He loves you! Merry Christmas, beloved... And thank God with me that the celebration of this greatest moment of History needs not end, because Jesus is here-for you and me. What a grand day this is. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria

“I’m in the RIGHT Place!” (Psalm 1:1-2, John 14:2)

S-1228 Epiphany/3A 01/06/10 Hymns (O) #193; (S) #201; #394; #123; #335; (C) #47

Text: Psalm 23; 121; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; John 14:1-21

Theme: “I’m in the RIGHT Place!” (Psalm 1:1-2, John 14:2)

CELEBRATION of the New Life for Herman Konard Fuerniss


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for this celebration is Herm’s confirmation text “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night
” (Psalm 1:1-2) …“In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). Please be seated.

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who are blessed by the Father of love, especially you Alice, Sherman, Perry, Cameron, Laurie, Garrett, Peggy, family and friends, we have gathered in the Lord’s house today to celebrate the New Life of our departed brother in the faith, and find comfort in His Word and promise—a promise that is anchored in the cross and the empty tomb.

Today, as you mourn the passing of your loved one—husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, uncle, brother and friend, from this vale of tears to life eternal, take comfort in the One who has destroyed the sting of death, the grave and the power of sin—Jesus YOUR Savior.

Jesus was and still is the hallmark of this saint. Ever since I met him (about 9 years ago) when I became the vacancy Pastor of St. Paul, I was impressed with his love for the Word, the church, and family in that order. And when he became one of our saints here, I got to know him better. What impressed me about this brother were His devotion, trust and confidence in His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He loved His Lord and His Church; that is why when St. Paul Lutheran Church in the country closed it was hard on him. He wanted that Church to be used so that others might know of the love of the Savior that took Him to the cross.

Now, anyone who knew Herm would often hear him say, “It is not about me, but about the Lord.” And that is the truth. I am not here to eulogize this man or paint him in a bigger picture than he really is. But to share the truth of his trust in His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The text of his confirmation is a fitting tribute to him because it describes him to a tee.

Listen, again, please to his text. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night
” Yes, Herm was blessed because for over 84 years, 6 months and 2 days that he walked the dusty roads of Choteau Creek he walked it hand in hand with His Lord and God.

How blessed was he? Blessed with a lovely wife who stood by him for over 55 years! Six wonderful children and their spouses, grandchildren and friends galore! He is blessed not because of the earthly treasures, (though they are many) but because His parents shared with him the heavenly blessings of knowing the Savior, and in his life he along with Alice passed it on to their children and others by word and example.

Yes, he WAS blessed and IS blessed. And, I, as a Pastor, was blessed to know him and be taught by him of the preciousness of the Word. I know of other Pastors who were drawn to him as well. Why blessed? Because his delight was in the Law of the Lord upon which he meditated daily. There has never been a time when Herm or I whether at the house or hospital that we didn’t share the Word. As late as 14 hours before he saw the Sonrise in heaven (as one of his daughters told me) we shared the Word together. The Word was his hope, his anchor and his joy. PAUSE.

The last few years haven’t been the most enjoyable to this man. Cancer had made his dwelling in his stomach and thus began the many trips to Sioux Falls, surgeries, Chemo and radiation treatments and long stays at hospitals. These were hard days, but he never gave up. He fought the good fight and he ran the race that was set before him as the Epistle for today reminds us. He kept the faith never wavering or wondering if God still loves him.

About 6 weeks ago, the word came back from the doctors that there is nothing that they could do. Your time on earth is running short, and the hour glass is running empty. Those were hard words to swallow, and yet he trusted in His Lord and God to see him through and so did the family. Brother Herm was brought home and I attempted to visit and commune him often. A week ago, today, was my last time to commune him and his family in his bedroom because he was so weak to sit in the chair. After receiving the Lord’s Supper, I asked the family if “I could have a moment of privacy with my parishioner?” The family kindly left me alone with Herm.

Sitting by the bed, I took his hand in mine, rubbed it for a while and prayed with him. I said I will come back to see you again unless the Lord calls you home then I will see you in heaven and his response was, “That will be ok Pastor!” After some moments of silence, I said to him, “Herm, what is the one thing that you want me to tell your family during the Celebration of the New Life?” He said, “Tell them I AM IN THE RIGHT PLACE!” Thus the title of this celebration. Herm is in the RIGHT PLACE.

Our loving and gracious Savior always puts us in the RIGHT place. Study the Scriptures and you will see that God’s place is the RIGHT PLACE. God placed Mary to be the mother of Jesus in the Right place. God chose Joseph to be the adopted father of Jesus in the Right place. When the babe of Bethlehem was born it was in the Right place. And when His parents took Him to the Temple to circumcise Him at 8 days old there was Simeon at the Right place.

With eyes of faith, Simeon saw more than the Christ Child he was holding. He saw the Christ Child holding him. That’s why he could speak so peacefully about death. His words “Lord, lettest now Thy servant depart in peace for mine eyes have see Your SALVATION…” don’t sound much like the abject fear the world connects with the monster it calls death. They sound more like the confession of a man who is ready for discharge from service on earth and who is eager for enlist­ment in heaven’s ranks. They come from someone who knows whose loving arms are wrapped around him and who trusts those powerful arms to hold him even into eternity.

Yes, Simeon, Anna, Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and our beloved brother Herm were and are in the RIGHT PLACE. And oh, what a place it is. The Lord Himself spoke these comforting words in the Upper Room just as He was about to give His life on the cross for the sins of the world saying…“Let not YOUR hearts be troubled, you believe in God believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will COME back again to take you to be with Me!” Indeed, that is what the Savior did for this saint who saw His Sonrise in heaven this past Sunday @ 6:10 a.m. Can you envision the look on Herm’s face when He awoke to see His Savior? Can you imagine the joy that filled his heart when he walked into heaven and saw the pierced hands of His Savior? Can you visualize him walking with all the strength as a young man not bothered by cancer, not needing any assistance and oh eating pecan pie? Can you picture him now made new by the blood of the Lamb who said, “Behold, I make all things new!!!”

Yes, my beloved and His beloved, Herm is in the right place—a place built with most the most expensive materials in the world, and by the Greatest Carpenter in the World—the Carpenter from Nazareth. This Carpenter didn’t use timber or nails, concrete or steel, or gold or silver; but His own precious flesh and blood, bones and muscles to guarantee Herm and all the world that the Right place for the believer is with Jesus.

What a joy to celebrate the New Life today of this beloved saint, who is now in the glory of heaven. What an honor to know that the Carpenter from Nazareth said to Herm last Thursday THIS IS NOW THE NEW RIGHT PLACE FOR YOU! In time and space Herm knew that church was the place to receive the abundant grace of God. From heaven, Herm witnesses to us yet on earth. His life is a legacy that this House of worship is the RIGHT place. For here in this place, the Word of the Lord is proclaimed, forgiveness is delivered, and the Sacrament is bestowed. This house is a major GRACE PLACE. Here you find comfort for life and confidence when death comes so that you can walk through the valley of the shadow knowing the risen Redeemer is intimately by your side. No wonder you found Herm sitting (point to his spot) right here hearing, singing and praising His Savior. OH WHAT A PLACE IT IS!

I would like you to remember as you depart from this place the good news of Jesus that held your husband, father, father-in-law in His pierced hands what the word “RIGHT” Stands for”

R – Rejoicing

I – In

G – God’s

H – Heavenly

T – Truth