Thursday, December 27, 2012

“It’s A BOY!!” (Luke 2:7)

S-1354-CD/C 12/25/2012 Hymns: #87 #102; (S-Solo, Mary Did You Know?); #647; #95; #94

Texts: Isaiah 9:2-7; Hebrews 1:1-9; Luke 2:1-14

Theme: “It’s A BOY!!” (Luke 2:7)

Question: “Has someone said to you, ‘Did you hear the news—they had a boy’”? Armour, SD

This will be a first sermon preaching. Joseph in his visit to Armour tells of the little boy that changed his life forever.

(Joseph comes upon the scene smiling and excited as he goes from one person to the next). “Shlomo it’s a boy! Youhanan it’s a boy! Moshe, it’s a boy! Hanna it’s a boy! Can you believe it? Mary gave me my first boy. Oh, what an exciting day it was, I remember it well. I couldn’t forget the moment of His birth. I, Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth have a boy—a boy. Mary and I are parents and we get to raise our boy in our Jewish traditions. PAUSE for a moment and go on.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Please forgive me for intruding on your worship like this, but I couldn’t help it, I needed to tell someone about this boy that was born to me—Joseph.

We grew up in the same village but I really didn’t pay much attention to her until the day I saw her going down to the well to draw water. Mary was so beautiful and I thought she would make me a good wife and help me raise a family. Having told my father, who spoke to her father, we were engaged to get married. I couldn’t wait for the day to be united with her in marriage and have the town help us celebrate our special day before God.

But one day before we got married, Mary came to see me in my shop and told me she was pregnant. My heart ached and I thought how could she do that to me. I knew the baby inside of Mary’s womb wasn’t mine. But I also knew that if I told anyone, she would be stoned to death according to our Torah’s teaching. Because I loved her so much, I wanted to divorce her quietly so that no one would hear of the shame she has brought upon me, my family, our town, and upon her too.

One night, as I tossed and turned attempting to sleep, I asked God to help me figure out a way to do the right thing. I prayed for wisdom to relieve her from my obligations to be her husband. Sleep was hard to come by. When I finally fell asleep, I was awakened to an angel standing and speaking to me saying: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:20-21). Could that really be? That Mary is an honorable woman and she became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit and that boy who will be born to her would be the Savior? Could I, Joseph, son of David get the privilege to raise this boy?

The next morning, I related the story to Mary and soon after we became a family. We were waiting for the baby to be born. We were so excited about our baby. But then, an announcement rippled through our community like an earthquake. According to Caesar Augustus everyone must register for a census in the town of his birth. I didn’t like the news especially having to travel all that distance to Bethlehem knowing that my Mary, the love of my life was pregnant and would soon give birth.

To Bethlehem we went and as we were getting closer Mary began to say, “Joseph, the baby is going to be coming soon. We need a place to rest and have the baby.” We entered Bethlehem and I knocked on many doors but no one would take us in. It was cold and I was tired from walking for the last 4 days, and tired of knocking that my hands were hurting. All the while, Mary kept on saying, “Joseph, the baby will be born soon.” Finally, one of the people of Bethlehem had pity on us and gave us a place with the animals. And soon after, Mary gave birth to my boy. I held him in my hands (look at your hands and speak in Hebrew Barouch ata adonai Melech haolam, shenatata lanu hayeld hazeh) and thanked God for a healthy baby BOY.

Soon after shepherds came and told us the story of angels singing and proclaiming to them: “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). As they did, they bowed before Him and went out in haste to tell everyone. I could hear them tell everyone they met in the streets.

I kept wondering if this is really, truly God’s Son in the flesh. On the 33rd day we took Him to present Him at the temple according to God’s Law. As we entered the temple, Simeon and elderly man, met us and said a most amazing thing, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Lk. 2:34-35). I didn’t know the meaning of those words then, but the Holy Spirit showed me what that means later.

Even while this boy was still an infant, we had to protect Him from Murderous Herod and others who wanted Him dead. We fled to Egypt as the angel told us and two years later, we returned to Nazareth.

My boy was so different from all other boys. He always said so much with few words. Never had a cross word with another. He never fought like other boys. He didn’t get into brawl with his brothers and sisters. He was always obedient to us and others.

As I watched the boy grow up, I kept wondering about the words of the angel until the time He was 12 years old, I began to see another light. We had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and on the way home He stayed behind. Three days letter, we returned to look for Him and He said, Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house!” (Lk. 2:49)

And there were other times, like the times He helped me in my woodworking shop. At times I would see Him look at a piece of wood and hold the nails for a long time, and He would be miles away from the shop and me. I didn’t understand what He was thinking about, but I could almost see a tear in His eyes as He held the wood and nails in His hands. Oh, don’t misunderstand me; Jesus was one of the hardest helpers I have ever had in my shop. He worked hard and always things turned out well and oh, the customers were very happy.

As I grew older, I became a little wiser (like all elderly people) time has something to teach us. I began to read the Torah in a new and special way. It caused me to look at Isaiah 7:14 in a new way that the virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you will call His name (EEm Anu Ael), “Emmanuel—God with us.”

As I read the Prophet Isaiah, the Holy Spirit made it clear that this boy is special. He is the One born of the virgin. He is the long promised One. That means He will be the One spoken of: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end,” (Is. 9:6-7). He will rule over an everlasting Government and Kingdom that will not end. There will be nothing that this Boy will not do and do it right. PAUSE move to another location

But as joy-filled as I am today that this boy, MY boy, is this long promised One that Isaiah talks about. Again, the Spirit led me to look at Isaiah 53 in a different light. I began to understand what my Boy will endure. That He will be The Suffering Servant. He is the One who will be bruised for our iniquity and led to the slaughter like a lamb without opening His mouth. Pause for a moment to show the severity of the punishment).

I understood why He was born. I understood the words of the angel so long ago saying, “You shall give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” I understood the words of Simeon: “A SWORD will pierce your heart.” I understood that they will spit on Him; they will pull out His beard. He will be stricken, smitten and afflicted and He will be put to death. This boy, MY boy will have to suffer. How quickly a Father’s joy can turn to dread!

But I know that this dread is only momentary. For this boy, MY boy is unlike any other who has ever walked the earth. This Servant will save His people. My Boy will even save me! He will speak tenderly to me. He will speak of comfort. He will bring peace. Not an end to war, but peace between our Father in heaven and us! This outweighs any dread. For the dread will be for a season. This boy, MY boy is not only my son, but more importantly, He is my Savior. He will bring joy to your heart as He did mine and change it forever!

I pray that today, you will celebrate the birth of this Boy Jesus, like you have never done before—because after all, He is no ordinary boy, He is the Savior of the world—more importantly yours and mine.

Joseph leaves quietly just as he entered.

“The Time Has Come!” (Luke 2:6)

S-1353-CE/C 12/24/2012 Hymns: #102; LSB #364; #94; #97; #87; #647; #85;

Texts: Micah 5:2-4; Isaiah 9:6-7, 60:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:15-17; Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 2:1-20

Theme: “The Time Has Come!” (Luke 2:6)

Question: “Have you ever said, ‘It’s Time?’” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Merry Christmas to you! The text for the celebration of the birth of our Savior is from the Gospel lesson: “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth (Luke 2:6).


We have been talking a lot about time lately. I am sure that many of you were dealing with the time crunch on this very exciting and yet somewhat hectic day. I am sure that there was more than one exasperated parent who shouted, “It’s time to go to Church!” I am sure that some of our younger brothers and sisters in Christ are sitting there thinking about time too. “It’s time to open presents!” Pastors are not immune to this either. As a matter of fact, when I woke up on Saturday morning and realized that the Mayans were wrong, I said to myself, “It’s time to write a Christmas Eve sermon!”

It is time. The time of the season of Advent with its hopeful waiting and penitent watching has passed. The blue and pink of the Advent wreath is now overshadowed by the White. It’s time! Christmas Eve is here. Christ is born! Once again we as the Church of Christ celebrate the Author of Time breaking in to Time itself. The very Creator who counted the evening and the morning of the First Day now marks the TIME of His first breath on that First Christmas. That long and arduous trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem took time too. Mary didn’t ride in a Cadillac, BMW, or a crew cab. I am sure all that time on the road took its toll on the first time mommy-to-be. Time had seemed to almost stand still. Would Bethlehem ever appear in the horizon? But soon it was time. It was time for the travelers to see the sleepy village turned bustling metropolis thanks to Caesar’s taxation. Soon it would be time for them to find a place to stay. But not just any place. It would soon be time for them to find that place where their long-expected baby would make His entrance. But there was no place. No place could take them. No inn. No hotel. No hospital. And the time spent searching put them that much closer to THE TIME.

It was time. While there was no place, there would soon be no time. It was time for the Baby to come. It was time. And that precious Baby came. A stable would have to suffice. The King of Kings would be born into a world in a backwater town where His first throne room was a cattle stall and His first throne a feed box. No palace. No Throne. But it was time!

While the elements of the very familiar Christmas story sound like things were anything but planned, the timing was perfect. What we see on that night in Bethlehem is God’s perfect timing. The clock which had started so many centuries before in a fallen Garden, had finally reached the critical time. That long-promised Seed was born. God was delivered into time for the sole purpose of undoing the damage of sin and death that mankind had wrought. St. Paul told the Galatians But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

That first Christmas was at JUST THE RIGHT TIME! There was no accident. There was no coincidence. At the direction of God, in the location of the Father’s choosing, at the very moment in time of the Lord’s plan, salvation dawned on mankind! The hopes and fears of all the years were met together in that one moment in time when Jesus was born! At the birth of Jesus it was time for waiting to end. At the birth of Jesus anticipation found its fulfillment. At the birth of Jesus it was time to stop the wondering as to WHO was coming. At the birth of Jesus it was time to stop looking forward to what was to come. At the birth of Jesus it was time for the angels to sing and God’s people to rejoice.

It was also time for the shepherds too. Those lowly shepherds who were seen as the bottom of the societal ladder were found at just the right time too. First it was time for fear. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. The heavenly host that announced the timely birth of the Lord Jesus also took the time to point the way for them. They were told about mangers and swaddling clothes. The angels sang to them about God’s glory, peace on earth and about God’s good will toward man. With this, they knew it was time: time for great joy!

And what did they do? They made time! And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. With HASTE, they left the fields and the flocks. They sought out this blessed and greatest GIFT of all time. They busted it to Bethlehem and found it just as the angels had said. When they found this Child it was time for them to sing. They sang not with angelic melody, but with confession. They told what the angels said. In fact, they couldn’t STOP telling it. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. These very simple men of flock and field KNEW that this was a special time; for them and for the World!

Tonight it is time. It is time once again for us to trace the steps of the shepherds all the way to crowded Bethlehem. Tonight it is time for us to peer over the edge of the manger and behold in time the Timeless Son of God. We come at the invitation of God Himself. Through messengers, both heavenly and earthly, we have heard the Word about this Word made flesh. This One who came into time so many centuries ago is here for us again tonight. He is here in His Word. In this Word we are reminded yet again that the Time of our salvation is at hand. For this Baby did not stay a baby. No, the little lad grew in wisdom and stature before God and man. He would do all the things that any young man would do, except without sin.

But in time, He would do what no other man could do or even dream of doing. He would go from the wood of a manger to the wood of the cross. In time, the joy of Christmas will become the stark reality of Good Friday. The swaddled Babe will be stripped naked before the very world He came to save. This One, the One of whom Angels sing and whom Shepherds praise, will be scourged and stricken, spiked and speared, abused and afflicted for us. FOR YOU! At just the right time and just the right place, God works. He works at Bethlehem. He works at Calvary. And He works here tonight too. It is time for the Lord to work on you yet again. He is here to call you not to some mushy and jolly celebration. He doesn’t want to make you feel good as you sing the familiar hymns in the familiar surroundings that is Christmas at St. Redeemer. No, He wants to give you so much more. He wants to set your time in proper perspective. He wants to change your view of the world, of yourself and of Your Savior and the LOVE the Savior has for YOU.

He wants you to see that time in this world is fleeting. While the Mayans were wrong on timing, they were right on one thing; this world will end sooner than we can ever think. He doesn’t want time to catch you off guard. As a result, He wants you to see yourself as you are. You are sinners in need of the Savior that the Angels announced and the Shepherds saw. To think otherwise is to lie to yourself and seal your eternal fate! But this Jesus was born in Bethlehem and died on Calvary to be exactly what you need Him to be for you. He is YOUR Savior. You don’t have to go looking for Him at Macy’s, Yonkers, Sears, or Wal-Mart; instead, He comes to you. He came to you in Bethlehem so many centuries ago because of His love for You. He comes to you again tonight. And He keeps coming to you in this place each and every week. Here at this altar He gives you His flesh to eat and His blood to drink for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of your souls!

It’s time. It’s time for Christmas. It is time for the celebration. It is time to sing with the Angels. It is time to confess with the Shepherds. It’s time to see God in the flesh. It’s time to behold the truth of your sin and the glory of the forgiveness of sin. It’s time to see that the Light has come into this darkened world. It’s time once again to receive and rejoice in the greatest GIFT of all time…Jesus! Whose love is revealed in coming to us today and always. And the greatest light ever that pierced our hearts—is love—love of the Father in sending His Son. A blessed Christmas to you! AMEN.

Now the peace…


Sunday, December 23, 2012

“Come to Bethlehem and See” (Micah 5:2)

S-1352-4SIA/C 12/23/2012 Hymns: #95; #647; L.S. 102; #307; 85 vv. 1-8; #85 vv. 13-15

Texts: Micah 5:2-5; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45

Theme: “Come to Bethlehem and See” (Micah 5:2)

Question: “Did someone invite you to come and see?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Fourth Sunday in Advent is from the O.T. lesson: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me One who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2).


Loving children of the heavenly Father, growing up as an Arab Palestinian was challenging to say the least. Throughout my growing up years I was treated differently because of my nationality and the situation in my country.

In 1948 Israel became a country. During the war of 1948, my maternal grandfather fled the war zone country to Lebanon saying to himself we shall return when things settle down. Things never did and my family literally was divided in half. My mother’s family grew up in Lebanon Refugee Camps and my dad’s family grew up in Israel. Though we were separated only by an hour distance we never saw each other. However, whenever a priest would take a trip across the border to Lebanon, mother would send pictures to her family and they would do the same when the priest returned back to Israel. I only knew my family through pictures but never talked or visited with them in person.

In the spring of 1972, I was sitting in our kitchen and all of a sudden a taxi cab stops in front of our house and an elderly woman gets out. I looked at the lady and thought, (she looks like my grandma), I called mother and said, “Yumma, (mom) come and see a lady that looks like your mother!” When my mom reached the window to look out, she began to holler, “Nabil, it is my mother, it’s my mother!” Tears of joy welled up as we hugged, kissed and visited with each other.

Today, after the long wait of Advent, the loving Father, bids us to come and see the long expected Messiah promised of old. Today, God speaks words to every sinner and says “Take another look in Bethlehem and see what I have given you!” Today, He who is gracious says to us, “Come and see My Son laying on a bed of straw for you!” Today, the Everlasting God says to each of us, “Come and see what happens in Bethlehem!” Today, the Father is proud to show the world how much He cares for it and desires to be with us as He once had with our parents in the Garden of Eden.

As we make the trip to Bethlehem again this year, we pray that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to see Him, the Virgin born, the Eternal God who comes to earth to live with us and save us. Today, as we walk with others to the manger, we pray to take a deeper look at the little Baby lying and behold with eyes of faith the One who will stay with us on our journey, every step of the way, and will guide us toward an everlasting kingdom, one marked by heavenly, perfect love and peace. He is Emmanuel—God with us.

A long time ago, I shouted to my mother to come and see the elderly lady. Today, Micah, the prophet of God, shouts to the people of his time and in our ears telling us to come to Bethlehem and see the amazing sight. This insignificant village, which is too small to be counted and be of any consequence among the clans and tribes of Judah Israel, is chosen by God to bring forth the future Ruler of Israel.

And this Ruler will reign supreme over all people. He will not be like the rulers of the earth seeking their own benefit. No, this Ruler will be like no other king who has ever sat on the throne. He will be One who will do justice and righteous as He serves the people with love and grace. And with His reign, He will usher the heavenly PEACE that the world desperately needs—a peace that has never been matched or equaled anywhere on planet earth. Peace between God and man.

Yes, Come and See! See the God of heaven and earth who fulfilled His promise made long ago to Adam and Eve. Come and see the Babe of Bethlehem making His home on earth to feed the hungry souls with the Bread of Life—Himself. Come to Bethlehem (the house of Bread in Hebrew) and see the Bread of heaven come down. This bread is one that satisfies the body and soul you don’t need to pay for it. It is given you freely by the Bread King, the One who supplies all of our needs as we pray in the 4th petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us today, our daily bread.” And He does.

Come to Bethlehem and see the Child of Mary serve humanity with joy and delight like no other shepherd ever has. Micah goes on to say, And He shall stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they shall dwell secure, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth” (v.4). The Child of Mary would grow up like His ancestor David to be a great shepherd and shepherd His people and care for every need.

Come to Bethlehem and see what this Child does for you. He will give you security in every situation you face. He will uphold you with the strength of the Lord when the doctors say, “its cancer!” He will be there to assure you as you face the upcoming heart surgery, YOU will be secure in His hands. He will secure your future though our government can’t secure it. He will strengthen you as you face every challenge because He is YOUR Good Shepherd who will do the impossible to care for your every need.

Come to Bethlehem and see a Shepherd from the linage of David who wrote the 23 Psalm which has become a favorite to many. The 23rd Psalm is David’s way of telling us come with me to Bethlehem and see Him who guide and lead you in green pastures, who will provide you a table when you least expect it. He will shepherd them and care for them. He will guard and guide you with His Rod and Staff and He will be with you forever with mercy and goodness.

Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth we celebrate in a couple of days and see what He does to make sure your life here on earth and forever in heaven is SECURED. He does the impossible to win our freedom and earn our security by going to Cavalry’s cross. There He is beaten, His beard is pulled out, He slapped and spit upon and eventually they hang Him on a cross for you. But He doesn’t remain there. Three days later He rises from the grave and gives you the eternal security that He Himself taught us in the Gospel of St. John saying: I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

Yes, in His hands we are safe and secure and nothing not even death, hell, evil or anything else can separate us from Him or His love. And on the cross He was spiked and speared for you. But He does more, He becomes our peace.

Therefore, today, as we join the throng in Bethlehem let us rejoice for what we have seen with our own eyes—the heaven-sent Savior comes for you and me. For our God loves us. He brings us the enlightenment of His Word - the revelation - that we get what we do not deserve for all the times our eyes have never seen Him or even looked for Him. We receive not condemnation, but salvation and the shining robe of righteousness…all because He the Ruler of Israel has come into the world. He comes to open our eyes to see Him as the everlasting Prince of peace.

For the omnipotent Lord has penetrated our darkened world. He who lived in the glory of heaven came to this sin-infested, death-infested filled planet. He who created the sun and the stars chose to enter the dark confines of a virgin’s womb. He came not as a great flash of light, or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as One whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter in a dark and musty stable. He grew up only to have His eyes closed and snuffed out, but in so doing won for us full and free forgiveness and life everlasting. His brilliant resurrection seals it!

Through the eyes of the Prophets we can see all this from Bethlehem. We see a Baby, a cross, an empty tomb and eternal life. What a privilege to be able to go to Bethlehem to see the Lord of lords and the Ruler of the universe, Jesus Your God and Savior. And, what an honor that we share Him with others and say come and see, my Savior has come for me and you. Amen.

Now the peace…


“With Eyes Wide Open” (Luke 1:19-20)

S-1351-3MIA/C 12/19/2012 Hymns: #64; #66; #457

Texts: Psalm 119:17-24 2 Kings 6:5-19; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Luke 1:8-20

Theme: “With Eyes Wide Open” (Luke 1:19-20)

Question: “Have you ever tried to see with your eyes closed?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Third Midweek in Advent is from Luke“… I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time” (Luke 1:19-20).


O most holy people of God, as we meet for our final midweek in Advent we thank the Lord our Creator for giving us eyes to see His wonderful creation and those we love. We thank Him for giving us vision to behold the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, flowers in the meadows, butterflies, mountain peaks and…and those we love. There is nothing more beautiful than when you see your loved ones with your own eyes.

But at times we are unable to see because of circumstances and situations that are out of our control. On December (9-12) we had a terrible blizzard, bad enough to close both interstates. As my wife and I traveled to Sioux Falls (we shouldn’t have) for the BOD meeting and our oldest grandson’s birthday; there were times we couldn’t see. Oh, we have eyes, but the whiteout conditions made it impossible to see.

This is what we have in the text before us tonight. Zechariah had a dream. He and his beloved bride had prayed for years to the Lord who can do all things and asked Him to give them children. But alas, the prayers seemed to fall on deaf ears. That was until one very special day. On that day the angel Gabriel stood before Zechariah in the Temple and told him, “… I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” Zechariah didn’t see the unlimited God in the words of Gabriel. He was blinded by the situation and circumstances.

We are no different than Zechariah. At times our eyes are shut and unable to see because of challenges and circumstances. The problem is that as mere mortals, our vision for the future, like our lives here on earth, is limited. God’s vision is not burdened by such limitations: His plans extend throughout all eternity. PAUSE.

And like Zechariah we all have dreams—dreams of a better future and better life. We have a picture in our mind of how we would like things to be. We want the perfect wife, perfect family perfect home, and perfect job and when that doesn’t happen we wonder where is God and how come He hasn’t answered our prayers. We tend to live with our limited vision rather than having our EYES WIDE OPEN.

Our loving and living Lord; amidst His teachings, His miracles, His sacrifice, and His world-changing resurrection—came to change our lives and our eternities by giving us more than we could ever expect. He wants us to engage life differently than the way the world engages life. Jesus said, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10) Through the Spirit’s power, Christ helps us see with the eyes of our hearts the majesty and beauty of what it is that He came to do for Zechariah and us.

He came to give us more than just a dream but life eternal through Him and His ultimate sacrifice. For this reason, when Jesus touched the disciple’s lives they began to live the impossible, hear the impossible, believe the impossible and see the impossible—Christ rising from the dead on the third day. They were living with EYES WIDE OPEN.

And this is what happened to each and every one of us—His 21st century disciples. In baptism, the Spirit removed the scales out of our eyes that were blind to His love and goodness. Through His teaching we have had our ears opened to His love and grace. As we have knelt at His altar we have been fed with the food that makes our eyes strong to keep gazing at Him who came in flesh to the manger of Bethlehem and sacrificed that flesh on the cross of Calvary!

When we live by faith, we concentrate on that which is not seen by human eyes, but upon that which is unseen. By faith the eyes of our hearts see that Christ is the center and focus of our lives and are able to live our lives with EYES WIDE OPEN. We learn to trust God to guide us on this journey that we cannot take on our own. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, nestled in the Gospel of St. Mark is the wonderful and eye opening story of blind Bartimaeus. According to St. Mark, a great crowd was following Jesus, and this blind beggar begins to shout “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Some in the crowd wanted him to be quiet, but he wouldn’t listen to them and kept crying out “Son of David, have mercy on me! Then Jesus called him over and asked him “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mk. 10:46-52).

It certainly appears to be an unusual question. Bartimaeus is blind from birth and Jesus is the Son of God so you know Jesus knew what he wanted. And notice that he didn’t ask anything except the thing he needed the most—to see. He did not ask to hear better, or for clothing, food, or lodging. But He asked about his greatest need.

Saints in Christ, if Jesus this evening were to ask you, “What do you want?” Would you ask for great wealth? Would you seek wisdom like Solomon? Or would you pray like the Greeks who came to St. Andrew, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” The Holy Spirit is the One who can answer with St. Paul, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death,(Philippians 3:10) The Spirit is the One who will open your blind eyes to see the Babe who is the One for whom we sing: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” (O Little Town of Bethlehem vs. 1d). PAUSE.

In 1895 a Midwesterner woman, Clara Scott, wrote a beautiful hymn called: “Open My Eyes.” For a little over a hundred years many believers in Jesus have sung this hymn and were blessed by it. I pray that it is a blessing to you as well:

Open my eyes, that I may see

glimpses of truth thou hast for me;

place in my hands the wonderful key

that shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for thee,

ready, my God, thy will to see.

Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

That is a wonderful prayer by this young lady. May it be our prayer as well! This night as we gather with Zechariah, Elisha, Paul and others, may our hearts be moved to see like we have never seen before. That we would come to Him with hearts aglow and eyes opened wide to see the marvel and power of giving Zechariah and Elizabeth the gift of John the Baptizer, but of greater amazement, He gave us His Son, to be our Savior from the unholy Trinity.

By the grace of God may we see the wonder of all wonders—God’s marvelous creation and redemption brought about in that tiny Baby—Jesus the Savior of mankind—yours and mine. Amen.

Now the peace…


Sunday, December 16, 2012

“Mighty to Save” (Zephaniah 3:16-17)

S-1350-3SIA/C 12/16/2012 Hymns: #; #95; #47

Texts: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 7:18-28

Theme: “Mighty to Save” (Zephaniah 3:16-17)

Question: “What is it like to be next to someone stronger than you?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Third Sunday in Advent is from the O.T. Lesson: On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord Your God is in Your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing
’” (Zephaniah 3:16-17).


O precious Bride of Christ, I don’t need to remind you of the evil in this world. You have heard it, you have seen it and you have been sick by it. On Friday morning a little after 8 our time in Newtown, CT a madman shot and killed 27 precious souls for no apparent reason. As I heard the news I got sick to my stomach that I couldn’t eat. I kept thinking those children that died are a little older than my grandson Brody. I couldn’t fathom the idea that a young, beautiful and defenseless life would be wiped out in a matter of seconds for no clear reason.

As I have listened to the 24/7 news of this terrible tragedy, one commentator after another have asked these questions: “Why did God let this happen? Why didn’t God stop it? Where is God in all of this?” The truth is: “I DON’T KNOW.” However, we do know for the last 50 years we have been systematically taking Him out of the public square. He is no longer welcomed in our schools. No prayers can be offered at graduation. No longer can we put a cross as a memorial for those who died for the sake of this great country. No longer are we permitted to put a crèche in front of stores. He is not welcomed in our homes, towns and public squares. What do you expect from a godless society ! However, He has always been here, hidden and concealed in the flesh of the Babe of Bethlehem and the powerful pages of the Holy Bible.

The prophet Zephaniah speaks to the people of his day and ours with words of comfort and hope. He speaks of the Hero, the One who will save with might and strength. He speaks to the people living right here in Armour and in Newtown, CT. He speaks to our wounded, broken and bleeding hearts. He speaks words that help us see beyond the tragedy and terror, carnage and chaos to the life and love of the Babe of Bethlehem.

Listen to Zephaniah please, ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord Your God is in Your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.’ Yes, fear not. The Lord Your God is in your midst, Emmanuel has come to save. God’s answer to sin and evil in the world is His Son, the God who took upon Him flesh and blood and came to be with us in the manger of Bethlehem.

The prophet Zephaniah, whose name means “The Lord has Concealed” speaks of the depth of our sin and then turns to the greater depth of God’s Grace to restore and heal, to return the captive and give them freedom and liberty to live under Him in peace and protection.

Yes, Jesus is the answer to the evil and wickedness of this world whether it is in your back yard, across the state, in Newtown, CT or in the Middle East, Jesus is the One who comes to save. As per his name, Zephaniah “The Lord has Concealed” this mighty Savior is concealed in the Babe of Bethlehem.

Jesus the little tiny Baby who is dependant on His mother’s breast for sustenance holds her and all people in His loving arms. This is the One who is mighty to save; because He saves in an unusual way. He doesn’t come on the scene with machine guns or power, but He comes in humility to earth and permits others to do evil and wickedness to Him. PAUSE.

Zephaniah in the text states: He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.’ Throughout the centuries lovers have written letters and songs of love to each other. God has a song for us too. His song is the one that reminds us of His love and grace for us sinners. He wants us to see Him as the Hero who woos us to His presence so that our hearts might be filled with joy and peace.

No wonder we love Christmas so much. It is more than tinsel and trees, glitter and glamour, gifts and gadgets, no it is the Hero who walks into our broken and captive world to save it from the punishment of hell. One of the hymns of Christmas that affirms why it is such a blessed time for us is the hymn, “Savior of the Nations Come.”Savior of the nations, come, Virgin’s Son, make here Thy home! Marvel now, o heav’n and earth, that the Lord chose such a birth.” In this little tiny Baby we see “Gibor Yosheah” {Hebrew} the Hero who saves. PAUSE.

Rene Gerard, a Frenchman who studied mythology (study of how the world or humankind came to be in its present form), one day as he was reading some work stopped in his tracks as he considered the Heroes of the past. He considered the Babylonians, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Goth and others; he was intrigued to find out that all of the Heroes were top down heroes—men of power, prestige and position. But when he studied Christianity, to his amazement he discovered the story of salvation is from the bottom up. Christianity is different from all others. Christ the mightiest power in the entire universe becomes the poorest and humblest person in the world to save the world.

With this new found knowledge, this Frenchman became a believer and follower of the One who is mighty to Save. Because he needed a Savior and in Jesus Christ—he found the Savior that loved him enough to die for him on the tree of the cross. What is ironic that this man, though born on December 25, 1923, the day we observe and celebrate the birth of the Savior, wasn’t a Christian until the Holy Spirit moved Him in the study of salvation. Through this study He discovered there is only One Savior, One Hero, One God—Jesus Christ. PAUSE.

O most precious people of God, perhaps you have watched a movie or read a book where a princess has been held captive by a wicked person. Throughout her jail time, she hopes against all odds that her prince charming comes to her aid and rescues her.

Our world and our lives are not a movie played on the screen but real life situations. We were held captive by the prince of darkness—wicked satan who desires to keep us bound and jailed in the fiery hell forever. But God sent forth His Son—the Babe of Bethlehem—the Prince of life, light and love to free us from the bondage of sin and evil, to sing the song of love over us and give us joy forever more.

That is why we can still have hope and Christian joy this Christmas even when bad things like this tragedy in Newtown, CT happened. We know why we have hope because so long ago, God in His mercy decided to send One who is Mighty to Save—Jesus. Jesus is your Hero and mine. He is the answer to all of the evil and wickedness in this world. And we can be certain, confident and convinced by the working of the Holy Spirit that God through Jesus has defeated sin and evil, God is stronger than evil and evil people—He is good, great and grand and He is God in the flesh with us and among us and FOR US!

May the words I close with by Pastor Peterson be of great comfort to your hearts no matter the troubles you are going through?

If we be desperate, let it not be for economic recovery and prosperity. Let it not be for our children to love us and our peers to respect us. Let us be desperate, eager, focused, and hopeful for salvation. If loneliness and disappointment crouch at the door, let us cover the doorposts of our hearts with the blood of Christ and know that whatever befalls us, the angel of death will pass over. Lift up your heads and rejoice. The King comes to you in perfect love. – DHP Rev. David Petersen.

And the Good News He has. He is Your Hero the One mighty to Save—Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem. Amen.

Now the peace…


Thursday, December 13, 2012

“On Your Knees” (Mark 1:4) [2nd in sermon serious]

S-1349-2MIA/C 12/12/2012 Hymns: #63 #456; #457

Texts: Psalm 95; Isaiah 45:20-25; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 1:1-8

Theme: “On Your Knees” (Mark 1:4) [2nd in sermon serious]

Question: “When was the last time you were on your knees?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Second Midweek in Advent is from the Gospel of Mark John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4).


O most holy people of God, many people travel long distances during the Advent and Christmas Season to be with family and friends, Tonight, as we continue to travel closer to the manger, I invite you to travel with me not across the state, but across the centuries back to Palestine. The setting is Judea in the first century.

There in the wilderness of Judea a rugged man has come upon the scene. His appearance is so different you can’t help but take notice. He is dressed unlike other prophets, he speaks differently from the regular rabbis and his words sting the heart. He states “repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of sins.” Many from the surrounding communities have come to listen to him. He has come to proclaim that Jesus, the long expected Messiah has arrived.

This is the message that John was commissioned to do. His message was one that needed to be heard and clearly stated—REPENT—Fall on your knees before God Almighty and confess your sins. Great crowds came to hear him as the excitement grew. A stern preacher, he exposed their sins, broke through their façade of self-righteousness and religiosity. Confessing their sins, they repented and humbled themselves in a Jordan River baptism. Forgiven, they awaited the appearance of “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

This is the same message that we 21st century Christians need to hear too. I am not amazed at seeing all of the preparations for the Christmas season—many prepare their homes, offices, businesses and even churches. They go through the malls looking for every gift that they think they need; but amazed that not many prepare their hearts for the Christ child.

It is to the world—our world that John speaks tonight saying, “Be on your knees!” Fall before the Babe of Bethlehem, the Man from Galilee, and the Lamb of Calvary. Yes, be on your knees and acknowledge your sins before Him to receive the gift of forgiveness He came to offer to you and to the world. PAUSE.

One of my dear friends, a pastor, shared this story with me of a man who was battling the demon of alcohol. A former alcoholic became a follower of the Lamb. Daily, as he wakes up, he kneels down to ask His Lord and Savior to give him help and strength to face the challenge of the day and to live His life as the precious soul He rescued from the disease of alcoholism. While your demon may not be alcohol, it could be lust, gambling, pornography, lying, gossiping or whatever your demon may be…The Lord’s bids YOU to daily get down on your knees ask Him to help and strengthen you in your daily walk.

Study Scripture and you will see many people who have bowed the knees before the Lord Almighty—Jesus Christ. In the O.T. we witness two of the heavy weight prophets, Moses kneeling before the guest Jesus Christ at the burning bush; and Joshua falls on his face to the ground when Jesus appears to him (Exodus 3 and Joshua 5).

In the nativity story, we see the shepherds running to Bethlehem and kneeling before the New Born Savior and a little later, the Wise men, as they offered their gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense knelt to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords—Jesus Christ.

Throughout the centuries men and women from every tribe, nation, language, race and color have knelt before His manger to confess their sins and worship Him as their Lord and Savior. And you and I, too, are encouraged and exhorted to do the same.

Both in the O.T. lesson and Epistle lesson we are told that all people will one day kneel before Him. Some will kneel by choice because they know Him, love Him and worship Him. And others will kneel by force because they never bowed the knee to Him.

But did you know that Your Lord and Savior knelt too? When Jesus was carrying out His ministry, He knelt. He knelt in prayer the night before He chose the 12 disciples. He knelt on many occasions when He prayed as He healed the sick and hurting, raised the dead and blessed the Sacrament of the Altar. But His most touching scene of kneeling is the night when He was betrayed in Gethsemane. He left the comfort of His companions and knelt to pray to His Father to take the Cup of wrath away from Him. Yes, He prayed earnestly on bended knees.

Likewise, you and I, as we continue to journey closer to the manger, are called to bow down on our knees before Him and worship Him—our Lord and God. PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, Christmas often provides a superficial joy of the tinsel, glitter, and wrapping paper variety. We sometimes come to Christ wearing masks, desiring sin and heaven, too. What secrets lurk in the shadows of our hearts—hidden adultery, a serious drinking problem, cheating on the job, bitterness and hatred toward another? John’s message pierces the façade, sweeps away the superficial, and penetrates to our hearts. Confessing, we humbly bow down on our knees and turn to the cross of Jesus for forgiveness and live daily in the humbling but joy-giving waters of our Baptism. True excitement in the air, new life and hope, from this rugged preacher who preaches to us in our own wilderness.

We fall to our knees for He fell to His, in our stead! Yes, we may find “happiness” in the glitz and glamour of tinsel and tree, but these never drive us to our knees in humble awe, repentance, or thanksgiving! Only God in our flesh and God in our place on the Cross could do that.

There is a very familiar hymn that is cherished and loved by many called “O Holy Night” Please listen to the first stanza of that wonderful hymn:

O holy night, The stars are brightly shining; It is the night of Our dear Savior’s birth! Long lay the world In sin and error pining, Till He appeared And the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, The weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks A new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born! O night divine, O night, O night divine!

May God the Holy Spirit move us to be on our knees today, tomorrow and always as He moved the centurion who was by the cross of Christ and cried out “Surely this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54). We fall to our knees with him, for the Son of God fell to His knees before the Father on our behalf! And we fall our knees to worship Him who is our Savior. Amen.

Now the peace…


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

“Return to Sender” (Malachi 3:7)

S-1348-2SIA/C 12/09/2012 Hymns: #72; #506; L.S. #5; #63; 59; #70

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

Theme: “Return to Sender” (Malachi 3:7)

Question: “Have you gotten a returned mail?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Second Sunday in Advent is from the O.T. Lesson: “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:7)


O precious priests of God, this is the time of the year when people at the post office dread going to work and need to survive because of the volume of mail. Christmas is around the corner and people are sending their cards and gifts to family and friends. I know that this isn’t as much of a tradition now as it once was. In years past, people actually included hand written notes in every Christmas card. But we no longer live in the past. With busy schedules and rising costs, times have changed. In recent years families have started to send the Christmas form letter.

Because of FB, Tweets and instant messengers serving as the daily Christmas letter, the number of cards and letters are declining! This time of the year being extremely busy and with the expense of sending cards out, many are choosing a different method to send their messages. This is so because it is such a challenge to keep current addresses.

Perhaps you have gotten a Christmas card or a letter stamped with the phrase “Retur to Sender. The King of Rock—Elvis Presley even had a song by this title. Listen, please to the lyric of Elvis’ song; I gave a letter to the postman, he put it in his sack. Bright in early next morning, he brought my letter back. She wrote upon it: “Return to sender, address unknown. No such number, no such zone.” We had a quarrel, a lover’s spat I write I’m sorry but my letter keeps coming back. So then I dropped it in the mailbox and sent it special D. Bright in early next morning it came right back to me. She wrote upon it: “Return to sender, address unknown. No such number, no such zone.” This time I’m gonna take it myself and put it right in her hand. And if it comes back the very next day then I'll understand the writing on it: “Return to sender, address unknown. No such person, no such zone.” So why do letters and cards come back? The reasons are these: Shortage of postage, insufficient address, unable to forward, no such street, and no such number. PAUSE.

As we gather in the Lord’s house on this Second week in Advent, we are confronted with this message of sent and sender. In the text, we hear about a message that will be sent from our heavenly Father. But this is not some Christmas letter that is decorated with bows and hallo. The message that is sent is not about God’s time in heaven. It isn’t a recap of the year’s escapades. No, this message is much more pointed. In fact, it is more like a bill for a debt than a greeting card. “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming, and who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver” (Malachi 3:1-3).

The Prophet speaks of a messenger who will come to preach repentance. This message is not very pleasant. In fact it smacks the hearer right in the face. The Prophets cried out for repentance. They scolded and chastised. Through the centuries the message kept coming. In fact, it kept coming all the way until the time of The Messenger, John the Baptizer. And the message was the same. Here is how John relates it in our Gospel reading: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” You don’t print a message like this on a pretty card. No, this message is brutal and direct. It is none other than the work of God’s Law calling us to repentance before it is too late!

But in the world we live in we don’t wish nor care to hear such a message. We want to stamp it with “Return to Sender.” It is a message that doesn’t make us feel good. This time of the year we want a message about a baby and gifts, not about sin and death. We don’t want to be called vipers and sinners! If we are told that what we are doing is against the Word of God, we howl. We won’t receive a message that living together without marriage is sin. We won’t receive a message that leaving your spouse is a sin. We will not accept a message that making worship an occasional thing rather than a priority is a sin. With each proclamation and a hundred more like it you can almost hear the smack of the “return to sender” stamp!

But this is the MESSAGE. It is a message that while not pleasant is meant for a critically important purpose. It is meant to purify. For as this message of Law and condemnation burns us in our sinfulness, it burns off those impurities that would keep us out of the Lord’s presence. Those sins which entangle? They are burned away. The guilt which holds our souls captive? It is seared away so it no longer has a hold on us. In this process of refining and cleansing with all the heat and the scrubbing and scouring we are made holy by His precious blood.

But this Messenger makes it clear that we are more than just holy as a condition. We are called to live in this holiness. Malachi speaks of holiness this way: “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. The cleansed are the sons of Levi. The cleansed are the priests who offer the sacrifices of praise that are acceptable in the sight of our Lord. We, you and I, are those priests. The Apostle Peter proclaims “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”Those of us who by the working of the Holy Spirit receive the Messenger and Return to our Sender, the Lord Himself, become priests who share the excellent message of salvation that only comes from Him!

But this message can be confusing when we seek to live it out. Because we hear so many other messages out there telling us “God’s Word is not important. Do what makes you feel good. Don’t worry about others. Just live and let live.” But this is not what God has called us as His priests to live. No, we are called to live holy lives that reflect His light and salvation. In short, our living out of the Message is living in such a way that our life of repentance shows. This living doesn’t save. That is what Jesus is for. That is what the cross is all about. For through the cross, we see the full meaning of the term “Return to Sender.”

Why you may ask? Because, from the cradle to the cross, we see the perfect life of the Heaven-Sent Savior and Messenger; who came from God and brought us the message of forgiveness and peace. Unlike the postman who delivers your mail, God sent His ONLY Begotten Son, Jesus and gave Him the message of calling us back to His loving Father. And just like the postman returns the letter to its original sender, Christ our Savior because of what He accomplished brings us back to the original Sender—our loving and gracious Father and Creator.

During the Advent Season and Christmas we see the Messenger made flesh. He comes to be our High Priest living our life for us. Doing what is impossible for us to do, offering us to God as Holy in His sight because we have been purchased to be sent to our original Sender. For this reason, we are privileged to live in the marvelous light of that cross. It is that light that pushes back the darkness whereby we see the tremendous God we have!

This God is none other than the One the Messenger points to. Again Malachi tells us “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” The Sender we are called to return to is a gracious and forgiving Lord. He bids us return. And what do we return to find? Here we find a Lord who greets us with a word of Forgiveness, life and salvation. And on that Day we will find a Lord who greets us with the welcoming arms of a Father who sent us away, but is glad that we are home.

So today, at His gracious invitation we Return to Sender. But there is nothing wrong. The address is correct. The postage has been paid in full. We are just returning to where we belong. To be with the Lord! For now and forever! AMEN.

Now the peace…


Thursday, December 6, 2012

“On Your Toes” (Mark 13:33)

S-1347-1SIMA/C 12/05/2012 Hymns: #66 #457; #58 vv. 1-3

Texts: Deuteronomy 34:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:4--13; Mark 13:32-33

Theme: “On Your Toes” (Mark 13:33)

Question: “Have you ever tried to see a parade but couldn’t?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our First Midweek in Advent is from Mark “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:33).


O most holy people of God, as we begin our Midweek in Advent we are exhorted to be on our toes in anticipation of Christ’s Second coming. Perhaps, this has happened to you. You are standing on a street watching a parade. But standing in front of you is someone who is taller and you can’t see. You move to the left and to the right but to no avail, so you begin to stand on your toes trying to get a glimpse of what is approaching.

That is precisely what Jesus is teaching us in the text this evening. He wants us to be on our toes so that we may see His return which He taught and told us to be aware of. The promise that Jesus will one day return is one of the greatest sources of joy and hope for us as Christians but it is also sometimes a bit frustrating as well. It is frustrating in the fact that we are still waiting and we are still watching for Him to come. And boy, we sure don’t like to wait.

You and I know that fact extremely well. We want things done right away. We live on instant potatoes, instant soup, and instant pudding and microwave meals. If you have a headache, can’t sleep, or are overweight then do the easy thing, pop a pill and get instant results. We have a difficulty and people say, “Pull up your bootstraps and do it yourself.” This is just part of our nature. And that nature spills over into our life with Jesus too.

To be sure, this is a challenge for every son of Adam and daughter of Eve. We want things done NOW (raise your voice). But Jesus teaches us saying: “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” It is absolutely important for us as the children of the heavenly Father to hear and heed the Words of Jesus, because they bring life and salvation.

Be faithful”: If Jesus doesn’t know when that Day will be or that hour will come, what does that say about all those false prophets out there claiming that they do? They are simply spewing wind. But we know that Faith is the essence of what we hope for and the evidence of what we cannot see. We are called to live out the faith planted in our hearts by the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has never broken a promise to you. He is not going to start when it comes to His return.

“Be diligent”: He furthered stated. Diligence is needed because Jesus will come unexpectedly. We are called by our Savior to be ready at any time for Him to take us home. We live each and every day like Jesus is coming back today. There are no guarantees that any of us will have a tomorrow.

He adds, “Be watchful”: Here where our toes come in. Because of the Return of Christ, we are called to be on our toes! We don’t need to be reminded that the day of salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. But what we are on our toes to watch is not the signs and seasons. No we are called to watch our lives in the light of God’s Holy Word. When our ears are filled with this sound and our mouths with the feast that is the Holy Supper, then we are truly watchful for the sin that would entangle us and distract us and lead us to be caught unaware at Christ’s return.

But oh, the challenge of waiting! It is so hard to stay on your toes at all times. You need to practice being on your toes. It is like a ballerina dancing on her toes. First, she doesn’t dance with her bare feet. She puts on a special dance shoes that make her legs stronger and steadier. And the more she dances the stronger those toes become so that she can twirl around for hours.

We, too, need something to strengthen our toes. It is not ballet dancing shoes, no we have something much better and grander—our baptism. In baptism the Holy Spirit moves us to be faithful, on guard and watching for Christ’s Second coming. By gathering with our brothers and sisters in the Lord’s house our toes gets stronger as we continue to look forward with great anticipation for His return. Just as our O.T. reading pointed Moses to the Land of Promise, we eagerly stand on our tippy toes waiting for He who promised to return soon—our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

We do this because we know whom we have in our corner—Christ the Friend of sinners (as our sermon hymns reminds us today “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”). Yes, He is the One who takes us by the hand and helps us to see what we can’t see. To see Him coming as an infant Child in the manger, walking the streets of Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem and ultimately giving His life as He stands nailed upon the cross for our sins. It is during this Season of love we see God’s gift of LOVE being poured upon us marvelously and joyfully. He opens His heart to us to equip us to be on our tippy toes and even to see Him coming again in all His glory for the sake of His people!

For this reason then, tonight is a special evening for us to be here. We have been brought here to be faithful, to be diligent and to be watchful. In the process, by the working of the Holy Spirit we are strengthened so that we may remain “on our toes.” We are not on our toes to see some marching band or float. We are not on our toes to catch some candy or see that crazy guy walking on the wheel. No we are standing on our toes because the Lord of Life is coming again. We stand on our toes because it is exciting and special knowing when He returns He will take me to be home with Him forever; because under His roof there is plenty of space available. At His table a plate is set for YOU. In His living room a wingback chair is reserved just for YOU.

Oh, the joy of standing on our toes now and always. Blessed Advent to you in the name of Christ who came and is coming soon. Amen.

Now the peace…


Sunday, December 2, 2012

“Divine Details” (Jeremiah 33:15-16)

S-1346-1SIA/C 12/02/2012 Hymns: #55; #62; #64

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

Theme: “Divine Details” (Jeremiah 33:15-16)

Question: “Do you like details?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our First Sunday in Advent is from the O.T. Lesson: “In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” (Jeremiah 33:15-16)


O most holy people of God, one often hears the phrase “the devil is in the details.” A similar, yet quite different phrase that I prefer is “God is in the details.” Why this preference? Because God’s details always trump the devil’s details. Biblically speaking the Scriptures teach that God works every minute detail in the history of mankind together for the good of the church. Every Divine detail! There isn’t anything that happens in history that in the end will not serve the salvation God has won through His Son for us.

We see this vividly at work on Good Friday. Before the foundation of the universe God planned to send His Son into the world to die on the cross for our sins on a Passover Weekend. So exact were the details that Jesus wills Himself to die on the cross right at the same moment the High Priest sacrifices the Passover Lamb in the temple.

As we begin Advent Season and a new Church Year, we behold how God enlists the details of absolutely everything in history for the sake of the gospel. In Jeremiah we have a powerful prophecy. It tells how from the family tree of David will come a unique Person. Through a New Jerusalem (the Church) He will execute justice and righteousness throughout the land. He will have a huge Branch Office extending throughout the world. This someone will be set apart to do what no king in Israel’s history had ever done. Someone will be born and live a flawless life marked by righteousness, holiness, perfect love, and perfect justice.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus declared as the Son of David through both the lineage of Mary and Joseph that this was part of His gospel mission. He said, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to FULFILL them.”

To the nth degree the Lord of history would fulfill even the smallest details of the law, of the prophecies related to the Messiah’s coming, and everything necessary for our salvation. So that we could stand before the Father blameless on Judgment Day, Jesus had to fulfill flawlessly the law of God. One itty bitty mistake and we all would end up in a fiery Lake—that is what was at stake.

To see the fulfillment of one set of divine details that connect together as a miraculous pattern we begin with the conception and birth of Jesus. Pious Jews who believed in the Greek Old Testament believed that a virgin born Son, who would be a suffering Savior was to be born in the fullness of times. The Bible teaches that Jesus’ birth was brought about in a virgin womb—a virgin womb set apart. We see in this Virgin born Child from the beginning One set apart for the holy purposes of a holy purpose.

The mission of Christ Jesus come into the world was “mission: holiness,” which is the same as saying “mission: love.” Holiness and love and justice and righteousness all merge together. When one does that which is holy one will march the way of love, justice, and righteousness. And Jesus was the One Jeremiah carefully foretold who would be “The Lord our righteousness”from His family tree the Church, His beautiful bride—will emerge and grow so that under its branches people from every tribe, language, color and nation will gather to find comfort and peace. PAUSE.

Yet, there are many in our world that don’t know who Jesus is and worse yet, don’t look at others as sacred souls—children of the heavenly Father. Many have a confused view of who Jesus is and what He came to accomplish. Perhaps, you heard the blasphemy spoken this week by Actor Jamie Foxx at Soul Train Music Awards stating: First of all, give an honor to God and our lord and savior Barack Obama” What a terrible statement to compare a mere man to the One Jeremiah spoke of in our text.

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ please know Barrack Obama is not lord and savior. He didn’t create the world, he didn’t do any miracles to help the world, he didn’t suffer for the world, he wasn’t crucified for the world, he didn’t die for the world, and neither was he raised from the dead for the benefit of the world. Look at Barack Obama’s hands and you will not see the print of nails in them, and there are no puncture wounds on his forehead. Therefore, he is neither lord nor savior.

But the One spoken of in Jeremiah is indeed the righteous branch that His Kingdom will have no end. He is the One who will rule with justice and righteousness all the days of His life. For this reason it is important for us to know the truth of Scriptures; so that we can tell the world of the debauchery of sin and the destructive powers of the devil.

Yes, God is in the details—divine details to saving you and me. We see that in the life of Jesus the offspring of David. We see that in His perfect obedience to the will of the Father by completing every minute detail for our benefits. PAUSE.

I know it is easy to jump all over Jamie Fox and say what blasphemy and what atrocity; but what about us? Are we willing to be called the “Lord our righteousness” for that is what we are? Did you know that in the text, “Jerusalem” and not the Lord is called the “Lord our righteousness?” This is speaking of God’s people who have been made righteous through the blood of the Lamb and clothed by His white garments of holiness.

But if we are indeed Messianic People, why then do we not call sin for what it is SIN? Why do we turn our eyes and act as if there is nothing wrong with our world or family of faith? Why are we not willing to be the people of God declaring sin as damming, destructive and deadly? Why do we keep our mouth shut when the world makes fun of us? Why oh why, don’t we get involved in Bible studies so that we may know what Scriptures teaches?

Yes, we come to Church, but we don’t live like a church. We don’t live like the redeemed of the Lord; we don’t live with the urgency that Christ is coming back soon. We act that it is no big deal. We may get angry when we hear a statement of blasphemy like what Jamie Fox said, but we don’t get angry when our sons and daughters are living together, are not in God’s house, live as if there is no tomorrow.

Precious children of the heavenly Father, it is so important that we know the Divine Details of God and how He works everything for our good. As we read in the Gospel lesson this morning: The One who came into Jerusalem as a servant King moves us to be servants of a Kingdom that will last forever. He wants us to see that every detail in history is enlisted for the good of the church. Nothing happens by sheer chance, that in the end, Jesus Christ does not convert into our ultimate good. NOTHING!

We are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us wrote St. Paul in Romans 8. That is not only the main message of the book of Revelation but it is THE core message of the universe. It is the grand unification theory that Einstein and Hawkings were looking for in Physics we, as the children of God are able to see by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith. Every detail God takes and weaves into a Trinitarian tapestry of endless love.

Jeremiah’s words are of the utmost importance because it shows the Divine details of God. And in the life of Jesus we see it even more—Christ’s double entrance into Jerusalem at the beginning as well as the ending of His early life is a wondrous Advent thread to assure us we have splendid reasons for high confidence. These are mighty Divine details to savor through Scripture always leading us to Christ’s unending infinite love for us. May these divine details set our sails aright this day for this week to come as well as for all eternity may define our paternity. Amen.

Now the peace…


Friday, November 30, 2012

“Not If, But WHEN!” (Mark 13:32-33)

S-1345-LS of C 11/28/2012 Hymns: #611 vv 1-4; #446; (L.S. #473; #339 #340); #611 vv 5-7

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

Theme: “Not If, But WHEN!” (Mark 13:32-33)

Question: “Are you ready?” Armour, SD

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


Precious bride of Christ, on this last Sunday of the Church year we are challenged to be ready for Christ’s Second coming and or our final day on earth. To be sure it is not if this day will come, but when will it come. A Sunday school teacher asked her students, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would I get into Heaven?” “NO!” The children answered. “If I dedicate my whole life to the mission of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, would I go to heaven?” Again, the answer was “NO!” She continued, “If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, shoveled the snow, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into Heaven?” Again, the answer was “NO!” “Well,” the teacher continued, “then how can I get to Heaven?” In the back of the room, a 5 year old boy shouted out, “You gotta be dead!!!”

Today, as the Holy Spirit has gathered in His house, we hear the Word from St. Mark about the imminent return of Christ. And this gives us an opportunity to look at the future. The future is something we all have to face. The question is, “Are you ready for the return of Christ?”

The truth of the matter is that we all have an appointment at sometime in our life (unless Jesus returns first) with death. After death we all will have a second appointment. That appointment is with God. Therefore, how do we prepare for the day that is coming? Again, it is not if it come, but when it comes!

How many of us know when Jesus is going to return? The Bible is Crystal clear and teaches us that we do not know when the Lord will return. In our text today, we hear these words:
But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. Sadly, many have claimed they know when it is going to happen. We saw that last year when a California pastor stated on two different occasions the dates of the end time, and they both failed. Many throughout history have said the end is coming and still it didn’t happen. Still others have given up that Christ will return on Judgment Day. Yet, Peter teaches us saying: “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). It may appear that the world continues to go on, but I assure you that the day is drawing nigh. It is not if, but when.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church at Galatia wrote these words: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). If the Lord kept His promise to send His Son to redeem the world, don’t you think He will keep His promise to return a Second time? PAUSE.

It is evident that many, including Christians do not take Christ’s Second coming seriously or prepare for it properly. If they did, they would be more prepared for His return. I will use a regular event in our lives to convey my thoughts.

How is it that so many people get surprised by Christmas? They know that it is December 25th every year. Now, those who are surprised by it are not shocked that it comes, but they aren’t prepared for it financially. So many families get caught up in the feeding frenzy of Black Friday and charge it all up on the plastic and worry about having to pay for it later. How much money would a person save if they just prepared for it? To have $1000 to spend on Christmas a person who gets paid every other week would need to set aside $38 dollars every paycheck. But since they aren’t prepared for it, they often spend hundreds of dollars in interest and fees. They act as if Christmas isn’t going to come and their lack of preparation leaves them in the red.

The same is true of Christ’s Second coming. We know that He is coming back. He said so. To think and live otherwise is both foolish and reckless. Everything else that He said He was going to do has happened. He said “He would go to Jerusalem, suffer at the hands of the Jewish leaders, be crucified, die and be raised on the third day” And He did fulfill these promises. Why would He change now? So when Jesus says that He is coming back, but we live as though we are going to live here forever, we make no preparations in repentance, we will get surprised by His arrival. And when we are surprised by His arrival, what He will bring for us will be eternally unpleasant.

The lack of preparation is worst among Christians. If every Christian took Christ’s Second coming seriously, the pews of the Church would never be empty, we would not be able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper often enough, a day wouldn’t go by when the Bible wasn’t opened in every home and there would always be enough support for the ministry in financial resources and resources of time. But as we know, this is not the case. Pews sit empty each week. The Supper goes un-served, the family Bible gathers dust and there is never enough time, talents or treasure to do the work that the Lord calls His Church to.

So today, this Last Sunday of the Church Year, this Festival of Christ the King, serves as a wakeup call to us. Jesus is coming! Now is not the time for Him to find us sleeping! It is time to take seriously the Words of Jesus and be prepared for His return. It is not if He returns, but when He returns.

A little later in the text we read these words: “Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Oh, that we hear and heed the Words of the Master, Jesus Christ, to be prepared for His Second coming to take us home to be with Him forever.

Beloved in Christ, In Jesus’ day people wore a long outer garment that looked like a robe. When they were going to do some hard work or run somewhere, they would pull the bottom of the robe up and tuck it in their belt so it would not get in the way while they worked. Being dressed ready for service with lamps burning describes the servant in the first century who is awaiting the master’s return from a wedding banquet.

And it is fitting for us to be prepared as well. It is time for us to gird our loins and make us ready for action. The Holy Spirit, who has dressed us in these robes of Christ’s righteousness in our baptism, has us well dressed! We do this, as we gather week in and week out to hear the Word, meditate on the Word, partake of the Word offered at the Altar and live by the Word, as if Christ died yesterday, rose today and is coming tomorrow.

For after all, it is not if, but WHEN. Therefore, we say, “Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly! Amen.”

Now the peace…


Thursday, November 22, 2012

“It’s Not Like That” (Deut. 8:10‑11)

S-1344-Thanksgiving Day 2012 Hymns: #36; #134; (L.S. #568; #573); #574

Texts: Deuteronomy 8:10-20; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 17:11‑19

Theme: “It’s Not Like That” (Deut. 8:10‑11)

Question: “How Thankful Are You?” Armour, SD


Blessed Thanksgiving Day to you in the name of Christ who is arisen from the grave. The text for our meditation is from the O.T. Lesson: “And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord Your God for the good land He has given you. Take care lest you forget the Lord Your God by not keeping His commandments and His rules and His statutes, which I command you today” (Deut. 8:10‑11).


Beloved in the Lord consider this scene: “Your wife has been in the hospital for 3 weeks battling cancer. The doctor’s, nurses and others have cared for her around the clock and now she gets to come home cancer free.” How do you feel? You are grateful and thankful and you make sure you tell them that. You go out of your way to let them know you appreciated all that they have done for your wife.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we, along with Christians all over the USA, pause from our busy schedules to give thanks to the Lord, not because it is a day that our nation has set aside to say thank you, but rather, because our hearts flow from the abundance of what our loving and gracious God has done and continues to do for us.

I. Why We Are Here today?

In the text before us today, Moses, the author of our text reminds the Israelites and us never to forget the goodness of the Lord. Never to forget what the Lord has done for them—He has brought them out with an outstretched hand and strong arm from the slavery of Egypt to the Promised Land. And He supplied them with every blessing to meet their needs of both body and soul.

Today, many have forgotten the reason the Pilgrims stopped so long ago to give thanks to the Lord for protecting them and providing for them through the harsh winter. Today, many think of Thanksgiving Day as a day off, or a day to eat Turkey and watch TV and some go so far to do the most stupid thing—pitch their tents for a week outside a Wal-Mart, or Best Buy until Black Friday rolls around; so they can buy another gadget that soon will be obsolete or breaks down. PAUSE.

It is not like that for us beloved in the Lord. Yes, we are here today because of another Black Friday. Not one where you have stood in line for hours or even days to purchase that coveted item. No, our Black Friday is a blessing from God Himself who sent His Only Son, Jesus Christ to Calvary to stand against all the evil forces of the world and deliver man from the slavery of the devil and the punishment of hell.

We are here today, in His house on Thanksgiving Day to be reminded again and again of the mercy and love of God and to thank Him for all He has done. We are here today, to receive from the abundance of His store houses all He has prepared for us. We are here today, to lift our hearts and voices to our God and say: “THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME AND CARING FOR MY NEEDS! THANK YOU FOR STANDING IN MY PLACE TO TAKE MY PUNISHMENT UPON YOU. THANK YOU FOR SAVING ME FROM THE ETERNAL DAMNATION!” Thanks, is a heavenly gift, it is the perspective to see beyond the circumstances of the moment and see that the Lord, He is here. “For us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man...” PAUSE.

II. Here He fills Your Sack With His Goods.

Faithful followers of the Savior, when you came into this house of worship you received a paper sack. I would like you to open it up and look inside (give them time) what do you see in it? NOTHING! That is right nothing. You came into God’s presence with an empty sack because you have nothing to offer Him. We have nothing in our sacks to cause our God to love us or honor us. On the contrary, all we have in our sack is our filth and sin.

But wait, look again please. Having confessed your sins, Your gracious Father forgives you and removes the sin from you. He fills your sack with forgiveness. Then you get to hear His Word read to encourage you and bless you in your walk of faith. Another item goes into your sack. Then He blesses you as you hear His Word preached, and yet another is dropped into your sack. Your sack is getting a little heavier, even without you buying anything. But He is not done. He reminds you of what His Son has done for you on Golgotha as He died and rose for you—and the whole world.

This same loving Savior invites you to come to His table. There He serves you the most delicious meal; tastier than any turkey, dressing, gravy and pumpkin pie that you could eat. And the sack is getting heavier. He hears and answers your prayers as He only can and another gift is dropped into your sack. Then as He sends you out into the world He blesses you with His grace and gives you His peace and reminds you that He will be with you wherever you go.

Look again, brothers and sisters in Christ into that sack and you will see, grace upon grace. You will see love, forgiveness, compassion, kindness, mercy, salvation and life eternal and these all are yours FREE.

Then as you leave the church, you put your sack on your back and walk out. Along the journey of life you meet people, you open your sack and begin to divvy out these gifts to others to bless them on their journey of life. And when your sack is empty you come back again and Your gracious Father, fills them up once more to the brim and sends you out in His name and by His command to be a blessing to others.

III. We Come on Thanksgiving Day to truly Thank Him.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we join the throng because it is fitting for us to thank our Lord and God. And just like the man in my opening story was thankful for the many who helped his wife get better and stronger; likewise, we, take the time to thank God and never forget His blessings—the blessings of making us His children. The blessings of filling our empty sacks with His goods. The blessings of realizing we have more than any department store, internet, TV program, or an event in history can fulfill the desires of our hearts—He gives Himself and for that we are indeed THANKFUL.


Saints in Christ, today as you leave with your sacks laden with every heavenly gift, may I remind you of the joy of being called a child of the heavenly King and truly acknowledge that every good and perfect gift is from Him. May you know His constant love for you and devotion to redeem you through the gift of His Son on Calvary’s cross.

As you gather with family and friends kindly remind them that it is not like that for you. You know where your blessings come from—not in the gadgets you are buying on Black Friday, but from the Black Friday of long ago—from Him who loved you and died for you and rose again to give you life and salvation. Amen.


Now the peace…


Sunday, November 18, 2012

“Shining Like Stars” (Daniel 12:3)

S-1343 25SAP/3B 11/18/12 Hymns: (O) #400; (S) #441; (C) # 803 LSB

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

Theme: “Shining Like Stars” (Daniel 12:3)

Question: “Are you letting Christ’s light shine through you?

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Meditation is from the O.T. lesson: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3).

Precious children of the heavenly Father, in his devotional book “God Grant It” C. F. W. Walther writes: “If you want to learn to know God’s heart and will toward you, look at Christ in the manger, in the circle of sinners that sur­rounded Him, in Gethsemane, and on the cross. There you can read God’s heart as in an open book. For whoever sees Christ also sees God the Father. As you find nothing with Christ but kindness, love, and grace, so you can be certain that you will find all of this with the Father. Christ calls sin­ners to Himself, and He does not condemn them; instead, He forgives them their sins. And this is also what God does. He, too, wants to have mercy on you. Christ desires to take you up into His heavenly kingdom and so does the Father. To know the disposition of God’s heart, you need only to look at how Christ is disposed toward you. His mercy is the reflection of the mercy of God. The sympathy of the Father is reflected in Christ’s tears over the misfortune of the sin­ner. Christ’s blood, which flowed for the atonement of the world, washed away the wrath of God, so He could pro­claim, ‘I am reconciled with men!’” (P. 879). With these words, Pastor Walther shows us a little more of who God is and what He does for His precious children—that is you.

In the text before us we see the great and profound mystery that our world denies. It denies the truth of Scripture. It denies that Jesus is the ONLY Lord and Savior. It denies that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It denies that there is going to be a Judgment Day. It denies that there is heaven and hell. And it denies the teaching of the Church. How tragic!

Yet, “In a culture that encourages people to celebrate the idea that life has no goal and urges each individual to find meaning wherever he or she can, the Church offers a very different description of reality. Our author, Daniel, gives the shocking prophecy that at the end of time the dead will rise; some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt!”

Daniel says it like it is the time is coming when we shall stand before the Throne of Grace and receive the judgment for our actions. He also tells us what our Awesome God will do—deliver the world from the tyranny, oppression and cruelty of the devil. He will deliver us by the mighty deed of Him whom the Star over Bethlehem’s manger identified as the long expected Messiah.

This Messiah shined brighter than the sun. In John we read, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:4-5). On the Transfiguration Mountain we are told, “And he [Jesus] was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light” (Mt. 17:2). And Jesus Himself taught saying: I Am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Those who know Jesus, those who follow Jesus, and those who worship Jesus will shine like the brightness of the stars. That is the same message Daniel conveys to us today: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Indeed, we who have seen the light of the Gospel should be shining like the stars in the heavens. PAUSE.

Now you do not have to be an astronomer to know that stars shine. All you need to do is look up to the skies at night and you will see the stars shining. They don’t have to be told to do so, that is what they are.

Likewise, we too, are called to shine with the brightness of the stars. Sadly, however, most often we don’t. We have lost the holy fear of offending our gracious God. Rather than living in the light, we walk in the dark. Rather than letting the light of Christ shine through us we let the black deeds of the devil overcome who we are and manifest itself in our actions.

It saddens me when I see us (ALL of us) getting angry and upset with one another over stupid stuff. Rather than talking with the one who hurt us (intentionally or otherwise) we go downtown to the Bowling alley, Blue Moon, at the Coop or by our cars and cut others down. Some even post things on Face Book denouncing what they don’t like about the Church. It is the gossip of the town. It breaks my heart when we let the devil take over our lives because we are not happy with this or that. Why is it necessary for us to feel we have to hang our dirty laundry for the world to see? Why is it necessary to break the 8th Commandment by not speaking well of each other or putting the best construction on everything? PAUSE.

Oh precious, precious children of the heavenly Father, that is not who you are. You ARE God’s beloved children. You are the Baptized by God. You are the Redeemed of God. You are the reconciled by the Savior through His death and resurrection. You have your names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Kindly don’t let the devil rob you of the joy of working together and letting your light shine. Don’t let Satan get in the way of the mission and ministry of this Church. Don’t let an evil thought or an angry moment to dwell in your heart. Instead, bring it to Christ, lay it at His feet and let Him carry that burden so that you may shine in this dark world.

Please, always look to the opportunities the Savior gives us—to build each other up rather than tare each other down. Always think the best of your brother and sister in this place, not that they are trying to hurt you but as ones who want to honor God by serving you.

We may not always do things the way you think it needs or should be done. But that doesn’t mean it is wrong. We may not always be the kindest and gentlest of people, but that doesn’t mean we are hate you or uncaring about you. This is who we are as sinners who have been made saints by the blood of the Lamb. PAUSE.

Precious, precious, children of the heavenly Father, one day, a group of tourists were viewing the Great Cathedral and the guide was explaining all of the saints in the stain glass windows. When the guide was done, a young girl hollered to her dad saying: “Daddy, I know what a saint is!” His response was, “who are they?” The girl smiled and said, “Saints are people who let their lights shine.”

That is you my beloved saints. Therefore, as Christ dwells in you, shine His light on those who are still in darkness. As you hear and heed His Word, shine like the stars in word and deed. As you partake of His Body and Blood you are strengthened for the ministry of letting the Gospel light ooze out of you. May God continue to use you as you shine like the stars in this dark world now and forever; Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


“He’s Got It!!!” (John 20:31)

S-1342 11/15/12 Hymns: (O) #537; (S) #801; #744; #748 (all from LSB)

Text: Psalm 23; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; John 14:1-6

Theme: “He’s Got It!!!” (John 20:31)

Celebrating the New Life promised to Carl Peter Gjoraas by His Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the celebration of the new life of our departed brother Carl is his confirmation verse: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name”(John 20:31).

In the name of Christ Jesus Amen, at times when say we say “he got it” we mean he deserved it. A basketball player gets the Mr. Basketball award, because he has shined on the court. A student gets a full ride scholarship because he has excelled in the classroom. A salesman is awarded the Salesman Year Award because he has sold the most in his department. And a week ago Tuesday, President Obama got the win to serve another 4 more years.

All of these examples are a means to convey that people get things they deserved because of their efforts in life—be it school, work or marriage. Today, we remember with thanksgiving to God the life of one of His saints—Carl Gjorass. How is it that he “got it” – this servant of God, a man who knew his place in this world and gave diligently and freely towards those he loved? For over 57 years He was the loving, caring, husband of Laura, tenderly and gently he nurtured his children Ron, Karen, Noreen and Wayne. He cherished spending time with his grandchildren. He was truly a hard working man, farmer and businessman who took pride in what he did. He knew his place as the redeemed of God and he joyfully served His Lord and His church in many and varies ways. We are grateful to God for all these ways that Carl was a gift to us. Carl, in his long life, may have received this or that honor. However, the text for us today speaks of another getting—one that is a gift and not a reward, that is an undeserved honor from our gracious and loving God.

Listen please to Pastor John’s emphasis in Carl’s confirmation verse. “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” This pastor teaches the early Christians and us “But these are written” to suggest that what he has written is to confess, comfort and console his hearers that Christ is the Messiah promised of old. That He is God’s Son in the flesh. That He did everything to demonstrate He is the heaven-sent Savior and the One who had defeated the grave, demolished the devil and done away with the stench of sin through His resurrection on the third day.

Second, John says: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” that is to say, this Jesus, the One called, the son of Mary, the son of Joseph, the carpenter’s son, Jesus of Nazareth, and of Galilee, was the Christ, the true Messiah; the One anointed by the Holy Spirit and sent by God to redeem the world. He is the One and only who has been anointed to fulfill His mission as Prophet, Priest, and King, and offering His life as a ransom for all of humanity. He is none other than the One promised to our first parents in the Garden when they fell into sin. He is the One Moses spoke about in Deuteronomy “The Lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen” (18:15). He is the One the prophets spoke about and the Psalmists praised.

Through these signs men are called to believe in Him and through the greatest sign of His resurrection, He demonstrated to the world that He is the True Son of Man and God. Jesus is the Divine taking flesh and blood and standing among the Jewish people of Palestine. This is an article of faith that is attested by God, by angels, and men; and is confirmed by all the disciples as the One who conquers death and the grave and gives us eternal life.

Third, John continues by saying “and that by believing you may have life in His name.” believers have their spiritual and eternal life through Christ; their life of grace, of justification by Him, of sanctification from Him, and communion with Him; the support and maintenance of their spiritual life, and all the comforts of it: and also their life of glory, or eternal life, they have through, or in His name; it lies in His person, it comes to them through Him as the procuring cause of it; it is for His sake bestowed upon them, yes it is in His hands to give it, and He gives it to all that believe: not that believing is the cause of their enjoyment of this life, or is their title to it, which is the name, person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; but faith is the way and means in which they enjoy it; and therefore these signs are written by the evangelist for the encouragement of this faith in Christ, which is of such use in the enjoyment of life, in, through, and from Him.

That is why we can say with confidence that He’s got it! What is it that Carl has gotten? On August 11, 1919, as the Pastor poured the water over Him in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—in that gift we call Baptism; he got new life, salvation, forgiveness of sins, and peace with Christ and became a child of the heavenly King. Because of Christ’s life-giving Word, Carl got to hear and learn the message of the cross that saved Him. As he knelt at the Altar to receive the body and blood of His Lord and Savior he got the confirmation of how much he is loved and cherished.

Indeed Carl got it. He didn’t get it because he deserved it. He didn’t get it because he excelled at holy living. Nor did he get it because he shined more than others. No, Carl got it because our Lord Jesus Christ gave it to him. He got it this past Friday when the Lord called him home and said, “Come home son, your room is ready!” He got it ALL—life—eternal life with Christ His Savior in the blessed heaven prepared for him. He got life and salvation because by faith he believed in Jesus as His only Savior and God.

This why we can say with great joy, CARL GOT IT! He got the gift of eternal life through and on account of Christ His Savior. Amen.

Now the peace…