Tuesday, August 20, 2013

“I Have Good News For You!” (Isaiah 52:7)

S-1377-13SAP/C 8/18/2013 Hymns: all from LSB(O) #578 v1-4; #578 v5-6; (S) #953; #LS.#629; #589; #680; #784; #655; 632; (C) #660

Texts: Isaiah 55:1-11; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 17:13-19

Theme: “I Have Good News For You!” (Isaiah 52:7)

20th anniversary in the ministry of, Rev. Dr. Jeffery Nehrt in Greenville, IL

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for this special day of celebration and thanksigivng is from the Prophet Isaiah: I will translate it from the Hebrew. “How beautiful upon the mountains, are the feet of a herald, making known peace, announcing good [news], making known salvation, saying to Zion, “Your God has become King! (Isaiah 52:7).


Saints in Christ, you the members of Our Redeemer, Becky, family and friends from the community, but above all, you, my dear brother Jeff. It is a great honor and privilege for me to be with you today and celebrate this special event the Lord has given you to be His servant and His herald of God’s Good News.

What I am about to say, I am going to speak to my brother Jeff only. However, if you folks choose to eaves drop you may do so. PAUSE.

A dear friend, the Rev. Dr. Reed Lessing in his newest commentary writes: “Located on the front of the historic Trinity Church in Boston are the sculptures of six men. At the center are four Gospel writers who are flanked on the right by St. Paul and on the left by Isaiah. Isaiah’s presence in this distinguished “cloud of witnesses” speaks volumes about his importance for the church. He is the theologian par excellance in the OT and his chief doctrine comes from his name, “Isaiah,” which means, “Yahweh is deliverance.” For sheer grandeur, majesty, and supreme artistry no book in the OT even comes close to Isaiah. “Rarely have ‘inspiration’ in the poetic and the theological senses been wed so beautifully.”[1] The prophet’s saving message, soaring language, and unforgettable imagery are tightly woven into the fabric of Christian hymnody, liturgy, and devotional literature.

It is for this reason; I have chosen a beautiful text from this wonderful book of Isaiah that is often used during the Christmas season to speak of God’s Good News to you in a bad news world. God has called you for this office for a reason dear brother, not to take it easy, sit in your chair and smoke a cigar and have a cold one, but for the purpose of doing the work of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Jeff, I can vouch that you are not a sluff. I have known you from our earliest days at the seminary when we started Greek Boot Camp. It was during that time that our souls were joined together as we studied for almost 14 hours a day learning Greek to be the best Pastors we could be. Then, the time came to write our first sermon. Rev. Schmelder told us, “Brothers, you have till 8 a.m. on Monday morning to have the sermon on my desk. If it is one moment late, you will flunk the course!”

We all started working. We worked hard to write the master piece of Good News to give to our professor and someday preach at our Field Work Church. On that Sunday before the due date I called you and asked, “How are you coming?” Your response I am doing my research! Wow! What good stuff Walther has to say.” I told you that I was working on mine.

Then at 11 at night I called you again to check if you were done. To my amazement you said you are still researching for your sermon. I said, “Jeff, I am done with my sermon, I will come over to help you. It is time to stop researching and time to write.” When I came over, I said, “I will type what you tell me.” Finally @ 6 in the morning, the sermon was done. And you wanted to take me out for breakfast and we went to eat at Del Taco restaurant and had egg burritos at that hour. If you can envision having burritos for breakfast! That didn’t sit well with me. However, by the grace of God, the good news, we completed the task at hand and handed the sermons in. What a night and what a time it was for us both. PAUSE.

Fast forward now to this little bit of heaven where God called you to be the under-shepherd and Seelsorger of His flock at Our Redeemer Lutheran in Greenville, IL; twenty years have passed, and now we are focusing on the grace of God in your life as He used you in this place.

What a gift You have been and continue to be as you to do the work of the Lord for the benefits of the saints. Think of it dear brother, 20 years of being God’s mouth-piece. 20 years of hearing the burdens and heartaches of your beloved people, and their confession; and you with the oil of gladness have absolved them their sins in the name of Christ our Savior.

Twenty blessed years of sharing the Words of Institution and brought on a platter God’s grace and God’s forgiveness because this is Christ Himself, Body and Blood; in, with, and under the elements for these saints to eat and drink. Twenty year of hearing and sharing the eternal promise, Baptism now saves you” And “Do you know that all of you have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His Resurrection” (Rom. 6:4). Twenty years of hearing and sharing not only with them and for them, but for you as well my dear brother—You bear His name and His mark!

In the Hebrew of Isaiah 52:7 the preacher is the “shama-er” the one who causes others to hear of His peace and salvation. He preaches, he announces, he proclaims. But before he announces, he hears. He hears - shama again! For 20 years you have taken the Word of God into your ears, where faith comes and finds its source (Romans 10:17) - And how shall they hear unless one is sent? (Romans 10:14). PAUSE.

You have heard the Word of Life and you, dear brother have announced, have preached, have shouted from the roof-tops the Good News of Jesus and His Finished Work on the Cross for sinners. You have published this peace, brought the good news of God’s Good and Goodness, that which makes the heart truly and fully glad, even amid the storms of life, you have been blessed to publish the Salvation, the Jeshua, the Jesus of our Salvation and the Salvation of your people. You have announced the truth that you have first heard and first taken to heart, that your God Reigns for He is King, King of Life, King over Death, King to deliver those who are weary to rest, those who are storm-tossed to a kindly shoreline, to those who are in shackles in the dungeon of their sins, to the release of a captive no longer so. You have proclaimed that this God reigns as king who forgives sins and heals hearts.

Twenty years of such hearing and proclaiming means that you’ve got beautiful feet, my brother. Beautiful feet means; feet that can stand upon the ROCK. So stand dear brother, by the power of the Holy Spirit stand upon this ROCK, this Christ, He is strengthening you and strengthening your dear flock, cleaning between their toes, cleaning their ankles,.. Yes, scrubbing their soles, both of the feet and of the whole person.

Brother, the prayer of your brother clergy, but more importantly, of the dear saints to whom He has made you an overseer and a shama-er, a hearer and announcer of His Good News - yes, the prayer of your people is that you would continue to stand on the Rock and continue to scrub souls such that all will have beautiful feet.

Dear, dear brother Jeff, Twenty years have come and gone. You have continued to study and grow as you hear and share the Word of God. Now by the grace of God, you even have your doctorate. What a blessing that is. I am still working on mine. I want you to come up here now and receive this cross to keep you busy telling the Good News as long as God gives you breath.

Jeff, Twenty years are a long time in human terms, but not in relation to eternity. For the past twenty years you have shared and been the herald of the same news of Isaiah, prophet and other pastors. And long after you are gone and your lips are silent, may your saints take the baton and continue in their lives to share this glorious Good News; that Christ is Risen from the grave and to those who believe in Him awaits the joy of spending eternity with their Savior. Even so, Amen S.D.G!

Now the peace…


[1] Hummel, The Word Becoming Flesh, 195.

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