Tuesday, May 27, 2014


On Monday, May 26, I was privileged and honored to give the Memorial Day speech.

Below is the opening and closing prayer along with the speech.


In the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today, we gather beneath the Stars and Stripes-the emblem of freedom and glory to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice; but we also stand beneath the cross of Christ that gives us a freedom that is beyond the bounds of this world. Therefore, we pray, Almighty Lord that You will bless this nation and all of those who have gathered here today. Guide and guard her from foreign and domestic enemies. Protect our brave men and women who are serving us all across the globe so that we can enjoy and cherish the freedom we have.

In the name of Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.


All of us in this place have so many blessings that we don’t often think about how rich free of fear and even spoiled we are!

Daily we wake up without any fear. We get dressed and go to work without fear. We go to school and don’t even consider fear. When the weekend approaches, we go camping, boating, golfing or picnicking without fear. And on Sunday mornings all of us have the great privilege of being involved in attending our own denominational churches without having to be afraid of being harassed, burned, shot, maimed or killed.

You don’t have to be afraid because in the history of this great nation, there have always been sentries on duty to make sure you and I can enjoy the liberty and freedom we have. You don’t have to be afraid to go sleep because you know no one is going to come and take your home or freedom away, thanks to those who stand guard and protect this land. For over 238 years Old Glory has soared over the nation to tell the world this is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave on account of the men and women who fought and died for this land.

However, our freedom and liberty is and has been under attack lately. We have witnessed recently Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had been invited to give the commencement address at Rutgers University in New Jersey has been disinvited because of her involvement in the Iraq war during the Bush administration.

We saw it as the government attacked and sued Hobby Lobby because they didn’t agree with the Obamacare mandate to pay for abortions. We heard it in the court rooms of New Mexico when Christian photographer Elane, was ordered to photograph a wedding (gay couples) which violated her religious convictions. We have observed how the IRS has been used as an agent of attack to harm and harass political opponents. And just in the last couple of weeks we have seen and heard of the great scandal against our Veterans—who have been mistreated, lied to, dishonored and some even died as they waited for treatment.

Yes, we are under attack. There are many people who live here under the banner of freedom and liberty and enjoy these freedoms and privileges; yet desire to change the outlook of the USA. When people raise up the white flag of surrender instead of the Red, White and Blue our freedom and liberty is sold to the bullies and molesters of the freedom that has been purchased by the spilled blood and ultimate sacrifice of military personnel—the brave men and women.

But you and I, as free citizens need not be afraid. We can stand together. We can tell the Administration of the great words of Abraham Lincoln who in his Gettysburg address said: government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth

We don’t have to be afraid to stand up for freedom sake. We don’t have to be afraid from any bully domestic or foreign who attack us. We don’t have to be afraid from anyone, because as free people we tell the world about those who sleep in trenches, who eat cold meals, who are in the heat of the sun, the cold of night, in the mountain, in the sea or in the desert; are there to defend our freedom. We have freedom purchased by the blood of martyrs and the dedication of the Military personnel. Our freedom is not free—it has been paid by the life and shed blood of the American Soldier.

Toby Keith, a country music singer, wrote one of the most moving songs in tribute to these brave volunteers—the men and women of our Armed Forces called, “American Soldier” Here are the lyrics of this song:

I'm just trying to be a father
Raise a daughter and a son
Be a lover to their mother
Everything to everyone
Up and at 'em, bright and early
I'm all business in my suit
Yeah, I'm dressed up for success
From my head down to my boots

I don't do it for the money
There's bills that I can't pay
I don't do it for the glory
I just do it anyway
Providing for our future's my responsibility
Yeah I'm real good under pressure
Being all that I can be

And I can't call in sick on Mondays
When the weekends been too strong
I just work straight through the holidays
And sometimes all night long
You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door
Hey, I'm solid, hey I'm steady, hey, I'm true down to the core

And I will always do my duty no matter what the price
I've counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice
Oh, and I don't want to die for you
But if dyin's asked of me
I'll bear that cross with honor
'Cause freedom don't come free

I'm an American soldier, an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand
When Liberty's in jeopardy, I will always do what's right
I'm out here on the front line
Sleep in peace tonight
American soldier, I'm an American soldier. PAUSE.

FREE PEOPLE OF THESE UNITED STATES, we don’t have to be afraid from any administration because we are a government of the people, by the people, for the people. And these people have power when they join hands together and work for the betterment of the community and society. We can give of our service, silver and sacrifice for the greater cause—it is not about us; but about living in this great Land of ours.

Today, as we gather beneath the Red, White and Blue, I implore you to lift your eyes high above the sky, (encourage them to look up) see the symbol of freedom flying and KNOW we don’t have to be afraid.

Yes, we don’t have to be afraid. As we stand today together in this cemetery to remember and honor the memories of those who gave their lives, we thank them and their families for their sacrifice.

But above all, let us thank the Lord, Jesus Christ the King of the Universe, who chose to leave the beauty and glory of heaven and come down to our polluted earth and live in the ditches for us. Behold this King of kings and Lord of lords coming to serve us as our Slave. A slave, who was tried, tortured, tormented and hung on a Tree to win our freedom. This King, who has won our freedom, also sustains our great military leaders, men and women. He sustains them through His Word and blessed Sacraments. He protects them with His mighty, caring, powerful and pierced hands. He upholds them in the hour of need and fills their hearts with peace even in the battle field.

Today, with great joy and the liberty and freedom we have on account of the shed blood of Christ, we live, eat, play, work and sleep beneath the bloodied cross of Christ without fear. Today, we lift our voices heavenward and thank Him for what He has accomplished—winning our Eternal FREEDOM and has given us life forever with Him.

Thanks be to God, that we the people of these USA DON’T HAVE TO BE AFRAID.

God bless the USA and its men and women who serve her.


In the name of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who won our freedom through His death and resurrection; in the name of the Father who sent His ONLY Son, Jesus to fight our arch enemies-satan, sin and death and gave us this freedom; in the name of the Holy Spirit who teaches us in His Word that in Christ we have eternal freedom and live joyfully forever with Him; may your day, week, year and life be forever blessed. Amen.

“Preaching the Resurrection!” (Acts 17:18-19)

S-1433 6SOE/3A 5/25/2014 Hymns: (O) #191; (S) #204; L.S.#201; #200; #307 (C) #191

Texts: Acts 17:16-31; 1 Peter 32:13-22; John 14:15-21

Theme: “Preaching the Resurrection!” (Acts 17:18-19)

Question: “What difference what we preach makes?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text is from Acts: “Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, ‘What does this babbler wish to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities’—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?’” (Acts 17:18-19).

Beloved children of the heavenly Father, every Sunday I begin my sermon with these words: “Christ is Risen!” and you respond “He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!” I begin with these words because preaching the resurrection is of the utmost importance. Preaching the resurrection is our foundation. Preaching the resurrection is our focus. Preaching the resurrection is our future. Preaching the resurrection is our faith. Without the Resurrection there is no justification, which means there is no Church! Without the resurrection we have no hope, no help and heaven.

Preaching the resurrection is the message that in Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and in Him eternal death has become eternal life. Preaching the resurrection is the message that our future is bright. Preaching the resurrection is the message we declare to the world that Jesus has indeed destroyed the devil, done away with sin and delivered us from the punishment of hell. Preaching the resurrection is the message that God has restored mankind and creation from death to life. Preaching the resurrection is the message that we need to hear again and again. And that is precisely what Paul is declaring in the text today. For in the preaching of the resurrection we are teaching that man can’t save himself. And it is a message that makes all the difference in the world.

By the grace of God you and I are here today to be taught that the message of the Resurrection is the message of the Church and our message. It is the message our dying world needs to hear just as it was in the day of Paul as he visited Athens.

As we tune into the scene in the Areopagas we find Paul waiting for his companions—Timothy and Silas to join him to do the work God has called him. Paul is very impatient and the Spirit within him is provoked (God the Holy Spirit is doing this) by all of the idolatry in the city. The people are ignorant of the true and living God, enslaved by false gods and prisoners in a life that has no hope or future.

He can’t wait for them to arrive so he begins speaking to the people. He has a message of the resurrection of Jesus that drives him forward. He must confess it! He must tell it! He must live it! If you remember in Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus the Savior said to one of His servants Ananias to say to Paul: But the Lord said to him [Ananias], ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel’” (Acts 9:15). Therefore, Paul preaches the resurrection first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles so that they may know that this Jesus, this unknown God to whom they have an altar—is indeed a living God who came to earth, suffered, died, was buried and rose from the damp and dark grave to live forever. PAUSE.

Likewise, you and I have a mission as followers of Jesus—to preach His resurrection message. Certainly we say it every Sunday morning “Christ is Risen!” But that is not enough. Look at the idolatry in our world. See how many temples people have built for themselves and before which they bow, hoping that these gods—man made gods can give them satisfaction and enjoyment in life.

We, who have heard the message of the resurrection preached, know the blessings that come our way. We have seen what a difference the preaching of the resurrection makes. You have been to funerals where the minister always points to the dead person and all he/she has accomplished and accumulated in life. But these are hollow and empty words that don’t bring any comfort to the survivors. These sermons preach sentimentality and not salvation! But on the other hand you have listened to a funeral and the message of the resurrection and the difference that message brings. The first is simply remembering the person and the second, is having hope in Him who opened the grave once and for all and freed all the children of Adam and Eve from death to life.

That is why we preach the resurrection message every Sunday. For that is our focus, foundation and future. We preach the resurrection because it shows the world that God the Father has accepted the sacrifice of His only Son on Calvary’s cross. We preach the resurrection because it is our hope and help. We preach the resurrection because it teaches us that we will rise bodily from the grave to life eternal with Him—who lives forever & ever—even Jesus Christ. PAUSE.

Benjamin Franklin is known as the “First American” and one of the Founding Fathers of this great Nation. In one of his lighter moments, penned his own epitaph. He didn’t profess to be a Christian, but it seems he must have been influenced by Paul’s teaching of the resurrection of the body. Here’s what he wrote: The Body of B. Franklin, Printer Like the Cover of an old Book Its contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Guilding, Lies here, Food for Worms, But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ’d, Appear once more In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended by the Author.

Beloved in the Lord, I don’t know about Benjamin Franklin or his belief. But I do agree with him in that the Author of our lives, Jesus Christ will raise us on the last day to be a more perfect edition, corrected and amended by the One who died and rose for us from the grave.

Though it is hard to believe, yet we preach the resurrection because it goes against reason and logic. Certainly the resurrection is not normal and it contradicts our experience. “For our eyes see that the world is swept away by death and dies,” (Luther What Luther Says p. 1216 #3879 Hard to Believe). We preach the resurrection because although it is hard to believe, yet Jesus spoke of how in nature “Except the corn die how will it bear fruit?” (John 12:24) Also, Paul’s arguments in 1 Corinthians 15, “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies’” (vv. 35-36). This message needs to shared especially with unbelievers that the resurrection is unreasonable. Though it is hard to believe and unreasonable, it is our confessional article of faith—faith based on the powerful promises made by Him who destroyed death forever.

With the eyes of faith we see the Resurrected Lord rising with power from death to life. We see in His Word that He is the living Lord. We see it in the lives of Paul and other evangelists as they took this message to every corner of the world and declared Him not as a dead God, but as the LIVING ONE! PAUSE.

Therefore, no matter what the world teaches and preaches—you and I as His followers preach the resurrection. For we, too, have died and been raised to a new life—through the waters of Baptism. In that gift Peter tells us that we have the power of the Resurrection (1 Peter 3:21). In truth the resurrection power of baptism trains us to daily die to self and to rise to live for Christ. What joy we have because of the Resurrection of Christ and ours.

People of the RESURRECTION, We may no longer have any Epicureans, Stoics, and philosophers, but we have doubters and deniers who still worship dead deities as they did in Athens. Like Paul, we ought to speak to this dead world about the living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Like Paul, we take the message of the Resurrection and proclaim it to the ends of the earth. For we preach Christ and Him crucified, risen and soon returning. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


Monday, May 19, 2014

“Don’t Be Surprised!” (Acts 7 selected verses)

S-1432 5SOE/3A 5/18/2014 Hymns: (O) #193; (S) #354; (C) #447

Texts: Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a, 51-60; 1 Peter 2:22-10; John 14:1-14

Theme: “Don’t Be Surprised!” (Acts 7 selected verses)

Question: “What surprises you?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text is from Acts: “And Stephen said: ‘Brothers and fathers, hear me…You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it...But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7 selected verses).

You who are Baptized, Redeemed, Forgiven, Blood-bought and Heaven-bound children of God, in the name of Christ the ONLY true God and Savior rejoice in the everlasting hope and help He has given you. Jesus said: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me…I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor Me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you,” (John 14:1; 16:1-4). And from Matthew: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of His household” (Matthew 10:23-25).

Therefore I say to you don’t be surprised at what you hear and what you see as attacks against the followers of Jesus. Don’t be surprised as violence against Christians is increasing. Don’t be surprised that the media can speak evil of Jesus Christ and demean His name; but don’t say a word against Mohammad or Islam. Don’t be surprised when you see Islam at work in Nigeria as Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls; 90% are Christians and vowed to sell them as sex slaves. Don’t be surprised as you hear of a pregnant Christian woman (Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27), from Khartoum, Sudan, condemned and charged with adultery and apostasy; to be flogged (100 lashes) and hanged to death because she is married to a Christian. Don’t be surprised when you hear the President of the USA congratulate Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL player; but a Christian athlete like Tim Tebow is ridiculed. Don’t be surprised when you hear of Harvard University wanting to have a Black Mass to worship Satan on campus; but for Christians they are hindered from having Bible study, prayer time and worship on campus. Don’t be surprised as you listen to TV evangelists who preach prosperity gospel; but not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t be surprised as you listen to Joel Osteen who never talks about sin or hell; but always about being happy. Don’t be surprised at the ways of the world verses the ways of the Eternal Word-Jesus Christ.

Neither should you be surprised at what is taking place in the text before us today. Dr. Luke tells the story of a Greek man—Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit who is murdered by stoning for His confession of faith in Jesus Christ alone. Be surprised at the way the Holy Spirit equipped Stephen to handle himself and gave a glorious testimony of His trust in Jesus Christ in the face of death. Be surprised that He prayed for His enemies. Though, I shouldn’t be! I’m not sure that I could do that myself. Could you? PAUSE.

In this blessed text, we see the way the Savior works on the heart of a man who knows he can’t save himself, but trusts in Christ to save him from the eternal powers of hell and God’s wrath through His death and resurrection. We see how those who follow Jesus live to bring glory and honor to His holy name. We see the power of Christ at work in the lives of those who trust Him completely.

Jesus in the Gospel lesson today stated, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled…” He went on to say in Chapter 16, that people will kill you thinking they are doing Me a favor.” That is how warped our world is. That which is good they call bad, that which is bad they call good. That which is holy they call impure and that which is impure they call holy. Don’t be surprised saints in Christ.

Yes, don’t be surprised when we are offended and demeaned for the sake of Christ. Don’t be surprised at how quickly people get angry with you. Don’t be surprised at someone who speaks well of you to your face, but behind your back they curse you. Don’t be surprised at the wickedness of others and even our own. Don’t be surprised at how people change their minds like shifting sand. Don’t be surprised when saints leave the Good Shepherd, His teaching and abstain from dining at His table. Don’t be surprised when many things take precedence rather than being with the Savior. Don’t be surprised fellow saints. PAUSE.

Fellow saints don’t be surprised at how you and I have behave. Don’t be surprised at how hard it is for us to forgive those who hurt us and forget what they have done. Don’t be surprised at the envy that is in our hearts. As sinners we can do no less than continue to sin, though we try not to.

But today, by the grace of God, the Holy Spirit has brought us here, and in our baptism has called us like Stephen to stand up and speak out of what Christ has done and continues to do. Tell the world of the surprising gift of God’s grace to us sinners. Tell them that Christ in love did the unthinkable, unimaginable and unfathomable—taking our place as the worst sinner, going to the cross, suffering the wrath of God and dying for us.

Tell them how surprised you are that God in love sent His ONLY Son to pour upon us unworthy sinners His grace and mercy which we don’t deserve. Tell them of the love He bore for us on the cross of Calvary. Tell them of His redeeming gift of His body and blood. Tell them that in Jesus, His shed blood on the cross, and His empty tomb we have what we can’t get—surprise of all surprises—forgiveness of sins, SALVATION and eternal life. Tell them of His undying devotion to you and me.

What a privilege you and I have to be counted as the recipients of God’s grace on account of Christ. What a blessing you and I have as Pastor and people of God to be a beacon of light and hope in this dark world. What a joy you and I have to stand on the shoulders of faithful proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ like Stephen, Paul, Luke and the others as we tell the world about the Savior who fills our hearts with love, hope and peace.

Remember beloved in the Lord, that peace rules the day when Christ rules the heart. Hope rules the heart when faith anchors its identity in the Creator—Redeemer, Jesus Christ. When we as His followers take to heart what He has exhorted us to do, don’t be surprised at the results.

Paul the man who stood by the garments of Stephen while being stoned became the greatest preacher and writer of the New Testament. Talk about surprise! Peter the Disciple who denied Jesus, became a pillar of the Church and spread the message to many parts of the world. Talk about surprise! Thomas who refused to believe the Resurrection became the voice of the Resurrection even to India, where he was flayed for His confession as the resurrected Lord. Talk about surprise! James the son of Zebedee was beheaded for being a disciple of Jesus. Talk about surprise! Is it any surprise then, that we Christians are being persecuted? No, it is not!

But thanks be to God that you and I can speak of the great surprise that God would love a sinner like us to the end. Thanks be to God that Jesus is the Mediator between God and man and who pleads for us even now. And this is of course no surprise that Jesus, the Author, Agent and Administrator of our world loved us from before the foundation of the world and will do so even until He comes to take us home with Him forever.

Are you surprised at His love? You shouldn’t! He told us He would love us. He loved us to the end—even to death-death on a cross. Amen.

Now the peace...


Monday, May 12, 2014

“The Precious Gift” (Luke 18:15-17 and other texts) Confirmation Day

S-1431 4SOE/3A 5/11/2014 Hymns: LSB(O) #689; (S) #577; LS. 628; 633; 629; (C) #550

Texts: Deuteronomy 6:4-15; Acts 2:37-41; Luke 18:15-17

Theme: “The Precious Gift” (Luke 18:15-17 and other texts) Confirmation Day

Question: “Are you grounded in the Word?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text for this special day of Confirmation is based on the Gospel lesson: “Now they were bringing even infants to Him that He might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him, saying, Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Luke 18:15-17).

Precious children of the heavenly Father, today is a special day to the Catechumens (soon-to-be communicant members), their parents and this congregation. It is a special day because today these young people get to confess the faith they have been taught and receive the Precious Gift of the Altar that Christ had instituted and delivered to us through His death and resurrection.

It is a special day to the young people because they no longer have to sit in Pastor’s class and listen to him as he teaches them the truth as taught by Luther based on the inerrant Scripture. No longer do you have to memorize scriptures, write sermon reports and take quizzes and tests. They may feel wow we made it! We are done! Thank You Jesus! We completed the requirements Pastor said we needed! But far from it! You, are not done because you are not graduating, you are just continuing to grow in the knowledge of the grace and mercy of God as you remain steadfast in the teachings that has been given to you.

Therefore, in my sermon this morning I am going to address first, the Catechumens; second, their parents and third, the congregation of believers assembled here.

These words are spoken to Jamin, Paige and Mason. I pray what I am about to share with you will help you draw ever nearer to Your Savior Jesus, who suffered, died, rose on the third day, ascended into heaven and is coming back to take you to be with Him forever. PAUSE.

A colleague of mine Rev. Lee Hagen from Concordia, MO wrote a letter to His daughter Caroline for her confirmation day last Sunday. Please listen to Pastor Hagen speak to his daughter.

January 9, 2000 on the church’s calendar was the Baptism of our Lord, but it was also your baptism.  The sign of the cross was made over your head and heart as Christ marked you one of His own.  As God placed His name on you through the water and the Word, Christ’s baptism became your baptism, His death your death and His resurrection yours also.  You were brought into God’s Kingdom by God’s grace, the work of the Holy Spirit

By the grace of God Caroline was given a precious gift—becoming a child of the heavenly Father. But so have you three as your parents in obedience to God’s command and love for you brought you to the Font on September 6, 1998 (Jamin); February 13, 2000 (Paige); and May 11 (today), 2000 (Mason) respectively.  As such, you too, received the gift of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.

But your parents didn’t stop there, they did what our text stated, “They carried you into the presence of Jesus so that He might bless you and forgive your sins. And the blessings came as you sat week in and week out and listened to the Word proclaimed. They brought you to midweek and Catechism classes so that you may know what the Savior in love has done for you—went to the cross to pay for all of your sins. For the last two years they were your encouragers to remain steadfast in the Word so that as you grow up in years, you will hold to the life-giving Word no matter what may come.

Let me state it clearly, this Word, the ONLY true and lasting Word of Jesus is what you need in life. It will guide and guard your hearts and it will point you to the God of your salvation—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Because your parents loved you, they brought you to His house where His Word is taught in all of its truth and the Sacraments administered according to His teaching. I therefore encourage you though you need no longer be here on a weekly basis for your Catechism classes; please don’t stop reading, studying the Word daily and coming to His house and to His table often. Because His living Word will energize you, equip you and exhorts you to live as His redeemed children. Through the Word of God you will learn how precious you are in His sight and how much He loves you—enough to die and rise for you.

On Thursday, as I was spending my favorite day of the month-visiting the shut-ins to commune them. Two ladies with tears in their eyes wept saying, “Pastor, I miss not being able to be in church on a weekly bases!” How sad that they can’t come though they want to. Please don’t be like the majority of the young people in our LCMS. 50% of our confirmands never come back to church. They have graduated and have nothing to do with church.

Therefore, Jamin, Paige and Mason, in the name of Christ I implore you to remain steadfast in that which you have been taught and trust that Word that will set you free. Through the Word you will continue to be reminded of your sins and the grace of God that is being poured upon you on account of Christ Your Savior. The more you spend time in the Word the more you appreciate the sacrifice Jesus has given you—suffering for you, dying for you and rising for you.

Let me share with you a true story of how valuable it is to be in contact with the Word and how that Word changes lives for the better. A man worte:

“I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home. By the age of 7, I had most of the Hebrew Scriptures memorized. By the age of nine years, I could speak fluent Galilean Aramaic—the language of Christ. By the age of 13, I had already been studying Greek. By the age of 17, I was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi. By the age of 19, I was dean of the largest rabbinical school in Brooklyn, New York, and in my career, I ordained some 327 other rabbis. I taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Harvard Divinity School. I did a doctorate in New Testament studies—because I wanted to know my enemy—and I was a thoroughly happy Orthodox Rabbi…until one night.

I was in Boston on business for a graduate school where I served as dean, and Delta Airlines did me the greatest favor in my life: they lost my luggage. All I had with me was a Hebrew Bible and a small volume of Jewish law. But for some reason, that night it did not interest me. I turned on the television, but I couldn’t get interested in that either. I started opening drawers, and in one drawer, I found a red Gideon Bible.

Let me remind you that I had a doctorate in Jewish backgrounds of the New Testament, I had read most of the Scriptures in the original Greek, and I had read all the first century commentaries on it, so I was sure I knew all the answers back and forth. But I didn’t believe a word of that Book until that night when it opened by itself to the book of John and I began to really read it, through the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

By the time I got to Nicodemus and Jesus’ teaching on being born again, my eyes were tearing up, my body was trembling, and I didn’t know what to do. I thank the Lord that the Holy Spirit entered me that night for the first time in my life. I spent the rest of the night going through the Gideon New Testament, seeing how it fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecy I had learned from childhood. I had never trembled so much before, nor been so scared in my life. But I know that without that red Gideon Bible in that hotel room, I would be lost for eternity. God is good, and Jesus is Lord and Savior. The sainted Dr. Herb Opalek (Remember Your Creator Arabic/English Magazine Issue No. 91 April, 2014 p. 3)

By the grace of God this former Jew whose enemy was Jesus became a believer in Jesus Christ. He believed what that Word taught that he became a pastor and taught the faith and died in this one true faith at age 66. What a precious gift he received. Likewise, you too, have a glorious gift in the Bible. Therefore don’t stop reading it and studying it because you are now confirmed. On the contrary use it daily. Study it at every opportunity and remember as you grow older and in time the Lord gives you a godly spouse pass this precious gift to the next generation as we are encouraged by Moses to do. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

As your pastor I will miss not having you in my classroom. I will miss not having the opportunity to spend time one on one teaching you the life-giving truth of God’s holy Word. But I will be here to encourage you in your studies of the Word as you gather around your family of faith to hear the Word proclaimed and to partake of the Meal of Love given in the True Body and Blood of Your Savior, Jesus Christ. I plead with you never ignore the Word. Continue to hold it dear and read it often and gather in His house often. PAUSE.

My second part is to the parents:

As your pastor I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking to heart the admonition of Jesus as the text states by bringing your children to His bosom that He may bless them, forgiving their sins and enriching their lives. I commend you for being loving, caring, faithful, and my partners in teaching the faith in word and example


You didn’t only just bring your children to the Font or to Catechism classes. No, you were here to be a beacon of light so that you too, as a child of God, might learn the truth and partake of the Precious Gift of the Altar. You brought them here to receive the forgiveness of sins Jesus offers to ALL through His shed blood on Calvary’s cross.

You supported the ministry with your presence, services and with your offerings. You helped your children study. You invested in their lives to come to this point where they are able to confess the faith and walk humbly along with you to receive the blessings.

Now that your children have reached this special time in their lives, I implore to continue to be faithful and diligent. Continue to show them in word and deed that you are a follower of Jesus; by putting Him first in your lives, by serving Him and being obedient to Him as Moses and Luke reminds you to do. As you do so, you are leaving a heritage that will bless your children and guide them on the path to eternity. May the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ bless your efforts as you demonstrate your love to Him by continuing to live as His blood-bought children. PAUSE.

And now I would like to speak to this beautiful and awesome congregation known as Redeemer Lutheran Church.

What a privilege and honor I have to be your pastor. With you, in this place we gather together by the power of the Holy Spirit. Here we study, we pray, we confess our sins and we dine together at the Table of the Lord. In this place we mature in our study of the eternal truth that speaks of the eternal Gospel. This is indeed a blessing beyond words. But what makes you indeed extra special is that you take to heart the Words of Jesus. You take to heart the truth spoken of in Scripture. You take to heart the responsibilities in making sure that young and old alike learn all they can about the saving work of Jesus on Calvary’s cross.

Ever since I have been your pastor you have constantly gone out of your way to make sure that we have enough Lutheran materials to teach the faith. You have constantly budgeted enough funds that the young and the old learn of Jesus’ grace. You in word and deed exemplified the meaning of a church—one who have been called out of darkness of sin to live in the light of God’s grace. A Church that cares to pass on the faith to the next generation. A Church that stands on the whole Bible as the only truth and norm; by which we live, move and have our being. A Church that practices to live as people of God showing our life together in mercy to others and pouring upon many the love of Jesus because we have tasted it ourselves. A Church that lives not only to itself but seeing the harvest fields and the many souls who don’t know Jesus yet.

How thankful I am to be your pastor. To work hand in hand with you to edify the saints, expand His kingdom and exalt His name. On this special Day of Confirmation I want to thank you for the role you play in shaping and forming the lives of the younger generation that they may grow like you trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice for their salvation. May the Lord Jesus who died and rose for you continue to bless your wonderful life in serving Him and His people.

Finally, I close with the words of my colleague Pastor Lee Hagen from the same letter he wrote to his daughter: “Caroline, you have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection.  You have died to yourself and now risen as God’s new creation.  So it is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you.  That means that Christ works through you whether teaching children or caring for the sick.  So whether it is wife and mother or worker or all of the above, may you find joy in being who God has called you to be – His beloved child!”

Thus, I say to you beloved children of God, rejoice in the Lord always and I say it again rejoice! Rejoice because you are Baptized, Redeemed, Forgiven, Blood-bought and Heaven-bound children. Rejoice on this special day of Confirmation not only for these three young people, but for all of us who are privileged and honored to be guests at the Table of the Lord to receive the Precious Gift of His Body and Blood.

May God grant us the constant joy and peace in knowing this Precious Gift is given to each and every one of us in this room—because Jesus loves us always. Amen.

Now the peace…


“Stand Up and Speak Out” (Acts 2:14a, 36) Main Street Living Sunday

S-1430 3SOE/3A 5/04/2014 Hymns: (O) #194; (S) #451; (C) #400

Texts: Acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-25; Luke 24:13-35

Theme: “Stand Up and Speak Out” (Acts 2:14a, 36) Main Street Living Sunday

Question: “How comfortable are you to speak out?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 3rd Sunday of Easter is from the Acts: “But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them…Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:14a, 36).


We are still in the Easter season. Therefore, I say to you again, “Christ is Risen!” (waiting for their response. “He is Risen. Indeed. Alleluia!” You know beloved I never get tired of hearing and saying these words. For these words are life and salvation. These words are hope and joy. These words are commemoration and better yet celebration of the victory of what Christ has accomplished for us.

Today the Holy Spirit engages us to listen to the Pentecost Sermon preached by Peter, as he stood alongside the 11 Apostles and explained to all of those who heard his voice about the mighty victory of the Resurrection that Jesus procured. In essence, Peter was saying to the world then and us today, we are witnesses of the Resurrection. With this sermon, he launched the Church forward and by the grace of God 3000 souls were converted to be followers of the Nazarene. Talk about Church growth worked by the mighty power of the Word preached and proclaimed.

Let us remember that this sermon was delivered by a divinely-energized Peter, who now boldly warns those who several weeks earlier had taken part in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. He warns them that the day of the divine judgment is near, and yet he gives hope because there is still an opportunity for repentance, salvation and divine blessings. Let us listen well to these words, bearing in mind that thousands came to faith through this sermon. “But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them…Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified”

As Peter stood up and spoke out, the world was changed. The Spirit convicted the sinners, caused them to have penitent hearts, receive His forgiveness and turned away from the life they lived—serving themselves. Peter in this sermon was teaching them that the Rabbai has robbed the grave of its power. As the Savior stood in their midst, He gave them peace and filled their hearts with joy so that all of the 11 disciples consecrated their lives in standing up and speaking out about Jesus, who was put to death but rose again on the third day. PAUSE.

Here, in this place behind these closed doors, the Savior comes and gives us His peace. He also tells us that we are His witnesses to the ends of the earth. Witnessing is not only limited to speaking clever words on our part. Rather witnessing is telling what Jesus has done for us. Peter and the Disciples tell about it to anyone and everyone. Peter the fisherman who has become a fisher of men was dragged to the Gentile house of Cornelius. There, he as a Jew and Cornelius as Gentile were converted to be God’s spokespersons.

The disciples spoke boldly and traveled the world over. And today, we hear Peter again standing up and speaking out about the mighty power of the Resurrection to those who were standing before Him. Cost was not an issue but souls were. In the ministry of the Gospel the cost is not in dollars and cents; but in sinners, blind, dead and enemies of God; hearing the good and glorious news. Likewise, we speak with our lips and confess with our hearts, of what Christ has done for us—suffered in our place, died in our place, destroyed satan for us and rose to give us life eternal with Him in heaven.

Today, by the grace of God Main Street Living (MSL) is one of those voices that speak of the power of the Resurrection Christ has earned for sinners the world over. MSL is a voice of grace and goodness that tell those who are unable to be in the Lord’s house and those who don’t have any church affiliation that Christ is their hope and help; that Christ is their joy and blessing; that Christ is their only source of salvation and restoration.

Since 2001 MSL has been the medium by which the resurrection message been proclaimed to many homes in the tri-state area. For over 13 years the message of the crucified and risen Christ has been entering many homes, nursing-homes, hospitals, assisted living unites and hearts and speaking to them of the blessed news of Jesus’ victory over sin, death and the grave. Sunday after Sunday one of my colleagues stands up in the pulpit and speaks out the words of Law and Gospel and share with people, the message of grace and forgiveness.

In the blessings that Christ has given us we can be of help in participating in sharing the good news. Beginning right here in this church you can live your lives as the redeemed people of God. In this place you can give your offerings to spread the Gospel. You can pray for the ministry of the Lord and for MSL; and am so thankful that you have been doing so. PAUSE.

As you know, I just returned from St. Louis and Fort Wayne. While at both of the seminaries I witnessed and participated in the vicarage and Call Services. Over 100 vicars and 90 candidates were sent out to the mission field so that they can be God’s spokespersons in being resurrection proclaimers.

As I sat in the Lord’s house, I reflected upon the privilege and blessing the Lord has given me to be YOUR pastor and His proclaimer. I must admit that tears rolled down my cheeks at the honor the Savior has bestowed upon me. I wished I had always been a resurrection man telling all. But I haven’t always done so. I ask God and you to forgive me and help me be more faithful in my proclamation of His resurrection. After all, this is what the Savior has called us to be—men and women who would stand up and speak out of every blessing He has given and continues to give. PAUSE.

He was only 36 years old and was purchased on the auction block in 1852 in Charleston, South Carolina for $700.00. Grandison Harris was purchased by the Dean of the Medical College of Augusta, Georgia. His main job was to rob the Augusta’s black Cedar Grove Cemetery and bring the bodies back to school.

Night after night, Harris took his wagon, tools and robbed the graves. He became known as the “Resurrection Man.” For over 50 years he robbed graves so that the Medical students could learn new things about the body. For his work-he got $8.00 a month salary. At age 92 he died and was buried in the same cemetery.

Grandison Harris may have been nick named the “Resurrection Man.” But he wasn’t! He was only a robber hired to accomplish a job for a medical college. Jesus, on the other hand, wasn’t paid to rob a cemetery. He willingly paid with His dear life to free everyone from the clutches of the grave. Jesus indeed is “The Resurrection Man.” He is the ONLY One who ever robbed the grave of its power and became known as the One who rose from the grave and defeated death once and for all.

Like Peter, you and I have a golden opportunity to stand up and speak out about this “Resurrection Man” Jesus Christ. We have a blessed privilege to be his mouthpiece and servants. For there are still many people in this world who don’t know Him personally as Lord and God. Therefore, by the Spirit of Christ we stand up and speak out. We give of ourselves in time, talents, testimony and treasures for the spread of the Good News. Faithfully we support the ministries of Redeemer Lutheran Church and MSL with prayers and financial support—so the Gospel might speak to others as it has spoke to us.

My prayers for us as Easter people are that we stand up and speak out freely and joyfully about the “Resurrection Man”, Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit fill us with wisdom and vigor to speak always of His love that took Him to the cross and rose again from the grave. Therefore, I say it again, “Christ is Risen!” (wait for their response) Amen.

Now the peace…


“The Gospel of the Second Chance” (Mark 16:7)

S-1429 ES/3A 4/20/2014 Hymns: (O) # 457; #463; S #487; LS. 461; 469; 490; (C) #478

Texts: Mark 15:42-16:3; Psalm 118:10-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

Theme: “The Gospel of the Second Chance” (Mark 16:7)

Question: “Would like another chance at life?” Armour, SD

Christ is Risen! (3x). The text for the victory celebration is the Gospel lesson: But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.”


Beloved in the Lord we have arrived! After 40 long days of treading up the hill of regret and remorse, the hill of lament and languish, the hill of sorrow and sadness; we stand in the presence of the empty tomb to see the Prince of Heaven, the crowned Jewel of salvation and the Hidden Treasure—the RISEN Jesus Christ.

Today, in the name of the resurrected Christ we say to the devil “you are toast!” Death, “you are done!” “Sin, get off my back!” Today, we celebrate, rejoice and shout to the world the divine courier’s message: “HE IS NOT HERE! HE IS RISEN ALLELUIA!

Today, we listen to St. Mark as He beautiful illustrates the glorious truth that the Rabbi who died on Friday is alive and well and is among us. That what the prophet from Galilee taught saying: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again!” is true. That He is the Lord who forgives even the worst of sinners and the best of saints. Just ask Peter and he will tell you in his own special way, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of the Second Chance.

Come with me to the Garden tomb. Walk behind the women as they wonder who is going to remove the stone and then listen carefully to the divine courier who said. “But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” Did you catch it? Did you hear it? Only two words, but oh the power of those two words “and Peter.

This text is just absolutely beautiful like finding a pearl in an unexpected place. To put it simply, don’t linger here, go and tell the disciples their Master, Savior, Lord and Friend has arisen and will go ahead of you to Galilee. But make sure you tell Peter too. Let Peter know I will be waiting for him where our ministry began in Galilee.

What a statement! What a line! What hope in the midst of hopelessness! It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall when he denied His Lord—and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again. Be sure that Peter knows. Be sure that He knows he is not left out. Tell him that one failure or two doesn’t make a flop. Wow! What a message. No wonder they call it THE GOSPEL OF THE SECOND CHANCE. PAUSE.

To be sure our world doesn’t offer us many chances in life. You know this truth first hand. Maybe you have experienced it too. Just ask the kid who sits at the bench, never getting the opportunity to play BB. Ask the young girl who never makes the cut to be a cheerleader. Ask the young woman who got the pink slip while having family to feed. Ask the husband whose wife left him for a richer man.

The world says, “it’s now or never, got to get tough if you want to get ahead, three strikes and you are out or it’s-a-dog-eat-dog world. That’s the ways of the world. But that’s not the way of the Word made flesh.

Ask Peter and he will tell you what the Savior has done for him. One moment he felt dejected and rejected because He denied His Lord. He felt so little he wept bitter tears. But after the resurrection Jesus welcomed him to his bosom and forgave him everything.

No wonder Peter understood what it means to go out of your way to share the message of the Resurrection with the world that they too have a second chance to hear and believe. That is why he traveled to Rome to teach others about the RESURRECTED LORD who forgave him, giving him a new beginning and a new hope. That is why he wrote in his first epistle these memorable words: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3). Peter, who failed and hit bottom, now feels like he is on top of the world. Peter has hope. Not just any hope—but living, active and Rooted not in his efforts but in Christ alone! He spoke of this hope to anyone and everyone.

There are some Biblical scholars who say that the Gospel of St. Mark is really the transcribed notes and dictated thoughts of Peter. Perhaps it is. If so, then it would have been Peter himself who included these two words. Can you envision this older rough fisherman sharing these words of hope with Mark? As he did, he may have had to brush away a tear and swallow a lump when he told this story of the Master who forgave Him by dying for his sins and the sins of the world. PAUSE.

Precious children of God on this Easter Sunday, I, as your Pastor, share with you the truth that Christ Jesus suffered and died so that you may have life and have it abundantly. Although the resurrection is not a chancy event, it is real so that we get another chance.

I share this story to make my point. In the movie “Hoosiers”, the setup is in the 1950’s in BB crazy Indiana. It is the story of a defrocked coach, an alcoholic father and a town that needs a second chance.

After the coach uses his own system to build up his team, he seeks out the alcoholic father (who knew much about basketball and asked him to be his assistant coach). Everyone in the community didn’t agree with the coach’s decision and neither did his own (drunken) son. At one point the boy speaks with his coach saying: “What you are doing for my father, is great but he doesn’t deserve it, he is not worth it!” The coach disagreed.

Later during one of the games, the head coach asked the referee to kick him out of the game. He does and the alcoholic father is left in charge. He coaches them to a victory. At that moment the son with joy in his heart and smile on his face says to his father: “Dad, you did well!”

A little later the alcoholic father falls off the wagon and makes a mess of things and the coach gives him another chance and puts him in a rehab center. The whole movie is about every team member getting a second chance and so is the whole community.

There is nothing that gives such courage to the living and such hope to the dying as the cross of Jesus Christ.

God’s undeserved love has been painted on the canvas of human history on a rough, rugged and rude cross outside of Jerusalem. This love that God has for mankind is not like ours. Our love is conditional depending how others acts or behave towards us. On the other hand, God’s love is freely given to every sinner. This love has carried many a soul through its darkest hour and cloud. It is given in a nutshell in these words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is not just any love, but love demonstrated in action. The love of God is not mere words written on a page, but love carried out for the whole world to see on a cruel instrument of torture—the cross. On this cross Christ permitted Himself to be nailed to a beam and lifted up high for all to see. That is the love of God for you. As you study the Gospel of the Second chance—see the cross for what it is and learn that God will spare nothing to let us know of His endless, ceaseless and boundless love.

Everything in Christianity, all of its truth and joys, are embodied in the cross. The cross reminds us of how Jesus suffered for us. It reminds us of God’s mercy and grace. It proclaims that all of our sins have been paid for by the precious and holy blood of Jesus. It proclaims that nothing will ever separate us from God’s love. In the cross and empty tomb we find our greatest comfort, strengthening hope and everlasting joy and peace.

The resurrection means we have hope, not only for today, but forever. Paul, in his resurrection chapter said: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… (1 Cor.15:19-20). Yes this is our hope a living hope. Not only to Mary who heard on Easter morning Jesus saying, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” (John 20:15). But also to Peter who denied Him, to His mother who grieved Him, to the disciples who abandoned Him, to the soldiers who beat and crucified Him, to the thief who defended Him and to you and me who sinned against Him!

Today, in this place we know all about the Gospel of the Second Chance. Today, we shout and rejoice saying Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may the cross remind us of Your love and forgiveness today; and may we share the Gospel of Your second chance with future generations so that they may know as their Savior and Lord. Amen.

“A Loyal Companion” (John 19:26-27)

S-1428 GF/3A 4/18/2014 Hymns: (O) # 435; #451; S #770; 450;

Texts: 2 Samuel 2:4-6; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 19:25-27

Theme: A Loyal Companion” (John 19:26-27)

Question: “Who is your closest companion?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, the text for Good Friday is from the Gospel lesson “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27).


Most holy and beloved people of God, tonight our journey brings us to that dreadful night of darkness, destruction and death on Skull Hill. Tonight we stand in awe and wonder what would possess the Rabbi from Nazareth to allow people to beat Him, brutally abuse Him, bloody Him by hanging Him on the cross. Tonight we hear the jeers, the sneers and the smears of the Man from Nazareth. Tonight we see the torture, the torment and the tears. Tonight we see the deepest demonstration and devotion of the LOVE of Jesus.

In the midst of it all, the Man on the cross is in total control of every second, soldier and sentence because He is the Savior of the world on God’s mission to free people from the anguish of death and the agony of hell. In the midst of it all, Jesus is not concerned about Himself but about others namely His mother and John the One whom He loved. In the midst of it all, Jesus raises His voice and speaks words to one of His loyal followers saying: Behold, your mother!”

Tonight, we see what it means to be a friend, a loyal companion and a support when the chips are down. Tonight, we learn the true meaning of what Jesus said, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This evening we see this friend who stood by His Lord and Savior throughout the depth of Gethsemane’s long ordeal, in the court of Caiaphas, at the trial before Pontius Pilate and now at His crucifixion. PAUSE.

John understood loyalty first hand. Not because He stayed by His Savior during the final hours of Jesus’ earthly life, but because His Savior was the One who was loyal to the end. That is why in the Gospel of John, he paints this friend with the greatest images: The Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. He is the One who came from the Father to forgive and heal and restore. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

John goes on describing with more details and vibrant colors this Man who was His teacher and loyal companion for 3 years saying, “The Messiah, in a word, was/is ‘the Word.’ A walking message. A love letter. A light in a dark world and joy in a sad life. In Him and because of Him we have FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND LIFE ETERNAL.

The relationship between these two companions is similar to that of Moses and Joshua, David and Nathan, Elijah and Elisha. But in John, we see more of this loyalty as he describes in a very simple and profound way the endearing term Jesus coined for him—“The One Jesus loved!”

But John also showed love and loyalty to Jesus. One gets the impression that to John, Jesus was above all a loyal companion. Rabbi? Of course! Teacher? Positively! Messiah? Yes! Son of God? Indeed! Miracle worker? Definitely! But more than anything else Jesus was loyal to the end. He would complete the task at hand. He would finish man’s redemption. He would be the friend that would fulfill His own words—dying for His friends; and even more, for His enemies.

This is the friend of sinners. For this reason our sermon hymn “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” has become one of the favorite hymns in Christendom and used at the passing of one from this veil of tears to the life eternal. The hymn writer captures this thought beautifully saying: “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.” LSB 770 v. 2, PAUSE.

John understood this and he wants us to understand it as well and to realize what we have in Jesus as our loyal companion. Perhaps, this is why John was the only one of the twelve who was at the cross. He came to say goodbye. By his own admission he hadn’t quite put the pieces together yet. But that didn’t really matter. As far as he was concerned, his closest friend was in trouble and he came to help and give support.

Likely one of the youngest disciples of Jesus, John teaches us that the strongest relationship with Christ is not a complicated one. He teaches us the greatest webs of loyalty are spun in love and mercy that reveals you have a friend you can count on.

Beloved children of God, Christ is indeed loyal to you to the end—the end of His life on the cross for your sins. But it goes beyond the cross. He is loyal to you at the empty tomb. He is loyal to you as He hears and answers your prayers. Christ is the loyal companion who will stick by you no matter what. Christ is the eternal friend who supports you; strengthens you and sustains you through His Word and Sacraments.

Through that Word that speaks of the Word that became flesh, it shows us on Good Friday the glorious relationship we have with Him and what it does for us. It proves to us that what Christ has spoken is true—He will lay down His life and raise it up again. He becomes our joy and this joy is full and complete. It connects us to God the Father, it restores our broken relationship. It opens the gates of heaven and guarantees our salvation.

As you stand this evening on this Good Friday, remember the LOYAL companion—your LORD and Savior, Jesus who offered His life for yours and rose again on the 3rd day to give you the hope of glory. Remember the Psalmist who stated: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Now this is good news the world needs to hear.

Because Christ is our friend who died for us, we become friends to others and introduce them to this FRIEND of sinners—the loyal companion to the ends of the earth. Amen.

Now the peace…


“A Meal To Remember” (Luke 22:19-20)

S-1427 MT/3A 4/17/2014 Hymns: (O) # 440; #431; S #445; LS. 634; 633; (C) # 436

Texts: Psalm 23; Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 22:14-23

Theme: A Meal To Remember” (Luke 22:19-20)

Question: “Do you remember a meal you had?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, the text for Maundy Thursday is from the Gospel lesson “And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood’” (Luke 22:19-20).


Most beautiful and loved children of God Perhaps some of you can remember meals you have had that stick in your mind. Maybe it was going to grandmas for Christmas or Easter. Maybe it was mom’s specialty that you fondly remember.

There are two meals that I remember well. The first, when I was about 13 years old, mother sent me on an errand to buy a thermometer. Well, being young and uncaring, I spent the whole day playing and broke the thermometer I bought. After being gone from home for almost 8 hours, needless to say my father wasn’t very happy with me. I got a good whipping and was sent to the kitchen to eat. My sister dished the meal for me, but in my anger I didn’t want to eat. My sister told my dad that I refused to eat and he demanded I should do so. I refused. Finally, he opened my mouth and shoved the food down my throat. Well that didn’t set well. That which went in quickly came out, and still to this day I can’t even look at that meal. But I also remember a meal my mother making me a special meal (stuffed grapes leaves and zucchini) as I returned home, having spent a year in the States. What a delicious meal that was. These meals conjure up memories be it good or bad. Thinking of these meals brings back memories of people who may not be here anymore. Along with the memories often come thoughts of love and connectedness.

Dr. Luke describes the events in the Upper Room as the Disciples gathered with their Rabbi to observe and celebrate the Passover Meal or the Meal of remembrance as God commanded the Israelites to do for generations to come. In the book of Exodus chapter 12, the O.T. Lesson for this evening, we have the story of God telling His chosen people to kill a lamb they purchased 4 days before and eat it in haste; in preparation for their deliverance from the bondage of slavery. After butchering the lamb, blood was to be smeared on the door frames and when the angel of death came to claim the first-born of the Egyptians, he would pass over the houses marked with blood. Here is the command of God for this Meal of remembrance. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast” (12:14).

Thus, centuries later, this Man from Nazareth with His Galilean followers gather to commemorate this event of deliverance by the Awesome God, who comes to the aid and rescue of His people! Jesus in humility observes the same event as a common ordinary person. Scripture gives us a clear picture that He came from an ordinary family just like ours.

In the text this evening we find Jesus and His disciples observing the final Passover together. At this Passover, He instituted the Lord’s Supper. The Passover was and is a Jewish feast that reminds them of how God delivered them from Egyptian slavery. It was a feast wherein many lambs were slain, perhaps as many as 250,000 in Jesus’ time. The blood of these lambs, however, could never pay for people’s sins. It took a greater sacrifice to do that, and it came in Jesus’ giving of Himself as the Lamb which God Himself has chosen to be pure and blameless to take away the sin of the world on the cross. It was this blessed Meal which Jesus instituted to commemorate the world’s deliverance.

Little did the disciples know that this would be the final meal they would have with their friend, teacher, Rabbi and Lord. Little did they understand what He was about to do. Everything that night was different. First, He humbles Himself and washes their feet. Then gathered around the table He breaks bread and utters those life giving Words: This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ And then He lifted the cup saying,This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.’” PAUSE.

The Meal that we come to observe tonight should do for us what the memory of other memorable meals does for us. It should draw us closer to the Savior and show our connectedness to His sacrifice He endured for our redemption. Jesus told His disciples to partake of this Supper in remembrance of Him and what He would do for them. They certainly had no idea at this time that this Meal would later mean so much more than just a meal. It was not until after Jesus was crucified and resurrected that they would know the full impact of this Meal they observed with Jesus before His betrayal and crucifixion.

Tonight, as we gather to celebrate and observe our Passover from death to life—we remember with fondness what Christ has commanded—do this in remembrance of Me. This meal has great meaning and benefit for us—Christians. This Meal is offered for sinners as Jesus dies for the sins of the world and becomes the world’s SAVIOR. This meal reminds us that Jesus died for the sins of all people—for us—for you. It reminds us of His broken body as it hung on the cross and the blood that flowed from His body as He lay dying for our sins. It reminds us that this is the Medicine of immortality.

Just as the blood on the door frames of the Israelites in Egypt, saved them from death; likewise, the blood of the Lamb of God given in this Meal of remembrance saves us and delivers us from death and hell. That is why we never force anyone to eat this meal; like my father did to me. Instead, Jesus offers us the privilege to dine with Him and receive all of the blessings He has to offer us. As you come look closely at this gift and treasure it and hold it dear to your heart; for you are eating Christ’s body and drinking Christ’s blood for the forgiveness of your sins.

For this reason, we, Lutheran Christians spend a lot of time educating young and old of the treasures of the Church in this Meal of remembrance. In this Meal, we are reminded of the cost Jesus paid to win our freedom. In this Meal, we are reminded what Jesus suffered to free us from the bondage not of Pharaoh, but a worse tyrants-Satan, death and hell.

Therefore, as we gather to observe the Passover Meal this evening, we remember it as a Meal of remembrance. The Meal we get tonight is a meal of peace. It is a Meal of forgiveness. It is a Meal of healing for the soul. It is a meal of reverent joy. This is a Meal that nurtures and nourishes and a Meal that brings about deliverance.

This is not just a meal but a Meal of Remembrance of the greatest sacrifice the world has even seen given and shed for you by the Lamb slain on the Altar of the cross.

What blessing awaits you, as you shall dine, celebrate and observe this Meal of remembrance for YOUR good and for His glory. Come, now, everything is ready. Amen.

Now the peace…

“Marching Unto Death” (Isaiah 50:4-6)

S-1426 Palm S/3A 4/13/2014 Hymns: (O) #160 vv 1-3; S #658: LS 161; 316; 307; (C) #160 vv 4-5

Texts: Isaiah 50:1-9; Philippians 2:5-9; John 12:20-43

Theme: “Marching Unto Death” (Isaiah 50:4-6)

Question: “Have you marched for a cause?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text for Palm Sunday is from the O.T. Lesson: The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning He awakens; He awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God Has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave My back to those who strike, and My cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not My face from disgrace and spitting” (Isaiah 50:4-6).


Beloved saints in Christ Palm Sunday is a day that allows us to enter with Jesus into the Holy city-Jerusalem and behold the heaven-sent Savior marching unto death—death on the cross for us-for you. Palm Sunday ushers us into the most sacred, solemn and serious time in the life of Jesus to earn our salvation. Palm Sunday permits us to be with the throng and walk along the path and observe to what extent Jesus would march to free us, give us faith and guarantee our future. His march leads Him to the crucifixion on a Roman cross, the grave and the empty tomb for us—for you.

Throughout man’s history there have been many who were forced to march to death. Under the cruel Roman Emperor Nero, a law was put in place which stated: That if a slave kills his master; all of the slaves in the household would be put to death because no one warned the master of the danger. On July, of 61 AD., 400 slaves were marched to the Hippodrome and were put to death because one of the slaves killed his master.

In August of 64 AD a large portion of Rome was burnet to the ground. Nero blamed the Christians and many of them were brutally put to death by wild animals, swords and burned alive. The leaders of the Christian church, including Peter were encouraged to leave the city so that they could save the church. While Peter was leaving the city he saw (in his mind’s eye) the Master Jesus Christ going to the city. Peter asked Him, “Where are You going Lord?” Jesus’ response to Peter, “I’m going to minister to the burdened, burned, and branded as enemies of the state!

Having heard this, Peter turns around and marches back into the city of Rome. He offers himself to the authority and asked to be crucified upside down because he is not worthy to be crucified like His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. PAUSE.

However there is no greater march unto death as the Suffering Servant, our Savior endured for us-for you as told us by the Prophet Isaiah in the text for this Palm Sunday. Hear the Word of Isaiah again please. The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning He awakens; He awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God Has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave My back to those who strike, and My cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not My face from disgrace and spitting

As the Suffering Servant and Savior, Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time; He knew He wouldn’t come out alive. He knew He was marching unto death. He knew that He wouldn’t turn backward from His mission; He would give His back upon which they would dig furrows in it; He would permit some to strike Him and others to pull out the hair out of His beard and His face to be beaten and bloodied for us-for you.

The Suffering Servant and Savior as He heard the cries of the people on the Palm Sunday processional saying: “Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to the Son of David!,” knew that He would march into Jerusalem, would be handed to the authority, condemned to death-death by crucifixion on a hewn cross for the sins of the world-for us-for you.

Beloved in Christ, Jesus’ triumphal entry into the City of David was intended to triumph over our enemies and do away with the curse of the law and the punishment of hell. And His triumph was the answer to the prayers of those who stood by the road and cried out to God to save them. PAUSE.

When the people cry out, God hears and sends a deliverer. Moses, Joshua, the Judges, David—when the people cry out for help, for rescue, for restoration, for redemption, God sends His chosen One. Hear our cries, O LORD. Let Your ears be attentive to our pleas for mercy. O Lord, hear my voice; let my cries come unto You. “Deliver [us] from sinking in the mire; let [us] be delivered from [our] enemies and from the deep waters…Answer [us] O LORD, for Your steadfast love is good; according to Your abundant mercy, turn to [us]” (Ps. 69:14, 16).

From this holy place called Redeemer Lutheran Church, in Armour, SD our prayers and cries for mercy rise up from the altar of our supplication, seeking the LORD and His help in time of trouble. For we, all, are marching towards death—death because of our sins that sends us to the abyss of hell.

Without our deliverer, the Suffering Servant—Jesus our march to death would take place because the devil would lead us by the nose to receive our due reward, separation from the presence of God forever where there is gnashing of teeth and torment of hell.

As the redeemed people of God, I need to ask you, are you marching to tell others about the One who was sent to be rescuer and redeemer of the people the world over? Are you marching with eagerness to be in His house of worship? Are you marching to study the Word of God? Are you marching towards the altar to be fed and nurtured?

If you are God be praised. If you are not, I am so thankful that the Spirit has led you here to hear the footsteps of the Savior as He marches on towards Skull Hill to die for the world—for us—for you. PAUSE.

In the book of Genesis chapter 44 the 11 sons of Jacob returned to Egypt to buy grain and depart. On their way back to the Promised Land, the Egyptian soldiers followed and overtook them. They asked “Why have you done this evil against my kind master and took his silver cup?” Ultimately the cup is located in Joseph’s full brother—Benjamin’s bag.

The soldiers drag Benjamin back to Egypt and put him in jail. Then Judah his older brother pleads and begs with Joseph to let him be jailed instead of his brother for the sake of his elderly father—Jacob who has already lost one brother—Joseph. Joseph wouldn’t permit his brother Judah to do so. However, the great, great grandson of Judah—Jesus would give His life, not only to rescue Benjamin, Peter, the 400 slaves but the world. That is why He marched into the city of Jerusalem knowing full well He would march unto death for us-for you; and would rise again so that we would march with Him unto the glories of heaven.

What joy fills our hearts on account of the Savior, Jesus who marched in our place in hell so that we would march with Him forever in heaven. Amen.

Now the peace…


“A Cry of Completion” (John 19:30)

S-1425 6MIL/3A 4/08/2014 Hymns: (O) # 170 vv1-4; S #159; (C) # 170 vv 5-7

Texts: Psalm 27:7-14; Hebrew 9:23-28; John 19:28-30

Theme: A Cry of Completion” (John 19:30)

Question: “Have you completed every project you started?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, the text is from the Gospel lesson “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)


Tonight, we complete our midweek Lenten opportunities as we prepare to enter the most Holy week of the Church, beginning this Sunday observing Palm Sunday. Therefore, as we continue our journey this evening we will listen to John the youngest of the disciples about the final hours of Jesus on the cross and the words He uttered.

Remember beloved that John grew up in a Levetical priestly home of his father Zacharias. He knew what it meant to be in the temple of God and what worship is all about. He had witnessed firsthand many of the completed sacrifices of lambs slaughtered to pay for the sins of the Israelites. Through these slaughtered lambs the imputation of sin was placed upon them. He had seen how his father transferred the imputation of sins upon the lamb. And this evening he sees how the true Lamb—God’s Son, Jesus is imputed with the sins of all of humanity and thus, Jesus shout out, “The Cry of Completion.”

Therefore, I invite you to come by the cross, stop and listen attentively. Can you imagine the cry from the cross? The sky is dark. The other two victims are moaning. The jeering mouths are silent. Perhaps there is thunder. Perhaps there is weeping. Perhaps there is silence. Then Jesus draws in a deep breath, pushes His feet down on that Roman nail, and cries, “It is finished!”

What was finished? What was is that Jesus has completed? The battle is over. The history-long plan of redeeming man was finished. The message of God to man was finished. The works done by Jesus as a man on earth were finished. The task of selecting and training ambassadors was finished. The job was finished. The song had been sung. The blood had been poured. The sacrifice had been made. The sting of death had been removed. It was over and complete once and for all.

Do you think this was a cry of defeat? NEVER! This was planned before the creation of the world. It is possible that if the hands of Jesus had not been fastened to the Roman cross, He might have raised His hands up in triumph. Certainly this is no cry of despair. It might well have been a cry of relief. This cry was a cry of fulfillment. It was certainly a cry of completion. It was most certainly a cry of victory! PAUSE.

An old poster once read: I know that the Lord won’t let me die until I have accomplished everything He has sent me to do. At this point I am so far behind that I might not EVER die! Does anyone leave this world with everything done? With every word written and every goal reached? Just ask my wife about my projects that are all over my house that have not been completed. How about you? Have you completed every project you started? How many books have you started, but never completed? A letter begun but never finished, a discourse with a friend, a visit of someone sick, finishing a term paper, or study for a test? There are many projects in our homes that have not been completed. And of course, we can’t forget even here in the Lord’s house, we have not completely forgiven the brother or sister who has sinned against us.

Then the burden and frustration that death brings is the fact that there are many incomplete events in our lives; but not with our Savior, Jesus. Not so with Jesus. When He breathed His last, He could shout tri­umphantly, “It is finished! It is complete! It is done!”

What did Jesus mean when He uttered the Cry of Completion? Just as the Greeks stamped these words on tax bills to show they were paid in full, so Jesus now wrote them with the red ink of His blood on the bill of our sins. “Finished, paid in full,” He said. “Not one more penny needs to be added. I have paid for all sins; not one is left. I have shed My precious blood to redeem every sinner. And now, My work of salvation is finished and completed.” From His cross Jesus turned His gaze from the first sinner to the last and saw none for whom He had not paid; not even you. PAUSE.

What joy there must have been in heaven when Jesus spoke this Word! The Father must have said again, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I Am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). The angels must have sung again, “Glory to God in the high­est, and on earth peace” (Luke 2:14)—peace made possible by the blood of God’s Son.

Know and learn that the Cry of Completion took place for your redemption and salvation. How, then should you act and feel? Please hear me well dear saints in Christ: When your sins causes you alarm, then the voice of Jesus bring comfort to you as He utters the Cry of Completion. “It is finished!”

When Satan tries to drag us and lead us around by the nose, the voice from Calvary answers, It is completed! I have earned the right for you to be with me in paradise!” When death chills us with its icy breath, the voice from Calvary answers, “It is finished!” Our Savior, Jesus has fought the good the fight, He has finished the race, and He has completed the mission the Father has sent Him to earth to complete. Jesus has the greatest victory man desires and you and I are blessed to share in this glorious victory.

John understood this. He had witnessed firsthand the baptism of His Savior and heard the voice of God the Father, saying: “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I Am well pleased” Why was God pleased with His Son, because Jesus didn’t shun from His responsibilities to complete the saving of the human race from death and the grave and sin. Because upon Him had been imputed the sins of all the human race beginning from the first Adam who lived to the final Adam who will ever live.

What joy is ours tonight and always because Jesus has uttered the Cry of Completion for us and for our benefit? And thus, we stand tonight beneath the cross and cry out in our incompleteness and in this incomplete world, assure me daily of my complete forgiveness in You O Lord, Jesus. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


“Hope in the Midst of Death” (Ezekiel 37:3-6)

S-1424 5SMIL/3A 4/06/2014 Hymns: (O) #18; S #370: (C) #47

Texts: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:1-11; John 11:217-27; 38-53

Theme: “Hope in the Midst of Death” (Ezekiel 37:3-6)

Question: “How hopeful are you for the future?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! Te text is from the O. T. lesson And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:3-6).


Beloved saints in Christ there can be denying it for the truth is very clear, we live in a broken world. While we may become more desensitized to this reality as each day we are confronted with the misery and mourning, agony and anguish, helplessness and hopelessness that seems to fill our world. Whether it was the images of the mudslides in the Pacific Northwest, the horrific images of yet another shooting at Ft. Hood or even the images of uncontrollable grief from the families of the missing Malaysian Airline flight 370, we see this brokenness and hopelessness all around us.

But these images are not just from the other side of the country or the world. We know that this same hopeless, brokenness hits us close to home too. We are all too familiar with the images in our heads of those moments we found out that a loved one was seriously ill or in an accident that threatened their life. We have seen with our own eyes bodies full of life and promise broken and happy futures turned into futures of questions and concern. We have even seen with our own eyes the images of loved ones for whom life was no longer measured in years and months but hours and minutes up until they take their last breath.

So when someone asserts like I am today that the world is broken, you know it! You have heard the news. You have seen the sights. You have felt the lump in your throat, the pain in the pit of your stomach and the grief that can at times seem to overwhelm. They overwhelm because these events in life are tragic. The grief and pain of brokenness tears at the very fabric of our family and our personal life. When this happens we are disoriented and we scramble to pick up the pieces. There are even times when we begin to wonder if it is even possible to rebuild that which has fallen apart. Brokenness and death can leave us feeling this hopeless and helpless!

As we look at the image of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 that serves as our sermon text for today, we see brokenness. The Lord takes Ezekiel to a valley. But this is no ordinary valley. This is a valley that is filled with bones. Not just one or two bones. Not just a couple of skeletons for soldiers long dead. No, this valley is filled with bones. This image that the Lord shares with Ezekiel and us is one of death. Can you even imagine the sight of it? To view these bones is to realize that each set belonged to a person that had long fallen in battle. These bones at one time knew life. They had mothers and fathers. Perhaps some had wives and children. But no longer. They are broken. They are cut down. They are dead. There is no life in them. Without life, there is no hope. Sounds a lot like our world doesn’t it?

But today our Lord does not bring the Prophet nor you and me to this valley to fill us with despair and hopelessness. No, the Lord brings us to this valley again so that we might know hope in the midst of death. The Lord who showed Ezekiel these bones then shows that while the eyes see hopelessness and death, the Lord has in store hope and a future. Of these dry, lifeless, hopeless bones the Lord asks a question. Son of man, can these bones live?” Our human experience knows the realistic answer. We know that once death lays hold on a person, like a pit bull with a locked jaw it refuses to let go of its prey. But the Lord has not brought Ezekiel or us to this valley to show us human wisdom. No, He has brought us here to show us HIS wisdom and power!

To that end, the Lord tells Ezekiel “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” When Ezekiel does what the Lord told him to do, it is exactly what happened. Bone joined to bone. Muscle covered those assembled bones. Skin coved the muscle and life was breathed into the lifeless, dry bones. God spoke through His prophet and hope replaced hopelessness. God’s Word produced life where it seemed that death would reign permanently. This is the miracle of hope that God’s Word worked that day.

But know this: The Word of the Lord working hope in the midst of death was not just a one-time thing in a Valley so long ago. We see the same kind of Word-inspired hope in the Gospel lesson for today as well. Mary and Martha felt the helpless feeling of death as their dear brother Lazarus was dead and buried. 4 days he had laid lifeless in the tomb. The stench of death was clear. It might have been closed in by the stone and covered by the spices, but it was death nevertheless! There was no hope for this family that had been so important to Jesus. Once again for them, death left them hopeless and broken.

But Jesus had other plans! John shares Jesus words with us: Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” The Word made flesh speaks as the Eternal Word and undoes the power of death. The decaying and drying bones of Lazarus were at once made alive by the all-powerful WORD! This word restored hope to Mary, Martha and Lazarus even as it gave life in the midst of death. This is the way God works!

And it is the way God works in your life too. You too were broken and lifeless like the bones that Ezekiel saw. Your sinful nature had done battle with the Law of the Lord and you were killed. We were spiritually broken with blindness, dry and brittle in the death of sin and the Lord was not our friend but rather our enemy! Our condition was hopeless!

But into this hopelessly broken condition came the Word of God. The same Word that spoke creation into being and life into those lifeless bones and to Lazarus, spoke life into you! Our Lord took the blessedly simple element of water and combined it with that Word and gave you hope and life. In that moment the Word washed over you like the Spirit rushed over those dry bones. The Word spoke to your sinful lifelessness and hopelessness and called you, like Lazarus by name. And in that instant, you were no longer broken. You were no longer hopeless or helpless. In that instant death no longer had a claim on you! From then on you are alive in Christ!

In this Christ we have our hope. The classic hymn captures our hope like this: Our hope is built on nothing less that Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand! All other ground is sinking sand! This is our hope. Our confidence, wholeness and hope is in Jesus Alone! His is the One who destroyed the power of the grave. He is the one who has overcome all of the brokenness in the world in general and our lives in particular! His life, His death and His resurrection is the Word of Promise that seals and guarantees our hope now and for eternity!

The Apostle Peter put it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Here it is again; hope in the midst of death. But not only hope, but living hope of which no one, no situation or no event in life can rob us.

The brokenness of this world will continue. There will still be people’s lives that are torn apart by catastrophe, broken by the sins they someone commits against them or they against others, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness will continue to wash over our world. As you read the Scriptures it will even get worse the closer we get to the return of our Lord Jesus in glory. This is just another sure sign of the death that has reigned in our world.

But we have hope! Our hope lives and breathes in the midst of all of the death around us. Our Lord has called our names in the waters of Holy Baptism. In this hope-filled adoption we have become sons and daughters of God Himself. He clothes us in the skin of His righteousness and breaths into us the breath of life that is the forgiveness of sins! And then He sends us to share this hope and life with this world of death. We become His breath, sharing the same life-giving Word that caused the bones of the valley and lifeless body of Lazarus to live.

This Word is our hope. In the mercy of God there is hope in the midst of death. No matter how bleak the situation is. No matter how many hardships we go through. No matter how difficult life has become, remember there is hope in the midst of death. AMEN.

Now the peace…