Tuesday, May 26, 2015



This speech was delivered on Memorial Day at Wagner, SD on 5/26/2015 For the American Greer Post #11

I wish to thank you for giving me a foreigner the great honor and privilege to be among you and share few thoughts what makes me a proud American


With your permission, I would like to ask any person who has served or are serving now, in any branch of our armed forces to kindly stand up and be recognized. Please join me as we honor them and thank the Lord for their services to this great nation. (Please be seated).

We the people of the greatest Nation on earth—the USA gather in Wagner, SD on this Memorial Day with heart-felt gratitude and praise to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who in His Divine Wisdom and providence has richly blessed our Land with Peace, Liberty and Justice. 

At the same time, we lift our eyes and lips heavenward in thanksgiving to the Lord for the American Soldier—our HERO, who daily puts himself/herself in harm’s way to keep us from every evil and enemy, that may come upon this land of the free and the home of the brave.

With great joy I say to you that I am proud to be an American. Proud because in America I have freedom of religion, of speech, with liberty and justice! Proud to live in this great country because I can still take my Bible in hand and walk to church without having to be afraid of someone cutting my head off. I am proud to be an American because I can speak my mind against the injustice of the government without being afraid of reprisal. 

I am proud to be an American because of the American soldier—the Vanguard of freedom, who permits me and my family to sleep at night with peace and joy. I don’t have to be afraid of the enemy because I know my hero the American Soldier will come to my aid and protection.

I am proud to be an American because the American Soldier continues daily to provide the means to live here and keep the wolf from our doors. I am indeed proud to be an American because this nation has afforded me the opportunity to be educated, to serve God’s people and care for my family without fear for my life. I am proud to be an American because of a story like this:

Listen to the voice of Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly as he gave a speech on Veterans Day in St. Louis few years back: I am going to use part of his speech:

…The protected can’t begin to understand the price paid so they and their families can sleep safe and free at night.  No, they are not victims, but are warriors, your warriors, and warriors are never victims regardless of how and where they fall.  Death, or fear of death, has no power over them.  Their paths are paved by sacrifice, sacrifices they gladly make…for you.  They prove themselves everyday on the field of battle…for you.  They fight in every corner of the globe…for you.  They live to fight…for you, and they never rest because there is always another battle to be won in the defense of America.
I will leave you with a story about the kind of people they are…about the quality of the steel in their backs…about the kind of dedication they bring to our country while they serve in uniform and forever after as veterans.  Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi.  One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.  The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda… 

But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman. The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”  “You clear?”  I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.”  They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq. A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way-perhaps 60-70 yards in length-and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls.  The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed.  A mosque 100 yards away collapsed.  The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.  Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives.  Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.  Kelly goes on to say: I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story.  The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine.  They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.”  The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.  All survived.  Many were injured…some seriously.  One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”  “What he didn’t know until then,” he said, “and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal.”  Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.”  “No sane man.”  “They saved us all.” - See more at: http://www.moaablogs.org/battleofthebilge/2010/11/honor-and-sacrifice-ltgen-john-f-kelly/#sthash.lDuu6tSm.dpuf  

Do you understand why I love this country and the privilege to live here? Because of your sons and daughters who daily are on the front line keeping the wolf at bay so that these kinds of events don’t happen in our land. 

Certainly there has been an assault on our way of life. We don’t live like we use too. At the airport we are checked and inconvenienced by the hassles. Now we hear of foreign words that we can’t pronounce like Taliban, Mujahedeen, Alshabab, Al Qaeda and ISIS. These are the enemy that we can’t see. Yet they are out to destroy us and want to bring down our flying Eagle.

In her book “Unbroken,” Laura Hillenbrand speaks of Louie Zamperini’s story as POW in Japan during WWII. I share with you a snippet of these wonderful and moving words that touched my heart and soul and made me cry:

…That afternoon, an American navy man dug through his belongings and pulled out his most secret and precious possession. It was an American flag with a remarkable provenance.  In 1941, just before Singapore had fallen to the Japanese, an American missionary woman had given it to a British POW. The POW had been loaded aboard a ship, which had sunk. Two days later, another British POW had rescued the flag from where it lay underwater and skipped it to the American navy man, who had carried it through the entire war, somehow hiding it from the Japanese, until this day. The POWs pulled down the Japanese flag and ran the Stars and Stripes up the pole over Rokuroshi. The men stood before it, hands up in salutes, tears running down their faces. (p 331) PAUSE.

This flag still flies high today. Today, we don’t have to be afraid as citizens of this great nation. 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.

It is the American Soldier who rises up and wears the uniform and stand sentry to make sure that our borders and buildings, our homes and hearts are protected against the evil foe. And who is the American Soldier? The Average age of our solider is 20 ½ years old. He/she is the brightest and the best of our nation. He/she is tall or short. He is a man or a woman. He is your father; mother, brother, sister, cousin, nephew and niece. He/she is a volunteer. They are many but an army of one. Some of them you know and others you don’t. But it is the American Solider the unsung hero who makes it possible for us to live in freedom.  You know that there are no freedoms, without those willing to fight for them. And our American Solider have been fighting to keep Freedom alive ever since the inception of this nation. PAUSE.

Another quote from Laura

The plane’s red code light was blinking rapidly. A radioman in the water near Louie read the signals and suddenly cried out: “OH! THE WAR IS OVER!”
In seconds, masses of naked men were stampeding out of the river and up the hill. As the plane turned loops above, the pilot waving, the POWs swarmed into the compound, out of their minds with relief and rapture. Their fear of the guards, of the massacre they had so long awaited, was gone, dispersed by the roar and muscle of the bomber. The prisoners jumped up and down, shouted, and sobbed. Some scrambled onto the camp roofs, waving their arms and singing out they joy to the pilot above. Others piled against the camp fence and sent it crashing over. Someone found matches, and soon, the entire length of the fence was burning. The Japanese shrank back and withdrew.
In the midst of the running, celebrating men, Louie stood on wavering legs, emaciated, sick, and dripping wet. In his tired mind, two words were repeating themselves, over and over. “I’M FREE! I’M FREE! I’M FREE!”  PP. 312-313

Yes, we are free—free because someone cared—the American Soldier. We are free to go camping and boating, hunting and fishing and travel without having to be stopped at a check point. That is why Louie Zamperini and millions like him put on the uniform and fight our enemies so freedom can be enjoyed and lived, so that peace and prosperity may flourish and our children live on and tell the next generation of this great nation.

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.

And as an American Citizen, I am proud to live here and work with you and thank God for the American Soldier who makes it ALL possible for me and you to live here in freedom. After all freedom is NOT free; but a gift given to us through our heroes—the American Soldier—THE VANGUARD OF FREEDOM!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

“Guided by the Spirit” (16:12-13)

S-1498 PS/3B 5/24/2015 Hymns: (O) #234; (S) # 233; LS. #304; #307; #312; (C) #225

Texts: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Acts 2:1-21; 15:26-27; 16:4-15

Theme: “Guided by the Spirit” (16:12-13)

Question: “Who guides you in life?” CONFIRMATION and PENTECOST SUNDAY

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for Pentecost and Confirmation Sunday is from the Gospel: [Jesus said,] “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come” ( John 16:12-13).

Beloved children of the heavenly Father, last week I told you the story of a robin who for almost 24 hours was attempting to find her nest after the tree was cut down. Few days later I observed that she came back again and again to the same place. For Almost 5 days she continued to come and stand were the tree stood. But it was all futile. By then I am certain the chicks had died.

But then, at the end of the week, I saw her building a new nest. How she knew she needed to that, is by instinct that God the Creator put in her makeup. On the one hand it was sad to see her lose her chicks, and on the other it was impressive to see how God’s given instinct moved her to build a new nest for the future chicks.

Today as the Holy Spirit has brought us again to the Lord’s house, to celebrate and observe Pentecost and confirming a young man in the Faith—Zachary Huebner; we thank our good Lord that unlike a robin who has the desire to love her chicks, but lacks the vision to see where her chicks are–our Lord, in His Ascension and sending of His Holy Spirit as our Comforter knows where all His children are, including you, Zachary. Your name is a derivative of the Hebrew name “Zechariah” which means, “The Lord Remembers.” Yes, the Lord has remembered you, and yes, through your life and now confirmation instruction, you have been taught to remember Him. When you kneel shortly at this Altar, with your family and your family of faith, you will remember that He remembers you; you will remember that He keeps you. Every morning He remembers that He has claimed you in the waters of Holy Baptism. When difficult things come, He will remind you of the blessed Word that He has implanted into your heart. When you sin, He will renew you as He brings you to repentance–living out your Baptismal grace. Yes, today is grand!

In the Gospel reading today, we learn of Jesus’ promise that He will send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth. By the working of the Holy Spirit, you know the grace of God in Jesus Christ. With the wisdom and complete love of the Holy Spirit to guide you and all of us on the journey of life, we shall surely be not in the nest of a bird, but certainly in the nail-pierced hands of Him who holds the whole world, in that same Palm of His Hand! PAUSE.

Since the Savior promised that when He ascended to His Father’s right hand, it was not to leave us, for indeed, as you learned in Catechism, “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Thus, as Hebrews records for us, we know that He did not leave us, did not leave you, did not forsake us, did not forsake you, Zachary. Indeed, He sent His Holy Spirit. On Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after His resurrection Jesus fulfilled yet another promise made to His disciples.

The Apostles in faith and hope waited in Jerusalem for that day to come and it did. When the Holy Spirit descended upon them like tongues of fire it guided them in carrying out the mission of Jesus by taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Even, we here, in small town SD, are the recipients of such great blessings given by the same Spirit that guided the Apostles. We stand in the long line of the saints who have believed through their witness (John 17:20)!

It is only through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that was at work in the lives of the followers of Jesus that guided them in all truth, that we too, are guided by the same Spirit that points us to the Savior of mankind—Jesus the Christ (John 16:13).

Today, that same Holy Spirit continues to guide us as we hear His Word and are fed at His table. We see the evidence of His grace and work in the life of Zachary who soon will be confirmed in the faith. That same Spirit will also guide him and guard him as he grows in years and remain grounded in the faith that has been handed down from the Apostles all the way to our time. This guiding that is worked in Him will anchor, support and strengthen Him in the knowledge of the truth that leads to eternal life. PAUSE.

But there is danger for Zachary and all of us who are baptized into the name of Jesus. You see, many times we are just like that robin we keep returning to the same old ways. We know better, we know it is sin; but the old nature in us keeps going back to the same tree just like the robin did—in futility.

Add to that, we live in a very hostile world. The world we live in continuously entices us to walk away from following Jesus. The world strives to blind us from following the light of Christ. And the devil—that shrewd, deceptive and scheming one—is always attempting to guide us away from Christ down a winding path of sin. A sin appears easy and pleasant at first. Tragically, we follow him.

But thank God, we have the Holy Spirit who guides and guards our hearts. Thank God that as Jesus shared this discourse with His disciples in the Upper Room He said: “There are many things He wanted to say to the disciples but they were not ready.” They needed by His grace, to remain under the guidance of the Spirit so that they would serve and share the power of the Gospel with others.

So, too, are you Zachary. In so many ways YOU are not ready. There is so much more to learn. And learn it you shall… under His guidance and by His grace. And, dear one Remembered by the Lord, you are ready… ready to repent of your sins daily… ready to kneel here and taste and see that the Lord is good… ready to witness with you to one another and to the lost world out there that this God of Water, Bread, and Wine is also the God who abides with you, every day and in every way!

Today is a very important day not only because you will be confirmed—but because God is coming to you in a very new and special way—through His Body and Blood under the bread and wine. It is indeed a joy beyond measure because the Holy Spirit will guide you to rely on these gifts from today until the Lord calls you home.

It is also special to your parents, grandparents and the family of faith known as Redeemer Lutheran. For they too, by the grace of God have guided you in the way you should go. They have invested in your life. They have brought you to God’s holy house. They have prayed for you and will continue to pray for you and so will your family of faith. PAUSE.

What a blessing for us as the baptized children of the heavenly Father, to be brought here today. For today once more the grace of God is poured upon us as the Holy Spirit guides us to see our need for Jesus.

Here, the Holy Spirit causes us to confess and acknowledge that many times we have sinned against God in word and deed. Here, the Holy Spirit drives us in repentance to cry out to God to have mercy upon us because of our disobedience. Here, the Holy Spirit guides us to say, “Lord, I need You in my life. Without You I can do nothing.”

Here, by grace through faith, we follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit to be used by Him as the Holy Apostles were used to spread the message of His salvation and grace that He freely gives us through His death and resurrection.

Precious children of God—each and every one of you— and especially you Zachary, remember that in this place the Holy Spirit will guide and continues to guide you until you reach the Promised Land—heaven. You are not under the watchful eye of a Robin who cannot see, but of the Holy Spirit who comforts and keeps you ALWAYS! Amen.

Now the peace…


Monday, May 18, 2015

“Life in His Son” (1 John 5:11-12)

S-1497 7SOE/3B 5/17/2015 Hymns: (O) #205; (S) # 201; (C) #54

Texts: Acts 1:12-26; 1 John 5:9-15; John 17:11-19

Theme: “Life in His Son” (1 John 5:11-12)

Question: “Do you cherish the gift of life?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for The Final Sunday of Easter is from the Epistle reading: And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).

Beloved children of the heavenly Father, this past Friday (5/15) about 11 in the morning Randy Baan Hofman from B & H Tree Service came over to the parsonage to cut a diseased tree. I stopped him before he cut the tree and said, “I wished you didn’t have to take it down for a while. There is a robin’s nest with chicks in it.” He suggested that before he would cut the tree down, he would remove the nest to the next tree and perhaps the mother would be able to hear the chicks.

After the tree was cut down and removed, the mother returned with a worm in her beak. For a little over an hour she moved from one location to the other in search of her nest and babies. She was adamant about feeding and caring for her little ones. 2 hours had gone by and she was still searching. She even landed about 3 feet from the nest but wasn’t able to find it. By 6 in the evening she was still looking for the nest in order to care and feed her babies.

Saturday morning, she was right next to where the tree stood and she would look up and move a little and come again to the same spot. How precious is that! For over 24 hours this mother is looking, searching, trying and attempting to get to her babies to provide for and protect them.

Then it dawned on me that even creation speaks of the love of God towards His children. If you remember the words of my opening statement! “Beloved children of the heavenly Father,” and that is what we are. In the waters of Baptism Christ has put on us His indelible mark for time and eternity. In the mighty waters of Baptism He washed away our sins, gave us the gift of Holy Spirit and the garment of salvation. Every day, the Savior is on a mission to provide, protect and fulfill His promises for us. PAUSE.

The text from 1 John speaks specifically to the care the Savior provided for His first century followers, for whom John wrote, and for every generation since; including us. In this text, John, the last living disciple of the original 12 who walked with the Savior while He was on earth shares with us this glorious and blessed truth.

John, in his message to his little children (his church—saints) tells us this blessed fact: That if we have the Son we have eternal life. If we don’t have the Son, we don’t have life. This is a promise that life is in Jesus Christ alone. Two portions of the Word that illuminates this blessed truth: John 14:6, Jesus said, I Am the Way, I Am the Truth and I Am the Life, NO one comes to the Father except through Me!”And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

This is the eternal truth that in Christ there is life eternal. Just as the robin knew that she was the life-line for her little chicks, Jesus also knows that He is the life-line for all of humanity. That is why He came to earth as an infant. That is why He lived the perfect life. That is why He endured suffering and shame and eventually hanged on a cursed tree for the sins of the world—including yours and mine.

That is why the Holy Spirit works for us to know that Jesus is our life-line to the Father. He provides for us life in this world and the world to come. He gives us His Word to hear, study, and learn, and He gives us His living body and blood to nurture us and strengthen our faith. PAUSE.

The disciple John brings this truth to us in this text with two golden nuggets.

He tells us of the first golden nugget as His Testimony:And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” John is making a public confession that He was an eye witness to the events that took Jesus to Golgotha, grave and Ascension. He is testifying that Jesus suffered the punishment of hell on the cross for all humanity. John testifies that he was with the Savior, in the Upper Room at His bosom, in Gethsemane not far away from Jesus, in the court yard very close to His Savior and finally on that dark and dreary Friday beneath the cross with the mother of Jesus. But he was also a witness to His resurrection from the dead, His many appearances through the 40 days and then His Ascension into heaven.

And the second golden nugget is the Promise. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” John, this e bold evangelist, declares emphatically that if you have a personal relationship with Jesus you have life eternal. Without the Son you have nothing. Just like those chicks in the nest without their mother they would die but with her by their side they will live and thrive.

Likewise for us His followers today we need Jesus to survive and thrive. Without His care and compassion, without His love and life, we have no way of entering the Promised Land for which He Ascended into heaven to prepare for us. In Him there is life and salvation. Without Him there is death and destruction.

That is why the Holy Spirit continually seeks to gather us in the Lord’s house. That is why the author to the Hebrews was moved to write: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:23-25).

Beloved children of the heavenly Father this house of worship is the nest Christ has established to feed, care for, protect and provide for our bodily and spiritual needs. In this house of worship we learn of the benefits that Christ offers us. In this house of worship we receive from His hands of mercy the blessings He desires to give us. In this house of worship we are safe, secure and stable against the attacks of the devil.

The devil is always attempting to destroy our relationship with Jesus. He strives to distract us from hearing the living Word. He seeks ways to take us away from the comfort of the loving hands of the Savior.

This same apostle in his 3rd book gives this warning that we should heed: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (2 John 7-11).

Children of the heavenly Father, remember the robin who for a little over 24 hours kept coming back to find her chicks? On a far grander scale the Savior stands by calling you to hear and heed His Words of mercy and grace. He never gives up. He daily offers you forgiveness and grace for the journey. He daily opens His arms to welcome you back no matter how long it has been since you have talked or visited with Hi.

Here today, faithful followers of the Savior take to heart the truth of this glorious testimony of John: that if you have Christ, you have eternal life. This is your life and it is through His Son Alone. Amen.

Now the peace…


“Look Up!” (Acts 1:9-11)

S-1496 AS/3B 5/17/2015 Hymns: (O)#213; (S) # 381; L.S. #341 vv1-3; 473; (C) #341 vv4-5

Texts: Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:16-23; Luke 24:44-53

Theme: “Look Up!” (Acts 1:9-11)

Question: “How often do you look up?” Observing Ascension Day

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for The Ascension celebration is from Acts: And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

People of the resurrection, how quickly life can change! In a flash that which was before you is no longer. That which is standing is tumbled down. That which is beautiful is destroyed. That which is anchored is moved from its foundation. That, which was a home, is rubble of debris. That which you have worked for all of your life, is wiped away. That which was normal has become unknown.

You, I, and the community of Delmont know that first hand. On Sunday morning a little after 10 a.m. the whistle blew and within just a few moments life, history, church, homes and property have been destroyed. That which we considered valuable is piled up as junk. That is life in a fallen world.

But this evening as we celebrate and observe the Ascension of our resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ, we can take to heart His Word of promise there is nothing in this world that will be able to separate us from His pierced and loving hands.

This evening we are told of the disciples last moments with their Savior. They have gone with Him through a lot of events. They have witnessed His power over demons and death. They saw His compassion and care for the needy. They witnessed His love and life that He gave freely to all. Even when they forsook Him on the night He was put to death—a cruel death on a cross for the sins of the world, He forgave them. He even appeared to them and gave them words that helped them be steadfast— “שלום עליך.” “Peace be with you.” This is what Christ came to give us and even more…to reconcile us to God.

His Ascension demonstrates that God has accepted His sacrifice. This crowning glory gives us hope beyond our wildest imagination. By His Ascension to the Father’s right hand He promises to intercede even now in our lives and keep us safe from every harm and evil.

Though He has ascended to heaven, He has not left us alone. We are not orphaned. We are still His baptized children. And He promised to give us the Holy Spirit to help us keep looking up.

But how often do we really focus on heaven and the life after? When we are young we think of building and amassing wealth and property. We dream big. However, most of the dreams don’t come to fruition. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ wants us to always look up and keep our eyes on Him because He has promised that He will be back soon! PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, our lives are like a farmer who desires to plant his crops in a straight rows. To do so, he doesn’t look down or back. He looks ahead, way ahead, at a fixed point. If the point is fixed you will reach it, but if it is a moving target you will never get it. That is why it is so important to look up to see what is ahead.

I am reminded of a long time ago when I was helping my father in-law plant some wheat. As you know I’m a city boy. Never been or worked on a farm until I married a farmer’s daughter.

One spring day, dad needed some help and he asked me to plant wheat. I asked: “How do I keep the rows straight?” He said, “Pick a spot and keep your eyes on it. Never look back!” (Emphasis on never look back) When I started out heading north there was no problems picking a spot for there were many to choose from. But when I turned around that’s when the problem began. There was nothing but open space. As I drove the tractor I couldn’t tell if I was going straight or not so I turned back (I didn’t listen to my father in-law’s advise), as I did my hand turned to one side. When I realized what I did, I attempted to straighten it up, but went too far the other direction. I tried again to straighten it out and went too far to the left and then to the right. Well, you know the rest of the story.

At first, what I had done wasn’t evident, until the wheat began to grow. You should have been in the coffee shop early in the morning when people began to say: “Ed must have had lots to drink when he planted that field!” PAUSE.

You who are baptized into the name of Jesus, isn’t that like us and the disciples? Jesus had told them to keep their eyes on Him but they forgot His Word and so do we. We turn back on what was, rather than what IS…Often we look down rather than up. We always think we know better. We always try to help God in matters of salvation. We even try to figure out a way without letting the Savior lead and guide us to His home above.

Tonight beloved, I remind you of the blessings of the Ascension. I remind you this is His crowning glory. This is the day He took back all of the power that belonged to Him before He took upon Him human flesh and blood to be like us, and die for us. But more importantly to rise on the third day and ascend into heaven to guarantee us a place with Him forever.

Remember precious children of the heavenly Father, though everything in this world will be taken away from us and or left behind when we depart from this world; may we not be consumed with worry of what we should amass and accumulate? We are exhorted to look up and put our hope and trust in Him alone. For He will supply all of our needs because He is faithful!

This would all be very worrisome if we didn’t know that God was in control, working out His plan for the nations and us His baptized.  Instead, He has told us that when these things begin to take place, to “lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” May we remain alert and firm in faith, always looking up for the Blessed Hope. PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, Jesus often looked up to His heavenly Father. He looked up and prayed when He blessed the 2 fish and 5 loaves. He looked up and gave thanks when He instituted the Sacrament of the Altar. He looked up from the cross and prayed to His Father to take the cup of sorrow away from Him. And even now, He looks up to see you and me and comes to our aid—since He is interceding for us from the right hand of the Father in the glories of heaven.

Likewise, we too, are called upon to look up. The Psalmist even encourages us to do so saying: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Ps. 121:1-2). Yes, indeed, our help comes as we look up to the Hill of Calvary—from there flows grace, kindness, compassion and everlasting life.

This evening by the Spirit’s power we are moved to look up and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Only Jesus enables us to truly look up, because He is coming back soon. Amen.

Now the peace…


“Telling the Good News” (Acts 8:34-35)

S-1495 5SOE/3B 5/3/2015 Hymns: (O)#3; (S) # 497; (C) #50

Texts: Acts 8:26-40; 1 John 4:1-11; John 15:1-8

Theme: “Telling the Good News” (Acts 8:34-35)

Question: “How do we tell the Good News?” Observing Main Street Living Sunday (MSL)

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for MSLS is from Acts: “And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus

People of the resurrection we have good news to share with our broken world. The good news is life-changing and eternal. Remember beloved we are still in the Easter season. Many have forgotten this wonderful news. This is because of the horrible influence of pietism. This movement has robbed us of the joy of Easter and the victory Christ has won for us through His death and resurrection.

Lent is a 40 day season of reflecting and meditating on the suffering of Christ which is good and salutary. But Easter…is the glorious and blessed season of Christ’s greatest accomplishments of destroying Satan, sin and death.

However the Easter season is 50 days long. It is 10 days longer than Lent. Yet, it has been reduced to one day. In spite of its length we don’t observe the Easter season. We celebrate a big celebration on the Sunday of Easter and rob ourselves of the joy of the resurrection. We forget that every Sunday is its own Easter celebration.

As people of the resurrection we have good news that the Savior has given us to share. We have glorious news—the best news the world needs to hear, but sadly it is not known all over the world. Neither do many people even know this good news. As our church sign outside states: “Tired of hearing bad news? Come in and hear the Redeemer’s good news.”

In this house of worship as the Holy Spirit gathers us often at our Easter celebration we are blessed to hear the glorious good news of our salvation. Here we hear the Words of hope that our redemption is guaranteed. Our salvation is sure and our forgiveness is real. PAUSE.

In his book “Thirty Years A Watch Tower Slave” W. J. Schnell writes: “My father, who while dying said to me, ‘Son, have we been wrong in our religion?’” What a heart-breaking question this dying man asked his son: “Are we wrong about our religion?” Yes, the Jehovah Witnesses are wrong because they don’t know Jesus. They don’t believe in the Divinity of Jesus. They don’t believe in Jesus or His saving work on the cross of Calvary.

But thanks be to God for His mercy, who through His Word reveals to us the truth of His good news of saving us from the wrath of God and hell’s furry. Praise be to Jesus for His marvelous redemptive work for us through His suffering, death and glorious resurrection.

That is what we have in the first reading for this 5th Sunday of Easter. Dr. Luke tells us that the evangelist Philip is called upon by the Holy Spirit to go on the road that leads out of Jerusalem heading south to Gaza. He was sent to clarify to the Ethiopian eunuch what he was reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip beginning with this Scripture told him the good news about Jesus. Philip used all of the Scripture that was available to him then—only the O.T., to share the good news that from front to finish is about Jesus the ONLY Lord and Savior for all people everywhere. The good news is the gospel of Christ earning our redemption and salvation through His ultimate sacrifice. PAUSE.

People of the resurrection, on this Sunday, we South Dakotans are so richly blessed to be part of a great ministry called Main St. Living. A program that has been in existence since 2001 for the sole purpose of allowing the Good News to be shared and spread to many people not only in this house of worship; but especially to those who are no longer able to be in church and who are un-churched.

Today, we thank the Lord for the ministry of MSL by joining our voices and opening our pockets so that others might hear the Good News about Jesus. What is the Good News you may ask? The Good News of salvation earned through Christ’s death and resurrection as Isaiah shares it in the Lamb who was led to the slaughter without opening His mouth.

As God’s people living in Armour, SD, we have a glorious opportunity to open our mouth and wallets, speak and give of our time and treasures so that not only one eunuch may hear; but all of God’s people everywhere may hear the grand and glorious news that Christ is Risen!

Sometimes we are reluctant to share the good news because we are afraid of what others think of us. We even think that we don’t know what to say or how to say it. We buy into the devil’s schemes of saying, “You are not fit to bring good news to people!” PAUSE.

But what if you had some of your words recorded for all time in history. What would you like it to be? In Acts 12, Luke mentions the name of a servant girl—Rhoda. Rhoda had gone to the door when Peter knocked. Answering the door was part of her job as a servant girl. Yet rather than opening the gate and welcoming the apostle Peter, she forgot about him and ran back to tell the others. Might Rhoda have felt a little awkward, considering that of all the things she did in her life, this was the one that the Lord saw fit to include in His Holy Scripture.

I hope not. Let’s not allow Rhoda’s surprised reaction to overshadow her extreme Joy. She was so excited that God has rescued Peter that she had to tell people about it. She was so happy about the new life that God had given to Peter that she had to let others know right away. She was willing to put her everyday responsibilities on hold for something so important: exclaiming the good news of the rescue and freedom that our living God gives.

This is the freedom that we have in Jesus our resurrected Lord. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that we are free from God’s righteous wrath against our wrongs. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that we are free from the clutches of a cold casket. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know we are free from the evil one’s accusations. Set free by Jesus’ sacrifice! Set free to exclaim this good news to all people especially the people God puts in our lives daily!

The Apostle Paul in Romans 1:16 says: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Yes, we shouldn’t be ashamed to share the good news. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our Bridegroom—Jesus Christ.

We shouldn’t be ashamed to speak about the persecuted Christians and stand with them. We know that Christians are being persecuted everywhere—the baker who was fined $135,000 for not baking a cake to a gay couple, likewise the Chick-Fil-A; and Hobby Lobby.

Are we willing to stand with the Nazarene? Are we willing to support the ministry of this congregation and MSL? Are we willing to be well prepared to fight the devil who comes into our midst and destroys our confidence and take our hopes away from us?

You should know that the devil came into the midst of us in the 70’s by abortion. Now he is coming into the lives of fathers, mothers and children. Reformation is not something that took place 500 years ago. It is needed today to tell the world of the good news of Jesus.

People of the Resurrection: The good news we have been blessed to receive and hear every Sunday, is not only for the saints of this congregation. But it is for the abused mother, the widows and widowers, the unemployed, the hurting, the addicted to alcohol, pornography, gambling and every other addition.

A dying man once asked his son, “Are we wrong about our religion?” And they were. After 30 years of slavery J. W. Schnell left the false religion and worship Christ the giver of good news. You and I know the truth that has set us free to hear and receive the good news of our salvation.

As followers of Jesus, in this place we are privileged and honored to hear His Word and preach the good news of the Gospel for the sake of souls who don’t know Jesus as Savior and Lord. We preach the good news on MSLTV and in LCMS pulpits so that we can reach the ends of the earth with the message that changes lives one soul at a time—forever.

Praise be to Jesus who tells His Father of the good news that we are His baptized and blood-bought children for time and eternity. Amen.

Now the peace…


“God Does ALL Things Well.” (Gen. 1:3-4; Rom. 8:28)

S-1494 5/1/2015 Hymns: (O) #53; (S) #57; C) #32

Text: Genesis 1-5; Romans 8:26-30; John 10:7-18

Theme: “God Does ALL Things Well.” (Gen. 1:3-4; Rom. 8:28)

Celebration of New Life for Roy Johnson

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia amen!” The text for the celebration of Roy’s new life given by His loving and faithful Good Shepherd Jesus is from Genesis and Romans. “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” (Gen. 1:3-4); And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

St. Shirley, family and friends; today is a bitter sweet day for you. It is sweet because we know that Roy is no longer on this earth suffering with the terrible disease of cancer. No longer does he have to endure the pain and aches of body that was falling apart. No longer will he take medicine, be pocket by nurses and doctors visits to make him feel better. That is sweet indeed!

But it is also a bitter day for you. It is a bitter day because your husband of over 30 years is no longer with you. He will no longer go to the store to get things. No longer will he be able to help you around the house. He will no longer be able to sit and visit with you about life and its challenges. No longer will he smile at you, hold your loving hands and bless you with his presence.

And yet as you consider the bitter sweet day, I want you to pay close attention to God’s glorious promises that Roy as His baptized child is with Him NOW. God’s glorious promise to do everything well for Roy has been fulfilled perfectly on Calvary’s cross! We can be certain without a doubt that God does all things well.

As many of you knew our departed brother Roy struggled with the dreaded disease of CANCER. Cancer was taking its toll on him. It made him very weak. He lost lots of weight and was unable to care for himself. He needed help!

Even though cancer had attacked his body and slowed him down, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he still put his hope in Christ His Savior. Often when I visited him I would remind him of Pastor Paul’s message. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose;” that God indeed has done all things well for him in spite of his condition, and he would smile and say: “Yes Pastor, the Man upstairs knows what He is doing and He does it well.”

Last Monday night, I got a call from you Shirley telling me “Roy had fallen and if I could come and help him.” I said, “I could! However, I don’t think it is a good idea. I should call 911 because he needs more help than I can offer.” You finally agreed. I called and they took him to the hospital and then to the nursing home.

When I visited him on Tuesday afternoon, we had a great visit and shared with him God’s comforting Word from Psalms 46 and 121. We held hands and prayed. He was smiling and said you know Pastor: “God does all things well!” I looked at him and said, “You know Roy that would be an excellent sermon title for the celebration of your new life.” He smiled and said again, “I like that Pastor!” Thus the theme for this celebration is, “God does all things well!PAUSE.

Saints in Christ hear me well. I am not saying that God is the author of this bad disease that has attacked Roy. God is not punishing Roy because of His past sins. God did not condemn him because He didn’t like Roy.

No! On the contrary God loved Roy so much that He sent His Son to earth to redeem and restore Him. In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we often hear the word, God in His creative activities Has done good things for His beloved people. In Paul’s message to the Romans God uses every situation and condition for the good of His people. Furthermore, Jesus in John chapter 10—in the discourse of the Good Shepherd declares: He will lay down His life for His sheep.

Roy IS one of His sheep. Please notice I am speaking of Him in the present tense because He is alive with Christ now. Jesus in love and mercy has done everything good for Roy. He permitted others to cause Him to suffer terribly. He has done all things well by permitting others to crucify Him. He has done all things well—He carried Roy’s sins and ours upon His shoulders. Christ has done all things well—He died for Roy. He has done all things well—He was buried in a cold grave. He has done all things well—He rose from the grave for Roy. He has done all things well—destroying the power of death.

Jesus has done all things well…overcome our arch enemy—Satan. He has done all things well—done away with the punishment of sin. He has done all things well—He forgave Him all of His sins. He has done all things well—offered Him eternal life. He has done everything well—welcomed Him to His table to dine and drink with Him. He has done all things well—wrapped His arms around Roy and said: “Roy, you are Mine! I have purchased your life with My blood. You are My child forever and nothing can separate you from My love and pierced hands!”

Roy’s confirmation verse affirms this blessed truth. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” With Jesus as your Good Shepherd there is nothing that you need. He supplies what is lacking in us—His holiness and righteousness. His love and kindness. His grace and forgiveness. His faith and eternal life

Yes, indeed, Christ has done everything well—not only for Roy; but for you Shirley and you saints in Christ. Know the truth and hold it tight. Your salvation is guaranteed by the Good Shepherd Jesus. Not because you have done something good, but because He is good ALL the time. He is so good that He works in His creative activities to give us all that is good from the sun and rain, family and friends. Everything around us is used by Christ to make our lives better.

But the greatest is when we gather in His house, confess our sins and receive all of the blessings He has given us out of His goodness and mercy--ALL that we need for this life and the next. Here in this house we hear the clear and pure message that God indeed has done all things well and He continues to do.

Around His Word and Sacraments we learn anew the promise of God that Roy knew so well that in every situation and in every condition He does everything well for us for today and always.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed Alleluia! Amen.

Now the peace….


“Fullness of Joy” (Psalm 16:11) Antiphon

S-1493 3SOE/3B 4/19/2015 Hymns: (O) #354; (S) #204; (C) #205

Texts: Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-49

Theme: “Fullness of Joy” (Psalm 16:11) Antiphon

Question: “What is it that fills your heart with joy?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is the Antiphon: “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

People of the Cross, you and I know from personal experience that life is not always fair or pleasant. We know first-hand the anguish, the agony and the affliction this world offers. We know all too well and have experienced hurt and harm, sorrow and sadness, death and destruction. And yet, we have the sure and certain hope in God’s eternal promises.

Throughout all of Holy Scriptures we have these golden nuggets that help us in the hours of terror and turmoil. Listen to the Author of Life who moved different Bible writers to share with us food for the soul so that we may rejoice; in spite of what we experience daily.

Isaiah said: “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken” (25:8). Paul in His Resurrection chapter stated: “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56). The Apostle John wrote these precious words: “And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4); and Jesus Himself said: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”. (John 15:11) and again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy (John 16:20). These are the promises that will carry us on the journey of life and especially through hardships and even death. And it was David, the Psalm writer, who by the Holy Spirit penned these words: “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

What is that brings joy to our hearts? What is it that gives the fullness of Joy? David gives the answer, “In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” Our joy comes in knowing the Savior intimately. In His presence, around His Word, and His life-giving Sacraments there is fullness of joy. At His right hand there is pleasures forevermore.

This doesn’t mean that we will not suffer, endure hardships or live the peaceful life we wish and long for. Far be it from the truth. The world we live in is filled with all kinds of trials and tribulations. However even in these moments we are not alone. For Christ has promised that He will be with us ALWAYS! There are no exceptions! (Matthew 28:20). PAUSE.

Last week in my sermon I shared with you the story of the Louis Zampeirini who was a POW in WWII. You may not recognize the name, but you have heard of the book and movie “Unbroken” that tells his story of survival even against the worst odds:

Today, I like to share a bit more about him and the fullness of joy that filled his and his parent’s hearts. After being captured by the Japanese, he was treated with cruelty, tortured, starved to the point of death and his parents hearing nothing of his fate for over 2+ years. Finally something gave them a reason to hope and have the fullness of joy.

On August 20 while in POW camp Naoetsu, a radioman read the signal of the fast blinking lights of the plane above: “THE WAR IS OVER!” In seconds masses of naked men were stampeding out of the river and up the hill. As the plane turned loops above, the pilot waving, the POWs swarmed into the compound, out of their minds with relief and rapture. Their fear of the guards, of the massacre they had so long awaited, was gone, dispersed by the roar and muscle of the bomber. The prisoners jumped up and down, shouted, and sobbed. Some scrambled onto the camp roofs, waving their arms and singing out their joy to the pilot above…In the midst of the running, celebrating men, Louis stood on wavering legs emaciated, sick and dripping wet. In his tired mind, two words were repeating themselves, over and over. “I AM FREE! I AM FREE! I AM FREE!” (pp 312-313).

Though the war was over, Louis didn’t return home till sometime later. On September 9, Pete (his older brother) was startled awake by a hand on his shoulder, shaking him vigorously. He opened his eyes to see one of his friends bending over him with a huge smile. Trumbull’s story had appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The headline said it: ZAMPERINI COMES BACK FROM THE DEAD.

When his family heard the news, two of the sisters ran to church and gave thanks. As His mother Louise stood in his room cleaning and preparing it for his arrival, blinked away tears, singing out, “He’s on the way home. He’s on the way home. From now on,” she said, “September 9 is going to be Mother’s Day to me, because that’s the day I learned for sure my boy was coming to stay.” (pp 330-331).

I am certain, had we been there on September 9th, we would have seen the fullness of joy in the hearts of the Zamperini’s and all of the parents’ of the POWs. For that is indeed a blessed thing to have your loved ones with you. PAUSE.

Now I beg you to travel with me to Jerusalem. It is the Sunday after the dark Friday when the Savior was put to death on the cross. On that Sunday evening two disciples Luke tells us were on their way to Emmaus.

These disciples were heart-broken, in anguish, in pain and suffering at the death of Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior. Their feet were heavy. Their eyes were teary and their hearts were filled with sorrow… But isn’t that the way it is with life in a sinful world? We only look to the end of our nose? We let our eyes overpower our ears. These Disciples had heard the promise of resurrection, but they wouldn’t believe. They heard the testimony of the women, but wouldn’t believe! These followers of Jesus didn’t know joy because they refused to believe God’s clear Word of promise! But something happened that night that changed their lives forever and filled them with joy.

Along the road a companion walked with them and revealed to them from Scripture that He is the risen Lord. The One who was dead has come back to life again as He promised. The One who was nailed to the cross and placed in a tomb has opened the grave and swallowed death forever. And they were full of joy because they were in His PRESENCE.

What is it today that keeps you from knowing the joy of the resurrected Christ? Are you too focused on the diagnosis of a doctor? Maybe you are being tempted to listen to the society that says God’s Word is too old fashioned and that maybe we ought to “lighten up a bit?” Are you so worried about outliving your money that you forget to live for Christ? Are you someone who looks at a grave and sees an end and not a beginning? These and a number of other things are sins that steal our joy. We take our eyes off of Christ and His Word and we see nothing but fear and death. We may as well be in Zamperini’s hopeless prison camp!

But because Christ is risen everything changes for us too! As His beloved children, we are brought here by the Holy Spirit to see with eyes of faith, hear with ears of faith, and touch with hands of faith the One who was dead and is alive forevermore—Jesus the Christ. In Him, through Him and on account of Him we have fullness of joy. Because He lives we can sing the victory songs: CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

No matter what we face and experience. No matter how much the devil throws at us. No matter how many trials and hardships we go through, we can be confident of this one thing, with Jesus by our side, we have fullness of joy.

The fullness of joy comes to us because of what He has accomplished in His death and resurrection—forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. As Isaiah told the Israelites so long ago, I say to you today: “The Lord has swallowed up death forever; and the Lord God has wiped away the tears from your faces and He has removed your reproaches. For the Lord has spoken.

Today, we can say with David, “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” How blessed we are because, in Him we have the fullness of joy today and always. Amen

Now the peace…


“Numbers of Hope-8” (John 20:26)

S-1492 2SOE/3B 4/12/2015 Hymns: (O) #208; (S) #208; LS #32 SOD; #201; #307; (C) #203

Texts: Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-8” (John 20:26)

8th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is from the Gospel lesson: “Eight days later, His disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” (John 20:26)

People of the Cross, you, who have been purchased with the crimson blood of the Savior, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit we have been brought to this glorious house to hear once more the marvelous victory Christ won for us as He rose from the grave on the third day. Last week we assembled in a holy assembly and shouted to the world: “Christ is Risen!” and you responded “He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!” What a glorious celebration that still IS.

Because of Christ’s victory over the grave, you and I as blood-bought children of the heavenly Father have hope—living and eternal hope that is based on a past event that secures our present reality and guarantees our Future eternity.

Today, as we are gathered once again in this holy assembly, we consider one final number in our sermon series on the Numbers of hope—the number 8. 8 Is another number given by the great Mathematician—Jesus Christ who helps us see this number in a new and profound way and demonstrate again His hope to people like us; who once were without hope and help. In Holy Scripture the number 8 appears at least 119 times.

John the Gospel writer of the text tells us that “Eight days later, His disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” The peace-maker and the peace-bringer steps into the room and lives of His frightful apostles and offers them shalom-peace.

Eight days later Jesus appears again to His disciples. 8 days after the resurrection from the grave Jesus reveals His mighty power and the joy that fills every heart that is burdened with fear and dread. The 8th day is the day of resurrection and the life—a day beyond time and eternity. Into the life of death and destruction there comes a day without night and where the sun is always bright. This day is a day of freedom and rejoicing. This day is a day filled with peace that surpasses all understanding. #8 is a number that points to “New Beginnings” made possible through Jesus Christ. PAUSE.

Louis Zamperini had this kind of new beginning. He was a long distance track runner and was on the 1936 USA Olympic team. At the Games in Berlin, he was America’s top finisher in the event, covering the final lap in an astounding 56 seconds. He was the favorite to win the 5000 meter run in the 1940 Olympics in Japan. But because of WWII, He joined the U.S. Air Corps as a bombardier.

In 1942 on a routine reconnaissance run, his aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean, and Louis and another crew member, survived in a life raft for 47 days, drifting 2000 miles into Japanese controlled waters. His rescuers were also his torturers, as the Japanese put Louis into a series of prison camps. His life was hanging in the balance. Daily he thought that this could be his final day on earth. But by the grace of God a little after 2 years he was delivered from this torturous nightmare and returned home to a hero’s welcome.

The day of deliverance from the prison cell, the cruel torture, the starvation, the disease, and the possibility of Louis’ death; was his 8th day. Thanks to the brave men and women of the Armed forces Louis was given a new lease on life and He never forgot the blessings He received. Later on, having tasted the sweetness of the Gospel of Jesus, he decided to become a missionary to Japan, preaching the gospel of forgiveness to the very guards who had tormented him during the war. PAUSE.

That is precisely what the Savior has done for us with the 8th day—gave us hope eternal. Throughout Holy Scripture the number 8 is a revealed in a fabulous and blessed way. We are told in Genesis of God’s command to Abraham, that every son born in his house or slave must be circumcised on the 8th day (17:12). On that not insignificant 8th day, the son became part of the family-covenant with Yahweh. This was no mere rite. It was like adoption and acceptance all wrapped up in one. That is how big that 8th day was to a son of Abraham!

Jesus being a son of Abraham is also circumcised on the 8th day. By this act, Jesus was giving the down payment for what He will do on the cross of Calvary 3 decades later. On Good Friday, His blood spilled from the cross, washing away the sins of all people and giving them new life in Him. Life that is hope-filled and help-offered.

We should remember that History began when Adam became liable to death. History ended when the new Adam, Christ our Lord came forth triumphant over death. Now we are no longer counted among the dead. Now we only know Christ the life of all the living. We have come forth from the water of the New Testament’s circumcision of the heart from the font on the eighth day. Christ rested in His tomb on the Sabbath. He rose again on the day that follows the Sabbath, which is the 8th day. After it no other day is counted. We now live in the presence of Him who lives in the eternal “Now;” for whom there is neither yesterday, nor tomorrow. Today is the day of our salvation. It is the 8th day. No other day exists.

That is why many churches’ baptismal fonts are 8 sided. To confess to them and the world the new life they have in Christ. In 1 Peter we hear this blessed truth: because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..” (3:20-22).

This is the joy of living in the presence of the One who enters our lives and removes the fears and doubts and gives us His peace. Jesus is the One who makes the 8th day special because it comes after the perfect 7 in which and by which He rested in the grave for 3 days.

There never was any other way to find rest than to have it given by Christ. The rest to which He pointed in Genesis now takes its full meaning at Easter. Powered by sin, the crushing burden of the law had worked its worst upon Him: it was justice itself, with all of its wrathful authority against sin that worked death in the One who could not die. Though His arms were pinned by the cross in the embrace of death, He took sin by the throat; He looked it in the face and did it to death with Him. If sin is dead and is left among the grave clothes of His tomb, then the burden of the law with its requirements no longer applies to us. It is the detritus of the sepulcher. We are free. Free with Christ. Because He was circumcised for us, and later would be crucified for us.

This is our 8th day. Every day for a baptized child of God is that 8th day. That is why St. Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is herefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) When the Lord brings us back here to His house to revel in the wonder that Christ is risen, we live the 8th day. When we hear the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit spoken over us in the Invocation we are taken back to the moment that our 8th day began in the waters of Holy Baptism. When we kneel at the rail and receive into our mouths the very body and very blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins we taste the feast of the 8th day that will never end in eternity. This is true for us not because of anything we have done. It is true for us because of EVERYTHING Jesus has done FOR US!

Louis Zamperini lived his 8th day among the people who tormented him. But that life was not bitter. It was sweet with the fragrance of the Gospel. It smelled of an empty tomb and looked like a resurrected Jesus. But it was delivered by Zamperini! You and I live our 8th day among people who are not so much unlike those who tormented him. There are those who reject the truth. They embrace and champion the lies of the evil one. The day may come when they even start to physically treat us like those Japanese treated that downed American flyer. But we do not fear! We don’t fear because we live every day in Christ as that 8th day. Baptized and forgiven, every day is a new beginning in Christ. And that new beginning always leads us to look toward that moment when our 8th day will be with Jesus in eternity.

Dear brother I think what you have is great. the only thing that you may end with is" Dear Christian friends we have been through many numbers this Lenten and Easter time. but no matter what number as blood bought children of God we know that when Jesus has our number we already have been chosen.

Finally, one crowning point, for you to ponder: the name of Jesus. In Greek, letters are used as numbers. Jesus’ is Jesous, (If you add his numbers you end with) = I (10) + e (8) + s (200) + o (70) + u (400) + s (200) = 888. In Christ is the 888 that comes after the prefect deliverance in the 777 that destroyed our arch enemy the 666 so that we have our 8th day, today and in Eternity. AMEN.

Now the peace…