Sermon: Pentecost 10.2011

Text: Matthew 16.13-21
Date: 2011.8.21

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

Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The will of God is certainly done without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

The will of God done without our prayer, it is done whether we ask for it or not, whether we want it or not. In fact, God's will is not only done without us, but it is done despite us.

For, “when is God's will done?” Well, “God's will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature.” In other words, there are those who would refuse and fight against God's will, God's love, God's giving. There are three who would resist Jesus: the devil, the world, and you.

Now, with this in mind, we hear from the Mouth of God (from the Gospel lesson for this week), that Peter and the office of pastor will be given the keys of the kingdom, and those keys will be used to loose on earth what is already loosed in heaven, AND to bind on earth whatever is already bound in heaven.

In other words, the office of the holy ministry, Christ's office, which uses His means of Grace, so 'the means of grace office' (genatenmiddelamt, as our Lutheran forefathers used to call it), this office is to make the earth consistent with heavenly realities, to bring the earthly things together with the heavenly things.

But if something must be brought together, that means that it is already apart. There is a disconnection, a problem. Communication and consistency has been broken between heaven and earth, and our Lord has called some to reconnect them.

You know, they weren't always like this, creation wasn't always broken, there wasn't always this void between the two places: heaven and earth. That void, the problem, is sin. Adam and Eve's sin, King David's sin, your neighbor's sin, and your own sin. You are the problem because you are sinful. And because you are sinful you are fighting against God, you are resisting His love and care for you.

Be alert, dear flock, be constant in your watching. We are the church militant because we are engaged in a war, a spiritual war against the spiritual powers of this present darkness. But the problem isn't only “out there”. The battle must begin at home, among us. You must fight against your own sinfulness before you reach out for others.

Your sinful nature yearns for the evil. Rather than receiving God's will, in your sin, you resist God's will among us. If God's will is to love us and have mercy on us all: men, women, children, widows and widowers, poor, rich, organized, disorganized, patient, angry, etc, on all of us, if God's will is to give you what you truly need, and sin is resisting God's will, living contrary to God's will, / then how are you, specifically, fighting against God?

It is important for you to consider this, for we are called to resist the enemies, including the devil and His lies, the world and it's temptations, and our own sinful lusts and desires to control and rebel. Beware: we are not called / to resist Christ and His gifts.

Just the opposite, actually—we are called to submission. We are His Bride, the Church. We are to trust our Lord and receive Him as He gives Himself completely. It doesn't matter what we prefer or don't prefer. He has established His eternal Church in the heavens, and who we are, whether we are loosed or bound (whatever that might mean), it is already decided in heaven. The story is already written for us, the victory over the great enemies has already been won.

So, you: Repent. Whatever resistance you have, repent. Whatever preference you are imposing, repent. Listen to Jesus. Repent of yourself, completely (which is the hardest thing in the world to do, impossible, actually, without a miraculous working of the Holy Spirit in you), repent completely, give up on yourself so that you and us as a congregation may be defined not by ourselves or our will, but by our Lord's love and His will.

And stop fooling yourself. You are nothing but rebel by nature. Sin has not just infected you a little. Sin doesn't just make the Christian life a little more difficult. Sin, false belief, false teaching, anything against God's will, these things make the possibility of living the Christian life, and not only now, but forever, sin closes the gates of heaven / because sin makes you unacceptable in God's eyes.

This is God's Law. This is Truth. Repent. Give it up. Want nothing to do with your sin and rebellion. There is something better than resistance, there is something better than temporary comfort or being acceptable in the eyes of your friends or coworkers or employees or even family members.
God's love is better. For God's love cleanses you from all sin. / What is better than your disobedience? Jesus' perfect obedience.

It is true that you are perfectly sinful, / BUT, it is more true that God has become sinful for you, in your place, taking your sin upon Himself and giving you His perfect holiness. This is the meaning and purpose of the crucifixion, this is the great and glorious will of God, not only in general, but God's will in your life: to make you pure and holy and keep you pure and holy and blameless.

Just imagine: as sinful as you know you are: you are blameless. In other words, although others may see your sin and unChristian behavior, nonetheless: God has nothing against you. That is what is true in heaven. That is what the office of pastor, Christ's office, is to do on earth, to proclaim to you on earth what God has declared already in heaven.

You are forgiven. The pastor is given to lay hands on you and pronounce you forgiven in Holy Absolution. You are one with Christ. So the pastor is given to distribute Christ to you that His Body and Blood may be part of your body and blood. You are righteous and at peace with God and you have a clear conscience before Him, so the pastor is given to you to preach Christ and Him crucified, who is your Prince of Peace and Comforter and Righteous One.

Just / don't resist Him, don't rebel. Act like who you were made to be in your baptism, act as the perfect Bride of Christ, and submit to Him, be loved by Him, be obedient now, by simply receiving His love for you.

This is what trust is, what faith is. You have a strong faith when you submit and simply allow our Lord to love you the way He has decided to love you. Faith = trusting Jesus, in all things, including trusting Him to give you what you need through His own pastoral office.
I'm sorry / that different pastors have come here and seem to have emphasized different things: one pastor one thing, another pastor another. This is confusing. It shouldn't happen, but it does. Theoretically, all pastors, everywhere should be emphasizing the same thing, leading in the same way: Christ's way. But pastors are human, and human pastors, the men given the office of the keys, are also sinners, and we need your forgiveness, even as we need our Lord's. By creating the pastoral office, the Lord was doing something risky (at least as far as we can see), He was giving His own divine authority into the hands of sinful men. There are those church bodies today who have given up on the pastoral office because of this, and even myself being a pastor, I can certainly see their reasoning. Nonetheless, we confess our Lord. And if He has made His Church to operate this way, so be it, we'll let Him be God and trust Him.

So trust Him, / for He continues to fill the office of pastor among you in order to bless you. Our Lord certainly has continued to use sinners to distribute His gifts here, to you. But despite the men, the Means of Grace Office of pastor is upheld, / you, the precious children of our Lord, are fed by Him, / and the Church continues on until the end of the age, even the gates of hell will not prevail against Jesus' Bride, the Church, against you. You have your Lord's Word on that.

More than anything, the pastoral office is the feeding office. Receive the feeding from the hand of the pastor as from the Lord, for the pastor brings the truths and realities of heaven to earth.

This should be the first and most important emphasis of any pastorate: simply bringing heaven to earth, that is, bringing Jesus to you. Receive Jesus. Receive Him in the Means of Grace from the Means of Grace Office. Every Sunday, be loosed, be released from the slavery of sin and death, and be bound to Christ and His Life. This is what the Divine Service truly is: It begins with entering into the sacred place with the Introit, then humbly asking for mercy from the Merciful One. We know who we are, and would we dare to enter into His gates, to come to His holy hill and His dwelling place? God must have mercy upon us. We hear about this mercy in the Readings and the Sermon as we are enlightened and sanctified in the true faith by His Holy Word. We respond, then, with our gifts and petition Him for ourselves and for others, for our daily needs and our eternal life. 

But that's not all. “Is it enough?” Sure, it's enough. Heaven's forgiveness has been brought to earth, to us and we have properly responded in praise. But God's mercy doesn't just give us 'enough', He goes on to fill and overflow our cups, to lead us into the abundant life of forgiveness as our hearts are raised to the Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabbaoth. And then we confess it: “heaven and earth are full of your glory,” for “blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.”

And there He is. He does come, just as He said He would, just as His Word promised. This is the Divine Service, and there is the Divine, physically present, the crucified and risen one, here present among us, for us to receive. And so we receive Him, in the most intimate way, we, His Bride, His Church, receive our Lord and Savior, and we are fed, we are forgiven, we are nurtured, loved, protected; exactly what a Bridegroom is supposed to do for His Bride.

It's not that the other services in our hymnal, like Matins and Vespers are incomplete or not valuable. They are valuable, and they are good for us to use on occasion. But they are not this, they aren't the Divine Service. The Divine Service, the Lord's Service to us on the Lord's Day. There's nothing like it, we need it, you need it, your pastor needs it, we need protection and love, and there He is, right here, with us, among us, giving Himself to us each week. His will being done, not occasionally, but graciously and abundantly.

And this is the privilege of the men who are placed into the Means of Grace Office, the feeding office. We get to feed you. Receive our Lord. What a privilege it is to be Christian, that our Lord put no restrictions on grace. The more we receive Him, the more He forgives us, never too much, always needed.

Enough said. Come, receive Him again. He is coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

In +Jesus precious name. Amen.

Sermon: Pentecost 8.2011

Text: Matthew 14.22-33
Date: 2011.8.7

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

But after seeing [Jesus] walking upon the sea, the disciples were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost.” But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, “MAN UP!”

Announcement: Private Absolution for Friday, 8/5

Private Absolution is scheduled only for 1-3pm on Friday this week.  There is a wedding rehearsal scheduled for 6pm at the Church, so Pastor Huelsman will NOT be available during the regular hours of 6-8pm.
If you would like, it is always an option to contact Pastor and schedule another time to meet during the week. 

Peace be with you.

Sermon: Pentecost 7.2011

Text: Matthew 14.13-21
Date: 2011.7.31

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

“And they all ate and were satisfied.”

Why did they go out there? It was a deserted place, a wilderness. There were no modern amenities, no comforts, no shelter, not even any food, apparently. Why would they seek this One man?

So they heard that He healed a few people already. Ok, so He healed a lot of people already, anyone that was brought to Him, this Jesus of Nazareth. But certainly not all of them were sick or injured. Why follow this man?

Sermon: Pentecost 6.2011

Text: Matthew 13.44-52; Deuteronomy 7:6-9
Date: 2011.7.24

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tradition and change. Things old and things new.

It can be confusing to congregations that they have different pastors come in and they are each emphasizing different things, each have their own ideas about what is good for the congregation and the Church at large.

Not only can this be confusing, but frankly, it can be quite / frustrating. “Who are these guys and what gives them the right to make such assertions about us, about our way of doing things, about the old and new things here?”

Sermon: Easter 5.A

Text: John 14:1-14
Date: 5.22.2011
Do not let your hearts be troubled

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

The apostles could have responded, “But isn't that what You did, Jesus?”

In the upper room, on the night when He was betrayed, Jesus also commanded His disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Yet, just moments earlier, John tells us that, “Jesus was troubled in His spirit, and testified, 'One of you will betray me.'”i Likewise, after Jesus' Palm Sunday, triumphal entry; He was praying, and He Himself says, “Now is my soul / troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”ii Twice, Jesus Himself was troubled concerning His death; twice He commands His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”iii But isn't that what You did, Jesus?

Sermon: Lent 4.A

Text: Ephesians 5:14
Date: 4.3.2011
Occasion: Membership of Barb McCulley

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

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Thus writes St Paul in the Epistle lesson for this, the 4th Sunday in Lent.

An oasis. That's what the 4th Sunday in Lent has traditionally been. Some churches are adorned with rose-colored paraments today, signifying and anticipating what lies just weeks away now: Easter.

The theme for today is light. Jesus Himself says what we already know, but it's good to hear Him say it: that He is the light of the world!

Sermon: The Sacred Union of Kyle Nicolas Gray & Erica Renee Hansen

Ceremony: 4.2.2011

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

God was not kidding: It really was and is “not good that man should be alone.” This was the very first “not good” of His perfect creation. Not that the male, Adam, was created evil, he was not, He was perfect and without sin. But he was not complete; something was missing.

Sermon: Lent 3.A

Text: John 4:5-30, 39-42
Date: 2011.3.27
Listen to the sermon here.
The true worshipers will worship the Father
in Spirit and in Truth.

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”

True worship is worshiping the Father in Spirit and Truth. True worship therefore is Trinitarian, worshiping God, the Father, the Son (who's called Truth here, for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life); the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Holy Trinity.

Worshiping the Holy Trinity makes you holy. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and if you worship in Him, then you will be holy as He is holy. You will be flowing with holy water, (as Jesus pictures it) Spirit water, living water. Not just containing the living water but it will be bubbling over, springing over into the eternal life.

Sermon: In Memoriam +Agnes Elsa Morrison (Timm)+ 1916-2011

Died: March 21, 2011
Service: March 25, 2011

In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Chilling. Somber. Confusing. Peaceful.
I'm describing for you the experience of watching a human being fall asleep in Jesus, at least this was the case on Monday afternoon when the soul of our beloved sister in the faith, +Agnes, when her soul left her body and went to be with +Jesus, in peace and joy forevermore.

We prayed for healing, and that's what happened. We prayed for mercy, and so our Lord has had mercy. +Agnes is with +Jesus. Her baptism held strong, or rather, the Lord +Jesus, the One into whom blessed +Agnes was baptized, our Lord held strong, held on to +Agnes, and never let go. He is faithful, the Good Shepherd has carried his lamb, Agnes, into the promised land where she enjoys peace and rest and complete protection, never ever again having to bear the burden of sin.

Sermon: Lent 2.2011

Text: John 3.1-17
Calendar Date: 3.20.2011
Listen to the sermon here.
He who has been born from the Spirit,
is Spirit.

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Ephphatha,” that is, be opened. And so the senses are opened up to God.

Jesus spoke, and the man born deaf was healed, he could now physically hear; something was changed in the man, he could now do something that wasn't possible before. It was real, it was powerful. Jesus' Word did this.

So in the Baptismal rite, the pastor speaks Jesus' Word, Ephphatha, that is, be opened, and the senses are opened: not only to the hearing of God's Word, but the seeing and perceiving, the tasting and touching and smelling. We Christians experience God in real things: what used to be ordinary bread and wine, we hear the Words, “this is my Body, this is my Blood”, and so they are, we see how God has taught us to see / by hearing Him. Baptism opens the senses.

Sermon: Ash Wednesday.2011

Text: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21; Joel 2:12-19; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Date: 3.9.2011
Listen to the sermon here.
For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“When you fast,” Jesus says. He's making an assumption, here. And, He's giving Himself as an example. Jesus did fast. For forty days and forty nights, out in the wilderness/desert; but that's the Gospel reading for Sunday, so I won't speak much about it now, just enough to point out to you that when Jesus assumes anything about His followers, first the disciples, then also we who are Baptized into His name, when He makes an assumption about us, He fulfills it all first. So Jesus fasted. And He assumes that His followers will do the same.

Sermon: The Transfiguration of Our Lord.2011

Text: Matthew 17.1-9
Date: 3.6.2011
Listen to this sermon here.
This is my beloved Son...
Listen to Him.

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

The Festival of the Transfiguration of Our Lord marks the end of the Epiphany Season and so also the end of the Time of Christmas, as called in the Church Year. The reason it is placed at the end: the Transfiguration is the most dramatic Epiphany, or revealing, of our Lord Jesus. The point of the Transfiguration, and the whole point of Epiphany, actually the whole point of the Time of Christmas (beginning way back in Advent), is that Jesus is God. Our life together here is founded upon and centered in this very truth. It is no wonder than that every single one of the 101 days of Christmas Time this year, they are focused upon this One truth, teaching us who Jesus is, that He is God, / so that, (as we move on in the Church Year) every single one of the 102 days of Easter Time can teach us what our God Jesus has done for us and for our salvation.

Sermon: Epiphany 8.2011

Text: Matthew 6.24-34
Date: 2011.2.27
Continue seeking first 
the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

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

There is an evil that constantly befalls God's children. To use the imagery Jesus uses as He continues His great Sermon on the Mount, this evil is: double-mindedness (confident in Jesus, while at the same time distracted by worldly concerns); this concept is often translated “do not be anxious”. Whatever the specific wording, the point Jesus is making is that we ought to be of one mind; unified by the Holy Spirit in what we say, do, believe; in the things we love, grounded in the same faith, confessing together as the Church, but also unified in our own mind and heart. Embracing the things of God (His kingdom and righteousness), while also renouncing and repenting completely of the things of Satan, of the evil world, and most especially of your own fallen sinful flesh.

Sermon: Epiphany 7.2011

Text: Matthew 5:38-48
Date: 2011.2.20
Occasion: Baptism of Nolan George Bayer
You will be perfect,
as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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

A Christian has no enemies.

Jesus is infinitely profound here as He continues to preach to His disciples. As He speaks, He weeds out the immature disciples from the mature ones. It's as if He says, Do you really know what it is to be Christian. I've already told you the key to understanding who you are in Me, now I'm getting a bit deeper into the mystery. If you fail to understand even these things, then you prove that you really don't get it, that you really haven't been paying attention.

Sermon: Epiphany 5.2011

Text: Matthew 5:13-20
Date: 2.6.2011
I have not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets,
but to fulfill them.

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

And Jesus continues preaching to his disciples: “you all are the salt of the earth...You all are the light of the world.” You are these things because I am these things in and through you. A saying not unlike what preceded it in this sermon, Jesus just uses some illustrations now.

“You all are the salt of the earth, but if the salt might be made dull [or lose it's saltiness], with what will it be made salty? It is good for nothing more except being cast outside and trampled down under men.”

Salt, a preservative and a preventative, also adding flavor to common nourishment. A hard analogy, for salt is salty, that's just the way it is; it can't be anything else and if it is to remain salt, then it can't ever lose it's saltiness. On the other hand, if salt does somehow cease to be salty then surely it is no longer salt. It's completely improbable then, that there would be salt-less salt. And that's Jesus' point. I'll say it another way, to explain the illustration: A Christian has Christ, nothing else makes Him a Christian except Christ, and if he is to remain a Christian, he can't ever lose Christ. If a Christian does lose Christ, then surely he is no longer a Christian. It's completely improbable, no what's more it's completely impossible then, that there would be a Christ-less Christian.

Sermon: Epiphany 4.2011

Text: Matthew 5.1-12
Date: 2011.1.30
Blessed are you...
rejoice and be glad.

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

Law or Gospel? Your work or God's? Condemnation or Forgiveness? Repentance or Absolution? If Scripture is understood properly (as we believe) only when rightly distinguishing Law and Gospel, and what's more, if preaching must have this distinction (if it is to be true preaching), then what do we have here in Jesus' sermon? Law or Gospel? Hopefully both, but where is the line?

Sometimes it's not so easy to discern. Well, it should be, we should get it, Scripture should be easy to understand and at all it's major points, it is easy to understand, even children get it: “Jesus loves me. Even though I'm a sinner, Jesus died on the cross to forgive my sins, taking my punishment for me.” That's simple enough, plain and clear, that's the Good News. But perhaps one of the most difficult passages to distinguish Law and Gospel is the one we hear today, The Beatitudes, the beginning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the first public proclamation Jesus makes according to the Gospel of Matthew, and it isn't what we would expect.

Sermon: Epiphany 2.2011

Text: John 1.29-42
Date: 2011.1.16
Behold, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world!

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

Today we revisit John's preaching. Or rather, it revisits us. And from it we learn that John's preaching of “repentance of sin” was not a complete message. It couldn't be. Something was missing. As when someone begins to tell you something of great importance, of great interest to you, and then stops abruptly in the middle of the conversation and you're left waiting for more.

Sermon: The Baptism of Our Lord.2011

Text: Matthew 3.13-17
Date: 2011.1.9
This One is My Beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased

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

“And answering Jesus said unto [John], 'Permit it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he permitted him.”

For thus it is fitting. It is suitable. It is becoming of Jesus and John that this fulfillment of righteousness be done in a certain way. Jesus has come, has been born, and in Jesus, the Christ has come, has been born. This is fulfillment in itself; but that is not all. There is more to be fulfilled, more to be revealed, more to do.

Sermon: Christmas 2.2011

Text: Luke 2.40-52
Date: 2011.1.2
And after three days they found Him in the temple 
sitting in the midst of the teachers.

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

"Where is Jesus?" This is the first question you should ask when looking at any Scripture. Jesus is there. What is He doing? What is He saying? Where is He?

Now, on most occasions in Scripture when we hear about St Mary and St Joseph, we can take them as examples. When Mary is pondering and treasuring things up in her heart, we would do well to imitate her. When Joseph is being a righteous man before God by faith, rather than a righteous man before man by deed, we would do well to imitate him. The Holy Family, as they are called, are good examples for us. But not in our Gospel reading for today, at least not at the beginning of the story; St Mary and St Joseph lost sight of Jesus, they didn't bother to ask: “where is Jesus?”.

For us, the meaning of this goes beyond parenting. As important as it is for us parents to take seriously our God-given responsibility as protectors and providers, there is One thing of greater importance for us, and for our children, and for every man, especially for every single individual in our congregation: We must never lose sight of Jesus.

Sermon: Eve of The Circumcision and Name of Jesus.2010

Text: Luke 2.21; Galatians 3.23-29
Date: 2010.12.31
And when He was circumcised,
                          His name was called Jesus.

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

Tomorrow is a big day; A principle feast in the life of Christ's Church: The Circumcision and Name of Jesus. So this evening we cotinue in the Christmas season as we meditate upon what Christ does: He is circumcised and He is named. And it is all for you, you offspring of Abraham, you are Christ's own.