Sermon - Cantate (Easter 5).2013

St John 16.5-15 Cantate (Easter 5)
St John's Ev LC, Victor, IA 2013.4.28

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Singing. It is a natural act that flows out of a joyful heart. I do not mean to suggest that if you aren't singing, you aren't joyful. There are plenty of people who are joyful, but (for whatever reason) they just aren't the singing type. What I am suggesting / is that we sing willingly / only when we are joyful.

Homily-LIS School Chapel, 2013.4.24

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus prayed a lot. Throughout the Gospels we are told how Jesus went away and prayed by himself, how He prayed in the synagogues, and how he prayed at other times as well. It would be nice to know all the things that Jesus prayed for, but the problem is that there aren't enough books in the world to contain all of Jesus' prayers. So we're thankful for the prayers that we do have.

Sermon - Jubilate (Easter 4).2013

St John 16.16-22 
Jubilate (Easter 4)
St John's Ev LC, Victor, IA 

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

We will see Jesus again. / And it is when we see Him, that we will know Him fully. / And when we know Him fully, then (and only then) will we experience the joy that continues on, without end.
How we obtain worldly knowledge (knowledge about creation: about people and animals and all the details of this place), how we obtain worldly knowledge / is not all that different from how we obtain heavenly knowledge (that is, knowledge about the Kingdom of heaven).

If you want to know about the Grand Canyon, for example, / you can look at pictures in a book, or read about what other people have observed about it, / but your knowledge / will be incomplete / until you go there and experience it yourself. Then / (and only then) can you truly say you have a complete and full knowledge of the Grand Canyon; once you've seen it for yourself.

Sermon Easter 3.2013

St John 10.11-16 Miseracordias Domini/Good Shepherd Sunday
St John's Ev LC, Victor, IA 2013.4.14

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Only God is good. Only the eternal, invisible, unapproachable God ' is good. Therefore good / was unapproachable, invisible. / Until / in Christ, God approached us, / so that, in Christ, we might know / and come in contact (encounter) That Which is truly Good.

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Well that's pretty dumb, isn't it? If the shepherd lays down his life, if He dies, / then the sheep are left alone. Wolves are out there; cliffs around every bend; and how will they know where the good pasture is, if their good shepherd has laid down his life and died? / Dying doesn't seem so / “good”.

Unless, of course, He takes His life back up again, He resurrects His life.

Sermon-Easter 2.2013

John 20.19-31 Quasimodogeniti (Easter 2)
St John's Ev LC, Victor, IA 2013.4.7

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

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

You see here how the Holy Spirit is given to each according to what each needs. God is no glutton. He does all things well, / and in moderation. The Holy Supper, for example: it is Itself an eternal meal, and you Feasted on that eternal Meal just one week ago, (The Easter Feast at that) / yet, / because of your great need, you are here again. God certainly could have given you so much grace last week that you never hungered or thirsted again. But He didn't. He gave you what you asked for (your “daily bread”) and that grace was sufficient. So, He calls you back again this day.

Sermon-Easter Wednesday.2013

John 21.1-14
Easter Wednesday

The disciples of Jesus (Peter, James, John, Thomas, Nathaniel, and the rest) / they were not children. They were grown up. They were adults.

Then why does Jesus call them “Children”? It's kind of strange isn't it? It's strange, not only because the disciples aren't really children, / but it's also strange, because Jesus, who isn't a father, calls out to them on the boat as if He is their Father. “Children, did you catch any fish, yet?,” He says. He speaks to them in a familiar and commanding tone, just as any father would do with his own children. And He expects an answer. It is as if He sent them out there / and He wants them to report back to Him, how they are doing.

And here's another strange thing: / if someone who wasn't your father or your grandfather would call out to you, would you answer them like you would answer your father or grandfather? No. Right? You have a special relationship with your father and grandfather. / But the disciples DO answer back to Jesus in this way.

It is a mystery indeed. But it can be explained like this:

This story happened after Jesus had risen from the dead; after He had appeared to the disciples twice already. Now, before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples about a special relationship that He had with God, the heavenly Father. He told them that God the Father sent Him to earth. And when the Father sent Jesus to earth, He also gave Jesus the words that He should say while He was here. He told them that when his disciples hear the voice of Jesus, they are really hearing the voice of the Father. That is why Jesus calls them “children,” / because Jesus is speaking for the heavenly Father. He was always speaking for the heavenly Father.

This is why the disciples answer Jesus like they are answering the Father, because they believe Jesus does speak the Father's word. And this is why they act so much like children when they realize that it is Jesus who is standing there on the shore, calling out to them.

Did you notice how childish they acted. Peter was so excited that he couldn't even wait for the boat to get to shore. He acted kind of like an excited little child waiting for his daddy to get home from work. When His daddy swings open the back, the child jumps up from whatever he is doing and screams, “Daddy” and runs over to him as fast as he can.

Peter jumped in the water, excited to see Jesus, because He believed Jesus is God. He wanted to embrace Him, to kiss Him, to tell Him all about his day.

And then, calmly, what does Jesus do? Well, just like any father does, He provides food for the children to eat. And He eats with them, too, showing them again that it really is Him, and that He really did rise from dead.

All is well. Jesus is with them. And because Jesus is with them, so is the Father.

And Jesus continued to be with them. The Apostles were the first pastors. When Jesus sent the first pastors out into the world, He told them this: “when the people hear you, they hear me.”

And Jesus is still sending pastors. Jesus' voice is still going out into all the world through pastors, all over the world, / even here / in this part of the world. Jesus even sends you pastors. And your pastors call out to you, “children, how is your work going? Are you catching fish, obeying your parents, doing your homework, and your chores?” But not only that. Your pastors also has been given the responsibility of providing food. And so he does. And he invites you to come and eat with him.

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

Sermon-EASTER Festival.2013

Mark 16.1-8 Easter Festival
St John's Ev LC, Victor, IA 2013.3.31

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

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Risen, indeed! But who is this Christ, anyhow?

Listen to the angel. He will tell us. “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.” In case you missed it on Friday, the story goes that a young man about my age, a carpenter by trade, with a carpenter father and a virgin mother got Himself into a lot of trouble with the religious authorities.

The people loved him, at least at first, though they eventually turned on Him, too, when the going got tough. In fact, if the reports are true, apparently his own Father forsook Him. At least that's what He cried out from the cross.

Forsaken, abandoned, beaten, hung on a pole to die. Is that who we seek this morning? It's who the angel thinks we're seeking: a crucified Nazarene.

No, the Christ we seek is living. Perhaps the angel is just confused. Or / perhaps the angel is seeing things from a whole new perspective; a heavenly perspective. In heaven, as on earth, “Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

You see, there is no Resurrected Christ, without the crucified and dead Christ. You cannot fully appreciate the glory of the Resurrected Christ, until you've the seen the bitterness of the Crucified Christ.

Why? Because Christ isn't a spectacle to be gawked at. “Christ, the Lamb of God” is also “Christ, the Life of all the Living.”

We are not here to celebrate the memory of a great guy. We are not here to pat one another or ourselves on our religious or spiritual backs so that we can go on with life unburdened by our conscience. If Good Friday (and all of Lent, for that matter) has taught us anything, it has taught us how to die while we live.

A paradox and impossibility to the world and to the worldly-minded. But not to you. You live in this paradox as Christians, that is, with the mind of Christ, embracing the mysteries of eternity and holding on to them with all you have.

This is why you seek Jesus, the Crucified and Risen Lord, / because Christ matters to you; because you can't imagine life without Christ; because you know that there really is no life without Christ.

That is why you've come. That is who you seek. So let us not wait a minute longer. You have come to see Jesus, to be with Him this morning. Let it be done for you as you believe. / Let's eat.

In +Jesus' name. Amen.

Sermon-EASTER Vigil.2013

Easter Vigil (Joint-Parish Service)
preached at Trinity LC, Millersburg, IA

On this holiest of nights. Rejoice!

Beloved in the Lord, you have passed from Darkness into Light.

This is the message we have heard from [the Lord] and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 Jn 1.5) And this “is true in him and [even] in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” (1 Jn 2.8) “For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4.6) “And God saw that the Light was good. And God separated the Light from the Darkness.” (Gen 1.4) For “what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6.14) This is what Jesus Himself said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (Jn 12.46) In other words, “The light shines in the darkness, / but / the darkness has not overcome it,” (Jn 1.5) so that even “the people who walked in darkness have seen [this] great Light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has [this] Light shone.” (Is 9.2)

Dear friends, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand.” (Rom 13.12) Rejoice!
Or, perhaps you think that you are not part of these “enLightened ones”. That somehow God's Light, His gracious gift of Christ, has not or cannot shine in you. Perhaps you think you are so darkened by sin / or you are living in such evil darkness that no light, no matter how divine, can possibly penetrate it, and reach you.

O you of little faith, here the Word of the Lord, which David sung to the Lord when He experienced those same doubts:
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
 If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall
cover me,
    and the light about me / be night,” //
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

Rejoice / all you doubters. Rejoice / all you sinners. Rejoice all you ignorant and wise alike. / Rejoice all you choirs of angels. Rejoice all you saints, you heavenly host.
Enter into the same House,
sing of the same grace.
Gather about the same altar,
worship the same King.

For this night / is no night. For this night is the holiest of nights in which the Light of the world came beaming out of the darkened tomb, shattering the three hour darkness, setting the captives free, damning the demons, and “entering once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb 9.12) for all whom He has created.

Rejoice. He has created you. He has redeemed you. He has even come this holy night, to this holy place, to sanctify you wholly. Rejoice.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, / to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3.20-21)