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Read this, please

February 14, 2013 Leave a comment

There are very few things I come across on the Interwebs that I think “Everyone must read this.”  This is one of them.

http://marc5solas.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/top-10-reasons-our-kids-leave-church/

If you are a Christian and have any concern at all for the future of the Christian Church in the US, please read and understand what this author is trying to say.  Yes the Church is being assaulted from without, but we are sapping our own walls from within.

How about for this Lent, we get folks to give up thinking the Church needs to be “relevant” or even “contemprovant.”

 

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Categories: Uncategorized

Sermon for the Transfiguration of Our Lord

February 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Transfiguration

Augustana, 2013

Note: I had several positive comments about this sermon.  I’m not entirely sure why.  There was a common theme throughout, the mountains which acted like a structure to hang the rest of the sermon on, but other than that, there was nothing ground-breaking in it, or so I thought.  Anyway, lots of people liked it and said so, which is nice.  As always, it’s probably better to listen to the audio which can be found by clicking here 16 Sermon for the Transfiguration.mp3

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Today is really about mountains, three of them actually.  The first is Moses’ mountain, Sinai, the mountain of the Lord.  This is not the mountain mentioned in the OT reading today, that’s where Moses dies.  No, Mount Sinai is where the Lord led the people of Israel after He rescued them out of slavery in the land of Egypt and rescued them from the Pharaoh’s chariots when He led them through the Red Sea on dry ground.  After He rescued them, He brought them to the foot of Mount Sinai and there all Israel encamped at the base of the mountain in the desert and the Lord dwelt in His glory atop the mountain.  He dwelled in fire and smoke and cloud for forty days when Moses went up on the mountain to receive the Law of the Lord.  On that mountain there was no doubt that it was the Lord who dwelled there.  And when He gave His Law to His people He meant to give them the Law so that they would be His people and He would be their God.  Remember how the Ten Commandments begin.  They don’t begin with, “Thou shalt not…”  They begin with “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods.”  (Ex 20:2-3)  What do we call this rescue of God for His people?  What is the name of the book that records this great rescue of the people of Israel from Pharaoh in Egypt?  Exodus.  Exodus is not just leaving one place to go to another, it’s not even a divinely directed migration plan.  The Exodus is God’s rescue of His people from bondage to an evil Pharaoh.

I think we miss too much in the Old Testament today and because of it we miss too much in the New Testament too.  The transfiguration doesn’t make as much sense without understanding the first mountain, Mount Sinai.  By the way, that’s why it makes so much sense that when Jesus is transfigured, when His appearance changes and His glory shines through, on top of the mountain with Him stand Moses and Elijah.  Moses lived in the presence of Yahweh Most High God on Sinai, for forty days.  The only other Biblical person we meet who has a similar experience is Elijah, who as we know, never tasted physical death but was carried into heaven in a fiery chariot.  It makes sense that Elijah, too, is here on the mountain with Jesus’s heavenly glory revealed.

The second mountain then, for the sake of the sermon today is the transfiguration mount, probably Mount Tabor in southern region around Galilee.  The connections now should be obvious.  On this mountain Jesus fully revealed Himself as divine.  The appearance of His face was changed and His clothes became dazzling white.  He was changed into a vision of heavenly radiance and glory.  Luke doesn’t tell us any more than this.  Matthew tells us that Jesus face shone like the sun.  Mark tells us Jesus clothes became intensely white.  Jesus revealed Himself in glory, in the same kind of brightness and glory by which the Lord revealed Himself in the Old Testament.  In fact, the connections just get stronger as we keep reading.  Before long, there is a cloud.  And this isn’t like driving though the Smokey Mountains where the clouds come up and block enshroud the road.  This isn’t just any cloud.  Go back through the OT and pay attention to where clouds appear and there you’ll almost always find the presence of the Lord God.  Out of this cloud comes the voice of the Lord.  These two mountains, Sinai and the Transfiguration Mount are linked together by the presence Moses and Elijah, the presence of God in glory and cloud, and one last thing.

Luke tells us, “And behold, two men were talking with [Jesus], Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure.”  Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus about Jesus’s departure, the departure which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  Now at first glance it might appear that Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus about His upcoming travel plans.  But that’s not entirely what happening here.  If you look under this English word, departure, you’ll find a very interesting Greek word that’s very familiar to us all, “exodus.”  So hear this line again now, “Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus about Jesus’s exodus, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”  Did you hear the difference?  Jesus and Moses and Elijah are not talking about travel plans; they are talking about rescue plans.  They are talking about what Jesus is going to do on the next mountain He climbs, Mount Calvary.

I said this sermon was really about three mountains.  If Sinai and the transfiguration mount are the first two, Mount Calvary is the third because Jesus leaves this mountain and begins to head to Jerusalem, to bring about the exodus, the rescue of God’s people from slavery to sin, and evil and death.  The next time we see Jesus climb a mountain it is Good Friday and He is climbing up to Mount Calvary carrying the cross on which He will be nailed for the sins of the world.

Now you may be thinking that this doesn’t quite match up.  On Sinai, the Lord revealed Himself in fire and smoke and glory and on the transfiguration mount, Jesus revealed Himself to be the Lord in bright light and cloud.  Where is the fire and the smoke on Good Friday?  Where is the glory of the Lord on Mount Calvary?  As Jesus prayed in the presence of His disciples what we call the High priestly prayer,

he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.  (Jn 17:15)

At the cross of Jesus, the glory of the Lord was revealed.  Take a minute and let that sink in.  It was at the cross of Jesus on Mount Calvary that the whole plan of God for the salvation of His people came to fruition.  Mount Calvary is the greater exodus.  The rescue of the people of Israel from Egypt to Sinai was but a precursor and foreshadowing of the rescue that God would provide through the death of His Son on the cross on Mount Calvary.  It is on Mount Calvary that Jesus dies in your place to sin.  It is on Mount Calvary that Jesus’ dying to death cancels out and nullifies death itself and gives you victory over death.  It is on Mount Calvary that Jesus’ cross trumps the power of the devil and binds him forever so you never need fear his roaring and insults.

And where are we today?  We are somewhere on the transfiguration mount, basking in the glory of the Lord.  We are here on the hill today but we will suffer through the valley of another week.  And today the image is even clearer for us because today we leave the mount of transfiguration in the South of Galilee and begin on Wednesday the 40 day journey through the valley of Lent up to the next mountain outside Jerusalem, Mount Calvary.  We have made this journey now many times, not just annually but weekly.  We walk through another week until we can return to this hill where the Lord’s presence is here for us, where the benefits of His cross are given and shared with us, where He forgives sin, where He grants life and salvation by hearing His Word and receiving His true body and blood given and shed for us.  It’s here.  It is here that we participate in His exodus for us.  It is here already now that we begin our pilgrimage toward heaven.  It is here, already now, that Jesus gathers us in to show us what He has accomplished on His cross for us, for our salvation.

Dear friends, as head into the Lenten season, I know we will travel down Mount Tabor and through deep and dark valleys.  Many of you travel these valleys but you do not travel them alone.  The Lord your God travels with you.  We just gathered this week to say goodbye to our sister in faith, Linda Ritchie.  And we prayed that very familiar psalm together, Psalm 23.  “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.”  The Lord is with us.  And we will sing together today,

“Tis good Lord to be here,”

And as he bids us leave the mount,

He’ll come with us to the plain,

through the valleys of this life to gather us at the next mountain, the mountain of His eternal glory.  Hear the Word of Lord for you.  Hear His victory over sin, death and devil for you.  For He has done it on Mount Calvary for you.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

I heard the Pope is retiring

February 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Even the pope gets worn out in Lent and Holy Week.

 

 

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Sermon for the Funeral of Linda Ritchie

February 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Easter 020

Note:  As always, click the link for mp3 audio  15 Sermon for the Funeral of Linda Ritchie.mp3

Just a side note, thanks to all the folks who helped feed the family and friends after the funeral.  It’s such a nice thing to do for a grieving family; I’m glad so many folks got together and made it happen.

Also the photo here is one of the “east” window at Augustana.

 

 

February 8, 2013

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Jerry, Brenda, Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Jesus is speaking privately with his disciples as he did often.  The special occasion for these words is Holy Thursday, the night when Jesus gave us his Supper.  The picture for our minds is Jesus gathered at the table with his disciples and this is what He’s saying to them.  Jesus is saying some very encouraging words.  What become Jesus’ last words before he died.  He promised them the Holy Spirit and he kept on teaching until it was time to go out and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane where He was arrested and He began His last steps to the cross.  Jesus’ last words, at his last supper shortly before his last steps to the cross.

Jesus was trying to prepare the disciples for what they were about to experience over the next two and a half days—a whole lot of misery and suffering, denial and guilt and grief.  Not too much unlike what we feel as we grieve the loss of our dear sister, Linda, today.  Linda’s passing was quiet and peaceful but the hole left in our hearts is just as big.

There was one dimension that was simply lost on the disciples throughout the entire episode of the Last Supper.  They had watched Jesus take Passover and turn it into something completely new but they did not fully understand that the eating and drinking of his body and blood would be the way in which Jesus would abide with them until the end of the age.  They missed out on the cosmic significance of Jesus washing their feet, of his humble ministry to them in this way.  It had never been done that way before and therefore they didn’t know what to make of it.  And so when Jesus says, of course you know the way to the place where I am going on ahead of you, they did not understand and Thomas blurts out, “how can we know the way?”

We are all tempted to be a little like Thomas today. We are tempted to think that this is just a nice way to say goodbye to someone we loved.  We are tempted to think that this service, these words we say, this ritual is just a way to wrestle with something that is beyond our comprehension, some measure of closure, they say.  But Jesus’ words here in John 14, on the very night that he was betrayed, will not let us settle for something so trivial.  Jesus speaks on the night before his death..  From the other evangelists we know he said at that table that whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim my death until I come.  Jesus said these words about going on to prepare a place for us in his father’s house not just for our comfort as though he could simply teleport to His Father’s house and start making beds and setting out fresh towels.  No, he said these words to them so that they might know not only was he going to prepare a place for them but that he was going to do it by His dying, by dying on the cross for us.

Many years ago, God spoke to Linda and called her by name and declared Linda Diane to be a daughter of the Heavenly Father.  At holy baptism, Linda died in those waters.  She was crucified with Christ and buried with him.  That’s why we read that passage from Romans 8 at our funerals.  Because when Christians die, they know they have nothing to fear, they have already died once, they have nothing to fear by dying again.  Jesus said, I am the way the truth and the life not to show that we must follow his example and say the right words to receive eternal life.  We are often tempted to think that we can make our own way through this world and that we can search out and find our own truth.  But if we are to go to the Father’s heavenly house we do it only by dying and only by dying through the death of Jesus.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” to show us the way.  We know he came and suffered so that all people might come to know him and be saved.  And he did this not so that we would think that the way to heaven is acting like him, or that the way is being able to correct expound certain theological truths.   If salvation is dependent on our being able to say the right words, believe the right things, we are still lost.  We cannot even believe rightly and purely.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except by Him, most specifically through His death on the cross.

Those of you who knew Linda, knew that she was a little different than the rest of us.  She had a different set of abilities.  She was very talented with her hands.  She could sew.  There are two dolls over in the parish hall that Linda made by hand.  She was an accomplished baker.  I’m a cook and I know that baking is quite a bit more difficult than cooking.  Even in the midst of her injuries and illness over the past three and half years or so, she was still ever so very kind.  She never became embittered by what she was going through.  And Linda was given a strong faith in Jesus Christ.  Linda believed when Jesus spoke, “Let not your heart be troubled.”  And she didn’t.  She believed.

Linda confessed that faith with her mouth when she was confirmed here and she confessed that faith in her home and among her co-workers and her family, specially her parents before they passed and with her brother and sister.  That’s what a Christian life is, a daily living out of what is believed in the heart and confessed with the mouth.  A couple weeks before she died, I made a call on Linda at Bryan Center.  She didn’t know who I was but knew I was the pastor at her church, Augustana and she was happy for my visit.  It was the first time in several visits that I had found her awake and talkative so we had a lovely visit.  I read Scripture and we prayed.  And we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together.  It turned out to be my last visit with her awake. Not two weeks later, Linda had what appeared to be another stroke and I went to visit again and she was not the way I had seen her.  She’d stopped eating.  On Saturday she was close to dying and I went and we prayed the commendation of the dying.  For one last time we heard together those comforting words from the Lord, Psalm 23, comforting words of the Lord from the Gospels, Revelation 7, those deep sources of our strength from the Lord and we prayed, at last, to commend Linda into the hands of her Lord, Jesus who had gone before her through this valley to prepare a place for her in His Father’s house.  And I gave her the blessing of the Lord for one last time and she was gone in less than a day.  A last visit, a last word, a last blessing from the Lord.  But there was one last thing happened.  Mid-morning on Sunday Brenda was at the bedside and Linda was struggling a little to breathe.  And calmly began to sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know.”  Linda’s breathing became less labored and soon she had breathed her last, at was rest with her Lord to awake the Day of Resurrection on the Last Day.  Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me.”  “I am the way, and the truth and the life.”

I want to make something perfectly clear this afternoon.  We’re here because Linda was not perfect.  Jesus loved Linda not because she was so sweet a lady in our eyes but because that’s what he does and that’s why he was born.  Jesus did not come down from heaven and wave a magic wand to forgive people’s sins.  He came to suffer on the cross and die for the penalty for sin, for Linda’s sin, for your sin, for my sin, for all sin.  And because death is what it is, no matter how we might like to dress it up, death is not something we can quietly let pass.  It won’t let us.  The pain is too great, the grief too deep.  The message from the Lord today is stronger than our pain and greater than our grief.  Today in the face of death, do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in the God who sent His Son to save the world, to save Linda, to save you, purely out of His divine fatherly goodness and mercy, His great love.  Believe in the One He sent, Jesus His Son, who died to sin, who died to death.  He knew no sin, who should not have died and yet allowed Himself to die.  He died to cancel out death, to nullify death for you.  Believe in that God.  Believe in that God who cancels out death by dying to it.  Believe in that Jesus.  Linda did, by the gift of the Holy Spirit through the Word.

I know that death looks sure and certain.  But even more sure and more certain than death is Jesus.  The death that could not hold Jesus, cannot hold Linda, cannot hold you.  Don’t fall for death’s tricks to despair as we walk into that cemetery today on the way to the grave.  Whatever tempts you to despair, to think that God has quit, that He doesn’t care—between that and you stands the Lord Jesus, crucified for you and risen for you. Before death or illness can destroy you, they have to destroy Him first, and they’ve already done their worst.  Jesus has the last word because He lives, and by His true Words and Spirit puts death to death and His life into you just as he put his death and life into Linda.

“Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Sermon for The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

February 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Augustana, 2013

Note:  The other sermon that was mentioned was written for the Göttingen University Sermon Archive and can be found here http://www.predigten.uni-goettingen.de/aktuell.php which, incidentally, right now has a beautiful picture of a Norwegian stave church in the snow.  The audio for the sermon below can be heard by clicking here 14 Sermon for Epiph 4.mp3

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

I wrote a sermon earlier in the week on the Gospel text for today and it was pretty good, a solid sermon.  But knowing that the anniversary of the congregation is coming up soon, next week, I’ve been thinking about the congregation and its history and of course its future and my thoughts are better suited to the Jeremiah text appointed for today.  And so that will be the text for the sermon this morning.

The Lord said to His prophet, “for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.”

9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.

10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,

to pluck up and to break down,

to destroy and to overthrow,

to build and to plant.”

This is our text.

 

I said, I’ve been thinking about the congregation this week because of the upcoming anniversary, 112 years.  And as most of you know, next month marks five years since my arrival at Augustana and 16 years in ordained ministry.  I don’t know about all pastors, but I tend to get somewhat introspective looking back.  What worked?  What didn’t   What direction to go forward into?  What have I learned?  What have I obviously still not learned?  That sort of thing.  For instance, one of the goals I had coming here was to offer regular spiritual retreats.  Retreats foster spiritual life in a less hurried way.  I have personally benefited from retreats throughout my life but it’s one of the things I just haven’t done.

So, the Jeremiah text is an interesting one for me looking back and forward this week.  “for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.”  You shall go.  That was always part of the adventure for me.  I could go anywhere.  And if I have ever been guilty of anything in the pulpit, it has been speaking what the Lord has given me to speak, sometimes gently, other times not so much.  And to the extent, really, that it puts some folks off.  They might still be wrestling with whether God exists and I’m further on to how He can actually make demands on your life.  The fact of the matter is, Israel of old hated and killed the prophets, and when pastors today speak like prophets and strip away the barnacles of religiosity, it’s never a comfortable thing.  I remember in seminary the professors driving home the point that as pastors we are always to bring comfort to the afflicted, but never forget the prophet’s task of afflicting the comfortable.  “Whatever I command you, you shall speak.”  Have we lost our ear for the Word of the Lord?  Can we tell when it’s the real thing?

Years ago, my uncle in Kentucky bought an old run-down farm.  It was mostly just a bunch of land on rolling central Kentucky hills.  On that farm I remember a spring fed well.  I was a city kid and I don’t think I had ever really tasted pure, clean, Kentucky spring-fed well water.  I was used to city water that tastes well, I don’t want to make anybody from the city mad at me, but it tastes like city water.  I think this is an apt illustration of what has happened to the Christian Church, not just the Missouri-Synod, but most of Christianity in America over the past 100 years.  We have come to prefer the taste of city water so that we don’t even know what the deep well water tastes like.

We have come to think that the traditions that came into the church in the most recent two centuries, especially the last half of the last century, are authentic Christianity.  Just some examples are some things like crosses but not crucifixes, the flags we have in church, or even the nostalgia we have around confirmation.  They are simply normative now and we don’t even question them.  Even though each of these things are never before seen novelties of the most recent 60 years, they have become part of what we expect in our churches.  To suggest otherwise is crazy talk, regardless of the other 1950 years of the Christian Church’s tradition against them.  To go back a little further in this experiment of American Christianity, have a look at something like the norms around how frequently churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  Even though the clear and unbroken witness of history of the Church from the Book of Acts through to Luther and into the two generations after him tell us that there was never a Lord’s Day without the Lord’s Supper, and even though no matter how clearly the case is made that less frequent communion in Germany happened because of influence of the false doctrine of pietism and less frequent communion in the US was because of pietism coming here coupled with the fact that there were simply too few pastors to go around, there are still well-meaning Christians today who think that you shouldn’t commune too often.  It is as if we are afraid we could get too hopped up on forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

In these ways, and many others, we have acquired the taste of American Christianity even though the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s doctrine strongly opposes it, and even though I have preached against it, sometimes quite strongly, it still creeps in on us.  It is to the point that the pure deep water now tastes weird.  And just think of the various flavors that water has had even in the past thirty years.  Billy Graham Crusades gave way to Promise Keepers stadium rallies and that gave way to purpose driven lives with What Would Jesus Do? and The Prayer of Jabez, thrown in between.  At the seminary I was weaned off the city water and I was taught to drink from the deep well from the water that abides.  It’s the only thing that makes sense to me anymore.  To extend the metaphor a bit, some estimate that it takes many years for rainwater to percolate down through the soil and back into the underground aquifers.  That long process gets rid of impurities.  As a shepherd, I think I owe it to my sheep to lead them to springs of living water and thereby not to expose them to any idea that isn’t at least 500 years old.  This very quickly corrects any foolish notion that Christianity is about what we bring to the table, and consequently, that pastoral ministry is about what I bring to the table and into the pulpit and to the hospital bedside.  We need to acquire again the taste of the deep water, because we know its source, Christ our Lord, the eternal Word of the Father.

As Christians, we confess that when the pastor speaks according to his office of the holy ministry, he speaks in the place of Christ, he is the very living voice of Christ.  Surely that does not mean every stupid comment I make or anything said rashly.  But when that clear and identifiable Word is spoken, it is as if Christ Himself speaks.  And that’s the Lord’s promise to Jeremiah and those who follow after him today.  “Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”  God’s Word is mighty.  That Word is the Lord’s own Word to you.  It’s not my word and I take comfort in that.  I hope you do too.  I hope you take great comfort that the Lord still speaks today, He speaks to you today.  He speaks words that pluck up and build and plant and encourage and sustain even if He speaks also words that tear down our false conceptions of the faith and religion.  The Lord speaks through His prophets.

Looking forward this week, I realize we have a challenge ahead of us.  I announced last Sunday that we will be postponing again the prayer retreat, the catalyst event for the spiritual growth that needs to take place in any congregation embracing the district’s renewal process.  We needed to postpone because there were simply not enough folks signed on which suggests that while some clearly see the need for the renewal process, the majority of the congregation clearly did not, or clearly did not see it as a spiritual process begun in prayer.  It may be the case that I have not been clear enough about the process itself.  Although in defense I feel like after Pastor Seaman came and delivered his presentation about the process twice, any and all who were the least bit interested had the opportunity to learn about it.  And it could be that I have not been clear about the challenge ahead of us.  Again although Pastor Seaman made that clear on a broad scale, I would think than to most folks here our challenge would be self-evident.  While we have been on this little hill for almost 112 years, the times have changed.  The church rolls that swelled as the baby boom worked its way through and then the boomers had their babies now subside for a lot of reasons, some even beyond our control.  As I look into the future, I don’t doubt Augustana will be here, but I wonder what it will look like 10, 15, 20 years from now.  For one thing, 15 years from now, most of you will be gone, gone on to rest with the Lord until the Day of Resurrection.  And who will be left?  I pray to God our gradeschoolers will have gone to college and returned ready to marry and begin the next generation but they are far fewer than the rest of you.  Any way forward from here involves two things.  First, we will have to ensure they learn to drink the deep water of the Word of God that we ourselves have discovered on this hill.    Nothing less will bring them back here.  And one additional thing is for sure, we will need to embrace and hold onto whomever the Holy Spirit draws here to sit beside us and hear the Word of God and receive the gifts of God in the sacraments and to work together with us in the Lord’s kingdom.  That is the only way forward.

The Word of the Lord revealed by Jeremiah the prophet is intense.  He calls, consecrates, and sends His prophet to speak His own Word to His people that they should know the heart of their God toward them, that the Word itself plucks them up and even destroys and overthrows God’s enemies and builds and plants His vineyard.  God sends His man to His people with His Word, nothing less, on the poor prophet’s lips.  And that word is always one of the Lord’s boundless love for His people, a love most clearly shown to us in the cross of Jesus.

Hear the Word of the Lord, O Israel.  Hear the Word of the Lord.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Categories: Uncategorized