Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lent 2

 Lent 2
March 1, 2015
Mark 8:31-38
The Attitude of Suffering
Three Steps Needed to be Taken

Jesus proceeded to tell the people plainly, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, …and be killed, and after three days rise again” (v. 31). Mark tells us, “He spoke that saying openly” (vs. 32). There were no veiled words but a clear proclamation of the Messiah’s activity. The activity of redemption was mad a reality “not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death”. {Luther’s Explanation of the Second Article}.

But His death would not be the end. The chains of death would be broken by His resurrection. Yet Jesus is clear to remind us that His suffering, “must happen” (vs.31) if the Messiah’s work is to end in victory. And it did happen. Jesus “humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8)

As redeemed children of God, we too, need to heed Jesus’ words, for the ways of God are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) the things of God are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:9-014). In our lives, we need to savor the things of God, not of men. In our text, Jesus outlines for us God’s way. This morning let’s consider the way of living even through suffering, as we live according to Christ’s directive. How do we live according to God’s directive? Three steps need to be taken.

 Deny yourself.  John the Baptist said, “He must increase, I must decrease”. To live under God’s directive we must think less of ourselves and more of Him.  We need to deny ourselves for each of us are sinners. Conceived in sin we are found to be wanting. Each of us by our very nature are blind, dead, and enemies of God. We must look to Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.

This is increasingly more difficult to do in our present age. The world and environment in which we live is more and more focused on the self. “What’s in it for me?” the world asks.  I want it my way, and I want it now. How often do we see selfish people doing it their way, on their own terms? Some call it self-gratification. What it all boils down to is the self at the center of the universe. A man wrapped up all in himself makes a very small package. Yet, this is how the world judges success, power, and fame.

“The one with the most toys wins!” so says the bumper sticker, and yet all this striving leaves men broken, tired, and left wanting.  For true peace and contentment we must deny the self and seek after a higher good – His name, again, is Jesus Christ. Deny the self, “He must increase, I must decrease”.
  
Take up you cross. That’s how we live according to God’s directive.  Taking up our cross means that we simply submit to God’s will. Again, this too is something that is increasingly hard to do in our world.

Just how does one take up their own cross?  It’s found in obedience to the will of God. As I decrease and Christ is to increase, I find myself seeking Him who died for me.  We pray so often in the Lord’s Prayer “Thy will be done”.  Do we really mean that when we pray it, or have the words become so commonplace?  Christ has called us to obedience. We are to submit to His will. We are to walk according to His command. We are to act, as He would have us go. We follow as He leads.

Follow Jesus.  That is the third and final command.” Savior lead, I follow Thee”.  So go the words of the hymn.  We follow Jesus as He leads us into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  We follow as He leads us to the cross and empty grave giving us His life in exchange for our mortal way of doing things.  The words sound simple. It takes a life of faith to live them daily.  That’s why this season of Lent is so often referred to as a discipline and pilgrimage.  We are on a walk with the suffering Savior. We walk with Him as He gives direction. We follow Him to the cross and empty tomb where we find in Him salvation and life. For it is His death that has saved us. He exchanges His life for our futile way of living. It is in His resurrection that we find what we truly need to have life and have it abundantly.

Savior I follow on guide by Thee…Savior, lead, I follow Thee. Wherever You go I will follow, forsaking this world, to find in Thee…my life my rest, Christ, crucified I come.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Words –827
Passive Sentences –10%
Readability –82.7
Reading Level –4.6



Jesus raises Jairus' daughter



2.28.2015 Saturday of Lent 1       Mark 5:21-43 Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from death

Jesus raises Jairus' daughter

Jesus returns to the Jewish side of the Seas of Galilee by boat. He is met by Jairus, a leader in the local synagogue, who begs Jesus to come to his house to heal his little daughter. Jesus decides to god, but He is interrupted by a woman who touches Him to get healing for her twelve-year-old issue of blood. This cause a delay and friends report that Jairus’ daughter has died. Jesus ignores this and goes to the home. A great multitude is already mourning. He asks them why they are mourning, for He claims that the child is not dead but sleeping. Their ridicule does not stop Him. In Aramaic He addresses the girl. To the amazement of all, she rises from death to life. He orders silence about the miracle and food for the girl.

Jesus takes the girl by the hand and says, “I say to you, arise.” The dead hear His voice and obey! Here is an instance demonstrating the authority and power of Jesus’ word. What He says happens. Who but God can with a word bring life out of death? It is no wonder Jesus orders His disciples and Jairus to tell no one of the miracle. He did not want people to see or accept Him as Messiah on the basis of miracles. The revelation of His identity was to come on the cross.[2] 

Do circumstances dictate faith? Consider Jairus. His daughter was ill. What parent would not stop at anything to seek treatment for sick child? Naturally, he goes to the one he knows will restore her. He runs to Jesus. He has faith that Jesus can restore her. This hope is raised when Jesus accepts the invitation to go to his house. That faith is tried when Jesus is interrupted by a woman also seeking treatment, and might have been crushed when he receives the disturbing news, “why trouble the Master, your daughter is dead.” When could have been will not happen. Healing was once possible. Death seemed to exhaust all hope.

Jesus speaks new life to this helpless situation with His word and promise, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.” Not only does Jesus take charge in this impossible circumstance. He is the object of such hope and trust. Do you only trust only when circumstances dictate a positive end? Faith must always be focused on Christ. Not a desired outcome. And especially when all hope is lost. The impossible, “the child sleeps” becomes the new reality, “I say to you arise.”
    

O God, by your Word you marvelously carry out the work of reconciliation: Grant that in our Lenten fast we may be devoted to you with all our hearts, and united with one another in prayer and holy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.[3]




[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff, pg.208 © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
[3] Collect for Saturday of Lent 1,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lent 2


Lent 2
March 1, 2015
Mark 8:31-38
The Attitude of Suffering
Three Steps Needed to be Taken


Jesus proceeded to tell the people plainly, “the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, …and be killed, and after three days rise again” (v. 31). Mark tells us, “He spoke that saying openly” (vs. 32). There were no veiled words but a clear proclamation of the Messiah’s activity. The activity of redemption was mad a reality “not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death”. {Luther’s Explanation of the Second Article}.

But His death would not be the end. The chains of death would be broken by His resurrection. Yet Jesus is clear to remind us that His suffering, “must happen” (vs.31) if the Messiah’s work is to end in victory. And it did happen. Jesus “humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8)

As redeemed children of God, we too, need to heed Jesus’ words, for the ways of God are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) the things of God are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:9-014). In our lives we need to savor the things of God, not of men. In our text Jesus outlines for us God’s way. This morning lets consider the way of living even through suffering, as we live according to Christ’s directive. How do we live according to God’s directive? Three steps need to be taken.

 Deny yourself.  John the Baptist said “He must increase, I must decrease”. To live under God’s directive we must think less of ourselves and more of Him.  We need to deny ourselves for each of us are sinners. Conceived in sin we are found to be wanting. Each of us by our very nature are blind, dead, and enemies of God. We must look to Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.

This is increasingly more difficult to do in our present age. The world and environment in which we live is more and more focused on the self. “What’s in it for me?” the world asks.  I want it my way, and I want it now. How often do we see selfish people doing it their way, on their own terms? Some call it self-gratification. What it all boils down to is the self at the center of the universe. A man wrapped up all in himself makes a very small package. Yet, this is how the world judges success and power and fame.

“The one with the most toys wins!” so says the bumper sticker, and yet all this striving leaves men broken, tired, and left wanting.  For true peace and contentment we must deny the self and seek after a higher good – His name, again, is Jesus Christ. Deny the self, “He must increase, I must decrease”.
  
Take up you cross. That’s how we live according to God’s directive.  Taking up our cross means that we simply submit to God’s will. Again, this too is something that is increasingly hard to do in our world.

Just how does one take up their own cross?  It’s found in obedience to the will of God. As I decrease and Christ is to increase I find myself seeking Him who died for me.  We pray so often in the Lord’s prayer “Thy will be done”.  Do we really mean that when we pray it, or have the words become so common place?  Christ has called us to obedience. We are to submit to His will. We are to walk according to His command. We are to act, as He would have us go. We follow as He leads.

Follow Jesus.  That is the third and final command.” Savior lead, I follow Thee”.  So go the words of the hymn.  We follow Jesus as He leads us into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  We follow as He leads us to the cross and empty grave giving us His life in exchange for our mortal way of doing things.  The words sound simple. It takes a life of faith to live them daily.  That’s why this season of Lent is so often referred to as a discipline and pilgrimage.  We are on a walk with the suffering Savior. We walk with Him as He gives direction. We follow Him to the cross and empty tomb where we find in Him salvation and life. For it is His death that has saved us. It is His life that He exchanges for our futile way of living. It is in His resurrection that we find what we truly need to have life and have it abundantly.

Savior I follow on guide by Thee…Savior, lead, I follow Thee. Wherever You go I will follow, forsaking this world, to find in Thee…my life my rest, Christ, crucified I come.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Words –827
Passive Sentences –10%
Readability –82.7%

Reading Level –4.6

Jesus drives out demons



2.27.2015 Friday of Lent 1             Mark 5:1-20 The healing of a demon- possessed man
Jesus Drives out Demons 

A nameless man has been exiled to the margins of human existence. He's filthy. Naked in public. He can't control his speech. He's so violent that people can't come near him. All attempts to restrain him have failed. He exhibits the most common form of self-harm even today — self-mutilation. He suffers from demon possession.

This mad young man, in an unclean town, a town on the far side of the Sea of Galilee, in which Jewish people made their living by herding pigs.   Jewish law tells us the pig is an unclean animal.  But the town has found it profitable. To raise them and sell them to their pagan neighbors who were pork eaters.

The madman is untouchable.  The people of the town had decided that he was good for nothing.  His uncontrollable rages have brought them to drastic measures.  They have put him in chains and chained him among the dead. In the town cemetery. Where his roaring would bother the living less.  Even so, he manages to escape now and then and takes off into the woods.  Why does he return? Because they go after him.  Because there is nowhere else to go.  Because hunger brings him back to the food, they will supply him.

"My name is Legion!" this homeless man screamed. "For we are many." Tortured in body, mind, and spirit, he embodied the scope of human suffering. For a Roman "legion" consisted of 5,000 soldiers.

And so, his community did what we still do today. They banished the man. To the safe and solitary margins of society.

When Jesus arrives by boat from across the Sea, there is no crowd waiting to greet Him.   But Jesus and the disciples can hear the fellow in the cemetery. They go to him.  By the end of Jesus’ time with him, the young man has been restored to sanity. He is calm. And he rejoices in his acceptance by them all.

But something else has happened.  The demons and the madness have gone out of the young man. And, at Jesus’ direction, they enter into a large herd of swine.  The swine, in horror at their own corruption by unclean spirits, run to the edge of the cliff. They jump into the Sea and are drowned.  Now the people come running. They crowd around. Horrified at the loss of their valuable swine.  And they are terrified of Jesus – so terrified they ask Him to leave.

They ask Jesus to leave. He abides by their request. But the man who was freed from his long and lonely days of isolation and terror went about telling anyone who would listen how much God had done for him. We bear the message of freedom from evil dark powers. But it is Christ who secures this freedom.

Jesus seeks not only to cure the "disease" -- the demon-possession; but also to heal the illness -- to restore this man to the community from which he has been estranged. He is to go home.

The man who sat at Jesus' feet and who learned from Him wants to go with them. And what are his options? He is standing on the beach with Jesus. The disciples in the boat are in front of him. The townsfolk who banished him to the graveyard are at his back. He wants to go with the One who healed him. He wants to be with Jesus.  The One who wasn't afraid to come near him. The One who didn't walk on the other side of the street. He wants to go with his new teacher and Lord. He wants to learn more about the kingdom of God. He's ready to follow Jesus. There's room in the boat.  And he'll leave without looking back!  There's really no one to say good-bye to. But Jesus says no.

To others along the way, Jesus had issued the invitation, "Come, and follow Me." But to this one He says, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." This isn't simply a story of one man's healing.  It’s a story of one man's calling. Jesus does bid the man to follow; but in this case, the following involves staying rather than leaving. Jesus does not reject the man's application to be a disciple. He accepts it fully. “I even have a first appointment all lined up for you,” Jesus says from the boat. “Your congregation is standing right behind you. Now, go and tell....”[2]

Lord Christ, our eternal Redeemer, grant us such fellowship in your sufferings, that filled with your Holy Spirit, we may subdue the flesh to the spirit, and the spirit to you, and at the last attain to the glory of your resurrection; who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.[3]




[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Homily delivered June 23, 2013 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Grand Canyon


Today, Wednesday 26 February the Grand Canyon National Park is celebrating the anniversary of its designation as a national park 96 years to the day after An Act to Establish the Grand Canyon National Park in the Sate of Arizona was signed into law in 1919


The stilling of a storm





2.26.2015 Thursday of Lent 1   

Mark 4:21-41 Parables concerning the Kingdom, the stilling of a storm
 Jesus Sleeps During a Storm

Jesus tells two parables concerning the kingdom. These two parables of the kingdom of God give insight into the mystery of the kingdom hidden to outsiders but revealed to the disciples. The first parable of the secret growing points to the growth of the kingdom. The kingdom of God had not yet arrived but it is in control of things and is in the process of being fulfilled through the ministry of the church. The second parable stresses contrast between the smallness of the see and the ultimate greatness of the kingdom. The kingdom of God began in the smallest way of Jesus’ ministry but one day it will embrace the earth.[2]

When Jesus completes His teaching with parables, He and His disciples cross the Sea of Galilee to minister to Gentiles. A storm threatens to drown them while Jesus, exhausted from His work and at peace with God an Himself sleeps in the boat. They awaken Jesus and accuse Him of not caring. Not caring if they perish. Jesus tells the winds and the water to be still. A great calm follows. Then Jesus asks them why they were afraid and where their faith was. Filled with awe, they ask, “Who then is this?” The disciples failed to grasp the nature of Jesus and His work.

How soundly Jesus must have slept! Can you imagine anyone sleeping when waves toss the boat around like a cork, with water splashing into the boat, and twelve men scampering and yelling in fear of drowning? His sleeping indicates how worn out Jesus was from His constant ministering, but it also indicates His complete relaxation resulting from His faith in God’s providence and protection. It was not the sleep of a Jonah who used sleep as an escape from reality. Jesus’ sleep was one of perfect trust in the Father’s care.[3]

Early Christians would remember this event when facing opposition and persecution. When you bear the cross, for being Christian remember how Christ came to the rescue of His early disciples. Affliction and difficulty often find us. When these troubles times come the Lord will use these circumstances to draw us closer to Himself and in the end strengthen our faith. (see Hebrews 12:5-11) Daily His grace is sufficient for the day. When you find yourself in great peril, trust in his grace and forgiveness. 1 John 1:7

Strengthen us, O Lord, by your grace, that in your might we may overcome all spiritual enemies, and with pure hearts serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.[4]




[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lectionary Preaching Workbook, Series B John Brokhoff, pg.197, © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
[3] Lectionary Preaching Workbook, Series B John Brokhoff, pp. 202-203, © 1991 CSS Publishing, Lima OH
[4] Collect for Thursday of Lent 1, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

177th Anniversary




Almighty God, You have promised to be with Your Church forever.  We praise You for Your presence in this place of worship and ask Your ongoing blessing upon those who gather here.  Dwell continually among us with Your holy Word and Sacraments, strengthen our fellowship in the bonds of love and peace, and increase our faithful witness to Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.