Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Easter 5 Homily - John 13:34

A New Commandment

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another.” Can there be anything new about love? Hasn’t all been said in love stories, love poems, and love songs? To love is not a new commandment. From the Old Testament the Lord was very clear on the matter, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[Leviticus 19:18)

The commandment is not new. But the love is new. This is the kind of love the world does not know. It is Christian love. The new kind of love the Christian is called to give is a new kind of love. We love “As I have loved you.

1. A Universal love – Jesus loved all regardless of race, sex, or moral condition.
A. He is universal – God so loved the world. John 3:16a
B. It includes every person – every man, every woman, every boy and every girl.
C. No one is excluded from Jesus’ love. You can’t be too bad for Jesus.

2. An unmerited love – Jesus loved persons as persons, not because they were worthy of His love.
A. No one is worthy. There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. – Ecclesiastes 7:20
B. For all have sinned. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

3. A sacrificial love – Jesus loved all the way, even to total sacrifice. His love had a cross on it.
A. The ultimate kind of love. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 Then He continues “and you are my friends…” John 15:14
B. This love is to be expressed in being witnesses of the Savior’s mercy and grace. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knows us not, because it knew Him not. 1 John 3:1

We are simply called to mimic the Savior’s love. This is what it means to be His witnesses. As Christ’s ambassador – you model the love of Christ. Continue, “Lift High the Cross, the love of Christ proclaim, ‘till all the world, adore, His sacred name.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Time in the Word - Easter 5

The Newness of the Resurrection Turns Sorrow into Joy
On earth “you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20). Already the Spirit grants you peace and joy through the forgiveness of your sins. For by the cross of Christ, “God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). His Gospel is “a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household” (Acts 11:13–14). He gives freely “from the spring of the water of life” (Rev. 21:6), “and death shall be no more” (Rev. 21:4). He dwells with His people, adorning His Church as a bride for her husband, “making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Therefore, as the Son of Man is glorified by His cross, “and God is glorified in Him” (John 13:31), so He is glorified in us by our “love for one another” (John 13:35), which His Spirit works in us by His grace.

Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Easter: O God, You make the minds of Your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for newness of life by the Holy Spirit: O Lord God, heavenly Father, You gave Your only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification. By Your Holy Spirit grant us newness of life that through the power of Christ's resurrection we may dwell with Him forever; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for a new heart and a new spirit: Almighty and everlasting God, by the death and resurrection of Your Son You cleansed our hearts and put a new Spirit within us. Grant that all who are brought to newness of life in the fellowship of the body of Christ may show forth in their lives what they confess with their lips; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for newness of life as a baptized child of God: Merciful Father, through Holy Baptism You called us to be Your own possession. Grant that our lives may evidence the working of Your Holy Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, according to the image of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

Prayer for newness of life through confession and absolution: Almighty, everlasting God, for our many sins we justly deserve eternal condemnation. In Your mercy You sent Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who won for us forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. Grant us a true confession that, dead to sin, we may be raised up by Your life-giving absolution. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may be ever watchful and live true and godly lives in Your service; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer at a confirmation: Almighty God, grant that we who have been redeemed from the old life of sin through Baptism into the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, may be renewed in Your Holy Spirit and live in righteousness and true holiness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 26 April 2010Psalm 98:2–6; antiphon, Psalm 98:1—During Eastertide, it is our great joy to sing wonderful songs of praise to the Lord in His royal honor. A new song is called for as we consider all the marvelous things He has done for us. He has made known His salvation in the person of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Because of His steadfast love and faithfulness to the spiritual house of Israel, that is, the Christian Church (Romans 9:6–8), we have been saved from sin, death, and everlasting condemnation.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010Psalm 148—The Psalm for the Day is the same as it was on the Second Sunday of Easter, but it can never be stale or “old hat.” It is always a joy to sing the praise of the One who has raised up a horn of salvation for us. The psalm calls upon all creation to praise the Lord; this is fitting, for, by His death and resurrection, Christ has begun the work of making all things new, that is, restoring all creation from the tragic consequences of the Fall into sin.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010Acts 11:1–18—The First Reading, from Acts, also shows the Newness of the Resurrection. There is a new way of thinking who may be incorporated into the family of God. Peter’s report to the Jerusalem Council of his encounter with the Gentile Cornelius (Acts, chapter 10), shows that the regulations which were binding on God’s people in the Old Testament were not an end unto themselves, but served the purpose of pointing the way to the One who would fulfill them: Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Christ makes all things new, and shows that salvation is by faith in the crucified and risen Jesus, and not by the works of the Law.

Thursday, 29 April 2010Revelation 21:1–7—The glorious results of the Newness of the Resurrection were shown to St John in the revelation he received from the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Since Christ has atoned for the sins of the whole world, and has made all things new again, this will be reflected in all of creation at the Last Day, when the present age and present creation gives way to the new age and new creation. Because sin, death, and the devil have been defeated by Christ, in the new creation there will be no mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Friday, 30 April 2010John 16:12–22 or John 13:31–35—In John 13, Jesus gives us a new commandment, in keeping with the Newness of the Resurrection: Love one another. How simple that sounds, and yet, how difficult it is to keep. Impossible, in fact for us sinful creatures to keep. Only the new man, the one who is in Christ, can do this. Because Christ lives in us by virtue of the faith imparted to us in our Baptisms, we can reflect the love of God to others.

Saturday, 1 May 2010—The Hymn of the Day, At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing (LSB #633), is an ancient hymn of praise to the Lamb who was slain, but is now risen and gives us His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins, and the strengthening of our faith. Stanza 7 speaks once more of the Newness of the Resurrection, proclaiming that the resurrection of Christ has destroyed sin—Easter triumph, Easter joy!—and made us to be newborn souls. Alleluia!

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeff Keuning who serves Zion Lutheran Church and St. John Lutheran Church in Dexter and Casey, IA

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Lydia

Lydia turns 21 today! She will be singing in the finals of the Dayton Opera guild competition. The first pic was taken when she was three at New Hope Lutheran Church Pre-school in Ossian, IN. The head shot was taken last year when she was in her first Opera at IU "A love of three Oranges". Congratulations and all our love.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good Shepherd Homily

This coming Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday. It is appropriate for us to spend a little time in the Good Shepherd chapter of the Bible – John, chapter ten. The Gospel lesson is the first of the Easter gospels not to deal with the resurrection appearance of Christ.

On Easter Sunday we were given the face of the resurrection. On Easter 2 we had a faith experience with the person of the resurrection. Last Sunday we had fellowship with the risen Christ on the shore of Galilee. Now, in John’s Gospel we are given the true identity of this resurrected person.

Is He the same person as Jesus of Nazareth was? Has the resurrection made any difference in Him? Who is this glorified Jesus? Jesus tells us who He is – a divine shepherd, one with God, who know, keeps and gives eternal life to His sheep.

Our very lives depend on knowing who Jesus really is. If the people who asked on Palm Sunday about Jesus, “who is this?” had know who He really was, they could not have rejected Him. If Pilate had known, he would not have sentenced Him to death. If the religious leaders had known, they would not have plotted His death, for Jesus prayed, “They know not what they do.” At the well, Jesus said to the woman, “If you knew who it was who asked you for a drink, you would have asked Him for living water.” How is it that some recognized Jesus as the Christ? Men such as Simeon and John the Baptizer saw and believed. Others did not – men such as Philip, the disciples on the Emmaus road, Pilate and the Pharisees. How many today would recognize Jesus is they saw Him? What people do for the church depends ultimately on the degree of realizing who He is.

These words of the Savior bring the problem to us by telling of the Pharisees who directly challenged Jesus. They say, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” So, how do you know that Jesus is real?

1. From His words – “I told you.” Vs. 25a
A. In His conversation with Nicodemus –a Pharisee- Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 3:3
B. To the Samaritan woman at the well, He clearly revealed Himself to her as the Savior when He said, “I who speak to you am He.” 4:26
C. He had clearly taught them when He said, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.” 5:21

Transition: We know Jesus to be real by what He said. We know Him to be real by His mighty works.

2. From His works – “The works bear witness to Me.” Vs. 25b
A. The works Jesus did were those deliberate acts in which He demonstrated that He was the Savior of the world.
1. When He fed the five thousand. John 6
2. When He healed the man born blind. John 9
3. When He raised Lazarus back to life. John 11
B. His ultimate work was His work of salvation.
1. When He suffered for you and for me.
2. When He was crucified under Pilate.
3. When He died on the bloody cross and cried out “It is finished!” 19:30

Transition: We know Jesus to be real by what He said and by what He did. He is also known by those who know Him too.

3. His workers [Sheep] – “You do not believe because you do not belong to My sheep.” V.26
A. These did not belong, nor did they believe because they rejected Him.
1. He was not the teacher they were searching for.
2. He associated with those for whom the considered the “dirties” of this world.
3. He came for those who knew they were sick and were in need of a physician.
B. You too believe?
1. Then you are a part of His family.
2. You have been given this new life.
3. You too can be used of Him to tell His story in this world.

Your good shepherd speaks clearly and calmly to you this night. You are a sheep of His fold, a lamb of His flock, a sinner of His own redeeming How good it is to know that you are connected to the Savior, Jesus your true and good shepherd.

Image of the Good Shepherd (Wm. Dyce) found here:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Time in the Word - Easter 4

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came from the Father and became flesh among us in order to rescue us, His sheep. He laid down His life for us and took it up again in order to give us eternal life. By the preaching of His Gospel, He calls His sheep to Himself and keeps them with Him forever. As they hear His voice and follow Him, “they will never perish” (John 10:28), for “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29). In the same way, faithful pastors (literally, “shepherds”) “care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood” (Acts 20:28), “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Therefore, with all the company of heaven, the Good Shepherd gathers his flock in worship, as they cry: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:10).

Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter: Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that when we hear the voice of our Shepherd we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for Feast of St Mark, Evangelist (25 April): Almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark. Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for unity of faith: O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for pastors and their people: O almighty God, by Your Son, our Savior, You have always given to Your Church on earth faithful shepherds to guide and feed Your flock. Therefore we pray, make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Word and to administer Your means of grace, and grant Your people wisdom to follow in the way that leads to life eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for comfort to the dying: O Lord, our Shepherd, lead Your sheep in goodness and mercy as we pass with You through the valley of the shadow of death to Your eternal home, where You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for comfort in hope of the resurrection: Lord God, our shepherd, You gather the lambs of Your flock into the arms of Your mercy and bring them home. Comfort us with the certain hope of the resurrection to everlasting life and a joyful reunion with those we love who have died in the faith; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 19 April 2010Psalm 78:70–72; 79:13; antiphon, John 10:14, 15b—Sunday’s theme of the Good Shepherd Who Cares for His Sheep is set by the Introit. The Good Shepherd is really a Noble Shepherd, who loves the sheep of His flock so much that He lays down His life for the sheep. He guides us with His skillful hand throughout our lives into His eternal kingdom. In response, we can do nothing else than give thanks to Him forever, and make future generations aware of all the Good Shepherd has done for them by recounting His praise, and by making known to all the salvation we have through His death and resurrection.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010Psalm 23—All three readings for Sunday use sheep and flock imagery. It is no surprise, then, that the Psalm of the Day is the beloved Twenty-third Psalm. It speaks of the Good Shepherd, whom we know is our Lord Jesus. He brings true peace and comfort to us, even in the presence of our enemies and when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, for He has overcome all enemies. Even as our enemies—sin, death, and the devil—surround us, we take comfort in the table He has prepared before us. At the Lord’s Table, He feeds us with His body and blood, given and shed for us for the remission of all our sins. We have true peace, for we have peace with God.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010Acts 20:17–35—The devil hates Jesus, and hates all whom He has redeemed, that is, the Christian Church. In this farewell address by St Paul to the pastors at Ephesus, where Paul had served for a year and a half, he warns that the devil will try to attack the flock of God by way of false teaching. False teaching slips into a congregation subtly, speaking things which appeal to people and their feelings, shifting the focus from what God has done for us in Christ to what we can do for God. We must ever be on our guard, that the whole counsel of God is taught among us, especially the forgiveness of sins earned for us by Jesus Christ, by the shedding of His own blood.

Thursday, 22 April 2010Revelation 7:9–17—What a beautiful picture of the Church we have placed before us! Redeemed children of God, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. Their white robes show that they have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. These Christians, having been called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified by the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, now surround the throne of God and sing praises to God and to the Lamb, just as the Church on earth does in the Divine Service.

Friday, 23 April 2010John 10:22–30—The message of the Bible is not hard to comprehend: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to redeem sinners by His perfect life, His suffering, death, and resurrection. Yet, many do not believe. They reject the words and deeds of Jesus because of the hardness of their hearts, just as many people rejected Him when He walked the earth 2,000 years ago, despite seeing His works and hearing His teaching. But the members of His Church, His flock, hear the voice of their shepherd, and He gives them eternal life.

Saturday, 24 April 2010—The sheep/shepherd imagery is carried forth also into the Hymn of the Day, The King of Love My Shepherd Is (LSB #709). This is a hymnic version of the Twenty-third Psalm, married to a pretty Irish tune.

This week's Time in the Word was written by Pr. Jeffry Keuning who serves St. John Lutheran Church in Dexter, IA and Zion Lutheran Church in Casey, IA
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Image of the Good Shepherd by Dyche found here:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Easter 3

How satisfied are you with your life? Interesting question isn’t it? Consider the disciples of Jesus. They had given so much to the cause of Christ. They had followed Him for years sacrificing career choices, family commitments, and their status among peers – for what? They had seen Him die and then rise again but where did that leave them? Peter the (concernment) spokesman for the disciples says to his friends, “I’m going fishing”, as if to say “I’ve had enough…I’m going back to a life and a world that is at least predictable.”

Where do you find yourself today? Can you identify with these 1st Century followers of Jesus? In the gospel lesson for today we see a contrast between life without Christ and life with Christ. This begs the question – are you living BC – before Christ, or AC – after Christ has come into your life.

1. BC – life before Christ entered your life – I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Vv. 1-3

A. This can be a life of discouragement frustration and hopelessness – “I’m going fishing.”

1. Peter and his fiends had invested three years of their lives following the Savior.

2. But what had that in investment of time produced? They had witnessed Jesus’ passion, suffering, death and resurrection. But what did it mean to them? Had there been a significant change in their lives? Peter was content to get back to a familiar way of living, his former life. “I’m going fishing.” The kingdom had not arrived, and they had to make a living.

B. The result of such labor and effort – “he caught nothing” But the former life proved to be fruitless for Peter. His enthusiasm ended in frustration, for no fish were caught.

1. What he thought would bring him contentment, joy, and peace lead to nothing.

2. He had nothing to show for all of his effort.

Transition: There was life for Peter before Christ entered his life. Notice his life after his encounter with Jesus.

2. AC – life after Christ enters your life – Vv. 4-14

A. Fruitfulness, a miracle of fish, 153 fish. Jesus originally called Peter after he had caught a great amount of fish. The Savior had said to him, “from now on you will catch men!” Once again Peter is called into kingdom work. Peter is given a re-call. These are encouraging words for us to hear. Peter was given another chance. The Savior is the author of second chances. Peter who was content to drop out is re-instated. Having been recovered he is re- charged for future kingdom building.

B. The food - Jesus provides it – it is given to provide nurture, growth, and strength. Daily the Savior feeds us as He give us His Word not only to strengthen but to encourage us to go back to where we work and live to be witnesses for Him.

C. The Savior offers us an opportunity for fellowship, “Come and have breakfast” with Me! This is why you have come this day. To re-connect with the Savior; to have hear His voice, to be strengthened by His Word and Sacrament.

With a single minded purpose the Savior comes to His own to provide for them. Had He not come to these friends His cause would have been lost and His mission in vain. Peter experienced not only the Lord’s forgiveness but the opportunity to be used by Him for a second time. May the Lord continue to use you to speak His word of peace in this world.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for personal and congregational use

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yeliena Ivanovna Popova

Here's what Lydia's up to this evening!

Place: Country House in Russia
Time: 1888
Running Time: 55-minutes
This opera is based on a Checkov short story of the same name. It revolves around Madame Popova, a young widow who, against the advice of her old manservant, Luka, intends to live in a state of virtuous life-long widowhood, even though her departed husband was not exactly a paragon of virtue. It seems that though he was impervious to her reproaches during his lifetime, she intends, perhaps for this reason, to pursue him with them into the hereafter.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Easter 2 - Mid-week

Reject not until you have examined the evidence! Such is the message of the church as we find ourselves living in a post-modern world. Numerous people have crowed into theaters during Lent to experience Mel Gibson’s portrayal of The Passion of the Christ.
Most would agree the depiction of Christ’s suffering in the film was realistic and believable. But then, the question, “that part concerning the resurrection – what’s up with that?”
We are living in an ever-increasing world filled with skeptics. They sincerely want to believe in the resurrection but are reserving their final opinion until more evidence becomes available. They need or want convincing proof – before they will commit themselves completely to the message of Easter.
We believers today are in desperate need to follow in the footsteps of Thomas, proclaiming the message of the bloody cross and the empty tomb as it happened in time and space. This request for proof should not bother us in the least.
As the evidence for the resurrection is so compelling that only one conclusion is possible we must insist that the evidence be examined.
Thomas makes an amazing statement. Christian truth dare never be based on the faith of any believer, the church, or Peter, or even the teachings and traditions of the church. According to Thomas, he must have the same experience as the other disciples.
Peter and John did not run to the tomb as believers. They did not believe the early reports of the women. Neither did the Emmaus disciples believe the message! They knew of the report of the resurrection and told Jesus as they walked along the road that the women had seen a vision of angels. Within the first hours of Easter no one really believed the resurrection message! They were not expecting the resurrection, and besides, dead men don’t get up and live!
What changed their hearts and minds were the bodily appearance of Jesus to these first eyewitnesses. Yes, it is the message, which converts. But to that soul, which is searching, as was the case with the early disciples, the message, with proof is what makes the testimony convincing.
Thomas demands the same reality. He said to them, “unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails were and put my hands into His side, I will not believe it!” Thomas’ demand for proof is a matter of necessity. If he is to have the same faith as the rest, he must experience the same proof. He must have the same reality. He too must say, “I too have seen the Lord!”
Thomas’ demand for proof does faith a service. We trust not in pious opinions but rather faith anchored and grounded in fact. Thomas’ demand has not weakened faith; to the contrary, his demands have strengthened it; pointing us specifically to the very events and circumstances of our salvation; a cross, a tortured body and an empty tomb.
Thomas’ confrontation with our Lord and the awareness of Thomas that Jesus had indeed come back from the dead motivate John to conclude his gospel with these words, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book. But these have been written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life in His name.” (John 21)
The evidence from Scripture declares that Jesus did in fact live, die, and rise from the dead in our time. The resurrection is evidence that Jesus was born in our time – born to redeem the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.
Ours is not “religion as usual” and we have Thomas to thank! The Easter event from our vantage point and from our viewpoint is unbelievable. That is the way Thomas felt about it. What Thomas discovered, we must discover, that the resurrection is acceptable when we look at the event from God’s viewpoint and from His perspective. Reject not until you have examined the evidence. Thanks to Thomas, evidence plus faith produces conviction.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for permission granted for personal and congregational use

Monday, April 12, 2010

Time in the Word - Easter 3

Monday, 12 April 2010—Psalm 145:4–7, 9; antiphon, Psalm 145: 10—This Song of Praise by King David leads off the last six psalms, all of them songs of praise. As redeemed children of the Lord, our greatest delight shall always be to give thanks to Him, to bless Him, to commend His mighty works to others, to declare His mighty acts, to meditate on His wondrous works, to speak of the might of His awesome deeds, to declare His greatness, and to sing aloud of His righteousness!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010—Psalm 30—Sunday’s psalm was composed by David when he dedicated the materials for the building of the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1–6), and may have been used at subsequent dedications: at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 7:4–10) and in 165 b.c., at the Jewish Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah; see 1 Maccabees 4:54–59; 2 Maccabees 10:1–9; John 10:22). The psalm is one of thanksgiving to God for preservation of physical life (vv. 1–5) and spiritual life (6–10). Finally, the last two verses give thanks to the Lord for His mercy forever.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010—Acts 9:1–22—During Eastertide, all of our first readings are taken from the book of the Acts of the Apostles, St Luke’s history of the Church during the Apostolic Age. Here, we have the account of the conversion of Saul, a learned Jew who zealously persecuted Christians. But, after being commissioned to be an apostle by the risen Christ, Paul, as he would henceforth be known, became an even more zealous ambassador for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His encounter gave him the joy of a new life in the risen Lord.

Thursday, 15 April 2010—Revelation 5:1–14—As all of our Eastertide first readings come from the book of Acts, so all of our epistle readings come from the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to St John. In this portion of John’s vision, he wonders who is worthy to open the scroll containing the counsel of God, His plan of action. Only the Lamb, who was slain, but is alive, is worthy to do so. In response, those surrounding the throne of God sing a song of high praise to the Lamb. The joy of the resurrection is carried out in the joy of praising the risen Christ in heaven.

Friday, 16 April 2010—John 21:1–14—This is the third appearance of the risen Christ to His disciples. The setting is simple, normal—Jesus appears amidst the everyday occupations of a fisherman. He performs a miracle, in which they recognize Him as the Lord. Once again, Jesus shows that He is concerned for us in our everyday lives. Peter is so overjoyed when He recognizes Jesus, that he immediately swims to shore. The disciples eat breakfast with Jesus, the account once again proving the bodily resurrection of our Lord, as ghosts do not eat food. Truly there is joy for the disciples in meeting the risen Christ.

Saturday, 17 April 2010—The Hymn of the Day, With High Delight, Let Us Unite (LSB #483), continues the theme of joy in Christ’s resurrection. The whole Church on earth, together with those already in heaven, as we saw in the epistle, joins together in singing joyous songs of high praise to the risen Lord Jesus Christ, our salvation.
This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves St. John Casey and Zion, Dexter, IA

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lydia's Recital 4.11.2010

Recital Hall, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University

Lydia will be doing her Junior recital

W.A. Mozart

"Parto, ma tu ben mio" from La Clemenza di Tito

Sergei Rachmaninoff

"In the Silence of the Secret Night"

"Christ is Risen"

"Yesterday We Met"

"The Poet"

Henry Cowell

Three Anti-Modernist Songs

Gustav Mahler


Georges Bizet

"Seguidilla" from Carmen

Easter 2

Enough! Thomas had had enough of this secrecy. James and John had met with Jesus - in secret - asking to be seated at His left and his right. The Council had met - in secret - to obtain an arrest and a conviction. They had met - in secret - with Pilate to secure the tomb. And now, after all this, his so called friends had come up with this fabricated story - of Jesus magically appearing before them. “I don’t buy it! I don’t believe it. Unless I see with my eyes the marks of How wounds and place my finger in his hands and my hands at His side I will not believe it!”

1. Like Thomas we do not have an eye-witness experience of the risen Christ.
A. Thomas was not present.
1. Possibly he was distracted involving his time in some other activity so he wouldn’t have to concentrate on the present reality – an empty tome and no body.
2. Possibly he had give up and checked out. Why remain with the other disciples? Jesus was dead. What more could be said?
B. For us the resurrection happened some 2,000 years ago.
1. We do not have the experience of seeing Jesus with our own eyes.
2. Can you have faith without witnessing Jesus Christ alive from the dead?

Transition: Like Thomas we have not personally witnessed Jesus Christ alive from the dead. The Easter proclamation is powerful beyond comprehension.

2. The message of the Resurrection is incomprehensible.
A. Dead men do NOT come back to life again.
1. Thomas had been there. He personally witnessed the crown of thorns, the nails, the spear. He new Jesus had died.
2. He had witnessed Jesus’ burial. He knew of the safeguards the Elders had arranged with Pilate; a tomb sealed and the guard which was posted.
B. If Jesus were alive He would have to appear before him just as He had to the rest of the disciples.
1. He would have to witness the marks of Jesus’ Passion.
2. These scars and visible marks on Jesus’ body would let him know that the same Jesus who had died by crucifixion was in fact alive. A counterfeit Jesus would not do.
C. What convincing proof does this world need to believe in the resurrection?
1. The claim is still true today 2,000 years later – dead men do not rise.
2. We trust in the same testimony of those eyewitnesses. John in his first epistle would later write, What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life-- 1 John 1:1

Transition: Thomas’ life was latterly changed once he became an eyewitness of Jesus bodily raised from the dead.

3. Seeing is believing.
A. Upon witnessing Jesus’ appearance Thomas changed from a skeptic to a believer.
1. These visible scars now become the marks of faith.
2. All speculation of what might have happened is now gone. Thomas too became an eyewitness of Jesus’ resurrection.
B. We have the testimony of these eyewitnesses.
1. The testimony of Scripture is undeniable.
2. The testimony of these eyewitnesses remained consistent starting in Jerusalem spreading throughout the world, “we are witnesses of these events.

The Savior’s words to Thomas are meant for you this day. “Blessed are those who believe even though they have not seen! Lord, grant us such a faith as this!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Dorothy Werling

Born in this world a sinner: November 2, 1922

Born again in baptism: November 10, 1922

Confirmed in the Faith: March 21, 1937

With Christ in Peace: April 4, 2010

Time in the Word - Easter 2

The theme for the Second Sunday of Easter is Faith in the Risen Christ. The First reading, from St Luke’s history of the Apostolic Church, the Book of Acts, tells about St Peter, the one who, out of fear, had denied Christ (Matt 26:69–75) and been restored (John 15:19). Here, Peter performs miracles in the name of Jesus and testifies boldly before the Jewish council. He has moved from fear to faith. The second reading speaks of the revelation of Jesus Christ that was given to the holy Evangelist and Apostle John. Though Christians were being persecuted, and John himself was living in exile on Patmos, the vision of Christ, the One who died, but is alive forevermore, brings reassurance that the victory over death and Hades is complete. John has moved from tribulation to faith. The Gospel is the familiar account of “doubting Thomas,” who, when he saw the risen Christ, was moved to confess, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas has moved from doubt to faith.

Monday, 5 April 2010Psalm 105:1–5, 8; antiphon, 1 Peter 2:2–3—The second Sunday of Easter is sometimes called Quasimodogeniti, Latin for the first words of the Introit, ‘Like newborn infants.’ Just as a baby eagerly suckles at its mother’s breast, so we, who have been given new life in Christ by His death and resurrection, also do eagerly desire the pure spiritual milk provided by our Lord for our nourishment and good growth. This He gives us through the preaching of His Word and the most blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010Psalm 148—In Sunday’s psalm, the psalmist calls upon all of creation—those on the earth, those under the sea, and those in the heavens—to join in a chorus of praise to the Lord. Animate and inanimate, all of creation proclaims the glory of the Lord!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010Acts 5:12–32—Jesus remained a threat to the Jewish authorities, even after He had ascended to heaven. Here, the apostle Peter is jailed for performing miracles in the name of Jesus. After he is miraculously freed by an angel of God, he is summoned before the Jewish council. Peter, filled with strength that comes only from God, boldly asserts, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Thursday, 8 April 2010Revelation 1:4–18—St John, the only one of the Twelve still alive at the time of his revelation, sees a glorious vision from the Lord Jesus. The revelation, recorded for our sakes, gives great comfort to Christians of all times, whether they are living in a time of severe persecution or not. Jesus is the Victor! Just look at all this short section has to say about Jesus: He is the One who was and is and is to come, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the Ruler over all, the Alpha and Omega. Having conquered death, He holds the keys to Death and Hades; these can trouble us no longer, we who are in Christ. His called ministers exercise these keys to forgive our sins, as the Gospel shows.

Friday, 9 April 2010John 20:19–31—There are two appearances by the risen Christ in Sunday’s Gospel, each bringing us a great deal of comfort. In the first, Jesus establishes the Office of the Holy Ministry, and assures us that, in the words of the catechism, ‘when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they…absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us Himself.’ In the second appearance, our Lord appears to Thomas. Thomas wanted the certainty of seeing his risen Lord in the flesh, as the others had. When he beholds the wounds in the One who was crucified on our behalf, his faith is sure, and he confesses, ‘My Lord and My God!’ Thomas’s assurance is ours also. We need never doubt that our Lord is truly risen from the dead, ‘the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.’ (1 Cor 15:20)

Saturday, 10 April 2010—The Hymn of the Day, O Sons and Daughters of the King (LSB #470), recounts the story of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances and particularly His encounter with Thomas. His words to Thomas are meant for us, also: ‘How blest are they who have not seen And yet whose faith has constant been, For they eternal life shall win. Alleluia!’

Collect for Easter 2Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Image of Christ appearing to St. Thomas found here:
This week's Time in the Word written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves St. John Dexter and Zion, Casey, IA

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

Exodus 12:1-14
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
April 4, 2010

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." - John 20:19-23

The Savior speaks just one word and the pain, excessive sorrow, the bitterness, the humiliation is all swept away - in just one powerful word – Peace! This one word from Christ calms the heart, removes all doubt, and drives away fear. The Peace of Christ can not be manufactured, is found nowhere in this world. It is impossible to describe but is experienced by those whose lives have been shaped by Him. Once you have it your life is forever changed, in an instant like those fearful disciples who were the first to experience it in that little room, with the doors barred and shut, in fear of the authorities, uncertain of tomorrow. Today we remember – we are Easter people. Today we proclaim “Christ is Risen He is Risen Indeed!” and we face the future with this new reality – Peace!

Almighty God, through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. We humbly pray that we may live before You in righteousness and purity forever, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.
Collect for Easter Sunday Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Festival

O God, for our redemption You have given Your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by His glorious resurrection You have delivered us from the power of our enemy. Therefore grant that all our sins may be drowned through daily repentance and that day by day a new person may arise to live before You in righteousness and purity forever; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

But these words seemed to them as idle tale, and they did not believe them – Luke 24:11

In our world there is an ever increasing lack of conviction that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an historical event. This is critical to the heart of the Christian message for it stands or falls on the message of Easter. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and His appearance to others is more then a mere matter of faith. It is what the faith is founded upon.

Best sellers today are listed under the headings, “fiction” or “non-fiction.” According to our text, the disciples considered the women’s story to be an idle tale – pure fiction. Many today would join the disciples and follow those in holding that the Easter story has no historical base.[1] To them, the resurrection is held to be the product of the disciples’ faith that Jesus was alive. Those who do not believe in a life after death reveal their failure to accept the resurrection as fact.

Whether the resurrection is fiction or non-fiction is one of the most important issues for the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, we are in a most miserable and hopeless condition. Without the resurrection there is no forgiveness of sins, no hope of eternal life, and no confidence that Jesus is the Son of God.

There are four reasons for putting the resurrection under the heading “non-fiction”

1. The Fact of Jesus’ death. According to the gospel accounts, Jesus went through six different trials before He was condemned to die on a cross. Three of the trials were before Gentiles and three were before the Jews. He was repeatedly put before people to be tried and the whole time He was under heavy guard. They knew who Jesus was. So, this excludes the possibility of mistaken identity.
It is highly unlikely that the Romans would have crucified a man by mistake. Remember, Jesus had been performing many miracles and was quite well known in the area. Since the Roman soldiers had him in their possession during the trials, during the beatings, and finally on the way to the cross, the most logical conclusion is that they did not make a mistake and crucified someone else instead of Jesus. Therefore, we can logically conclude that Jesus really did die on a cross.
The details of Jesus' trial and Pilate's decision to execute him, there is a strong consensus that Jesus did, in fact, die on a cross. Of course, for Christians the story doesn't end at Jesus' death. Christ's death on the Cross is only the beginning. Being under Roman rule, the Jews were only able to get rid of Jesus by having the Romans kill him. They did not actually perform the execution. They did, however, bring false charges against him which set him up for the Roman authorities to have Him crucified. The task of crucifixion was entrusted to professional Roman soldiers for whom crucifixion was a routine task, and failure to carry out such an order was punishable by death.[2] Pilate also wanted to be quite sure Jesus was dead. Mark records that he would not agree to the removal of the body, until after he had summoned the centurion and obtained confirmation that Jesus had been dead for quite some time. [3]

2. The fact of an empty tomb. Another obvious fact after the resurrection is the empty tomb. The Disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the fabrication would be evident. The empty tomb was "too notorious to be denied." One commentator put it this way that the resurrection "could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned."[4]

THE GRAVECLOTHES SPEAK VOLUMES! In a literal sense, against all statements to the contrary, the tomb was not totally empty--because of an amazing incident. John, a disciple of Jesus, looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes, in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty--like a caterpillar's cocoon; with the head piece neatly folded and laying to the side. That's enough to make a believer out of anybody. John never did get over it. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes--undisturbed in form and position.

3. The fact of Christ’s appearance after the resurrection. Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter. When studying an event in history, it is important to know whether enough people who were participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive when the facts about the event were published. To know this is obviously helpful in ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. If the number of eyewitnesses is substantial, the event can be regarded as fairly well established. For instance, if we all witness a robbery and a later police report turns out to be a fabrication of lies, we as eyewitnesses can refute it.
Several very important factors are often overlooked when considering Christ's post-resurrection appearances to individuals. The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning. One of the earliest records of Christ's appearing after the resurrection is by the Apostle Paul. The apostle appealed to his audience's knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: "What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, 'If you do not believe me, you can ask them.' Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago."
Take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history.
4. The fact of the changed lives of those who met Him. But the most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. We must ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ?
Had there been any visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts--prestige, wealth, increased social status or material benefits--we might logically attempt to account for their actions, for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this "risen Christ."
As a reward for their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking.
Yet, they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message.
The Facts of the resurrection speak volumes to us today. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Hallelujah!

[1] (Bultmann)
[2] (Matthew 27:27-36, Mark 15:16, Luke 23:47, John 19:23)
[3] (Mark 15:42-6).
[4] Paul Althaus

Image found at the following site -

Easter Sunrise

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42
Chartered February 25, 1838
Celebrating our 172nd Year
The Bicentennial of Wyneken’s birth

April 4, 2010
Easter Sunrise
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
A Personal Easter Experience

Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the Lord’s resurrection, may be raise from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Easter can be only a matter of history – of what happened to others. It can tell us of various appearances of the risen Christ to people of the past. Paul in our text brings Easter up-to-date, involving him and his own personal experience. Today we can add a far longer list of resurrection appearances to people through twenty centuries, but can we with Paul say, “He appeared to me also?” As far as you are concerned, Easter never happened until you personally have an experience with the risen Lord. If Easter is to be real to you…

1. You first need a contemporary experience, not only historical. – For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Vv. 3-7

A. Make no doubt about it. Paul has no problem explaining the historical context of the Easter story. In fact, he insists on it. He tells the story of the resurrection just like every single generation has heard it and still needs to hear it. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
1. He reminds us that what he is passing on to us is the most important aspect of our Christian faith. Christianity stands or falls on the teaching of the resurrection. The heart of our faith is found in this one small yet powerful sentence, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

a. Jesus died, was buried and rose again is the teaching that makes us uniquely Christian. Without this teaching there is no Christian faith. This is the message you have come to hear Sunday after Sunday. It’s the message that makes us Easter people - Jesus died, was buried and rose again.

b. And this Easter story happened just as it was suppose to happen. Paul tells us this all happened according to the Scriptures. What was predicted by the prophets of old happened in time and space in the town of Jerusalem around the year 30 AD. What had been promised came true. It happened just as the prophecy was predicted.

2. In addition to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead there are also His appearances to countless persons over a forty day period of time. He appeared to Peter, to the twelve, to more than five hundred believers at the same time, to James, and to all of the apostles.

B. There are countless sightings; there are many eye-witnesses, which give convincing proof of the resurrection. He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. These eye- witnesses give validity to the resurrection. Think of it this way. 40 years ago Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Many of us saw the footage of that historic event live on television as it was beamed from the moon’s surface to the planet earth. And yet, to this day, there are countless people who are convinced that this footage was filmed by the government, a complete hoax! As strange as that may sound there is a segment of people in our world who have joined the “Man will never fly” society. They say, Neil Armstrong never made it to the moon let alone walk on its surface.

Now, if it were true, that Armstrong never walked on the moon but it was all made up at a Hollywood studio think of all the people who had to keep the secret all these years…the people who came up with the idea in the first place had to be sworn to secrecy, the actors, the film crew, the people who produced the video, those who distributed it. How many people would it take to propagate such a hoax? Hundreds if not thousands of people would be involved. And think of the money! How many millions of dollars would it take just in hush money to keep the secret hidden all these years? It’s one thing to say, “The whole thing was shot at a Hollywood studio.” It’s quite another to say, “I was there...I saw it!”

Have you ever watched the television show COPS? When the police officers on the scene want to determine the truth of the matter they separate all the eye-witnesses and get each person’s statement. In this way they can determine if they are hearing the same story or if it looks like its some fabrication.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ bodily from the dead is bigger then Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. How do we know the Resurrection wasn’t made up? How do we know it’s all true? St. Paul gives us a list of those who were eye-witnesses, who met Jesus face to face after the resurrection. These eye-witnesses give credibility to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Paul is saying, “you Corinthians, you want proof? Here are the names. Here are the people involved. Have a conversation. Check out their story. Talk to them. They have all seen Jesus alive from the dead! It’s not made up as some have said. They have seen Jesus with their own eyes.”

Transition: The resurrection happened in time and space. But it needs to be personally experienced by you today.

2. You too need a personal experience. And last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. V.8

A. Paul will speak personally of his encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. Not only was he an eye-witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ but his life was forever changed after that meeting. He was changed - from Saul to Paul. He was changed - from a man hell-bent on arresting and persecuting Christians to becoming the chief spokesmen for the Jesus movement. He was changed - from following rules, regulations, traditions and ceremonies to a many who would later write, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Romans 9:15

B. You too have had a personal experience with Jesus Christ. Ours is not a religion in which we work our way up to God by pre-determined steps. It’s the difference between Do and Done. And what a difference it is! The Faith is not purpose-driven its Spirit given. It’s a relationship with the living Lord Jesus. It is His life which has changed you as He orders your days, guides each step and directs your life.

Reject not until you have examined the evidence. By His bodily resurrection and His appearance to countless eye-witnesses we can say boldly and confidently this day, “He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Hallelujah!

The Burial of Jesus

Lamentations 3:1-9
1 Peter 4:1-8
April 3, 2010

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. - John 19:38-42

Jesus was subject to a speedy trial. His death by crucifixion lasted not a few days but three short hours. The Sabbath was about to begin He is buried in a new tomb in close proximity to the place where He had died. Everything was done in hast. His arrest was arranged in secret for fear of the crowd. His trial was conducted at night because it was expedient. He was sentenced to death and executed just prior to a major festival while so many people were distracted by the events happening in the city. Now His lifeless body would rest in the tomb. After the holiday there would be time for additional spices and mourning.

The events leading up to His death were unparalleled. His death was unlike any other. Nor would anything ever be the same once there was a return to His tomb. Today there is silence. We remember the events of yesterday we anticipate the joy of tomorrow and are left today to reflect how this one solitary life has changed us forever. The cross of yesterday and the empty tomb of tomorrow can not be separated. They are the tokens of your salvation.

Guard us waking, guard us sleeping, And when we die,
May we in Your mighty keeping all peaceful lie.
When the last dread call shall wake us, Then O Lord, do not forsake us,
But to reign in glory take us With You on high.

O God, creator of heaven and earth, grant that as the crucified body of Your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with Him the coming of the third day, and rise with Him to newness of life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for Holy Saturday Lutheran Book of Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.
God, Who Made the Earth and Heaven stanza three Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St Louis

Friday, April 2, 2010

7th Word - "The word of Conclusion"

Into Your hands I commit My spirit

INTRODUCTION: "Father into Your hands I commit My Spirit" This is the 7th and last word of our Savior spoken from the cross. Having spoken these words the Son of God breathed His last and rendered up His life. What can we draw from this final testimony of the Son of God?
1. Notice that Jesus dismisses His own spirit.
A. Jesus' death is different from any other
1. The wages of sin is death - the Bible tells us. Each man must die as a result of sin. We will face death because of our common corrupt nature - found in every person who has ever taken the breath of life. Jesus' death is different, as He never sinned.
2. The Bible further tells us; "It is appointed for man once to die and after this comes judgment" We will face the judgment seat of God once we die. There will be a day or reckoning for every soul upon this earth. Again, not so with Jesus. His was a perfect sacrifice. As He was innocent and yet charged and judged. Yet He bore our punishment for us - that His sentencing might be sufficient for the sin of the entire world.
B. Jesus' death is absolutely voluntary - no one else- including His enemies or the devil himself -can take His life from Him. The death of Jesus is a supreme sacrifice. Jesus tells us plainly "No one takes My life from Me - I lay it down and I take it up again"
Transition: Jesus dismisses His life voluntarily. He does it of His own will. This selfless act is necessary and essential to your salvation.
2. This voluntary element is absolutely essential to salvation.
A. It had to be voluntary for God to be just. There is an element of justice with God. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. Each sin must be dealt with. Total payment must be made. The debt for sin must be paid. Jesus Christ by His voluntary death paid the ultimate price for sin.
B. It had to be voluntary for God to be God. People can't kill God. We can ignore Him. We can defy Him. We can abandon and disown Him. But we can't kill Him. The devil thought in his heart of hearts that he had killed the Lord of life. Not so! Remember those words of Jesus "No one takes My life from Me - I lay it down and I take it up again. That's why Jesus could pray "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit."
C. It had to be voluntary to display fully His love. The death of Jesus was not a selfish act. It was a labor o life to demonstrate fully His love for us. Jesus says in John chapter three: "God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."
CONCLUSION: See what manner of love the Farther has for us that we might be the children of God. As the Son has given up His life for you now you are free and your sins they are no more!

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Hebrews 10:16-25
April 2, 2010

When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. "My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later." Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! - John 13:31-38

After the resurrection Peter and Jesus have another heart to heart meeting. Three times Jesus would ask Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” John would remind us in his gospel account, “Peter was grieved because Jesus said to him for a third time do you love Me?” – John 21:17

Roman Catholics maintain that Peter was the first Pope. To this day Protestant parishes in Europe will place a rooster instead of a cross on the top of their spires as a not so friendly reminder of Peter’s seedy past. Not much has changed over the years. Have there been instances in our lives when we have not acted as becomes a child of God? Have you had to be reminded of that moment only to relive it once again?

Each of us can recall those moments in our lives in which we are not proud! Peter’s’ denial crushed him – but what he found was restoration by the Savior!

Peter’s freedom came at a price – the price of Jesus’ life. To be crushed by conscience and the Law is never a pleasant thing. But Christ’s redemption leads to recovery – to be reconciled to the Father and also to each other – all has been made possible by the Savior’s amazing grace!

Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men to suffer death upon the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for Good Friday Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Lord's Supper

Exodus 12:1-42
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
April 1, 2010
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. - Mark 14:12-26

The Lord’s Supper is important because it was the last meal the disciples had with Jesus before He was crucified. Jesus had this mean to let the disciples know that they should continue this holy sacrament after His crucifixion. Communion is a sacrament during which the bread and wine are blessed and partaken of by worshipers as the body and blood are present there. Our church celebrates the Lord’s Supper by having communion every first, third, and fifth Sunday of every month and on feast day celebrations. We participate in communion because God says it cleanses us and takes away our sins. Than you God, for giving us this holy sacrament!

Meghan Manley

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for Maundy Thursday Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis
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6th Word - The word of completion

It is finished!

INTRODUCTION: From the 6th hour to the 9th hour the Bible tells us, the sun was hidden from view. Darkness covered the land. Then at the 9th hour Jesus offered to us His 6th word - a word of completion. It is finished! When Jesus cried these words what exactly is finished? I would suggest four things were brought to completion on the day Christ died -
1 The first thing to find its conclusion is the physical sufferings of Jesus.
A. This was the plan of God from the very beginning. On the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus Jesus had to explain to the two from Scripture that the Son of God had to be arrested, tried, crucified, died and rise again. The crucifixion of Christ was never a surprise to the Father. It happened all according to His divine plan.
B. Because the Savior fulfilled this divine plan we no longer have to fear that we will have to suffer for our sins. Oh yes, there might be consequences that we might have to bear because of sin. For example; a thief might have to do time when caught. Running a stop sign might mean an accident. However, we need not fear that we will have to suffer for our sins as punishment from God. All suffering for punishment was finished at the cross - mark the words of Jesus well: "It is finished!"
2. The humiliation of Jesus Christ is now finished.
A. Because Jesus has suffered all His mission of humiliation is finished. What is the humiliation? The humiliation are those steps Jesus deliberately took where He had all of the power and glory and majesty of God but refused to use it.
B. Let's retrace those steps again-
Ø He was born of the virgin Mary
Ø He suffered
Ø Under Pontius Pilate He was crucified
Ø He died
Ø He was buried
3. The whole program of the Old Testament is now finished.
A. The gap bridging institutions of the Old Testament was no longer necessary nor are they valid. A question - why don't we sacrifice animals any more? Why don't we observe ceremonies established in the Old Testament any more? There is a clear answer - "It is finished!" These things are no longer necessary because they were a focus of things to come. Their substance belongs to Christ.
B. To symbolize that these practices had come to an end the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. The rent of the veil in the middle of the temple speaks volumes - the animosity and the barrier that separated God and man are now broken down! Why do we have nothing hindering the chancel area in the front of the church? Because Jesus speaking from the cross said: "It is finished! The cross reminds us that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!
4. The work of redemption is now finished!
A. The center of Christ's of redemption is found at the cross. Throughout the pages of the Old Testament we see a common thread that says at the fullness of time, at just the right time - the Son of God would suffer and die on a cross for the redemption of man. The whole world's salvation is focused on the cross. Your personal redemption is found at the cross. When the Son of God suffered and died on the cross all sin was forgiven. At the cross all debts were canceled. So the cross now stands at the center of the entire world's and your personal salvation.
B. What does this mean for us today?
1. God and man are now reconciled. St. Paul tells us "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"
2. The conflict of the ages is already won. Now there is peace on earth and good will toward men. The powers of sin death and Satan are now rendered powerless. They have no control over you. They are no longer in control. They can no longer have any power over you.
3. Because of Jesus' work on the cross a door is now open to all to receive the Lord's free salvation. It is great and free. A glorious future awaits you because this redemptive work has been completed.
CONCLUSION: It is finished! It is finished indeed!

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