Saturday, June 29, 2013

Proper 8

Luke 9:51-62
June 30, 2013

Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name and nourish us with all goodness that we may love and serve our neighbor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Commitment to Christ Requires total Surrender

We encounter numerous excuses not to follow Christ,. Have things changed over the years?
1.        “I will follow you wherever you go.”  - “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
A.        I will follow so long as I am not inconvenienced.
B.        I will follow so long as my creature comforts are not compromised.
C.        I will follow but don’t make this discipleship too difficult!
2.        I will follow you, Lord; but first, let me go back and say good-by o my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
A.        We need a total focus.
B.        Jesus will take second seat to no one

Where are your priorities. John the Baptist, “I must decrease, He must increase.”

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Proper 7

Proper 7
Luke 8:26-39
June 23, 2013
O God, You have prepared for those who love You such good things as surpass our understanding.  Cast out all sins and evil desires from us, and pour into our hearts Your Holy Spirit to guide us into all blessedness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


1.        A DEFEATED MAN 

A sick and suffering slave. Next, a dead man. Followed by a prostitute.  Now, today, a lunatic. Controlled by demon possession. Luke piles one story on top of another showing how Jesus is willing to include those who are seen as contaminated and corrupted. They are the unclean.

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.

2.        A DELIVERED MAN -

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.

3.        A DIRECTED MAN - 

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. And we need to be clear on this. It is, “How much God has done…” not how much you have done. 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....”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Kids

Henry continues to live in Flagstaff, AZ working for Child Protective Services while Lydia is studying abroad this summer in Bordeaux France. Here are a few amazing photos of what they see everyday. It isn't corn and beans...

San Francisco Peaks
Welcome to Flagstaff

Flagstaff, AZ the last week of Spring

Looking out Lydia's window

Chateau Les Jouandis, France

A happy French cow!

Beaumont, France

Monday, June 17, 2013

Time in the Word Proper 7

Time in the Word
Pentecost 5 – Proper 7
Jesus Brings Release from the Bonds of Sin, Death, and the Devil
June 17-22, 2013
Prayers for deliverance from sin: We implore You, O Lord, in Your kindness to show us Your great mercy that we may be set free from our sins and rescued from the punishments that we rightfully deserve; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that we turn from our evil ways and live. Graciously spare us those punishments which we by our sins have deserved, and grant us always to serve You in holiness and pureness of living; 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 grace and forgiveness: Spare us, O Lord, and mercifully forgive us our sins. Though by our continual transgressions we have merited Your chastisements, be gracious to us. Grant that all these punishments which we have deserved may not come upon us, but that all things may work to our everlasting good; 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 steadfast faith: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of Your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for those involved in occult practices or afflicted by demons: O God, almighty Father, You told us through Your Son, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever You ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you." He has commanded and encouraged us to pray in His name, "Ask, and you will receive," and has also said, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver You, and you shall glorify Me." We unworthy sinners, relying on these Your words and command, pray for Your mercy with such faith as we can muster. Graciously free [name] from all evil, and undo the work that Satan has done in [him/her], to the honor of Your name and the strengthening of the faith of believers; 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.

The Lord finds those who did not seek Him or ask for Him. He spreads out His hands “to a rebellious people” (Is. 65:2) and calls them to be His people and to dwell in peace upon His holy mountain (Is. 65:9). For wherever Jesus Christ enters in, Satan is cast out. Those who were enslaved and driven mad by the assaults and accusations of the devil, are set free by the Word of Christ. He drowns and destroys the old Adam in us with the waters of Holy Baptism and thereby brings us out of death into life. No longer naked in our shame, living “among the tombs” (Luke 8:27), we are brought into the Lord’s house, fully clothed by Christ. For He has come, in “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4) to fulfill the Law on our behalf and to redeem us from its every accusation. Therefore, having been justified by His grace through faith in His Gospel, “you are no longer a slave, but a son” (Gal. 4:7).

Monday, 17 June 2013 Psalm 71:20–24; antiphon, Psalm 71:3—Psalm 71 was likely written by King David toward the end of his life. Looking back over the events of a long life, he could see that, though he had experienced many troubles and calamities, the Lord would always deliver him, would revive him again.
 David trusted in the Lord as a rock and a fortress, who cannot be moved or shaken, but provides refuge for His people. In response, the people of God shout for joy and sing praises to Him, and speak of His righteous help all the daylong.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 Psalm 3—This psalm of David has as its background his flight from his rebellious son, Absalom, as recorded in 2 Samuel 15—18, but it is applicable in our day and age and situation, too. The psalm was written to sustain the faith of anyone who faces a hostile conspiracy of foes, whether those foes be physical or spiritual. David counsels us to cry to the Lord when we are beset by trouble (vv. 1–2), then be calm, knowing that the Lord will sustain us (vv. 3–6). We can boldly exhort God to intervene on our behalf (v. 7) and then be certain that His blessing is upon us, and He will bring salvation (v. 8).
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 Isaiah 65:1–9—Chapters 63 and 64 record pleas from Isaiah on behalf of the faithful that God would be merciful to them. The last two chapters of Isaiah, 65 and 66, are the Lord’s reply. First, He repeats the treats of judgment on those who do not seek Him (vv. 1–7). However, there are also those who have not forsaken Him. To these, He promises that He will not destroy them, but will give them the inheritance, which He had promised to His people. They who are faithful are His chosen ones, and shall reap the benefits of His mercy.
Thursday, 20 June 2013 Galatians 3:23—4:7—St Paul here contrasts the position of a slave and that of an heir. Because of our sin, the Law kept us as slaves.
 We are slaves to our sinful nature, and cannot share in the inheritance from God. Nevertheless, God sent forth His Son to redeem us. He did what we are unable to do: He fulfilled the Law for us. Having been set free from bondage to sin and to the Law, we have been made sons of God, heirs of all His blessings. Eternal life with God is the inheritance in all who are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Friday, 21 June 2013 Luke 8:26–39—Jesus travels across the Sea of Galilee, to the east side, where a number of Gentiles lived. There he met a man who was tormented by demons, who did terrible things to him. The demons who possessed this man knew who Jesus is: the Son of the Most High God, and the one who would send them to eternal torture in the abyss of hell. Jesus casts them into a herd of pigs, and they destroy the pigs. We see in the demon-possessed man a picture of total helplessness in the face of an ungodly spiritual foe. Jesus, the Son of the Most High God, could only rescue him. We, too, are helpless in the face of adversity from the devil and his demons, for our fallen nature is unwilling and unable to fight against him. Like the demoniac, we need recuing by Jesus. He has accomplished our rescue by His death on the cross, where He defeated Satan and the powers of darkness.

Saturday, 22 June 2013— Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is Rise, Shine, You People (LSB #825). It tells how the Son of the Most High God has entered into human history and defeated the powers of evil. He brings us freedom, light, and life and healing. In response, we are to tell how the Father sent His son to save us and tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House

Luther’s Seals © Higher Things

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Proper 6

Proper 6
Luke 7:36-8; 3
16 June 2013

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us Your gifts of faith, hope, and love that we may receive the forgiveness You have promised and love what You have commanded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
An invited guest speaks…

Two sinners have a personal audience with the Savior. How do they fare?

  1. Simon opens his house but is far from hospitable. Despite his invitation, Simon has shown Jesus none of the hospitality one might expect to be granted as a guest in one’s home. No water. No foot -washing. No embrace.  Search the story. For any token of love on the part of Simon. There is none. He treats Jesus with dishonor. He discredits Jesus. He is a disgrace.

A.      Simon, he is impenitent. Why waste time admitting sin if there are none to confess? He is comfortable with his own righteousness. He will stand before God on his own merits. He’s perfectly capable of living his own life. He has no need of Jesus. His life is fine. He’ll do things his way.  

B.      Simon, he is impudent. He calls Jesus “teacher.” His lips dripping with sarcasm.

C.      Simon, he is loveless. Jesus is the friend of sinners.  Jesus associates with “her kind”. He should have known what sort of woman she was. That’s all he has to know about this Jesus. There are simply certain kinds of people with whom good people in a polite society do not associate. Everyone knows that!  She’s untouchable…a reject…unwashed…a “dirty!”

  1. This woman, by contrast, is an interloper. She was not invited into Simon’s house. It’s simple. Her kind is not welcome. And, she is forgiven.

A.      Her sins were many. And, it seems that people know of them. It’s one thing to live a private life. We all have secret sins. It’s quite another to be out there, in the open, in public. Had she no dignity? Doesn’t she know how to be discreet?

B.      Her sins dismiss her.   She’s rejected. With much scorn and disdain. She’s been shelved by Simon, by those who worship at the temple, by her own people. No one wants her. She’s worthless!

C.      In humbleness, she approaches the Savior. From behind. She dare not look Jesus in the face. Rather she throws herself at Jesus’ feet. Her body language alone preaches the most powerful of sermons. Kyrie Eleison!  Lord! Have Mercy!

D.      She receives absolution. Total remission of all her sin. And she is free! This woman loves greatly because her sins have already been forgiven of Him who loved her.

  1. Jesus asks the question, “Now which of them will love him more?” “Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

A.      The current national debt according to the US National Debt Clock is over $16 trillion. That’s the number 16 with twelve zeroes. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $2.70 billion per day since September 30, 2012! The estimated population of the United States is 317,000,000 so each citizen's share of this debt is $53,000.00. [1] The debt of your sin is greater – a debt you cannot pay.

B.      In mercy, the Father canceled the debt. Faith always respond in love – “Your faith as saved you; go in peace.” Her love was the result, and never the cause, of her forgiveness. So get over yourself!  Your sins are not forgiven because you love God.   You love God…because you are forgiven!  You love…because He first loved you. (1John 4:19). Such is the inference of the parable.  And such is the teaching of the entire New Testament. 

C.      Your reaction to all this? Not like the other dinner guests who began to say among themselves, “Who is this…who even forgives sins?” Rather, with repentant and grateful hearts we say, “Thank you Jesus…”, then show, and reflect that love with your life.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Time in the Word - Proper 5

Time in the Word
Study for Proper 5
June 3-8, 2013
God’s Power Of Life Over Death” is the theme for this coming week. In the Old Testament lesson, [1 Kings 17:17-24] the power of life over death is seen in Elijah raising the widow’s son. In the Epistle, [Galatians 1:11-24] the power of life is in Paul’s conversion. In the Gospel [Luke 7:11-17] The power of life is seen in Jesus who raises a widow’s son.

How do some deal with miracles today? Some deny the reality of the miracle as a story or myth of the ancient past. Some allegorize and spiritualize the account in an attempt to bring out a helpful message for our day. Some rationalize the miracle to explain away any details that might be offensive to scientific minds. We simply allow the miracles to stand as they happen. They are sings for us – signs of the nature of God, of Jesus as the Son of God, of the power of God. 

Approaching the miracles from this stance, we do not raise a question about the validity of the miracle; we take it for granted. We find the permanent values in the miracle for life today.

Collect for Proper 5 – O Lord, Father of all mercy and God of all comfort, You always go before and follow after us. Grant that we may rejoice in Your gracious presence and continually be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collects for Pentecost 3 - O God, whose never failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth, put away from us, we entreat You, all hurtful things, and give us those things that are profitable for us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Monday, 03 June 2013Psalm 138:3, 7-8- Antiphon Psalm 86:16 -In these words of the psalmist he gives testimony to God’s condescending and faithful love for His own. You are loved by God. You are precious in His sight.

Tuesday, 03 June 2013Psalm 30— It is suggested that the psalm was written for the dedication of David’s palace. After he had conquered Jerusalem, and made it his capital. (2 Samuel 5:11; 7:2) David apparently had often been near death, but God brought him through. He would sin praise to God forever. The events in 1 Chronicles 21 may possibly provide the background to this psalm. The dark days when life was in danger are now past (Vv. 2-3; 6-10)

Easy times breed self-reliance (Vs.6) But this experience had put life into perspective for David. (Vs.5) this experience showed the psalmist his own helplessness (Vv. 7-10) Now that the danger is behind him, he gladly and openly acknowledges his debt of gratitude to God. (Vv.11-12)

Wednesday, 04 June 20131 Kings 17:17-24 – In the Old Testament lesson Elijah restores a child to life. The youth was brought back to life by God through Elijah. He stretched himself on the child three times so that his life force might effect the child. In contrast, Jesus simply touched the casket. There was no great effort, no force but simply a touch for the power to flow. Elijah prayed to God with great intensity for the child’s life to return. Jesus does not pray. As the Son of God, He simply said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!”

Thursday, 05 June 2013Galatians 1:11-24— In the Epistle lesson Paul’s gospel did not come from man but from revelation. It’s obvious that many lives are in confusion because they sense no purpose or plan for their lives. The claim that God has a separate plan for each life has largely been dropped by many these days. The result is that lives are purposeless and distracted.

 Paul expresses a conviction that God has a plan for him even before he was born – destined to be a preacher! Can you also say, “This is what God wants me to do with my life?”

Friday, 06 June 2013Luke 7:11-17— In the Gospel lesson Jesus raises a widow’s son in Nain. We feel out weakness. It is as though the world is often too much. Death is the final declaration of defeat. We need to hear the story of Jesus’ raising the widow’s son at Nain to be reminded that life is stronger than death and that this life comes from Christ. In verse 13 Jesus is called “Lord” – He is the Lord of life.

Saturday, 08 June 2013Psalm 102:1-2 The Hymn of the Day is “When in the Hour of Deepest Need” (LSB #615). It is a cold hard world. The endlessly reported refrain coming from people is “Nobody cares about me.” Commercial ventures seeking new business capitalize on this fact and advertise, “We care.” Many ask, “Does anybody really care whether I live or die, succeed or fail?” Does Jesus care? He did when He was in Palestine, but does He care about me today? The answer is in the miracle at Nain. The answer is in the raising of the widow’s son. The answer is found in calling Paul to proclaim the gospel Jesus has not changed. He still has compassion for all who are having a bad time. It is important to observe that Jesus did not raise the youth from death to deliver him from his plight. He was raised to comfort his mother.. The answer is expressed in the words of this powerful hymn. Meditate on it and then come to service singing and proclaiming these powerful truths. This is your reality.

Prayers for Proper 5 from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Prayer for the Armed Forces and Pentecost 2 from Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 CSS Publishing Lima OH
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for personal and congregational use

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Proper 4 - Pentecost 2

Proper 4
Luke 7:1-10

June 2, 2013

Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.

O God, by Your almighty Word You set in order all things in heaven and on earth.  Put away from us all things hurtful, and give us those things that are beneficial for us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

A popular view is that to get help from Jesus you must come directly in contact with him, make your appeal, and confess your faith. That may happen in the life of a Christian but in today’s Gospel we have an exception. A Roman Centurion whose servant as near death needed Jesus’ help. Time was of the essence. Come Lord Jesus! Come quickly.

But that’s not how the story goes. Jesus never saw the servant. Never touched the servant.  Never spoke to the servant!  Jesus never spoke directly to the centurion either! That the servant was, indeed, healed, is made clear, however, in the last words of the reading: "When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well."

This healing brings comfort and hope. We are a people separated from Jesus by twenty-one centuries by heaven and earth.  Jesus can help regardless of the faith of the person. Jesus will help even if…

1.     1.   There is no physical contact. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. Vs. 6

A.        Jesus did not even come into the centurion’s home. Jesus never sees this Centurion. He never meets with the Centurion face to face. The Centurion's absence is remarkable. It is a sign of his deep-felt sense that Jesus was greater even than he was.  He’s a man under authority. He understands this. He knows Jesus is a man set under authority. Jesus has authority set from His Father.
B.         Nor does Jesus, for that matter, ever see the servant that He was being asked to heal.   The centurion and his servant will sink further and further into the background while Jesus is pushed further and further into the front.
C.        Though Jesus is in heaven. He can still help us on earth.  Jesus was as near to the centurion by virtue of that centurion's faith as He could have been by entering his house! The centurion had drawn Jesus into his house merely by his confidence in what Jesus would do if he had in fact entered that house! Jesus never had any personal or verbal exchange with this sick servant!
The presence of Christ in the faith of that centurion became a healing force of its own.  The one for whom the centurion cared so deeply is healed by the one who is the way the truth and the life!

2.        2. Jesus will help even if there is no direct communication. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. Vs3.

A.        The Centurion sends a delegation to serve as mediators. Maybe they could persuade the Savior.
B.        Through them, Jesus got the message of need and of the Centurion’s faith.  Centurions were generally hardened men of war. Long years of service, often in violent and dangerous situations, had pretty well made them immune to suffering - their own suffering as well as the suffering of others.
C.        Here we need the value of intercessory prayer – taking the need of others to Jesus for His healing touch. Jesus is never said to have spoken a word concerning the servant's healing! That on which the Centurion had based all his hope and invitation never took place as he had first envisioned it! 

3.      3.  Jesus will help even if there is no expression of faith by the one healed. Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. Vs. 10

A.        The slave never saw or spoke to Jesus. He never cried out for mercy. It didn’t matter. The Savior came.
B.        This slave never offered an expression of faith. It didn’t matter. The Savior came. The slave was healed because of the Centurion’s faith, which came to Jesus second-hand. The Centurion's confidence that Jesus could do that which he was asked to do is the mark of a profound faith.
C.      Christ is good even to unbelievers for the sake of those who do believe. There is where we are called to respond in kind.  It seems to me this is an excellent opportunity for us to discuss why we pray for those we may not know. Do you pray the stranger down the street? The one who curses you to your face one week and then, the next, you learn they have stage 4 cancer? Do we pray for them? Of course we do. We pray, even if they are outside the family. We pray. Even if they are weak in faith. We pray. Even if their presence in our lives bothers us. . People of God – pray without ceasing! Not only for yourselves but also for the one outside the faith. For God gives daily bread to all even to the wicked…
D.       Using this Centurion as your guide, you must have faith enough for yourself AND for that person involved. You must also have faith enough to bear their sin when they can't. You must have faith to ask for forgiveness when they are unable. Such a faith is essential if we are serious about upholding one another. If you’re serious about taking your needs, burdens, joys and sorrows to the throne room of grace we need such a faith as this. Again, we have a pagan, Roman Centurion to show us what a strong faith does.
Is there a need today? Take it to the Lord in Prayer. He helps all those of faith and even those of little or no faith. We are called to cry out to the Lord not only for ourselves but also especially for those who have yet not confessed the name of Jesus. By receiving mercy they can be warmed and wooed to the tender mercies of the Savior