Sunday, June 28, 2015

Time in the Word - Pentecost 6 - Proper 9

Pentecost 6– Proper 9
June 29 –July 4, 2115

The theme for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9) will focus upon the word of the minister (prophet). His work of proclamation is very difficult due to the unreceptive attitude of the people to whom he is sent to preach. Even Jesus in the Gospel lesson didn’t do a good work in His hometown because the people do not believe in Him. Ezekiel is called (Old Testament lesson) to preach to a people whom God describes as “impudent and stubborn.” Paul, (in the Epistle lesson) prays to have a thorn removed that he might be more effective in his ministry, but the request is denied. We are blessed with pastor and people work in harmony and peace. Yet we live in a broken world. May we pray the Spirit’s help to always be open and receptive to the preaching of God’s holy Word. 

Collect for Pentecost 6Grant, Lord, that the course of this world may be so governed by Your direction that Your Church may rejoice in serving You in godly peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Collect for Proper 9 – O God, Your almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy. Grant us the fullness of Your grace that we may be called to repentance and made partakers of Your heavenly treasures; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Collect for the Feast of St Peter and Paul, Apostles (29 June): Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer in time of affliction and distress: Almighty and most merciful God, in this earthly life we endure sufferings and death before we enter into eternal glory. Grant us grace at all times to subject ourselves to Your holy will and to continue steadfast in the true faith to the end of our lives that we may know the peace and joy of the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead and of the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for our countryAlmighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a untied people. Defend our liberties, and give those whom we have entrusted with the authority of government the spirit of wisdom that they may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful. In troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Monday, 29 June 2015—Psalm 132:13-16; Antiphon, Psalm 34:8— David reminds us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” The circumstances surrounding each of our lessons for next week might suggest that all is not well. Yet the Psalmist reminds us that our Lord’s care for His people goes beyond circumstance. He is our Lord in good times and in stressful times. He is with us when we are successful in life and when there are objects “in our road”. Despite obstacles to ministry, the Lord’s church moves forward. As we see the Lord active in His church and in the individual lives of His people, we can join with the Psalmist and say, “taste and see that the Lord is good!”

Tuesday, 30 June  2015—Psalm 123—This Psalm of David is a prayer of God’s humble people for Him to show mercy and so foil the contempt of the proud. There are many obstacles to ministry in this world. This earth is fallen. Yet despite obstacles, the Lord has not left His church to ruin nor has He turned His back on us. To the contrary, this psalm speaks of God’s control of the universe, His church and His people. Fare thee well child of God the Lord remains constant regardless of the contempt and ridicule the world might bring upon us.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015—Ezekiel 2:1-5— Obstacles to ministry may occur with the rebelliousness of God’s people. Ezekiel receives the Spirit and is sent to preach to a rebellious people. In this passage, Ezekiel is commissioned to go to the exiles in Babylon to preach God’s Word. To do this he is empowered by the Spirit. The Lord warns him that the people may not listen to his preaching because they are a rebellious people. It is not important whether his preaching is accepted. At least, they will hear God’s Word and know a prophet was with them. Application to our day? How do you want people to respond to you? Would you rather be accepted or respected? What’s the difference? Which of the two is more difficult and why?

Thursday, 2 July 2015—2 Corinthians 12:1-10— Obstacles to ministry may occur with the handicap of the preacher.  Paul is promised grace to bear his thorn in the flesh. Paul is fed up with his opponents who cast doubt on his apostleship and boast about their work and religious experiences. This lesson is a part of the “terrible letter” (chapters 10-12) in which Paul makes a heated defense of his apostleship. If his opponents can boast of their accomplishments, he can, too.

This passage is part of his boasting. Paul claims he, too, has had an abundance of revelations, but to keep him humble God gave him a thorn in the flesh. Repeatedly he prayed to have it removed, but God assured him His grace was enough to bear it. Now Paul boasts of his weaknesses, handicaps, and sufferings, for through weakness the power of Christ comes upon him. Americans love winners. There is an aversion in our day to weakness, pain, and suffering. Where are you weak? When has God said “no” to your prayers only to say, “My grace is sufficient”?  What life lessons can we gain through suffering, setback and loss?  

Friday, 3 July 2015—Mark 6:1–13—The rejection by one’s own people. Obstacles to ministry may occur with rejection. Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth takes offense at Him and His work.  Earlier Jesus was rejected by His family and religious leaders. Now He is rejected by the people (friends and relatives) of His hometown, Nazareth.

They were astonished at His teaching and mighty works. They could not explain His greatness; they referred to Him as a carpenter and as the son of Mary along with brothers and sisters. Unable to explain Him, they took offense or were scandalized by Him. Jesus reacted by saying that a prophet was without honor among His own people. He was unable to do mighty works because of the people’s unbelief. Therefore, Jesus left with His disciples to teach in other towns. This week we celebrated our country’s independence. God has blessed America in that given our representative form of democracy and our rights to practice our faith as outlines in the constitution the Gospel has had free reign. Not all however is well within our country. Many would want to stifle the Gospel. We have no guarantee that America will last forever. The Lord could allow the Gospel to flourish in another place. Many of our Lutheran forefathers (and others) came to America to escape religious persecution happening in Europe. If the church in America received the same reception as did the Savior in His hometown would many simply stop coming?  How do some today practice their faith because it is convenient?      

Saturday, 4 July 2015— Luke 1:78-79 The first stanza of Sunday’s hymn of the day, O Christ, Our True and Only Light (LSB 839), asks the Savior to enlighten those who sit in night. There are many today missing from the Father’s table because they sit in ignorance. They know nothing of the saving work of Jesus Christ. While there are obstacles to ministry, there are tremendous opportunities to witness in the midst of our nation’s heartland. As the Lord gives us opportunity may we “gossip the Gospel” that souls may be won and the kingdom expanded.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House and from Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B – John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Proper 8

Proper 8
28 June 2015
Mark 5:21-43

Jesus is the person of last resort. At least, according to our text for this morning. Here is a man who receives the bitter news; “Your daughter is dying”.  Immediately he turns to Jesus, the person of last resort. “Jesus, come quickly, place your hands on her and she will get better - I know You can do it! Please come Jesus!  Put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live!”

This man’s daughter was twelve at the time. I can remember when my daughter was twelve –and you, who are parents and grandparents, know what it’s like when your girl turned longer a child but not quite a teenager. Not entirely interested in boys yet but...curious.  Innocent, inquisitive, capricious, sometimes shy. She’s daddy’s little girl - and he’s about to lose her! No wonder he turns to Jesus – the person of last resort. 

What does this miracle teaches us concerning Christ – the person of last resort. He knows better than others; He cares about people especially in their trouble and pain; He alone has power and authority over death.

Jesus knows better than others. He is the person of last resort. Listen to His words in the face of opposition, criticism and ridicule. “Your daughter is dead!” they said, “Why bother the Master anymore!”  Ignoring what they said Jesus told the synagogue ruler “don’t be afraid, only believe” (vv. 35-36)

Jesus ignored them. They could only see a physical dimension; “why trouble the Master!”

They have nothing to offer him. No solace. No consolation. No hope. They have nothing to offer - they can see only one dimension. Jesus cannot help this father. His daughter is dead. They only see and experience life from what can be experienced here and now.

Such people believe life can only be lived in time. They limit their existence to only that which can be experienced by the senses. For such people, life has limits, is temporal and ends at death.

Jesus knows better – the girl is not dead – she only sleeps. True. The girl has died. With Solomon, we define death as the separation of the soul from the body.

Listen as he describes such events in Ecclesiastes 12:7 “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

“…and the dust returns to the ground...” That’s life viewed from the perspective of man.  The Father sees things different; “...but the spirit returns to God who gave it” God sees the reality of life and death from a completely different perspective.

From the Father’s perspective; people may say that a persons has “passed away” but there is a part of us, which we call the immortal soul, which lives beyond the grave.

And if we believe in Jesus as our Savior and Lord death is not the end but rather it is a journey, a walk, from one end of the kingdom to the other; from the kingdom of grace into the kingdom of glory. 

He calls us to see death as a gate, which leads to eternal life. He calls us to believe in Him by faith.

He calls this grieving father to behold and believe. “Don’t be afraid, only believe!

Jesus, the person of last resort, cares about people in trouble. “Jesus went with him...” (v. 24)

The man’s daughter was dead. He has compassion; He is moved by his loss – He cares for this grieving father – He goes along with him to his house!  Naysayers will not trouble him. Those who fail to believe that He has the words of life do not distract him. He reaches out to him – He went with Him.

He went with him for He has the sufficiency to grant life. Jairus needed a miracle.  Where could he go? To whom could he turn? He turns to Jesus who walked with him.

In the midst of your hurt, in the midst of your need - turn to Jesus who has promised to walk with you. Remember the last five words Jesus spoke to humans before His Ascended, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus, the person of last resort, has power and authority over death itself. “He took her by the hand and said: “Little girl – get up!”

Jesus said: “No one takes my life from me. I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it up!”  At the cross, Jesus willingly laid down His life for you... At the cross, all of your sin was forgiven period! At the cross, the power of death died.

And when Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rock split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs and after Jesus’ resurrection; they went into the holy city and appeared to many people! “(Matthew 27:50-53)

When Jesus Christ died, death died. Jesus has the power over death.

Jesus has authority over death. With authority, Jesus took the girl by the hand and said: “Little girl – get up!” Jesus who has the authority over life and death restores this girl to life. He returns her to her parents. The family is made whole again!

And on the last day, Jesus by the same authority will say: “old man, young woman, o lad, young girl – get up!

And on that last great day “at His calling all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.”  (Athanasian Creed)  

Jesus – a Savior of power and authority – Jesus - the person of last resort!

Words –1,010
Passive Sentences – 8%
Readability – 82.0

Reading Level – 4.2

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Time in the Word - Pentecost 5 - Proper 8

Pentecost 5 – Proper 8
 June 22 -27, 2015

The Lord Jesus Is Faithful, and in Mercy He Raises You Up from Death to Life

The Lord is faithful. His steadfast love never ceases, and “His mercies never come to an end” (Lam. 3:22–23). To keep in repentance and to make our faith grow, He causes grief for a while, but He does not cast off forever; in due time, “He will have compassion” (Lam. 3:31–33). Therefore, “hope in Him,” and “wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord,” for “the Lord is good to those who wait for Him” (Lam. 3:24–26). That is what the woman did “who had a discharge of blood,” and the ruler whose daughter “was at the point of death.” Each waited on the mercy of the Lord Jesus, and each received His saving help (Mark 5:21–28). The woman had suffered much for twelve years, and the ruler’s daughter had already died before Jesus arrived. Yet, at the right time, the woman was immediately “healed of her disease,” and the little girl “got up and began walking around” (Mark 5:29, 42). Such is “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” who humbled Himself, unto the extreme poverty of death, “so that you by His poverty might become rich,” unto life everlasting (2 Cor. 8:9).

Collect for Pentecost 5: Heavenly Father, during His earthly ministry Your Son Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. By the healing medicine of the Word and Sacraments pour into our hearts such love toward You that we may live eternally; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for one who is sick: O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need, look with favor upon Your servant(s) [name(s)]. Assure [him/her/them] of Your mercy, deliver [him/her/them] from the temptations of the evil one, and give [him/her/them] patience and comfort in [his/her/their] illness. If it please You, restore [him/her/them] to health, or give [him/her/them] grace to accept this tribulation with courage and hope; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,

Prayer for one near death: Eternal Father, You alone make the decisions concerning life and death. We ask You to show mercy to Your servant [name], whose death seems imminent. If it be Your gracious will, restore [him/her] and lengthen [his/her] earthly life; but if not, keep [him/her] in [his/her] baptismal grace and in Your abiding care. Give [him/her] a repentant heart, firm faith, and a lively hope. Let not the fear of death cause [him/her] to waver in confidence and trust. At Your chosen time, grant [him/her] a peaceful departure and a joyous entrance into everlasting life with the glorious company of all Your saints; through Jesus Christ, our Savior,

Prayer for the hope of eternal life in Christ: Almighty, everlasting God, Your Son has assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that our faith in Christ may increase daily and that we may hold fast to the hope that on the Last Day we shall be raised in glory to eternal life; through Jesus Christ,

Monday, 22 June 2015—Psalm 121:5–8; Antiphon, Psalm 121:1–2—Like yesterdays Psalm of the Day (Psalm 124), this is a Song of Ascents, that pilgrims sang on their way up to Jerusalem. On the journey, they had to go through mountains, or hills. To whom do they—and we—look to keep them safe, not just on the way to Jerusalem, but throughout life? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth…The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life . . . The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015—Psalm 30—This Psalm of David praises the Lord for having preserved his life, granting him healing. When he seemed to be at the brink of death, the Lord restored him to life among those who go down into the pit. More than just physical healing, however, the Lord also granted David spiritual healing: when David, trusting in himself, said, ‘I shall never be moved,’ the adversity made him repent of his pride. As a result of physical and spiritual healing, David proclaims, ‘You have turned for me my mourning into dancing . . . O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!’

Wednesday, 24 June 2015—Lamentations 3:22–33—In the midst of a lament over the fall of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah extols the mercy of the Lord: His steadfast love never ceases…the Lord is good to those who wait for Him. When the Lord’s chastisement has brought about its intended results, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love. This gives comfort to us, too: when we repent of our sins, the Lord is quick to bestow forgiveness upon us.

Thursday, 25 June 2015—2 Corinthians 8:1–9, 13–15—When the Christians in Jerusalem were in distress, the churches in Macedonia, though they were also beset by poverty and affliction, gave beyond their means to support their suffering brethren.

This was not of themselves, but a display of the grace of God that allowed them to give themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Paul then explains also the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Friday, 26 June 2015—Mark 5:21–43—Jesus demonstrates His great love for those suffering from some of the consequences of the Fall, sickness and death. Out of compassion, he agrees to go to the home of Jairus, whose daughter is near death. On the way, he is sought out by a woman with an issue of blood. Tenderly, He tells her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well.’ At Jairus’ house, He is met with the news that the little girl is dead. Christ Jesus, who will conquer death on the cross, raises her from the dead, showing His power over death and beginning the work of the restoration of creation. This compassion and mercy flows from the great love God has for us.

Saturday, 27 June 2015—The first stanza of Sunday’s hymn of the day, In the Very Midst of Life (LSB 755), dates back to the ninth century. Luther altered it somewhat and added two stanzas. It is one of the foremost hymns we have for the dying. It strongly proclaims that by Jesus’ blood alone we have atonement for sin and, consequently, refuge from sin and peace with God.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Artwork by Ed Riojas © Higher Things
© WELS for private and congregational use
Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship

This week’s Time in the Word is written by The Revd Jeffrey M. Keuning.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Proper 7

Proper 7
Mark 4:35-41
21 June 2015

Almighty God, in Your mercy guide the course of this world so that Your Church may joyfully serve You in godly peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord...

Jesus is Lord. This is what faith communicates.  It speaks. It confesses reality. And your reality, is this, Jesus is Lord! It is true. And it is certain.

In rapid succession, with one story, stacked, one after another, Mark will tell us clearly, “Jesus is Lord!” Jesus is Lord over nature. Over demons. Over death.   Jesus is Lord. He stills the wind and calms the stormy sea. Jesus is Lord. The demon-possessed man, the one who had had legion, is sitting there, clothed and in his right mind. (Mark 5:15) Jesus is Lord. Jairus’ daughter is raised to life.

The disciples feared a great fear. “Who is this? That even the wind and the sea obey him?”  

It has been quite a week, hasn’t it! With all this rain. And thunder! Make it stop! This is too much! Still, it comes! It’s easy to say, “Jesus is Lord!” when all is bright and sunny. But when storms come, as they do, it’s difficult and hard to prove. We falter when we lose focus and doubt.

Our flesh is always warring against our spirit. That’s where fighting and fears come from.  And this lordship of Jesus is often veiled. Does the Father still love me in the midst of these storms and problems? Can Jesus help me when I’m up against so many great odds? Why is God silent? Why won’t He listen?  This veil is uncovered in today’s Gospel.  With the world of nature howling against the disciples, Jesus discloses His lordship.   

“When evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side’. And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as He was.” (Vv.35-36) They took Jesus along with them just as He was. This is a clear reference to Jesus’ human nature. Jesus had told the disciples to have a boat ready for Him because of the crowd, which was about to crush Him.[1] He had been so busy teaching and preaching. The crowd was so huge that He didn’t even have time to eat.[2] He was exhausted and spent. No wonder He slept in the back of the boat!

These disciples. They were experienced fishermen. They knew these waters. There were times to fish. There were times to travel. And you did not go across to the other side when evening had come. That’s when the storms come. At night!  Nevertheless, they went. At Jesus’ command. 

A furious squall...a bad storm...happened. The boat suffers simply because it's there. They suffer because they were there. Sometimes bad things happen because they happen.
We cannot escape hard times. We are living outside of Eden. This is a fallen world. We are not perfect.

And hard times happen. Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan…until you get punched in the face!” Sometimes we get punched! It is not pleasant. It is not joyful. It is not easy. It’s hard. And difficult!                               

And these disciples. They understood their culture of their time. The waves implied turmoil. And the Sea indicated death. How’s that for trusting Jesus! And His word. Had He sent them off to die? Was this a test? Or a punishment?

We are being destroyed…NOW! They cry! And Jesus? Where is He? He’s on a cushion. Literally, He's asleep at the wheel.

Notice, the language. We're perishing! They cry out. And Jesus is included with them.  But as they cry out to Him, they say, “it matters to you doesn’t it?”  They ask, expecting a positive answer. They know they are in trouble. They seek Jesus, expecting His help.  

Though seemingly asleep, Jesus can be wakened.  This has always been the expectation of faith. We expect Jesus to intervene. We expect Jesus to act. We expect Jesus to hear us. David cried out in Psalm 89:8-9 “O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.”  

And in Psalm 107, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet. And be brought them to their desired haven.” (Vv. 28-30)

Jesus intervenes.  He rescues by rebuking faithlessness and revealing Himself as the Master of the elements, to stifle storms and still the seas. Jesus literally says, “Shut up! Be muzzled!”  Of course! This is rude language. But it's the enemy! Even the grave and the jaws of death are shut up for you. He speaks with authority. He doesn't grab a bucket.  He goes to the source of the problem. And He delivers them.

Jesus unveils His power daily.  Especially, in the midst of peril. When everything seems lost.  He is always in control.  The early Christians remembered this account in their persecutions. When you encounter peril or danger may we simply pray, Jesus, Savior, pilot me! Jesus does not explain each wave. Yet He weeps with those who weep. He mourns with those who mourn. He comforts, strengthens and He heals.

Faith prays. Because it knows nothing else. Like the infant. To her mother. She knows nothing other than to trust.  Jesus always responds with His word of peace. He releases His grace in daily forgiveness. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7

Jesus concludes with a question. Why are you cowards? And there is no answer, other than to respond, “Lord I believe…help me in my unbelief.”(Mark 9:24) Lord I trust…help me when it is shaken. Lord I cling to You…never let go!

Mark reminds us, “They feared a great fear...who is this?”  Fear? Yes, fear.  As in the First Commandment, “we should fear, love and trust in God above all things.”  

In this life, we will encounter storms. They cannot be avoided. They are part and parcel of our life. And yet, there is no better place to be,-then next to Jesus, asleep in His sleep over sin, over death, over the Devil.

Jesus, who didst ever guide me
Jesus, my strong helper be.
Jesus, save, whate’er betide me,
Jesus, make me trust in Thee.
Jesus let Thy grace attend me,
Jesus, still from sin defend me.[3]

Words –1,150
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –86.9
Reading Level -2.8

[1] Mark 3:9
[2] Mark 3:20
[3] Jesus richte mein Beginnen – Jesus Shepherd My Beginning (J.S. Bach: Christmas Oratorio, Part IV)
   A little bit of Christmas - because it is the first day of summer! 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Time in the Word - Pentecost 4 - Proper 7

The Word of Christ Bestows Peace on His Creation through His Forgiveness of Sins -  
Pentecost 4 – Proper 7

In his anguish and affliction, Job must be reminded that, as a finite creature, he is in no position to question the Maker of the heavens and the earth. Job’s “words without knowledge” are unable to penetrate the wisdom of the Lord (Job 38:1–2). For the Lord has “prescribed limits” and “set bars and doors,” so that “here shall your proud waves be stayed” (Job 38:9–11). That’s how He humbles us unto repentance. But also by His powerful Word He calms the “great windstorm” and the waves “breaking into the boat.” He does not permit the chaos of this fallen world to overwhelm us or bring us to despair. By the Word of His Gospel, He speaks “Peace” to us, which bestows the “great calm” of His New Creation (Mark 4:37–39). Therefore, do not be afraid, and do not receive this grace of God in vain. “Now is the favorable time,” and “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1–2).

Collect for Peace: O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; 

Prayer for Peace: Almighty and everlasting God, King of Glory, and Lord of heaven and earth, by whose Spirit all things are governed, by whose providence all things are ordered, the God of peace and the author of all concord, grant us, we implore You, Your heavenly peace and concord that we may serve You in true fear, to the praise and glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, 

Prayer for one suffering from anxiety, apprehension, or fear: O most loving Father, You want us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing except losing You, and to lay all our cares on You, knowing that You care for us. Strengthen [name] in [his/her] faith in You. Grant that the fears and anxieties of this mortal life may not separate [him/her] from Your love shown to us in Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, 

Prayer at the close of the day: Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us at the end of the day, at the end of our life, at the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your holy Word ad Sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair, the night when death draws near. Abide with us and with all the faithful, now and forever.

Collect for Pentecost 4: Almighty God, in Your mercy guide the course of this world so that Your Church may joyfully serve You in godly peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 15 June 2015—Psalm 107:29–32; Antiphon, Psalm 107:28—This psalm recounts many of the things that the LORD has done for His people, and exhorts them to praise Him for them. In the section appointed for Sunday’s Introit, the LORD is given praise for manifesting His might by delivering His people from the storms of nature. This sets the theme for the day, where all the readings point to the authority of the Creator over His creation, and His continuing governance.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015—Psalm 124—This Song of Ascents, that pilgrims sang on their way up to Jerusalem, praises the Lord for His deliverance of His people from catastrophes of nature. Twice, it is sung, If the Lord had not been on our side…Those who sing the psalm recognize that their only hope of salvation is in the Lord. We echo this in the daily offices, such as Matins and Vespers, and when we confess our sins in the Divine Service, when we repeat verse eight: Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015—Job 38:1–11—At the end of the book of Job, God answers Job, who has demanded the opportunity to interrogate Him for the calamities which have befallen Job. God answers with an interrogation of His own: Who is Job to question the Creator of all things? The Lord, who laid the foundation of the earth and determined its measurements, who prescribed limits for the sea, knows what He is doing. How can the creature second-guess the Creator?

Thursday, 18 June 2015—2 Corinthians 6:1–13—In Sunday’s epistle reading, St Paul speaks of his experiences as Christ’s Ambassador of Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:20). He tells of these things not to boast, but because what people see in the messenger affects the credibility of the message.

In verse 6, he speaks of the reason he was able to withstand these hardships and still bring forth the fruits of righteousness: it is solely the work of God, especially the Holy Spirit. God, the Creator of all things, is also able to create the New Man, who lives before God in righteousness and purity,

Friday, 19 June 2015—Mark 4:35–41—Terrified by a storm which came upon them quickly on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples were powerless to escape it or overcome it. Jesus, however, through whom all things were created (John 1:3), is able to calm the seas by the command of His voice. After all, He is God, who brought all things into existence by speaking, ‘Let there be…’ (Genesis 1)

Saturday, 20 June 2015Sunday’s hymn of the day, Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me (LSB 715), uses the imagery of a stormy sea to represent the trials and tribulations which are part of our lives as long as we live in this fallen, sinful world. But Jesus is able to still those seas, as He did the Sea of Galilee, and bring comfort to us. True comfort can come only through Jesus, for He is our Salvation.
The Revd Jeffrey M. Keuning, wrote this week’s “Time in the Word”. He serves St John's Evangelical Lutheran Church Casey, and Zion Lutheran Church, Dexter, Iowa

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Artwork © WELS for personal and congregational use 
Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship

Friday, June 12, 2015

Proper 6

Proper 6
14 June 2015
Mark 4:26-34
“The Kingdom of the Mustard Seed”

Jesus tells us, “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed” (v 31). That doesn’t seem to make sense. A mustard seed? An insignificant, unimpressive seed, quite obviously incapable of doing anything great.

But that’s what Jesus teaches. The Kingdom of God, like a Mustard Seed, Merely Appears Insignificant, Unimpressive, Incapable of Doing Anything Great.

The Kingdom, Jesus Himself, did appear insignificant. Jesus often appeared insignificant, unimpressive, incapable of doing anything great. Shortly after Pentecost, the apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest… Luke records what took place… But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.  Then he addressed the Sanhedrin:

“Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 

 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if, their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:33-39)  

All outward signs rejected Jesus rejected by the leadership. Even His own family considered him senseless. When He was arrested, His followers deserted and scattered.

This Kingdom included the least desirable people, sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors. You might as well just invite anyone into it—and He did. Some Kingdom. Insignificant, unimpressive, and by all appearances, it seemed incapable of doing anything great.

The Kingdom among us today – Jesus in Word and Sacrament still appears unimpressive. The Kingdom merely appears insignificant, unimpressive, and incapable of doing anything great. Jesus said that while the mustard seed is the smallest of the seeds, when it’s planted it grows and becomes the largest plant in the garden. (Perhaps as high as ten feet.) With such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade. Though human wisdom and logic can never believe it, the eyes of faith behold it.

And, yes, sins are forgiven. My sins, your sins, are paid for in the death of our Savior, Jesus. Pronounced to us in absolution, received by us in the Supper of Christ’s body and blood. Guilt is replaced by peace. Death is replaced by life. As Luther so simply put it in the Small Catechism, “where there is forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation.” And through all these gifts, the Holy Spirit is at work strengthening faith and love toward God, and He moves us to love our neighbor. That’s the mustard seed growing, and that, by the power of the Spirit, is what happens here.

Faith sees great things, like rejoicing in heaven, happening in the Kingdom. In faith, we see things as they are. Every Sunday morning, the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is sown. People hear. In faith, you repent. And in that very moment, the host of heavenly angels is rejoicing. A thrill goes through heaven above at something that took place down here among us.

Remember the mustard seed and rejoice in what you do in Jesus’ name. A simple invitation extended to someone to come to church, where the gifts of Jesus are given. It won’t make the nightly news, but it causes rejoicing in heaven.

Our own lives in the Kingdom have a hidden significance that is great indeed. Like those birds, seeking shelter in the shade of a mustard plant, we live by faith within the shelter of this kingdom of grace, where Christ’s righteousness covers all our sin. And then, when the Lord returns, we and all the world, believer and unbeliever alike, will see just how great the kingdom of the mustard seed is.

It’s just as Jesus said in the other parable in our text, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Vv. 26–29). That’s what the farmer does. That’s what you do. And what a harvest!

Rarely, if ever, will someone esteem us or praise us for living by faith in Christ. Your Sunday paper or evening news won’t report this. And it’s not their job. But for you and me, who own this glorious mystery, it is our job. The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. And don’t forget it. Behold it in faith, and then live in its grace. Invite people to come to this place, where the precious seed is sown. And let us pray that God will make it grow among us all.

Passive Sentences -15%
Readability -75%
Reading Level-5.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Time in the Word - Proper 6

The Parables of our Lord convey the mysteries of the Kingdom of God to those who are “able to hear it,” that is, “to His own disciples,” who are catechized to fear, love and trust in Him by faith (Mark 4:33–34). He “scatters seed on the ground,” which “sprouts and grows” unto life, even as “He sleeps and rises” (Mark 4:26–27). “On the mountain heights of Israel,” He plants a young and tender twig, and it becomes “a noble cedar.” Indeed, His own Cross becomes the Tree of Life, under which “every kind of bird” will dwell, and in which “birds of every sort will nest” (Ezekiel 17:22–25). His Cross is our resting place, even while now in mortal bodies, we “groan, being burdened” (2 Corinthians 5:1–4). Yet by faith we live for God in Christ, who for our sake “died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15). We know that, in His resurrected body, “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Monday, 8 June 2015Psalm 92:12–15; Antiphon, Psalm 92:1—This ‘Psalm for the Sabbath’ is a hymn of praise, in which the psalmist gives thanks to the LORD for His steadfast love and faithfulness. He declares us righteous and makes us flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. From ancient times, even until to-day, Lebanon has been known for its tall strong cedars: Cedars from Lebanon were used in constructing the temple, and the cedar appears on Lebanon’s national flag. We who are planted in the house of the LORD are strong in the LORD like these trees of renown.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015Psalm 1—Luther wrote that the psalter is the Bible in miniature. If so, then the opening six verses are the portal leading into a treasure-house of communion with God. Who is the one who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners . . . but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on His Law he meditates day in night? First, it is Christ. Secondly, it is all of us who have been incorporated into Christ—the holy Christian Church. The new man, created by Baptism, that comes forth daily and arises to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015Ezekiel 17:22–24—Things looked bleak when Jerusalem fell and King Zedekiah died in exile (Ezekiel 17:11-21). Through the prophet Ezekiel, the LORD proclaims that He will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and…I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. This tender sprig will never be uprooted, for it is the promised Messiah, Jesus, who will be given the throne of His father David, and whose Messianic kingdom will be established forever.

Thursday, 11 June 20152 Corinthians 5:1–10—In Sunday’s epistle reading, St Paul looks forward to eternal life in heaven, when we shall live forever in our glorified bodies, no longer made frail by the ravages of sin. Paul has supreme confidence in what is to come, for his confidence rests, not in the whims of man, but in the surety of God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. The Christian, who lives by faith in the promises of the Lord, rejoices at the thought of being at home with the Lord.

Friday, 12 June 2015Mark 4:26–34—These parables serve as both warning and encouragement to us. We have a role to play in the furtherance of God’s kingdom on earth by sharing the Good News of the Gospel with those around us, but we must never think that the triumph of the Kingdom is our triumph, for it is the Lord and His Word alone which are effective. But neither should we despair if the growth of the Lord’s Kingdom seems somehow unspectacular in our eyes. He alone is the Lord of the harvest (Mark 9:38); thus, we never cease praying “Thy Kingdom come” with patience and confidence.

Saturday, 13 June 2015—Sunday’s hymn of the day, Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid (LSB 500), is an eighth-century hymn written in praise of the Holy Spirit and the gifts He bestows on the Church. It first proclaims the Spirit as participating in the creation of all things, then testifies that He creates Christians by His gifts to us. The final stanza is a doxology: a hymn of praise to our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Prayer for persecuted Christians: Lord Jesus Christ, before whom all in heaven and earth shall bow, grant courage that Your children may confess Your saving name in the face of any opposition from a world hostile to the Gospel. Help them to remember Your faithful people who sacrificed much and even faced death rather than dishonor You when called upon to deny the faith. By Your Spirit, strengthen them to be faithful and to confess You boldly, knowing that You will confess Your own before the Father in heaven, with whom You and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, now and forever.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Artwork by Ed Riojas © Higher Things

Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship