Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sermon for 21 February 2010, Lent 1C

Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

St. Luke 4:1-13

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

First Sunday in Lent, 21 February 2010

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today’s Gospel account takes place immediately after Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan, before He visits Nazareth. It has much for us, especially as we resist temptation, and also as we resist the lure of all that wishes to lead us and our young people astray.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

Jesus was fasting. He ate nothing for forty days and forty nights. This was no ordinary fast—this was the kind of Spiritual fast that one can survive only by divine intervention. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, poured out upon Him in bodily form at Jesus’ Baptism.

Luke also states the obvious. Jesus was hungry. Jesus’ hunger was likely the greatest at this point of his desert fast. His resistance was likely the lowest as well. The Devil comes to tempt Him, taking advantage of the situation.

3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’”

Jesus was hungry. Jesus was weak at this point. The Devil tried to get Jesus to doubt Himself, doubt His identity as the very Son of God, the Beloved Son, with Whom God is well pleased. Satan attempted to use Jesus’ weakness against Him.

Satan uses our weaknesses against us. He uses anything he can to try to get us away from God. Jesus was hungry after forty days and forty nights, so the devil used hunger to get at Jesus. How is he going after you? What is your weakness? Do you want to be popular? Do you want to be loved, respected, admired? Do you want to get ahead at work? Do you want to hang out with the cool kids? Do you just want to take life easy and not worry about your spiritual life? Would you just rather golf, hunt, fish, sleep in, or watch TV on Sunday morning? Does brunch sound more appealing than Bible Class or Sunday School? What weakness is the Devil using to drive a wedge between you and God? What weakness is the Devil using to cause you to doubt God and His promises for you?

Jesus resists temptation by speaking the Word, specifically Deuteronomy 8:3. This verse came from a time when the children of Israel, after the Exodus from Egypt, were unfaithful to God. They spent forty years in the wilderness. Jesus, a faithful descendant of Israel, Judah, and David, resists temptation and is faithful during His forty days in the wilderness. He is able to resist and be faithful where Israel gave in and was unfaithful. Jesus is the faithful Israel.

Man does not live on bread alone. We may have desires for food, fun, companionship, or possessions. Even if we acquire all of these things, it will be for naught if we lose our right relationship with God. We need God. We need His Word. We cannot resist temptation with the Word if we do not know what the Word has to say. We need to be in the Bible daily. We need to take the time for group Bible Study and Sunday School. We also need to have the Word at Home. Nurturing your faith at worship is wonderful, but that cannot be whole extent of your life as a Christian! Live your faith outside of these walls.

By His obedience and faithfulness, Our Lord accomplished what we could not. He willingly gives us the benefits of His faithfulness when He forgives our sins. He takes our rap sheet, our unfaithfulness, and exchanges it with His unblemished record. He can forgive us for our neglect of His Word. He calls to us, I have good Gifts for you! Let us not neglect them.

5 The devil led [Jesus] up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

Did the Devil really possess the authority and splendor of all the kingdoms of the world? No. Of course not. God is the Lord of the nations, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Devil was promising something he couldn’t deliver. We shouldn’t be surprised. He has been a liar and deceiver from the beginning.

The Devil can also tempt us by promising something he can’t deliver.

What are you deceived into believing the Devil can give you? Does abusing drugs or alcohol really make your problems go away? Do inappropriate images really fill a void or just make you feel more empty and guilty inside? Does hanging out with the right people at work or school or going to the best parties really make you a better person?

There are those who would love to destroy our relationship with God as well. Other religions may look good on the outside and may promise many things. Any religious group that openly teaches things contrary to the Bible and invents new teachings is not Christian. We know Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It’s not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15.) It doesn’t matter what they have in the name of their church or on their buildings if they don’t believe in the Jesus of the Bible and the teachings Jesus gives us in the Bible.

Satan didn’t possess the authority and splendor of all of the kingdoms of the world. So there’s no way he could give it to Jesus. Adam and Eve were deceived into thinking they could become like God. We rejoice that God became like us in Jesus Christ. He promises us salvation as a gift, not something earned. He calls us to live in the forgiveness of sins, bringing vitality to our lives individually, and corporately as a family and as a congregation. He heals our brokenness and fills all our needs to support this body and life, physically, and spiritually. He cares for your whole person—body and soul!

9 The devil led [Jesus] to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: ”‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

The most insidious temptation Satan targets our way is misuse of the Word. Jesus responded to the first temptation with the Word. Jesus responded to the second temptation with the Word. Now, Satan thinks he’s getting smart. He uses the Word, but in an evil way. He takes this passage from (Psalm 91:11-12) out of context and twists its meaning. He misuses the Word.

- Many groups twist the meaning of God’s Word today. The Mormons are only one example. The Jehovah’s Witnesses turn Jesus into a god. Some groups that call themselves Christian doubt the Virgin Birth of Jesus and even His Resurrection! Some also say that truth doesn’t matter! A very popular error among conservative Christians has to do with the end of the world. Their false teaching is also contained in a series of fiction books. They complicate what the Bible says about the last things with an idea derived from a fifteen year old Scottish girl who was a member of a cult group from less than 200 years ago.

God’s Word gives us the forgiveness of sins and it also gives us what we need to stand up under temptation and under fire from the flaming arrows of the evil one. Our Lord cares for us so much that He provides for us what we need to stand firm.

13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left [Jesus] until an opportune time.

That’s what Satan looks for—opportune times. He looks for when we’re the weakest. He watches for when we’ve been neglecting the Word, worship, and fellowship and encouragement from other Christians. Then he strikes. He uses our weaknesses as sinful human beings against us. He promises us things he can’t deliver—just to get us to sin and lead us away from God. And most dangerous of all, He intentionally skews Scripture to lead us astray—away from Christ and His forgiveness and protection.

In The Sixth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer we pray, And lead us not into temptation. What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.

The Devil works overtime to tempt and lead astray Christians. He has time to spend on us because he already has the rest of the world deceived. The World thinks we’re weird. We live in a culture where peer pressure tries to force us off Christ’s narrow path. With all of these unholy pressures already attempting to force us away from God, why should we let ourselves, our family members, our friends, be led into temptation?

Let me speak first to those of you still in school. Remain faithful. Don’t give into the temptations of the evil one or his servants. Many may pretend to be servants of righteousness, but there is often nothing but spiritual death and eternal separation from God as the end result.

2 Corinthians 6:14–15 is relevant to you. Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

When we have contact with unbelievers, non-Christians, we are to witness to them, not give in to them and become like them! We have the truth. We have life. We have salvation. We have the blessings of the Gospel—all because of Christ. Do not be deceived by a false Christianity, or a false Jesus.

Dear parents, grandparents, and friends of our young people. Encourage the kids and young adults that you know to study their Bible. Put them in mind of their Baptism. Encourage them when you know they’re down, discouraged, or tempted to leave the Christian church. Pray for them. Pray with them. Be there for them. It may take being firm. What does a Christian need with a non Christian group’s activities? They can be spiritually deadly. Parents, please protect your children. Don’t encourage their neglect of the Bible, devotions, or Sunday School and church. You are their example in the faith.

The most important thing to remember from this text, the temptation of Jesus, is that Jesus resisted temptation. Granted, that is an excellent example to follow. We are taught to resist with God’s Word. In the past, we know that we have given in. We have neglected the Word. Know this: Jesus resisted temptation for you, in your place. Just as He was the faithful Israel, His faithfulness in your place gives you the forgiveness of sins. Repent. Believe the Gospel. And rejoice that your sins are forgiven. Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Ash Wednesday

Read Luther's Introduction to the Lord's Prayer in his Large Catechism, paragraphs 1-34:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sermon for 14 February 2010, Transfiguration C

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

Hebrews 3:1-6

Faithful in All God’s House

The Transfiguration of Our Lord, Last Sunday after Epiphany

14 February 2010

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.


Moses. When many Americans hear that name, they picture Charlton Hesston in the movie, The Ten Commandments. When the movie was made in 1956, the special effects where the highest of high-tech. They portrayed events we read about in Holy Scripture, and can only imagine what they really looked like: the burning bush, the staff becoming a snake, the plagues, crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, and receiving the Ten Commandments.

This is the day we remember the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Last Sunday after the Epiphany. Today we see Jesus revealed in glory as God’s Son and Chosen One. Moses and Elijah are there, talking about Jesus’ departure, or more literally, His Exodus. We are to listen to Him.

Moses & Christ

3:1Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. 3For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later. Where would we be without Moses? He wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This chosen servant and prophet of the Lord reluctantly answered the call into the Lord’s service, but answer and serve he did. And Aaron came along as an additional blessing—and later, as high priest. Moses was a sinner. He had a past—not just by being a Hebrew boy raised by Pharaoh’s daughter in Pharaoh’s house. He killed a man, an Egyptian, and fled Egypt at 40. At 80 the Lord spoke from the burning bush. Moses was sent by the Lord—He was an apostle. In the next 40 years, Moses led the Exodus from slavery and oppression under Pharaoh, through the Red Sea, to the wilderness where he received the Ten Commandments for the people.

But the people couldn’t wait—not even forty days while Moses was on the mountain with the Lord. They made a golden calf and called it the Lord, who brought them out of Egypt. Idolatry. And they didn’t stop there. They grumbled against the Lord and His servant. They complained and the Lord gave them manna from heaven. They grumbled again and quail overwhelmed them. They kept complaining and even water was given them. The Lord was faithful even though they were not. They saw giants in the land the Lord promised them and lost faith yet again. Forty years were to pass before their descendants were to follow Joshua into the promised land. There are consequences for sin.

It is the lack of faith that condemns. Moses, too, was a sinner. Not that we had forgotten, for we are sinners, too. Moses was told to speak to the rock and water would come forth. Instead, he put on a magic show and touched the rock with his staff. On that occasion, he did not follow the Lord’s Word. And as a consequence, another prophet, Joshua, crossed the Jordan. Moses was taken home to the Lord. Moses was forgiven, and therefore is rightly called faithful in God’s house as a servant and more.

Jesus is even more faithful. No sin in sight. Not a sinner. He, too is a servant, but not exactly like Moses, who was in God’s house. Jesus serves as a Son over God’s house.

Jesus is your apostle and high priest. It took both Moses and Aaron to do those two jobs, but Jesus fills them both.

What Is Our Hope?

In our day, hope is often in short supply. Tragedy strikes. Our future plans lay in ruins and disappointment. Wars continue. Terrorists threaten. Bad things happen to good people, and sadder yet, bad Christians happen to good people. We face an uncertain future.

We have hope that things will get better. And they will, provided we understand that sentence in the right way. If we’re looking for a sinful world to someday shape up, it’s not going to happen. The thing about both good times and bad is that neither one lasts for long.

In this life we trust that the Lord will give us our daily bread—everything that we need to support this body and life. God will provide everything we need, but not necessarily everything we want. He does this to increase our faith and trust in Him, that we would look to Him alone to provide our every need.

God also blesses us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. No, spiritual blessings won’t fill up your gas tank, grain bin, or checking account, but that is missing the point. You have been reconciled to God. Forgiveness means that we are to be reconciled to one another—as much as it has to do with us. We can’t control how the other person will react or respond.

Ultimately, we have hope beyond our decades on this earth. We have the hope of heaven and all of the rest and peace we can handle. And Jesus. And Moses. And Elijah, and Peter, James, and John, and all those who died confessing Christ as their Savior.

Yes, there is more. The Resurrection means the beginning of true eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth with soul and body reunited again, glory everlasting. That’s our hope.

What is the Basis of Our Hope?

Jesus. Jesus. Only Jesus.

3:1Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. 3For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

Jesus is your apostle, sent to you for your benefit by your Father in Heaven. Descending from the mount of Transfiguration, Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem. He knew why He was going. He knew what would happen—unbelief, rejection, ridicule, betrayal, suffering, crucifixion, and death. Again, there’s more. Good Friday isn’t good without Easter and an empty tomb because of the Resurrection.

Jesus is your High Priest. Jesus offered a better sacrifice than lambs, bulls, or goats. Unlike the previous High Priests like Aaron, his sons, and the Levities, Jesus did not have to offer a sacrifice for His own sin. He had none. That made Jesus the perfect sacrifice, a mature, adult male with no imperfections, just the kind of Lamb of God that would, did, and does take away the sin of the world—including my sin and your sin. Jesus is not only the High Priest, but the once-for-all Sacrifice, and the Temple. Jesus is the Temple that was destroyed but rebuilt in three days.

Jesus came as a servant, not to be served, but to serve. That is why Lutherans call the service of Word and Sacrament “Divine Service.” It is all about Jesus present for you to serve you with the Lord’s good gifts.

Jesus is the Son who does His Father’s will. Jesus is the Chosen One of God, chosen to do His Name. “He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus leads you in a new exodus out of sin and the oppression of Pharaoh Satan into the new Promised Land of Eternal Life. Jesus is Joshua—the names mean the same thing—who leads battle in the wars of the Lord to their final victory over sin, death, and hell.

Having a bad day? You need more Jesus. God wasn’t kidding when He said of Jesus: “Listen to Him.” It is the devil at work who tells you “The Bible can’t be true. Bible study isn’t important. How can a dusty old book help?” It’s not about it being a book. It is not the ink, the paper, or the gilded cover. It’s the Word of God used by the Holy Spirit to give and renew hope within you.


CPR, Rossow: In order to achieve any [progress] (success) in our everyday lives, we need to see the big picture. We first take a look at where we are. [We may even look at where we’ve been.] Then we take a look at what’s ahead. Finally, we make a mental picture of where we’ll end up. That’s the big picture. A physical fitness program includes this big picture. We look at where we are now. We have an idea of where we want to end up. But it’s very important that we come to terms with all the pain and sweat en route to that culminating goal. We need that entire perspective. In the transfiguration of our Lord, we see His glory. In the resurrection and ascension, we see His glory, too. But it is imperative that we also see the pain and suffering of our Lord in between these glorious accounts.

The Mount of Transfiguration leads to the beginning of Lent this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. Along with the disciples we say, “’Tis good, Lord to be here! Yet we may not remain; But since Thou bidst us leave the mount, Come with us to the plain.” We walk along with Jesus on a road of repentance, reflection, and faith, confident that the Lord’s hand is leading us and His love is supporting us through Jesus Christ, our Lord, faithful for you over all of God’s House. Amen.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sermon for 07 Feburary 2010, Epiphany 5C

Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

St. Luke 5:1-11

Jesus is The Lord

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, 07 February 2010

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

A wise, old Jewish rabbi was asked by one of his students, “Rabbi, what is the best day to repent?” The rabbi replied, “Always repent on the last day of your life.” That answer did not satisfy all the students, so several of them pursued the conversation. “But, Rabbi, how can we know which is the last day of our life?” “You can’t,” the rabbi answered. “So,” the students wanted to know, “how can we repent on the last day of our life?” “If you can’t know the last day of your life,“ the Rabbi concluded, “then you had better repent today.”

The Rabbi caught his students, his disciples, in a net. In the text for our meditation this morning from St. Luke, we also see a net. The net brings in a large number of fish, a miracle manifesting Jesus as Lord, as The Lord. But His net, just like that of the Rabbi, is also designed to catch disciples!

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around Him and listening to the Word of God, 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat.

Galilee is our setting once again, just as it has been in the Gospel Reading for the last two weeks. Following His visit to Nazareth and also teaching and healing in the neighboring towns, we find Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Gennesaret, also called the Sea of Galilee.

The text is laden with nautical terminology—boats, nets, fishermen, and lake. And people are there, too. They, too, have heard about this Jesus. They wanted to hear what He had to say. They wanted to hear the Word of God.

So where were Simon & Co.? The text does not directly answer our question, but considering Simon’s response in verse five, it is likely that he was listening to Jesus as he worked. Jesus wanted him to pay attention. He had a lot to teach Simon about fishing! And about catching people.

4 When [Jesus] (He) had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

Simon calls Jesus Master. A title of respect. He is not too sure about the request though, but he complies. “A rabbi wants to teach me about fishing? Oh, well.” They were going out into deep water—without a fish-finder! And, to make matters worse, in the daytime. This was the wrong time and place to find fish—at least in the Sea of Galilee. What was this rabbi thinking?

Simon obeys the master and goes. Simon knew this was no ordinary rabbi. Faith was created in him as he heard Jesus teach the Word of God. The Word creates faith, and faith acts. It is willing to obey the Word of the Lord in spite of misgivings. And even when one thinks putting the nets out would be silly.

But look what happens! A great plethora of fish—so great the nets creaked, strained, and were about to break. Simon calls to his partners to bring in the catch, two boatloads of fish.

8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

Watch for name changes in the Scriptures. They are a great key to what is going on. St. Luke now calls Simon “Simon Peter” for the first time. The faith at work inside Simon is like a rock, hence the name Peter, meaning rock. That faith no longer calls Jesus the generic “Master,” but Lord. God in flesh is made manifest once again. Jesus is revealed as Lord, as The Lord, God, the God of the Old Testament.

Faith responds. And Simon Peter sees how sinful and unworthy He is to be in the presence of the Lord, the Holy God. Our faith responds in a similar way as we prepare for worship. We confess our transgressions unto the Lord as well. We acknowledge, at the feet of our Maker and Redeemer, the Lord, that we are poor sinners, by nature sinful and unclean. We seek and implore God’s grace for the sake of Jesus.

9 For [Simon Peter] (he) and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”

Jesus words are best translated, “Stop being afraid.” The Greek word recognizes that Simon Peter is already visibly shaken. He is already afraid. Jesus words, “Stop being afraid,” are his absolution. Following forgiveness, Simon Peter is given something new to do. “From now on you will capture men alive.”

We hear forgiveness as well. This morning it was heard as a declaration of grace. You have heard the Word read, sung, preached, and prayed. And His Body and Blood will touch your lips.

11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed Him.

Why would Simon Peter and his partners leave such a successful business? Faith. Faith created by the Word of God. Just as the Word created light and all of heaven and earth in the beginning, the Word of God still creates today. The Law convicts us of sin and leaves us despairing of our condition. We yearn for rescue, a lifeline, a life preserver, a lifeboat. And that is what the Gospel provides. As the Law shows you your sin, the Gospel shows you our Savior. Not only that, but the Gospel is powerful and actively gives you rescue and the gift of a Savior, the Lord God Himself. The Word creates faith.

The Word of God, “Follow Me,” called these fishermen to full-time service. They now cast their nets, calling all to repentance and then point to Jesus, the Lord. God in flesh made manifest.

When we compare this account of the calling of the disciples to the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and John, it appears that this is the second calling of these disciples. In John chapter one, John the Baptist points to Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. He then directs his followers to become disciples of Jesus. For a while, Jesus’ new disciples kept their day jobs. Some, like Simon Peter and his brother, were fishermen. They are now called into full-time service, full-time work as Jesus disciples.

All of us are to be full-time disciples, not just Sunday Christians or Christmas & Easter Christians. The fishy-scent of a Christian permeates our entire existence. We serve our Lord Jesus in all that we do, as father, mother, child, employer, employee, or student. When we serve our neighbor, we are serving the Lord.

But I ask you, have you considered full-time service to the Lord? Have you considered a church career? Men—especially you young men in junior high or high school—have you ever seriously considered being a pastor? Our Lord still needs fishers of men. Our Missouri Synod has hundreds of pastoral vacancies. The need is great.

Women—especially you young women—have you considered being a Lutheran School teacher, a parish musician or a deaconess? The need here is great as well. There are potentially thousands of opportunities. Consider a church vocation and pray about it. And please talk to Pastor if you are interested or even curious.

This Gospel account by St. Luke relates the events surrounding a miraculous catch of fish, an epiphany revealing Jesus as Lord. But this text reminds us of something else, something closer to home. It is also about catching people! We are caught in Jesus’ net. But it is good thing that we were caught in the net. Sinful human beings are not the best swimmers in the water of sin. We flail about in the water and waves, fearful of the wind, and we tire of treading water. We would certainly drown without rescue!

Christians do make good fish. We know how to swim in the waters of baptism. We do believe in one Baptism for the remission of sins, but it is not just a one-day thing. Christians continually swim in the waters of baptism, rejoicing in this gift of forgiveness that affects us every day of our lives.

In the text, the boat was a boat, no doubt about it. The boat can remind us of something else, however. The boat does remind us of the Christian Church, a refuge from the stormy waters, where God provides protection for you, His people.

Do not be afraid of the storms of life, our Lord Jesus tells us. And we do not have to fear, in fact, we are called to stop being afraid, because Jesus is The Lord, The God of the Old Testament, and He is Our Lord, piloting our ship through the storms of life. Amen.

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

Monday, February 1, 2010

Funeral Sermon for Martha Sene, 01 February 2010

Rev. Paul J Cain

John 11:17-21

I Believe

Funeral Service Sermon for Martha Sene

Monday of Epiphany IV, 01 February 2010

(Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming)

At Champion-Ferries Funeral Home

In the Name of Jesus. Amen

“Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure: Cleanse me from its guilt and power.” Martha Sene was washed in the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. He washed her sins away in Holy Baptism and forgave them with His Word of Gospel, as she heard Holy Scripture read, sung, and preached, and as she received the Lord’s Body and Blood in His Supper.

It is amazing to realize that Martha was born over one hundred years ago. It is more amazing to me as her pastor that she fell asleep in Christ Jesus just two days before the anniversary of that washing of Holy Baptism. This is where God gets personal. He called her by name and placed His Name on her. She celebrated her 100th baptismal birthday in the arms of her Lord Jesus.

Martha owed her name to another Martha, one who had a sister named Mary and a late brother named Lazarus: 17Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Did you hear what Martha confessed? “Yes, Lord; I believe that you [Jesus] are the Christ, the Son of God who came into the world.” Countless times our Martha confessed her faith in Christ. She recited and prayed the Apostles’ Creed as she learned it and the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer from The Small Catechism. She was a pillar of Christian faith in her home, a blessing to her husband, Verne, especially on his deathbed, and a Christian example to Marlin and Royce so that they would know and love their Savior, their Rock of Ages, and believe in Him and follow Him.

Our members at Immanuel remember Martha as a neat lady, a nice person, soft-spoken, and often quiet. She was a “second mom” to one gentleman I spoke to. But that is not why we are here today. We have come to pay our last respects to Martha and console her mourning family and friends, yet we worship and praise the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thanking our Triune God for the gift of Martha and how He blessed us through her. He gave her the gift of salvation itself as her favorite hymn says, “Thou must save, and Thou alone.” We praise our Father in heaven for sending His only-begotten Son to save Martha and us, for calling her to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word. Christ died and rose for your salvation, too.

I had the honor of serving Martha as her pastor, paying her a visit at Westview about once a month since last April. I would leave a bulletin if she was resting and then circle back that same day or week to see her again. My visits with her would focus on one of the Scripture readings of the week, a hymn, and a prayer. The bulletins and devotionals later were joined by a CD player and recordings of our Sunday services at Immanuel.

My last visit to Martha was last Wednesday the 27th between 2:30 and 3:00 in the afternoon. She was agitated, far more than usual. I read a portion of the Gospel of John, Jesus’ first miracle at Cana. She was really struggling. We now know why. And then I said, “Martha, will you pray with me? Our Father….” She was unable to join in that time, as she had with me and many of you up until recently, but she calmed down and had some peace. And she joined her Lord in heaven that very day, two days before her 100th baptismal birthday.

It is often hard to see our loved ones age and lose their former strength and to notice when they forget. We ache and grown with all creation in expectation of Judgment Day, the Last Day, Resurrection Day, when our bodies will rise, be like Jesus’ glorious body, and be rejoined to our souls. Jesus returns to give eternal life to you and Martha and all who believe in Christ.

Martha may have never known my name, but she knew my uniform and the gifts of Christ shared with her. She may have forgotten familiar names and faces, but there were those moments of “remembering,” when the light in her eyes and her words expressed that she recognized that voice, that laugh, that Word of the Lord, and the prayer Jesus taught us. The Lord’s Prayer was so deep in her that she would never forget the comfort of Christ. She could not always verbalize her thanks the way she used to, but she did value the visits of her family and longtime friends.

By faith, Martha Sene clung to the Rock of Ages. And she had hope in this life and a hiding place in the Lord Jesus when she drew her fleeting breath and as her eyelids closed.


In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Funeral Sermon for Norma Goodman, 22 January 2010

Rev. Paul J Cain

Matthew 11:28-30

Christ Will Take Care of You

Funeral Service Sermon for Norma Jean (Deines) Goodman

Friday of Epiphany II, 22 January 2010

(Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming)

At Kane Funeral Home

In the Name of Jesus. Amen

Jesus has words of comfort for all who mourn Norma Goodman:.. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I did not have the privilege of knowing Norma in this life. You did. So I ask, is there any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy? Yes, says St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians. Christ is not merely a message of encouragement, but encouragement personified. His love comforts us because God in Christ loved us first so that we can love one another. The Holy Spirit is bestowed on all Christians. The Spirit delivers the gift of forgiveness Christ won on the cross. And yes, Jesus has affection and sympathy for you and all for whom He died, including Norma Jean Goodman.

She was confirmed at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming on May 20, 1945, with a confirmation verse of John 3:16. She confessed with her own heart, mind, and mouth the faith into which she was baptized, washed in the blood of the Lamb.

For God so loved Norma that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer, die, and rise in victory for Norma, so that believing in Jesus as the Savior from sin, death, and the devil, Norma has not perished eternally but Norma has eternal life. It is one thing to read or memorize and recite John 3:16. It is another to hear the comfort of Christ for yourself with your name in the blank right where Norma’s was.

Yet, in this world we do have trouble. Jesus was very correct in His prediction. We have trouble, suffering, and death to face. We carry a “cross” of sorts, the burdens God has allowed to come into our lives. Why? Well, things happen for a reason. He wants to you come to faith. He wants you to believe in His Son whom He sent for you. Hard times test our faith. God intends that our faith in Him is strengthened through the struggles that we face. But sometimes we don’t want to hear Him. So he gets our attention another way. And then, we hear His Word.

Jesus died on the Old Rugged Cross to do what your cross bearing could never do. He reconciled you to God. He took your sins and dumped them in the bottom of the sea. His gifts prepare you for the last day, the restoration of the Garden of Eden on the Last Day, Judgment Day, Resurrection Day, the Day of the new heaven and earth.

Imagine! The tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? All Christians will share together the joys of Christ. I can just imagine the garden full of flowers, like those mentioned in the psalm. Norma enjoyed flowers. She could even see bright ones in good lighting through her peripheral vision even after macular degeneration rendered her nearly blind. On the Last Day, Resurrection Day, God will heal everything He had not healed in this life. She will see again.

Jesus invites you to rest in Him, because He has come for you and to you. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Rest in Christ. God will take care of you…in Christ. He gives and gives and gives His Gifts. His love for you will never run out. His forgiveness is unending. Hope in Christ endures forever.

Stanza 5:

Come to Him all who need heavenly rest, Christ will take care of you;

He gave Himself at our Father’s request, Christ surely died for you.

Final Refrain

Christ gives His Gifts to you: Won on the Cross, Delivered today;

Christ gives His Gifts to you: Word, water, wine, and bread.

Stanza 5 and Final Refrain: Paul J Cain, 2010


In the Name of Jesus. Amen.