Monday, June 28, 2010

Sermon for 27 June 2010, Proper 08C

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

1 Kings 19:9b-21

Seven Thousand in Israel

(Proper 8) The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, 27 June 2010

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

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

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. That is our prayer this morning from Psalm 16. It was also Elijah’s prayer. He thought he was fleeing for his life. Queen Jezebel and King Ahab were bad news. “He did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all the kings who were before him.” Ahab worshiped Baal and Asherah and even sacrificed two of his own sons to them. Elijah predicted a drought and for three years there was no rain. The prophet confronted the king. Eventually Elijah faced off with the priests of Baal—you may remember how the Lord accepted Elijah’s sacrifice. The people, for that day at least, recognized that the Lord was God. The Lord sent rain shortly after the false priests were slaughtered. And the queen was none too pleased with Elijah. He shows he is human just like any pastor or prophet. He ran away into the wilderness out of fear of Jezebel’s wrath. He was discouraged and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” The Lord sent an angel and provided nourishment, but by verse 9, Elijah is staying in a cave.

9bBehold, the word of the Lord came to [Elijah], and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Good question. Search the Scriptures and you will never find a solitary believer. The Lord always gathers them together. Besides, a prophet’s place is where the Lord puts him—with his people, not as a hermit in the wilderness. God’s people belong together, gathered around the Lord’s gifts on the Lord’s Day.

9bBehold, the word of the Lord came to [Elijah], and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Elijah ran away from Israel out of fear of Ahab and Jezebel, fearing for his life. In despair, he offered his life back to God so that the Lord would take him away from all his troubles, and now, it appears he wants to live but is fearful of the king and queen. And how does the Lord respond? 11And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

CPR: “We are amazed at Elijah’s lack of confidence in the Lord’s calling, but what is even more astounding is the Lord’s unending patience with Elijah and his complaint—and with us as well, “O you of little faith” (Matthew 8:26). The Lord could have justifiably given up on Elijah because of his lack of confidence, but He doesn’t. In fact the Lord goes to great lengths to “resurrect” Elijah and his faith, not by reprimand, but by demonstrating that He comes to him, not in power only, but in a soft gentle whisper [, His Word]. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). And in this particular instance, the Lord’s grace is [clearly made known]: not only does He allow Elijah to [repeat] his indulgent paranoia with the repetition of “I, even I only, am left,” but the Lord then also offers him the honor of anointing two kings and a prophet, Elisha, to succeed himself.”

And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” The Lord asks the same question a second time. Has Elijah learned anything?

14He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” Compare the Lord’s question and Elijah’s answer to what was said before. It’s the same thing until the Lord’s response. That is different. The Lord is not done with Elijah quite yet. Sometimes the names trip us up in the next part because of how hard they are to pronounce. Focus instead upon what these people are given to do.

15And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Names may be hard to say and otherwise confusing, but they are important. In Scripture, people often do what their name means. Hazael means “the one who sees God.” That’s good to hear, especially for the future king of a pagan nation like Syria. Jehu means “Yahweh is He, the Lord is He,” a name which reveals he would serve the Lord, the one true God. While not a perfect king, Jehu would purge the pagan descendants of Ahab and the prophets of Baal from Israel. And then there is Elisha, meaning “the Lord is salvation, Yahweh is salvation,” similar to the name Elijah, which means “The Lord is God, Yahweh is God.” We hear no more whining from Elijah. He is off to do what the Lord instructed, for he is not alone.

Not only is the Lord with Him, as He is with you during your times of trouble, disappointment, and discouragement, there are “seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal.” Elijah was not “the only one left.” There were 7,000 other faithful believers who had not committed spiritual adultery with a false god. Always, always, always, the Lord preserves at least a faithful remnant. He has preserved at least some believers all through history from Adam and Eve to Jesus and from Jesus through two thousand years to Christians today.

This as a good reminder for us. We look around our world and wonder where the faithful Christians are. We do see them remaining faithful, even under persecution and execution. We look around our community and are in shock witnessing services in Christian churches without even the name of Jesus mentioned, without the proclamation of the Resurrection as the main message. And still, we rejoice to hear the Gospel preached from some other pulpits and sung from some other pews. We look around our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, especially in a Convention year, and wonder at the problems we see in doctrine and practice. Yet, there is still the comfort of knowing that we are not alone. There are more than seven thousand left in the Spiritual Israel. We rejoice in confessing the faith together with our sister Wyoming District congregations and with faithful Lutheran and Christian congregations, pastors and laypeople around the world. Always, always, always, the Lord preserves a faithful remnant. And they need the faithful service of one of their own, a faithful pastor and prophet like Elijah.

19So he [Elijah] departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

Many of you are familiar with agriculture, farms, and ranch life. You may have heard stories about teams of oxen on the farm or on the Oregon Trail, but I doubt if you’ve ever heard of a servant of the Lord walking up to a farmer on his tractor and putting a pastor’s stole around his neck and then walking away. That’s what happened to a farmer by the name of Elisha. He quickly says his goodbyes. To show there was no turning back, he sacrificed the oxen, held a barbeque and left for good with Elijah.

First Kings ends with Elisha in the background. By 2 Kings 2, Elijah is taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire. Elisha begins his ministry. The prophecies given Elijah continue to be fulfilled. Hazael becomes king of Syria in 2 Kings 8. Jehu ascends Israel’s throne in chapter nine.

CPR: “So quickly after his triumph over the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, we see Elijah running off on his own, fleeing from whatever God’s next agenda for him might be. He’d decided that his partnership with the Lord was a bust; God could go ahead and do whatever He was going to do, but count [me] out—[Elijah thought he] was better off dead. We humans are always caught between our own plan and the one God wills for us. But God, in His grace, doesn’t accomplish His will independent of us, despite our rebellion. He accomplishes His will through [His people], letting us remain and work…with Him.” We are never alone with the Lord by our side. We are not alone when the Lord gathers His people together to receive His gifts, tell the good news, and comfort one another.

Names may be hard to say and otherwise confusing, but they are important. In scripture, people often do what their name means. Jesus means “the Lord saves.” The angel told Mary to give him this name, for “He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus was the faithful remnant in His day—all of Israel reduced to one person. And from Him the new Israel began to grow. First twelve, then 120, then over 3,000 on the First Christian Pentecost. Always, always, always the Lord preserves a faithful remnant of His people, “seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” The Lord preserves you in Jesus, especially when you feel like discouraged Elijah in the wilderness. Jesus is the answer to the prayer of Psalm 16: Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. Amen.

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

Wedding Sermon for William David Ford and April Robin Shaw

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love and Christ

Wedding Sermon for William David Ford and April Robin Shaw

Saturday of Pentecost IV, 26 June 2010

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

April and William, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is text you chose together for your wedding day sermon. In our premarital sessions together we studied many Scripture texts about love and marriage. We got to the heart of the matter, clearing up personal or cultural misunderstandings and misuses of them. So too this afternoon, I want to share with your loved ones what 1 Corinthians 13 truly says.

Love is patient and kind. Are we? Love does not envy or boast. Do we? Love is not arrogant or rude. We can be. Love does not insist on its own way. We often do. Love is not irritable or resentful. Frequently we are. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. We often defend our wrongs and prefer a pretty lie over an ugly truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. We’re not so perseverant, trusting, or hopeful. Love never ends. Yet, human love struggles at times.

Heard the way I just read it—with all of those annoying, yet true comments—one hears law, condemnation, past, present, and future failure, and the consequences of our sin. All those things are true. And even though they are unpleasant to hear, they prepare us for an even deeper, Gospel-centered and Christ-focused proper understanding of this famous text on love.

Love is patient and kind and Jesus truly was. Love does not envy or boast and Jesus never did. Love is not arrogant or rude and Jesus wasn’t either. Love does not insist on its own way. Jesus followed and taught His Father’s way. Love is not irritable or resentful. Jesus endured mocking and abuse. Jesus did not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never ends. Since Scripture teaches us that God is love and that Jesus is God, substituting Jesus’ Name for Love in this text gives it the deeper, comforting meaning we have been hoping for. God’s love in Christ is reconciliation, a new beginning, forgiveness, and peace.

While not originally intended only for Christian marriage, 1 Corinthians 13 certainly is a wonderful guide for two Christians joined as husband and wife. Without Christ at the heart of your home, this text will revert to the previous law-dominated meaning. And so we apply it for your real life together.

Love is patient and kind. You say “I will” today to promise love as an action beyond a mere emotion. It’s hard to be patient when the railroad changes your spouse’s schedule at the last minute. Love is eager to repent and eager to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.

Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It is a challenge to kindly explain why one of your spouse’s cherished possessions isn’t the most appropriate item to find in the living room of your household together.

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love is the first to admit wrong. Isn’t this section one of the hardest? Patiently, kindly, and clearly try to persuade your beloved of your proposed course of action, but don’t insist. There may be times when the loving thing is to yield when truth is not at stake.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Life doesn’t always work out the way we expect. We endure many things that we cannot understand. Often, hardship leads to great things. We sometimes can clearly see in the rearview mirror of life how we were wrong. It never hurts to admit that to those we have hurt in the past and ask for their forgiveness.

Love never ends. Today you pledge in holy love until life’s end. That’s not a small promise. It is, in many ways, a fresh start. God’s Word and a congregation of fellow Christians like this one is the support you need to strengthen and preserve you in the true faith until life everlasting. Here you will hear God’s Word and receive gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. God wants you to be happy, yes, but content and joyful in Him. “Love never ends” is a final reminder of the frailty of our own love and the eternal love of the Father who gave His only Son to death on the cross. The Father accepted the Son’s sacrifice in your place and proved it by physically raising Jesus from the dead. God the Holy Spirit dwells with us now calling, gathering, making us holy, and keeping us together in Christ through the Word until He returns on the Last Day or calls us home.

We love because He first loved us. God bless you both as you reflect God’s love to one another. Amen.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sermon for 20 June 2010, Proper 07

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

Luke 8:26-39

Go In Peace

(Proper 7) The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 20 June 2007 (Father’s Day)

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

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

What is your name? It’s a basic question in human conversation.

This morning, Divine service began with a name: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Shortly after that invocation, we heard two more names during the rite of Holy Baptism answering the question, “How are you named?” Parents answered for their children and two new children of God received their “first names” in the Triune name of the Lord.

Jesus asks a very similar question in the Holy Gospel this day: What is your name? He has great interest in people. Last Sunday, Jesus healed a sinful woman and was served by faithful women. After that text and before today’s reading from Luke 8, He tells the parable of the sower, explains why He tells parables, reminds us to not put our light under a jar, and to hear the Word of God. After calming a storm, we hear the following:

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

A simple question: What is your name? It had consequences. This group of many demons knew who Jesus was. They knew He was the son of the Most High God. And these demons knew He had authority over them—authority to judge, condemn, and torment. They didn’t want to go back to hell. So, in an exorcism that reminds us we are not in Jewish lands, a legion of demons enters a herd of pigs and is drowned. This story isn’t really kosher. And there was an immediate reaction from the owners.

34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

Jesus, please leave. The people saw great power in the name of Jesus, but they feared it was only for judgment. The man who had been healed of demonic affliction knew better. There is healing and comfort in the name of Jesus. And he told all who would listen how much Jesus had done for Him.

That is what Christians do on a Sunday morning. God speaks in His Word and we repeat these true words back to Him. We sing of His salvation in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We call upon the name of Jesus in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, and praise. We rarely see such obvious miracles like the exorcism from Luke 8, yet ignore the miraculous of the every day.

As a pastor, I am honestly amazed when people come to church. And not just on Sundays in the summertime. I am humbled to see more of you in Bible class to study the book of Revelation that we had even during the spring, winter, and previous fall. Thanks be to God! I am amazed how God miraculously claims sinful human beings through water and His Word. I rejoice that Words of forgiveness create the reality of forgiveness, even as Jesus says “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” to give you forgiveness, life and salvation.

This morning, I would also like to share with you a little of what life is like “behind the scenes” for a pastor. There’s always plenty to do in the Lord’s service. Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, and your service to the Lord and this congregation. One of the things that is surprising to new Christians (and new pastors) is that there is much that is so…ordinary going on.

Children are born. Emergencies come up. Family and relationships face crises. There are joys and sorrows and tears for both. We say goodbye to loved ones who fall asleep in Christ. And all along the way we have the Word of Christ. He promises to dwell with us where two or three are gathered in His Name.

Yes, when a communion Sunday comes along, I intentionally plan shorter sermons than for non-communion Sundays. Some weeks I get more visits done than others. Occasionally the school dominates my attention because of high-priority events there.

Whether I am writing a sermon or preparing Bible Class, leading chapel for Martin Luther Grammar School or leading Sunday Divine Service, visiting shut-ins at home or in the nursing home, or doing other evening visits or attending meetings, the Lord is at work in humble means: words, water, bread, wine, and his Christians hearing and doing His Word.

What is your name? You are a Christian, a little Christ, adopted into God’s family by water and the Word, In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, June 14, 2010

FW: Sermon for 13 June 2010, Proper 06C

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

Luke 7:36-8:3

Go In Peace

(Proper 6) The Third Sunday after Pentecost

13 June 2007 (Sunday Before Father's Day)

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

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

"Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."

To paraphrase, Jesus said, "The forgiveness of sins means something to one who has sins." You may have heard me say that before. "Peace T be with you" is what the newly baptized hear after they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. "Depart T in peace" is the blessing you hear as you are about to leave the Lord's Table, having received the Body and Blood of your Lord for the forgiveness of your sins. At Divine Service, and a funeral, we sing or say "Lord, now You let Your servant go in peace…" It is the forgiveness of sins that makes heaven possible for all of us. "Go in peace" are Jesus' words to a sinner in need of forgiveness. The forgiveness of sins means something to one who has sins—just ask King David. Forgiveness means peace with God in Christ. "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and T give you peace." "Peace" is the final word you hear proclaimed by the Lord's servant before the final hymn.

36One of the Pharisees asked [Jesus] to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. 37And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." 40And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."

Jesus will share a parable with this Pharisee named Simon. We know little about him, but we do know that he doubted whether Jesus was even a prophet because of this woman. We also know that he felt superior to the sinner at Jesus' feet. And, it is likely that he didn't consider his sins to be that serious. Jesus reminds him how dangerously important our debt of sin really is.

41"A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly."

Simon can decipher the parable. Can he apply it to himself? Did he even see the need to apply it to himself?

44Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." 48And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" 50And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

We hear no more about this Simon the Pharisee by name. It is perhaps obvious he understood the difference between the salary for 50 days versus that for 500 days. His response to Jesus' words and deeds is not recorded for us in the Bible. Not only does Jesus teach us that the forgiveness of sins means something to one who has sins, he also reminds us that he who is forgiven little, loves little. And that hits us too close to home. Love is not merely a thought or a feeling. Love is a verb, beyond mere words and thoughts. True love is always an action, a sacrifice of self for the sake of another.

Christians are not better than non-Christians. That mindset would only make us hypocrites. As human beings, we tend to think of some sins as greater than others. To put it another way, we consider our own sins to be less serious, less shameful, less damning than the sins of other people. In this world, there may be fewer consequences for some sins rather than others, but in God's eyes, by His standard, all sins are equally sins and even one sin deserves eternal punishment.

Christians are not better than non-Christians. The real difference between believers and non-believers is that we have faith in Christ and are forgiven by Him. That's what really matters. Unfaith has neither of these blessings. That's what we want for the unbelievers we know and love—that they would come to faith in Christ and have His forgiveness, His peace.

8:1Soon afterward he [Jesus] went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

By this point, many of you may think that this is an odd text for the Sunday before Father's Day. And it is, especially because the women outshine the men at the end of Luke 7 and beginning of Luke 8. The women provide for Jesus and the twelve. They provide for them out of their means, from what the Lord has provided to them for their needs and also for the Lord's work. They care for the Lord's messengers for the sake of the Lord's message.

It is a message of the good news of the kingdom of God. It is a message of peace with God and forgiveness through Christ. Faith accompanied miracles: women had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. The wife of King Herod's own household manager was among these women following Jesus. Joanna's means may have been very significant.

Yes this is an odd text leading into Father's Day next weekend, for the women outshine the men in this text. They have sat at Jesus' feet, gladly hearing the Word of the Lord, joyfully giving and serving. The unnamed woman of Luke 7 worshiped at Jesus' feet. Fathers, consider this text a counter-example, where men fail to believe in the One God has sent, where the men don't "get it" and the women do by faith . Thank the Lord for faithful women who turn the men in their lives to the Lord.

But this text was not chosen for today because it is nearing Father's Day. No. It was provided for us by the Three-Year lectionary because today is a Sunday that falls between June 12 and June 18. You will hear these three readings three years from now on the Sunday that falls between June 12th and 18th.

We do thank God this coming week and every day for our fathers, especially Christian fathers who carry out their Christian vocation as spiritual head of household by bringing their families to church, leading family devotions, praying with wife and children, living the Christian faith at home, and talking about spiritual things with their families throughout the week. Fathers are fed at Bible Class and Divine Service so that they can remain strong and so they can feed others.

The head of household is to provide for his family's further instruction in the faith at home, and through Sunday School, VBS, and catechism instruction. He is given to teach the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, as well as Holy Baptism, the Office of the Keys and Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar. Christian fathers are also instructed to not provoke their children to anger, but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We thank the Lord for men like Joseph, the husband of Mary, who was the guardian and protector of the young Jesus.

We also thank the Lord for all the faithful men who serve as fathers in the faith, even if they have no children of their own—or at least no little ones at home. We thank God for their faithfulness to the Lord. The focus this morning remains on Christ, as it well next Sunday even on Father's Day, just as Christ is the focus of Christian worship on Mother's Day, the Fourth of July, a wedding, a funeral, or any worship service in the church. That is but another way we remain faithful to the Lord.

Jesus said, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."

It is the forgiveness of sins that makes heaven possible for all of us. "Go in peace" are Jesus' words to you, a sinner in need of forgiveness. The forgiveness of sins means something to one who has sins. Forgiveness means peace with God in Christ and peace among one another. Depart T in His Peace. Amen.

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

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FW: Sermon for 06 June 2010, Proper 05C

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

Luke 7:11-17


(Proper 5) The Second Sunday after Pentecost

06 June 2010

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

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

O Christ, Who Shared Our Mortal Life LSB 552

1 O Christ, who shared our mortal life

And ended death's long reign,

Who healed the sick and raised the dead

And bore our grief and pain:

We know our years on earth are few,

That death is always near.

Come now to us, O Lord of Life;

Bring hope that conquers fear!

Our Lord Jesus was not born into a world of make-believe, a world of "Once upon a time…" stories. No. He bore our grief and pain. He shared our mortal life. He knew what real life is like. And he came to bring life unlike humanity had ever seen before, a full human-ness we had lost in the Garden of Eden. Prior to this text, Jesus had just healed the servant of a Roman Centurion, a Roman Centurion with faith in the One True God. His servant was near death, yet Jesus healed with a mere word. Now, in a town called Nain, we are given a preview of Resurrection Day.

11Soon afterward [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."

Jesus had compassion on her. This woman was in need of someone to care. According to the standards of her culture, this woman had lost everything. We are told she was a widow—we all know that means that she had lost her husband. And now, her son, her only-begotten son whom she loved, had died. This was a rough funeral for her, and those around her. They all needed comfort. They needed more than words, more than "it's gonna be all right," more than casseroles, more than nice music, more than a house full of family and close friends. This woman mourns for her son, her hope, her livelihood, her very future. And he's now gone.

Often, we hear the words St. Luke was given by the Holy Spirit to describe these events and we forget their punch, their emotional impact. Especially when we read texts like this, we go by so fast, that we miss the important details of Jesus' pastoral care. Jesus' compassion identifies and suffers with the person in need. Crying before, during, or after a funeral is not sin. Not having faith in God and Christ and mourning as if there is no hope—that is sin because it is unbelief. Jesus Himself wept at the death of Lazarus. A short time later Jesus raised Him from the dead. Shedding tears is part of being human—male and female. It is an expression of a deep love. We miss those who have died because we still love them. Jesus does not give out greeting card platitudes. He does not speak of generic love from a generic "god," but instead points her to Himself, God in the flesh, and the hope He and only He can bring. That is why He says, "Do not weep."

7 Raising of the widow's son (Luke 7:11–17)

The ranks of death with trophy grim

Through ancient streets once trod

And suddenly confronted You,

The mighty Son of God.

A widow's tears evoked Your Word;

You stopped the bearers' tread.

"Weep not!" in pity then You spoke

To her whose son was dead.

14Then he [Jesus] came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." 15And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!" 17And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

On TV news reports from the Middle East you can see people carrying caskets on their shoulders draped with their tribal, party, or national flag. Mourners gather around so closely in procession it makes us uncomfortable. We're used to personal space. We're used to land, lots of land and the starry skies above. But really, we're most uncomfortable with death. We are part of a culture that will pay nearly anything to delay, deny, or prevent the reality of death. We don't want to talk about it, even when the time has come for us or a loved one. We want to put off making the arrangements. We are in denial, shock, pain. We are helpless against this foe.

We've all been part of a funeral procession. People are dressed in their finest, like a Sunday morning. Pallbearers are largely ceremonial these days, for the hearse does most of the work. Police cars suspend normal traffic laws as the line of cars with headlights glowing heads for a loved one's final resting place. But never, never, never, has the procession been interrupted like this!

8 The ranks of death, the Lord of Life

Stood face to face that hour;

And You took up the age-old strife

With words of awesome pow'r.

"Young man, arise!" You ordered loud,

And death defeated lay.

The widow's son cast off his shroud

And strode from death away.

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life—not merely on the Last Day, Judgment Day, Resurrection Day—He is the Resurrection and the Life now. We come to the Father only through Him. Here in Luke 7, Jesus gives a preview of how He would raise Lazarus and how He Himself would be raised in Luke 24. Death is powerless against the One who gives Life. The young man sat up, began to speak, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. "Do not weep" makes sense because of Jesus' powerful word of Gospel, of Resurrection: "Young man, I say to you, arise."

At your baptism into Christ, you died to sin. You were raised to new life in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself said to you, "Arise." The white garment many of you wore was not merely a preview of a white funeral pall covering a casket. It is a preview of those in white robes, including you, gathered in worship around the Lamb on His throne. You are invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb. White robes are our wedding clothes. He will again say to you, Arise!

Today we are gathered by the Lord Himself around the His altar along with angels, archangels, and the company of heaven's saints. The Lord's Supper is a foretaste of the feast to come. We sing along with saints and angels. Until you reach heaven yourself, you will never be closer to your loved ones who have died in Christ than when you commune at the Lord's Table. Heaven and earth intersect. The Lord puts into your mouth His own Body and Blood along with the bread and wine for the forgiveness of your sins. He connects you to Himself with His Body and Blood, and therefore to all the living and sainted Christians into whom He has also put His Body and Blood. Death could not keep Jesus down, so those of us in Christ have nothing to fear of this ancient enemy. You have been forgiven. We are blessed with Holy Communion, what an ancient pastor called the "medicine of immortality" and "antidote to death."

4 Death's power holds us still in thrall

And bears us toward the tomb.

Death's dark'ning cloud hangs like a pall

That threatens earth with doom.

But You have broken death's embrace

And torn away its sting.

Restore to life our mortal race!

Raise us, O Risen King!

Text: © 2003 GIA Publications, Inc. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License .NET, number 100010059.

Hymn 552 speaks of comfort. All good hymns do. God has visited His people. And He still does today. The Lord gives His Word and the Holy Spirit to nourish us with His Gifts: Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, Holy Communion. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all your sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise you and all the dead, and give eternal life to all believers in Christ. Jesus will say to you, "Arise. "This is most certainly true. Amen.

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

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FW: Sermon for 30 May 2010, Trinity Sunday

The Rev. Paul J Cain

John 8:48-59

One God in Three Persons

Trinity Sunday, First Sunday after Pentecost, 30 May 2010

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

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

One God in Three Persons. This is the simple truth. Yet, every Trinity Sunday, some explanation is in order.

Trinity. The word isn't in the Bible.

That is a true fact, but it is not the whole truth. The word may not be, but the concept is. One just can't say it in one word.

How would you explain one God in three persons and three persons in one God without speaking of Three Gods, demoting Christ and the Holy Spirit, or teaching about a "god" with multiple-personalities? Scripture clearly teaches three in one when Jesus tells us that disciples are made by teaching and by baptizing in the [one] Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

In order to teach this Bible concept, Christians came up with one new summary word: Trinity. Take "Tri" from triangle or tricycle and "unity" and put them together like the Cookie Monster teaches phonics on Sesame Street, and you get "Trinity."

You learned the Apostles' Creed from the Small Catechism. It got its name to honor the continued teachings of Christ and His apostles. By the year 325, false teachers had arisen that were not teaching about God from the Scriptures. In order to correct this, Christians composed a creed that said what the Scriptures said about Father, Son and Spirit being one God in three persons. The Nicene Creed was written at Nicaea and Constantinople, sites of two ancient Church Councils or conventions. The third universal or ecumenical creed was named in honor of the great defender of the Trinity, St. Athanasius. This morning, our hymns are a sung version of this creed, one we confessed responsively just before the sermon.

And the creed explains in great detail the very simple point of today's Holy Gospel: Jesus is God. There are three persons in One God.

The Jews answered [Jesus] him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?"

Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."

The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?"

Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad."

So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Picking up stones to throw at Jesus never seems like a good idea to me. Why did these Jews do so? They thought Jesus was…well, many things.

A Samaritan. This was a way to really run a guy down. Jews and Samaritans didn't get along. After the united kingdom of Saul, David, and Solomon split, the conquerors resettled the land with non-Jews who intermarried with the remnant of the so-called 10 lost tribes. They weren't ever totally lost. The folks down south in Judah claimed they had lost the true religion and pure blood of their ancestors. Good Samaritans were rare, if not non-existent in the eyes of most Jews of the time.

A demon. Yes, this is a common complaint against Jesus. You think people today "demonize" their opponents? This is where that idea comes from. Jesus was possessed or at least taught demonic ideas—or so these Jews thought.

The real problem that Jesus was to these Jews and the official leaders of the day was what they considered to be blasphemy, Jesus saying He was sent from God, spoke for God, was the Son of God, and therefore IS God. Their zeal for protecting God from pretenders ignored the One True God in the flesh in their midst.

We spend our grammar school years learning about words. We learn to read before we read in order to learn. And we learn about verbs. We learn about tenses. We sometimes introduce them to children as past, present, and future. Jesus turns all of those on their head when He simply says: I am.

I am is a loaded phrase, especially in Old Testament Hebrew. I AM is . one name by which God reveals Himself to His ancient people. And this isn't the first time Jesus has publicly said who He was by saying I "equals sign" God. I am the door. I am the vine. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I AM says, I and the Father are One. And so the people brought out their granite baseballs.

Picking up stones to throw at Jesus never seems like a good idea to me, especially today, but people do. They don't like the Jesus of the Bible, so they throw a stone. They don't like hearing their pet sins condemned by Jesus, so they call Him old-fashioned. They don't like His claim of authority over them and their lives and their actions, so they deny His divinity, His truth, or even His very existence. And before we get too proud, we all realize that even Christians at times do the same thing. It is easy to agree with the Word in public where you have the support of other Christians. It is harder to put the Word in practice when no one else is watching…except God Himself.

We continue to pray for steadfastness in the Word. We pray for those who are persecuted to the death for holding to the Word above all. We pray for those who are imprisoned merely for their confession of Christ. We pray for those who face subtle but real persecution in our land for not "getting with the times," "going with the flow," or condoning what "everyone" allegedly does.

It is particularly popular to say that all roads lead to the same God. If a group, teacher, or body of teachings denies the clear self-disclosed message of who Jesus is and what He has done for you, one is not taking Christianity or the Bible at face value. No, the Father of Jesus cannot be the God of Muhammad and Islam. Even Jews who reject their Messiah cannot claim a separate salvation on the basis of the Hebrew Scriptures. Denying the existence of Adam and Eve, the historical nature of Jonah, the Virgin Birth and Jesus' physical Resurrection are all anti-Christ and cannot be properly believed, promoted, or tolerated in Biblical Christianity.

We conclude where we began: One God in three Persons. Trinity. Tri-unity. One in three and three in one. Simple, Biblical, yet impossibly complex. It is a statement of belief, of faith, not of complete comprehension. Thus Christians throughout the centuries have explained the Trinity.

We have many Bible texts including "in the Name," "I and the Father are One," "The Lord our God, the Lord is One," and many others.

Christians composed the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.

They composed the Athanasian Creed.

Shortly after the Nicene Creed was first confessed, St. Patrick taught the Trinity to the Irish using a hymn he wrote and the famous shamrock.

By 1679, a rather creative author wrote the hymn that serves as all of our hymns this morning.

And while the words may be new, the teachings are the same, old Bible truth: One God in three persons. Amen.

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

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FW: Wedding Sermon for Jess Holmgren and Stacy Roush

The Rev. Paul J Cain

1 John 4:13-21

Because He First Loved Us

Saturday after Pentecost, 29 May 2010

Wedding Sermon for Jess Holmgren and Stacy Roush

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

A little boy playing in the mud. A little girl playing with dolls. You can picture the scenes in your mind. There's nothing unusual in either, but… Who knew that a young boy's increasingly bigger and deeper holes around the neighborhood or in the field would to lead to Wyoming and a career as a geologist! And who could have imagined that the little doll hospital in a young girl's room would lead to North Dakota and a doctorate in physical therapy!

We rock back-and-forth before we crawl and crawl before we wobble and wobble before we walk and walk before we run. And we learn what to say as human beings by listening to our parents. We learn what to believe and say as Christians by listening to our heavenly Father. We love because He first loved us.

Norman Nagel: "Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. Music is drawn into this thankfulness and praise, enlarging and elevating the adoration of our gracious giver God.

"Saying back to Him what he has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure. Most true and sure is His name, which he put upon us with the water of our Baptism. We are His. This we acknowledge at the beginning of the Divine Service [and today's service]. Where His name is, there is He. Before Him we acknowledge that we are sinners, and we plead for forgiveness. His forgiveness is given us, and we, freed and forgiven, acclaim Him as our great and gracious God as we apply to ourselves the words He has used to make Himself known to us.

"The rhythm of our [Christian] worship is from Him to us, and then from us back to Him. He gives His gifts, and together we receive and extol them… (Lutheran Worship, p. 6)

Simply said: "We love because he first loved us." This is the basic truth St. John communicates in 1 John 4: By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Something else happened in Laramie, Wyoming. You have the love friends have for one another that grew into romantic love. You two have a deeper commitment love in addition to that romantic love. You can express that love to one another even "When You Say Nothing at All." You reflect God's love in Christ to you when you love one another as friends, as you continue dating you whole life long, and as your words "I will" express your loving commitment to one another.

(Paraphrasing Vince Gill) "The smile on God's fact lets you know that He loves you. There's a truth in His Word saying He'll never leave you. The promise of Christ says He'll catch you if ever you fall. God says it best…when He gave His Son for you."

As you settle down in Casper, remember these words by Jaroslav Vajda of the Lord's blessing: "In this union I have joined you Husband and wife, Now, My children, live together As heirs of life: Each the other's gladness sharing, Each the other's burdens bearing, Now, My children, live together As heirs of life." Amen.

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

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FW: Sermon for 23 May 2010, The Day of Pentecost

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

Acts 2:1-21

All Together in One Place

The Day of Pentecost (Confirmation Sunday)

23 May 2010

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

(CPR Intro, Outline, Conclusion) Today is Pentecost. [The name Pentecost means that it has been 50 days since Passover and Easter. This Pentecost we celebration Confirmation Sunday. Today three young adults will acknowledge before God and men the gifts of God that they received at their Baptism and will also confess the faith for themselves.] I might surprise many if I said that Pentecost was equally important to the Christian Church as both Christmas and Easter! Yes, we know that the birth of Christ was essential to our salvation, because if Jesus had not been born, He would not have been able to rescue us. Easter is also crucial in God's plan to save us because our Lord, through a cross, purchased our salvation by Jesus' shed blood payment for sin. Since Jesus has risen, we know His payment for sin was accepted. Easter Sunday provides all believers eternal life.

But Pentecost stands with Christmas and Easter as equally important! Why? Because, beginning with Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fills believers and spreads the Gospel! [The Holy Spirit delivers the forgiveness won by Christ's death and Resurrection.] By the Spirit's power, all are made aware of the Gospel's saving power, and all can be drawn [through the Word] by the Spirit's action to Christian faith and service.

[Disciples are made by means of baptizing and teaching God's Word.] John Stott wrote, "Without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable…there can be no life without the Life-giver, no understanding of sin without the Spirit of Truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christlikeness of character apart from the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and no effective witness without His power" (See CPR for citation).

So the Third Person of the Trinity provides the power for Christian faith, life, and growth. And here at the first [Christian] Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gets the Good News out! In [today's] passage from Acts, a huge assembly of people is made aware of the Gospel's saving power and is drawn by the Spirit's gracious work to a saving faith in Christ.

In the Spirit's Power, the Message of Jesus Christ is presented clearly for the Salvation of This Lost World.

I. The Spirit's miracle gets everyone's attention.

1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

A. The crowds hear the sound of a blowing, violent wind.

B. The disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit. 1. The Spirit gives the evidence: tongues of fire. 2. The Spirit gives the other languages: "other tongues."

[For example, consider the following: Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel, geheiliget werde dein Name, dein Reich komme, dein Wille geschehe, wie im Himmel, also auch auf Erden. Unser täglich Brot gib uns heute. Und vergib uns unsere Schuld, als wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern. Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung, sondern erlöse uns von dem Übel. Denn dein ist das Reich und die Kraft und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit. Amen.

Did that make any sense at all? Yet, to many of our ancestors, and others who know German, they would immediately recognize that as the Lord's prayer. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the ability to preach Christ crucified in languages they had not studied, yet languages that people in the crowd knew and understand so they could clearly hear the message of Jesus.]

II. [The Spirit's miracle gets everyone's attention,] But at first, the meaning of all this isn't clear to the people.

5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."

A. Some respond with surprise. 1. They are "bewildered", "amazed and astonished". 2. The devout Jews, for the most part, listened to the message.

B. Some responded with ridicule. 1. Drunkenness on new wine was the scoffers' explanation. 2. Unable to comprehend the supernatural, they [look for] a natural explanation. [Today, some who call themselves Christians deny every miracle in Scripture from the creation, world-wide flood, or crossing the Red Sea to the birth of Jesus by a virgin and His physical Resurrection from the dead.]

III. [The Spirit's miracle gets everyone's attention, But at first, the meaning of all this isn't clear to the people.] Then Peter explains this miracle of the Spirit.

14But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

A. Drunkenness is not the explanation. 1. It is only 9 a.m. 2. This was the time for morning prayers and sacrifice; no Jew was allowed to eat or drink before this time.

B. The crowds were witnessing the fulfillment of [the prophet] Joel's prophecy, the Spirit being poured out. 1. Peter's reference, Joel 2: 28-32, had full authority for devout Jews. 2. Related passages are found in Isaiah 2:2-3 and Micah 4:1.

C. The Holy Spirit's amazing miracle is that languages are not a barrier to that day's Gospel proclamation. 1. All hear "the mighty works of God" in their own tongue [—their own native language]. 2. These men shouldn't have known all these languages! They're all from Galilee! 3. True, but the Holy Spirit makes sure the Word of God will be effective.

In Acts 2, the Lord wanted the Gospel to be easily understood. Knowing the Gospel message and [having faith in Christ] is of crucial [and eternal] importance, both then and now.

IV. [The Spirit's miracle gets everyone's attention, But at first, the meaning of all this isn't clear to the people. Then Peter explains this miracle of the Spirit.] Now the message of salvation is clear indeed!

21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"

A. Christ has come! 1. The prophets always saw the First and Second [Comings] of Christ together. [We're used to seeing tall telephone poles or power poles alongside our roads in Nebraska and Wyoming. Often, we can see each one, all the way to the horizon. But sometimes, the road curves so that all of them line up and we only see one. That is how the Old Testament prophets through John the Baptizer saw Jesus' first and second comings. They saw His ministry and His work as Judge at the end of the world as the same event. As Christians, we live between the poles of the Cross and the Last Day and can see the difference.]

2. Verses 17-18 are fulfilled at the first Pentecost as needed and directed by the Lord today. 17'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. a. Prophecy is less a matter of foretelling future events. b. Prophecy is more a matter of "forthtelling" [or telling forth] the Gospel news of salvation in Christ.

3. Verses 19-20 are a clear reference to Christ's Second Advent [His Second Coming]. 19And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. [Remember the telephone poles? The Old Testament prophets didn't and probably couldn't tell the difference between Jesus' two comings because they only saw one telephone pole in the future. We live between Calvary and Judgment Day and understand the difference because the Lord has revealed it to us in His Word by God the Holy Spirit.]

4. The declaration of "the mighty works of God" above all includes the [Good Friday] death and Easter Resurrection of Christ! …this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it…

B. All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved! 1. The Holy Spirit draws hearts to faith (1 Corinthians 12:3) a. To call upon the Lord's name is to call [upon] Him [to help us]. b. In faith, we recognize that He alone can rescue us from the coming Day of Judgment and penalty of hell. 2. Salvation is available to everyone [who hears the Word]. 3. With the Holy Spirit's work, God now stands in immediate relationship with His people. a. A new world was presented to these devout Jews in Jerusalem. b. Christians were confessing what they had seen and heard, and the clear message was that in Jesus Christ, all answers were supplied for life today and eternal life as well. c. Peace, joy, love, forgiveness, and salvation come through [faith, a relationship with the Savior].

The Good News is that the power of God and the Word of God will triumph over all opposition. God will not, then or now, permit the message of His Son to be lost. We carry this Good News with us [every day]. [We live this life in the comfort and certainty of the Gospel. Again, today, we are all together in one place, gathered by the Lord Himself around His Gifts of Word and Sacrament. Three have been gathered by the Lord to commune for the first time. We receive His gifts with hands He has opened and sing with lips He has opened. Then, He leads us back to our daily vocations.]

[Today, we Christians are given to confess what we have seen and heard, the clear message that in Jesus Christ all answers are supplied for life today and eternal life as well.]

Verse: Alleluia. Alleluia. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Alleluia. Amen.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

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FW: Sermon for 16 May 2010, Easter 7C

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

Acts 1:15-26

Let Another Take His Office

Seventh Sunday of Easter

16 May 2007

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

(For a Lay Reader)

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

After reading about the Ascension of Our Lord in Acts 1 last Thursday, it is only natural for us to look to see what St. Luke has for us next in this chapter. What appears natural hasn't been so in practice, though. Until relatively recently, Acts 1:15-26 appeared to be among the most neglected texts in the New Testament. It was only appointed to be read in our churches according to the historic (one-year) lectionary on the festival of St. Matthias. February 24th doesn't appear on a Sunday very often, and then, the feast is often ignored if it falls during Lent. The Three Year lectionary we currently use also has this lesson for St. Matthias' Day and also for the Seventh Sunday of Easter every year. That will help Lutherans better understand what is supposed to take place at a call meeting.

This is an important reading for your consideration. Not only because it comes after the Ascension of our Lord, not only because it's what comes next, not only because it appears to be an ignored text—this is worthy of your consideration and careful attention today because of what it says. Since the text talks about the filling of Judas' vacancy and the first call meeting of Christians, it is an appropriate text to consider as we rejoice with our sister congregations preparing for the installation of new pastors. We should also keep praying for the new seminary graduates who do not yet have calls to congregations.

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120)…

St. Luke carefully lays down the timing of this call meeting in earlier and later context. Earlier, on the fortieth day since the Resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, hence, our large Paschal candle, in remembrance of His Resurrected life, which was lit at Easter Sunrise Matins (or the Easter Vigil), is now extinguished. Later, as Acts Chapter 2 begins, the day of Pentecost arrives, the fiftieth day. We can narrow the occurrence of this event in the life of the early church down to within a ten-day period.

And there were about 120 there. Only eleven of the Twelve are here. Judas' death left a vacancy. Many of the seventy or seventy-two sent out by Jesus are probably in attendance, too.

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry." (Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

We will continue with David's Spirit-given words from the Psalms shortly, but right now St. Peter's words have my attention. Did he get yours with his rather gruesome references to Judas? St. Luke in his Gospel account makes no previous reference to these things, but St. Matthew 27 satisfies our curiosity.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? See to it yourself." And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money." So they took counsel and bought with them the potter's field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me."

With the money Judas earned for betraying Jesus, the Chief Priests and the elders bought a field as a burial place for strangers. Blood money bought the Akeldama, the Field of Blood.

I won't spend long on the other, more gruesome aspect. Judas, not believing that even Jesus could help him—an incorrect thought, I might add—and went and hung himself. Then, either due to divine intervention or simply the passage of time, Acts 1:18 happened. Let's leave it at that.

St. Peter continued, "For it is written in the Book of Psalms, " 'May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it'; and " 'Let another take his office.' The NIV translates the two different Greek words behind the English ones camp and office with one word: "place." That has been confusing and appeared to be contradictory to many people. 'May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it'; and " 'Let another take his office.' This makes it much clearer.

Thorough the centuries, men come and go, but the Office of the Holy Ministry remains. Judas' place of habitation is to remain deserted, but another will be called to the vacant office.

By common consent, St. Peter exercises the role we usually attribute to the congregational president or chairman. He leads the call meeting. Having first explained the need in a brief "congregational self-evaluation," he explains a part of the doctrine of the call as the District President often does in our Wyoming District. Peter elaborates on what will be in this very special set of call documents.

So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection."

Here is a unique qualification. Again, this is another example of not going for the least common denominator. Why settle for that? They didn't want just anyone. They wanted someone who knew the whole of what would be recorded in the four Gospel accounts. Apparently, only two men met this qualification.

And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. Joseph & Matthias…

Joseph was an extremely common name in ancient Jerusalem, so he is identified by his surname, Barsabbas, literally, son of Sabbas, the aged. His Roman name, Justus is also given, not unlike the use of Saul's Roman name, Paul. Multiple names are given to make sure exactly which person is being referred to. And then, the second candidate on the call list is Matthias.

Years ago, I am told, Concordia Seminary in St. Louis called a man to be a professor of systematic theology, to teach in an organized, systematic way the dogmas, or doctrines of Holy Scripture. He was recommended by name. That's not so unusual. What was unusual is that when they looked him up in the Synod directory, there were two men with the same first, middle and last names. One of the men received the call documents in the mail, accepted the call, and moved to St. Louis. After the fact, someone figured out that he was the wrong man! What history has shown since, is that he was an excellent scholar, translator, and teacher. While the call committee may have thought they made a mistake, the Lord didn't. The right man showed up. He was a faithful instrument of the Lord.

From your own personal experience, you know well that no human being is perfect. We all are sinners. We all have the same "old Adam" inside of us and have the same need for the forgiveness of sins won by Christ and delivered through means of grace by the Holy Spirit.

Congregation and pastor are given to one another to serve each other. The congregation cares for its pastor and the pastor cares for the congregation. It is like a marriage in many respects. Together Pastor and Congregation stand on the Word of God against the devil, the world, and their own sinful flesh, receiving the gift of forgiveness and telling others the good news about Jesus. Christians aren't perfect, but forgiven.

Your pastor is human, too. He is a servant with authority in the office of the Holy Ministry, not Superman. He is a sinner in need of forgiveness just like you are. He can be discouraged just like you. Do not despise preaching and God's Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it! Living Luther's meaning to the Third Commandment is probably the best thing you can do to support any pastor and nourish your faith.

What follows has much in common with Jesus' original choosing of the Twelve in Luke 6. In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Our Lord Himself places men into this Office. Our Lord's placing of men into the Office follows a pattern of elements: calling the disciples together, prayer, electing, and specifying either by naming, or laying on of hands. The pattern repeats itself here and in our congregations today.

And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

When the occasional scholar does speak to this text, there is one place of disagreement: did they vote, or literally cast lots as done in the Old Testament or at the foot of the cross.

So which is it? In favor of the view that this verse refers to election by ballot is the fact that the Greek here is not one of the regular terms for casting lots and the verb seems to refer to voting. If this is the case, the "lots" referred to would be the balloting counters given to the voters to deposit in the "ballot box." "The lot fell upon Matthias" would mean that he got the most votes and so the office was allotted to him. Also supporting this view is the text used to translate the King James or Authorized Version.

Favoring the interpretation that the reference is to drawing lots rather than casting ballots is the fact that "they cast lots" elsewhere refers to the falling of a lot.

The bottom line is very simple. We go to what is most certain and sure—the Lord.

About the only thing Matthias has going for him is that the Lord Jesus chose him. That was enough for the early church--and the church absolutely believed this. They knew Jesus had chosen the other eleven; you heard what Luke wrote in Luke 6: "And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles…" The method was a little different this time. The first time Jesus had done the choosing with his voice; this time he did his choosing with the casting of lots, no matter what that means. The result was the same. The Lord Jesus made the choice.

We go back to the text (Acts 1:24-25) and trace the decision to the Lord. And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

And so there is a happy ending, numerically speaking. Jesus now has His Twelve again. Just as there were 12 tribes of Israel, the Lord saw fit to call 12 disciples, 12 apostles. Completeness is the promised pattern. After Pentecost, which we observe next Sunday, there is no more mention of the Twelve apostles. They are out doing what the Lord called them to do. They were apostles, sent ones. They were sent, and off they went.

Because of those apostles going from Jerusalem to all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth, you have heard the Gospel. We have been gathered around the Lord's gifts. We know what vacancies are like. We are well-acquainted with the call process. We have called pastors over the decades to faithfully care for you as you are given to faithfully care for him and his family. He is given to administer the gifts of Christ as Christ instituted them. Together, pastor and people receive the Lord's forgiveness, forgive one another, and tell others about this good news so they can receive the same forgiveness. Your Lord's promises remain with you. He has not left you without comfort. His Word and Sacraments abide with you. His ministry continues. Amen.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

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