Thursday, March 14, 2013

Midweek Lenten Sermon for 13 March 2013 before Compline

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Drawn from the Four Gospels (LSB/ESV)
Wednesday of Lent IV, 13 March 2013
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Drawn from the Four Gospels    

When they had bound Jesus, they led him from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment and gave him over to Pontius Pilate, the governor. It was early. They themselves did not go into the judgment hall, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.
Pilate then went out to them, and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?” They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Then Pilate said to them, “Take him, then, and judge him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” So the word of Jesus was fulfilled, signifying by what death he should die.
The charges they brought against him were: “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding us to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “Do you say this for yourself, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Do you take me for a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have given you over to me. What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would have fought that I should not be given over to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not of this world.” Pilate therefore said to him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. I was born and I came into the world that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no fault in this man.”
The chief priests kept laying one charge after another against him, but he answered not a word. Pilate questioned him again, saying, “Do you answer nothing? See how many charges they lay against you.” Jesus answered him not a word. Pilate was utterly amazed. He said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no case against this man.”
They pressed their charges more vehemently: “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.” When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. When he learned that he belonged in Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him on to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem for those days.
When Herod saw Jesus, he was delighted, for he had long wished to see him because of what he had heard of him, and he hoped to see him do a miracle. He questioned Jesus repeatedly, but he gave him no answer. The chief priests and scribes stood there and vehemently accused him. Herod and his soldiers mocked him. They put a splendid robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that same day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this man before me as one subverting the people. See now, I have examined him before you and have found nothing in this man guilty of any of your charges against him, and neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Mark this, he has done nothing worthy of death. I will have him punished and release him.”
Now at the feast it was the governor’s custom to release to the crowd any one prisoner whom they asked for. They had then a notorious prisoner named Barabbas. He was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection in the city. Pilate knew that it was out of malice that the chief priests handed Jesus over. Therefore he said to them, “Do you want me to release for you Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?”
The chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. Pilate asked them again, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas.”
While Pilate was sitting in the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message: “Do not have anything to do with that man; I have suffered much over him today in a dream.”
Again Pilate addressed them, for he wished to release Jesus. He said to them, “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called Christ? What shall I do with him whom you call the King of the Jews?” They all cried out, “Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found no guilt worthy of death in him; I will therefore punish him and let him go.” They cried out all the louder, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers of the governor led him away into the praetorium. They gathered the whole band of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a purple robe on him. When they had woven a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and a reed in his right hand, and they knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. They knelt down and did him homage.
Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I bring him out to you that you may know I find him not guilty.” So Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”
When the chief priests and officers saw him, they cried, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I do not find him guilty.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was more afraid and went again into the judgment hall and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify you, and I have power to release you?” Jesus answered, “You would not have any power at all over me, unless it had been given to you from above. For that reason he who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
This prompted Pilate to go on trying to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar.”
When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement or, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was the Preparation of the Passover, about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your king!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said unto them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priest answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but rather a riot was under way, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this man; see to it yourselves.” Then all the people responded, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
Then Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, gave sentence that it should be as they demanded. He released to them Barabbas for whom they asked, the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder. He had Jesus flogged and then gave him over to their will to be crucified. The soldiers mocked him, stripped him of the purple robe, put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.
Here ends the Reading.

“Lord Jesus, Thou art going forth.” That’s one way to describe what is happening. Another way is: “They led Him.” We know the only-begotten Son was sent. We’re used to that. We’re comfortable with that. We like the picture of Him going forth. But we’re uncomfortable with Him being led. We’re uncomfortable with all the silence, aren’t we?
Why didn’t He speak up? They had to invent fake witnesses and that didn’t even work—they couldn’t agree. Even the charges against Him before Pilate changed. They went from “He stirs up the people by claiming to be a king” to “He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”
Jesus didn’t resist. He was silent most of the time. He only spoke briefly. He was led like a Lamb to the slaughter and did not open His mouth to defend Himself. He explained who He was and was not, but did not defend Himself. We’re uncomfortable with the silence because we’re uncomfortable with the injustice.
How many times was Jesus’ innocence proclaimed? “I find no case against this man.” Pilate later said, “I…have found nothing in this man guilty of any of your charges against him, and neither did Herod…H has done nothing worthy of death.” “I have found no guilt worthy of death in Him…” “See, I bring Him out to you that you may know I find Him not guilty.” “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I do not find Him guilty.” And Pilate washed his hands of the matter.
Those who brought Jesus to Pilate didn’t want justice. They wanted Jesus dead. Jesus’ silence makes us squirm.

Silence in general makes us squirm. There’s a time for silent self-examination during the Divine Service rite of confession and absolution. It always seems too long. During the season of Lent, there is more uncomfortable silence. No music sometimes! We’re uncomfortable with it, so we take that time to talk or discuss lighter matters rather than prepare for the service, examine our sinfulness using the Ten Commandments, and pray silently. And then the midweek service itself—prayer at the close of the day—there’s lots of silence in that, too! Isn’t somebody supposed to be doing something? It’s awful quiet! Did the organist forget her cue? Did pastor lose his place? It can’t be silence just for the sake of silence!
But it is. Silence gives us the uncomfortable opportunity to apply to ourselves the reason why Jesus went silently to an unjust death. The Just died for you, the unjust. He went silently, so that we could boldly proclaim what He has done. He suffered injustice, so that the Lord’s justice could be satisfied by punishing Him, rather than you.
Silence has a purpose. Lord Jesus, Thou art going forth, silently, for me, in my place. You provide silence for us today to take time out from the hustle and bustle of the busy world. Silence is my opportunity to identify, confess, and repent of my sin. Silence is an opportunity to meditate upon Your Word of Gospel after reading it or hearing it read. Silence—time to be still and know that You are God, the Son of God!
The Jews answered Pilate, “We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was more afraid and went again into the judgment hall and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?”
It makes no sense for a mere human—a nice man, a popular preacher, a radical rabbi, or a good moral teacher—to willingly suffer so unjustly. Something else had to be going on! Jesus was a man but He was also true God. That claim to divinity caught Pilate’s attention.

Before we leave the Praetorium, what do we make of that controversial statement of the crowd: “His blood be on us and on our children”?
Some have pointed to this text of Scripture as the seed of anti-Semitism. Not only is that unfortunate, it is untrue. Jesus was Jewish. The leaders of His own people wanted Him dead. They got the Romans involved. We don’t blame today’s Italians for Jesus’ death. Why should anyone blame the descendants of these Jewish leaders? Racism or ethnocentrism of any kind is sinful and ignores that all of humanity has the same blood. Instead of pointing fingers, we should point both Jew and Gentile to Jesus as the Messiah!
Also, the crowd is only speaking for itself. They gathered early in the morning and were likely a paid mob of temple employees who were told what to say by the leadership. These were hired goons—not the same people who welcomed Jesus in on Palm Sunday and who would mourn for Him as He carried the cross to Calvary.
Finally, we all must recognize our role in the need for Jesus’ death. Our sins did it. But He willingly went forth, silently, for you. His blood is on us and our children in a good way—to cleanse us from sin and bloodguilt. All because of Jesus’ silence.
Next week, we follow Him to CALVARY. Amen.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sermon for 10 March 2013, Fourth Sunday in Lent C, Special Anniversary Service

Anniversary Service of Thanksgiving and Praise to God for

Ten Years of Martin Luther Grammar School

Fifty-five years in the “new” church building
(dedicated March 23, 1958),

One hundred ten years since the organization of Immanuel congregation (March 1, 1903),

and One hundred twenty years since the arrival of
Rev. J. D. Schroeder in Sheridan, Wyoming (1893)


Lesung (Lektion)                                                                                   2. Korintherbrief  6.16-21
2. Korintherbrief Das 6. Kapitel
16. Darum kennen wir von nun an niemand nach dem Fleisch; und ob wir auch Christum gekannt haben nach dem Fleisch, so kennen wir ihn doch jetzt nicht mehr. 17. Darum, ist jemand in Christo, so ist er eine neue Kreatur; das Alte ist vergangen, siehe, es ist alles neu geworden ! 18. Aber das alles von Gott, der uns mit ihm selber versöhnt hat durch Jesum Christum und das Amt gegeben, das die Versöhnung predigt. 19. Denn Gott war in Christo und versöhnte die Welt mit ihm selber und rechnete ihnen ihre Sünden nicht zu und hat unter uns aufgerichtet das Wort von der Versöhnung. 20 .So sind wir nun Botschafter an Christi Statt, denn Gott vermahnt durch uns; so bitten wir nun an Christi Statt: Lasset euch versöhnen mit Gott.  21. Denn er hat den, der von keiner Sünde wußte, für uns zur Sünde gemacht, auf daß wir würden in ihm die Gerechtigkeit, die vor Gott gilt.  [1]
L  Das Wort des Herrn.
C  Gott sei Dank.

Reading                                                                                                     2 Corinthians 5:16–21
16From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
L  This is the Word of the Lord.
C  Thanks be to God.

[1] Luther, M. (1912, 2001). Die Heilige Schrift nach der deutschen Übersetzung Martin Luthers (2 Co 5:16–21). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.


P   Almighty God, You have promised to be with Your Church forever. We praise You for Your presence with us in this place of worship and ask Your ongoing blessing upon those who gather here. Bless Immanuel Lutheran Church and Martin Luther Grammar School. Dwell continually among us with Your holy Word and Sacraments, strengthen our fellowship in the bonds of love and peace, and increase our faithful witness to Your salvation; Lord, in Your mercy,
C   hear our prayer.

Vater Unser                                                                                                                           
C  Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel
     Geheiliget were 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.

Lord's Prayer                                                                                                                         
C   Our Father who art in heaven,
     hallowed be Thy name,
     Thy kingdom come,
     Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;
     give us this day our daily bread;
     and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
     and lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.


Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21
To Himself
Fourth Sunday in Lent, 10 March 2013
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

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

To Himself. In Christ, God reconciles the world to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Yes, us. Still today. Here, in this place.
Word and Sacrament ministry is the primary way the gifts of Christ are distributed in this place, the Word of Christ, and the visible Word, the Sacraments. Martin Luther Grammar School has been part of that ministry of reconciliation for ten academic years. Every day, at home, at work, at school, and as you fulfill your vocations in our community, you are ambassadors for Christ. God makes His appeal through us.
One of those Ambassadors was a Lutheran missionary and circuit rider we call the Cowboy Preacher, J. D. (SHRAY der) Shreoeder, who helped Immanuel celebrate its 50th Anniversary, its Golden Jubilee in 1953. We have a recording of him speaking about his first time in Sheridan in 1893.
In his autobiography Rev. Schroeder wrote, “The city of Sheridan, Wyoming which was my last station, lay at the end of the railroad in the foothills of the Bighorn mountains. These mountains are covered with snow almost all year round. The highest peak is nearly 11,000 feet high. The area between the Black Hills and the Bighorn range is very hilly and sagecovered. This section is good mostly for a cattle range. However, settlers had taken up permanent residence along the numerous creeks and rivers which flow from the mountains through the area. As there is little rain, grain is grown here under irrigation methods. But the grain which does grow is the richest in the world. The ground here also yields untold treasures of oil, coal, and other minerals. Near Sheridan there are large collieries, and the coal lies very near the surface of the land. A great many farmers hack coal from their land, not particularly for their own use, but to sell for a good profit.
“In this town I became acquainted with a man whose name is known the world over as "Buffalo Bill". The first time I arrived in Sheridan, I stayed at a hotel which belonged to him, and this is where I met him. He sat often with his guests and told of his adventures in the west. Indeed, this comparatively wild region had been the very scene of many of his activities.”
Rev. Schroeder traveled amazing distances under incredible conditions for the sake of the Gospel. Many congregations of the modern Wyoming District owe their existence to the work of this faithful servant of Christ.
He continues, “From this town [Sheridan] I had to take the stage coach to a distant city in Wyoming south of Sheridan, where I found a number of Lutheran families to whom I was able to preach. (This may have been Casper.) Enroute to this town, in one beautiful valley I found a large number of Lutheran Saxons. These people lived very near the ruins of old Ft. Kearney which the Indians had overrun and whose garrison they had massacred. This happened at about the same time that General Custer and his troops had been slain under Sitting Bull.
“My entire mission field was at that time a very unsafe region. Not just because of drunken cowboys and others who committed murders etc., but also because of a large band of robbers which hid out in the mountains.”
He’s talking about the “Hole in the Wall” gang and goes on to tell the true story behind the name “Crazy Woman.” His mission field covered northeastern and central Wyoming, southern Montana, the southern Black Hills of South Dakota and nearly all of the Nebraska panhandle. His goal was to start preaching stations that could eventually become self-supporting congregations that would call pastors to serve them.
In addition to Rev. Schroeder, Immanuel has been served by sixteen Called pastors, numerous vacancy pastors, ten or so vicars, and an Assistant Pastor under the shared ministry agreement with Prince of Peace, Buffalo. All these servants of the Word have proclaimed and practiced our Epistle text for the Fourth Sunday in Lent: 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
That you might become the righteousness of God, the Lord led this congregation to take other steps in faith and meet the challenges of each day.
The Park Street church building was dedicated on December 13, 1907.
Pastor Walter died in office of the flu in 1918.
Pastor Bernthal, in a 1953 recording reminded us that Immanuel had a school before! In the 1920’s, Pastor Her, (1919-1927) taught Christian day school classes in the upstairs of the parsonage on Park Street.
After a cornerstone laying on October 27, 1957, Reformation Sunday that year, this new church building was dedicated to the Glory of God on March 23, 1958 by Pastor Obermueller. We have a video of that day and much of the construction process.
Congregational pastoral care need brought the Vicarage program to Immanuel under Pastor Staake.
Pastor Garwood concluded his ministry here in 1994 when he was elected President of the Wyoming District. His time here included two Sunday church services.
Pastor Heine led the congregation to start a new school. We enjoy our new annex with kitchen and parish hall, dedicated in 2007.
Having today’s Epistle read in German and the Lord’s Prayer prayed auf Deutsch recall our congregation’s beginning and its heritage. A new hymn, written in 2013 for this very occasion speaks to our Lord’s own presence, care, and work with and for us now. Please stay for a brief presentation on the current and future pastoral care opportunities and mission needs by lay leaders of our congregation serving as a Long-Term Planning Committee. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
About the Cover: What comfort in knowing that God was reconciling the world. That leaves no one out. Not you, not me. Not the annoying neighbor down the street, the troublesome person at work, the rude driver. In Christ, God reconciled the world to Himself. Forgiveness has been won for all, and now all can be made right with God through faith in Christ. This is the message of grace God sends us to announce to all. Amen.

Das walte Gott Vater, Sohn und Heiliger Geist! Amen.