Thursday, November 17, 2016

Funeral Sermon for Jean Robinson

The Rev. Paul J Cain
Psalm 51:10-12
That’s the Savior
Funeral Sermon for Jean Robinson
Tuesday of Trinity XXIV, 17 November 2016
At Champion Funeral Home
While Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY

In the Name of Jesus Amen.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Jean Robinson prayed these verses of Psalm 51 on countless occasions during her life. In so doing, she confessed her sins. As a Christian, she also confessed her Savior.
When I was invited by the family to visit Jean at Sheridan Manor, I took the weekly bulletin and my hymnal with me. My wife and Jean’s daughters were there, too. As soon as Jean saw the bulletin for the Third Sunday of Easter, featuring Jesus as our Good Shepherd, she exclaimed, “That’s the Savior!” Over the course of that visit and many others, we read Scripture, including John 10, prayed, and sang. Jean was able to sing along with us on many hymns that remained in her heart by faith and in her long-term memory, even in the midst of the horrible disease that afflicted her. And Judy and Jody both read, prayed, and sang with her, especially in these last weeks. They were also smiling, crying, and hugging because of Jean’s response to the Word. The family had prayed for God the Holy Spirit to work through the Word and He did, answering those prayers.
Christians are not perfect. We are forgiven because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. His suffering, death, and resurrection creates in us clean hearts by the work of God the Holy Spirit. He creates a right spirit within us. In the Father’s love, mercy, and grace, because of the atonement of Jesus, He does not cast us away from His presence. The Holy Spirit abides in us and we abide in Him by faith. The joy of salvation is restored, joy that the family and others saw for ourselves. The Lord Himself upheld Jean, gave her a willing spirit, and she joyfully heard the Word of the Lord, prayed with us, and sang with us. Today, as we miss and remember her, we sing some of those hymns and scripture songs.
In this life, each Christian is simultaneously a sinner and a saint, still in the flesh and in this world, yet forgiven in Christ. Jean’s family was important to her, and you know it. She loved kids. She also loved gardening and moving rocks…repeatedly. Jean Robinson also loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She confessed her sins and was forgiven. She confessed her Beautiful Savior and is now at peace, at rest, and with Him and all who trusted in Christ in this life. With Jean, we await the Last Day and the Resurrection, when the Lord’s long-term plan for her and us and all creation will be fulfilled. Creation itself will be restored. And we will rejoice.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
As you look at the picture of Jesus the Good Shepherd on the cover of this bulletin, pray Psalm 51 and confess with Jean, “That’s the Savior!”

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

13 November 2016

Today's sermon for the Commemoration of Martin Luther (Birth, Observed) was provided by synod, based on Hebrews 13:7 and written by the Rev. Dr. Larry Rast.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Funeral Sermon for Carol Hohbach

The Rev. Paul J Cain
Philippians 2:5-11
Funeral Sermon for Carol Hohbach
Tuesday of Trinity XXIV, 8 November 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY

In the Name of Jesus Amen.
“Shepherd of tender youth, Guiding in love and truth Through devious ways; Christ, our triumphant king, We come Your name to sing And here our children bring To join Your praise.” (LSB 864:1, 5)
March 29, 1953 was Carol’s Confirmation Day. Yes, it was when Immanuel was still at our Park Street location, but she had been a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, from before her Confirmation Day. That day, the confirmands heard Philippians 2: 5-11 read as the Epistle, for their Confirmation Day was also Palm Sunday. This is the second time I’ve buried someone from that very confirmation class. To confess Christ one’s whole life long, be a member of the same congregation for so much of her life (before and after what Gordon calls their 30-year U-turn after living elsewhere), and an active member at that, is something for which we thank the Lord.
There is a hole in our hearts because of her loss. For me, it is visual and physical. I can show you right where she sat on Sundays. She even brought her own personal pew. By faith and example, she believed, understood, and lived these verses from Philippians 2:
5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Carol clung so closely to her Savior. You see, the name Jesus means Savior, “the Lord saves.” He took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness and form of humanity. He was conceived, born, lived, taught, preached, suffered, died, and rose for you. And for Carol. And since Jesus is the only source of forgiveness, life, and salvation, this is where she came to receive those gifts and confess her faith (often in song) and trust in Him.
5          So now, and till we die, Sound we Your praises high And joyful sing: Infants and all the throng, Who to the Church belong, Unite to swell the song To Christ, our king!
How could she, and how could we sing a hymn like that this morning? By faith. By faith in Christ. Out of God-given trust in Christ. In this life, Christians confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, and we do so in joy, for Has more gifts in store!
Yes, heaven is one of those gifts. It’s not earned. It’s not deserved. Heaven is a gift because of Christ’s death on the cross for us and because of His Resurrection and empty tomb.
Carol knew the Lord’s language of invitation. She heard such language again in today’s Old Testament reading, read at our very first nursing home service at Sheridan Manor one month ago, where Carol was for rehab. The five of us met in the chapel there at the facility and heard Isaiah 55, Psalm 27, and our opening hymn, The Church’s One Foundation.
It was always special to me when Carol rolled up to the rail for Holy Communion. Gordon, you know what I’m talking about. She got to join the Elders and Ushers at the final table of distribution. Another member of the congregation told me: “She didn’t let anything get between her and Jesus. She was there at church, at Communion. Her example was encouraging to me.”
How many times did she hear the blessing when a pastor dismisses the communicants? “The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting. Depart + in peace.”
We now wait for our reunion with Carol and with the Lord. We await the fulfillment of those very promises in the dismissal blessing. We await the Resurrection. We trust the Lord and His promise to “raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.” On the Last day, she will receive a glorified, perfected body like that of her Savior. She won’t need her wheels in that Day of Resurrection. Her faith, her confession, will be a completed reality.
Today, we join in confessing the faith that Carol and so many before her confessed, as she and her confirmation class promised to in 1953, “the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Remember her love for sports, music, art, and her family and friends, but above all, remember that she confessed Christ!
“Thine forever, God of Love! Hear us from Thy throne above; Thine forever may we be Here and in eternity!” (LSB 687:1)

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sermon on the Gospel at Divine Service on 30 October 2016, Reformation Sunday (Observed)

The Rev. Paul J Cain
John 8:31-36
Reformation Sunday Divine Service, 30 October 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Truth matters. In medicine, proper dosages matter. There are only two genders in procreation, male and female. In engineering, safety depends upon the composition and structure of concrete and steel and carbon fiber. When it comes to your salvation, truth matters.
According to Romans 16:17ff, Christians are given to watch out for all who teach contrary to the Lord’s Scripture. That does not mean that we are to be primarily known for what teachings we oppose. Christians are also given to clearly teach God’s truth from His Scripture. That is when the Church is known for making disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching God’s Word and when, as the Body of Christ, the Gospel is the main message.
All who seek truth will find it in Jesus. A person’s relationship with the truth of Christ says something about discipleship and true freedom.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
Note that Jesus is not just speaking to any Jews, but those who had believed Him. They were not His enemies, but their follow-up statement shows they set themselves up as His adversaries. They have finally heard something they do not believe. “We are offspring of Abraham,” they say, “and have never been enslaved to anyone. Is this true? No. What about Egypt? What about the Babylonian captivity? What about being enslaved to sin, self, and Satan? No. They don’t want to talk about that. Jesus even recognizes their murderous intent.
Jesus introduces them to freedom. We Americans are used to hearing about freedom in two contexts, Church and State. There’s freedom in Christ and political freedom. Yes, we wish that both be preserved, but they are two different, but related concepts. Both can be misunderstood.
How can “freedom” be misunderstood? In both spiritual and political definitions, if “freedom” is misunderstood as merely the license to do “whatever we want,” then we’re not really talking about freedom. That’s anarchy, selfishness, licentiousness, and another form of bondage. Consider the teen or young adult that comes home to mom and dad and says, “I want to make choices for myself. I want to be an individual. I want to [add shocking thing here] just like everybody else.” This misunderstood version of so-called “freedom” is no freedom at all. It has sin, rebelliousness, and conformity to peer pressure from the devil, the world, and bad human influences all over it.
Freedom in Christ, true spiritual freedom, is freedom “from” and freedom “for.” Let’s talk about both, for Luther does.
A Christian is the freest lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is the most dutiful servant of all, subject to all.
We are free from sin, guilt, the domination of the devil, and from the eternal punishment we deserve. In contrast, medieval Christianity misunderstood salvation, leading to works righteousness. They felt bound to do good works so that God would forgive them and eventually let them into heaven.
The same folks thought they were free with regard to their neighbor. By locking themselves up in convents and monasteries, they often did not, could not, or would not serve their neighbor in need. Luther explains that this is also exactly backward of serving according to vocation.
Freedom in Christ, true spiritual freedom, is freedom “from” and freedom “for.” As forgiven Christians, we are free from sin and guilt and eternal consequences before the Lord, free for good works in service to our neighbor in need. This, I believe, is the root of the so-called Protestant work ethic. The Lutheran Reformation not only restored the Gospel as the unearned, undeserved Gift of Christ to you because of His death and Resurrection, it also restored Scripture as the proper authority over the Church and the Christian, returned good works as service to neighbor rather than service toward God, and returned Christian freedom to its proper emphasis.
Were there cultural, political, and social changes as a result of the Reformation? Certainly, but they were never the main focus or intent of Luther. For him, it was all about the Word, the Word, the Word—the Lord’s Truth.
We pray that the Lord Himself will keep us steadfast in His Word this Reformation Sunday and always. The Reformation was never really about Luther or Germany or only protesting ecclesiastical authority. It was and is all about Jesus, a return to Scripture, God’s Truth, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and reforming human traditions on the basis of Scripture and the Gospel: Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone, all to God’s glory alone!
We will observe the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation over the next year. Today is but the beginning. In November, we will observe the birthday of Martin Luther. In February, we will remember his heavenly birthday, the anniversary of his death. In March, I plan to share with you an English version of a German-language Communion service sung here at Immanuel, Sheridan, to celebrate our congregational anniversary. In June, we will remember the 1530 Presentation of the Augsburg Confession with a special service. And then, October 29, 2017 will be observed as Reformation Sunday.
Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” It’s still all about Jesus. Amen to that! Amen.

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