Pentecost 22 – "The Persistent Widow" – Luke 18:1-8 – 10/16/16



Every Sunday when we gather around the Lord’s Word and Sacrament we make the bold confession of faith saying that we ‘believe in Jesus Christ… who will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead…’

When we say ‘WE BELIEVE’ we mean that we are ‘sure,’ we are ‘confident,’ we ‘trust,’ that Jesus Christ will come again, and when He does, He will ‘do justice.’
– He will vindicate all those who put their faith and hope and trust in Him against all the accusations from others that they were being foolish and ignorant and naïve for believing and confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord and His cross is the power of God.
– He will get justice for those who could not get justice for themselves because they were too weak, or the deck was too heavily stacked against them, or the system was too corrupt, or they didn’t have an advocate.

Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats…” (Mat.25:31-32).

And so our faith is not based on a ‘hallow hope,’ or a ‘pie in the sky,’ or our ‘own imagination,’ but on the solid foundation of God’s own Word and promise which cannot fail.

And so we pray to Jesus Christ when injustice is done to us and it hurts us and we suffer and our rights are denied and the courts rule against us. For justice comes from the Lord.
– And we pray to Jesus Christ when we see INJUSTICE HAPPEN TO OTHERS who cannot get justice for themselves. For justice comes from the LORD.
– We pray to Jesus Christ when we see the injustice of prejudice, and abortion, and the drug trade, and sex trafficking, and politics, and persecution. For justice comes from the LORD.

We confess that ‘We believe in Jesus Christ… who will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead…” And because there will always be injustice in this world until Jesus comes again, and because it will only increase and increase as the time draws nearer and nearer we will pray without ceasing. Persistent prayer is to be the posture of the church until our Lord comes again. And our persistent prayer is, “COME LORD JESUS.”

But how easily we ‘lose heart,’ and how quickly we grow weary of praying. How quickly we give up. Continue reading

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Pentecost 21 – "Clean!"- Luke 17:11-19 – 10/9/16




Today marks the 15th week since we left the 9th chapter of Luke’s gospel where we heard him tell us that “when the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51). 15 weeks now we’ve been on this journey with Jesus. And on every stop along the way, we’ve learned something about what it means to be a ‘follower of Jesus.’ We’ve learned something about ‘discipleship.’ Or at least, I hope we have.
• ‘Discipleship’ is that response to hearing the voice of Jesus Christ and His call – “Come follow me,” and denying ourselves and taking up our cross and “following Him.”

One of the things that we’ve learned along the way so far, (or at least I hope we have) is that ‘discipleship’ is costly, to borrow a phrase from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s costly because it requires us to say ‘yes’ to Jesus and ‘no’ to ourselves. That’s called ‘self-denial’ which is very hard for us to do.

‘Discipleship’ is costly because very often, it requires us to say “no” to the temptations and demands of this world, which has no regard for God’s Word nor recognizes that Jesus Christ is that very Word of God. So the ‘disciple of Jesus’ learns that he or she must often say ‘no’ when everyone else is saying ‘yes,’ or vice-a-versa.

This also means that the ‘disciple’ of Jesus Christ is going to ‘stick out’ and be ‘different’ sometimes, just because he or she doesn’t ‘go with the flow.’ He says ‘right’ when other’s are all saying ‘wrong.’ She says ‘wrong’ when all her friends are saying ‘right.’

And the temptation along the way is always going to be to quit and turn back and take the easy way, the ‘wide path’ that it seems like everyone else is traveling and just go with the flow. But we don’t do that. Because we know that the ‘wide path’ doesn’t lead us to Jesus Christ, and apart from Jesus Christ, it’s all a pleasant swim in the river that is headed for Niagara Falls.

St. John, in his gospel, tells us that at one point in Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, His disciples were turning back left and right because the cost of discipleship was getting too high. Jesus turned to His apostles and said, “Do you want to go away too?” And Peter, answering for them all said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-68)

On our stop on this journey with Jesus this morning, we meet a man who was going with the flow but who turned back. He left the crowd behind and became follower of Jesus because, well just because it became abundantly clear to him, Jesus Christ has the words of eternal life.

Luke writes, “On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.” Continue reading

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Pentecost 20 – "Temptations To Sin Abound" – Luke 17:1-10 – 10/2/16



Why do some people fall away from the faith that they were given in their baptism? We’re not talking about why some people who were confirmed in the Lutheran Church became Catholics or Methodists or some other denomination of Christian. We’re talking about those who were Christians, who considered Jesus Christ to be “the way and the truth and the life,” who put their trust and confidence for their salvation in His forgiveness and grace alone, who tried to live ‘God-pleasing lives.’ Why did they quit running the race? Why do they now live as though Jesus Christ and His cross have no bearing on their life?

I think we all know men and women, boys and girls who fit the description and some are very near and dear to us and it causes us a good deal of pain just to think about it. I think we could all identify some of the reasons for why some fall away from the faith –
– It wasn’t anything dramatic, no episode in particular, just a gradual drifting away from the weekly gathering with the congregation around the Word and Sacrament until after awhile the whole thing just became distant memory;
– Or maybe it was a conflict between the Word of God and a lifestyle. And God’s ways seemed ‘foolish’ and out of touch with the times;
– Or maybe there was a tragedy or bitter disappointment in their life and they blamed God for it and concluded that if that’s the way God treats His people, who needs Him.
How many more scenarios could we add if we had the time? Continue reading

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Pentecost 19 – "The Rich Man and Lazarus" – Luke 16:19-31 – 9/25/16



Our journey with Jesus continues and as He makes His way to Jerusalem and to His cross, He invites us all to follow Him and teaches us what it means to be a ‘follower of Jesus.’ Last Sunday, Jesus spoke to His disciples in a parable about a dishonest manager. At the end of the reading however we discovered that the disciples of Jesus were not the only ones listening. “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things. And he said to them…” (16:14).

I. On Earth
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.”

The contrast between these two men couldn’t be more striking.

The one covered in purple, the color of royalty. Under his outer robes he wore “fine linen” garments.
The other is covered in sores with nothing to cover them with, to keep the dogs off of him.

The one feasted sumptuously EVERYDAY. It’s one thing to ‘feast sumptuously.’ Special occasions call for special celebrations. But ‘EVERYDAY’ is gluttony to the 10th power. And here’s the kicker. This man’s daily, sumptuous feasts must have been in plain sight of the other man who could only watch the food that fell from the table onto the floor while his belly growled.

AND HERE’S THE REAL KICKER. Which of these two do you think was the ‘religious’ one? Which of these two do you think never missed church and weekly sang the ‘Kyrie’, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy? Which of these two do you think would never have even considered chowing down without first ‘saying grace’…without setting aside a 10th of everything on the table to take to the Temple to put in the plate?

II. Death
The scene suddenly shifts and both of these men die. Again, the contrast between the two is striking.

“The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abrahams’ side. The rich man also died and was buried…”

Sooner or later, death comes to all, rich or poor, religious or non-religious. We’re all gonna die someday. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” (Rom. 5:12).

III. Heaven and Hades
The scene shifts once more and after the funerals are all over, both of these men are very much alive. Death is not the end of life. It’s just the door that separates this world from the next. Everyone dies. Everyone must pass through the door. But not everyone wakes up in the same place.

“And in Hades, being in torment, [the rich man] lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.”

But once again, the contrast between these two men is striking.

It’s a mirror image of the opening scene. And you know how it is with mirrors, everything is in reverse. Now THE RICH MAN IS IN TORMENT. “And he lifted up his eyes…” Everyday poor Lazarus would be carried and placed in front of his gate hoping that the rich man might “lift up his eyes” and see him and in seeing him HAVE COMPASSION upon him and SHOW MERCY to him. But he never “lifted up his eyes.”

But now, in Hades, “he lifted up his eyes.” And maybe for the first time in his life, he saw Lazarus.

AND HERE’S THE REAL KICKER. The rich man can look right into where Lazarus is sitting at the heavenly banquet table where EVERYDAY is a royal feast of feasts. And all he could do is watch as his tongue that had tasted the finest foods and the choicest wines was being seared and rendered unable to taste a thing, and his body was in “anguish in this flame.”

And this POOR MAN cries out to Abraham, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me…” the very thing that he refused to have for Lazarus. “And send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am in anguish in this flame.” As Lazarus had once longed for the scraps of food that fell from this man’s table, now this man longs for a drop of water that might fall from Lazarus’ finger.

“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.”

This is the GREAT REVERSAL that Jesus promised the disciples on the plain that he has come to enact. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied… But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry…” (Lk. 6:20-21, 24-25).

Lazarus was one of those “friends” that we heard Jesus speak about to His disciples last week. “Make friends with yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into eternal dwellings.” (Lk. 16:9) (A. Just)

THE MAN’S PLEA FOR MERCY IS DENIED. There is a time for repentance and turning from our sin and a time for forgiveness and new beginnings and being “merciful even as your father is merciful.” (Lk. 6:36). But that time is TODAY while it is still TODAY. When we die, time stops and there is no more time for repentance and turning from sin and using the wealth and abundance that God has given to you show mercy to your neighbor.

“Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’”

The scene is a disturbing one, to say the least. We may have some feelings of pity for the man in Hades, if only because we may see ourselves in him and we’ve always said that ‘it’s never too late.’ But here’s a man for whom it IS too late to change. “For that which comes last lasts.”

But I also think that this is a disturbing scene for another reason than just sympathy and pity for this man. This man is a religious man. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees here who are the religious of the religious. This man knows Abraham and calls him ‘father Abraham.’

It’s not because this man never went to church or never confessed the one, true faith – “the Lord your God is one,” that he is in hell. He did. He is in hell because of the way he used, or better put, refused to use his wealth and possessions. He was a “lover of money” who, despite all his religion and piety, firmly believed that he could “serve two masters… God and mammon.”

The stern warning on this stop on the journey with Jesus should be clear to all of us here who are wealthy and have possessions IN ABUNDANCE. Wealth and possessions and a comfortable lifestyle are powerful things that have the potential to become the gods that rules our hearts and minds and our hands, regardless of how religious we might be.

The rich man in Hades, thinks of his five brothers who are still in the world and STILL HAVE TIME. “I beg you father Abraham to send [Lazarus] to my fathers house, for I have five brothers so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”

He thinks that if Lazarus were to appear to his brothers, who may well be his fellow Pharisees that used to wine and dine EVERY DAY with him, that they would listen to him and repent and “lift up their eyes.” Here’s a man who believes in signs and if Abraham would give them a ‘sign’ they would ‘be merciful.’

Really? How many times did God send this rich man a ‘sign,’ the sign of Lazarus, everyday, right in front of his gate, with open sores and sunken belly like flashing lights, and he never even “lifted up his eyes”? What makes him think that his brothers will see what he never saw?

“But Abraham said, ‘they have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’”

It is the Word of God alone that has the power to create faith in the heart and cause us to “lift up our eyes.” It’s not through signs and wonders that God works to turn us from our sin and change our heart. In our blindness we see what we want to see and interpret it the way we want to interpret it.

It is His Word that carries His Spirit to us
• and His Spirit that opens our eyes that we may see ourselves and our sin
• and His Spirit that shows us a gracious God who has mercy on all who are POOR, WRETCHED SINNERS LIKE US.
• It’s His Spirit that sets us free from our captivity to ungodly mammon
• and His Spirit that gives us a clean heart and a right spirit.
• It is His Spirit that opens our eyes so that we may see our Lord Himself in our neighbor’s poverty.
It is His word that brings His Spirit to us.

The time to hear God’s Word is now before it is too late. The time for repentance is now before it’s too late. Because there is no second chance for repentance in hell. The rich man sees and hears Abraham in heaven, yet rather than repenting and confessing his sin, he refuses to believe Abraham and insists that he is wrong.

“No father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He thinks that if his brothers were to see the poor man who was hungry and thirsty and naked and covered with open wounds WHO DIED, if they were to see THIS MAN risen from the dead, then they would believe and turn and be saved.

“And Abraham said to him, ‘if they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” It’s a sad way to end this account, if only because we know that so many will not be convinced even if someone, the someone of whom Moses and the Prophets all point to and who is speaking to them, should rise from the dead.

IV. Conclusion
There is one important detail in this account that we have not yet touched on but must be said before we have said all that needs to be said about it. From the beginning, we have never once heard the rich man’s name. But the poor man’s name we have heard repeatedly – “Lazarus.” Lazarus is known by name in heaven.

In your baptism, the Triune God knows your name even as He has given you His Name. And you are here this morning, hearing His Word, the word of Moses and the Prophets, fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, who died and rose from the dead.

Whether we are rich or poor, all of us will go through the door and stand before the one, true God… as poor, miserable, beggars. And the God of all mercy and grace will “lift up His eyes” and see you, and call you by name, and invite you to come and sit with Abraham and Moses and all of the poor, wretched sinners who heard His Word and believed it and eat and drink and be perfectly satisfied.

Even now, He invites you, in your poverty, to come to His banquet table, with all the company of heaven, that He might satisfy your hungry heart. It’s heaven on earth, eternity in time, a foretaste of the feast to come.

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Pentecost 18 – "Commended for His Shrewdness" – Luke 16:1-10 – 9/18/16



The text for this morning’s sermon is the parable of the dishonest manager as we just heard Jesus tell to His disciples in our gospel reading.

I. The Parable Repeated
A brief summary of the story goes as follows:
 A RICH MAN hired a MANAGER to look after his business. Nothing unusual about that.
 Charges of MISMANAGEMENT were filed against the manager. We’re not given any of the details, only that he was ‘WASTING HIS MASTER’S POSSESSIONS. Maybe he was using an excessive amount of company money for travel and entertainment. Or maybe it was that pocketing some of what should have gone into the register. Or maybe he was collecting a paycheck while doing as little as possible for it. We’re not told.
 When the charges came to the rich man, the rich man called his manager into his office. It was undoubtedly one of those meetings with the boss where the manager was told to ‘SHUT THE DOOR,’ which is usually a bad sign.
 The owner says to his manager, “what is this I hear about you?”
 The manager doesn’t deny the charges nor try to defend himself.
 Hearing no reply to his question, the owner demands that the manager, “turn in the account of your management.” That is, he’s to turn over ‘THE BOOKS.’ The owner wants to have the books ‘audited’ to see what’s been going on.
 And with that, he fires the manager. “You can no longer be manager.”
 Then the ‘ex-manager’ gets really worried about how he’s going to survive on ‘unemployment,’ since, in his day, there is no such thing.
 He thinks about putting a resume together, but quickly concludes that no one is ever going to hire him for a management position again with this blemish on his record. He could probably get a job doing physical labor, but frankly, that’s just not his thing. Just the thought of using a shovel wears him out. He could get a piece of cardboard and write, ‘homeless and unemployed – every little bit helps – God bless you,’ and stand by a busy intersection. But he is too proud for that.

So far, Jesus has painted a picture that, sadly, sounds very familiar. There’s nothing unusual or shocking about any of this. It’s been way too easy to put this into a contemporary context.

But here’s where things start to get a little unusual. Continue reading

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Pentecost 16 – "Count The Cost" – Luke 14:25-33 – 9/4/16



The journey continues. And I know that this is starting to sound a bit like a broken record, but we are following Jesus who has set His face to go to Jerusalem. And even though we’ve repeated this since the journey began, maybe we haven’t actually stopped to talk about what that means. When Luke tells us “that Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem,” he assumes that we know what happened to Jesus in Jerusalem.

This is Luke’s shorthand way of saying that Jesus is going to suffer under Pontius Pilate, crucified, die, buried and on the 3rd day rise again.’

If we convert Luke’s shorthand into longhand, ‘Jerusalem’ is where the Son of God will be subjected to the extreme psychological and emotional suffering of the gross humiliation, the deep mental anguish and heartbreaking disappointment.
 It’s where He will be inflicted with the physical pain of flogging that cuts through tissue and muscle, and steel spikes driven through flesh and tendons and bone, and death that comes so slowly until the body is totally and completely spent and He “breathed His last.”
 And Jerusalem is also the place of victory and life and joy and a glorified body and ascended to the right hand of God the Father almighty until all of His enemies are a footstool under His feet and “a new creation” replaces the old.

All of that agony, suffering, pain and death. And all of that resurrection, life, peace, joy, celebration and “every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord,” all packed into that little phrase, “He set His face to go to Jerusalem.”

The end is as high and wonderful and glorious as the highest heavens are above the earth. But the cost is as low and terrible as the deepest hell. BUT JESUS COUNTED THE COST. Every bloody cent and every blood-sucking sin that would He would have to bear. “He set His face to go to Jerusalem.”

And for all of us who put our faith and trust that His journey to Jerusalem means the forgiveness of all of our sins, and the His resurrection from the dead means our reconciliation with the Father, and His ascension to heaven means that He is working ALL THINGS FOR OUR GOOD, we say, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing…” “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 12-13)

But then come those words that send an ice cold shiver down our spine. “COME, FOLLOW ME.” A most gracious invitation if only we didn’t know where He was going and the COST of following Him.

Jesus called the 12, “Come, follow me.” And they left everything and followed Him. Along the way, He confided in them that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and be crucified. And they tried to change His mind – maybe for His sake but probably for theirs. Once they were in Jerusalem and it became obvious that He meant what He said, they all bolted.

Luke writes, “Now great crowds accompanied Him.” They liked everything that they heard from Jesus and they liked what they saw.
 In a ‘dog-eat-dog’ world He preached ‘humble yourselves” and “love one another.”
 In a world filled with empty promises, He made things happen. If they were sick, He healed them with the touch of His hand. If they were hungry, He multiplied bread and fed them till they couldn’t eat another bite. If they ran out of wine at a wedding, no problem for Jesus. Just fill the jars with water and leave the rest to Him. If a child died, just call Jesus and He would wake her up.
This is the Jesus that people love to follow. Who heals your diseases and cures your arthritis, and makes you happy and healthy and successful and wealthy and even the sky is not the limit with Jesus.

“Now great crowds accompanied Him.” Everyone wants to be on this bandwagon. There’s no ‘cost’ to ‘accompanying’ Jesus. “GREAT CROWDS” CONTINUE TO ‘ACCOMPANY’ JESUS TO THIS DAY. As long as it doesn’t COST ME ANYTHING, what’s to loose?

But then comes the reality check. ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE… any one of you who does not renounce all that he has CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.”
“Accompanying” Jesus is a much different thing than “DISCIPLESHIP.” “ACCOMPANYING” Jesus requires no commitment. There’s no ‘cost’ to accompanying. You can ‘ACCOMPANY’ Him until you decide you’ve had enough or you’re tired or board and then find something else that might work better for you.

But “DISCIPLESHIP” means that you walk with Jesus and live by His Word TO THE END; when it’s easy and when it’s hard, when it’s rewarding and when it’s not, when you’re in church and when you’re at home and the office and the classroom and grocery store and all by yourself and no one else will ever know.

He “set His face to go to Jerusalem.” The “great crowds accompanying Him” don’t yet understand what that means. They don’t know Luke’s shorthand yet. How could they?

But once they do, they will all bolt. Once they see WHERE His is going and to WHAT He is going, not one will ‘ACCOMPANY’ Him. The ‘cost’ is too great.

Jesus identifies those things that are nearest and dearest to us as the very things that discipleship will ‘cost’ us – parents, spouse, children, siblings, your own life, every possession we have or would like to have. Each is capable of becoming the cross that must be borne if we are to ‘follow Him’ and take up His call to “be my disciple.”

It’d be easy to list the ways that LOVED ONES and LOVED THINGS come between us and Jesus. But I think we all know how it works, and we’ve all been caught between that rock and a hard place, between a parent and Jesus or a spouse and Jesus or a child and Jesus, or our goals and Jesus or our money and Jesus, or …. you fill in the blank. And we’ve all bolted. And we just hope that Jesus will understand.

The devil has infiltrated us to the most personal and dearest points in our life so that even those whom we are to love the most and those things that are meant for good and pleasure and enjoyment, can become the very things that stand between us and Jesus.

Our problem is that we don’t know how to ‘HATE’. Or better put, we ‘HATE’ poorly. We ‘HATE’ what we should ‘LOVE’ and we ‘LOVE’ what we should ‘HATE.’ Eve should have ‘hated’ the fruit on that tree and the word of the serpent, but she ‘loved’ it and ‘hated’ God’s Word. And Adam should have ‘hated’ his wife for holding that fruit up to his lips for him to eat. But he didn’t. Adam ‘loved’ his wife and ‘hated’ God.

We are to ‘HATE’ what would separate us from that which we should ‘LOVE.’ And what we are to ‘love’ above all ‘loves’ is God. “You shall have no other Gods.” “We are to fear, LOVE and trust in God ABOVE ALL THINGS” and all people. Which means that at times, we must ‘HATE’ those whom we ‘LOVE’ with what Luther calls ‘A HOLY HATE’ based on Leviticus 19:17, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.”

“Now great crowds accompanied Him.” And Jesus turned and invited them to be “disciples.” And not just ‘disciples’ but “My disciples,” for there are many who are ‘disciples’ of other gods and other lords, for whom the ‘cost’ is much less and the ‘price’ is much easier to pay. And we have all chosen to be disciples of other gods and other lords, because we felt that the ‘cost’ was much less and the ‘price’ more affordable than the ‘cost’ of being a disciple of Jesus Christ which is nothing less than “take up your cross and follow me.”

If we will be honest with ourselves we must confess that even if we have “counted the cost” of being a disciple of Jesus Christ and even if we have set the full measure of our heart and our mind on “paying that cost” that we may attain the prize, we all fall dreadfully short. In fact, we have nothing to pay the price with; nothing to count; nothing that is ‘worthy.’

Which may help us to understand Jesus why Jesus connects ‘discipleship’ to ‘baptism’ as He does. “Go and make DISCIPLES of all nations, BAPTIZING THEM in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus Christ paid the full price for OUR DISCIPLESHIP in Jerusalem with HIS CRUCIFIXION on the cross and HIS RESURRECTION from the dead.

St. Paul reminds all who have been baptized, “Do you not know that all who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Rom. 6:4-5)

In holy baptism, the ‘COST OF DISCIPLESHIP’ has been paid in full. The COST that Jesus PAID in Jerusalem was all FOR YOU. And the ‘prize’ that He earned has been ‘gifted’ to you – at NO COST to you, freely given, by grace alone for Christ’s sake alone.

Through the sacrament of Baptism – you are counted as a faithful follower of Jesus who has journeyed with Him all the way to Jerusalem, and have been crucified with Christ and buried with Him and raised with Him, and even now, you are seated at His banquet table enjoying the FEAST OF VICTORY with all who have “fought the good fight and finished the race and kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7)

AND SO WE “COUNT THE COST” OF DISCIPLESHIP, NOT ‘SO THAT’ WE MAY WIN THE PRIZE, BUT BECAUSE WE ALREADY HAVE IT. We ‘hate’ what we should ‘hate’ that we may ‘love’ God with all our heart and mind and soul and our neighbor as ourselves, not as the ‘price’ that we must pay, but as the offering of thanks and praise to our Lord who has counted the cost and paid it in full and given us the prize, which is to hear Him call us, “My disciples.”

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Pentecost 15 – "Humble Yourselves" – Luke 14:1-14 – 8/28/16


DonkeyInDitch PhotoToday we come to the 10th stop on the journey with Jesus since He set His face to go to Jerusalem. St. Luke has invited us into the home of a man who is a “ruler of the Pharisees”. It’s the Sabbath day, which means its Friday evening. The host has invited some friends, probably other Pharisees and Scribes, to come to dinner. He’s also invited a traveling rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is probably the guest Rabbi who will be reading and teaching at worship at the local Synagogue in the morning.

As we enter into this room, we see the host and all his guests reclining around the dinner table. Jesus must have arrived before most of the others because He noticed how anxious they seemed to be to claim a “place of honor” for themselves. The closer to the host, the higher the place of honor.

Where Jesus is reclining at this table is not clear. But wherever it is, He is definitely the focus of attention. Luke writes, “they were watching him carefully.” There is a darkness in those words.

It was customary for a pious Pharisee to leave the front door to his house open for the stranger and the poor man to come in. As we heard in our Epistle reading to the Hebrews, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Heb.13:2). You never know when an angel of God might show up at your door disguised as a poor man.

And so it is that a ‘stranger,’ OR WAS HE AN ANGEL, enters the house and comes right into where the dinner is in progress and stands right in front of Jesus. “And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy.”

“Dropsy” is an old word for what we now call “edema.” Water collects under the skin and causes swelling and it can be very painful and dangerous. Here is a man who is ‘puffed up’ with water. Among the theologians of the day, it was believed that man is made up of two parts, blood and water and the more righteous you were, the more blood you had, the more water you had, the more sinner you were. Someone with ‘dropsy’ was obviously a BIG sinner.

Today, people with ‘edema’ go to the hospital and are treated with drugs or surgery. This man came to Jesus. Continue reading

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Pentecost 12 – "Don't Worry" – Luke 12:22-34 – 8/7/16


“And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”

Context is everything and the context is last Sunday’s stop on the journey with Jesus. “Someone in the crowd said, ‘teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” And that led to a parable about a rich man who whose farm produced a bumper crop, which to him meant ‘early retirement’ with enough ‘social security’ to “relax, eat, drink and be merry” WITHOUT WORRY.


Watching this guy celebrate his windfall last Sunday was like watching a multi-millionaire win the lottery only to announce that now, finally, he would be able to retire and enjoy life.

The great SURPRISE of course was the fact that the man had less than 24 hours to live and how much can you ‘relaxing and eating and drinking’ can you cram into 24 hours?

Last week we met a ‘fictitious’ man who came to the end of his life with great disappointment. A rich man upon whom abundance had been entrusted and at the end of his life, all he could say was, ‘why are treating me like this God? This is so unfair.’ And we all know that this ‘FICTITIOUS’ man is actually quite ‘NON-FICTITIOUS.’ The world is full of them. And, there we are in the crowd.

Now Jesus turns to His disciples and speaks particularly to them. They are His ‘SAINTS,’ His ‘holy-ones,’ His ‘set-apart from the crowd’ ones. They are not to be like that. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”

There is a cultural gap here that need to deal with before we can begin to hear Jesus speak to us as we sit in the congregation along with His disciples. I would dare to say that none of us is anxious about the chance that we may starve to death or have no clothes to cover our bodies with. Granted there are people who legitimately worry about such things. And Jesus’ words mean what they say to them too. Continue reading

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Pentecost 11 – "Beware of All Covetousness" – Luke 12:12-31 – 7/31/16


Character formation. That’s what these last several stops on the journey with Jesus have been all about. And it’s what the next several stops will be about as well. The formation of character. And not just ‘character’ in general but ‘Christian character’ specifically. Let’s talk about that for a few minutes before we get off the bus.

Character. The English word comes from a French word for the tool used for engraving in wood or stone. The verb means, “to engrave or scratch deeply.” An ‘engraver’ uses sharp chisels in all different shapes and sizes to ‘scratch deeply’ into wood or stone.

So ‘character’ is formed by all of those scratches and cuts that are engraved into us. ‘Character’ is the ‘imprint’ that moves us to respond the way that we do, not only to the changes and chances in life, but also the way that we respond to the daily responsibilities of our life as spouse and parent and son or daughter and employee and neighbor and citizen.

The thing that I want us to consider is this, how does God form a good ‘Christian character’ in us? I’m not asking how God makes us righteous and holy in His sight. We know that He does that through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf and through Holy Baptism that unites us to Jesus and His death and resurrection. God has already ENGRAVED His Name on us and we belong to Him. We are already saints before God and there’s nothing you can do to improve on that. Continue reading

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Pentecost 10 – "Teach Us To Pray" – Luke 11:1-13 – 7/24/16



“And when the days drew near for him to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Lk.9:51). We come now to the 5th stop on this journey with Jesus to Jerusalem and as we said last Sunday, as the journey continues we can’t help but notice how interconnected each stop is to the others.

Last Sunday we were in the village of Bethany in the home of Martha and her sister Mary and the whole visit was about the “one thing necessary,” which was to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His word to YOU just like Mary did.

Which for us means, that we need to establish the HOLY HABIT of setting aside the chores of the day to carve out some time for reading our bible in our home. Because the bible is the very word of Jesus speaking to you through His Prophets in the Old Testament and Apostles in the New Testament. When you read your bible, you are sitting at the feet of Jesus, LISTENING to Him speak to you IN YOUR HOME just as Mary did.

So, if you weren’t here last Sunday I’d really encourage you to go to our web site and listen to the sermon. And if you were here last Sunday but you’re not today… well you get the idea. These two stops on the journey really go together.

On this morning’s stop on the journey with Jesus, we learn that there is also another side to this incredible relationship that we have with God. He not only speaks to us as a DEAR FATHER SPEAKS TO HIS DEAR CHILDREN but we may also speak to Him, AS DEAR CHILDREN SPEAK TO THEIR DEAR FATHER.

“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place…” Continue reading

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