Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Thursday we celebrated one of the not so big events in the church year, at least not so big in the eyes of the public. Thursday probably went unnoticed by most, but it was Ascension Day. I contend that the reason we do not celebrate Ascension day is because it is not as “sellable” as Christmas, Easter, Halloween and other holidays. At Christmas we buy stuff to give away or to exchange as presents, at Easter we buy candy, stuffed animals and toys, at Halloween and Valentines Day we buy a lot of candy. What would you buy to celebrate Jesus’ ascension? This morning we continue our trek through the Acts of the Apostles. Acts is Luke’s second writing. His first writing was his gospel account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. This is his account of the new church and the events of the new church.
Today is the seventh Sunday of Easter. From Easter to Ascension was forty days. Jesus spent these forty days showing Himself to be alive. He appeared to His disciples, not once, but many times during these forty days. He wanted to make sure that they knew that He has risen from the dead, bodily risen from the dead, that He was not dead, but was alive, that this really was Him, the same person who was with them for the previous three years. He wants to make sure that we know that we worship a living God. Remember, we talked about this fact last week that the difference between the Christian Church and all other churches, religions, cults and sects is that we in the Christian Church put forth the exclusive claim of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We worship a living God.
Not only did Jesus appear to His disciples, He appeared to many people, at many different times in order to give as much proof as possible of His resurrection. Certainly, just as we do not have a listing of all the miracles and works that Jesus did while He was here on this earth, neither do we have a listing of all the times and all the places and to all the people to whom He showed Himself following His resurrection and before His ascension. Thankfully listing all those times is not important, what is important is that it happened and God’s Word bears witness of it happening.
Luke reminds us that during His life and during the time between the resurrection and His ascension Jesus spoke concerning the Kingdom of God. Of course, we are looking back at these events and Luke’s testament of these events, so we can see clearly about what Jesus was speaking. We know that it was Jesus Himself who ushered in the Kingdom of God. We are living in the last days as it were. Jesus told the disciples some of the things that would be happening, but very often they just did not get it. They were very much like many people still are today. So many people just do not get it. People today are still looking for god, but the god for whom they looking is in reality the one they have created in their own image and according to their own likenesses and so they have a hard time with the God of the Bible. “My god is not like that,” we hear. Very often we hear this when something is quoted about the God of the Bible that we do not like, because it does not fit into our concept of god in our pluralistic world of today. Yet, God continually shows us who He is through His Word and especially through His Son, Jesus.
For the disciples, Jesus gave them instructions to wait in Jerusalem until the giving of the Holy Spirit. This giving of the Holy Spirit would be on Pentecost, which was fifty days after Easter, and which is what we will be celebrating next Sunday which is ten days after His ascension, which is when He told them to wait in Jerusalem.
On Thursday we celebrated Jesus’ ascension and after His ascension we are told that the disciples returned to Jerusalem. We are told that they “with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (v. 14). Luke even tells us the names of the apostles, that is the eleven remaining apostles. There are only eleven apostles at this time because you may remember Judas had rejected Jesus’ forgiveness and then went out and hanged himself. He simply could not believe Jesus could or would forgiven him.
As they continually gathered together to be in divine service and Bible class, we are told that Peter stood up among the group and began to preach. Peter used this as an opportunity to explain about Judas who was one of the twelve. Jesus called Judas to be one of the apostles. Judas was an important part of the twelve. Yet, Judas sinned which was not really the problem, as all the disciples continually sinned, the problem was that Judas could not believe that Jesus could or world forgive him and so in his despair he hanged himself, dying in unbelief and that is what condemned Judas.
Peter’s message helps us to understand that he believed David’s words in the Psalm to mean that Judas must be replaced, that there must be twelve apostles. When we get to the book of Revelation we would certainly agree with the need for Judas’ replacement and there being twelve apostles as we hear of the 144,000 which is a number in reference to the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles (12 x 12) and 1000, the number of completion, meaning heaven will be filled with all those in the Old and New Testament who believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Peter quotes Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 as an indication that Judas must be replaced.
The criteria for replacing Judas was that it must be “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 from us” (v. 21, 22). Actually this criteria makes sense because the one called to be set apart as an apostle most certainly would need to be one who was with the other apostles and Jesus while He was still on this earth.
From the group, only two fit the criteria and so two were put forward. They were Barsabas and Matthias. After the group prayed together they cast lots to decide, or that they allow God to choose for them through this method. Some have suggested that this casting of lots may have been a form of voting, perhaps not unlike the way a congregation votes when calling a pastor. I believe they put two beads of different colors in a bag and drew one out, the one God would move them to draw. Anyway, the lot was cast and Matthias was chosen to take Judas place. And, interestingly enough, this was the last we hear of Matthias.
Today we have been chosen by God. No we have not been chose to be apostles. There are and will be no more apostles, only twelve. Today, however, we have been chosen to be disciples. A disciples is a learner and follower and we have been chosen by God to be learners and followers of Him. Today, we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word and the sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These are the means, these are the ways our Lord has of continuing to come to us today to give us His good gifts and blessings. As we make regular and diligent use of these means, reading the Word of God, remembering our Baptism, partaking of the Lord’s body and blood in His holy meal, as we continue to make regular and diligent use of these means of grace, the Holy Spirit comes into us to give us, strengthen us, and keep us in faith until Christ comes again.
Even more, today we are to call pastors to carry out word and sacrament ministry among us. As we talked about a few weeks ago, God gives the Office of the Keys to churches, to congregations and congregations call men into the Office of Holy Ministry, to be pastors in order to carry out the Office of the Keys, that is for the preaching of the Gospel, the administering of the sacraments and for the forgiving and retaining of sins. And we also talked about the fact that God calls Christians to be a part of the priesthood of all believers, that is we have all been given the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word and Baptism in order that we might live lives of faith and be ready and able to give an answer, literally to give a defense of our faith and hope in Christ.
And even more, the Holy Spirit also works in us so that we are able to be the His witnesses in our neighborhood, city, country and the world. This is a natural thing. When we get excited about something, when we have had a great and grand experience, we want to share that with others. We get so excited we cannot keep it to ourselves. So too, with the Word of the Lord and with our relationship with Jesus, we cannot help but tell others and we are not alone, because the Holy Spirit is with us giving us the courage, strength and words to speak.
We have God’s promise. His promise is that He is with us and will remain with us as we make regular and diligent use of His means of Grace, the Word and the Sacraments. At the end of the Gospel according to Matthew, at his account of Jesus ascension, we read that Jesus gives us His authority. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore as you are going make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18b-20). Next Sunday we will celebrate the giving of the power, the giving of the authority, the giving of the Holy Spirit which happened ten days after last Thursday, Ascension day. But until then, we wait patiently with the disciples, anticipating more of God’s good gifts and blessings.
Today we gather, as we do every Sunday, to celebrate the resurrection of our God, Jesus Christ Himself. As we gather to celebrate we rejoice that we can look back and see all the “proofs” of all the Gospel writers, that Jesus is the Christ, that He is God, that He took on human flesh and blood, that He suffered and died for our sins, that He rose from the dead, that He showed Himself alive many times before He ascended into heaven, that He is ascended into heaven, that He is seated at the right hand of the Father where He is watching over us, ruling over us and interceding for us. We rejoice that we have the Holy Spirit, that we have the power and authority from God so that we can live our lives in such a way that they show forth the faith that is in our hearts. We rejoice in the fact that we do have forgiveness of sins and with forgiveness is life and salvation and to all this we say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Our text for this morning sounds very much like Paul is speaking to many people in our modern world. There are some in our world today that would have us believe that we all worship the same god, we just call him different names. There are those in what we call the “ecumenical movement,” that is the movement which wants to join all the religions and churches of the world into one big church, who would have us believe that the differences which we have really are only minor or superficial. Interestingly enough, as was the case with Paul, whenever we hear people espouse such nonsense such as the belief that we all worship the same god we simply call him by different names, when we, in the Christian church get to the point of Jesus’ death and resurrection, that is where our paths diverge and that is where we are called all kinds of names. The fact of the matter is, we do not all believe in the same god and simply call him by different names, rather, we, in the Christian Church, believe in the one true God who shows Himself to be God, who lived, suffered, died and rose from the dead.
Our text for this morning is the first reading from Acts 17. I know this is a favorite texts for some people and it is an intriguing text to me. I do not think I am alone as a pastor when I say, “Boy, I wish I could preach like Paul.” Paul always knew the right words to proclaim to the right audience. It is no coincidence that his words are also applicable to us today. So, this morning, I will attempt to let Paul preach as we look at his sermon on Mars Hill.
Ladies and Gentlemen of Westfield, Spring, Houston and the surrounding area! I see that in every way you are very religious. And here I will change the pronoun and say that we are very religious. We are in the habit of making our own gods and our own gods come in many shapes, forms, and sizes. Our gods today consist of idols of work, money, power, prestige, fame and fortune. Think about it, what do you hear being bragged about these days? “I put in an 80 hour work week last week.” “I make $250,000 a year.” “I am the CEO of my company.” When is the last time you heard someone say, “I spent 80 hours with my family, with my wife and my children last week”? Or, “I made a lot of money, but I gave most of it back to my local congregation because I do not need so much and others have greater needs.” Or, “I make just enough for us to get by, but that is okay because I really enjoy my work, it brings me fulfillment, and I am able to touch so many lives”?
We are religious, but the word religious as Paul is using it really means ‘fearful.’ The sense that Paul is trying to get across is that we are demon-fearing. We read our horoscopes, not because we believe them, but “just for the fun of it.” We call the psychic friends hot-line, do not walk under ladders, do not break mirrors, and do not step on the cracks in the sidewalk. Of course, we all know that these things are silly, are not true and we do not really believe them, but you can never be careful, so just in case - knock on wood.
We are religious in that we make our own gods. We even make our own god in a box. We watch the religious shows on television. We listen to the “Christian” (make air quotes) radio station. We watch the religious movies. We read the religion section in the newspaper. We listen to the politically correctness of our society. We think all these things through in our own minds and then we speak what we think the Bible says, but unfortunately, what we very often forget to do is to go back and check out what the Bible really says. How often have you said, or heard said, “My god is not like that,” or “My god would never do that?” In the past we have met the Bereans and as I have encouraged before, so I encourage again, be as the Bereans. Paul tells us, the Bereans were of a more noble character. They listened to what was preached and carefully checked it against the Bible to see if it was what God really said. The God of the Bible is not necessarily politically correct or the god of this world’s design.
We are Americans and as Americans we pride ourselves on the fact that we are self-made people. We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We did it our way. And we still do it our way. Today our gods may not be idols shaped in silver or gold, but our gods are images made by man’s design and skill nonetheless. In many and various ways we are very religious.
Paul says, “For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (v. 23). Those are Paul’s words. Today he might say it this way, “For as I walked around and looked carefully at the things you have made in this world I have seen buildings erected to money, churches, cults, religions and sects of all kinds, and people who have boiled it all down to these simple terms, ‘it does not matter what you believe as long as you believe something, as long as you are sincere and are good enough.’ Now what you worship in a pluralistic way, not knowing who you worship, I am going to proclaim to you.”
This is what God is really like. God is God. He is almighty. He is bigger than big, stronger than strong and smarter than smart. He is the one who made the world and everything in it, out of nothing. God shows His might in this, He said, “let there be” and it was. He gives us life at conception and new life through Holy Baptism. He gives us skills, talents and abilities to work, a job to perform, a way to make a living in order to be able to afford a roof over our heads, clothes on our back and food to eat.
God does not live in temples or churches built by human hands, so that we come to see Him on Sunday and then leave Him in the building until next week when we come to see Him again. No, God is everywhere present. He is always everywhere at the same time. He is bigger than the universe itself and at the same time He is as small as the smallest molecule. He knows our every thought. He sees our every move. And usually, we never think about that fact when we are in the middle of doing something we should not be doing, sinning in other words, He sees us. We come here to this place and worship God, not because He needs us to worship and adore Him, but because of our need to express our worship and adoration to Him and because of our need to come here to be given the gifts He has to give as He gives them through His means of grace, His Word and His Sacraments.
God is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. If our God needed something from us, He would not be a very mighty god. Rather, if God is the one who gives all things as we said, what would we have that He would need from us? It is very much like the relationship of a parent and a child. How often do children talk about their bed or their bedroom when it reality these things belong to the parents. We talk about the things of this world being our things when in reality all things are God’s. What we have when we are born and what we take with us when we die is what is really ours, nothing. Our response to God is to give back to Him. We give of our selves, our time, especially our time in divine service and Bible class, we give our treasure, not because God needs these things from us, but because of our need to recognize and return a portion to Him.
God Himself gives all people life and breath and everything else. We come to God and we pray to Him, not because He needs to hear from us, because He already knows what we need even before we ask, but it is because of our need to acknowledge our needs as well as our need to express ourselves to Him.
In Him we live and move and have our being. God is so almighty that if He were to remove His all powerful preserving hand from this universe it would collapse. And yet, He does not do that, but He is with us, keeping and sustaining us in all our needs every day. We are His children.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What a comfort to know that God does not change and that He does not change His mind. In an ever changing world it is good to know that what were God’s commands years ago are still His commands today. And yes, that means that what was a sin long ago is still a sin today. In the past God overlooked this ignorance, as Paul calls it, but not so today. Today we are accountable. Today, He commands all people everywhere to repent. To repent means to turn 180 degrees, to turn away from sin.
God will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. There are absolutes in our world. The is an ultimate authority. There are things that are right and things that are wrong. God will judge and His standard for judgement is Jesus. We like to compare ourselves with others and we can always find others who are “worse” than we are, at least in our own minds, but the standard we need to go by is Jesus and He is perfect.
Thanks be to God that the Standard is also the one who gave Himself for us. Jesus was born, true God in human flesh in order to live for us, that is in order to completely and perfectly obey all God’s commands, laws and decrees for us in our place because we cannot. God put our sins all our sins on Jesus so that He was worse than all of us. He was the worst of the worst, because He had on Himself the sins of all people of all places of all times. He suffered the eternal death penalty, which was the verdict that was placed on us, for us in our place. But Jesus did not stay dead. God raised Him from the dead. Now He is seated at the right hand of the Father where He is ruling over us, interceding for us and watching over us. This does not mean that He is only in heaven, because as God, Jesus is also with us, right here.
It is at this point that Paul had a difficult time and at this point we still have a difficult time today. The cross is not what we like to talk about. The cross, that is a bloody thing, that is a means of torture and death, that is something we like to avoid, but it is unavoidable. The cross is front and center. The cross is what brought us forgiveness and life. There are many people today who have a problem with the cross, but this is where we rejoice. Thanks be to God that Jesus gave His life for ours. Thanks be to God for this forgiveness, earned and won for us, given to us. And with forgiveness, we have eternal life in heaven.
This world and life in this world is short, perhaps a hundred years compared to eternity, forever, millions, billions, and trillions of years, which is forever. Your time in this world will run out. The Lord will return or we will die. No amount of knocking on wood will save us. No amount of good works will save us. No amount of obedience will save us. No amount of just believing in anything or with sincerity will save us. If just believing in anything would be sufficient, then why did Jesus die on the cross. It does not make sense. Narrow is the way to everlasting life and that narrow way is Jesus and Jesus alone. Just Jesus, that is our message and that is our hope and confidence. And the best thing is that it is a gift. God gives and we are given to, thanks be to God. May the Lord fill you with His Holy Spirit and work through His Word to give you, strengthen you, and keep you in faith. To Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
The Office of Holy Ministry and the Keys - May 14, 2017 - Fifth Sunday of Easter/Mother’s Day - Text: Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a, 51-60
Today is the Fifth Sunday after Easter meaning that we are still in the Easter Season and so we are still celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Indeed, the reason we worship on Sunday is that each and every Sunday is an Easter resurrection celebration. Today is also the most sacred, secular holiday of Mother’s Day and here, indeed, we in the church should be first in celebrating Mother’s and motherhood, as we might suggest one of the primary ways the church grows is through the birth of children who are to be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. So, Happy Mother’s Day to our Mothers here today. We are so glad you are here and we are so glad you brought your family.
As we get to our Scripture readings for this morning, what a wonderful opportunity our text affords us, the opportunity to get a better understanding of what we as Lutherans believe, teach and confess concerning the office of Holy Ministry and the Office of the Keys. Let me begin by reminding you that we believe that God issues three calls, and even four as we understand God’s call to life at conception. First, although some people resist, refuse and reject, God calls all people to faith and He does this through the means of grace, that is He calls us to faith either through the means of the sacrament of Holy Baptism, as He called and gave faith to many of us as babies, or God calls to and gives faith through His Word. After calling us to faith, God strengthens and keeps us in faith through these means of grace as well as through confession and absolution, our hearing and reading His Word, and the Lord’s Supper. So, God’s first call is to faith. God’s second call is that He calls us to our vocation, that is God calls us to and gives us each the abilities, skills, talents and opportunities to work to make a living and while He calls us to the vocation in which we work, we are to work, not as if we are working for a boss, but that we are to work as if we are working for our Lord, in other words, we are to work, doing our best and giving a witness of our faith in Jesus. The third call which God issues is not issued to all people, but God calls some men to serve in the office of Holy Ministry. And so these are the calls God issues.
Now, getting to our text, we are told by Luke that a dispute had arisen in the early Christian Church, but that a solution was also thought out. Because the Church and the local congregation was growing so fast, the work of the apostles and disciples grew as well. The church was not a communist or socialist church, but the wealthy did provide for those in need. As the distribution of the wealth to the needy took place there appeared to be a discrepancy concerning one group of people, perhaps the group not as well known to those distributing the goods. When a complaint was brought forward, whether founded or unfounded, and here we see that Satan uses whatever he can grasp to bring division, the situation was dealt with. The apostles and the congregation knew the greatest importance of the work of the apostles in Word and Sacrament ministry so the suggestion to “elect” seven for the daily tasks of distribution was accepted. Those elected must be of good Christian character and report, also we might note that they were not called ministers or given any “ecclesiastical” name, simply they were called to serve. The congregation agreed to the proposal and seven were elected. We are told especially of the faith of Stephen, faith from which flows one’s Christian life and character.
Notice that the dispute was not necessarily a quarrel or fight. What we are told is that there was a complaint and evidently this was a justified complaint. It appears that there was no intention of malice, no intention of leaving out some of those in need, simply the fact was the church was growing so big that some of those in need were being overlooked and neglected.
The solution helps us get a better understanding of the Office of Holy Ministry. The office of Holy Ministry is that peculiar office into which God calls certain men for the tasks of being about the business of the Word of God, that is pastors are to be teaching and preaching the word of God. Here again we are reminded that the Word of God is a means of grace, a way in which our Lord comes to us to give us the gifts and blessing He has to give. Notice that pastors do not call themselves. God calls Pastors through the local congregation to preach and teach the word of God.
Along with teaching and preaching the Word of God, Pastors are called by God through the local congregation to administering the sacraments, that is to baptize children as well as adults after instruction. Pastors are also to administer the Lord’s Supper for forgiveness and strengthening of faith of the members. And we might add, pastors are also to minister to those who are sick and shut-in. Yes, pastors make house calls.
Finally, along with preaching the Gospel, and administering the sacraments, the other work God calls pastors to do is to forgive and retain sins. Certainly we see this done every Sunday morning as we have corporate confession and absolution, in other words as we have confession and absolution as a congregation. But even more, the pastor is available, and I would encourage you to make use of your pastor for the purpose of private or individual confession and absolution.
So we have heard the work God gives to pastors. God also gives work to the lay people in the congregation. The work of the laity is that they are to be about doing good. They are to be about doing works of service. Notice how the seven were chosen for a specific task. We have various boards and committees on which to serve, we have various activities going on and God gives us the talents and abilities as well as time and treasure to do these various activities. To not use our gifts, talents and abilities for service to God in His kingdom is to misuse what He gives.
But let us get back to our text. Luke tells us in particular, about one gifted servant, Stephen. I am sure we have all heard the story of the stoning of Stephen, but have we looked at the exemplary life and example he leaves for us. Let me summarize Luke’s account. After reciting the history of Israel, Stephen accuses the Pharisees and teachers of the law of being worse than the idolatrous nations they put out of the promised land, because they refused God’s grace! My commentary gives this note: “Note: The sermon of Stephen admonishes us Christians to be mindful of the great blessings of God under the new dispensation, lest we also become indifferent and then callous, and finally resist the work of the Holy Ghost.” Stephen was probably not finished with his sermon, but the Pharisees and teachers of the law were. Stephen is given a special revelation as he faces martyrdom, a revelation of heaven and Christ Himself. All of this even more angered the Pharisees and teachers of the law so much that they held their hands over their ears, shouting so as not to hear and then began stoning him to death. All the while a young man name Saul watched their coats.
Stephen is a great example and really an example greater than we could ever think or imagine to follow. His example is that he lived as a Christian. Stephen did not simply have his name on the rolls at his church, he did not simply show up on Sunday or every other Sunday, or once a month, no, Stephen was involved, using the gifts, talents and abilities God gave him in service to the Lord.
Stephen also gave an answer for the hope he had as he was questioned. You can tell Stephen had been in Bible class and divine service. Perhaps he was even teaching a Bible class. Stephen was ready and filled with the Holy Spirit so that he was ready to gave an answer for his faith.
Stephen was not afraid to live or die for the Lord. Someone once said, “Dying for the Lord is easy, it’s the living that is so hard.” And there is a point to these words. Remember, once we have died and gone to heaven our life is great. It is difficult, and apart from God and His grace, it is sometimes impossible for us to live for the Lord.
Finally, Stephen rightly spoke the Gospel and especially at his stoning he spoke words of forgiveness of sins. We often make the comparison of Stephen to Jesus. Just as Jesus forgave those who crucified Him, so Stephen forgave those who stoned him. Will we so easily be able to forgive those in this world who sin against us? whether they ask or not?
So, let’s get to the what does this mean? First and foremost this means that we need to remind ourselves that God gives the Office of the Keys, that is God gives the Church the authority to preach the Gospel, to administer the Sacraments and to forgive and retain sins. This authority is a gift from God and is given for the purpose of giving and strengthening the faith of the members of the Church, for the purpose of extending God’s kingdom by sharing the Gospel with others, and for the purpose of giving praise and glory to God’s Holy Name.
God gives the office of the Keys to the Church and God gives churches to call pastors to exercise the office of the keys through the Office of Holy Ministry. A man does not call himself to be a pastor of a church, but God calls a man through the external means of His church to be a pastor where He would have him serve. The work of the pastor is to preach the Gospel, and here we are reminded by Paul that pastors are to be pastor/teachers. The work of the pastor is to administer the sacraments, to baptize and administer the Lord’s Supper, and to forgive and retain sins. Remember, when Jesus was visiting with Mary and Martha, Martha was so distracted by worldly things. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. When Martha complained Jesus explained that the most important thing for all is what Mary chose, to hear the Word of God.
God gives the Office of Holy Ministry in which He calls some men to serve and at the same time God gives the priesthood of all believers for all Christians to be a part. God gives gifts, talents and abilities for all of us to use in service to Him. Perhaps we would do well to remind ourselves that this is not our Church. None of us was here when this church began. In a few years none of us will be here as we will pass on to eternity. This is God’s church. Perhaps we might do well before we make decisions, to ask, what would God have us to do? How can we best be His Church in this place? How might we use the gifts, talents and abilities He has given to us in service to Him? How might we best go about the business of strengthening the faith of our own members, sharing the Gospel with others to extend God’s kingdom in this place and all of this will indeed give praise and glory to His Holy Name.
Finally, and really, most importantly, we need the constant reminder that God gives faith, forgiveness and life, even eternal life. God gives these gifts through Jesus who earned forgiveness and life for us. In our Gospel reading for today we are reminded as to why we in the Christian Church are so hated and despised by the rest of the world and that is because of the exclusive claim we, or rather God makes. Jesus does not say there are many ways to heaven, or enlightenment or nirvana, rather Jesus says there is only one way and that way is through Him alone. In our Epistle reading Paul encourages and urges us to long for, to desire the pure spiritual milk of His Word so that we may grow up into salvation. And he too explains how Jesus is the cornerstone, the only way to heaven. Thanks be to God that He gives us faith, that He strengthens and keeps us in faith, that He gives us forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
And to wrap this up, thanks be to God that He gives us our parents, our fathers and especially on this Mother’s Day, our moms to teach us, to read Bible lessons to us, to teach us to pray, to bring us to His house, to church and Sunday School, so that we might be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so that we might hear His Word, be given and strengthened in faith, have our sins forgiven, and be certain of our eternal salvation. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.