Welcome

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!

Disclaimer

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, December 5, 2021

Preparing the Way - December 5, 2021 - Second Sunday in Advent - Text: Luke 3:1-14 [15-20]

Are you ready? Are you ready for Christmas? Just to ask that questions may bring too many thoughts to your mind. From just a worldly point of view that question asks if we have our Christmas decorations up, if we have our party plans made, if we have our presents purchased and wrapped. However, from our Christian point of view that question asks if we have our hearts and minds prepared for celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Are we ready? The purpose of the season of Advent is that this is the time we use to get ourselves ready.
 

Our text for this morning is the beginning of the work and mission of John the Baptist. His work was to get the world ready for Jesus’ first coming, that is for Jesus’ time of ministry and work on earth. The importance of verses one and two of our text are that they serve to establish the historic fact of Jesus’ life. Make sure you hear this, the importance of verses one and two of our text are that they serve to establish the historic fact of Jesus’ life. The words of our Bible, Holy Scripture are not simply stories disconnected with the so called “real” world. The words of our Bible are God’s Word and are words connected to all of life, and most importantly they are words connected to our eternal life. We do not worship a god who is a myth, a legend, or a tale, we worship a living God who intervened in our history and is a part of our lives. Luke was a doctor and a historian. Time and again we see how he is meticulous in making sure that he gets the facts straight. Indeed, while all the books of human origin, all our so called “books of learning,” may be good books for learning, all these books are tainted with the uncertainty of human nature. Our Bible is God’s Word, a word which is completely faithful and true, a word which has the power to do what it says.
 

Luke puts Jesus in time and history. Let me reiterate, Jesus is not a make believe person. He is not a god like the Greek gods. He is a real historic person. He is a person who was born in time. He was born in the small town of Bethlehem, the city of His ancestor King David, and His first bed was a lowly manger, a feeding trough for animals.
 

Luke is meticulous in getting the facts and the details right. It is important that we get these things right. What Luke writes is not a myth, not a tale, not a saga, not a legend, not a story. What Luke writes are the facts. And the facts are these: “1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” (Luke 3:1-2).
 

According to Luke, John’s purpose was to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John was to show the people that they were sinners. How else would the people know of their need for a Savior and their need to repent of their sins unless their sins are pointed out to them? Likewise, how else would we know of our need of a Savior and our need to repent unless our sins were pointed out to us? And if we do not know we are sinners, then we would not repent and we would still be in our sins. And if we are still in our sins then we have no forgiveness and no hope of eternal life in heaven, only eternal death and hell. Thus we see the importance of our own need to be reminded of the Ten Commandments and how we daily break them, how we daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness, so that we might repent and confess our sins and be given God’s gracious gift of forgiveness and with forgiveness, life and salvation.
 

John came to preach a baptism of repentance and to prepare the way for Jesus. Remember, God’s promise to send a Savior was made some 4500 years earlier. By now, too many people had forgotten that promise and too many others, namely the Pharisees and teachers of the Law had changed the promises to be promises of sending a social, political savior. The people were in need of being prepared for the coming of their eternal Savior lest they remain unprepared and miss Him. Likewise, we continue to need to prepare ourselves for our celebration of our Savior’s birth as well as for His second coming. To not be prepared would mean to miss Him and to miss Him would ultimately mean eternal death and hell.
 

John came to preach a baptism of repentance, to prepare the way for Jesus and to make sure that all people were ready for the Savior. The people had not seen nor heard a prophet in some 500 years. This was the first prophet in so long that he gained their attention. They came out to hear him and to believe him and to be made ready for the coming of the Savior, the Messiah, the one promised by God to save the world. Likewise, we continue to see our need to be ready. To not be ready means eternal death and hell. To be ready means to eagerly anticipate, to expectantly wait, to anxiously look forward to Jesus’ return, when He will take us from this earth to be with Himself in heaven for eternity.
 

How did John get the people ready. He got them ready by the message he proclaimed. His message was a fulfillment of Holy Scripture of what was promised. Luke states, “As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:” (Luke 3:4a). John did not come on his own accord. He did not come proclaiming his own message. He came proclaiming the message God gave him to proclaim.
 

And the message God gave John to proclaim was a call to arms, a call to be ready. His message was a message from Holy Scripture that Holy Scripture was about to be fulfilled. The one promised to save all mankind was about to be seen. And all mankind would see God’s salvation.
 

John’s message was that the beginning of the end was in sight. Jesus’ coming ushered in the beginning of the end of the world, at least the end of this world. Jesus’ coming brought salvation to the world, to those who believe on His name, so that they might have life in the world to come, eternal life with Him in heaven.
 

What does this have to do with us? Again we might ask the question, “Are we ready?” And we might ask, “How do we get ready?” I pray that as we have been looking at this text and looking at the getting ready of the children of Israel for Jesus’ first coming, that we might see how our being ready is so important, even how our lives depend on it. For to not be ready means losing everything, even our lives. To not be ready means eternal death and hell.
 

So as we see, Advent really has a duel purpose. The first purpose of Advent is to get us ready to celebrate the first Christmas and Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. We get ready for this celebration by preparing our hearts and minds to once again hear the Christmas message, the Word of God which reminds us that God’s promises have been fulfilled. We get ourselves ready by clearing away the secular distractions that take away from a clear Gospel message. We take the time to read and reread the Christmas history. And I can think of no better way than to read Luke’s account of the events which took place so long ago.
 

The second purpose of Advent is to get us ready for Jesus second coming. Whether we believe it or not, whether we believe it will happen during our own life time or not, Jesus will come again, probably when we least expect it. Thus, it is so important that we get ready and work to stay ready for His second coming. And we get ourselves ready by making regular and diligent use of the means He has given us to get ourselves ready, the means of grace. We get ourselves ready by reading our Bible. We get ourselves ready by remembering our Baptism, by remembering that water and God’s name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been put on us. We get ourselves ready by regularly, every Sunday, attending Divine Service and Bible class. We get ourselves ready by confessing our sins and by hearing the most beautiful words in the world, “Your sins are forgiven,” because we know that when we hear those words we have what they say, forgiveness of sins and with forgiveness is life and salvation. We get ourselves ready by coming to the Lord’s table to partake of His body and blood and hearing the words, “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins,” and by this we participate in His life, death and resurrection. His perfect life becomes our perfect life. His perfect death becomes our perfect death. His resurrection becomes our resurrection. And His eternal life becomes our eternal life. It is through these very means that the Lord works in us to get us ready and to keep us ready.
 

Advent is a time to get ready for Jesus’ coming. Advent is a time in which we look back and see that the past is reflected in the present and in the future. Scripture has been fulfilled and Christ was born. Scripture will be fulfilled and Christ will return.
 

The question we ask ourselves again is, “Are we ready?” And we answer that question with a resounding “Yes, with the help of God.” And He does get us ready and we are ready.
 

The month of December is a hectic, event filled month. There are so many parties to attend. There are so many things to do, presents to buy, presents to wrap, decorations to put up, a tree to decorate, so many things are vying for our attention. And now, here we have the pastor trying to get our attention as well. Let me put it into perspective for you. While we are on this earth we may celebrate 80 or more Christmases. We may celebrate 18 or more with our children and fewer with them as little children. The fact of the matter is that we will spend a life of eternity either in eternal sorrow or eternal joy depending on whether or not we are prepared. If we do not get things just right for our earthly Christmas celebration, that is okay, it is just one Christmas and you will possibly have next Christmas to try again. If we do not get things right for getting ready for our eternal life, that is not okay. That could mean eternal death and hell. Thus, my prayer for each one of you continues to be that the Lord who has already begun His good work in you, would work through His Word to touch your heart to give you an urgency about your faith and your faith life, so that you will be ready, so that when our last hour comes we will all together stand before the Lord’s throne and say, to Him be the glory. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Word of Creation - December 1, 2021 - First Wednesday in Advent (Midweek 1) - Text: Genesis 1:1-5

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) and so John begins his Gospel account of the life of Jesus. This year during the season of Advent through Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve we will be looking at the various nuances of “the Word.” We will be looking at the power of the Word, the person of the Word, the God of the Word, and the Word as it continues in our world today. So, as Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). This evening we begin with the power of the Word.
 

In our text for this evening we are presented with the Trinity of God. Yes, the very first book of the Bible introduces us to the fact that we worship a God who declares Himself to us as a God who is three persons in one Godhead. Although we do not read the word “God” in the plural as such in our English Bible, when we read the word “God” which is “el” that is in the singular in Hebrew or as in our text, the word “God” is actually in the plural the word is elohim. So, right from the beginning of our Bible we read that in the beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth. But because our God is a triune God it is translated as God (singular).
 

As we continue in our text we read and hear of the Spirit of God. The word for spirit is the Hebrew word ruok which may be translated as wind or breath, but is best understood here as being the Spirit of God or better said, the Holy Spirit.
 

So, here at in the beginning, at the creation of the world we are introduced to our Creator God who reveals Himself to us as a plural, a Trinity, a God who is three persons in one Godhead. Here we have God as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
 

In the beginning God. It all begins with God. God is the prime mover. God is the one who gives and we are given too. In the beginning there was nothing. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” And then we have God’s creating Word. God said. God spoke and He spoke for a purpose. God spoke all things into existence.
 

Notice that God created simply with His Word. As I have said before, God’s Word effects what He says. When God speaks it is a certainty, it is a surety. God speaks and it happens. If there is one thing we can count on it is that God’s Word does what it says and God’s Word gives what He says it gives.
 

Here in the beginning God said, “Let there be light” or He may have simply said “Light” and there was light. Whatever God spoke He spoke it into being. Each day of creation God spoke another part of His creation and His creation came into being. Interestingly enough, while there are those in our world today who would doubt and cast doubt on God’s ability to create all things in six days and thus rest on the seventh day, there were those of Luther’s day who asked why did God take so long?
 

So, right here in the beginning we are introduced to God and we are introduced to His Word which is a Word with power. In our world we know that there are many books. As the preacher says in Ecclesiastes, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecc. 12:12). Indeed there are many books in our world and yet, while other books may teach, some good, some not so good none is like the book of God’s Word, the Bible.
 

As I have contended many times to many groups, man’s reasoning and man’s word is unsure. The problem with man’s reasoning and man’s word is that it has been tainted, by sin. Indeed, we are all conceived and born in sin and so our reasoning is flawed. Thus, when human reason and man’s word contradicts God’s Word, I will stick with God’s Word and conclude that human reason has missed something. How often have I heard something like, “The Bible contradicts itself.” My answer is “No, the Bible complements itself. When you think there is a contradiction the problem is not with the Bible but with your understanding.” Or, “There are so many interpretations of the Bible.” To which I respond, “No, there is only one interpretation of the Bible, but there are many misinterpretations.” Thus, for me, God’s Word, not human reason, nor man’s word, always has the final say.
 

Interestingly enough, as one of my professors would say, “All words are law words until the Lord makes them Gospel Words.” When we understand that the Law demands, but the Gospel gives, then we can understand that as human beings, in and of ourselves we cannot speak Gospel words, for our words are only Law words until our Lord gives us the Gospel words to speak. Indeed, noone can create, no one can call into being, no one can give unless first given to. And so it is only as the Lord speaks His Word to us that we are given the gifts that He has to give to us.
 

And so we see that God’s Word is a Word of power. God’s Word does and gives what He says. When God speaks His Word, His Word effects or does what it says and gives the gifts He speaks. When, at our Baptism, God, using the hand of the Pastor, puts water on our head and using the voice of the Pastor speaks His name on us, He gives us faith, forgiveness and life. He puts His name on us. He writes our names in the book of life. He gives us heaven. When, at Holy Absolution, God, using the voice of the Pastor, speaks His Word of forgiveness on us, we know our sins are forgiven. When we hear the Word of God read and proclaimed by the mouth of the Pastor, we know that the Word which is read, spoke and preached is a word of certainty. When, at the Lord’s Supper, God, using the voice of the Pastor, speaks His Word of consecration on the bread and wine we know that we are being given Jesus’ body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of our faith.
 

While our words may be law words and while our words may bring uncertainty, we know that God’s Word is true, is certain and is sure. We know that we can believe and trust God’s Word because it is His Word.
 

What does this mean? As I said earlier, as I have said before and as I will continue to proclaim, we always believe God’s Word over man’s word. While human beings are fallible God’s Word is true. God’s Word never fails. God’s Word is certain because it is His Word and He is God who gives His Word. God says and that settles it, whether we get it, understand it, want to believe it or not. God is the prime mover. He is the creator. He is the giver. He is God.
 

God’s Word is efficacious. God’s Word does and gives. God’s Word works faith, forgiveness and life in us. As we witnessed in our text for this evening, God said and it was, and it was good and ultimately, before the fall into sin, it was very good, perfect because God’s Word creates perfection. God’s Word gives and we are given too.
 

And finally, God’s Word stirs in us a response of faith. As I have said many times, we get it right when we point to Jesus. We are justified, made right in God’s eyes by Jesus’ perfect life, suffering, death and resurrection. It is all God’s doing and our being done to. We are sanctified, that is we are made holy so that we live God pleasing lives, also by God’s doing. Indeed, in and of ourselves we can do no good thing. It is only as the Holy Spirit works through the means of grace that He stirs in us to be the people God would have us to be even if we are and continue to be His people imperfectly while we live in this sin tainted world. So, even our sanctification is done right only as we point to Jesus.
 

God gives and we are given to. God is the prime mover. It all starts with God. God created life in the beginning. God gives us each life at our conception. God gives us each faith, forgiveness and eternal life through the waters of Holy Baptism. God forgives us through Holy Absolution. God strengthens us and keeps us in faith through His Word. God forgives us and strengthens us through His body and blood in His Holy Supper. God gives, God does and we are given to and done to. And God stirs in us to be His people even as we are so imperfectly while we live in this world. So, we are left to rejoice and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Signs - November 28, 2021 - First Sunday in Advent - Text: Luke 21:25-36

Our text for this morning reminds us of signs and the importance of signs. There are signs such as, when you see the buds on the tree you know that Spring is on its way. There are signs of the changing of weather. There are billboard signs and ads. There are street signs to point us in the right direction. There are many signs we depend on in our world.
 

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. The word Advent means “coming.” In particular the season of Advent is the time we set aside to prepare ourselves for our celebration of Jesus’ first coming, as a baby, born and placed in a manger, in the small town of Bethlehem.
 

Yet, much of our focus, for preparing ourselves for our celebration of Jesus’ first coming, is on Jesus’ second coming. This is true because the events of and Jesus’ first coming have brought us to the beginning of our waiting for His second coming. So, how do we approach these events? In our text, Jesus tells us to approach these events by looking at the signs. The signs will help us to know when these future events will play out. So let us talk a little about the future.
 

One view of the future is what I would call a “doomsday” view. A doomsday view of the future includes prophecies or predictions of the last days and how bad things will be. We see this in the “signs” of what is happening on earth. We see this in the fact that there are wars and rumors of wars, there are nations rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms. It seems like the forces of nature, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, monsoons, wildfires and the like, are more and more working to destroy the world.
 

Have you ever watched futuristic movies or television’s view of how bad things will be in the future. I would say that 99% of all movies and television movies depict our future and the end of the world in a very bleak manner. The suggestion has always been that art depicts reality and if that is true then what else could we expect from movies and television? Our nature is that we are sinful from conception. According to our human nature what else could we expect except a bleak future.
 

Why is this bleak view of the future the case? This bleak view of the future is the case, because apart from Jesus and faith in Jesus there is no hope, only despair. Apart from Jesus and faith in Jesus there is only eternal death and hell. For the unbeliever they only have themselves to depend on and that leaves them only with despair. What happens when a person turns into themselves, looks inside themselves, to find hope? They find more sin. They find sadness and despair. They turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to relive their depression. And it becomes a vicious cycle. The worst of it is the fact that apart from Jesus and faith in Jesus there is only eternal death and hell.
 

And to this we want to add what our text says.  “25And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (v. 25-26). It does not look good, does it?
 

But, before we despair, before we buy into the rhetoric of the doomsday naysayers of our culture, I think we should take a look at the future from a Christian perspective. As Christians we may dread, not necessarily the end of the world, rather the way the events are to take place. In other words, as a Christian we know that our future is set, yet while we remain in this world we will have to contend with the catastrophic events that await as this cursed world comes to an end.
 

As Christians we see the signs of the times and we may have doubts. We might wonder if God is so powerful, why does He not do something? We might rather give into the beliefs of our society than suffer for our faith. These temptations are great and they will only get worse. Just take a look at how many people, even how many other denominations have succumb to the pull and temptations of our society. Too many churches have exchanged the truth of the Bible for the lies of society. What was once considered sin, according to the morals of society and church, is now considered normal and natural and what was once considered normal and natural is now considered sin. It is getting harder and harder to be a Christian in our world today.
 

But, rather than be dismayed, we take refuge in what our text says. “27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (v. 27-28). As the writer of the book of Job helps us to understand, while things may not always seem fair while we live in this world, while it may appear that the righteous are punished and the unjust are rewarded, the day of Judgement will arrive when God will indeed make all things fair, right and just.
 

And even more, as Christians we take refuge in the fact that we have God’s promise as we read, “33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (33-36).
 

This text sounds a lot like our Gospel reading from last Sunday. Again we are reminded that God’s Word is sure! God’s Word will never pass away. Heaven and earth, our present physical living quarters may pass away, but God’s Word is permanent. God’s Word will never pass away. We have seen this truth in that God has and continues to keep His promises, the promises made in His Word. As He has kept His promises, especially as He has kept His promise to send a Savior, a Messiah in the life of His Son, Jesus, so He will continue to keep His promises, especially His promise to return on the day of Judgement. These are the signs of the things to come and the signs that He will continue to do what He says in His Word.
 

As Christians we are not to worry about what will occur, rather we are to watch, and pray that our faith may be strengthened so that we might stand firm. Really, there is no other way in which we would be able to stand firm. On our own we would perish. From the moment of our conception we are destined to meet the Lord. So, one question we all need to ask ourselves is the question, “Are we ready to die?” And another question we need to ask ourselves is the question, “Are we ready for Jesus’ return?” These are the two questions we need to ask ourselves, because either way, at our own passing or at the Lord’s return, we will meet the Lord. As Christians we answer these questions with a resounding “YES!” with the help of God.
 

As Christians we look with joy to the sure hope of the resurrection and to our being in heaven with Jesus, the Son of Man. As Christians, we may struggle with the events which will take place, especially since these events could well include our own suffering, however, we do not despair because we have the hope and the certainty that because of our faith in Jesus, because of His life, suffering, death and resurrection, because of His giving His life and shedding His blood for us, we have the certainty of eternal life in heaven.
 

Today we begin the season of Advent. Why do we begin Advent talking about the end times? Because Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension ushered in the beginning of the end times. We are living in the last days. As incredible as that may seem and probably as much as we really do not believe it, it is true. Jesus’ promise is that He will return, when we least expect it, and just as He kept His first promise to come and save us, so He will keep His promise to return.
 

We begin Advent talking about the end times because we, as Christians, joyfully look forward to and eagerly anticipate the second coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And, unfortunately, very much like the fact that there was only a handful of Israelites who were still looking for the coming of the Savior in Jesus’ day, so by the time Jesus does return there may only be a handful still waiting, anticipating and eagerly expecting His return today. By God’s grace we are a part of that handful.
 

We begin Advent talking about the end times in order to remind ourselves that we do not live in a vacuum, rather our lives, our short life here on this earth and especially our future lives in heaven, have been determined by the past perfect life of Jesus. Unlike the unbeliever who has only to look forward to a future of despair, we have a bright eternal future awaiting us in heaven with Jesus and all the saints who have gone on before us. The signs are all around us. The Word of God gives us faith, forgiveness of sins and strengthens us in our faith so that we do believe the signs. The Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts and through the means of grace continues to work strengthening of faith in our hearts, that is why it is imperative that we make regular and diligent use of His means of grace.
 

Advent is a joyous occasion to look back and see all that our Lord has done for us and to look forward and see all the good gifts and blessings He has in store for us. My prayer for each one of you is that you will continue steadfast in your faith so that you are ready, so that we might joyously celebrate Christ’s first coming on Christmas morning, and even more so that we might all be ready for His second coming when He will come to take us all to be with all the saints standing before His throne and saying, “To God be the glory.” For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Where Are You? - November 24, 2021 - Thanksgiving Eve - Text: Luke 17:11-19

This evening we come to say “thank you,” which is something I pray we do every day. This evening we take the time to come, and with special emphases, we say “thank you,” as we celebrate a national day of giving thanks. “Thank you,” is not naturally in our vocabulary. I remember as a child and now that I have I children I am again reminded of that constant reminder when someone gives you a gift, “what do you say?” “Thank you.” Our text for this evening is the Gospel lesson and the all familiar historical account of the ten lepers, but before you drift off into thinking about who will win the football game, or how much still needs to be done before the guests arrive, when to put the turkey in the oven, or the side dishes, let us keep our ears and minds open to what really happened in the account of the ten lepers.
 

One day Jesus was on His way from Samaria to Galilee. Somewhere between Samaria and Galilee, as He was going on His way, ten men who had leprosy met Him. At this point in the narrative we are not told of their nationality we are simply told of their disease, leprosy. Like many diseases even today, diseases such as cancer, leprosy was a disease that was no respecter of persons, that is it had no cultural or national boundaries and actually if leprosy did  anything it united those who would have otherwise been divided. A leper was a person who had a skin disease that was so bad and so infectious that they had to live separate from the rest of the community. They had to live outside of town. The person with leprosy was literally rotting to death and for the safety of others they must yell “unclean, unclean,” when anyone came near, in order to warn them to stay away lest they might get this dreaded, fatal disease. Not much was known about the disease, how it was communicated from one person to another so lepers were not allowed contact with the rest of the world. Certainly these lepers lead very lonely, deary lives. Their only companions would be other lepers.
 

What is evident from the response of the lepers to Jesus coming is that they must have at least heard of Him or heard about Him, even if they did not necessarily believe that He was the Messiah. It is evident that they had heard of His ability to cure and heal so that when He did come into town they cried out to Him for healing. Well, even if one did not believe, the rest did and besides, what could it hurt to try? Notice that their felt need was to be healed. They believed they needed physical healing and that is what they asked, for physical healing from leprosy.
 

Although their desire was for physical healing their cry was a cry for mercy, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Now notice what Jesus does on His part. He does not wave His hands around or up in the air. He does not put His hand on their head and push them over. He does not say, “Be healed” (said in a deep “faith healing” voice). Instead, He simply asks them to demonstrate their faith. He says, “Go show yourselves to the priest.” Why should they go and show themselves to the priest? They were to show themselves to the priest because he was the one who could announce that they were clean and no longer infected with leprosy. He was the one who could give them back their lives. But they were leprous. Perhaps the question on their mind was, should they go? Did they believe that Jesus healed them?
 

Now, we may want to pause here in this account and make sure that we understand it was not their own personal faith that healed them. Many times Jesus healed people and although, as here, He alludes to faith making them well, it is not one’s faith in Jesus that brings healing. Certainly that would limit God’s power. Their healing was effected by God. And actually, it was their healing that effected faith in their hearts. In other words, Jesus’ healing the lepers is what confirmed Jesus as God and is what confirmed their faith. Remember, we get it right when we point to Jesus. Jesus is the one who tells them to go and show themselves as being healed, thus speaking faith into their hearts.
 

Getting back to our narrative, on their way to show themselves to the priest they are healed, all ten of them, but only one man notices. Or at least only one man notices and returns to Jesus to give Him thanks. When he gets to Jesus, he throws himself at Jesus’ feet, a sign of unworthiness and our text adds that “he was a Samaritan,” that is, he was a foreigner. Now we get to this social, national distinction. Again, as a leper this social/national barrier was knocked down, but now that they are healed it comes back into play. Actually, Jesus uses this social/national distinction to strike at His fellow Israelites for their thinking more highly of themselves. Jesus asks (rhetorically) “where are the other nine?” And He tells the man that his faith has saved him, saved him as in healing him and saved him for eternal life. Pointing to Jesus we might suggest that this man had faith, saving faith, that was given to him by Jesus and confirmed in his being healed. The other nine believed more in the healing than in the healer.
 

Now, that is a nice historic narrative and a nice account for celebrating a national day of Thanksgiving, a nice reminder to us to be thankful. Yes, we know that Thanksgiving is not necessarily a religious holiday, rather it is a secular holiday. Yet, we might compare this secular holiday to the Old Testament festival of Pentecost which was a harvest festival. And as Christians, certainly our desire should be to be on the forefront of thankfulness and demonstrating that thankfulness. But, we might ask, how does it relate to our own lives?
 

In a very real way we are like the ten lepers. We are sick, spiritually sick. We are full of sin, enemies of God, we are outcasts, leading lonely, dreary lives. We know we are in need of healing, especially in need of spiritual healing.
 

And we know Jesus. We know even more than the lepers knew about Jesus. We have hind sight. We can look back and know that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior. We know that He did live perfectly for us, in our place, as our substitute, because we cannot be perfect as God demands. We know that Jesus did take all our sins upon Himself, that He did suffer and die the eternal death penalty of hell for us in our place, that He did rise and ascend into heaven. We know that He did send His Holy Spirit to be with us to guide and lead us in life. We are continually reminded of all that Jesus did for us; all that He still continues to do for us; and all the He will do for us especially as He comes to us through the means of grace. As we read His Word we meet Him. As we make regular and diligent use of reading our Bibles we meet Him. As we come to Bible class and divine service we meet Him. As we read our Bibles we meet Him. As we remember our Baptism, as we partake of the Lord’s body and blood in His holy supper, as we confess our sins and hear His most beautiful words of absolution He gives us faith, forgiveness, life and salvation.
 

Jesus comes to us daily and weekly through His means of grace. Daily we are confronted with the question, do we believe? The temptations of the world are to put our trust in the creation rather than the Creator. Do we see Jesus’ hand in all things in life? Do we notice His good gifts and blessings? Each new day, the rain, the ability to work, the gifts, talents and abilities to work, good health to work, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the roof over our heads and so on. Do we believe these are from our good and gracious God or that somehow we may have earned them, even a little?
 

Are we the one about whom Jesus asks “where are the others to whom I have given life?” Do we forget, or maybe we should ask, how often do we forget to give our Lord the thanks and praise He deserves. Or are we the one who came, throwing ourselves at Jesus’ feet in unworthiness and thanking Him for all His good gifts and blessings? Do we live for the creation or for the Creator? My prayer is that we are all like the foreigner.
 

Yet, whether we are like the foreigner or one of the nine, the fact remains that even for us, Jesus has given us healing, perfect healing through the forgiveness of sins which He earned for us and which He gives to us through His means of grace. He gives us perfect healing with forgiveness, He gives us faith and we know that we are saved. Thanks be to God.
 

Thanksgiving is a time to be like the leper who returned to give thanks, but not just at Thanksgiving, but all year long. As God has given to us, we respond, with His help in giving thanks to Him. We respond by speaking and singing words of thanks and praise. We respond by giving of our time, talents and treasure, as we are moved by the Lord to do so. We respond by simply offering ourselves and our lives to the Lord and living our life to His glory. We respond by being in Divine Service where the Lord pours out on us and gives us even more of the gifts He has to give the greatest gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. I thank the Lord that you have come and began your Thanksgiving by coming here first and recognizing and giving thanks to the Lord for all His good gifts and blessings. My pray is that the Lord will continue to work through His means of grace to strengthen and keep you in faith and that He will continue to bless you as you give yourself back to Him. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.