“The Pearl”

The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“The Pearl”
July 30, 2017

Sermon Text:  Matthew 13:44-52

 Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Three parables in a row. Three different scenarios, but one in the same message… one point… one key fact or factor that our dear Savior would have us know about the kingdom of heaven.

Out of love He shares this… that which is before us in our Gospel text… that we may understand what we have… all that we have… what has been graciously given to us… the kingdom that is not of this world and yet is ours now, while we are in this world… while we live and work with the dying and decaying kingdom of the world… the kingdom of darkness… that is all around us.

Could it be that some of you are already drifting off into other thought because you think you already have a good enough idea and understanding of the priceless treasure that is yours… that “one pearl of great value” which our Lord speaks about? (Matthew 13:46)

Well, if that were the case, my friends, your life and mine… how we live it… what we do and say… what is important and what is not… would be quite different than what it is now.  Our life in this mortal flesh only shows we still have much to learn… much to understand and truly grasp… and this all by the Spirit’s power as He works mightily in us through Word and Sacrament.

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“Until the Harvest”

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“Until the Harvest”
July 23, 2017

Sermon Text:  Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43  

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear Fellow Redeemed,

Two questions – How often have we heard the phrase, “In the Lord’s time?” And how often have we found ourselves wanting that time to come a little quicker, if not a lot quicker? Right now, in fact, would be good!

Again and again, though, history bears out that how we view and measure time is not how God views and measures it. His, the perfect view and measure. Ours, not so much… not at all actually… where time and time again, we grow weary and impatient oh-so easily. So often, we want to rush things. We want certain things to start and other things to end… to be over with.

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“Spiritual Audiology”

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“Spiritual Audiology”
July 16, 2017

Sermon Text:  Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23

 Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

St. Matthew tells us “great crowds” had gathered to hear our Lord there on that sea shore. It was so large, the people so many, that Jesus gets into a boat allowing more people to gather in close to hear Him speak.

All of this paints an impressive picture. Is this not what we like to see? Many people hearing the Word of God? Many people gathered around our Savior…  be it on a beach, in a church or wherever?

Yes! Certainly, but… here is the thing. Just being in close proximity to our Lord… simply having the opportunity to hear what He says… physically being able to receive into one’s ears the words coming out of Christ’s mouth does not guarantee that those words… God’s message… is really being heard, let alone understood, let alone rendering any blessing and benefit.

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“Come to Me”

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“Come to Me”
July 9, 2017

Sermon Text:  Matthew 11:25-30

 Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

What an honor and privilege it is to hear the Word of God and consider it this morning… to take it in… to have ears that spiritually hear… the ears of faith, that is, which we have been graciously given through the Holy Spirit. And to have hearts that hear as well… minds that hear… again, all by the Spirit working mightily in us.

For it is God in Christ Jesus who speaks to us today – directly, personally and passionately… including where He says to us… all of us… “Come to Me.”

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

I would be very surprised if this passage does not rank high on the list of everyone’s favorites. And to understand and appreciate the full import of this amazing invitation issued by our Savior, we would do well to consider the context of the same.

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“For the Healing of the Nations”

The Second Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“For the Healing of the Nations”
June 18, 2017

Sermon Text:  Matthew 9:35-10:8, Revelation 22:1-7

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

In April of this year, seventy-two people including women and children where killed in a deadly chemical attack in Syria. Some four hundred others were seriously injured.

It was a terrible scene, a heart-breaking one, a very challenging one for medical personnel as they rushed to treat victims and were, some of them, injured as well by rubble that fell when the hospital was bombed shortly thereafter.

So many people needing help. So many people suffering. So many… in misery.

St. Matthew tells us that our beloved Savior, Christ Jesus, went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching… proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. We are also told that “when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:35-36)

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“Our Confession, Our Life”

The Holy Trinity
“Our Confession, Our Life”
June 11, 2017

Sermon Text: Matthew 28:19-20

Peace be unto you from the one true God, the Lord God Almighty – Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Our Savior said shortly before ascending into heaven, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Do it all in the one true God. Do it all in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And to this we say “Amen” because it is highly doubtful that among those gathered here this morning, there are some who do not confess the Holy Trinity and the fact that there is but one God in three Persons.

I believe that all of us faithfully confessed the same a few minutes ago in the form of the Athanasian Creed which, along with the Nicene and Apostle’s Creed, boldly state our belief in the Holy Trinity. Such is the firm conviction of the Christian Church universal… the Christian Church catholic. Indeed, the one true Triune God confessed by the one true Church here on earth as well as that above… the Church Militant as well as the Church Triumphant.

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“In These Last Days”

The Day of Pentecost

“In These Last Days”

June 4, 2017

Sermon Text:   Acts 2:17-21, John 7:37-39

Peace be unto You from our loving God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ… and especially you, dear catechumens,

Needless to say, we have much to rejoice in this day. Being in the house of the Lord… in divine worship… receiving the all-powerful and all-sufficient Word of God and the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar… having the rite of confirmation conferred upon five wonderful young adults… and in all of this the outpouring and the mighty working of the Holy Spirit.

In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles, it says, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17 quoting the Lord God in Joel 2:28,29)

And again the Lord God proclaims, even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Acts 2:18 quoting the Lord God in Joel 2:28,29)

He certainly does now and He certainly did then… on that first Day of Pentecost and the “outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

When you hear the word “outpouring” what mental picture comes to mind? I doubt it is of a person using an eye dropper or a teeny-tiny spoon to dole out teeny-tiny amounts.

We are more likely to envision water being poured out of a pitcher. Or a victorious sports team pouring a gigantic container of Gatorade on their coach. Or water pouring over a falls… Niagara Falls!

Fun fact… 150,000 gallons go over, pour over these falls every second. Talk about getting drenched. Don’t forget the thunderous sound it makes. Don’t forget, too, the roaring wind that accompanies such a voluminous outpouring. Sound familiar?

What may not be known as fact, however, is how the word “outpouring” in the Greek –  ἐκχέω or ἐκχύννομαι … is used and what it connotes.

It means to “pour out” yes… but also “to shed”… “to spill.”  With that piece of information, what additional mental images now come to mind?

It is the same root word that our Savior, Christ Jesus, uses as He first institutes the Sacrament of the Altar, saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:24)

And in the Book of Revelation where it says, they have shed the blood of saints and prophets.” (Revelation 16:6)

In the Letter to the Romans it says, “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

And in Titus, we read, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:5-6)

Jesus, who poured out His blood for us… for our salvation. The very same sacred blood that is poured into the chalice of which we partake.

Jesus, who also poured out His Spirit upon us… upon all… just as He promised on the Day of Pentecost.

And these divine gifts, priceless gifts, poured out… shed… given… in no small measure. There is no skimping here… no small amount… which is good… at all times and especially now… we who live “in these last days.”

In these tough times, challenging times. Catechumens, you know that Pastor Bellas and I in confirmation class did not sugar coat the situation regarding this world, our world… the world in which you are now growing… the world that you will live in all of the days appointed to you here on earth.

You… along with your parents and all members of our church family have been taught the reality of it all. But that, thankfully, includes what is the foremost reality. The reality of Jesus Christ. The reality of the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, the glorious coming again, the judging of the living and the dead and our spending eternity with the Lord in heaven… in the mansions that have been prepared for us and all believers.

Yes, it includes the reality of Christ your Lord, your Savior and King being with you every second of your life.

It includes the reality of His Holy Spirit dwelling richly in you and this, from the moment of your baptism on… the Spirit that will remain in you all of your days… the flame of faith that will remain strong in you… unless you squelch the same by removing yourself from the only means by which the Spirit works… the only means by which one’s faith remains, is sustained and grows… namely God’s Holy Word and the Sacraments.

Most certainly, by God grace, we have all that we need… all that is offered, administered and conveyed right here… in the house of the Lord. This… all this is your lifeline in these last days… days that I pray will be wonderful ones, blessed ones in Christ for all of you.

If you would, please turn with me now to the Gospel lesson found in John, chapter 7.  It is so apropos for today because the “feast” that is mentioned here is the “Feast of Booths” on which the people of Israel remembered and gave thanks to the Lord God for safely seeing them through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

The connection is clear to us… now… in our wilderness journey through this world to our promised home in heaven and look what Jesus says to us… He who “stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive,” (John 7:37-39)

This Jesus said about the Spirit whom those who believe in Him HAVE received. And for this… in these last days… we rejoice and are at peace. We rejoice and are comforted now… and always! Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

“In These Last Days”

6/4/17  The Rev. Mark H. Hein

St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL