“The Voice Still Crying in the Wilderness”

The 2nd Sunday of Advent (C)
“The Voice Still Crying in the Wilderness”
December 9, 2018

Sermon Text: Malachi 3:1-7b, Luke 3:1-14

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from our Advent King, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Amazingly, it will still catch people by surprise… the vast majority of men, women, teenagers and children who happen to be living at that time… carrying out their lives… carrying on as if this will all continue on.

It is no overstatement to say that the world will be in shock at the second coming… our victorious King, Christ Jesus, coming down from heaven at the sound of the trumpet… on the last day… with legion upon legion of His angels and all the company of heaven singing and giving glory to God in the highest.

All of this was foretold… spoken about by the voice crying in the wilderness which has resounded throughout time… right up until the end.

Continue reading ““The Voice Still Crying in the Wilderness””

“Preparing Our Hearts and Homes – Our Advent Journey”

“Preparing Our Hearts and Homes – Our Advent Journey”
Midweek Advent Series
“The Lighting of the Candles”
December 5, 2018

Sermon Text: John 8:2-19

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There is something about evening time. As darkness comes over the land, so does peace and quiet… at least significantly more so than during the hustle and bustle of the day… the workday or school day.

With the sun now setting very early, we see lights going on much earlier – street lights, car lights, home lights and, of course, Christmas lights. And although much progress has been made in the way of artificial lighting in making it appealing, it simply does not “hold a candle” to natural firelight… candlelight… with its warm glow.

We in the Christian Church certainly know about candlelight. It has been used in worship for thousands of years. And for good reason. Make no mistake about it… the use of candles… the lighting of candles… was not the idea of man. Its importance and symbolitry were not either. They are divinely prescribed and used.

Continue reading ““Preparing Our Hearts and Homes – Our Advent Journey””

“Bookends and Everything in Between”

The First Sunday in Advent (C)
“Bookends and Everything in Between”
December 2, 2018

Sermon Text: Luke 19:28-40

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from our Advent King, Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Interesting isn’t it? To be at the beginning, and likewise see the end. To stand at the “starting line” but also have the “finish line” in clear view… plain view.

And this, having to do with our Lord’s saving mission here on earth. With a new Church Year… with the beginning of the Advent Season, we are at the start of it all.

As such, for you, me and all of Christendom, it is about the incredibly imperative preparation underway then and now for receiving the long-awaited Christ… the long-awaited Messiah… the Blessed Savior that God promised to send to our first parents covered in sin and, in turn, all who would come after them, including you and me.

Continue reading ““Bookends and Everything in Between””

“Open Your Eyes”

The Last Sunday of the Church Year (B)
“Open Your Eyes”
November 25, 2018

Sermon Text: Isaiah 51:4-6, Mark 13:24-37

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

Dear Friends in Christ,

It may seem odd, but nevertheless true. We learn in Holy Scripture to use our senses. Indeed, the Lord our God teaches us to engage them all, and especially our ability to hear and see, all for the purpose of making us aware of the truth… aware of reality… that which is and what will soon be.

Furthermore, in His divine teaching, God clearly explains that there is physical hearing and seeing… and then there is spiritual hearing and seeing. The latter being only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

I mention all of this because hearing and seeing… and the knowledge, the insight that comes from the same… is so critical to our understanding of the end times… so critical in our preparation for the last things and the last day.

Continue reading ““Open Your Eyes””

“The Final Battle”

The 26th Sunday after Pentecost (B)
“The Final Battle”
November 18, 2018

Sermon Text: Daniel 12:1-3

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,

The psalmist declares, “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:9-11 NKJ)

How comforting is that! How reassuring. That we are constantly and perpetually being cared for and watched over by the Lord. We always have… always will. The Lord God takes care of His children. He takes care of His own. He takes care of us. He looks out for us… throughout our days… throughout time… to the end of time… which is our particular focus in these, the last Sundays of the Church Year.

Continue reading ““The Final Battle””

“Only Once”

“Only Once”  Hebrews 9:24-28
The 25th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  11/11/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

It would be safe to say that all of us have “do overs.” Things in our lives… in our past…  that we would like to do over… to do in a different way… make a different decision… choose differently… act differently.

It may be something as simple and innocuous as choosing a different shampoo.

But then again, it could be something more serious like choosing a different career path.

And then… in addition to all of this… there are things that, even if we wanted to, there are no “do overs.” No second chance or opportunity. What is done, is done.

Continue reading ““Only Once””

“The Church Upstairs”

“The Church Upstairs”
All Saints’ Day
November 4, 2018
Text: Ephesians 2:19-22

When I was on my Vicarage I spent a lot of time in the church basement, because that’s where our confirmation class was on Wednesday nights and that’s where a lot of our youth activities were.  Most of the basement was a large room, a little smaller than the sanctuary upstairs, and it was divided up into different areas by old partitions.  There was an area that the ladies used for making quilts, and another area where items were collected that were to be given away.  It was nice, but it was a little beat-up.  You know how church basements can get after 100 years.  It had served its purpose, but it had seen better days, and it was never anything fancy even when it was brand-new.

Of course, what was upstairs, that you couldn’t see from the basement, was beautiful.  The congregation had been very faithful in renovating and updating the sanctuary every 25 years or so from the time the church had first been built not too long after the Civil War.  And it was a beautiful sanctuary, with lovely stained-glass windows and an ornate altar and a large baptismal font and great pews and wonderful combinations of colors on the walls.  It was everything that you would want a Lutheran church to be.  But none of that was visible from the basement.  If you lived in the basement, if you never saw the upstairs but were only told about it, all that you could do was believe what someone else told you about it, try to imagine what it was like, and hope for the day that you could see it for yourself.

Continue reading ““The Church Upstairs””