“A Woman Named Lydia”

The Sixth Sunday of Easter (Series C)
“A Woman Named Lydia”
May 25, 2019

Sermon Text: Acts 16:9-15, Revelation 21:9–14, 21–27

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,

We have before us today a wonderful account of the Gospel message at work… the power of God’s Word (and His Word alone) to bring people to saving faith… faith in their Savior… our Savior… Jesus Christ in Whom alone and by Whose merits alone we have been saved from eternal destruction, made children of God and are now heirs of His eternal kingdom.

In our text, it is a woman named Lydia who is brought to faith in Jesus as her Savior. She is described as being among the sebo,menoi to.n qeo,n –  that is the “God fearers” … those who revered God… those who believed that there is but one God… unlike the many false gods worshipped by the majority of people of this region and throughout the then civilized world.

We are told that Lydia “just happens to be” with a group of women who had come together it says right by the side of a river where the Apostle Paul and the others had gone to pray on the Sabbath.

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“Shepherds Come and Go, But One Remains”

The Fourth Sunday of Easter (C)
“Shepherds Come and Go, But One Remains”
May 12, 2019

Sermon Text: Acts 20:17-35, John 10:22-30

Peace be unto you from our risen Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

His work there was done. And for one last time, St. Paul speaks to the called and ordained shepherds who have taken over the ministry in Ephesus… the “elders of the church” who were carrying on… continuing on where he left off… providing Word and Sacrament to all of the precious men, women and children who, at great cost, confessed Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior.

St. Paul declares to them, “And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.” (Acts 20:25)

This shepherd… an apostle of the Lord no less… goes on to share with these pastors two important things. He reminds them of what he did during his time there… during his ministry there (for it was Paul who had established the Christian Church in Ephesus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit). And He also warns these pastors of what is coming, what they will face in the months and years to come. Fighting the good fight of faith was tough then… and it would only get tougher. Indeed, such is the life of a Christian at any point in time and certainly in these end times… our lives lived out under the cross of Jesus

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“Never Say Never”

The Third Sunday of Easter (C)
“Never Say Never”
May 5, 2019

Sermon Text: Acts 9:1-20

Peace be unto you from our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In a world filled with surprises… with unusual twists and turns… we have all learned to some degree, never to say “Never.”

For sure, difficult times and tragic events happen. But we also know… should know… that so do miracles and so many surprisingly wonderful things as well… thanks be to God.

The unexpected… unanticipated… unbelievable occurs more often then we think.

Our first lesson for this Sunday, taken from the Book of Acts is a perfect example of this. Who would have ever thought that this man, Saul of Tarsus, would become a Christian… a member of “the Way” – as the early Christians were then called?

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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

“Truth Be Told”

The Fifth Sunday of Easter (A)

“Truth Be Told”

May 14, 2017

Sermon Text: Acts 6:1–9; 7:2a, 51–60

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

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

It is refreshing, isn’t it? In this, God’s House… in this, God’s Word… to hear the truth for a change. The truth and nothing but the truth.

And we have the joy of singing, saying and chanting these eternal truths in sacred liturgy and hymnody taken from God’s Word and based upon that Word.

Ah! The joy of not having to sort fact from fiction… what is and what is not… which is what we otherwise spend a good part of our waking hours doing, is it not? Sifting for the truth and many times wondering if we really found it… have it… the truth, that is, about this or that.

We live in a world filled with lies and so-called “half-truths” oftentimes forgetting or not really caring that as such, they are also consequently “half-lies.” A half-lie, by any other name though, is a lie, plain and simple. There is no middle ground. It is either true or false. It is either the truth or it is a lie. There is no in between… no blending. Look at it this way… a drop of poison in a glass of otherwise pure water, poisons the entire glass.

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