“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

“The Prayer Connection”

The Seventh Sunday of Easter (A)

“The Prayer Connection”

May 28, 2017

Sermon Text: John 17:1-11

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from our risen and ascended Lord, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

You and I are given so many unique and important perspectives… but no more so than that which is afforded us in Holy Scripture. For sure, in God’s Word, we are able to see things, to understand things, which those who are of the world cannot even begin to do. We are able to make connections and see relations and relationships which others, blinded by sin and unbelief, simply cannot see.

Talking about perspectives, today’s Gospel lesson, recorded in John 17, is an amazing part of Scripture, one that is worth pondering over and over, for there is simply so much here to take in and learn… to take in and rejoice in.

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“The Commandment Connection”

The Sixth Sunday of Easter (A)

“The Commandment Connection”

May 21, 2017

Sermon Text: John 14:15-21

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

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

It is a literary device that has been used by many writers for thousands of years which, when one is aware of it, can bring even greater meaning and understanding to what is being said.

It is called a “chiasm” or “chiastic structure” that was employed by both the writers of the Old as well as the New Testament… all under the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Please turn with me to the Gospel lesson located on the back of today’s bulletin. The first verse… verse fifteen reads, [Jesus said:] “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)  If you would like, you can put a pen or pencil line at the end of the verse.

Then drop down to the last verse… verse twenty-one, and put a line at the start of it where our Savior says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)

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“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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“The Art of Seeing Without Seeing”

The Third Sunday of Easter

April 30, 2017

“The Art of Seeing Without Seeing”

Sermon Text:  Luke 24:13-35

In the Name of Jesus

Two weeks ago it was John who saw nothing in the tomb, but saw everything to believe Jesus rose again.

Last week it was Thomas; to whom Jesus said “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

And now this week Cleopos and the other disciple need to learn the art of seeing without seeing.

In spite of physically seeing the resurrected Jesus, Cleopos and the other disciple didn’t recognize Him.

You might think they lacked information, like maybe they weren’t around when Jesus prophesied His death and resurrection?

But, when they recited what happened over the past three days, including hearing from the women who saw the empty tomb, we know they saw everything they needed to see in order to believe.

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“Sons and Daughters of the King”

The Second Sunday of Easter (A)

“Sons and Daughters of the King”

April 23, 2017

Sermon Text: 1 Peter 1:3-9

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

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

It really says it all. He says it all in beautiful form and fashion… and this certainly by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in him.

I am referring to St. Peter and his words which make up our appointed Epistle text… perfect words for this, the Second Sunday of Easter… truly comforting words which we now have the joy of considering and taking to heart.

Indeed, one can hardly read this portion of Scripture and not sense that something truly magnificent and wonderful is going on here… that something truly precious and priceless is being held up for us and all the world to marvel at and give unceasing thanks.

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“Without Any Doubt”

The Resurrection of Our Lord

“Without Any Doubt”

April 16, 2017

 Sermon Text: Matthew 28:1-10

Grace to you and peace from our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Again, a blessed Easter morning to you. He is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

What joy fills our hearts this day as we consider again our Savior’s victory over death and the grave. His victory over sin and Satan.

Or… was He victorious? I know that is an odd question, but there were (and still are) many who wondered… who were skeptical given what they heard and came to believe. The way some heard it, Jesus’ disciples came at night … as the story goes… and stole him away.”  (Matthew 28:13) They took His body away.

St. Matthew records this hastily conceived cover-up campaign on the part of the Jewish leaders in the verses immediately following our glorious Gospel text. The chief priest’s paid some good money to get that story out there… to have it circulated… made public… made known… all for the purpose of… at the very least… placing doubt in people’s minds about Christ’s resurrection.

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