“The One Who Shepherds Us”

“The One Who Shepherds Us” – John 10:11-18
The Fourth Sunday of Easter (B)  4/22/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

Peace is knowing that a day does not go by… an hour, minute or second… where we are not attended to, closely watched over, cared for, protected and supported.

Peace is knowing that there is never a time or a place that we are defenseless and unequipped… ill-equipped… to make it through that very second, minute, hour or day.

If you and I know the reality of this, believe this, embrace and confess this… we have peace… true peace… peace of body, mind and soul… peace that is not fleeting, but ever present.

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“These Are His Words”

“These Are His Words” – Luke 24:36-49

The Third Sunday of Easter (B)  4/15/18

Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

If our Lord’s Passion was a lot for the disciples to take in, so was the Resurrection… and probably even more so. To see their beloved Rabbi, the Master, alive! To go through being startled and frightened by His sudden appearance to them and then troubled by having to process this all and determine if this was real. Was it a ghost or really and truly their Savior?

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“How Can We Know?”

The Second Sunday of Easter (Series B)
“How Can We Know?”
April 8, 2017
Text: John 20:19-31

Peace to you from God our Father and from His Son, our risen Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

During the years between 1618 and 1648 the Thirty Years’ War waged across northern Europe.  It was a horrible war that dragged on and on and involved many nations.  It has been said that this was the worst war that Europe ever experienced, including World Wars 1 and 2, because of the uncertainty that it created for people.  No one knew what was coming next, but it was usually even worse than what had happened before, and on and on it went for 30 long years.

A careful study of our hymnal shows one of the results of this war.  If you study the hymns from the 16th century, the century of the Reformation, when people were discussing and debating the doctrine of the church, you will find that those hymns reflect that emphasis.  Most of our hymns that are loaded with great doctrine, the kinds of hymns that serve as sermons all by themselves, with no help, come from the 16th century.

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“Joyous Trembling”

“Joyous Trembling” – Mark 16:1-8

The Resurrection of Our Lord (B)  4/1/18

Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

“Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

It would be safe to say that we have all had close encounters that left us more than a little shaken… trembling even. And this realizing what could have been and by all indications, should have been. Where we are somewhat bewildered and ask ourselves, “Did that just happen?”

What a whirlwind it must have been for Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome who St. Mark speaks about in this Easter text.

All that happened… all that took place the past week from the day Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Especially what took place three days ago as they watched their bloodied and beaten Lord crucified. As they took it all in.

  • Him hanging there in agony hour after hour.
  • The taunts and jeers of the Jews, the Roman soldiers and even those crucified with Him on either side.
  • The darkness that covered the land like a thick funeral pall beginning at the noon hour and continuing until He breathed His last.

Until Jesus, their Jesus, gave up His spirit and the earth shook, and the rocks split… tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.

  • As they watched their Lord’s lifeless body taken down from the cross and wrapped in a linen cloth.
  • And then as they went and watched where He was laid in a tomb… and the large stone that was rolled into place.

To take all of this in and then to experience what happened early that morning, this morning, the third morning. Seeing the large stone rolled away… seeing the young man all dressed in white… there sitting in the tomb… a tomb that was otherwise now empty.

And then to hear the angelic words, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

St. Mark tells us the women then left the tomb, fled the tomb… τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις … that is trembling and astonished. And who wouldn’t be?

τρόμος from which we get the English word “traumatic.” ἔκστασις from which we get the word “ecstasy.” Both best translated here as trembling and being astonished.

Trembling at what took place. Trembling that still takes place among God’s people… the faithful… here on earth.

Even in the full understanding of all that Christ did on the cross? With all our sins now blotted out and Satan’s power crushed… the Serpents head crushed?

Even in the full understanding and the glorious reality that Jesus lives and that death has been conquered?

There is trembling?  For you? For me?

Yes, “healthy trembling” in understanding the oh-so close encounter we have all had with eternal death and what could have been… should have been… but is no longer and never can be.

Also “reverent trembling” in the full knowledge and appreciation that all this was affected… brought about… by the Lord God Almighty in the most wonderful, powerful and mightiest of ways. And that it was all for us… we poor miserable sinners.

Reverent trembling that still goes on as we behold the divine mysteries of God and partake of the same.

  • Reverent trembling as God breathes His all-powerful Word… His life-giving Word upon us as it is read in the divine service.
  • Reverent trembling every time Satan is cast out, exorcised at every baptism that takes place at that font.
  • Reverent trembling that takes place every time we take into our mouths a wafer of bread and a sip of wine at this communion rail fully realizing that it is Christ’s very Body and Blood, given and shed for us for the remission of all of our sins.

Healthy trembling… reverent trembling… and also, my friends, “joyous trembling” that continues on and on and on for God’s people.

And this every time we respond to the Good News “He is Risen.”

This every time you and I sing “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” and especially that seventh verse where we gladly proclaim,

“He lives and grants me daily breath; He lives, and I shall conquer death; He lives my mansion to prepare; He lives to bring me safely there.”

You know, when you think about it, it is really the joy… the reality of our joy and what all is behind it… that leaves us trembling… as tears of joy stream from our eyes in full realization that all of this is ours…

  • Victory is ours.
  • Jesus is ours… our ever-living Head… our Savior, Lord and King.

To God alone the glory… now… and forevermore! Amen.

 

 

“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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