“Abide with Me”

“Abide with Me” – John 15:1-8
The Fifth Sunday of Easter (B)  4/29/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

Just when you think you pretty well know and understand something, you realize “O my goodness, there is more here than meets the eye… more here than what I first thought… much more, in fact!”

And if this is true in a worldly sense, it is infinitely more so in a spiritual one. Today’s Gospel text is a perfect example. You know it well, but maybe not all that well.

On the surface, it is easy to understand… the concept of our Lord Jesus Christ being the one true Vine and we the branches. But what we may miss is that there are certainly others out there… vines that is… to which people can and do attach themselves to… seeking to draw spiritual nourishment and strength… having no idea that the connection is anything but good and wholesome, but rather toxic and deadly.

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“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.

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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

“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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