“How Do You Know Me?”

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
“How Do You Know Me?”
January 14, 2018

Sermon Text: John 1:43-51

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If you live with a person for a while, work with a person for a while… spend any real time with a person… be it quality time or a sheer quantity of time with them… you cannot help but get to know them… know things about them.

In fact, spend enough time with someone and you may know that person better than he or she knows himself… or herself.

In our Gospel text for today, however, we see how one Person knew someone, but their knowledge of the same really has nothing to do with spending time with them. In fact, this Person never met the other individual before… at least, not in a conventional way. But certainly, in a divine one… for you see,  the Person we are talking about is none other than our Savior, Jesus, God in the flesh.

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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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“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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“This Illness Does Not Lead to Death”

The Fifth Sunday in Lent

“This Illness Does Not Lead to Death”

April 2, 2017

Sermon Text: John 11:1-45

Peace be unto you from the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

How many times have we heard something and realized that it does not make sense. Well, maybe we heard it wrong. But then, upon learning that we had not, we are at a loss as to what to do… how to make sense of it all.

How many times in our dear Lord’s ministry here on earth… in His time here on earth… did He say things, proclaim things that simply did not make sense to those who first heard it… as well as those who still hear it today, but do not have as our Savior said, “ears to hear” … spiritual ears… ears opened and minds enlightened by the Holy Spirt.

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“Blindness and Sight”

The Fourth Sunday in Lent

“Blindness and Sight”

March 26, 2017

Sermon Text: John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39

There is an old story about Sherlock Holmes and Watson camping out overnight.  Somewhere in their journeys they have to sleep out in a field and they rig up one of these old-fashioned tents where you just put a couple of supporting posts in the ground, lay a tarp over them, and then stake the tarp in the corners and you’ve got a tent.  So they do this and they go to sleep.

In the middle of the night Holmes pokes Watson and wakes him up.  Watson asks, “What’s going on?”  Holmes answers, “Watson, look up, what do you see?”  Watson replies, “Oh, it is a beautiful night sky.  I can’t remember the last time I saw so many stars!  And I see a planet over there, and another planet not too far away from it, and on other side of the sky the moon is only half full but it is still so bright!  I can see the outline of the galaxy sweeping across the sky.  And it all reminds me how grand and awesome our universe is, and how insignificant I am in the midst of it all.  I am in awe of its beauty and I am humbled.”

Holmes replies, “Watson, you fool, someone stole our tent!”

Two people can look at exactly the same thing and see totally different things.  Depending on your perspective, you might say that Watson saw what was really important in seeing the big picture and his tiny place in it.  Or you might say that Holmes saw what was really important and focused on the practical, the here and now.  If one of these things is more important to you, you might say that the person who missed that and saw the other thing was blind.

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“Where Do You Get that Living Water?”

The Third Sunday in Lent

“Where Do You Get that Living Water?”

March 19, 2017

Sermon Text: John 4:5-26

Peace be unto you from the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

To say the least, she was intrigued by what this Jew had to say to her. Amazed first that he even spoke to her. A man speaking to a woman who was not his wife or kin and this, out in public. And then there was the fact that Jews did not speak to Samaritans and vice versa.

No surprise really because who we are talking about here is our Savior, Jesus, who out of great love and mercy breaks down, breaks through, ignores and abolishes all barriers that stand in the way between Himself and us and in this case, between Himself and this woman.

A woman that He cares greatly about as is seen in what He does and says here… His concern for her spiritual welfare… her eternal life… and those, all those, who she will speak with and tell about this Jesus… not to mention those, all those, who have heard and will hear this account down through the centuries to the very end of time… that which we are considering right now under the gracious guidance of God the Holy Spirit.

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