“He Wouldn’t Come Down”

“He Wouldn’t Come Down”Mark 15:1-47

Sermon Notes – Palm Sunday (B)  3/25/18

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

“If I only knew” How many times have we said, thought this? And most times having to do with averting that which caused us heartaches, headaches, pain, problems, and even very serious consequences of our actions. In contrast to this…

The Son of God… the Second Person of the Holy Trinity… knew. Jesus, our Lord and Savior… knew… perfectly. And not just from the beginning… at this, the start of Holy Week… what will happen as He makes His way into Jerusalem.

Not just from then, but always. The eternal Godhead knew… has always known… what would happen in the minutes, hours and days we are about to observe.

Jesus knew. And still He came not only to Jerusalem now, but to earth, then! He left the heavenly, holy realms to come to the stinking cesspool of sin here on earth… to those, all those, who were under the curse of sin – every man, women, child and infant. He took on our flesh and is about to take on our sins.

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“The Message of the Cross”

The Third Sunday in Lent (B)
“The Message of the Cross”
March 4, 2018

Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18–31

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

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

So this whole idea that from nothing, God created everything that is… everything that exists. It is all the work of His hands.

This whole idea that the creation of the entire universe, our solar system, this planet and all things on this planet came to be by the Word of God over just six natural, normal days.

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“No Profit to Be Had”

The Second Sunday in Lent (B)
“No Profit to Be Had”
January 21, 2018

Sermon Text: Mark 8:34-38

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

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Not too long ago, we discussed in one of our weekday Bible studies, an amazing book, “Tried by Fire” by William Bennett, in which he brings before the reader many of those who lived the Christian faith, suffered for the Christian faith, died for the Christian faith and are now in glory with their Savior, Jesus Christ… who they would not abandon… who they willingly confessed to be their Lord even, with their very last breath.

It was, to say the least, a humbling book… a humbling and sobering look at so many of our brothers and sisters who remained faithful unto death and received the crown of eternal life…

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“The Wilderness Days”

The First Sunday in Lent (B)
“The Wilderness Days”
February 18, 2018

Sermon Text: James 1:12, Mark 1:9-15, Psalm 91

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

So writes St. James in our appointed epistle text. Blessed is the man, the woman, the teenager and child who remains unmovable, unshakeable, un wavering when faced with trials and tribulations… when under fire… when under great pressure.

There is certainly enough of that to go around… the trials and tribulations … the fires and pressures of life. And this is true of everyday life for everyone, but then add on to that the trials and tribulations… the pressures and the coming under fire for being a Christian… for holding to the Christian faith… for remaining steadfast on the Word of God and the confession that Jesus is Lord.

Put quite simply, “It ain’t easy.” Because of what we face out there… in the world… in the wilderness… the “WILDER-ness” of this life which is only getting worse, crazier by the minute… insane even.

The things that are happening all around us… to us and to others. Take for example the school shooting in Florida and countless other stories of man’s inhumanity to man. Add to that man’s perverse ways, sick ways… twisted and sordid and it is downright laughable those who say that things are getting better… that things are looking up… that real progress is being made… that our world and our society are becoming more and more sophisticated, civil and refined.

Really? The same world and society where hundreds of unborn babies everyday are torn apart and thrown into the garbage and this while the right to do so is staunchly defended because, after all, it’s a matter of choice?

The same world and society that gives sanctuary and support to that which is illegal and unlawful while thumbing their noses at that which is legal and lawful and penalizing the law abiding?

The same world and society that of course, dismisses God’s Law in total, but also throws common sense out one window and natural law through another regarding issues such as gender differences and human sexuality? I would say that monkeys know better, but that would just fuel the evolutionists.

It is wild out there, my friends… and getting wilder. It is like the Wild West only it is the same in the north, south and east. And the better we understand this under the gracious guidance of God the Holy Spirit, the better we can deal with the same, cope with the same… make it through the same… all of us… our children and our children’s children… alive and well… physically, mentally and most importantly, spiritually. To understand what is really going on here and make it through the same… through all of the days of our life in this, our sojourn here on earth.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

After the fall into sin, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden… from paradise. They were driven into the wilderness where they and all of their offspring… all of their descendants… live out their days on earth.

And so it was necessary that the second Adam, our Savior, our Substitute, Jesus, was also driven into the wilderness to be with us, He who became one of us.

Jesus was with the wild animals in that wilderness, St. Mark tells us in our Gospel text. WE, my friends, are with the wild animals as well… including those who walk on two legs.

Jesus faced Satan, as do we, every day. Jesus was tempted by Satan, as are we, every day.

Jesus was ministered to by angels… there, in the wilderness. And guess what? So are we, every day. Really and truly. God’s angelic beings who do His bidding… who are with us every hour of every day.

I shared with our junior confirmation class that we pray those precious young people and adults who died in the recent school shooting knew Jesus as their Savior and confessed the same, because no child of God who died that day in that place, died alone. They were surrounded by angels who ministered to them and bore their very souls to heaven.

What is more, we are attended to by other “angels” … that is, messengers of God, namely His called and ordained servants who preach and teach the Word of God to us. The Word which alone saves. The Word which alone sends Satan and all who do his bidding here on earth fleeing.

St. Mark doesn’t go into the specific temptations that Jesus faced at the hand of Satan, but we know from the other Gospels that to each of those temptations, our Lord countered with the Word of God… He who actually is the Word incarnate… the Word made flesh… the Word all-sufficient, all-powerful and potent.

And we, likewise counter, my friends. For we do not live by bread alone, but by the every Word of the Lord our God that sustains us… that sustains our children and our children’s children as we live in this Wild West… East, North and South.

Through it all, we fear no evil. Even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear nothing that is evil. It cannot harm us. The worst it can do is take our mortal lives… we who are really immortal from the moment of our baptism where, in that very water, we died with Christ and rose with Him to newness of life.

As we also discussed in confirmation class this past week, everlasting life is not something we look forward to… it is ours NOW in Jesus Christ and what He did for us… what He won for us on the cross. Do you know that? Do you live that and live accordingly… live in light of this glorious fact?

The wilderness way… it may seem scary and downright frightening. But it is ok. And this in Jesus Christ who shows us the way… who feeds us, sustains us and guides us all along the way, every step of the way… and this by His Holy Word and the Blessed Sacraments.

If you would, please take out your worship bulletin and let us speak in unison the words of our Introit taken from Psalm 91 which wonderfully sums all of this up:

When he calls to me, I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him

and show him my salvation.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place

the Most High, who is my refuge—

no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the adder;

the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning,

is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Rejoice, my friends. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” Amen!

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

“The Wilderness Days” 2/18/18  The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

Who Knows? Perhaps He Will Relent…

Ash Wednesday
February 14, 2018
Joel 2:12-19
Who Knows?  Perhaps He Will Relent…

 What do we really know about the character and the nature of Almighty God?  Does He fit into a little box of what we expect and want from a god?  Is He what we demand Him to be?  Or is He Whoever He is – I am Who I am – regardless of what we want or what we believe to be true?

The prophet Joel spoke the Lord’s sure Word to His people.  Historically, less is known about the situation surrounding Joel than that of any other prophet of the Bible.  We don’t know when Joel lived, who was king, what the specific sins of the Lord’s people were, or what external threats faced God’s people at that time.  The text would seem to indicate the onslaught of a plague of locusts, among other things, with all the related natural consequences – loss of all vegetation and crops, drought, the devastation of all existing food stores – but even that could be just a metaphor for an invading army.  The scope of the judgment even hints at the fact that this was not primarily something that occurred in Joel’s day, but is rather a prophecy that mainly looks far away, into the future, to the final judgment of all mankind.  The text is just not specific and clear on these points.

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“The Passion Perspective”

The Sunday of the Passion

“The Passion Perspective”

April 9, 2017

Sermon Text: Matthew 26 & 27

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,

Who doesn’t like a good movie now and then? It is a great source of entertainment. Add some buttered popcorn and a few other goodies and what more do you need?

With some movies, it makes sense just to wait until they can be rented or streamed at home. No big deal. But for cinema spectaculars, they just have to be seen… need to be seen… on the big screen. In some cases, even in an Imax theater. Talk about up-close and bigger than life!

In some of the same ways, my friends, it wouldn’t do it justice if the entire passion of our Lord was seen, viewed, considered via anything less than a way that lets us take it all in… indeed… up-close and true to life… the actual  account of the saving of all mankind as recorded in God’s Word in vividness and detail unsurpassed.

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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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