“The Blessed Ones”

The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany (C)
“The Blessed Ones”
February 17, 2019

Sermon Text: Jeremiah 17:7, Luke 6:20-26

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,

You have said it. I have said it. Many have said it. Not only once, but continuously… constantly… and for good reason. Because it is true… wonderfully true. We are truly blessed. We are among the blessed ones.

But what does that mean? That which rolls off our tongues so easily… do we really know… understand… what being blessed is all about?

What it is not about is having what we want… what we crave and desire… what we determine is needed. It is, rather, all about what the Lord our God… in His infinite wisdom… in His abounding love, mercy and grace… gives to us or holds back from us.

Oh yes, we are just as much blessed by what we do not have… what we are not given… as by what is given to us. Not that we, still in this sinful flesh, like that, appreciate that many times.

Here’s an idea. If you want to know what being truly blessed is all about, look to the One who is the fount and source of every blessing. And He, the Lord Himself, provides the answer speaking through His servant, Jeremiah in today’s Old Testament text.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7)

My friends, when it comes to the subject of being blessed, look beyond, far beyond, the worldly to the divine. Set you sights, your focus, not on the things of this earth, but on the heavenly… not on the temporal, but on the eternal.

Look to the Lord, and by the mighty working of His Spirit in you, trust solely in the Lord. And this not partially or conditionally, but completely and solely… without reservation. Indeed, it is only by God the Holy Spirit that we can do this… only in the regeneration and renewal of our hearts and minds that took place at the time of our baptism and that which continues on in us ever since.

To trust in the Lord. To make Him our trust. The question can be legitimately asked, why wouldn’t we do this? Why wouldn’t we trust solely in the One who is the Maker… Creator… of the universe and all things in it? He who is our creator? He who is our provider seeing to ALL of our needs of body, soul and mind? He who alone has all of the power and might? He who alone loves us perfectly?

The answer is simple. It is due to sin. Sin causes us to doubt the Lord… doubt His Word and His abilities. Sin causes us to have “back-up plans” and to even put those plans and our trust above that of the Lord.

The answer is simple. Satan and this world… all those of this world get us thinking… wondering if we can really trust and rely on the Lord.

Sin, Satan and our own weak flesh so easily take our eyes off of the one true living God and His Word where He tells us unequivocally that “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord” and then goes on to explain what this means… what such blessings entail.

“He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”     (Jeremiah 17:8)

In the Lord our God, through Christ Jesus and what He accomplished on the tree of the cross, we are strong and sturdy trees planted by the water of our Baptism and constantly nourished through the same. Trees… mighty trees, thriving trees, fruitful trees even in times of excessive heat and drought… even when things are tough in this world and in our own lives. Through it all, we do not fear… neither do we grow anxious.

We look what happened in Aurora and we realize how close that is to home… our homes. And it hits home… the fact that any and all people are vulnerable… that we are vulnerable… that we have no control over evil. We do not, but the Lord our God does… full control… allowing things to happen… to take place… for our ultimate good whether or not we see that good, understand it… now in time. We will most certainly in eternity and give ceaseless thanks and praise to God… that which we already do.

Our trust is in the Lord. As the Psalmist declares, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124.8)

Come what may. We will be more than ok for we are Lord’s. We are His precious children redeemed and restored by the very blood of Jesus Christ.

It is by no accident that we have this Sunday the accompanying Gospel lesson where we are told that our Savior is with “a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon(Luke 6:17)

You have believers along with many onlookers there with Him… with Jesus. And St. Luke points out that our Lord “lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.” (Luke 6:20-23)

Blessed are we and all fellow disciples of the Lord… all who trust in the Lord. Blessed are we without measure… this even in the face of evil and adversity… in the face of heartaches and headaches… the pressure and persecution that will come because of our faith… because of our resolute confession that Jesus is Lord. As Christ Himself declares, “behold, your reward is great in heaven.” It is sure. It is certain.

Make no mistake about it. Never doubt it, my friends. We are the blessed ones! Amen.

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

“The Blessed Ones”  2/17/19  The Rev. Mark H Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport,

“What is This Word?”

The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany (C)
“What is This Word?”
February 3, 2019

Sermon Text: Luke 4:31-44

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,

Desensitization – We all know what it means… what it entails… namely us or others having, over time, a diminished emotional response to something negative… something aversive.

A very real problem and concern in our society today is how desensitized people have become to murders and killings… to shootings and stabbings. Why? Because it happens all the time. It is seen all of the time on the news to the extent that it no longer elicits a proper response.… where it is just another occurrence and we fail to consider after a while what really happened… that real men, women and children have died… that real family members and friends are grieving, grief stricken, having lost a loved one.

Certainly, this includes the reaction of many… of most… to abortion. By and large the horror is gone… the disdain, disgust, repulsiveness of the same no longer present. We hear the numbers of babies killed in utero and that is all it is… numbers without faces, numbers without little bodies in various stages of development… various stages of being made by the very hand of God.

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“Done! Then, Now, Forever!”

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany (Series C)
“Done! Then, Now, Forever!”
January 27, 2019

Sermon Text: Luke 4:16-30

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I’d like to begin this message mentioning something that happened this week. And I do so because, as you will see, it fits perfectly into… and is incredibly connected to… today’s Gospel lesson.

Quite frankly, if we as Christians do not hear it from the pulpit, we cannot expect to hear it in public. If the called and ordained servants of the Lord are not saying something… anything… can we expect something… anything different from lay servants of the Lord… from you and all the faithful?

You probably know what took place this week in both the State of Illinois and New York State and the further condoning… the giving of additional rights and provisions for the killing, murdering and dismembering of unborn children… babies in the womb… human beings… in some cases right before their birth.

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“The Heavens Were Opened”

The Baptism of Our Lord (Series C)
“The Heavens Were Opened”
January 13, 2019

Sermon Text: Luke 3:15-22

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The holy evangelist, St. Luke, certainly provides an interesting account of the baptism of our Lord. Before getting into this most holy and blessed event, he talks about the work of John the Baptist who made it clear to all that he was not the Christ… that he was not the anointed One… not the Messiah.

He was, instead the forerunner of Christ… the one who prepared the way of the Lord… the voice crying out in the wilderness.

In fact, Luke tells us that as John continued to baptize those who came out to him in the wilderness, there by the river Jordan, that he also made it very clear that the One who would come after him… the One of whom John was not even worthy to do the simplest and most menial of tasks, namely  untying the straps of His sandals… that this One… the true and only Christ… would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” as He separated the faithful from the unfaithful, the believer from the unbeliever, the repentant from the unrepentant… just as good and wholesome wheat is separated from useless chaff that is destined to be burned in the fire.

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“With Thankfulness in Our Hearts”

The First Sunday after Christmas (C)
“With Thankfulness in Our Hearts”
December 16, 2018

Sermon Text: Colossians 3:16-17, Luke 2:22-40

Today’s Gospel lesson declares, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)  So far, our text.

Peace be unto you from the Savior of the World, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

And this my friends, in light of the great love and mercy God our Father has shown toward us in sending His only begotten Son, our Savior… Jesus… into the world.

In fact, we just celebrated Christ’s holy nativity. We did so on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day and in reality, it never ends… our celebration, that is… and our thankfulness… they know no end.

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“Are You the One?”

The Third Sunday in Advent (C)
“Are You the One?”
December 16, 2018
Sermon Text: Luke 7:18-28

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,

“The only thing constant is change.” So, the old adage goes. And I do mean old… really old. It actually dates back some 500 years before Christ and is attributed to the Greek philosopher, Hericlitus of Ephesus. “Panta rhei” is his famous quote in Greek… everything flows… everything is in flux.

And we have certainly seen this in the world around us with all of the constant change… and at warp speed no less. Oh, how our culture has changed… how society has changed.

The time of John the Baptist was a difficult time. Life was hard. Everyday living… hard. Add to that being under the weight of Roman oppression. It was a tough existence… it was literally tough to exist. Many didn’t… not for long that is. And for John, well, his prison days would soon be over as he is martyred for his faith… martyred for speaking the truth.

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“The Voice Still Crying in the Wilderness”

The 2nd Sunday of Advent (C)
“The Voice Still Crying in the Wilderness”
December 9, 2018

Sermon Text: Malachi 3:1-7b, Luke 3:1-14

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

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Amazingly, it will still catch people by surprise… the vast majority of men, women, teenagers and children who happen to be living at that time… carrying out their lives… carrying on as if this will all continue on.

It is no overstatement to say that the world will be in shock at the second coming… our victorious King, Christ Jesus, coming down from heaven at the sound of the trumpet… on the last day… with legion upon legion of His angels and all the company of heaven singing and giving glory to God in the highest.

All of this was foretold… spoken about by the voice crying in the wilderness which has resounded throughout time… right up until the end.

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