“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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“Bookends and Everything in Between”

The First Sunday in Advent (C)
“Bookends and Everything in Between”
December 2, 2018

Sermon Text: Luke 19:28-40

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

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Interesting isn’t it? To be at the beginning, and likewise see the end. To stand at the “starting line” but also have the “finish line” in clear view… plain view.

And this, having to do with our Lord’s saving mission here on earth. With a new Church Year… with the beginning of the Advent Season, we are at the start of it all.

As such, for you, me and all of Christendom, it is about the incredibly imperative preparation underway then and now for receiving the long-awaited Christ… the long-awaited Messiah… the Blessed Savior that God promised to send to our first parents covered in sin and, in turn, all who would come after them, including you and me.

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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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“In the Sixth Month the Angel Gabriel was Sent”

The Fourth Sunday in Advent (B)
In the Sixth Month the Angel Gabriel was Sent”
December 24, 2017

Sermon Text: Luke 1:26-38

Peace be unto you from the Messiah, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God.” (Luke 1:26)

You know, that is what angels do. They are sent… by God. They do His bidding. And Holy Scripture… both the Old and New Testament… is replete with accounts of the same… of the Lord our God sending His angels to earth… to mankind… to carry out some divine work and many times, to deliver a divine message.

St. Luke tells us this is exactly what the angel Gabriel was sent to do in the

“sixth month”… the sixth month, that is, of Elizabeth’s pregnancy… to bring a message.

No ordinary message, mind you. Which, coming from an angel, couldn’t be ordinary. It had to be extraordinary and it was… it certainly was.

It would be an understatement to say that it was a message that all the world longed to hear… all in the world, that is, who knew of the promise… who knew of the Messiah to come… and believed in the same, had faith, saving faith, that He would come. God said it. They believed it!

They counted on it. And what is more, they clung to it. They clung to the promise of a savior who was their only hope… their only hope of salvation, their only hope of being forgiven of their sins and freed from the eternal consequences of the same, namely death and damnation.

They, the faithful and all of creation, Scripture tells us, longed for the news that was, at first, only for the ears of a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.” The virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:27)

On the orders, at the command of the Lord our God, the angel Gabriel comes to Mary… sweet Mary, blessed Mary… one of the Lord’s own… one of the Lord’s faithful… one who, yes, knew the promise… knew of the Messiah and believed He would come… but had no idea it would all unfold… that it would all come to be… in this miraculous and marvelous way…

… that she would be the mother of the Savior of the world, for the name she is to call Him, “Jesus,” declares this very thing.

… that she would be the mother of God now coming in the flesh… her flesh… of her own flesh and blood… of ours and all mankind. That this new Adam would have the very same flesh and blood as the first Adam and all of his descendants. That this new Adam, the Son of Man and Son of God, would be everyone’s true brother… yours and mine.

Mary had no idea that she would be the mother of the King of kings and Lord of lords, for as the angel declares to her, the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33)

Mary had no idea of the shepherds who would come with haste to worship the Christ Child, her Child. And after them, awhile later, wise men, bearing gifts for the Christ Child, her Child… gifts suitable for a king. A King who eventually would wear a crown of thorns.

No… for sure… Mary had no idea what was in store for her or her Son. No idea, at that point, of the manger… no idea of the cross… no idea, not a clue, that she would witness both her Son’s birth as well as His death.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God.”

And Gabriel went, because that is what angels do. They go where God sends them, do what God commands of them.

So do the faithful… the faithful man, woman, teenager and child. Those baptized in Christ. Those upon whom the Holy Spirit is working wonderfully and mightily.

They go where God sends them, do what God commands them, dedicating their whole life to the same. As did Mary, sweet Mary, blessed Mary, who upon hearing all that Gabriel said, all that God had chosen her to do… to be… simply responded, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)  Because that is what the faithful do.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God.” And then, so was Mary. And so was the Son of God whose birth we will celebrate in a matter of hours.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son… He sent His only begotten Son… that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John. 3:16)

Because that is what the one true God does. Out of love… pure love… for you… for me and all the world. He has mercy upon us. He showers us with His grace. He saves us. He receives us unto Himself and gives us His Kingdom which knows no end.

Rejoice my friends. Be comforted and at peace with all that is yours in Mary’s Son. Amen.

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

“In the Sixth Month the Angel Gabriel was Sent”  12/24/17  The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL