“Open Your Eyes”

The Last Sunday of the Church Year (B)
“Open Your Eyes”
November 25, 2018

Sermon Text: Isaiah 51:4-6, Mark 13:24-37

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

Dear Friends in Christ,

It may seem odd, but nevertheless true. We learn in Holy Scripture to use our senses. Indeed, the Lord our God teaches us to engage them all, and especially our ability to hear and see, all for the purpose of making us aware of the truth… aware of reality… that which is and what will soon be.

Furthermore, in His divine teaching, God clearly explains that there is physical hearing and seeing… and then there is spiritual hearing and seeing. The latter being only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

I mention all of this because hearing and seeing… and the knowledge, the insight that comes from the same… is so critical to our understanding of the end times… so critical in our preparation for the last things and the last day.

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“Who Then Can Be Saved?”

The Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost (B)
“Who Then Can Be Saved?”
October 21, 2018
Sermon Text: Mark 10:23-31

 St. Paul writes in his 2nd Epistle to Corinth, chapter 5, verse 7, that we walk by faith, not by sight.  Which may cause us to ponder the alternative: what would it mean to walk by sight, not by faith?

If we walked only by sight, then all that would matter would be what we could lay our hands on and enjoy right here and now.  We struggle with the implications of this in many different ways almost every day.  We could trade in our car for a nice shiny new one now, or we could have a little more in the retirement account for later.  We could take the really great vacation now, or we could have a little more money saved up in Junior’s college fund for later.  We could have that great-looking burger and its 60 grams of fat now, or we could weigh a little less later on.  Every day we make choices between what we want now and what we hope for later on.

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“The Choices We Make”

The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost (B)
“The Choices We Make”
October 14, 2018
Sermon Text: Mark 10:17-22

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,

In a world where it is so easy to gloss over something… where we are trained to skim through and fast forward to what might be considered salient points… much can be missed… overlooked.

There is no greater example of this than in how people read Holy Scripture… if this is even taking place. For some, believe it or not, their only exposure to Scripture is what they hear read, briefly read, on Sunday mornings.

Lest anyone think otherwise, that is not being in the Word. That is not being connected to the Word… the living Word which God would have us carefully consider and take to heart for it is His divine message of love to each and every one of us where nothing is fluff or filler… nothing is of little or no importance. Rather it is all crucial… all critical to know and be reminded of.

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“Trusting Instead of Testing”

“Trusting Instead of Testing”  Mark 10:2-16
The 20th Sunday after Pentecost (B)
October 7, 2018

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Testing Jesus. Testing the Lord God Almighty, He who is the Alpha and the Omega. Not a good idea on several fronts, wouldn’t you say?

And yet it happens… constantly. We know that it is far more prevalent than just what the Pharisees were doing in today’s Gospel text.

For sure… it is a quality, a characteristic of sinful man down throughout time to test God… to test His Word… to test His resolve… to test His holy will.

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“Set Free for Love and Service”

“Set Free for Love and Service” Mark 9:30-37
The 18th Sunday after Pentecost (B) 9/23/2018
Rev. Richard Bellas, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

 

The great Leo Tolstoy novel Anna Karenina is really a story about two women whose lives go in opposite directions.  The first is Anna, a member of the wealthy Russian elite with all the advantages except for one thing – she is stuck in an unhappy marriage.  She begins an affair with Count Vronsky, an affair that is at first a secret, but becomes more and more obvious as time goes one.  Before long, she has been cast off by her husband and ostracized by society because of the scandal.  She is even kept away from her young son by her vengeful husband.  Left with no one and nothing except her lover, Anna runs off with him to Europe to follow her sinful heart and indulge her passions for him.  Turned in upon herself, living only for her own pleasures and passions, Anna becomes more and more miserable, becomes addicted to drugs, and eventually kills herself in a fit of hopelessness by throwing herself under a train.

And then there is Kitty, a young girl who begins the novel with a deep crush on this same Vronsky and is destroyed when he shows no interest in her.  Kitty is heartbroken to the point of becoming physically sick, almost to the point of death.  Her family cares for her and their doctor does the best he can for her, but eventually he admits that there is nothing that he can do for her.  There is nothing physical about her problem that he can treat.  Her soul is broken, and her body has followed.  He suggests that they take her to Europe to see what cures they may find there, because nothing in Russia can save her.

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“He Has Done All Things Well”

“He Has Done All Things Well”  Mark 7:37, Isaiah 35:4-7a
The 16th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  9/9/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

Of all the churches to have a “Rally Day.” A Lutheran Church? A Lutheran congregation? Missouri Synod no less! Really? The idea of Lutherans getting excited, enthusiastic, all pumped up and primed, can seem more than just a little far-fetched.

But here it is! Rally Day at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lockport, Illinois. So, what does it consist of? Our “rallying” that is? And why do we rally?

Well, let’s take the last question first. We rally, in part, because the world around us gets us down. It incessantly seeks to drag us down. It… this world… our society… and things happening in this very country… can leave us downright depressed… sad and forlorn.

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“From the Inside Out”

“From the Inside Out”   Mark 7:14-23
The 15th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  9/2/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

The first words out of our Lord’s mouth in today’s Gospel lesson are so simple and yet, so profound… truly profound. They sum up what is key for you and me and every person here on earth.

Jesus said, “Hear me, all of you, and understand.” (Mark 7:14)

If you are looking for it any other way, through any other means, through any other person… understanding, that is… it is not going to happen. All you can expect is to be led further astray… to be further duped and deceived.

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