“Joyous Trembling”

“Joyous Trembling” – Mark 16:1-8

The Resurrection of Our Lord (B)  4/1/18

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

“Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

It would be safe to say that we have all had close encounters that left us more than a little shaken… trembling even. And this realizing what could have been and by all indications, should have been. Where we are somewhat bewildered and ask ourselves, “Did that just happen?”

What a whirlwind it must have been for Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome who St. Mark speaks about in this Easter text.

All that happened… all that took place the past week from the day Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Especially what took place three days ago as they watched their bloodied and beaten Lord crucified. As they took it all in.

  • Him hanging there in agony hour after hour.
  • The taunts and jeers of the Jews, the Roman soldiers and even those crucified with Him on either side.
  • The darkness that covered the land like a thick funeral pall beginning at the noon hour and continuing until He breathed His last.

Until Jesus, their Jesus, gave up His spirit and the earth shook, and the rocks split… tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.

  • As they watched their Lord’s lifeless body taken down from the cross and wrapped in a linen cloth.
  • And then as they went and watched where He was laid in a tomb… and the large stone that was rolled into place.

To take all of this in and then to experience what happened early that morning, this morning, the third morning. Seeing the large stone rolled away… seeing the young man all dressed in white… there sitting in the tomb… a tomb that was otherwise now empty.

And then to hear the angelic words, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

St. Mark tells us the women then left the tomb, fled the tomb… τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις … that is trembling and astonished. And who wouldn’t be?

τρόμος from which we get the English word “traumatic.” ἔκστασις from which we get the word “ecstasy.” Both best translated here as trembling and being astonished.

Trembling at what took place. Trembling that still takes place among God’s people… the faithful… here on earth.

Even in the full understanding of all that Christ did on the cross? With all our sins now blotted out and Satan’s power crushed… the Serpents head crushed?

Even in the full understanding and the glorious reality that Jesus lives and that death has been conquered?

There is trembling?  For you? For me?

Yes, “healthy trembling” in understanding the oh-so close encounter we have all had with eternal death and what could have been… should have been… but is no longer and never can be.

Also “reverent trembling” in the full knowledge and appreciation that all this was affected… brought about… by the Lord God Almighty in the most wonderful, powerful and mightiest of ways. And that it was all for us… we poor miserable sinners.

Reverent trembling that still goes on as we behold the divine mysteries of God and partake of the same.

  • Reverent trembling as God breathes His all-powerful Word… His life-giving Word upon us as it is read in the divine service.
  • Reverent trembling every time Satan is cast out, exorcised at every baptism that takes place at that font.
  • Reverent trembling that takes place every time we take into our mouths a wafer of bread and a sip of wine at this communion rail fully realizing that it is Christ’s very Body and Blood, given and shed for us for the remission of all of our sins.

Healthy trembling… reverent trembling… and also, my friends, “joyous trembling” that continues on and on and on for God’s people.

And this every time we respond to the Good News “He is Risen.”

This every time you and I sing “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” and especially that seventh verse where we gladly proclaim,

“He lives and grants me daily breath; He lives, and I shall conquer death; He lives my mansion to prepare; He lives to bring me safely there.”

You know, when you think about it, it is really the joy… the reality of our joy and what all is behind it… that leaves us trembling… as tears of joy stream from our eyes in full realization that all of this is ours…

  • Victory is ours.
  • Jesus is ours… our ever-living Head… our Savior, Lord and King.

To God alone the glory… now… and forevermore! Amen.



“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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“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

“Terrified on Top”

The Transfiguration of Our Lord (B)
“Terrified on Top”
February 11, 2018

Sermon Text: Mark 9:2-9

Peace be unto you from our glorified Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

They followed the Master, their Master as He took them up what St. Mark describes as “a high mountain.” Not all of the Twelve, mind you. Just Peter, James and John who no doubt wondered “What are we doing? Where are we going?” And this, as they went higher and higher with Jesus leading the way.

St. Mark keeps it succinct…to the point regarding what happened to our Lord on that mountain. “He was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.” (Mark 9:2-3)

It is safe to say that Peter, James and John did not see that coming. And that is saying a lot because these three along with the rest of the disciples had certainly seen a lot already… a lot of amazing things… miraculous and truly extraordinary things involving our Lord.

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“All Who Are Sick and Demon Oppressed”

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany (B)
“All Who Are Sick and Demon Oppressed”
February 4, 2018

Sermon Text: Mark 1:29-39

Peace be unto you from our revealed Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

One of my favorite television series of all time is MASH. You just cannot get enough of the 4077th with all of their hilarious antics. But what the show was also known for is its attempt to vividly portray and depict the horrors of war and the casualties they produce. I thought they did a pretty good job of that.

In how many episodes did we see the surgical teams working non-stop for hours upon hours? All the wounded. There was actually a lot of reality behind this fictitious show. In my previous career in hospital administration, quite a few times, I saw doctors and nurses in mass casualty situations tirelessly attempting to help those in need… those who were hurting… those who were dying. They just kept on working.

A sad fact of sin entering the world is that there will never be a shortage of people who are hurting, people who are in pain and misery, people who are afflicted with various diseases and illnesses… people who are dying.

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“What is This? Who is This?

The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany (B)
“What is This? Who is This?
January 28, 2018

Sermon Text: Mark 1:21-28, Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Peace be unto you from our revealed Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

It wasn’t as if they were not told in advance… as if He, Jesus, was not foretold because they were in the very place where the “foretelling” took place, namely in the synagogue. St. Mark tells us,

“And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath [Jesus] entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mark 1:21-22)

One of the “precepts,” if you will, of interpreting God’s Word… of coming to know and understand the Bible more and more… is to keep in mind that “Scripture interprets Scripture.” In other words, the more and more that we read Scripture, study Scripture, the more we will understand the same as more and more passages become clear to us by reading other passages, other sections of God’s Word. Clear connections, wonderful connections and insights take place. It is truly remarkable and enlightening.

Continue reading ““What is This? Who is This?”