“Guided by a Star”

The Epiphany of Our Lord
“Guided by a Star”
January 6, 2019

Sermon Text: Matthew 2:1-12

Peace be unto you from our revealed Messiah, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

I think we have all been in the situation where… out of a fairly large group of people… we were the last to know something… the last to be aware of something… to be privy to some information.  And when we eventually find out and share the same with others declaring “Who knew?” … all of a sudden people start raising their hands or otherwise acknowledging… admitting… that they did… that they already knew.

Thankfully, in most cases, what counts is knowing, whenever that may take place. Earlier for some… later for others… but still knowing. This certainly holds true in regard to the Christian faith. It holds true in our knowing Jesus.

Today we celebrate one of the major festivals of the church year – The Epiphany of Our Lord – where the revelation, manifestation and attestation begin in earnest.

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“O Come Let Us Adore Him!”

The Epiphany of Our Lord
“O Come Let Us Adore Him!”
December 31, 2017

Sermon Text: Matthew 2:1-12

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

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

So, what gives? From the title of this sermon, one would think that what follows is a “Christmas message.” After all, it is the well-known refrain to the great hymn, yes, Christmas hymn, “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

Here is the thing, the adoration of our Lord did not begin and certainly did not end with the angels and all of the heavenly host as they sang out, rang out the glorious news of Christ’s birth.

It did not end with the shepherds out in the fields, watching their flocks by night. Those who heard the news and came to the Baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

It did not end with Simeon and Anna who are given the great honor of seeing, meeting and greeting the Christ Child in the temple.

It did not end with the wise men whose account we consider this morning and all who will have the great epiphany… the greatest of epiphanies… that this Jesus is truly the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior of the world… that He is Immanuel, God with us… God in the flesh.

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“What Child is This?”

The Eve of Our Savior’s Birth
“What Child is This?”
December 24, 2017

Sermon Text: Matthew 1:18-25

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from the Messiah, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Again, a blessed Christmas Eve to you all!

Mary said it. Joseph said it. They both, as told… as commanded… called His name, “Jesus,” which literally means “the Lord saves.” They knew who this Child was, so meek and mild, lying there in that manger wrapped in swaddling cloths. They knew… they believed that before them was the Christ… the Messiah… their Messiah… the world’s Messiah.

Some three decades later, our Lord will ask His disciples, “‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’  And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’” (Matthew 16:13-17)

Mary said it. Joseph said. Simon Peter said it. Who do you say that He is?

“What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the king,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary!

My friends, whatever brought you here this evening… whether it was just plain old tradition, after all, that it is what people do on Christmas Eve…

… or whether it was because one of your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews are singing in this service…

… or maybe… hopefully… it was because you truly know and understand the meaning and import of this holy night, silent night and what tomorrow will bring… and that there is no other place you would want to be.

Whatever brought you here, it isn’t as important as the fact that you are here… for it is the same as if you were in Bethlehem. It is the same as if you were there, with Mary and Joseph. It is the same as if you were there with Jesus… with the very Son of God in the flesh… with your Savior. Because you are… we all are!

He is present with us… as He has so promised… where two or three are gathered in His name here He is in the midst of us.

He is present with us in the Word spoken, He who is the Logos… the very Word of God made flesh.

He is present with us in the Sacrament that we will receive this evening, taking into our mouths the very Body and Blood of our Lord given and shed for us for the remission… for the full and complete removal… the blotting out… of all our sins. Not at the manger, but at the cross.

Whatever brought you here… isn’t as important as the fact that you are here… in God’s Holy House… hearing the very Word of God about the Baby born. Because here in this House is where faith is born and where it is renewed, nurtured and strengthened. Here is where you and I come to terms with the incredibly reality as to what Child is this.

It leaves us breathless. It sends us to our knees in humble adoration and praise. And we are filled with joy and peace in the very presence of the Prince of Peace… He who has come to earth… He who dwells among us… He who, in Holy Baptism has made our hearts His home… He who is our Savior… our Lord… our King… our everything.

There is your answer to what Child is this!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
Come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby;
Joy, joy, for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!


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

“What Child is This?”  12/24/17  The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, I

“Come, You Who Are Blessed By My Father”

The Last Sunday of the Church Year (A)
“Come, You Who Are Blessed By My Father”
November 26, 2017

  Sermon Text:    Matthew 25:31-46

 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,

Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31)

Even being just that, the “Son of Man” … flesh of our flesh… Christ our Savior saw with crystal clarity what was to come. He knew perfectly what will soon be… the reality of it all for you, me and all the world.

Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, lays it all out for us in the glorious text before us this morning. It is hard for our limited minds to fully picture and appreciate the grandeur and the majesty of this moment… this cataclysmic event that can happen at any time… that will happen, marking the end of time.

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“Once the Bridegroom Comes”

The Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“Once the Bridegroom Comes”
November 12, 2017

Sermon Text: Matthew 25:1-13

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,

So, how many of us have jumper cables in our cars, flashlights in our homes, and take at least one extra set of clothes on a trip, beyond that which we know we will wear? You know… just in case. Just to be ready… to be prepared.

And here, it is interesting to consider the differences among people in regard to their level of preparedness. Looking at the extremes, on the one hand, you have men and women who like to live on the edge… to live without the use of “a safety net” so to speak. Be prepared? Why? It seems that when they were fearfully and wonderfully made in their mother’s womb, somehow the “preparedness gene” was left out.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have people who have an overabundance of this gene and then some. You may be one of them or you at least know of a person like this (and this is not the time to being looking around you). We are talking about people who make preparedness an art form and take such to entirely new levels.

Just Google the word “prepper” and you will have before you a wide variety of sites that will amaze you as to the degree, the lengths that people will go, the steps that they will take to be prepared for any and every possible scenario.

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“The Games People Play”

The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“The Games People Play”
October 22, 2017

Sermon Text:  Matthew 22:15-22

Peace be unto you from our Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Oh, the games people play. I am not talking about sports, although some certainly make a sport out of it. I am not talking about board games, although one would think the person playing games would get bored doing it and just stop it… “cease and desist” if you will.

It gets old and… as is often said… life is too short to play games with people, be it at work, school, home, wherever and whenever. Just come out with it. Just tell it like it is. Just let your thoughts and opinions… your desires and intentions be known in a straightforward and matter of fact way.

But it is not that easy to do when one’s thoughts and opinions, desires and intentions are not good… are not right… are, in fact, downright sinister and evil… wicked even.

Then “playing games” becomes a handy tool to ensnare someone… to entangle them in one’s plot of deceit. St. Matthew tells us, “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle [Jesus] in his talk.” (Matthew 22:15)

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“A Dress Code”

The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“A Dress Code”
October 15, 2017

Sermon Text: Matthew 22:1-14

Peace be unto you from our Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dear Fellow Redeemed,

The Lord our God does not depict it one way, but rather in several ways to help us, His beloved children, understand His relationship to us. That which is of His own doing and making… and this out of pure Fatherly love shown toward us. We are the object of His affection… the “apple of His eye.” He who is the creator of this vast universe, this earth and everything in it. It is all for us… made for us… for which we give unceasing thanks and adoration.

What we have before us this morning in our Gospel text is truly one of the most wonderful ways in which the Almighty explains the divine relationship between Himself and us… one that has us seeing the Father, God our Father, as a king who gives a wedding feast for his son. His Son, the Bridegroom. His Son, Jesus Christ.

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