“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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“The Final Battle”

The 26th Sunday after Pentecost (B)
“The Final Battle”
November 18, 2018

Sermon Text: Daniel 12:1-3

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 psalmist declares, “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:9-11 NKJ)

How comforting is that! How reassuring. That we are constantly and perpetually being cared for and watched over by the Lord. We always have… always will. The Lord God takes care of His children. He takes care of His own. He takes care of us. He looks out for us… throughout our days… throughout time… to the end of time… which is our particular focus in these, the last Sundays of the Church Year.

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“Only Once”

“Only Once”  Hebrews 9:24-28
The 25th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  11/11/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

It would be safe to say that all of us have “do overs.” Things in our lives… in our past…  that we would like to do over… to do in a different way… make a different decision… choose differently… act differently.

It may be something as simple and innocuous as choosing a different shampoo.

But then again, it could be something more serious like choosing a different career path.

And then… in addition to all of this… there are things that, even if we wanted to, there are no “do overs.” No second chance or opportunity. What is done, is done.

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“The Church Upstairs”

“The Church Upstairs”
All Saints’ Day
November 4, 2018
Text: Ephesians 2:19-22

When I was on my Vicarage I spent a lot of time in the church basement, because that’s where our confirmation class was on Wednesday nights and that’s where a lot of our youth activities were.  Most of the basement was a large room, a little smaller than the sanctuary upstairs, and it was divided up into different areas by old partitions.  There was an area that the ladies used for making quilts, and another area where items were collected that were to be given away.  It was nice, but it was a little beat-up.  You know how church basements can get after 100 years.  It had served its purpose, but it had seen better days, and it was never anything fancy even when it was brand-new.

Of course, what was upstairs, that you couldn’t see from the basement, was beautiful.  The congregation had been very faithful in renovating and updating the sanctuary every 25 years or so from the time the church had first been built not too long after the Civil War.  And it was a beautiful sanctuary, with lovely stained-glass windows and an ornate altar and a large baptismal font and great pews and wonderful combinations of colors on the walls.  It was everything that you would want a Lutheran church to be.  But none of that was visible from the basement.  If you lived in the basement, if you never saw the upstairs but were only told about it, all that you could do was believe what someone else told you about it, try to imagine what it was like, and hope for the day that you could see it for yourself.

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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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