“Our True Family”

“Our True Family” Mark 3:20-35
Pentecost 3 (B)  6/10/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

One would expect it from the world and those who are of the world… the “worldly” if you will. But it is another thing when the source of opposition in your life and mine… in what we are doing… what we are seeking to do as Christians… comes from one’s own family… from one’s own flesh and blood.

The truth is, every Christian will experience opposition that will literally hit home… emanate from the home or close to home… from one’s own family… loved ones who are blinded by sin and unbelief… whose understanding of God’s Word is marginal twisted and skewed… those who have been spiritually led astray or have led themselves astray.

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“Treasures in Jars of Clay”

The Second Sunday after Pentecost (Series B)
“Treasures in Jars of Clay”
June 3, 2018
Text: 2 Corinthians 4:5-12

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

There is an old Jewish parable about a man who was raising his daughter to place a great deal of importance upon her physical appearance, her beauty and her charms.  Once she even asked her older Rabbi, who had seen better days, “Why would the Lord give such wonderful treasures in such an ugly vessel like you?”

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“How Can These Things Be?”

“How Can These Things Be?” John 3:1-17

The Holy Trinity (B)  5/27/18

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

A rather unusual but true fact regarding Christians, regardless of what age and era we live here on earth, is that we “marvel” a lot.

And this, in addition to marveling about so many aspects of God’s creation… so many earthly and worldly things that are truly amazing… truly a sight to behold.

No. What the Christian man and woman marvels most is about the divine… things not of this world… things far above and beyond both the world and the worldly mind… our minds.

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“The Spirit’s Power”

“The Spirit’s Power”   John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
The Day of Pentecost (B)  5/20/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

It was one of the most closely guarded and best kept secrets. Not even the Vice President of the United States knew about it. That is, until he suddenly became President after the death of Franklin Roosevelt. I am, of course, referring to President Harry S. Truman and what was known as “the Manhattan Project.”

It “officially” began on December 28, 1942, combining a number of research efforts that were already underway, including those at our own University of Chicago by two scientists, Enrico Fermi (and yes, that is where the Fermi Lab gets its name) and Leo Szilard. The goal – weaponize nuclear energy… and do it quickly. U.S. Intelligence had heard for some time that Adolph Hitler had a team of scientists working on the same.

Two and half years later, on July 16, 1945, in a remote desert location near Alamogordo, New Mexico, the first atomic bomb was successfully detonated. It was ironically known as the “Trinity Test” and it sent an enormous mushroom cloud some 40,000 feet into the sky and released energy equivalent to around 21 kilotons of TNT.

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“In These Last Days”

The Day of Pentecost

“In These Last Days”

June 4, 2017

Sermon Text:   Acts 2:17-21, John 7:37-39

Peace be unto You from our loving God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ… and especially you, dear catechumens,

Needless to say, we have much to rejoice in this day. Being in the house of the Lord… in divine worship… receiving the all-powerful and all-sufficient Word of God and the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar… having the rite of confirmation conferred upon five wonderful young adults… and in all of this the outpouring and the mighty working of the Holy Spirit.

In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles, it says, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17 quoting the Lord God in Joel 2:28,29)

And again the Lord God proclaims, even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Acts 2:18 quoting the Lord God in Joel 2:28,29)

He certainly does now and He certainly did then… on that first Day of Pentecost and the “outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

When you hear the word “outpouring” what mental picture comes to mind? I doubt it is of a person using an eye dropper or a teeny-tiny spoon to dole out teeny-tiny amounts.

We are more likely to envision water being poured out of a pitcher. Or a victorious sports team pouring a gigantic container of Gatorade on their coach. Or water pouring over a falls… Niagara Falls!

Fun fact… 150,000 gallons go over, pour over these falls every second. Talk about getting drenched. Don’t forget the thunderous sound it makes. Don’t forget, too, the roaring wind that accompanies such a voluminous outpouring. Sound familiar?

What may not be known as fact, however, is how the word “outpouring” in the Greek –  ἐκχέω or ἐκχύννομαι … is used and what it connotes.

It means to “pour out” yes… but also “to shed”… “to spill.”  With that piece of information, what additional mental images now come to mind?

It is the same root word that our Savior, Christ Jesus, uses as He first institutes the Sacrament of the Altar, saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:24)

And in the Book of Revelation where it says, they have shed the blood of saints and prophets.” (Revelation 16:6)

In the Letter to the Romans it says, “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

And in Titus, we read, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:5-6)

Jesus, who poured out His blood for us… for our salvation. The very same sacred blood that is poured into the chalice of which we partake.

Jesus, who also poured out His Spirit upon us… upon all… just as He promised on the Day of Pentecost.

And these divine gifts, priceless gifts, poured out… shed… given… in no small measure. There is no skimping here… no small amount… which is good… at all times and especially now… we who live “in these last days.”

In these tough times, challenging times. Catechumens, you know that Pastor Bellas and I in confirmation class did not sugar coat the situation regarding this world, our world… the world in which you are now growing… the world that you will live in all of the days appointed to you here on earth.

You… along with your parents and all members of our church family have been taught the reality of it all. But that, thankfully, includes what is the foremost reality. The reality of Jesus Christ. The reality of the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, the glorious coming again, the judging of the living and the dead and our spending eternity with the Lord in heaven… in the mansions that have been prepared for us and all believers.

Yes, it includes the reality of Christ your Lord, your Savior and King being with you every second of your life.

It includes the reality of His Holy Spirit dwelling richly in you and this, from the moment of your baptism on… the Spirit that will remain in you all of your days… the flame of faith that will remain strong in you… unless you squelch the same by removing yourself from the only means by which the Spirit works… the only means by which one’s faith remains, is sustained and grows… namely God’s Holy Word and the Sacraments.

Most certainly, by God grace, we have all that we need… all that is offered, administered and conveyed right here… in the house of the Lord. This… all this is your lifeline in these last days… days that I pray will be wonderful ones, blessed ones in Christ for all of you.

If you would, please turn with me now to the Gospel lesson found in John, chapter 7.  It is so apropos for today because the “feast” that is mentioned here is the “Feast of Booths” on which the people of Israel remembered and gave thanks to the Lord God for safely seeing them through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

The connection is clear to us… now… in our wilderness journey through this world to our promised home in heaven and look what Jesus says to us… He who “stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive,” (John 7:37-39)

This Jesus said about the Spirit whom those who believe in Him HAVE received. And for this… in these last days… we rejoice and are at peace. We rejoice and are comforted now… and always! Amen.

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

“In These Last Days”

6/4/17  The Rev. Mark H. Hein

St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

The Unfettered Word

The 21st Sunday after Pentecost (C)

Sermon Text: 2 Timothy 2:1-13

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

Dear Friends in Christ,

The letter was dated September 4, 1944. It does not have much on it, but then again, it didn’t have to. Its purpose was simply to leave some trace evidence… to let whoever found it know that the people listed on this note really existed… that they were there… at Auschwitz… in the Nazi concentration camp where over 1.1 million prisoners died.

The letter was found in a bottle hidden in a concrete wall. It bears the names, camp numbers and hometowns of seven young men, six from Poland and one from France, all between the ages of 18 and 20.

Clearly, there were those who never wanted this message to get out, but it did. It was proof of life.

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Wait for It

The 20th Sunday after Pentecost (C)

Sermon Text: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

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

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

There are certainly many jobs that a person can have and we know that they are not all the same in terms of their degree of difficulty, safety, satisfaction, benefits and rewards, etc.

Some jobs seem better than others. We all probably have our “dream job.” But then, too, it would not be hard for any of us to fire off a list of jobs we would not like to do. There is even a television show, “Dirty Jobs,” where you can see what certain work entails and be glad that you do not have to do it.

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