Sermons

Last Sunday (Mt 25:1–13)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

Last week: King, sheep and goats. This week: Bridegroom, wise and foolish virgins. Now, what are we to make of such disparate and different characters? As the saying goes, “The more things change the more they stay the same.” So, what will save us from confusion? What wisdom can shed light on the darkness? Only that of the Bridegroom Himself, and so the prayer: “Your Word is a Lamp to my feet and a Light to my path.” Continue reading

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Sermons

2nd Last Sunday (Mt 25:31–46)

November 19, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: What are you?))

When you see the exalted “Son of Man, the King, seated on His glorious throne,” where will you be? Which side will you be on? Will you be a sheep or a goat? Will you be on the right side and welcomed into the kingdom? Will you be on the left side, cursed, and cast out into the eternal fire? There’s no third option. Kingdom or fire—that’s it. No middle ground, and no way to pass from one to the other. The chasm between them is large.

So, which are you? Are you a sheep? Are you a goat? These are important questions. Eternal kingdom or eternal fire hang in the balance.

((4. Ugh!: How do you become a sheep and avoid being/becoming a goat?))

Balances, scales, and wages—that’s where we’re at. What’ve we got to do? We’re good at that sort of thing. We’re task-oriented sort of people, right? Give me a job, a chore, take up a personal pet project. We like that sort of thing. Self-improvement. Better obedience to a set of standards, a schedule, a routine. A better habit produces better results. That’s how you become a sheep, or, at least, avoid being or becoming a goat. Or so we think.

But if it were works, and I’m not saying it is, but if it were, what sort of works? Certainly not the kind we want to be doing. We can find the people we like, those who are like us, who think like us, those who “do” like us, and we’ll help them. They may even need your help—all the better! The needy, the homeless, the poor they may get your help, too. Great!

And you’re certainly better at it than that person over there, right? They need more standards, more law. That’ll get them in shape. That’ll change them from goat to sheep real fast. Yeah, I know I should do that, but at least I’m doing this. Scales and wages.

Then it all comes crashing down. True scales. True wages. The King speaks: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” “What? What do you mean? Pardon me, your majesty, you’ve gotten this all wrong. You’re mistaken. Don’t you know what I’ve done? What I’ve been doing? Are you blind? ‘When did [I] see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’

((3. Aha!: KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, BY WAY OF GIFT.))

An overabundance of works got the goats nowhere. It’s not works. The sheep apparently do nothing; nothing they’re aware of, anyway. The goats apparently do everything; everything they’re very much aware of—to the letter! To think like a goat is to worry about your works and the works of others. To view works as a way of getting into the kingdom or to view them as a way of staying in the kingdom, is to think in terms of scales and wages, is to think like a goat.

But the King casts the scales aside for a different way. There’s the King’s Way or the highway to hell. The exalted King, the Son of Man, does His Kingdom different.

KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, BY WAY OF GIFT.

That’s what He says: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, indeed.

((2. Whee!: Then it can’t be by works.))

If it’s by WAY OF GIFT, BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, then it can’t be by works. There’s no middle ground there. Inheritance can’t be earned. In fact, you only get an inheritance when the one giving it dies. That’s what happened! The Son of Man was exalted on His first throne. There He was in His first glory—Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. There He died. There the true wages and scales were settled. God’s own death the price.

The inheritance really can’t be earned. Not by you. Not by me. Not by anyone but Jesus FOR YOU. Listen to His Word: It was “yours from the foundation of the world.” You can’t earn that sort of inheritance. Only an eternal One can earn such an eternal inheritance, and He does FOR YOU.

And when it comes to works, of course, the sheep do them. The King says so. The sheep don’t seem to think so, but the King’s judgment is all that matters. The goats, well. They do them, but the King’s judgment is lack of work. It’s all by way of Gift. The sheep’s imperfect works are reckoned as good and holy by the blood and decree of the King. The goats’ imperfect works are reckoned as accursed and lacking because they aren’t covered by the blood and decree of the King. Sheep live by way of their King and Shepherd. That’s being in Christ. In Christ: sheep, good, holy.

((1. Yeah!: You are what King Jesus makes you.))

The Gift gets even better. KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, BY WAY OF GIFT, after all. He doles it out, and makes you “blessed of My Father.” That’s baptism: “This is [My beloved son, My beloved daughter] with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus elects you, His sheep, in Baptism.

That’s King Jesus doing His doling out of the kingdom. All His gift. He’s the Preparer of the Kingdom. And sheep receive all that the King, their Shepherd, has to give them. They live from and through Him. He declares them sheep. He puts them on His right. He chose them, called them in Baptism. Sheep don’t go their own way. They don’t even think in terms of “my works.” That’s foreign. That’s not sheep thinking. Sheep thinking is receiving from the King who doles out the kingdom by way of gift, whenever and whichever way He doles out the gift makes no difference to the sheep. No scales and wages. Pure gift. Pure inheritance.

Font. Keys. Altar. There it is. Washed sheep, decreed sheep, body and blood sheep. His. His Gift. His inheritance. No scales. No wages. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

INI + AMEN.

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Sermons

3rd Last Sunday (Mt 24:15–28)

November 12, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

What sort of comfort do we look for in this life? What sort of escape? People look for all sorts of comforts and escapes. We fashion all sorts of false comforts. We usually compensate for our what troubles us with pleasure. We watch the game. We drink. We eat. We read. We hunt. We do everything in our power to not think about what’s going on in the world. We avoid dealing with our own problems. But in the end, these false comforts come up empty.

There was no comfort in AD 70. The Romans besieged Jerusalem. The conquered it. We know what goes with that sort of thing. People fled. If they couldn’t escape, they were killed. If they were spared, well, they were taken as slaves. It didn’t matter if they were men, women, or children. The temple was destroyed. Jerusalem sacked. Truly an “abomination of desolation.”

Are we comfortless? It feels like it from time to time because we’ve set up all sorts of false comfort. We set up our walls, our towers. But look out at the world: there’s no end to trouble. Look at our own lives: there’s no end of trouble.

Whatever security we thought we had is taken away, our props get kicked out from under us. What are we left with? Where do we turn? In the darkness, in tragedy, in death, in trouble, where do we go?

Do we go to false comforts? False words? “The day’s always darkest before the dawn.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “God never gives us more than we can handle.” Doesn’t He? Jesus says it will be more than people can handle: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” Our false comforts just ring hollow, because they are.

But there’s only one thing that was hollow and empty, that was basically bare and echoed with nothing to catch the sound but a few grave clothes. That empty tomb is the source of our comfort not because it was empty, but because of Him who once occupied that tomb, who was crucified and killed for us.

THE ONLY TRUE COMFORT WE HAVE IS CHRIST THE CRUCIFIED.

It’s around Him that we gather, and it’s from Him that we receive true and lasting comfort. He is our comfort. He our life in the midst of death. He our peace in the midst of chaos. He our joy in the midst of sadness. He our light in the midst of darkness.

We gain our life, we are sustained, enlivened from His death. His death is life, is salvation, is redemption, is peace with God. His death is our death. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized, were baptized into His death?” His death is our sustenance. “This is My body, which was given for you; This is My blood, which was shed for you. Take eat; take drink.” “For wherever the body is, there the eagles will gather.”

Only if we’re truly dead, can we then be made truly alive. Once we’re sunk deep into Jesus’ wounds, buried deep in His death, united to the Crucified alone, it’s then that we find that death brings life, that death gives way to life, that His resurrection from death is then our resurrection from death. Such life given from the very same means that give us His death: “For wherever the body is, there the eagles will gather.”

This is our comfort in the gray and latter days. That He will do whatever’s necessary to save, protect, bring about salvation—even end time’s salvation—for His “elect,” His chosen, His baptized, His eagles. We don’t have to wonder where He is. We don’t have to be on the lookout for the next big movement of the Spirit, or the next big book, the next big fad. “Here He is!” “No, over here!” “No, over there!” No, none of that. Jesus tells us exactly where He is: in His word-filled water, making disciples, wherever two are three are gathered to receive His Absolution, to hear His preaching, to receive His body and blood.

There’s no other signs. No wonders. That’s not Jesus. He delivers comfort. His death comfort. His empty tomb comfort. His baptism comfort. His absolution comfort. His body and blood comfort. “For wherever the body is, there the eagles will gather.”

THE ONLY TRUE COMFORT WE HAVE IS CHRIST THE CRUCIFIED.

His comfort is everlasting. It will last past and through the gray and latter days. Then on the Last Day, “the coming of the Son of Man” “will be like lightning that comes from the east and shines as far as the west.” And we, the Lord’s eagles, who gathered around His body in this life, will be “caught up…to the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” we “shall mount up with wings like eagles; [we] shall run and not be weary; [we] shall walk and not faint.”

That’s our comfort, our true comfort, our only comfort. And it only comes from Christ the Crucified. That comfort, that Jesus is yours. He has to be: “For wherever the body is, there the eagles will gather.” It’s true in this life, and it’s certainly true in the life to come.

INI + AMEN.

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Sermons

Trinity 19 (Mt 9:1–8)

October 22, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

What happened some 2,000 years ago in Capernaum is shocking! It was shocking back then. It didn’t go unnoticed by anyone. The pharisees noticed and grumbled. The crowd of people noticed, and they gave praise and glory to God. The paralytic noticed, too. Did we even notice why?

It’s not that the paralytic took up his mat and went home. We get hung up on that, but that’s minor compared to what Jesus said! Everyone saw the miracle, but they really took notice of what Jesus said. It was shocking! It was wonderful. More than all that: it was comforting. It still is! Still wonderful. Still shocking! Still quite noticeable. Should be, at least.

“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” Continue reading

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Sermons

Trinity 18 (Mt 22:34–46)

October 15, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

You are not your own. Sounds simple enough. Christianity is simple. The faith and life laid out in all the Scriptures is simple. It’s truly simple. “Love Yahweh your God with your whole heart, soul, and strength”—that’s faith. “Love your neighbor as yourself”—that’s fervent love toward your neighbor. Continue reading

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Sermons

Trinity 17 (Lk 14:1–11)

October 8, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

Rest. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? God created rest. “And God rested on the seventh day from all the work He’d done.” He rested. He sabbathed. He gave it as a gift. And it’s more than just not doing work. Because we need more than just a little time off, we need more than just a little RnR, more than just a little vacay. We need true and lasting rest. Continue reading

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Sermons

Trinity 16 (Lk 7:11–17)

October 1, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: We can’t escape death.))

The tragedy of it all: a widow’s only son, dead. No wonder there was “a considerable crowd from the town with her.” But, as tragic as that was for her and that town, as tragic as those sorts of things are in our time, too, the real tragedy is something we don’t really want to think about. The real tragedy is: we can’t escape death. The funeral procession, the coffin, the grave awaits each and every one of us. One day, you’ll have your coffin, too.

But that’s not all. Each and every bump and bruise, every cold, every ache and pain, every exhaustion is just a preview of that certain and final end. Oh, we may get better and heal, but one day we won’t. Behind every physical pain lurks death. Suddenly or not so suddenly, the bell will toll for you. Continue reading

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