2nd Sunday in Lent – Feb. 25, 2018

Ps 121: Genesis 17:1-7: Romans 5:1-11: Mark 8:27-38.

Psalm 121. Our Help comes from the Lord.

Children’s chat: Cross of Christ.

Grace and peace in Jesus name. Dear children, do you see the cross of Christ hanging on the back of the Chancel wall? The cross is a symbol of how Jesus was put to death for our sin. Do you know He opened His arms that wide so that all the sin of the world He could take from us forever? Jesus must be very strong to take all that sin, don’t you think? Let us pray and thank Jesus for opening His arms wide to tale our sin so that we could close our arms around Him and receive His loving embrace. Let us pray: Dear Jesus, thank-you for your loving embrace- we love you. Amen.

Adult Sermon: Suffering Many Things.

“And He began to teach them many things…”

Grace, mercy and peace in Jesus name.

Dearly beloved in Christ:

Jesus began to teach His disciples the many things that He would suffer for their and our salvation. He would suffer rejection to the point of His death. And not only would He suffer rejection because of the fear of the Jews, fear that we all face because of our sin, but also, that by His death, He would bring forward our salvation. That is God’s plan finally revealed in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. But, the disciples are not filled with a faith that could accept such a Divi9ne plan.

Jesus is trying to teach them by His Words, but His Word has been hard to hear.

So, God’s plan didn’t make any sense to His disciples. Peter, the one who was to reject Jesus three times during Jesus trial, has already started His cycle of rejecting Jesus at this time. “Get behind me, Satan!” was Jesus command of the evil spirit that was directing Peters mind and heart. The statement of faith from Peters mouth, “You are the Christ” has now from that same mouth of confession proclaimed, “Jesus, you are a chump!” From his own lack of understanding Jesus, Peter was looking to establish the Kingdom of God with human understanding. He did not understand because Peter was still concentrating upon things of men and not the things of God. He was still milk toast Christian not ready to witness to the rawness of sacrificial living.

Jesus then speaks Godly wisdom: The Way of the Cross

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Saints, each of us are born without the understanding of what Jesus has truly done for our salvation. We are taught through the Holy Scriptures that we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus. Following Jesus, we are to deny our own spirit of self-preservation, take up our own sufferings, and follow Him throughout every moment of our lives. Only by following Jesus can we then live out the faith and grace that we have received from Him alone.

Will you all please read with me our second lesson: Rm 5:1-11.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and 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.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Amen.

Posted in Pastor's Blog | Leave a comment

1st Wednesday after Ash Wednesday

The Son is allowed to leave

The parable begins, “A certain man had two sons.”

The younger son was wild and rebellious. He wasn’t content to plod along, day after day, doing his chores and helping run the family farm. He wanted to get away, see the sights, experience for himself all that the world had to offer. And so, one day he went up to his dad and said, “Father, give me my share of your property.” (12)

Now, there were three things wrong with this request. First, to ask for his inheritance before his father died was a slap in the face. It was as if he were saying, “I wish you were dead.”

Second, by asking for his inheritance now, he was separating himself from his brother. The farm would have to be divided, and, obviously, he intended to sell his part of the property. So much for the father’s dream that his two sons would keep the family farm intact and work the land together. And third, to ask for his inheritance at this point was to break the rules of social etiquette and subject the whole family, especially the father, to ridicule.

Be that as it may, the younger son asked his father for his share of the property, and it was such an unusual request, and so out of line, you would have thought that the father would have simply said no. Instead, the father did what the son asked; he divided his property between his two sons. According to Jewish law, the older son got two-thirds, the younger son got one-third.

Once the property was divided, the younger son sold his part of the property and took the money and left home. He was off to see the world.

Before we go on, let me just make a quick point: We all have this tendency to be our own worst enemies. As often as not, we suffer not from disasters or undue hardships, but by our own bad choices.  “The wrath of God is not that we get what we deserve, but that we get what we choose.” The younger son was determined to exercise his freedom, and, as painful as it must have been for his father to go along, he refused to stand in his way. He gave him what he asked for.

The love of the Father embraces not just the return of the son, but also, the leaving of his child. That’s really important: the whole movement done under the loving eyes of the father. The father does not say, “Do Not Go!”. No, the law does not come from the father. Law is not the spirit of the story! The spirit of the story is; “Yes, son, go. And you will be hurt and it will be hard and it will be painful. And you might even lose your life, but I can’t hold you from taking the risk. And when you come back, I am here for you, just as I am also here for you now.

Saints, in a very deep way, we in our lives, are always leaving and returning. It is not just a one-time event; it is an ongoing experience.  So, tonight, let the Holy Spirit invite us into our leavings and returning’s to the Father in Heaven. I believe that in a very deep sense, one has to be convinced of God’s love in order to take the risk of leaving once in a while. There are moments when you may want to take a step back and go off for a while, and then come back. Please consider that God loves you as a person who’s leaving and returning. Please try to believe God awaits your return.

Ps 34:4- “I sought the Lord and He answered me…”

I hope that, whenever you hear this parable, you’ll hear it as a parable that speaks of God’s grace and forgiveness and unconditional love, both for sinners in need of repentance and for the righteous, who are steadfast and faithful in their devotion to God.

Posted in Pastor's Blog | Leave a comment

First Sunday in Lent – Feb. 18, 2018

Psalm 22:23-31: Genesis 22:1-18: James 1:12-18: Mark 1:9-15

Children’s chat: A Kingdom bigger than our hand.

Grace, mercy and peace in Jesus name. Children, how big do you think God’s kingdom is? Can I give you a hint> it is bigger than anything you could handle!  God Kingdom is for all time, beyond time and forever. It was before you were born and will be after you die. It is bigger than you can see or imagine. It includes everything that you see and that which you will never see. It includes everything that was ever made and will be made- created and begotten. God Kingdom is more than we could ever imagine.

Jesus has come to us so that we would know that the Kingdom of God is at hand. The Kingdom of God exists and that we are a part of the Kingdom of God. Isn’t that great? Do you know the best part about the Kingdom of God? In the Kingdom of God, we know the love that God has for each of us now and forever! He always loves us no matter what else is going on in our lives.

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, thank-you for bringing us with You into the Kingdom of God. We know that we are the beloved Children of God. Would you sing with me: Jesus loves me this I know? Let us sing.

Adult Sermon: The kingdom of God.

“The Time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the Gospel. “(Mk 1:15b).

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dearly beloved in Christ, today’s gospel for the First Sunday of Lent, Mark 1: 9 -15, is the same gospel we heard four weeks ago.  The words Jesus proclaims in this gospel, the first recorded words of his public ministry, are so profound we should embrace them every day. After spending forty days of temptation in the desert, Jesus enters Galilee preaching, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”    The time is now, the kingdom of God is here now, turn your lives around now and believe, really BELIEVE, the Gospel (Good News) that God loves us right now. Saints, believing in the gospel message is not just an intellectual exercise; it is an exercise of the heart.  Our Saviors’ call to repentance is a call for a radical change of heart (metanoia).  The term metanoia comes from ancient Greek, meaning to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent and have a spiritual conversion. Jesus invites us to repent so that we can experience fulfillment and enter into the Kingdom of God.  This is what Lent is all about.  Beginning with Ash Wednesday and continuing until we celebrate passion week, we are invited to turn away from all the things that separate us from the love of God.  We are invited to unload all the things that drag us down. We are invited to open our hearts to God’s love.  And as Jesus leads us throughout these next 40days of Lent, we become renewed persons of His grace and forgiveness. That is Divine grace and forgiveness in which we become present within the promised kingdom of God.  As St. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5: 17, “whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Let us pray:   God of mercy, you give us the forty days of Lent to help us become aware of the desert in our hearts. Thank you for letting us come to you with a life marked with the scars of our own defeats and failures and those caused by others.

Heal us, Lord, and forgive us, make us whole and wholesome again. Give us the strength of Jesus, that we may be faithful to you and live for one another.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Posted in Pastor's Blog | Leave a comment

Ash Wednesday – Feb. 14, 2018

THE HISTORY AND SYMBOLS OF LENT

The word Lent is from the Old English root lengthen, meaning Spring.  This is when days get longer.

SYMBOLS OF LENT: Color – Purple The color for the Church Season is purple.  Until about forty years ago, purple was used for both Lent and Advent.  It has long been felt that, even though they are both seasons of preparation, Advent and Lent had different moods, Advent being more anticipatory, Lent being more penitential.  To distinguish the two, the preferred color for Advent is blue in the Lutheran Church.

Ashes

Ashes are an ancient symbol of humility, grief, and repentance.   When Abraham humbly approaches God to beg for mercy for the cities of the plain he says, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.”  (Gen. 18:27) Tamar grieves for her circumstances: “But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went.” (2 Samuel 13:19) “When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry.”    (Esther 4:1) When Job repents he says, “therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6)

Ashes are a sign of new growth. In early spring farmers used to burn the stubble left in the field from last year’s harvest.  The practice cleared the field and got it ready to plant again.  Thus, the ashes became a sign of preparation for new life.

Ashes are made from last year’s palms. The celebration of Palm Sunday is marked by waving palms and welcoming Jesus in triumph.  Every year the palms are saved and burned to mark on the heads of the congregation on Ash Wednesday.

Ashes are a sign of our mortality. On Ash Wednesday, ashes are marked on people’s foreheads in the sign of the cross, in remembrance of baptism.  The words are said, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”; the words God spoke to Adam and Eve to remind them that they would die.  Our Lenten journey begins with the reminder that we will die as we prepare for the good news of the Resurrection at Easter.

Sermon: From Fear to Love.

Dearly beloved in Christ, you have by now noticed several times that this year Ash Wednesday falls on Saint Valentine’s Day… today!   I underline the word Saint because the world will mark today hardly remembering the true significance of February 14 in this year of 2018.  For the world,  it will be about chocolate and flowers and romance, and so many single brothers and sisters feeling left out of it all while others fall under the spell of a fat little winged cherub with a bow and arrow in his hands.

Have you ever heard the story of the “Real Saint Valentine”?  He was a Christian Pastor who lived in the third century and served the Lord in the city of Rome.  It was around the year 260 or so that the emperor Claudius II, who was no friend of Christianity but in fact a persecutor of the faith, who came up with a uniquely perverted idea.  He needed soldiers for his armies.  He felt that a married soldier would never fight as well as a single man because married men would think of their wives and children at home rather than focus on battle and giving their lives for Rome if need be.  So, Claudius II actually outlawed marriage.   Valentinus (The Latin name for Valentine) felt that he could not deny the blessings of the Lord through marriage and so he performed weddings in secret.  Eventually found out he was thrown into prison and was given the choice of denying Jesus or suffering the triple execution of beating, stoning, and beheading.  Valentinus refused to deny his faith.  The Jailer, a Roman named Asterius, mocked him by offering him freedom if in the name of Jesus Valentinus could heal his little girl of her blindness.  Valentine admitted that he could not heal, but only the Savior could- however, he would lay his hands on the girl and pray for her.  The miraculous occurred and this little daughter regained sight.  The jailer Asterius came to faith and he and his household were baptized.  He even freed all the Christian prisoners in his jail who were suffering from the persecution Claudius II had forced upon the Church.

Eventually Valentine was captured once more in 269 AD and this time Claudius personally forced the situation upon Valentine.  Given his one chance by renouncing the Lord Valentine chose martyrdom and painful execution.  Legend has it that on the day before he was to die the little girl and her family stood outside his prison window for one last visit with the Saint.  Supposedly he took a small piece of parchment and wrote her a simple note for her to remember him by.  All it had on it were his written words, “From Your Valentine” – the next day he gave his life for Jesus.

That Saint Valentine will be entirely forgotten by the world.  But on Ash Wednesday, February 14, tonight, we remember those who gave their lives for the truest of loves.  The name of true love is Jesus.  His was that selfless love that looked from heaven and at such a cost drove Him from the joys of that place to enter the darkness and sorrow of our sin-destroyed places and sin-ravaged hearts. He is the one who is characterized in the prodigal son story of Luke 15.  Before, I wore a collar around my neck marking me a saint of the Lord and Shepherd of His congregations, He wore a crown of thorns for me and you.  He engraved our name on the palms of His hands with iron spikes.  In my favorite verse in all the Bible, John 13:1 it says of Jesus, “Having loved His own who were in the world… He loved them to the end.”  He loved you and me, dear Brothers and sisters, to the end.  It was an end to which our sin brought Him but He gladly did that and if I may use one final play on this year’s dating, if He could have, Jesus would have written to each of us with His own blood, “From Your Jesus.”

He is Your Jesus, dear Brothers and Sisters, Women and Men of God.  He died for us; He rose for us. He reigns for us.  He will return for us.  On Sundays, His body and blood are “given and shed for you.” God bless us all as we take the next 40 days to mediate on our Loving Father as we prodigals return from fear to loving God and one another. That is our Holy Task. It is my joy and unbounded privilege to remind your hearts personally, that all of it- all that we are and all that we will be, is after-all, “From Your Jesus”

Posted in Pastor's Blog | Leave a comment

The Transfiguration of Our Lord – Feb. 11

Psalm 50:1-6; 2nd Kings 2:1-12; 2nd Corinthians 3:12-13, 4:1-5. Mark 9:2-9.

Psalm 50: 1-6. We are instructed about true worship and true sacrifice from God’s goodness.

Children’s chat: Listen!

Dearly beloved children in Christ, what do you to listen too most? Do you like music, your teachers voice, your father or mothers voice; your sisters or brothers voice? Whatever the voice that you like to hear, why do you like to hear their voice? Today, we hear the Voice of God the Father. How do you think His voice sounds? AWESOME? Do you know what God’s voice three of the disciples? LISTEN TO JESUS. What does Jesus voice sound like? Probably the best voice you will ever hear! Do you know why His voice is the best? His Voice is the best because He always says He loves us- you and me. Let us pray: Dear Jesus help us to hear you always… we love you always. Amen.

Adult Sermon: Knowing that the Lord is Speaking thru you.

“Rabbi, it is good that we are here .” Mark 9:5a.

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dearly beloved in Christ,

In today’s gospel, St. Mark presents the Transfiguration (Mark 9: 2-10). The Greek word for transfigure is metamorphose which means change of form or appearance.   In the Gospel story Jesus takes Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain where his appearance changed before their eyes.  First his “clothes became dazzling white.”  Then Moses and Elijah appeared and had a conversation with Jesus. At this sublime moment, Peter tried to stop the action so he could capture the experience and enshrine it in three tents.  But before he could move, a cloud came over them and the three disciples and Jesus heard the voice of God say: “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”    In a flash it was all over.  The disciples looked around and saw only a very human Jesus.    For Jesus the Transfiguration was affirmation that his mission was valid.  For the disciples, it was an astounding event they would not understand until after the Resurrection.  It was a moment caught in their minds and their hearts forever.   Throughout scripture, the people who have direct encounters with God come away changed individuals.  Abram, Moses, Elijah and all the prophets were ordinary folks from many different life circumstances. After they experienced God, they changed, becoming Old Testament superheroes.

In the New Testament, Saul of Tarsus met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  The encounter transformed him from Saul, a persecutor of Christians to Paul, the most ardent Christian in the Greco-Roman world.  No one can meet God face to face and remain the same.  It is a transforming event.

As Lutheran Christians, we believe that we experience the real presence of God when we receive the sacrament of the Altar. We are in the Holy communion with God: Father, Son and Spirit. We hear the words of God in sacred scripture, song and preaching. And we encounter God in our interactions with one another in our families, in our parish and in our community and in relationship with Pastor.

In the work that we are called to do in our everyday lives, we are blessed to do our work knowing that God has blessed us to our work in Jesus name.  Every time we attend Divine services, receive the Lord’s supper, read scripture and join in Christian bible studies and fellowship, our lives are transfigured.  Our encounters with God should shine through in everything we say and do. In 2 Corinthians 3: 18, St. Paul, the ardent Christian says, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Saints, Lent starts this Wednesday night with our service at 7:00PM. Lent is a time for transformation.  It provides us with many opportunities to re-form our lives, change our hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us so we can “show forth the image God.”  We have a special opportunity for personal transformation this week as we receive again His Holy Presence in Holy Communion and mark ourselves with the distribution of ashes. Then we meet each Wednesday night through 40 days, for worship, prayer, preaching and praise of God.  Please consider joining us in worship, prayer and fellowship as we journey through Lent each Wednesday night Feb 14th– March 21st.

Let us pray:   Abba, Loving Father, for a fleeting moment you glorified your Son on the mountain

to encourage him to carry out his mission and to strengthen his disciples.

Let the presence of your Son in this sacrament of the Altar and the words He speaks to us

transform us and give us light and strength to take up our task in life and to lighten the burden

of our brothers and sisters, until you transform us with Him in the lasting light of your glory.

We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

 

Posted in Pastor's Blog | Leave a comment

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany – Feb. 4th

Psalm 147:1-11; Isaiah 40:21-31; 1st Corinthians 9:16-27: Mark 1:29-39.

“Praise the Lord!” Please read psalm 147 in praising our God. Vs#1-11.

Children’s chat: Boasting for the Lord Jesus.

Grace, mercy and peace in Jesus name. Children, do you know what Jesus is doing for you? He is making sure that you have everything you need for your body, soul and spirit. What do you think you need from Jesus? He gives you all that you have. Let us thank Jesus by singing Jesus loves me.

Adult Sermon: Prayer affect and Effect.

“And He went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.” (Mark 1:39).

Dearly beloved in Christ, we struggle with the fact that with a word or touch, Jesus can heal; yet, as much as we may pray and touch and anoint a loved one, they often do not become well and restored to society. They die. We may cry out, “Jesus, you healed with a touch, why can’t you do the same through me now?” If these stories are indications that the Kingdom of God has come near, can we still believe that it is near when such miracles do not happen?

Faith question: Are we a people lost from the healing and curing of Jesus?

Please consider, that many of us can remember being children and having nightmares of being separated from our parents.  I can still remember such a nightmare that I had repeatedly.  It was so terrifying that even in remembering it after many years it seems to be happening again.  Thunder and lightning would arrive during the dark of night and the whole house would quake and light up in the storm. I would run to my parent’s room and knock but the door was locked and never opened to settle my fears. There was a large crucifix in our living room which my Father latter donated to a church. When the thunder and lightning shown in the room, I was in terror. Can you remember a similar dream?  As children most of us have feared being alone.

I can remember one day that Betsy went with her grandparents Psybyski to a flea market/ antique show in Connecticut. Betsy’s grandparent Psybyski became distracted by one item that they sought to buy and Betsy wandered off in the crowd. Betsy was about three years old- a toddler!  Lost and alone it is hard to be at peace.

But there are other ways of being lost. Some are lost in war, body, soul and spirit. Others are lost in peace time through addiction, unemployment and divorce.  At times, parents come to see me and talks about how difficult it is to talk with their children. Many times, at college, freshman students get lost within their wants to live life, perhaps for the first time, on their own terms.

In talking to your High school or college age children, have you as parents ever felt life saying, “When it comes to knowing what to say to him/her — I’m lost!”  Other times, someone may tell you that she has been offered two jobs and does not know which offer to accept.  She’s says, “It is overwhelming and I’m lost!”

Sometimes being lost is a matter is being in the middle of a crisis.  Sometimes being lost is just a matter of trying to live life a day at a time.  Struggling with medical protocols and procedures, medications and therapies can overwhelm us… and we are lost… it seems like an eternity awaiting a cure and painless life. Are we a people lost from the healing and curing of Jesus?

Saints, this morning you may feel lost.  Maybe it is about how to talk with your daughter, maybe it is about a job you have been offered.  Whatever it is about, hear the words of our scriptures. Hear Isaiah’s prophesy…spoken to a people living in exile.  These people were displaced, separated from their home, and in many cases separated from their families. Isaiah reminds the exiles that their true home is in the presence of the one who created them through love and sustains them through love. In Isaiah 40:26 he reminds those folks who seem to be lost” …not one is missing.” In the eyes of the powerful creator who brought you into being you are not lost, nor will you be lost. The beautiful message from Isaiah ends with a beautiful word of hope.  It is one of the most quoted passages in the Bible.  These are truly words of renewal.  Indeed, they are words of salvation. Isaiah 40:31.

With our hopes renewed let us look at our gospel lesson:  Mark 1:29-39.  During most of this year we will be following Mark, the first of the gospels to be written.  This lesson takes place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  He went to Capernaum.  This town was to become his home.  This was the home of Simon Peter.  When Jesus arrived, things began to happen.  Word of Jesus’ authority spread quickly. In this short passage of scripture, we are told of many miracles.  Simon Peter’s mother-in-law is sick, and Jesus heals her.  Then people brought to Jesus people who were sick and people who were possessed of demons.  Mark tells us that the whole city gathered at Simon Peter’s house to hear Jesus, to see Jesus, and to be touched and healed by Jesus.  This continued throughout the evening.

Early the next morning Jesus went to a deserted place to pray.  Simon and his friends went looking for Jesus.  They found him and told him that many more people were searching for him.  Jesus answered that they needed to go to the surrounding towns — this was all what Jesus had come for.  So, they went, the word continued to spread, and the healing and casting out of demons continued. And so it continues today.  You and I and countless others like us who are lost hear the word that Jesus loves us. And that word brings healing and wholeness to us.  We discover that we are not lost after all.  The one whom God has sent has found us… just as we are. We are not missing from His care: we are not missing from His healing presence. We are not beyond His cure. But just as Jesus did not heal and cure all that looked upon Him, He has come to let us know that even though we are feeling lost, that in Him alone we have found a savior. Jesus will never deny you; will never reject you or leave you abandoned and without hope. He has come to strengthen our spirits, fortify our souls with hope and raise our bodies to become perfected through His Holy Sacrifice upon the cross of Calvary. Jesus is for the lost who seek to find love, life and light in their darkness.  Are we a people lost from the healing and curing of Jesus? By no means!

Let us pray: Thank you, Jesus for finding us when we are lost. In Jesus name, Amen.

Posted in Pastor's Blog | Leave a comment

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Psalm 111: Deuteronomy 18:15-20: 1st Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28.

Let us praise the Lord God for Fulfilling His promises to us. Psalm 111

Children’s chat: Teaching from the Lord.”

Grace, mercy and peace… Children, do you know that Jesus is a teacher? Do you know that Jesus taught us to pray to His Father in Heaven? God the Father is Jesus Father and also our creator. Because of Jesus, He is our Father also.  Can you say the Lord’s prayer- Our Father with me? Amen.

Adult Sermon: “Authoritative Divine Teaching.”

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dearly beloved in Christ, in today’s first reading from Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 20 we hear Moses, the first prophet, define the role of the true prophet.  A prophet is one raised “up for you from among your own kindred” who speaks the words God has put in his/her mouth.   The prophet “shall tell them all that I [God] command.”  A prophet is NOT a person who “practices divination, or is a soothsayer, augur, or sorcerer, or who casts spells, consults ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead” (DT 18: 10 – 11).  These people are “an abomination to the LORD” (DT 18: 12).  A prophet is one whose words have been tested over time and found to be true.   Moses ends his prophet’s job description with two warnings; one for us and one for the prophet.  For those of us who hear the prophet, we better listen and act accordingly because we will have to answer to God.  And the prophet better make sure that he/she speaks as God directs or else…. That’s real law stuff!

Thousands of years later, Jesus of Nazareth, a humble carpenter, walked into the synagogue in Capernaum and astounded the people present with his authoritative teaching (Mark 1: 21 – 28).    Not only did Jesus teach with authority, he acted with authority.  When confronted by a man with “an unclean spirit,” Jesus merely spoke a few words, “Quiet! Come out of him!” And the unclean spirit was gone.  Jesus’ powerful words had the ring of authority and truth and his acts of healing affirmed his authority and gave him a degree of credibility words alone could not achieve.  St. John tells us in his gospel that Jesus is God’s word incarnate, “And the Word became flesh – and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14).  And, St. John reminds us that although “the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1: 17).

Saints, the word of God as spoken to us through Jesus Christ, has withstood the test of time. Jesus gave all of us the power of that prophetic truth.   As baptized Christians, each one of us is a witness to that truth.  And each one of us is authorized to speak the truth to any who will hear it.  And this is the truth: Jesus can make the unclean clean; the sinful holy; the outcast a member of the community, the haughty humble, the horrible among the hallowed. All of this is ushering the kingdom of God… the Kingdom of love, grace, forgiveness, compassion mercy and righteousness. It is the Holy Kingdom of God that we are invited to live within for Christ’s sake.

Let us pray: Faithful God, Your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, spoke the truth with authority, and You confirmed his teaching by wondrous deeds. Make us holy so that by word and deed we may proclaim his name and bear witness to your healing power and presence. All this we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. AMEN

Posted in Pastor's Blog | Leave a comment