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Archive for May 24th, 2020

Let us pray…O King of glory, Lord of hosts, uplifted in triumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father; for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Sermon at Concordia Lutheran Mission: There is a movie about Jesus Christ, entitled “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. Without doubt the true story of God becoming man,sending His only begotten Son to be born of the virgin Mary, attended by a cast of thousands but only seen by shepherds, grow up, learn His step father Joseph’s trade as the “son of the carpenter”, be baptized in the Jordan like a sinner, who knew no sin to bear the sin of the world, preach, teach, do mighty deeds and signs, touch the world, then be rejected, betrayed and denied and just as He said: then be crucified, and on the third day rise from the dead, is the greatest true story ever told, ever lived. In fact St. John tells us that all the books in the world can not contain what He said and did…

But the narrative did not stop there…and it is a story, the greatest and it is a story of an adventure. We heard on Ascension Thursday the first lesson from the beginning of Acts.  We note with wonder that the Lord ascended into heaven but that was just the beginning…the powerful deed was the Lord’s Word, He send out the apostles:  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  The Lord had equipped them by teaching them day and day out for three years, the volumes of God’s Word.  He told them He was sending them into hostile territory, not safe, facing persecution and death to bring the Word of life to dying people.  He then tells them He Himself would equip them in the Holy Spirit to the ends of the earth as His witnesses, Greek word of witness, martyrs. A Jewish diplomat and theologian Pinchas Lapide said the only accounting of Christianity is that Jesus did bodily rise from the dead, but I think more.  12 Galilean fishermen and others go into the world, the Roman Empire with message of Christ and Him crucified.  What would a Las Vegas bookie put the odds for them to succeed?

In Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo has been charged by Gandalf to bring the ring of power to Rivendell…and eventually to Mount Doom…Frodo is accompanied by his gardener and friend, Sam-wise Gamgee. When not far from their home in the Shire, the two of them are walking through a field, and Sam stops dead in his tracks. Frodo turns around and asks him, What is it, Sam? “The next step I’ll take will be the farthest from home I have ever been.”  Sam then crossed his Rubicon.  Can you imagine the Apostle Peter, his whole lived on the shores of the Sea of Galilee…would preach in Rome and there be crucified upside down. Thomas was said to have evangelized in India. 11 of the12 apostles were martyred.

Later in Lord of the Rings, when all is hopeless, their world is being destroyed by evil, these two small hobbits on aseemingly fool’s errand, Frodo burdened by ring, Sam, what’s the use. Sam:

“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”

 The apostles kept going because they had something to hold on to.  Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Kept=imprison, that’s keeping something close.  And more, Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. The church kept the truth as the Lord kept them…us. An adventure…advent, to come, to draw near, that is the Lord.

The disciples kept His Word as He kept them safe, their souls and their bodies unto the Day.  Jesus prayed for His disciples. He interceded, prayed for them all.  He still does. Romans 8: “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”   Christ is ascended. He is ascended, indeed, allelulia!  The Lord sent His disciples into the world, but, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  verses 16-17, as Jesus prays for His apostolic Church and the disciples. 

 The Apostle Peter’s encouragement is needed today as it was then:

 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

From the Ascension to Pentecost, the Apostles, Mary and women joined together in prayer, not a marathon church council meeting nor a Synod or district assembly.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  It is not that in Christ Jesus we are NOT going have anxiety.  We will. It is what it is done with it:  according to God’s Word.  Note:  The Word first says we can cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares FOR YOU.  Luther wrote that the words FOR YOU are the Gospel, the good news of Jesus. Casting is praying.   He can take it.  He has on the Cross.  All our anxieties take us away from the Lord and each other.  And the devil uses them as such .  The devil knows that anxieties are his segue way into something worse, that is temptation and sin. The devil wants you to always be looking inside and not outside for help, that is, to the Lord.  Anxieties are not the last word:  Jesus Christ and His forgiveness and grace in His Church is the first Word and the last Word.

Be sober-minded; be watchful.

Sober-minded in regards to what is happening in the world. As I read religion articles in the secular news, they are mostly anti-religion articles, especially, anti-Christian, even antichrist articles.  Watchful yes and sober-minded about it all because no one can respond to it all.  

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The devil in false doctrine, remembers, does not want you to know that Jesus died and rose for you and your salvation:  period.  He will always be trying to turn that period into a comma and all the while sounding mighty pious and religious and spiritual about the whole thing, again see Islam and Mormonism.

Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

Temptation is common to the brotherhood through the world.  In the  wealthy city, of Wenzhou in China,  which has many Christians, the State had ordered all the crosses to be removed from church buildings because of “building codes”, all of a sudden.   A few years back, In Sudan, a Muslim woman, Meriam Ibrahim,  married to a Christian, Daniel,  herself became a Christian.  She was condemned to death for conversion, accused of “apostasy”.  She was pregnant when arrested and she gave birth in prison while her legs were shackled. Even so, she gave birth to her daughter.   In our country too many want to remove all mention of the Cross of Christ from the public square or even churches lifting up the cross and the preaching of the Crucified right out of churches.  The devil devours, he does not take little bites. Steadfast in the faith is steadfast in the doctrine, the sound doctrine as Jesus intercedes, prays,  for us all.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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