Happenings

Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.





26 July 2015

Trinity 8 Sermon: Vindicated

Preached on Psalm 26
The Eighth Sunday after Trinity
26 July AD 2015

Title: Vindicated (MP3 Audio)

Rubens: Elevation of the Cross Summary: “Vindicate me,” we cry to the Lord in this Psalm. Yet when we pray the words, we seemingly demand vindication based upon tainted evidence. When we cry, “Prove me, try me, test me,” to God, aren’t we asking for trouble?

Christians, however, do just such a thing for we know that the Father proved, tested, and tried His dear Son on behalf of sinful mankind. Jesus died a sinner’s death not because He was a sinner but because He carried our sins to the cross.

God validated and vindicated His Son by raising Him from the dead. The fruits of Jesus’ suffering belong to all who believe in Him. We are justified and declared to be children of the heavenly Father. By faith, we own the pure heart and righteous deeds of our Savior and are vindicated in the Father’s eyes.

Christ’s heart and mind, His innocence and integrity, His thoughts, words, and deeds, belong to us. Now, as saints by declaration, we ask that God lead us to be saints in essence and in deed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rubens: Resurrection Text: Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.

I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.

O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes.

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord. Psalm 26

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of the Trinity 8 sermon Vindicated

NB: For some reason, a few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio if Windows Media is their default MP3 player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Jeremiah 23:16-29; Acts 20:27-38 or Romans 8:12-17; Matthew 7:15-23

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19 July 2015

Trinity 7 Sermon: The Lord Has Compassion

Preached on Mark 8:1-9
The Seventh Sunday after Trinity
19 July AD 2015

Title: The Lord Has Compassion (MP3 Audio)

Jesus Feeding 4000 Summary: Even as He had compassion on the crowds following Him in Galilee, so Jesus knows our pains and weaknesses and has the same compassion for us. He knows that without Him, we also are sheep without a shepherd. We would move from being spiritually dead in our trespasses to being temporally and eternally dead.

Christ exercises His compassion in Word and water, in bread and wine, that we would have strength and healing for the days ahead. And when our own strength fails, He continues to exercise His in our weakness.

He feeds us also our “First Article” gifts of food, clothing, shelter, and the like, caring for our bodily needs. We joyfully feast on the gifts physical and spiritual, anticipating that great Day when we finally join in the never-ending High Feast of the Lamb.

Mark 8:1-9 Text: In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”

They said, “Seven.”

And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied.

And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. Mark 8:1-9

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of the Trinity 7 sermon The Lord Has Compassion

NB: For some reason, a few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio if Windows Media is their default MP3 player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 33:1-11; Genesis 2:7-17; Romans 6:19-23

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12 July 2015

Trinity 6 Sermon: Exceeding Righteousness

Preached on Matthew 5:17-26
The Sixth Sunday after Trinity
12 July AD 2015

Title: Exceeding Righteousness (MP3 Audio)

Galatians 3:27 Summary: While Jesus often sharply criticized the scribes and the Pharisees, people of His time normally looked up to them as exemplars of virtue. They fasted, tithed, and kept the Sabbath in ways that few matched. In outward behavior, these men were Israel’s spiritual elite.

Yet Christ told those listening to His Sermon on the Mount that no one could enter the kingdom of heaven without possessing and displaying superior righteousness. Yet how could this be? None of His hearers could keep even the Ten Commandments, today’s appointed Old Testament reading. How could they ever hope to excel when they couldn’t even keep up?

The answer, of course, is the righteousness that belongs to believers in Jesus Christ. Those who participate in His death and resurrection through Holy Baptism (today’s Epistle) are clothed in the immaculate righteousness of the Son of God.

We baptized Christians — who hear and believe the Gospel, who trust Christ’s Absolution, who eat and drink His body and blood — exceed all earthly righteousness. The Father declares us holy and views us as being as completely sinless as Jesus Himself.

Christ’s righteousness, poured over us and wrapped around us, also takes root within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. And though our thoughts, words, and deeds never match the Law’s demands, the Father still considers us to be His sinless children and accepts our works as “good” for the sake of His Son.

Scribes and Pharisees Text: [Jesus said,] “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.

“Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” Matthew 5:20-26

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of the Trinity 6 sermon Exceeding Righteousness

NB: For some reason, a few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio if Windows Media is their default MP3 player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 19; Exodus 20:1-17; Romans 6:1-11

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05 July 2015

Sermon: Rebels Redeemed

Preached on Ezekiel 2:1-5
Proper 9B/Pentecost 6
5 July AD 2015

Title: Rebels Redeemed (MP3 Audio)

Ezekiel's Call Summary: We’re in no condition to stand in judgment upon the Ezekiel’s hearers. We are no less rebellious than was Israel when God sent His the prophets to His people. We are every bit as hard-hearted as were the most shameful sinners to whom Christ’s apostles spoke.

There’s no real difference between us and the Germans of Luther’s time, of whom he wrote in the Preface to the Small Catechism, “The deplorable, miserable condition that I discovered ... has forced and urged me to prepare this catechism.... Mercy! Dear God, what great misery I beheld! The common person, especially in the villages, has no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine....

“Yet, everyone says that they are Christians, have been baptized, and receive the holy Sacraments, even though they cannot even recite the Lord’s Prayer or the Creed or the Ten Commandments. They live like dumb brutes and irrational hogs.”

We continue to need the rebuke and correction of the Law but even more desperately need the words of hope and promise proclaimed by prophets and apostles, that God sent His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins by winning full forgiveness on the cross.

We need pastors to preach the Word with power so that we will know that we have heard the voices of the prophets and the apostles — indeed, of God Himself. And hearing, we pray that we are convicted, cleansed, and comforted as the Holy Spirit works through the Word on our hearts and minds.

Ezekiel 2:3-5 Text: And [the Lord] said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Ezekiel 2:1-5

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Martin Luther, “Small Catechism,” Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, ed. P. T. McCain (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House), 313.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Rebels Redeemed

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Mark 6:1-13

Illustrations: The Call of Ezekiel from Die Bibel in Bildern by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld. Text art generated by the Visual Copy tool of Logos Bible Software.

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21 June 2015

Sermon: Judging God

Preached on Job 38:1-11
Proper 7B/Pentecost 4
21 June AD 2015

Title: Judging God (MP3 Audio)

Andy and Walt Summary: Today I had the pleasure of preaching at Shepherd of the Hills, Fayette, Missouri for the 20th Anniversary of the ordination of Andrew Etzler. Andy asked me to preach on one of the day’s appointed readings rather than a passage outside the Lectionary. We ended up standing beside Job, hearing the Lord challenging our sinful, short-sighted desire to comprehend an incomprehensible God and to second-guess, to judge, our Maker.

God told Job to gird himself like someone preparing for battle — but this fight was short and one-sided. Job was completely out of the Lord’s league in terms of knowledge and power. So also are we. Even if He did go into more details in explaining Himself and His actions, it’s doubtful that we would be any more enlightened.

However, we already know all of God that’s important for us. We know Him through His Word — through the Law’s accusations and the Gospel’s restoration. We know His condemnation of our sins and of His full, free forgiveness through Jesus. We know that even if we cannot know His mind, He knows ours. Truly, He knew us before we were born — even before He began to frame Creation.

When God says, “Dress for action,” He also provides our raiment. In Baptism, He clothes us in righteousness, dressing us in proper attire for any and all circumstances. No matter our vocations nor our various uniforms of the day, we are clad in the blood-washed clothing of the saints and are equipped to live as His children and heirs of eternal life.

Job 38:1 Text: Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

“Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements — surely you know!

“Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? Job 38:1-11

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Judging God

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 124; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

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31 May 2015

Sermon: Unclean and Holy

Preached on Isaiah 6:1-8
Trinity Sunday — 31 May AD 2015

Title: Unclean and Holy (MP3 Audio)

Isaiah and the Seraph Summary: The sacred and the profane cannot abide each other. Isaiah found himself before the Lord of hosts and the seraphim and realized that he was a sinner, unclean and intolerable to the Holy One. Yet he didn’t flee because faith in his God held him until he could hear the fulness of the message.

Yes, God is a “consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).” However, we who trust in the Son are not consumed. Instead, we benefit from the fiery trials suffered by Jesus (cf. Luke 12:49-50).

He who was consumed by death then consumed it in His resurrection, ensuring that the fires of hell would never touch those who believe in Him. Through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Spirit applies the blessings won by Christ. Thus the “holy, holy, holy” Lord God makes for Himself a holy people.

We confess with Scripture that we are sinful from conception and birth and remain sinners in thought, word, and deed. When not actively committing sin, we often passively sit by and refuse to do good, to love others as Christ loved us. We also confess that we are saints — redeemed by Jesus, brought to faith by the Holy Spirit, and children of our heavenly Father.

Unclean, yet holy ... sinners yet saints: We live day by day in this marvelous mystery of the Faith. Even as we remain in this fallen Creation, we also anticipate Christ’s return in glory, the complete and everlasting cleansing of our sinful natures, and an eternity in the blessed presence of the Almighty.

Seraph Text: In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:1-8

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Unclean and Holy

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 29; Acts 2:14a, 22-36; John 3:1-17

Trinity Sunday: Visit Aardvark Alley for a bit more on the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

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06 May 2015

Funeral Sermon: Engraved on God’s Palms

Preached on Isaiah 49:13-16
6 May AD 2015
The Funeral of Betty Jane Harms

Title: Engraved on God’s Palms (MP3 Audio)

Isaiah 49:6 Summary: Believers deeply desire and often valiantly struggle to remember the God of their salvation when facing suffering and death. Job wanted his confession “I know that my Redeemer lives” carved in stone, the letters filled with molten lead, so certain was he of his eventual resurrection and everlasting life in the Lord (Job 19:23-27).

In our text, the Lord tells Jerusalem that He also has made a carving of remembrance, this in the palms of His own hands. While He was addressing Israel figuratively, in Christ He later opened His literal flesh-and-blood palms to crucifixion’s engraving.

Even while Golgotha’s nails named Jesus as “sinner,” God also made Christ’s palms a memory book, wherein could be recorded Jesus’ wondrous name of love. By the power of the Holy Spirit, this name becomes ours through Baptism and the Word.

Yes, dear saint, your name is written on the palms of the Lord for Him to see, to remember, and to love you forevermore.

Text: Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:13-16

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Engraved on God’s Palms

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 23; Hebrews 13:20-21; John 10:11-18

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19 April 2015

Sermon: Be Angry, Don’t Sin

Preached on Psalm 4
Easter 3B — 19 April AD 2015

Title: Be Angry, Don’t Sin (MP3 Audio)

Walter and Laura Snyder with Bill Heine Summary: We Christians don’t always know how to deal with our emotions. Some of us seem to live by them and be guided according to them. Others hold them so tightly in check that others rarely if ever seem them displayed.

God certainly doesn’t want us to follow each whim of our feelings. Yet at the same time, he created us to have these feelings and to exercise them. The difficulty is often when and how we act on what we feel.

While the text is usually translated as “anger,” its Scriptural use involves most any feelings of agitation or anxiety. The Psalmist recognizes that while we can have considerable emotional responses to almost any strong stimuli, God desires us to act upon our emotions according to His Word.

When we do dwell on the negatives or lash out in anger, the Lord calls us to repentance. He also forgives us and offers us His peace. He eases our consciences and quiets our “what ifs” so that we might not only know by faith but also feel in our hearts the abiding safety that is in Him.

This was preached during the second service at Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas. After the sermon, my younger daughter was installed as music teacher for Memorial Lutheran School. As with the day’s Gospel, upon which I preached during the first service, the Psalm spoke directly to the concerns of a new graduate with a new vocation in a new location and made a few references to Laura, her family and friends, and her new church and school during the sermon.

Psalm 4:8 Text: Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Be Angry, Don’t Sin

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-49

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Sermon: Why Are You Troubled?

Preached on Luke 24:36-49
Easter 3B — 19 April AD 2015

Title: Why Are You Troubled? (MP3 Audio)

Walter and Laura Snyder Summary: God never promised a trouble-free life. However, He sent His Son to take our troubles — our fears, our needs, our worries, our sins — upon Himself.

Sin is our biggest trouble and death is sin’s most troubling messenger. Christ claimed both the sins of all mankind and all of their troubling consequences. He carried them throughout His life, suffering, and death. He left every sin and each attendant problem behind in the grave. The Resurrection proclaims His victory over them.

He showed Himself bodily raised from the dead. He could touch and talk, eat and drink. He promises that His resurrection and belongs to all who believe in Him. The fruits of His victory belong to the believers.

While we still live in this fallen Creation, we’ll continue being troubled. Doubt, fear, and guilty conscience may all visit us. We have no guarantee that God will prevent more trouble than we can bear from overtaking us. However, we have a Savior who carried our troubles to the cross and who invites us to hand over all of them to Him.

Jesus’ calls all believers to receive rest from this life’s burdens (see Matthew 11:28-30). Likewise, Peter reminds you to stop worrying and instead to lay “all your anxieties on [Christ], because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)”

This was preached during the first service at Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas. Not long after I left the pulpit, my younger daughter was commissioned as a Lutheran school teacher. I thought that the day’s Gospel spoke directly to the concerns of a new graduate with a new vocation in a new location and made a few references to Laura, her family and friends, and her new church and school during the sermon.

Riojas: Christ Shows His Wounds Text: As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”

But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.

And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.

“But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:36-49

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Why Are You Troubled?

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 4; Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7

Illustration: Line drawing from Art of the Church Year by Ed Riojas, available through Higher Things Store.

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12 April 2015

Sermon: Body of Evidence

Preached on 1 John 1:1-2:2
Easter 2B — 12 April AD 2015

Title: Body of Evidence (MP3 Audio)

Jesus and Thomas Summary: Christianity isn’t based on so-called “blind faith.” No one comes to Christ blindly. Nor is true faith built on wishful thinking.

Today’s text leads us to consider the biblical record, with eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. Building on the Old Testament prophecies, it continues confessing the God who became flesh and blood whose life, death, and resurrection were witnessed by the women, Peter and John and the other apostles, the Emmaus Road disciples, Paul, and “more than five hundred brothers at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:6)”

Jesus “has risen, as he said. (Matthew 28:6)” This is the ultimate testimony that Scripture is true and our faith not in vain.

Text: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 1:1-2:2

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Body of Evidence.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 148; Acts 4:32-35; John 20:19-31

Illustration: Public domain painting by Ludovico Mazzolino at Web Gallery of Art.

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05 April 2015

Sermon: Easter Day

The Resurrection of Our Lord
5 April AD 2015
Concluding a Lent – Easter Series on Christ and Creation

Title: In the (New) Beginning: A New Creation (MP3 Audio)

Christus Victor Summary: “In the beginning, God created....” Not long afterwards, as Satan led Adam and Eve to shatter their relationship with the Lord, the entire Creation was fractured.

Our first parents were driven out of the Garden after hearing only the most bare-bones promise that God would use the woman’s Seed to execute judgment upon the Tempter. As centuries and millennia passed, He gradually filled in some of the details, both how He would accomplish this purpose and what it would finally entail.

Isaiah gives the most complete glimpse: Not only would the power of evil be forever broken but God who had created the heavens and the earth would make them anew. This New Creation would be peopled by new creatures — redeemed sinners who trusted in His promises and thus received His blessings.

Paul tells us that already, before the End of Time, we Christians are made a new creation in Christ Jesus. Our sin-sick, festering natures are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. In Christ, we are hidden from divine judgment, for this judgment already fell on the sinless Son of God.

We await the Last Judgment with expectant hope and boundless joy, for we know that what we are now by declaration we will then be in complete nature. The One who was made sin for us made us new by water and the Word and through His Gospel and Sacraments continues renewing us until the fulness of the New Creation dawns and He returns to welcome us into our eternal home.

Hymn: During Lenten midweek services, through Holy Week, the Vigil, and Easter morning, we will be singing With God in the Beginning as Office Hymn or Hymn of the Day. Each time we will sing two stanzas focusing on the Christology of that day’s sermon text from Genesis. The tune I chose is Auf, auf, mein Herz, known among many English-speaking Christians as the Easter hymn Awake, My Heart, with Gladness.

   In Christ, the Second Adam,
   Creation is remade.
   Death cannot hold God’s children;
   His Son destroyed our grave.
   Though mortal cloak shall fray,
   Christ wove a new array:
   This righteous dress is giv’n
   To all He brings to heav’n.

   Unlike the old Creation,
   The New shall never wane.
   Endless, our glad ovation
   We sing the Lamb Once Slain:
   “Amen! Dear Christ be praised —
   You who from death are raised —
   With Father, gracious God,
   And Holy Ghost we laud!”

      ©2003, 2015 Walter P. Snyder

The Resurrection Text: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.

We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of In the (New) Beginning: A New Creation.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 16; Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

Illustrations: Christus Victor from Die Bibel in Bildern by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld and the Auferstehung (Resurrection) picture from the Kupferstichpassion (Passion engravings) by Albrecht Dürer, both at Wikimedia Commons.

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04 April 2015

Sermon: The Vigil of Easter

The Resurrection of Our Lord
4 April AD 2015
Lent – Easter Series on Christ and Creation

Title: In the (New) Beginning: God Rested (MP3 Audio)

God Rested Summary: In the beginning, once He “finished his work that he had done,” God “rested on the seventh day.” On the sixth day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, hanging from the cross, Jesus could say of His work of redemption, “It is finished.” On that following Sabbath, He, too rested “from all his work that he had done.”

The brutal battle is ended, the crushing work of saving mankind over. Jesus is now our Sabbath — our rest — any day of the week, any month, any year. Through time and into eternity, we know that we are at peace with God and free from the demands of the Law.

Hymn: During Lenten midweek services, through Holy Week, the Vigil, and Easter morning, we will be singing With God in the Beginning as Office Hymn or Hymn of the Day. Each time we will sing two stanzas focusing on the Christology of that day’s sermon text from Genesis. The tune I chose is Auf, auf, mein Herz, known among many English-speaking Christians as the Easter hymn Awake, My Heart, with Gladness.

   In sleep of death our Savior
   Rested in borrowed tomb;
   Disciples’ lives lost pleasure,
   Evermore grew their gloom.
   For Christ the Lord was dead;
   Their house had lost its Head.
   Doom and despair held sway
   That sorr’wing Sabbath Day.

   Forgotten in their anguish,
   God’s words from olden day:
   “My Holy One won’t languish
   In tomb to see decay.”
   Christ’s Sabbath hallowed graves
   Of those He came to save.
   From evil, woe, and harm
   He rests us in His arms.

      ©2003, 2015 Walter P. Snyder

Christ's Rest in the Tomb Text: Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of In the (New) Beginning: God Rested.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Genesis 1:1-2:3*; Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13; Genesis 22:1-18; Exodus 14:10-15:1; Isaiah 55:1-11; Ezekiel 36:24-28*; Deuteronomy 31:19-30*; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Job 19:20-27; Jonah 3:1-10*; Zephaniah 3:12-20*; Daniel 3:1-30*; John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8*

*Not read tonight.

Illustrations: On the Seventh Day God Rested from Die Bibel in Bildern by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld at Wikimedia Commons. Christ in the Tomb from Art of the Church Year by Ed Riojas available through Higher Things Store.

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03 April 2015

Sermon: Good Friday

3 April AD 2015
Lent – Easter Series on Christ and Creation

Title: In the (New) Beginning: The Fall (MP3 Audio)

Creation: The Fall Summary: In Creation’s early days, Adam and Eve listened to the Tempter, followed their own desires, and cast off the image of God. They brought divine judgment and death upon themselves and all generations to follow.

When the Lord gave them opportunity to fess up, they instead passed the buck: the man blamed His wife and His God while she blamed the serpent. God blamed them all and judged each. His harshest condemnation fell on the serpent — Satan embodied — as He promised that the woman’s Seed would one day crush the Devil’s head.

Jesus came in human flesh to undo the Devil’s damage, bringing life to those dead in their trespasses and beginning the New Creation that will supplant the Old at the end of time. He accepted the blame — not for His sins but ours — and paid the price by suffering and dying on the cross. He resisted Satan’s temptations, crushed the serpent’s head, and accepted our deaths as His own.

Christ clothes us in His own righteousness, restores the image of God, grants forgiveness instead of condemnation, and promises to raise all who believe in Him to everlasting life.

Hymn: During Lenten midweek services, through Holy Week, the Vigil, and Easter morning, we will be singing With God in the Beginning as Office Hymn or Hymn of the Day. Each time we will sing two stanzas focusing on the Christology of that day’s sermon text from Genesis. The tune I chose is Auf, auf, mein Herz, known among many English-speaking Christians as the Easter hymn Awake, My Heart, with Gladness.

   Christ, for the heirs of Adam,
   Knew strife and toil and pain.
   Sent forth from bliss of heaven
   He came our lives to gain.
   This Sinless One did bear
   All of our grief and care.
   To sin He would not yield
   And by His wounds we’re healed.

   Forsaken by His Father
   He hung upon the tree,
   That He might crush the
   Tempter And set Creation free.
   Through garden’s bitter cries
   And crucifixion’s sighs
   He fought His Valiant fight
   To give dead sinners life.

      ©2003, 2015 Walter P. Snyder

Text: Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring [Seed]; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Genesis 3:1-21

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of In the (New) Beginning: The Fall.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 22 or Psalm 31; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42 or John 19:17-30

Illustration: The Temptation and Fall of Adam and Eve from Die Bibel in Bildern by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld at Wikimedia Commons.

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