Happenings

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





30 August 2015

Pentecost 14 Sermon: The Evil Within

Preached on Exodus 7:14-23
Proper 17B/Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
30 August AD 2015

Title: The Evil Within (MP3 Audio)

The Evil Within Summary: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

The Shadow knows!”

This introduction to a famous program from radio’s golden days set the stage for a crime fighting hero with extra-human powers. Today, however, we realize that it doesn’t take a super hero to delve into the corrupt hearts of humanity. No, those paying attention to Scripture soon discover what evil lurks within themselves.

We may try to hide, ignore, or overcome natures corrupt from conception and birth but hearts stained by sin cannot bear anything but corrupt fruits. We can’t make ourselves “clean” in God’s sight when our hands, our hearts, and our lips are covered in iniquity.

We may fool ourselves — and even deceive others — but the Lord sees the truth: Not one person possesses the innate righteousness, the pure heart and the right spirit, that God demands of anyone who would come into His presence.

Except ...

Yes, Jesus is that glorious, holy, life-giving exception. Out of His heart proceed love, blessing, forgiveness, and peace. Nothing of His substance is unclean, unrighteous, unholy. And out of compassion for fallen mankind, He who neither knew nor possessed any evil paid for our wickedness and dealt sin a death blow on the cross.

His righteousness now belongs to us as gift. It wraps us up and covers over our hearts of evil. By His sacrifice and by His Father’s declaration, we are righteous in God’s sight. But it doesn’t stop there. Instead, the Holy Spirit, working through Word and Sacrament, constantly works to grant us the pure hearts and right spirits for which we pray.

The Spirit leads us to faith in God — and to more fervent love for others. Daily, hourly, constantly, hearts inclined toward iniquity are turned toward holiness. The desire to be God’s children and to act as such is strengthened, opposing our regular attempts to take over the process and live by our own righteousness.

Not in this life will the struggle end. However, we are assured that we who trust in Christ and rely on His merits to regularly cleanse our hearts will awaken in the Resurrection completely sinless in heart and mind, in word and deed.

Mark 7:15, 18 Text: And [Jesus] called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”

And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable.

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:14-23

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 Proper 17B sermon The Evil Within

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 119:129-136; Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; Ephesians 6:10-20

Illustrations: Three panel cartoon from Agnus Day: The Lectionary Comic Strip. Line drawing from Art of the Church Year by Ed Riojas, available through Higher Things Store.

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16 August 2015

Trinity 11 Sermon: Crouching at the Door

Preached on Genesis 4:1-15
The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity
16 August AD 2015

Title: Crouching at the Door (MP3 Audio)

Genesis 4:7 Summary: Scripture doesn’t provide the details as to why the Lord accepted Abel’s offering but rejected that of Cain. That doesn’t really matter, since it’s not Cain’s sin but each of ours that each of us should concern ourselves with. For just as sin crouched at the door of his heart, so it does at yours and mine.

Therefore, God’s warning to Cain is also His warning to us. Sin awaits any opportunity to slip into our lives. Satan, that hungry lion, continues to prowl about, seeking to devour the faithful (cf. 1 Peter 5:8).

Yet even as we set watch over our hearts, we know that it is Christ who truly looks out for us. He vanquished sin and devil — as well as death. His sacrificial offering of his own lifeblood brought us peace with God. Those who believe in Him find themselves under God’s watchful eye.

Yet even as all is done for us in Christ, God still calls us to be mindful of the needs of brothers — also sisters, parents, children, friends, neighbors, and even enemies. He doesn’t equip us with a passive faith that contents itself with watching the world go by but with a faith active in love.

Cain Murders Abel Text: Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.

In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”

He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. Genesis 4:1-15

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 11 sermon Crouching at the Door

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 50:7-23; Ephesians 2:1-10; Luke 18:9-14

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09 August 2015

Trinity 10 Sermon: Doctor Feelgood

Preached on Jeremiah 8:4-12
The Tenth Sunday after Trinity
9 August AD 2015

Title: Doctor Feelgood (MP3 Audio)

Dr. Groucho Marx Summary: Would you want a doctor to hide the seriousness of your disease? Do you want sugar pills instead of strong medicine, placebos instead of pharmaceuticals? Would you trust a physician who told you that you could exercise your cancer away or who would bandage a gangrenous limb? Not likely!

Why, then do so many people accept false diagnoses and misleading treatment for their spiritual ills? Why try to work away the cancer of sin? Why leave decay rooted to the soul, ever eating away whatever good might remain? Why trust some Doctor Feelgood’s quack theology instead of being absolutely dependent upon Jesus, the Great Physician?

There is only one cure for the deadly sin that afflicts all mankind. Only the death of Jesus brings life to sinners. Only the pure medicine of Word and Sacrament delivers the cure to sin-sick sufferers. Yes, we are saved by works—the works of Christ alone. And only by God’s grace and through faith in the Son do we receive healing now and the hope of eternal remission of sin’s cancer in the Resurrection.

Ruiz: Christ Consoled Text: “You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord: When men fall, do they not rise again? If one turns away, does he not return? Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return. I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, ‘What have I done?’

“Everyone turns to his own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle. Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the Lord.

“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?

“Therefore I will give their wives to others and their fields to conquerors, because from the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.

“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 8:4-12

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 10 sermon Doctor Feelgood

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 92; Romans 9:30-10:4; Luke 19:41-48

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02 August 2015

Pentecost 10 Sermon: True Giver, True Gift

Preached on Exodus 16:2-15
Proper 13B/Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
2 August AD 2015

Title: True Giver, True Gift (MP3 Audio)

Communion Summary: Narrow-minded, self-centered, and thoughtless — Israel displayed all these traits and more as they blamed Moses and Aaron for their predicament. They claimed that it would be better to live as slaves than to die free, even though many perished at the hands of the Egyptians before the Exodus began.

How did their rumbling bellies turn so quickly into grumbling tongues? How could they ignore the Lord’s plagues on Egypt? The Red Sea crossing and the death of Pharaoh’s army? The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night? God was intimately involved in their daily lives, working for their survival as His chosen people. Meanwhile, they were astoundingly oblivious to His steadfast love.

They didn’t even remember who to blame — or credit — for their predicament. But when they whined to Moses and Aaron about their poor leadership, the Lord reminded Israel who was truly responsible. These men were God’s agents but they hadn’t released Israel from captivity, saved them from Pharaoh, and led then to this place. Neither were they going to feed His people. The Lord directly intervened as He sent manna and quail.

Similarly, when the people in today’s Gospel began talking about Moses feeding their fathers in the wilderness, Jesus set them straight: “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. (John 6:32)” He then identified Himself as that true and life-giving bread.

Narrow-minded, self-centered, and thoughtless — that too often describes us, as well. We can be just as blind to God’s blessings, every bit as much doubting His grace. We too often complain about missing an occasional crumb even as He sets before us a feast.

Yet even though we often ignore the Giver or misuse the Gift, the Lord still feeds us as we make our pilgrimage through earthly life into life everlasting. He graciously gives us our daily bread but, more importantly, He gives His Son. In Word and sacrament we feast on this richest of foods and slake our thirst on Him who is the Water of Life. Jesus literally embodies Psalm 104:15, His blood the “wine to gladden the heart of man” and His body the “bread to strengthen man’s heart.”

Manna in the Wilderness Text: And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him — what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.” Exodus 16:2-15

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 Proper 13B sermon True Giver, True Gift

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 145:10-21; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:22-35

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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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