Happenings

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





24 July 2016

Pentecost 10 Sermon: How Much More!

Preached on Luke 11:1-13
The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 12C
24 July AD 2016

Title: How Much More! (MP3 Audio)

Luke 11:13 Summary: Jesus is twice recorded teaching His Church to say, “Our Father.” Matthew 6:9-13 contains the text with which we are most familiar. The instance reported by Luke speaks not of the Father’s will nor of our delivery from evil, yet Jesus brought up both of these as He expounded on the text.

Note that it wasn’t the Romans, the Samaritans, the Pharisees, or the Sadducees whom Jesus called “evil” but rather the disciples who asked Him to teach them to pray. Peter, James, John, and the rest of the bunch are the ones who “give good gifts” to their children, even though they are “evil.” Jesus then taught that the Father — the embodiment of goodness — gives so much more.

The paltry good that we poor sinners can do for those whom we love pales before God’s love for those who hate Him and who rebel against His Word and His will. Our Father willed that His sinless Son die for the world’s sins so that we who are evil might own every good gift of body, mind, and spirit.

Jesus makes it clear that God’s will is to give us sinners the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit, God creates and sustains faith in Christ’s forgiveness. Likewise, the Spirit intercedes for us when we know not what or how to pray (see Romans 8:26-27).

“How much more” good is this gift from God? So much that we cannot fathom its enormity! We who are conceived and born sinful receive full and free forgiveness of all our sins. For Christ’s sake, we who are inclined toward evil are received by a good and loving God who calls us His children. Our heavenly Father gives us our daily bread throughout our time on earth and desires that we join all the faithful in the eternal feast of the Lamb in His kingdom.

This sermon was preached for the 140th Anniversary of Zion Lutheran Church of Pittsburg, Kansas. I am a son of the congregation, living there through most of the 1960s while Dad was Zion’s pastor.

Luke 11:9 Text: Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

And he said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:1-13

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 How Much More!

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

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 138; Genesis 18:(17-19) 20-33; Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19)

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17 July 2016

Pentecost 9 Sermon: One Thing Necessary

Preached on Luke 10:38-42
The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 11C
17 July AD 2016

Title: One Thing Necessary (MP3 Audio)

Mary and Martha Summary: Care, concern, anxiety, worry, trouble — call it what you will, we all find ourselves distracted and sidetracked from the “good portion,” feasting on Christ, the food of everlasting life. Loving our neighbor in response to God’s love for us is never wrong but Jesus reminds us as He did Martha that, finally, only “one thing is necessary.”

Martha wasn’t wrong as she prepared a meal for the Lord and His disciples. Quite likely, she was listening even as she worked to make ready and serve the food. Yet she seemed completely unaware that she was fixing a meal for the Host of the everlasting banquet.

What earthly provender compares to this “feast of rich food” and “well-aged wine” (Isaiah 25:6) that awaits us when we are raised from the dead? Martha was concerned with her guests’ daily bread. But more essentially, Mary wanted first to partake of the “good portion,” feasting on the Bread of Life (see John 6:48, 51) as He taught in their home.

Text: Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

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 One Thing Necessary.

Illustration: Tintoretto, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary from the Web Gallery of Art.

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 27:(1-6) 7-14; Genesis 18:1-10a (10b-14); Colossians 1:21-29

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10 July 2016

Pentecost 8 Sermon: Steadfast Love

Preached on Psalm 136:1, 23-26
The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 10C
10 July AD 2016

Title: Steadfast Love (MP3 Audio)

Psalm 136:1 Summary: Preaching on today’s Introit to a gathering of nursing home residents, I noted that it’s much easier to “give thanks to the Lord” when life is fairly easy. However, the Psalmist calls us to be thankful in all circumstances, reminding us that “the God of heaven” steadfastly loves us at all times.

He supports and defends us in our “low estate,” redeeming us from our lowest estate of sinful natures forever at enmity with Him. He cares for us body, mind, and spirit but, above all else, works to create and sustain faith that we might have life forever with Him.

Text: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever; and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever; he who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:1, 23-26

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 Steadfast Love.

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 41; Leviticus 18:1-5, 19:9-18; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37

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Pentecost 8 Sermon: Unearned Inheritance

Preached on Luke 10:25-37
The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 10C
10 July AD 2016

Title: Unearned Inheritance (MP3 Audio)

Good Samaritan Summary: The teacher of the Law tested Jesus with a question that made sense to him but is nonsense to God. He confused Law and Gospel, asking how to earn a gift, specifically, the inheritance of eternal life. Jesus’s story of the Samaritan continued to point the man down the path of works, evidently because He judged the man unready to grasp salvation by grace through faith.

The lawyer couldn’t earn what was already God’s gift through the same Jesus whom he came to challenge. We inherit eternal life because Christ died and left everything to us in His “will” — His testament of body given and blood shed on the cross. We can do nothing to inherit because “it is finished (John 19:30)” and we possess our inheritance through God-given faith.

Text: And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”

And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37

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 Unearned Inheritance.

Illustration: Vincent van Gogh, 1853-1890. Good Samaritan (1890), from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 12, 2016]. Click for original source.

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 41; Leviticus 18:1-5, 19:9-18; Colossians 1:1-14

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03 July 2016

Pentecost 7 Sermon: Safe in Mother’s Arms

Preached on Isaiah 66:10-14
The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 9C
3 July AD 2016

Title: Safe in Mother’s Arms (MP3 Audio)

Isaiah 66:10-11 Summary: While awaiting the fulfillment of the new Jerusalem, we still live in Christ’s Church, the Jerusalem of faith. She is the mother who wraps herself around us — holding, comforting, and consoling. She bore us in the womb of the font and gathers us to her breast to hear God’s forgiving Word and to feed on Jesus’ body and blood.

As long as we live, we’ll never outgrow our need to nurse upon her pure spiritual milk, to rest in the lap of Christian worship. We must continue having our soiled garments cleansed, our hunger fed, our thirst slaked, and our fears calmed.

Whether held tightly to the Church’s breast or dandled joyfully on her lap, we receive the nurture we need throughout all our earthly days.

Isaiah 66:13 Text: “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance.”

For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees.

“As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants, and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.” Isaiah 66:10-14

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 Safe in Mother’s Arms.

Illustrations: Detail of Maternity by Pablo Picasso (1905) and Mary Cassatt’s Mother Berthe Holding Her Baby (1900).

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 66:1-7; Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18; Luke 10:1-20

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26 June 2016

Pentecost 6 Sermon: Never Alone

Preached on 1 Kings 19:9b-21
The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 8C
26 June AD 2016

Title: Never Alone (MP3 Audio)

Elijah on Mount Horeb Summary: We all experience bouts of loneliness, of feeling that no one cares. Few, probably, match the sense of abandonment that Elijah expressed on Mount Horeb. Perhaps those in nursing homes such as the audience for this sermon come as close as anyone.

Yet Elijah wasn’t truly alone — neither are we nor are those who gathered tonight to hear these words. Each of us is intimately known and deeply loved by God. Each is special in His sight and He desires to abandon no one.

Christ guaranteed our place with the Father by allowing Himself to be forsaken by God and man. Abandoned on the cross, He paid for our sins so that He might draw all people to Him. He faced this ultimate loneliness that we might be together with Him and with each other in the communion of His Church.

The Holy Spirit brings us together to encourage us. He also gathers the believers that we might be prepared to reach out to the lonely and marginalized among us. He draws us out of our bouts of self-pity and leads us to have pity on others, meeting their needs with God’s love in Christ Jesus.

Christ Crucified Text: Behold, the word of the Lord came to [Elijah], and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.”

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.”

And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?”

And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him. 1 Kings 19:9b-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 Never Alone.

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; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62

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Pentecost 6 Sermon: Dead Set

Preached on Luke 9:51-62
The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 8C
26 June AD 2016

Title: Dead Set (MP3 Audio)

Luke 9:51 Summary: Plowing, driving, even walking — in each of these endeavors, we find ourselves going quickly off-track if we don’t remain focused on where we’re going. When Jesus spoke to those who would be His disciples, He demanded that they drop all they had, ignore temptations to look away, and follow Him wherever He led.

Yet not one of His followers remained completely faithful. None of the Twelve remained with Him when he was captured in the garden. Similarly, we may gasp the plow handles of discipleship but we find it impossible to stay the course.

Yet we fear not because we know that Jesus remained on-task and on-target. Because He was dead set upon reaching Jerusalem in order to suffer and die for all mankind, He earned forgiveness for all whose faith wavers or whose walk wanders away. He was fixed on the Holy City because He was fixed on us. He never lost sight of those sinners He’d come to save.

Now, through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Spirit continually works to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (see Hebrews 12:2) in order that we might remain with the Savior who remains with us. He keeps us focuses on Christ that we might always receive forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Jesus never looked back or turned away. He plowed straight toward His death that we might follow Him to life everlasting.

Luke 9:62 Text: When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

To another he said, “Follow me.”

But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:51-62

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 Dead Set.

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; 1 Kings 19:9b-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-25

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19 June 2016

Pentecost 5 Sermon: How Much Jesus Has Done

Preached on Luke 8:26-39
The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 7C
19 June AD 2016

Title: How Much Jesus Has Done (MP3 Audio)

Gadarene Demoniac Summary: How much has God done for you? We can probably make a sizeable list without much effort. Yet when we really stop to think, we know that our list will never be complete because He continues to provide for us. However, some things will always stand out.

When Jesus told the man from whom He drove out the demons named Legion to go home and “declare how much God has done for you,” one event topped the list. So the man “went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”

Notice how the man expanded upon the message he received from the Lord yet got it exactly right: Sent home to declare God’s wonderful gift, he went home and proclaimed Jesus’ wonderful gift. He announced that his gift from God was truly a gift from Jesus.

Whether or not he fully realized that he’d met God enfleshed, he was certain that Jesus was from God. Meanwhile, the people of the area, seeing what Jesus had done, seemingly became more afraid of the One who banished the demons then they’d been of the demons who’d possessed the man.

How interesting it is that Luke sets this account immediately following that of Jesus stilling the storm. The inhabitants of the region were “afraid” — indeed they felt “great fear” — that someone commanding such might was in their midst. Their response mirrored the disciples from a few verses before: “[T]hey were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?’ (v. 25)”

How much, then, has God done? He has taken on human flesh. He has carried our sins, our guilt, our diseases. He has endured the agony of crucifixion and the final gasps of a dying man. And He has risen from the dead, the firstfruits of our own resurrection. Yet as we ponder this awe-full mystery, The Holy Spirit moves us not to terror at His might displayed in judgment but to joy over His might revealed in mercy.

Jesus and the Gadarene Demoniac Text: Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs.

When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.)

Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.

And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.

So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.”

And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39

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 How Much Jesus Has Done.

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 3; Isaiah 65:1-9; Galatians 3:23-4:7

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12 June 2016

Pentecost 4 Sermon: Cover-Up

Preached on Psalm 32:1-7
The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 6C
12 June AD 2016

Title: Cover-Up (MP3 Audio)

Nathan and David Summary: Cover-ups. We see them employed by governments, businesses, and individuals in order to avoid the consequences of actions illegal, immoral, and sinful. They may work for a time but eventually, the truth usually becomes known. Of course, if a cover-up is maintained long enough, statutes of limitations, changes in attitudes, or more pressing matters often diminish or completely eliminate earthly consequences.

However, the same doesn’t hold true for the eternal consequences of sin. As David discovered, we cannot out-wait God’s judgment. Sin doesn’t become less sinful over time and God doesn’t forget or excuse our wrongdoings. Our attempts at cover-ups are no more successful than those of David with Bathsheba, Adam and Eve in the garden, or any others throughout history.

Yet there is one absolutely foolproof and complete cover-up: God covers us in the blood of Jesus, forgiving and forgetting all our sins. Washed in the waters of Baptism and clothed in Christ’s righteousness, He now sees nothing in us but the absolute righteousness of His beloved Son.

With David, we celebrate with “shouts of deliverance.” Along with the forgiven woman in today’s Gospel, we discover that as our sins “which are many, are forgiven” and now we are moved to much love — toward God who forgives and toward other people, as we both forgive and are forgiven by them.

Covered in Christ Text: Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Psalm 32:1-7

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 Cover-Up.

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: 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-14; Galatians 2:15-21, 3:10-14; Luke 7:36-8:3

Also: Here are related sermons on today’s Old Testament and Gospel readings.

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05 June 2016

Pentecost 3 Sermon: Interruption Interrupted

Preached on Luke 7:11-17
The Third Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 5C
5 June AD 2016

Title: Interruption Interrupted (MP3 Audio)

Widow of Zarephath Summary: Imagine the audacity: Deep in grief, you sit in a funeral car, following your dearest loved one to the cemetery. Suddenly, a man blocks the road, halting the procession. He strides to the back of the hearse, flings open the door, and demands that the dead one get up and out of the coffin.

Now imagine your astonishment when the “dear departed” isn’t departed anymore! Death’s interruption is itself interrupted. Sorrow without depth immediately becomes joy without bounds. Life refills not only the one who was dead but also the loved ones whose own lives seemed so empty scant moments before.

The prophets Elijah and Elisha foreshadowed the greatest Prophet. Through the Lord, they called grieving mothers’ sons back to life. Jesus went beyond this, calling this widow’s son and his dear friend Lazarus back from death before completely interrupting death by dying Himself and then returning to life.

Likely, the previous interruptions were temporary. The sons of the widows of Zarephath and Nain, the Shunamite’s son and Lazarus — each probably lived for a time before death once again claimed them. But when Jesus returned from the grave, He effected a permanent interruption of death and of the sin that brings it into our lives.

We know that even if we die, no matter the time that passes afterwards, we remain alive in Christ and will be called forth in glorified resurrection bodies to live forevermore. The valley of the shadow of death transformed into the eternally sunlight land of life. The pit of the grave replaced by the mountain of the Lord’s glory. The burial shroud swallowed up by the Lord of Life.

Widow of Nain Text: Soon afterward [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”

Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17

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 Interruption Interrupted.

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 30; 1 Kings 17:17-24; Galatians 1:11-24

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29 May 2016

Pentecost 2 Sermon: Absolutely Astonished

Preached on Galatians 1:1-12
The Second Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 4C
29 May AD 2016

Title: Absolutely Astonished (MP3 Audio)

Broken Chains Summary: Astonishing! Someone gives you something beyond value for absolutely no cost — and you’re looking for ways to pay for it! And so, after an introduction filled with sweetness and light, Paul immediately lowers the boom on the Galatians — and on us.

Even secular wisdom tells us, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” In other words, accept your gift thankfully and use it as intended. If this is true for even second-rate human gifts, how much more should it be for a priceless gift of love from God Himself?

Yet the Galatians were starting to listen to those who were telling them that Christ alone wasn’t enough. They were being told that to be “good Christians,” they needed to become good Jews. Freed by the Gospel, the Galatians were beginning to subject themselves to the Law.

Enemies of the Gospel were using it as a gateway, making Christ’s sacrifice a step on the way to holiness rather than the source and the completion of our righteousness. The freedom from sin’s bondage that these Judaizers” proclaimed was illusory — they were only “freeing” their listeners to step into a new bondage.

While the details change to fit times and circumstances, Satan and fallen human nature remain the same. We still face those who would turn us away from the full liberation of the Gospel and direct us back to works of the Law.

Listen to Christ. When He says, “It it finished,” He means that He has completed everything necessary for salvation. Our debt is paid, we are reconciled with the Father, and we can do nothing to add to God’s infinite love. What is more astonishing than our efforts to add human works to the Gospel? God continuing to love us, forgive us, and receive us into His presence.

Crucifixion Text: Paul, an apostle — not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead — and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. John 8:48-59

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 Absolutely Astonished.

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 96:1-9; 1 Kings 8:22-24, 27-29, 41-43; Luke 7:1-10

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22 May 2016

Trinity Sunday Sermon: Divine Grammar

Preached on John 8:48-59
The First Sunday after Pentecost (Series C)
22 May AD 2016

Title: Divine Grammar (MP3 Audio)

John 8:58 Summary: “Before Abraham was, I am.” It doesn’t take much schooling for most people to recognize that Jesus seemed to mix up the verb tenses. Looking back hundreds of years into the past, He spoke of Himself in the present.

Yet is wasn’t a grammar error that led His Jewish antagonists to grab rocks “to throw at him.” No, they understood what Jesus was truly saying. He wasn’t merely trying to say that He’d been around longer than Abraham. Instead, He as continued speaking about His relationship to the Father, He was telling them that He thought that He was God.

When Jesus said, “I am,” He wasn’t only stating the fact of His existence. He was claiming to be the One who called to Moses from the burning bush: “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I am has sent me to you.”’ (Exodus 3:14)”

Jesus therefore identified Himself as “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob” (see Exodus 3:16). He was — He is — the Holy One of Israel who brought His people out of bondage in Egypt and led them to the Promised land. He is the God and Lord of King David (see Acts 2:25-31).” He is “the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)” (Visit Preaching Symbols for information on the related symbolism in this accompanying picture of Christ.)

He is also your great I am, your God and Lord, your Rescuer and Redeemer. He is the source of your life and your only hope of life everlasting. He wants you to know this and believe it and through faith be saved from sin, death, and Devil.

Exodus 3:14 Text: The Jews answered [Jesus], “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”

Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:48-59

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 Divine Grammar.

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 8; Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Acts 2:14a, 22-36

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14 May 2016

Funeral Sermon: At Home in the Lord

Preached on Psalm 28:7-8
The Funeral of Catherine Marie “Cathy” Potter
14 May AD 2016

Title: At Home in the Lord (MP3 Audio)

Psalm 46:11 Summary: Since Adam’s fall, humankind hasn’t been where it’s supposed to be — spiritually, mentally, and physically, we come into the world at odds with ourselves, each other, and the Lord.. God wants to bring us back into His presence. He works through the Holy Spirit to call us to Him. He employs His Word, Baptism, Communion, Absolution — the fulness of the Gospel — to make us His and to keep us safe.

Yet we still live in a fallen Creation, full of storms and struggle, of disaster and death. Even more than we need shelter from the elements, we need protection from the evil within and the evildoers without. And we certainly must be shielded from the assaults of Satan.

Over and over, the Psalms call us to enter into the Lord’s protection. Here, He tells us that He is our “strength” and our “shield.” The “saving refuge of his anointed” is the mighty “fortress (Psalm 46:11)” of all who believe in Him.

He will keep us safe through our deaths and into life everlasting. In the Resurrection, we will have no need for the protection of a fortress but the Lord will still be our dwelling place. Christ spoke of this when He told the disciples of the “many rooms (John 14:2)” and promised that He was going to prepare a place for them. He has also prepared a place for us and will raise us up to live in the eternal home of God’s presence.

In this life, He is our home away from home. Yet by faith, we are already home and will remain there forevermore.

Text: The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Psalm 28:7-8

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 At Home in the Lord

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 28; Job 19:23-27a; Romans 8:28-39; John 14:1-6

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03 April 2016

Easter 2C Sermon: Baby Food

Preached on 1 Peter 2:2-3
The Second Sunday of Easter — Quasimodogeniti
3 April AD 2016

Title: Baby Food (MP3 Audio)

Picasso: Maternity (1905) Summary: The sermon is based on the antiphon from today’s introit.* The opening words from the ancient Latin text give the 2nd Sunday of Easter its traditional name, Quasimodogeniti, “Like newborn babes.”

But it’s not only addressed to believers new to the faith or new to life itself. This verse also benefits mature Christians who’ve been in the Church for many years.

Both Paul (1 Corinthians 3:2) and the author of Hebrews (5:12, 14) encourage Christians to be ready for the “solid food” of in-depth Scripture study and theology. Yet regardless of how much knowledge and wisdom we achieve in matters religious, we never outgrow our need for “pure spiritual milk.”

What is this “milk” that Peter encourages us to crave? Nothing other than the Gospel — God forgiving sins for the sake of Jesus Christ. Truly, we can say that Christ Himself is this nourishment as we receive Him in Word and Sacrament.

The fulness of true theology can be weighty and sometimes confusing. But God still moves us to nibble, chew on, or dig in to the meat of His Word. However, the most complex doctrines cannot be swallowed unless we wash them down with the pure milk of the Gospel. And in times of trial, doubt, and worry, sometimes the milk is all we can take in — yet it remains ever enough for our needs.

So even as you sink your teeth into the solid food of God’s Word, remember that a childlike faith still needs the same nourishment that sustained it in spiritual infancy. And whether chewing on the meat or sipping on the milk, you will continue tasting “that the Lord is good.”

Text: Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3

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 Baby Food.

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 5:12-20 (21-32); Revelation 1:4-18; John 20:19-31

Illustration: Detail of Maternity by Pablo Picasso (1905).

*The introit is a set of verses sung responsively at the beginning of the service. Normally, it is composed of portions of selected Psalms. The antiphon is sung at the beginning and end of the introit and — as happens today — may be from a Psalm or can be drawn from other parts of Scripture or from ancient liturgical texts.

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01 April 2016

Funeral Sermon: Knowing and Known

Preached on John 10:14-15
The Funeral of Melba Corinne Amos Strothmann
1 April AD 2016

Title: Knowing and Known (MP3 Audio)

John 10:1-18 Summary: Our Lord Jesus shepherds us throughout this life and into life eternal. He speaks forgiveness and new life. His voice never speaks falsehood; His directions never mislead us.

The Good Shepherd guides us every step of our pilgrimage through this life. He defends us against sin and Satan and calls us back when we follow the wrong voice and end up lost and alone.

Jesus knows us and we Him. He knows us throughout our lives and in our deaths. We know Him now in Word and Sacrament and trust that — even if dead and buried — we will hear His call to rise up and know Him face-to-face throughout life everlasting.

Text: [Jesus said,] “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15

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 Knowing and Known

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; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 10:1-18

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27 March 2016

Easter Day Sermon: I Know

Preached on Job 19:23-27
The Resurrection of Our Lord
27 March AD 2016

Title: I Know (MP3 Audio)

Job's Faith Summary: “I know that my Redeemer lives!”

Job is convinced that even in the midst of crushing loss and excruciating pain, He rests secure in God’s hands. Furthermore, he is certain of his own resurrection, no longer how long or how completely his body decays.

The agony of this righteous man foreshadows the greater agony of the completely righteous Man who would bear Job’s sorrows and sins — along with those of all mankind. Job’s confidence is ours. Jesus suffered every one of our pains, knew all of our losses, bore all of our infirmities, and carried all of our sins. Christ’s loss is our restoration, His pain our pleasure, His death our forgiveness, and His resurrection our life everlasting.

Text: “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

“My heart faints within me!” Job 19:23-27

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 I Know.

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 118:15-29; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 or 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; Mark 16:1-8

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25 March 2016

Good Friday Sermon: More Than a Feeling

Preached on Luke 23:26-49
The Passion of Our Lord
25 March AD 2016

Title: More Than a Feeling (MP3 Audio)

The Crucifixion Summary: Now that Daylight Saving Time begins so early in the year, many people complain that Good Friday evening services or the Easter Vigil don’t feel right because the skies are too light. While for some, it’s a minor complaint, it seems that others truly believe that they’re not getting the full effect of these services.

However, whatever our feelings, we must return to the facts. Regardless of the time of year — and in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s already autumn — and whatever our preferences, all that truly matters is what today proclaims. Good Friday is all about the crucifixion of the Christ.

No matter how light or dark the evening nor how bright or dark our mood, no matter our feelings and preferences, the day counts for naught without the simple, objective truth of God’s love for sinners. It’s more than a feeling — it’s a cold, hard, bright, beautiful fact: Jesus suffered and died to forgive our sins and win for us life everlasting.

Text: And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Good Friday Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. Luke 23:26-49

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 More Than a Feeling.

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 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

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