Happenings

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





25 September 2016

Installation Sermon: Life for the Dead

Preached on Luke 16:19-31
The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 21C
The Installation of Pastor Brian J. Thorson
25 September AD 2016

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Life for the Dead.

Bronnikov's Lazarus Summary: If one were looking for a Scripture that shows what God desires in a pastor’s character, the appointed epistle for today is a wonderful fit. I certainly referenced it in this sermon. However, today’s Gospel sits at the heart of the message entrusted to pastors and their congregations: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.”

Jesus told the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus sometime before His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. It would be years before the Evangelists and Apostles recorded His life and carried the Gospel forth into the world. Yet even then, the Scriptures we now know as the Old Testament were sufficient for salvation, for they already declared divine judgment against sin and proclaimed forgiveness by God’s grace through faith.

In telling this story, Jesus certainly has an eye on love for our neighbors, particularly the poor and helpless among us. Yet the emphasis finally isn’t on the Law’s demands to care for the poor and it certainly isn’t that the poor are righteous and the rich wicked.

Instead, Jesus shows how we are either trapped by or else escape from the consequences of our sinful natures. Poor Lazarus isn’t saved by his poverty any more than is the rich man damned because of his wealth. And the rich man’s brothers wouldn’t be saved by the miracle of a dead man coming back with the threats of the Law. Their salvation would depend upon believing the Scriptures, knowing the depth of their sins and trusting the greatness of God’s forgiveness.

Jesus fulfilled the promise of the Old Testament but He didn’t negate its content. People are still saved by hearing Moses and the Prophets — and the Evangelists and the Apostles — and by believing that God forgives their sins for Christ’s sake. The message remains the same: The harsh, absolute, unwavering condemnation of sin by the Law drives sinners to despair their own righteousness while the sweet, healing, absolute forgiveness of any and every sin through the Gospel brings peace, joy, and the promise of everlasting life with God for all who believe.

No sign, not even a dead man coming back to life, will create and sustain faith. We have a concrete example of this when Jesus called a dead man — one also named Lazarus — forth from the tomb. Those who already trusted God rejoiced while those who persisted in denying and resisting Jesus instead plotted to kill Him and the very man whose life He’d just restored (John 11:45-53).

Only the Holy Spirit, working through God’s Word, can crush sin-hardened hearts with the Law and restore shattered sinners with the Gospel. The content of saving faith remains simply and solely the forgiveness of sins we receive in the Gospel and Sacraments. And only God's grace received through faith will bring us to the joys of eternal life with Moses and the Prophets, with Evangelists and Apostles, with Abraham and Abraham's God.

Luke 16:19-31 Text: [Jesus said,] “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.

“The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’

“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

“And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers — so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

“But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’

“And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31

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 Life for the Dead

Illustrations: Lazarus at the Rich Man’s Gate by Fyodor Bronnikov, 1886. Folio 78 recto from the Codex Aureus of Echternach, Lazarus and Dives.

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 146; Amos 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:1-13

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Saint Michael’s Day Sermon: Do Not Rejoice ... But Rejoice

Preached on Luke 10:17-20
Saint Michael and All Angels
25 September AD 2016

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Do Not Rejoice ... But Rejoice.

St. Michael and All Angels Summary: The seventy-two disciples returned to Christ and the twelve, thrilled with the display of God’s glory they’d seen . They celebrated how they could cast out evil spirits in Jesus’ name. Yet He told them that their enthusiasm was misplaced.

Of course it’s good that Satan and his minions have no power over us. It’s wonderful when demons are driven out and tormented people given peace. Yet however good these are, they are only signs of our true source of joy: Jesus Christ died to save sinners and because of Him we are God’s children. The Lord’s true glory isn’t revealed in the demons’ submission to Jesus but in the Son’s submission to His Father’s will in His suffering and death. By His sacrifice, Jesus effected our salvation.

Yes, Jesus “saw Satan fall like lightning.” But Jesus also saw you raised up from the baptismal waters, named by God and recorded in the Book of Life. In Baptism, our names are “engraved on the palms of [God’s] hands. (Isaiah 49:16; see also the sermon Engraved on God’s Palms)” They are “written in heaven” and no matter what befalls us on earth, we know that we’ll be raised up as eternal citizens of the new heavens and the new earth. How can we not rejoice in this!

Luke 10:18 Text: The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”

And [Jesus] said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20

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 Do Not Rejoice ... But Rejoice

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 91; Daniel 10:10-14; 12:1-3; Revelation 12:7-12; Matthew 18:1-10 (alternate Gospel)

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18 September 2016

Pentecost 18 Sermon: Deeds Unforgotten

Preached on Amos 8:4-7
The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 20C
18 September AD 2016

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Deeds Unforgotten.

Amos 8:4-7 Summary: Amos said, “The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: ‘Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.’” Are we such fools as to invite this remembrance? Are we innocent of taking advantage of those less fortunate?

Not likely! In one way or another, each of us shares culpability for the world’s social injustice — injustice that’s certainly sinful of itself but also a symptom of mankind’s fallen nature. The wicked practices that Amos decries testify against a people who judge themselves better than others — a people just like us.

We may not spend the Lord’s Day actively planning to cheat the poor, to achieve wrongful gain at the expense of the needy, or to create and use crooked measures in order to bilk the unwary. However, we often ignore the needs of the less fortunate even as we gather in the Lord’s house. Too often, we give only cursory attention to the preaching of His Word and the reception of the His Supper, preferring to zip in, get pepped up, and dash out in an hour or less.

By accusing us of using unjust measures, the Lord also points out our unbalanced natures, ever inclined toward sin. We are out of balance. And if we approach God’s judgment thinking that we will save ourselves, we’ll find the balance weighted more against us than we would have seen in Israel’s most dishonest scales, for the Lord “will never forget” our deeds.

John 5:1-9 Yet when Christians hear the Lord swear by “the pride of Jacob” to remember our deeds, we rejoice! Jacob’s ultimate pride resides in his greatest Heir, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. Israel’s Pride gives us true forgiveness and credits us with His own deeds. Now our deeds are kind, merciful, and done without counting the cost. Our hearts are holy, our motives pure.

We not only have Christ’s deeds credited to us but Jesus also continues working His deeds through us. He sends the Holy Spirit to move us to lives of mercy, serving our neighbor, loving our enemy, forsaking sinful gain, and seeking justice for all.

Text: Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?”

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” Amos 8:4-7

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 Deeds Unforgotten

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 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Luke 16:1-15

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11 September 2016

Pentecost 17 Sermon: I’ll Do It Myself

Preached on Ezekiel 34:11-24
The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 19C
11 September AD 2016

Title: I’ll Do It Myself (MP3 Audio)

Ezekiel 34:14 Summary: Since those He calls to lead His people continually let Him down and follow their own inclinations, the Lord promises to come and set things right. Unlike the threatening billboards from a few years ago that read “Don’t Make Me Come Down There —God,” His goal is not to spread wrath and destruction but rather to gather the lost and hurting. Only those secure in their own sense of righteousness will fall under His judgment.

The Lord strongly hinted how this would happen. He first claimed to be His people’s true Shepherd, then said, “I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David.” God and David both as one true shepherd? Of course, the Lord must be speaking of His Son. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic kingship. David’s Lord is the shepherd king’s final and greatest heir to the throne. He is God come down from His throne. Likewise, He is Immanuel — God with us. He is the Word made flesh, God incarnate, one of us.

God also declared that the rescue would take place “on a day of clouds and thick darkness.” And so we read that at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, as He died hanging on the cross, “from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. (Matthew 27:45)”

This sermon was delivered to residents and staff of Riverview Heights Health and Rehabilitation Center in Lexington, Missouri.

Ezekiel 34:23 Text: “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

“And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God.

“I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

“As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

“Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep.

“And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.” Ezekiel 34:11-24

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’ll Do It Myself.

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 119:169-176; 1 Timothy 1:(5-11) 12-17; Luke 15:1-10

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Pentecost 17 Sermon: Seeking the Sheep

Preached on Luke 15:1-10
The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 19C
11 September AD 2016

Title: Seeking the Sheep (MP3 Audio)

Luke 15:10 Summary: Physicians are surrounded by sick people but we don’t call them disease-ridden. Attorneys meet regularly with criminals but that doesn’t automatically make them felons. Morticians deal daily with the dead but that doesn’t mean that they are corpses. But let Jesus sit down with low-life sinners and watch the judging begin.

In response, Jesus told His parables of the lost sheep, coin, and son. Today, we hear Him speak of the joy that a shepherd knows when he finds his lost sheep or that a woman has in recovering her missing coin.

He tried to show the Pharisees and scribes that these “sinners” were every bit as dear to the Lord as were the most righteous of Israelites. As much as any of these paragons of virtue who challenged Jesus’ choice in dining companions, so the “tax collectors and sinners” were also among those the Psalmist called “the people of [God’s] pasture, and the sheep of his hand. (Psalm 95:7)”

When we’re feeling the weight of our own transgressions, we need to know that we’re the same sort of sinners whom Jesus chooses to receive. And when we start standing in judgment over others, we need His reminder that we are no holier than the most wicked of sinners. Our Shepherd loves each of us dearly — but He doesn’t appreciate our acting as if were any less in need of rescue than are any other sinners.

Luke 15:5 Text: Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:1-10

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 Seeking the Sheep.

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 119:169-176; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 1 Timothy 1:(5-11) 12-17

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04 September 2016

Pentecost 16 Sermon: Life and Good, Death and Evil

Preached on Deuteronomy 30:15-20
The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 18C
4 September AD 2016

Title: Life and Good, Death and Evil (MP3 Audio)

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Summary: “I’d like ‘Death and Evil’ for One Thousand, Alex,” said what Jeopardy! contestant ever? Yet from the Fall of Adam until now, mankind continually puts itself in jeopardy, making choices ranging from less good to horrifyingly wicked.

Only those who know that Christ chose to die for them and believe that because of Jesus, the Father chooses to forgive them have any chance of truly choosing life and good. Those who choose to reject salvation in Jesus Christ make the decision of their first parents, attempting to set themselves as gods over the one true God.

When Christians hear the Lord say, “Choose life and good,” we know that He is simply inviting us to continue living in faith toward Him and in fervent love for others. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we answer with the “Amen” of body, mind, and soul in thought, word, and deed.

Text: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

“But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.

“Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:15-20

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 Life and Good, Death and Evil.

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 1; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-35

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