Monday, December 17, 2012

Sermon from the 3rd Sunday in Advent, 2012

This was preached at the 8am service yesterday.  I thank my friend Rev. Paul Beisel for his words and perspective on the shooting, which framed mine.

Jesus Tells John
Luke 7:18-28
Third Sunday in Advent, 2012 C
Zion Lutheran Church
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Pastor Jonathon Bakker

            Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.  The Holy Scripture for our consideration this day is the Gospel reading from St. Luke.

Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things.  And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, ‘Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?’  When the men had come to him, they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?’’  And that very hour he cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind he gave sight.  Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of me.’  When the messengers of John had departed, he began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see?  A reed shaken by the wind?  But what did you go out to see?  A man clothed in soft garments?  Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.  But what did you go out to see?  A prophet?  Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.  This is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’  For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’ 

            Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus is gifted at preaching.  Now, that may sound odd to our ears, because Jesus is much more than just a preacher, but in this Gospel that is exactly what he does.  ‘Tell us,’ John the Baptist’s disciples implored; ‘we were sent by John the Baptist!’ they said.  ‘Are you the Coming One?  Or do we look for another?’

            It is incredible, when you think about it.  John the Baptist, born to Zechariah and Elizabeth when they were long past the age of childbearing, was brought up in the knowledge that he was the forerunner to the Messiah.  He was not the true Light, but he was to bear witness of that Light.  He was not the Christ, but pointed to Jesus and told those following, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’  The same John the Baptist now wonders if Jesus truly is this Messiah.  Or should he look to someone else?

            It was John of whom the prophets spoke when they foretold a voice, crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’  John was the new Elijah, the new Isaiah, and the new Malachi, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sin.  Many flocked to him for baptism.  When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan to fulfill all righteousness, John saw the Holy Spirit come down as a dove upon Jesus; he heard the voice of God the Father, calling Jesus his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased.  And still John wondered, is Jesus truly the one whose sandals he was unworthy to untie?  Or is there another?

            It is mind boggling.  If anyone had reason to trust, without question, whether Jesus was truly the coming one – the Savior of the world – it was John.  Yet here you see him not simply harboring doubts about Jesus; he is deeply troubled.  Troubled enough to send his disciples to Jesus to ask whether he is the coming one, or should he look for another?

            The first part of this 7th chapter of Luke consists of Jesus performing some of his most spectacular miracles.  He raised the son of the Roman Centurion, who believed that Jesus had the authority to speak the command and the miracle would happen; and he raised the son of the widow from Nain who was in the midst of a funeral procession as the Lord approached that city.  In both cases, Jesus spoke the command, and the dead were raised.  With these miracles, news about Jesus was travelling quickly, and this was the report given to John the Baptist.

            You would expect that someone like John, who was predisposed by his life’s circumstances to believe that Jesus was the Christ, would believe it.  But his new circumstances made it difficult.  John the Baptist at this point in his life was in prison, held there by King Herod at the wish of his wife.  John’s preaching of repentance knew no bounds, and when Herod committed adultery by taking his brother’s wife as his own, John condemned it and proclaimed repentance, even for the royal family.  King Herod knew he had done wrong, and didn’t hold it against John, but his wife was livid.  John had to be imprisoned, and once he was imprisoned, he had to die.  Scripture shows that she eventually got her way.

            So John was not sitting well.  The one who had lived on locusts and wild honey, who clad himself in camels’ hair, who proclaimed the coming Christ in the wilderness, had real concerns.  His days were numbered, and his situation had changed.  No more preaching, no more baptizing, no more pointing out Jesus to others; he was sitting in a prison while the world went on without him.  He had time to think, and the second thoughts, the questions, and the doubts came. 

            Was all of this really going the way it was supposed to go?  How could his being in prison possibly further the proclamation of the Messiah that he was – he had believed – born to do?  Had he been wrong about Jesus, all along?

            Those are tough questions.  Tough questions naturally arise when things don’t go according to plan, when people have to try to put things together and try to make sense of what has happened.  This whole country and many around the world are struggling with the same sense of bewilderment in the aftermath of the shootings that took place in Connecticut on Friday.  The fact that most of the victims were defenseless children only intensifies the injustice and horror.  People everywhere mourn with the families of all of those children and of their fallen teachers and school staff as well.  One of those children was a member of Christ The King Lutheran Church, LCMS, of Newtown.  Her family had recently joined the congregation and she had been involved in the Sunday School.

            At such times, people learn the news and go through a range of responses.  Anger, sorrow, grief, helplessness, confusion…even anger at God.  No doubt, there will be those who see this event as just one more reason to disavow Christianity or doubt God’s love.  They will point to this as a sure sign that your faith is misplaced, that the God who watched this happen and did not stop it cannot possibly be as good as you say he is.  These, too, are certainly tough questions, and like John, those who find themselves heartbroken, confused, or even angry at God will not find peace on their own.

            Man’s explorations of God’s will in search of an explanation – a justification for why something took place – usually end up in the realm of speculation, and often go far beyond the boundaries of Holy Scripture.  Much of the time this happens because there are things about God that you and I like to believe, and at the same time, there are things about God that terrify you and me.  When he forgives sin, gives life, and promises salvation, he is a good God working for those he loves; but when there is a violent killing, when there is a war, or when there is an earthquake, and lives are lost, then God is barely involved.  Theologians have tried to soften God’s tricky edges by making distinctions between the active will of God and the passive will of God.  The problem is that when you take away those words, ‘active’ and ‘passive’, you are still talking about the will of God.

            I don’t tell you this to alarm you or shake your faith; but rather to clear away every excuse for God that immediately comes to mind when bad things happen, when things don’t go according to plan.  If God is there and with you for all of the good things, when you are at your best, then he is most certainly also there and with you for all of the bad things, when you are at your worst, when the world itself appears to be turned upside down by evil.  God is not the author of death or wickedness; he doesn’t even take pleasure in the death of evil or wicked people.  His desire is that sinners would turn from their evil way and live.  But apart from a solid word from God otherwise pertaining to any situation or circumstances, He gives no further explanation.

            The Lord does not do it to frustrate you or confuse you, but to give you no where else to turn for help but back to him.  In every trouble, in every sorrow, in every loss, God alone is your refuge and your strength.  Your health, your wealth, your friends, and even your family all fall short in the end.  God is your only help in the face of every need.  This is what Martin Luther called the theology of the cross – the distinctly Lutheran perspective that God does not reveal himself primarily to you in glory, but in humility, in weakness, and in suffering.  He did not come as a vengeful king to lead his people out of Roman occupation and conquer the world; he came as a little baby to sacrifice himself for the life of the world.

            When awful things happen in this world, you and I are just as perplexed as John the Baptist was when injustice was being visited upon him.  In the midst of all the wickedness of the world, your question to Jesus could very well be the same as John’s, ‘are you the coming one, or do we look for another?’  And Jesus’ answer is far from simple, but it is the answer John needed and it is the answer you need.

            ‘The blind see.  The lame walk.  The lepers are cleansed.  The deaf hear.  The dead are raised.’  And last, but certainly not least, ‘the poor have the Gospel preached to them.’  There is no miracle from Jesus to stave off John’s execution and there is no clever turn of phrase to make what happened in Connecticut okay, but in Jesus’ preaching, John is sprung from the prison of unbelief, and you receive the peace that only comes from faith.

            Jesus speaks of miraculous cures and resurrections, but the most important thing is that the poor have the Gospel preached to them.  Those other miracles were for others, but for you, John the Baptist, and for you, Zion Lutheran Church, you must instead be content that in Christ your sins are forgiven.  You must take refuge in the promise of everlasting life in heaven.  This is what it means to have the Gospel preached to you.  Faith does not feed on the super-intelligent explanations of theologians or on the miraculous; faith feeds on Jesus and Jesus alone, and his word, and his flesh and blood, are your comfort and your food to help you in every time and every need.
            To Christ alone be all the glory, forever and ever, amen.
            The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, our Lord, amen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

All Saints' Day (observed) Sermon

Blessed are You…
Matthew 5:1-12
All Saints Day, 2012B
Zion Lutheran Church
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Pastor Jonathon Bakker

            Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and from the Lord, Jesus Christ, amen.  The Holy Scripture for our consideration this day is the Gospel lesson from St. Matthew.

And seeing the multitudes, he went up on a mountain, and when he was seated his disciples came to him. Then he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’

            Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, not many people pride themselves on forgetfulness.  You know this firsthand.  When someone breaks a promise because they forgot about it, you think less of them.  When someone says they’ll be there, but then doesn’t show up because they forgot to check their calendar, you wonder about their priorities.  When someone says that they will do their part for a project, but then forgets to fulfill their task, you wonder if they even care.  And when you forget something, it is even worse; you feel embarrassed and ashamed because you know what it’s like for those you’ve let down.

            There are some times, however, when you wish you could just forget that something happened, or you pray that others could just forget about something that happened.  Maybe you want others to forget about something you said, or something you did.  A harsh word to a loved one spoken in a moment without thinking is hard to forget, and takes time to heal.  Even more so with a careless action; the things you do and the things done to you do not always disappear from reality or from your memories.  Grudges come naturally, but nobody, it seems, can choose what to forget.

            There are a lot of things I would like to forget, even from this past week.  I would love to forget the 15 messages on my answering machine this week reminding me to vote on Tuesday.  I’m sure all the candidates in the coming election want you to forget all the negative things about them and only remember the bad things about their opponents.  I would like to forget that a hurricane wreaked havoc on the east coast this week, knocking out the power for millions just as the weather is turning cold and disrupting and taking lives.  I would most like to forget that a 24 year old mother was robbed of her life this week, barely 5 miles from my home.  I’m know I’m not alone in that wish.  And I selfishly wish I could make others forget that the man arrested and charged in her death claims to be a Christian pastor, but I can’t make people forget.  Even though I know that most people will see through a murderer’s hypocrisy, there are others who will never forget that a man who served as a pastor did such a thing.  When you want to forget something, you can’t make that happen; but when you don’t want to forget something…it can disappear before you even miss it.

            Today Zion is commemorating All Saints’ Day, a day when people face some of the hardest memories of all.  It is the day when the church remembers all the faithful who have been taken to heaven by God to everlasting life.  Not strangers, but friends, family, believers of all times and places.  People you know, people you love, people you miss.  You don’t want to forget them, and you shouldn’t, but there are times when you could do without the sadness and grief that accompanies those memories.  Yet your grief is not hopeless.  St. John in the reading from Revelation gave you an unforgettable glimpse of heaven and all those people as they are today, white robed and waving their palms with Jesus.  Through John, God gave this revelation of Jesus Christ and your future to strengthen your resolve and encourage you in your faith.  For now you see others there, singing the Lamb’s praises and rejoicing in his salvation, but one day, by his grace, God will also bring you there, and he will wipe away all of your tears, and you, too, will wave your palms, rejoicing.  The Lord tells you this so that you do not forget whose you are, and where you are going.

            Now, in the Gospel, Jesus begins one of the most unforgettable sermons in all of history.  These are his Beatitudes, which introduce the Sermon on the Mount.  A beatitude is a blessing, and Jesus speaks of those who are blessed, and the blessing they are to receive.  They are beautiful promises.  The poor in spirit receive the kingdom of heaven; those who mourn shall be comforted; the meek shall inherit the earth; the hungry and thirsty shall be filled; the merciful shall obtain mercy; the pure in heart shall see God; and the peacemakers will be called sons of God.  To those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake belongs the kingdom of heaven.  These are wonderful, unforgettable promises from your Lord, especially when you consider what the Lord in Revelation showed to John.

            After all, who wouldn’t want comfort from God?  Or mercy?  Or that kingdom of heaven?  But then that nagging memory kicks in, and starts asking some hard questions.  Not about the promises, but rather about you.  Who does these wonderful things that go together with God’s promises?  And not just in name only; who truly fulfills them?  Who is meek?  Who is absolutely pure in heart?  Not you, not me.  Not perfectly.  You want to see yourself as that person every time, living up to Jesus’ words so that you can rejoice in the knowledge that those promises are for you…but your memory just won’t let you.  And it isn’t because your memory is failing…the problem is that you also remember other things; things that don’t fit with Jesus’ description.  Your sins, and your sinful nature.  These things, along with the devil and this fallen world, always seek to corrupt you and turn you away from the Lord. 

            Don’t listen to such temptations and don’t lose hope.  The words from Jesus today are not conditions by which people who follow a strict behavioral pattern earn each and every blessing from God; that would be impossible.  You may think for a microsecond that other people are capable of such virtuous living, but then you remember.  You know better.  All have sinned; all fall short of the glory of God.  Jesus speaks one way for most of these beatitudes, ‘Blessed are they who are this…and blessed are those who are that…,’ but then he changes his tone.  No longer is it ‘they’ and ‘them’ who are persecuted and reviled, but you.  Blessed are you when you are persecuted; when you are reviled.  Blessed are you when they say all kinds of evil against you falsely for Jesus’ sake.  Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

            It is easy to forget that this promise at the end of the beatitudes is the key to understanding the rest, especially when the world, the devil, and your own sinful flesh persistently tempt you to turn your attention elsewhere.  The first beatitudes do not fit you or me because of sin, but they fit Jesus, and he does it for you.  The last beatitude is not about you, but about what is done to you by your sinful flesh, by the fallen world, and by the devil himself; and it is finally about what the Lord has in store for you in eternity. 

            Jesus tells you this today, on All Saints’ Day, so that you don’t lose hope and don’t give up believing.  He tells you this so that you don’t forget along the way why you’re here in the first place.  He wanted your life to be eternal before you even knew what that was, and he did the work and gave his Spirit to make it happen.  He used his means to justify your end.  In his baptism, he took your sin and sinfulness upon himself so that in your baptism you would be washed clean and given this faith.  In his preaching he gave you his Word that you might hear and learn it and know by it that your sins are forgiven.  In his last supper he took bread and wine and instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood to forgive you and strengthen you in your faith.  On his cross he bore the curse of God’s wrath for all sin, dying in your place, and rising again to establish your everlasting life.

            This, dear friends, is why you are here.  Your memories may get in the way of the rejoicing and being glad that your Lord encourages you to be doing in this life, and promises you for the next, but don’t let those memories trump the most important memories of all; that God in Christ came to save you, dying and rising to bring all believers of all times and places to be with the Lamb reigning from the throne, forever.

            To Christ alone be all the glory, forever and ever, amen.

            The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, our Lord, amen.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Link: The Bible in 66 verses

A great post from Lutheran Forum: The Bible in 66 Verses

Check it out!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pentecost 2 (Proper 5B) Sermon - Dedication of the Sanctuary

A House Not Made with Hands
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
2nd Sunday after Pentecost, B 2012
Dedication of the Sanctuary of Zion Lutheran Church
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Pastor Jonathon Bakker

            Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.  The Holy Scripture for our consideration comes from 2nd Corinthians, the Epistle lesson.

And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

            Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the appointed Epistle reading from 2nd Corinthians could not be more appropriate for what is taking place today at Zion Lutheran Church.  St. Paul speaks of faith, hope, and thanksgiving.  He speaks of the struggle with the Old Adam, and the perseverance of the New Man.  He speaks of affliction and suffering, and of the glory that is to come.  He turns your focus away from the temporal, the things of this world, to that which is eternal, in heaven.

            Time is a funny thing.  It was just over four years ago today that Zion gathered to solemnly and tearfully bid farewell to the edifice that served this congregation so faithfully for a century on Maple St.  You sang hymns, prayed, and received the wonderful gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation from the Lord one last time in that building.  The text for that Sunday, also most appropriate for the Disposition of Zion’s former building, was from Matthew 7.  Jesus spoke about two men who built houses; a wise man who built on a rock and a foolish man who built on sand.  Both homes were fine at first, but when the rain descended, when the floods came, and when the wind beat against those homes, only one was left standing – the house built on the rock.

            Time is a funny thing.  When gathered again for such an event as a dedication, as you are today, and having just sung, ‘Built on the Rock, the Church shall stand,’ there is a vain temptation to wonder about the same questions that rose four years ago.  Was the Lord speaking of the old facility or the new facility as being built on the rock?  Was this marvelous sanctuary what the Lord had in mind when he spoke?  Confidence is high that this building is built the right way, upon the rock, and that it will stand the test of time and the worst that the Michigan weather is likely to throw at it.  But such vanity is not what the Lord meant with those words; in fact he had no earthly building in mind.

            Just under four years ago – and time is a funny thing – it was three weeks after the Disposition, and you gathered for a service of Dedication here for this building.  You dedicated what was built to that point and reaffirmed not only your commitment to seeing this sanctuary built, but more importantly, to the Christian faith you confess.  It was like confirmation all over again.  Do you acknowledge the gifts God gave you in your Baptism?  Do you renounce the devil, his works, and his ways? Do you believe in God; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?  Will you be faithful; is it your intent to remain steadfast in this confession and church, and suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?  You said yes, you believe.  You said said, yes, by the grace of God.  You made the good confession before God and the world and were I to have you stand up again today, you would surely repeat it, loud and clear.

            It would be the same, but really, it really is not the same anywhere.  Things change over time.  This is still Zion Lutheran church, it’s the same pulpit, the same crucifix, the same pastors, the same font, the same altar, but you have changed over these years.  Some are among you in this church who were not here years ago.  Some have moved into the area, some have come back after being away for a while, and some have simply been born.  At the same time, there are those who were with us years ago who are not here today.  Some have moved away, some have stopped coming, some are no longer able to come, and some have been taken away from us by the Lord.

            This is life in Christ’s church; and the rising and falling of buildings has little to do with it.  Buildings are special gifts from God, but like any other building, it is not the structure outside that defines it, but the contents within.  This is even more so in the church.  Take note of the things that moved with you from Maple St to River Rd., and from the temporary sanctuary to here.  Many things, large and small, made those moves.  Things you’re sitting in, looking at, hearing, and holding in your hands.  All of them made the moves, but take them all away, and you still have Christ’s Church in this place.  This building is the location where you meet, but the Church here is you, God’s people.  God, who has given you the faith that makes you the body of Christ; builds his church not with bricks and mortar but out of flesh and blood; flesh and blood that believes, and as it believes, so also it speaks.

            The Corinthians heard this same preaching from Paul so that their focus would remain on Christ and his promises, and not upon the things of this world.  Zion Lutheran Church has the same spirit of faith, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise you also with Jesus and bring you into his presence.  This is why Zion exists, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase true thanksgiving, all to the glory of God. 

            You have a building that stands here in Mt. Pleasant not for its own glory, and certainly not for your glory, but as a testimony of your faith in Christ’s promises.  You have given, you have volunteered, you have shared ideas, and you have made the sacrifices to come together as one people, as one congregation, to testify that there will be a place here where the Gospel is purely preached, and where the Sacraments are rightly administered.  Your prayer is that it will stand here and serve the body of Christ into the future. 

            This is what telling the next generation is all about, and why you put forth so much of yourselves not only toward the construction of this sanctuary, but toward everything Zion does.  Such Godly purposes, however, are just the place where the devil, the world, and your own flesh will work to cause you to doubt and disbelieve.  It is easy to be tempted by such things when it comes to the future of the church.  Religious statistics raise eyebrows – fewer children come to church than before; fewer are going into Church work as a vocation; and if the statistics are surprising, then the results of the religious surveys are downright alarming.  They show that the religion of most teenagers in America is identical, regardless of where they live or which church they attend.  Theologians call this religion, ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,’ and it is little more than belief in generic creator who wants people to be happy, to be good to one another, and ultimately ensures that good people go to heaven when they die.  It is the same basic religion of those who claim to be ‘spiritual, but not religious.’

            The temptation is there to sound the alarms and raise a panic, but this is nothing new.  It is the natural religion of sinful man asserting itself against the work of Christ and his Church as it will do until the Lord’s return.  Interestingly enough, the survey also probed into the religious influences of American teenagers, and discovered that the single biggest factor was the religious beliefs and practices of their parents.  Teenagers will generally believe what their parents believe, and so while the temptation is there to be panicked and alarmed, remember that the most important thing you can do for the next generation is what was done for you by your parents and by generation upon generation that came before you.  As you believe, so you speak, and teach your children about God and humanity, about sin and death, about Christ and his resurrection, and about the mercy and grace of God.  Bring your children to the Divine Service every chance you get so that all of you receive his gifts in the Means of Grace, rejoice that your sins are forgiven, and look with hope to life everlasting.

            This beautiful, reverent sanctuary was built by the generations who are here, and some who have already gone before us into heaven, for you and the generations that will follow.  It is here to serve you as you teach and raise up the next generations of Christ’s church.  This sanctuary is a true gift from God for this congregation, but it will not remain forever.  In fact, it is just as temporary, albeit hopefully on much longer timescale, as the last one.

            This is from the rest of Paul’s words, and it is the strongest medicine for you.  It stings going down, but it also provides the true healing.  Do not lose heart.  Just as your body grows weaker and weaker as you age, so also this building will never be stronger or stand firmer than it does today.  Though your outer self is wasting away, your inner self is being renewed day by day.  Just as you live in your baptism day by day, drowning the Old Man that the new man might daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever, so also the real Church – you – are being renewed in your confession and hope for eternal life.  For this light momentary affliction – death from sin, both for your loved ones and for yourselves – is preparing you for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

            Look not to the things that are seen with your eyes, but to that which you cannot see.  That which you can see will pass away – all of this will one day be gone – but the things that are unseen are eternal.  For you know, you believe, and you confess that if the tent that is your earthly home – whether it is a building or your very body – if that tent is destroyed, you still have a building from God.  A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and while this sanctuary built with hands is dedicated to God’s glory today, your true and everlasting home in heaven was dedicated for you the day you were baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

            To Christ alone be all the glory, forever and ever, amen.
            The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, our Lord, amen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bait and...Bait?

Thanks to Pastor Greg Alms and his wonderful blog Incarnatus est, I recently read the best article I've seen all summer.  Check it out here at Guernica magazine (I don't know anything else about this magazine or its contents - but found this particular article to be a fascinating read).  Go read the article - it's worth it!

Christ On Campus Care Packages

Our students helped assemble and ship the Spring Care packages for Christ on Campus - it was a fun night and a big thank you goes out to all who helped!  Check out the HT Blog for pictures and more info!

Follow the link there for pictures!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wisdom from Luther on Marriage and Celibacy

Pastor Stuckwisch posted a very helpful quotation from Martin Luther on celibacy and marriage, and it may be of some encouragement to students.

 You may find it here in full length, or read the first few paragraphs below:
Dear boy, do not be at all ashamed that you desire a girl, or that a girl longs for a boy, but see to it that it leads to marriage, and not to fornication. Then there is nothing disgraceful about it — as little as eating and drinking is a disgrace. Celibacy is supposed to be a virtue, but it is a veritable miracle of God, just as if a person did not eat or drink. It is beyond the capacity of a healthy body, not to mention the incapability of sinful and depraved human nature.
There are not many virgins to whom God granted a long life; rather hurriedly He whisked them out of this world, like Cecilia, Agnes, Lucia, Agatha, and others like them.
I know full well how noble that treasure is, but also how difficult it is to preserve for any length of time. If in every town, there were five boys and five girls, all twenty years of age, completely pure, with no experience of natural discharge, then I would be right in saying that the state of Christianity was better than in the days of the Apostles and martyrs.
Source: Luther's Works (American Edition) v52, p273.