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Maundy Thursday 2019

Holy Thursday 2019

The Salutary Gift: Covenant Meal

Exodus 24:3–11; Hebrews 9:11–22; Matthew 26:17–30

April 18, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

Palm Sunday 2019

Palm Sunday 2019 Palmarum

Matthew 27

The Humility of the Cross

April 14, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

What a day Palm Sunday is! There is no other day in the church year quite like it.  We hear the stark contrast today in the Service, the joy of Palm Sunday, the darkness of Good Friday.  As the children sing, “Hosanna” He rides on to do just that, to save them, to save us. 

Let’s go together to meet Christ. We hear how He returns from Bethany and proceeds of His own free will toward His holy and blessed passion.  He who came from heaven to raise us up from the depths of sin, to raise us with Himself, now comes of His own free will to make His journey to Jerusalem. He comes lowly and riding upon a donkey, an animal of peace and humility.

He’s met by shouts and songs of Hosanna, come and save us, we pray, O Lord.  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.  This is straight from Psalm 118 which we sang today.  That Psalm is the last of the five Hallel psalms, which are Psalms of Thanksgiving for national deliverance.  But it finds its true fulfillment as it is sung at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and when He refers to it regarding His death and resurrection.   And it finds meaning for us here and now as we sing it every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  Combined with the angelic song of the Sanctus from Isaiah, we cry out for Jesus to save us, as He comes to us bringing day of salvation which the Lord has made and we bow our knees at the rail to receive on our confessing tongues the very body and blood of Christ.  In receiving this salutary gift in the Lord’s Supper, we confess that Jesus comes to us here and now in His Sacramental presence offering the full benefits of His suffering, death, and resurrection. 

Jesus knew that this glad song would turn to hate before too long.  He saw the cross on ahead, as do we this morning and throughout this week. We read in Psalm 118, and Jesus’ quotes this later on in Holy Week to the leaders of Israel, that He is the rejected stone who is vindicated and exalted to the highest place of honor. And still He rode on to death and grave and resurrection, He rode on to save.  Too often we look at ourselves, where we should be looking at Christ.  Too often we consider only ourselves.  Holy Week directs our attention to Jesus, to lift up our eyes and our hearts to Him.  Jesus wanted the people to see Him riding on a donkey. He didn’t want them to think He was a military ruler or a social reformer or a political activist.  He wanted them to see Him as a humble and lowly king that they could receive.

Jesus wanted the people to see Him hanging upon the cross. He didn’t want them to think that He came to overthrow by military might or social reform or politics. He wanted them to see Him as a humble and lowly king they could receive by faith.. The kingdom of heaven has come in the person of Jesus, and all people are invited to come under the blessing of the reign, to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Although many people today still reject Jesus and His kingdom, He continues to offer us life in that kingdom.  Jesus proves the Pharisees wrong, for we do not go after Jesus and gain nothing, but He comes and we gain everything. 

In His humility Christ entered our dark and fallen world, and He is glad that He become humble for our sake, glad that He came and lived among us and shared in our human nature to raise us up to Himself. Jesus was obedient unto death, and we add the joy that “it is finished.”  It is through this work that God has exalted Him and that the name of Jesus is name above every name. And even though we are told that He has ascended to heaven, His love will never rest until He has raised us to glory and gathered us to Himself at the Resurrection.

Let us run to accompany Him as He sets His eyes upon the cross, to imitate those who met Him on the road, not covering His path with clothes, olive branches or palms, but by humble faith living according to His will. Then we will be able to receive the Word at His coming, and God will be with us.  Let us join together before Christ throughout this Holy Week, not to funeralize Jesus, but to remember the depths of God love in sending His Son for us, to prepare for the joy of Jesus’ resurrection, and the future hope of our resurrection with Him; to receive Him and all He has to give.

So let us spread before His feet, not the clothes and the branches which wither, but ourselves, but ourselves, clothed in His grace, clothed in His righteousness, clothed in Christ Himself.  Now that the stains of our sins have been washed in the saving waters of baptism, and we have been become white and pure, let us confess Him who is the conqueror of death, not with palm branches, but with the real rewards of His victory: the forgiveness of sins, life, and eternal salvation. Let us join the children throughout the ages in singing their holy song, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Midweek of Lent 5 2019

Midweek of Lent 5 2019

The Salutary Gift: Nuptial Feast

Isaiah 61:10–62:5; Matthew 22:1–14

April 10, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

Lent 5 2019 Judica - John 8:42-59

Lent 5 2019 Judica

John 8:42-59

April 7, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

Midweek of Lent 4 2019

Midweek of Lent 4

The Salutary Gift: Rest for the Weary

Exodus 31:12–18; Matthew 11:27–12:8

March 3, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

The Annunciation of Our Lord 2019 (Observed)

The Annunciation of our Lord (Observed)

Luke 1:26-38

March 31, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

This morning we do something a little different.  It is the 4th Sunday in Lent, yet we have white paraments instead of purple because today we are observing an important festival, that of the Annunciation, which falls on March 25, this last Monday.  Normally, holidays during the week wouldn’t be transferred to a Sunday, especially during the season of Lent. But given some of the current issues within our culture, there is some benefit to take time and consider this important topic.

So first off, the Annunciation is the account of when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced to her that she would conceive in her womb and bear a son, and that she shall call His name Jesus.  Luke records Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement that she had been chosen to bear the Son of the God, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”  Before this moment of His conception, God the Son was not yet man; but from this moment onward He assumed humanity.  By means of the Word of God proclaimed through the angel to this young woman, Jesus enters the womb of His mother, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. 

Jesus’ first dwelling wasn’t in Bethlehem, but in the womb of Mary.  This is why the Church has long affirmed in specific terms (at least since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451), confessing that Mary is the Theotokos, the mother of God.  This is not as much a confession about Mary as it is about Jesus.  For the Son of God becomes flesh at the very moment of His conception by the Holy Spirit. From that moment, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity was both fully divine and fully human.  When the Son of God took up temporary residence in the ark of his mother’s womb, the real divine nature and human personhood of Jesus is joined for eternity through the smallest of beginnings.  Our early Christian counterparts prayed, sang, and remembered that Christ’s incarnation was ­immediate and complete at the moment of his conception.  While most of the time we think and focus on the truth that God has become man at Christmas, the Annunciation is the beginning of that union – and on a side note, this is part of the reason for when we celebrate Christmas, for 9 months after the Annunciation is Dec 25.

This truth of the union of the two natures of Christ, fully God and fully man in one person, begotten of the Father before all ages, and born from the substance of His mother, perfect God and perfect man, has always been foundational for the Christian faith and holds a timeless message for us 21st century Christians in light of what it means to be human and when human life begins.  Nine months before the shepherds heard the angelic song of the Gloria in excelsis, and years before the Magi travelled to Bethlehem, John the Baptist, 6 months old in his mother’s womb, leapt with joy in the presence of his Savior.  The unborn Jesus, whom Elizabeth and John greet, was smaller than the point of a needle.

And Elizabeth responds with a loud cry calling Mary the mother of her Lord, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42).  The Son of the Most High sanctifies the womb of Mary, and in doing so, sanctifies the wombs of all women ad bestows an innate value on all unborn children. From the first children of Adam and Eve onward, all people are conceived body and soul, created and known by God and recipients of His providential love. The recognition of each human person known by God even from the moment of conception and called to eternity by the work of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace is a hallmark of Christianity. 

The witness of the annunciation and the visitation of pregnant Mary and pregnant Elizabeth proclaim and demand that God’s people respect and protect human life. This truth has led the Christian Church throughout the millennia to have a high regard for human life from the moment of conception to natural death and to condemn the abuse, the disregard, the murder of those who are weakest and most vulnerable in society.  Because all life is from His hand, He abhors the shedding of innocent blood.  

The message of Scripture and of Christ’s Church is clear – abortion, euthanasia, both of which are murder - are sins against humanity and more importantly, against the Author of Life.  Those within Christianity who brazenly support abortion or euthanasia, or who are fooled into thinking these are acceptable solutions to difficult problems, are deceived by the devil and the sinful world.  These things are not compatible with the Christian faith, and God does not take kindly to the false prophets who proclaim otherwise and lead others into sin.

 Yet this is not the only message of Scripture and Christ’s Church.  While Satan whispers a double message into our ears, either, “This is no sin or at all,” or worse, “This sin is too big to be forgiven.” We are to proclaim the good news that we have received of forgiveness and hope that brings true healing.  Jesus did not assume human body to condemn sinners, but to save sinners.  He assumed a human life and body at His conception, a life that was not esteemed by the world nor considered worthy of affection, a body that would be nailed to the cross, buried in the tomb, raised on the third day, ascended into heaven forty days later, and still sits at the right hand of God the Father.  He does this to redeem, to save, to sanctify, to heal, to reconcile sinful and broken and suffering humanity to Himself.  Because Jesus came to bear the shame, the guilt, and the punishment of sin, anchored in Christ’s incarnation, there is hope for you, for those who suffer in this life, and for the sinful world. Confess your sin.  Confess your indifference to sin. And trust in God’s promise of mercy that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

The Annunciation affirms the fullness of a human person upon conception in fresh ways in contemporary times. And we celebrate the fact that we are, as soon as we are conceived, unique, irreplaceable, and infinitely valuable in the sight of God. Today, that hope and that promise and benefits of the incarnation comes to you in the body and blood of Jesus.  The Annunciation makes the Sacrament of the Altar possible. The annunciation of the Words of Institution spoken over the bread and wine communicate the real presence of Christ. The real life of Christ, the life that overcomes death itself, the very body and blood of the Son of God is offered here from the Lord’s altar for you.  As the Blessed Virgin Mary confessed, so join in her words as you receive the Lord Himself, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

 

* Some of the sermon is gleaned from various devotionals put out by Lutherans for Life, Grounded in God's Love, which is highly recommended.

 

Over the last 20 years, the country of Iceland has worked to decrease Down Syndrome in their country.  In the 21st century, almost 100% of those who received even the potential of a positive test result for Down Syndrome are aborted.  The plan to eliminate Down Syndrome is genocide. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/down-syndrome-iceland/ This is plain evil.

Midweek of Lent 3 2019

Midweek of Lent 3 2019

1 Corinthians 10:14–22; Acts 2:42–47

The Salutary Gift: Blest Communion

March 20, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

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