Archive for August, 2014

Acceptable Worship. Trinity 11, 2014. St. Luke 18:9-14

August 31, 2014 1 comment

the_pharisee_and_the_tax_collector11th Sunday after Trinity

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Luke 18:9-14

August 31, 2014

“Acceptable Worship”


Iesu iuva!


“There is a lady who lives in this building who goes to church every day,” a homebound member told me. “Every day she goes. And she does all sorts of good things for people around here. And everyone says, ‘Oh, is she holy.’”


This was a story with a hidden question. The question behind the story was: Does going to church daily make you more pleasing to God than going once a week?


The readings for today raise this question: What is acceptable worship to God? What makes a person pleasing to God?


Jesus answers the question in His parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector. Acceptable worship is faith in Jesus’ offering. Faith in Jesus’ offering, by itself, without any works, makes us acceptable in God’s sight and is acceptable worship to God. By faith in Jesus’ offering, without any works of our own, we are not only close to God but united to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By faith in Jesus’ offering, without any works of our own, all the works and worship of Jesus are imputed to us. By faith in His offering, without any works of our own, we are forgiven our sins and saved from eternal damnation. This is what St. Paul says in the Epistle reading: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)


So does going to church every day and doing good deeds for people bring you closer to God or make you more pleasing to Him? No.


Through faith in Jesus’ offering alone you are already perfectly pleasing to God. Like the tax collector, you are justified in God’s sight through faith in Jesus’ offering alone. Apart from any good works. You are counted as having fulfilled the whole law.

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Women’s Worship. Martyrdom of John the Baptist/Altar Guild Opening Service, 2014.

JohntheBaptist_37175812_stdMartyrdom of John the Baptist/Altar Guild Opening Divine Service

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Mark 6:14-29; Revelation 6:9-11, Romans 6:1-5

August 28, 2014


Iesu Iuva!


Men may hold power, but women often guide their hands.  Wasn’t Adam the head of Eve?  Then why did he follow her into sin?


And the women in the story of John the Baptist’s death have great influence over the powerful man Herod.  Herodias plays Herod like a fiddle.  She uses her charm to make herself queen, even though she was the wife of Herod’s brother.  She uses her daughter’s charm to get the head of John the Baptist for telling them it’s wrong.


But the same power of influence that these women use for sin and death, other women in the bible use for righteousness and life.  Women teach the disciples what it is to worship Jesus—one woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, dries them with her hair.  Another woman breaks open her alabaster box of perfume to anoint Jesus for his burial.  It is the women who follow Jesus to the cross, and the women who go out early in the morning to anoint His body.


It is your task to adorn the altar.  That may seem like a mundane task.  Humanly speaking, it would have looked like a mundane task to go out and anoint the body of Jesus in the tomb.  Dressing the altar is mundane and yet has divine significance.  The altar is the focal point of the church, the symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins on the cross.  It is the place from which we are fed and given drink of His holy body and blood.  This is where Jesus comes to us in His body.  It is the place where His sacrifice on Golgotha meets the people of this congregation, where sin parched lips are touched by the Holy One who was crucified.

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Boasting Before the Devil


It would be very much in order were we to employ such arrogance when addressing the devil and say, I have God’s Word and I know that with it I have accomplished much good–some I have instructed, others I have admonished, here I have helped some with charitable gifts; I know these to be good works in spite of the devil’s slander.  I say, we may boast before the devil, because we have received nothing from him.  But toward God, from whom we have everything, we may not boast; rather we must humble ourselves.

Luther, House Postil, Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity (first sermon, part 11)

Not Some, But All. Trinity 10. August 24, 2014.

Jesus Cleansing the Temple10th Sunday after Trinity

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Luke 19:41-48

August 24, 2014

“Not some, but All”


Jesus, help!


God is not satisfied with some.  He wants all.


The crowd of disciples has just finished greeting Jesus with shouts, making a carpet of their clothes on which the donkey walks.


One day, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow.  But at His first entry into Jerusalem, there is only a small crowd hailing Him as king.


The whole city of Jerusalem should be out to greet Him.  All of creation is straining toward Him to cry out in joy.  If the little crowd hadn’t opened their mouths to shout “Hosanna!”, then the rocks and stones would have burst out with the praise men did not give.


But most of Jerusalem is silent.  They go about their daily business as usual.


God is not satisfied with business as usual.  He is not satisfied when most of the city called by His name does not acknowledge His King.


He will make an end of the city of Jerusalem for proudly despising His only Son.  For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you.  And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.


And Jesus, the rejected king, weeps for those who despise Him.

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Turning the House of God into a Mall

August 23, 2014 2 comments

From 2012’s sermon on Trinity 10

“[The Word of God] attacks Satan’s lies and traditions even now;

In Luther’s day it greatly undermined the Antichrist’s kingdom of false worship.  Even today there are a great number of Christians who no longer fear the lying pope who claims to be the Lord of Christendom on earth and claims to have the final word on the doctrine and discipline of Christ’s Church.

Today the word also attacks the foolish lie that God has no wrath and we need not fear Him, but instead can make the church “safe” and fun and appealing to the world, with latte stands and snack bars–thus turning the house of God into a mall instead of a house of prayer.”


Categories: Piles in my office

I Will Teach You The Fear of the Lord. Opening School Matins, 2014.

Beginning of School Year Matins

St. Peter Lutheran Church and School

Psalm 34:11

August 20, 2014

“I will teach you the fear of the Lord”


Iesu Iuva


Come, O Children, listen to me.

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.


Listen to those words again.


Be very quiet and still and hear them.


Come, O Children, listen to me.

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.


That is the theme verse for this school year.


Come, children, listen to me.  It sounds like a grandpa rounding his grandkids up to tell them a story.  Or like a teacher, when she wants to get the class into a circle and read them a book.


Listen to me.  I will teach you the fear of the Lord.


The fear of the Lord.  Is that something to teach children?




Because those who fear the Lord lack no good thing.  Those who fear the Lord are taken care of by the Lord.  They have many good days.  And even when they have not good days, the Lord takes care of those who fear Him and they have joy.  Those who fear the Lord have joy and want to praise God and get other people to praise God with them!


But those who don’t fear the Lord.  Those who don’t fear the Lord.  The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth (Psalm 34:16).  Mary, Jesus’ mother, sang that the Lord “scatters the proud” and “brings down the mighty from their thrones.”  Those who don’t fear the Lord have God as their enemy.


So come my children, listen to me.  I will teach you the fear of the Lord.  That is why this church and school is here.  That is what your teachers are doing when they teach you the Bible, the Word of God.  That is what I do when I teach in classrooms and in the church.  We are teaching you the fear of the Lord so that you may taste and see for yourself that the Lord is good.


So what is the fear of the Lord?  It is a question with an answer that is not hard to understand.


The fear of the Lord is turning away from evil and believing in Jesus.

Come, O Children, listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 

What man is there who desires life,

And loves many days, that he may see good?

Keep your tongue from evil

And your lips from speaking deceit.

Turn away from evil and do good;

Seek peace and pursue it.


The first part of the fear of the Lord is to turn away from evil.  Even though you are kids, you know something about the difference between good and evil.


Doing evil is what comes naturally to us.  When you get mad at someone, before you know it you begin speaking evil about them.  When you are afraid you’re going to get in trouble, it’s easy to lie to try to get out of it.


The first part of the fear of the Lord is to turn away from evil.  It means to speak the truth, even when it hurts.  It means to confess when you did something wrong.  It means to seek peace with other people instead of hating them.


That is called the fear of the Lord because we run away from evil because we don’t want God’s anger and wrath upon us.  God is the enemy of sin and evil, and to commit sin and evil is to be an enemy of God.


So because we fear God’s punishment, because we know He is great and holy, and He sees all we do, we turn away from evil.  We shut our mouths when we want to say bad things about other people.  We open our mouths and tell the truth and speak well about our neighbors—that means about other kids in the class, about teachers and others in authority over us.


That’s the first part of the fear of the Lord, to turn away from evil.


But the more we try to turn away from evil, the more something strange happens.  When you turn away from evil, it doesn’t go away.  There is always some new evil thing that tempts us.  If you tell the truth once, it’s still hard to tell the truth the next time you’re afraid you’re going to get in trouble.  People make us mad, and if we don’t say anything to them or about them the first time, it’s even harder not to say anything the next time they make us mad.


That leads us to the second part of the fear of the Lord—to believe in Jesus.  When we turn away from evil, there is always more in us, waiting to come out.  We can’t get away from it just by hating it and trying not to do it.


But there is a person who takes away all the evil in us.  He makes it so that God is not angry at us for the evil in us.  He makes it so that God forgives us the evil that is in our hearts.


That person is Jesus Christ.  He is God, and He is a human being just like us.  He had to live in the same world we do.  It would have made his life easier if he would have lied.  He had every reason to be angry with people who treated Him badly.


But He didn’t.  He feared the Lord and never did any evil.


Then He gave up His life for us.  He died on the cross and took God’s anger against our sins.


To fear the Lord is to turn away from evil, and to turn every day to Jesus and trust in Him, believing in Him, believing that He took away your sins on the cross.  Asking Him for help to keep God’s commandments and love your neighbor.


There is joy in the fear of the Lord.  The Lord is good!  He doesn’t hold our sins against us, but removes them as far from us as the east is from the west.  And He will take care of us and not allow anything to destroy us or harm us.  Not even the worst things can harm those who are baptized and believe in Jesus.  Not even death.


Come, O Children, listen to me.  I will teach you the fear of the Lord.  That is what your teachers are saying to you all year long.  Not just, Come O Children, listen to me, I will teach you multiplication tables, or I will teach you how to write in cursive.  They are teaching you those things, but along with those, something eternally important, something that brings life and joy.  The fear of the Lord.  To turn away from sin and to believe in Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross took away the sins of the world, and has taken away your sins and mine.


May Jesus Christ grant us a blessed year, teach us the fear of the Lord, and enable us to taste and see that the Lord is good.




The peace of God…

Soli Deo Gloria

The Way of Escape. Trinity 9, 2014. 1 Cor. 10:6-13

burial9th Sunday after Trinity

St. Peter Lutheran Church

1 Corinthians 10:6-13

August 17, 2014

“The Way of Escape in Temptation”


Iesu iuva!


Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.  1 Corinthians 10:12

St. Paul wrote the epistle reading to the congregation of Christians in the Greek city of Corinth.  It was one of the centers of trade in the Roman empire, a wealthy city famous for its loose morals.  Its streets crawled with sailors in search of wine and prostitutes.


The Corinthian church was a small outpost of Jesus’ kingdom in a teeming metropolis of paganism.  All around her the worship of idols and the sexual immorality that was part of the worship left its stain on nearly every social interaction.  They were surrounded by temptation.  As you might expect, the power of the world surrounding the church had left its mark on Christ’s bride.  The Corinthian church had fallen into a number of sins.


We also are a small outpost of Jesus’ kingdom surrounded by a pagan world.  We too are surrounded by temptation, and this temptation has left its mark on us.


God provides the way of escape in temptation—Jesus Christ, who put sin to death in His flesh.


Jesus teaches us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation” in the 6th petition of the Lord’s Prayer.  In the Small Catechism we are taught to say:

What does this mean? 

God tempts no one. 

We pray in this petition

that God would guard and keep us

so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature

may not deceive us or mislead us

into false belief, despair,

and other great shame and vice.

Although we are attacked by these things,

We pray that we may finally overcome them

And win the victory.


There are two chief temptations that always try to deceive and mislead us.  These two temptations are false belief or false security and despair. 

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