Monday, April 27, 2015

Sermon for the Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist: "Beautiful Feet"


+ St. Mark, Evangelist – April 26th, 2015 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Isaiah 52:7-10; 2 Timothy 4:5-18; Mark 16:14-20


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news!”

Feet are important: balance, walking, or driving. Feet can also be big or small, wide or narrow, and yes, smelly. And as the great theologian, Dr. Seuss reminds us: In the house, and on the street how many, many feet you meet.

Feet are many things. But beautiful? Really, that’s in the Bible? It sure is. And for good reason.

Strange as it may sound to our ears, Isaiah’s words about feet are in fact beautiful, and true, and good news for us. Want to know what the kingdom of God looks like? Just follow Jesus’ feet.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news!”

These are the feet of the Son of God who was born in Bethlehem with two feet and ten toes just like you.

These are the feet that sat folded in the temple surrounded by Rabbis as he asked and answered questions in great wisdom.

These are the feet that stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized and fulfill all righteousness for you.

These are the feet that wandered the desert, walked on water, and carried the preaching of the kingdom of God around Judea.

These are the feet that rested under the table of sinners and by the bedside of the sick.

These are the feet that were washed by a sinful, yet repentant woman, who anointed him with her tears and hair.

These are the feet that stood before Pontius Pilate, Herod, and the religious leaders.

These are the feet that stumbled as they carried the cross to Calvary.


And there, upon the mountainside known as Golgotha, the place of the skull, behold the beautiful feet, pierced with nails, and fixed to the cross to bring Good News for you. These are the feet that crushed the ancient serpent, the devil, just as God promised in Genesis.

Everywhere that Jesus’ feet went, he went there for you. That’s the Good News. The Good News that your sins are forgiven. The Good News that Jesus is pierced for you. The Good News that walked, not just in your shoes – or sandals rather – but in your human flesh, to bear in his own flesh your sin and death. The Good News that on the cross, God bared his holy arm for you. You are redeemed.

The Good News that Jesus is risen for you. See my hands and feet and side, he declares. These are the feet that were laid into the tomb for you. These are the feet that walked out of the tomb three days later for you. These are the feet that will walk upon the earth and shout into our graves: Arise!

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news!”

St. Mark was called to bring bear this Good News. God gave Mark feet to follow Peter and record his eyewitness testimony of the Gospel. Certainly, all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, but Mark’s Gospel records the very life and words of our Lord. That’s why we stand for the Gospel reading. And why St. Mark is called the evangelist; one of four to receive such an honor and title.  God used his hands and mind and feet to bear the Good News to you.

And we need Jesus’ beautiful feet to bring us Good News. For our feet are dirty. We step in sin daily.

How often have we used our feet to wander away from Christ's church to someplace more interesting and exciting? How often have we buried our feet deeper under the covers rather than get up and go hear Christ's Word? How often have we used our feet to walk away from those around us who are in need? How often have we run with those feet to share the latest bit of juicy gossip and failed to offer the greatest news of all? How often have we used those feet to storm and stomp in anger and frustration at our parents, neighbors, or fellow Christians? How often have we used those feet to kick others while they are down or to strut around like we’re the best thing ever happened to everybody? Oh yes, our feet are caked in the gunk and manure of sin!

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news!”

Why are Jesus’ feet beautiful? Because the news he announces comes at the very moment when the Good News is needed most.

That little word “Gospel” means Good News. “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Good News in this Gospel – Jesus crucified and risen for you; this Good News is the power of God for your salvation. Good News that for every time you’ve stepped in your own sin, Jesus’ beautiful crucified and risen feet are deliver you and rescue you. This Good News changes our hearts, turns us from walking in the way of death and despair, to life and joy. Good News that all the marks our sinful feet have left on this earth are cancelled out and blotted out by the blood of the Lamb whose feet still bear the scars of our redemption.
Good News, for the one whose feet were pierced for us on Good Friday also knelt down and washed his disciples’ feet, cleansing them for service, to be witnesses of his word to all the ends of the earth.

Jesus does the same thing for the Church today. He calls and ordains pastors. He cleanses their feet, forgives their sin, and sends them out. To walk his feet to the font and baptize you in the washing of new life and forgiveness. To stand before you and announce, publish, and proclaim the Good News: You are forgiven all your sins. You are at peace with God in the wounds of Jesus’ beautiful feet. Yes, even the dirtiest of feet are washed and cleansed in Jesus’ dying and rising for you. To walk from the altar to the communion rail and deliver the peace of Jesus’ body and blood to you. Rejoice that by the feet of His ministers, the blessings of Christ's nail-pierced feet are delivered to you.

This is the Good News that made St. Mark’s feet beautiful. And yours too.

For Jesus also sends you, out into your daily callings in the home – changing diapers, washing laundry, caring for your parents or grandchildren; at church – serving on boards, attending bible class, supporting the Gospel with the gifts God has given you; in your neighborhoods, work places, the grocery store, driving range, post office, parking lot, or 24 hour fitness. Wherever you go - Jesus sends you, cleansed feet and all, bearing his Good News.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news!”

Indeed, you too have beautiful feet, because Jesus’ feet were pierced for you on Calvary. So too, walk this way.

A blessed St, Mark's day to each of you...

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.




Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Funeral Sermon for Jane Taylor: "Christ Our Servant"

+ In Memoriam: Jane Taylor, September 4, 1933 – April 10, 2015 +

Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Job 19:21-27; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; John 11:27-27

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

As long as I’ve known Jane she’s been one of our Lord’s beloved, baptized saints of whom he speaks in Mark 10:

Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.

Whenever someone would ask, Jane would be there to help: at church with the altar guild, at home with her family, with her friends and neighbors, and especially in her 50 years of nursing – a true labor of sacrificial love and service for others.

Whenever Jane was there to help, she didn’t call a press conference. She just did what had to be done. Jane was a quiet, humble servant. And though the world looks down upon this kind of sacrificial service, Jesus says it is the greatest of all to be a servant.

Jane’s life in Christ is a joyous reminder that greatness in the kingdom of God isn’t counted by looking at one’s own greatness, but rather to the greatest servant of all, our Lord Jesus Christ,

Who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

We could spend this afternoon, and many more afternoons, talking about the many and various ways Jane loved, cared for, and served others. But I think she would have a thing or two to say to me when we meet again in the resurrection. After all, Jane didn’t like spending a whole lot of time talking about herself. She would rather us hear Jesus’ promises. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Today we hear our Lord’s Word of life that give us hope and consolation, even as we mourn the death of our dear sister in Christ. For the same Lord who made Jane such a humble servant was himself the greatest servant of all in our place. Jesus, our Great Physician gave his life for Jane and for and for all, to heal, forgive, and rescue us.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

On September 24th, 1933, when Jane was baptized, Jesus gave his life as a ransom for Jane in the waters of Holy Baptism. This is why Jane, and all who are baptized, are baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – God’s name, not our own. We were born in sin. Jesus gives us new birth and new life. Our name was sinner. Jesus gives us a new name: saint, holy, God’s own child. Our first birth leads to death. Our second birth by water and the Spirit wells up with eternal life.

For Jane, and for you, the baptized, Holy Baptism is also your death and resurrection. Jesus drowns our sin, and Jesus raises us to new life. In Holy Baptism Jesus is your resurrection and your life - on the day of your Baptism and every day, even into eternity. For one day, just as he did for Lazarus, Jesus will call us forth from the grave: “Arise; come out. Live.”

On July 1st, 1949, when Jane stood before the congregation and confessed the Christian faith at her confirmation, she joined a countless throng of faithful Christians – saints like Job and Paul – confessing her faith in Christ our servant. Our Lord opened her mouth to confess his saving name. And our Lord opened her mouth to fill it with his promises. Jesus served Jane that same day with his own body and blood. Jesus, who is our resurrection and our life, serves us the life-giving fruit of his death and resurrection in the Lord’s Supper.

You see, Christ our Savior is also Christ our servant. And the good work that our Lord began in Jane at holy baptism, continued throughout her life, bearing fruit in her love and service to others, calling her again and again to receive Christ’s divine service for her. Week after week she heard the declaration: “I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Week after week Jesus served her with his medicine of immortality. Week after week Jesus served up a giant serving of his Word and promises. 

Words like we hear from Job today:

“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,”

Words like we hear from St. Paul today:

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 

Words like we hear from Jesus today:

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Are there any better words to live, or die by? No, for these are the words of eternal life…for Jane and for you.

Even in death Jesus is our servant. Jesus gave his life for Jane and for you. Jesus rested in the tomb for Jane and for you. Jesus hallowed the graves of all believers. Jesus rose from the dead for Jane and for you. And in Jesus’ resurrection, we see the promise of our own. For one day, Jane and you and I will be raised from the dead too.

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sermon for Easter Sunday: "Just as He Said"



+ The Resurrection of Our Lord – April 5th, 2015 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series B: Isaiah 25:6-9; 1
Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Talk is cheap” we say. “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Good advice if you’re buying a house, looking at colleges, or reading stories on the internet. After all, these days it seems more likely to be taken by someone’s words than you can take them by their word. 

But what about the words in Mark 16? No one’s seen Jesus yet. No resurrection sightings. Only some women at the tomb, an angel, and the angel’s words.

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.”

It all sounds too good to be true. We weren’t there when Jesus was crucified. We didn’t hear his voice, touch his hands, or put our finger in his side. How do we know this isn’t just another example of cheap talk and tall tales? How do we know these words of good news – He is risen – are true?

We know this because these words, like your faith, are founded on fact. We have the witness of the Word in history. The witness of the Word from reliable eyewitnesses, the witness of the Word declared in the Church, handed down through the ages. The witness of the Word in the Scriptures. 

Easter is Jesus’ promise that he is risen from the dead for you, just as he said.

Mark’s Gospel ends for us the same way it did for the women, not by touch or sight, but by the witness of the Word. Mark places us at the tomb with the women on Easter. They see the empty tomb and the angel. But no Jesus. Not yet anyway. All the women receive, all we receive, is the eyewitness report. The good news. He is risen.

Many have doubted, disbelieved, and dreaded these words. In all honesty, so have each of us. But we have good reason not to fear today.

Do not be afraid, Jesus’ Word is sure and confident. 
Fear not. What Jesus says happens.

Jesus predicts that the two disciples he sends into the village ahead of him will find a donkey for the Palm Sunday procession, and that someone will object to them taking it…and it is so.

Jesus predicts that the two disciples he sends to prepare the Passover will meet a man carrying a water jar, and that they will follow this man to an upper room for the Passover…and it is so. 

Jesus predicts that he will be betrayed by one of his own disciples…and it is so.

Jesus predicts that the disciples will deny him, fall away, and be scattered like sheep, and that even Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crows…and it is so.

Jesus predicts that he the Scribes and Pharisees will condemned him to death…and it is so.

Jesus predicts that he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and they will mock him, spit upon him, and scourge him…and it is so.

Jesus predicts three times in Mark’s Gospel that he will be crucified…and it is so.

And today, the joyous exclamation point. Jesus predicts that he’ll rise again from the dead on the 3rd day…and, indeed it is so. Christ is risen!

The witness of the Word in the Psalms, Prophets, and Torah, in the Gospels, in history, in our mouths and ears this day is the same…it is so.

Easter is Jesus’ promise that he is risen from the dead for you…just as he said.

Remember the young man’s words to the women at the tomb.

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One. He is risen! He is not
here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him….just as He said to you.”

The Word is all we get. But do not despair. Repent of your doubt, disbelief, and dread at this Word. And believe the good news: Christ is risen for you. 

Jesus’ Word is all you get. For Jesus’ Word is all you need. Your faith – like the women at the tomb – comes by hearing the Word of Christ. 

Christ is risen for you and Death is swallowed up in victory…just as he said.

Christ will raise you from the dead on the Last Day…just as he said.

You are forgiven all your sins…just as he said. 

You die and rise with Jesus in your Baptism…just as he said.

You receive Jesus’ crucified and risen body and blood for the forgiveness of all your sins…just as he said.

Easter is Jesus’ promise that he is risen from the dead for you, just as he said.

Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One. He is risen!

Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleulia.

Just as he said.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.




Easter Vigil Sermon: "Oh, Holy Night"

+ Easter Vigil – April 4th, 2015 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to redeem a slave, You gave Your Son.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to rescue us fallen sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, You sent a Second Adam who is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to keep us safe from an eternal flood of judgment, You sent Jesus who is our true man of rest to shelter us in the ark of Christ’s body, the Church.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to make us faithful children of Abraham, You gave your Son, Your only Son, to be our substitute, and provide the very Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to deliver us from bondage to sin and death, the prophet greater than Moses leads us on his greater exodus through the waters of Baptism into Your promised land.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to raise our dusty bones from death, Your Son Jesus was laid into our tomb so that by his dying and rising, He would breathe new life upon us.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to redeem us from suffering and death, You engraved our iniquities into the rock of Christ’s flesh, and inscribed our names forever in the Lamb’s book of life.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to save us from the eternal abyss, our Greater Jonah went down into the belly of the earth and was spewed out again three days later for us.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to dispel the darkness of sin, You gave this night, when Christ the Life and Light of the world, arose from the dead, broke the seal of the grave, and gave us the dawn of Your new creation.



O night that is brighter than day,
O night more dazzling than the sun,
O night more sparkling than fresh snow,
O night more brilliant than all our lamps!
O night that is sweeter than Paradise,
O night delivered from darkness,
O night that dispels the sleep of sin,
O night that makes us keep vigil with the angels,
O night terrible for the demons,
O night desired by all the year,
O night that leads the bridal Church to her Spouse,
O night that is mother to those enlightened!
O night in which the Devil, sleeping, was despoiled,
O night in which the Heir brings the co-heirs to their heritage!  

(Prayer of Asterius of Pontus (341-c. 400), for Easter Eve)

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to redeem a slave, You gave Your Son.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.