Catechesis Notes for the week: It is really quite simple. God made me and has given me all that I am. He gave me talents and abilities and set me apart, not only from other humans, but from animals. When some people say that we are just animals, not much different from other animals, they not only insult us, but they insult God. When people argue that we are responsible for ourselves (for good and bad), they ignore the very presence and promises of God. He created us. He made us what we are. He still takes care of us, body and soul. That means that I am special. You are special. Each human life created by God, no matter what we think of it, is special. Every unborn baby is special, created by God. The murderers on death row were created by God. The homeless begging on the street were created by God. Those with physical and mental disabilities were created by God. We are all His children. Should we then treat some of God’s children better than others? Are only some worth living? That does not mean that there should not be earthly consequences for sin (even the death penalty for the worst sins against society – the government has been given the power of the sword by God.). Are only some worth hearing the Gospel? We are as guilty as others when we pick and choose who we think should hear the Gospel or receive God’s gifts. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world – for mine as well as everyone else’s.
Though many people look for greatness, they come up short. True greatness is found not in Lording our positions over others, but in Jesus’ humble sacrifice for us. He gives us His greatness through Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper and makes us great enough to be servants of all.
Mark 14:53-72: There has always been confusion about exactly who Jesus is. Some people look to Him as principally a therapist, a coach, a cheerleader, a buddy . . . . Only by faith can we confess that He is the Son of God and the Savior of all sinners.
Sermon preached Sunday, March 18, 2012.
Mark 14:43-52: Worldly power seemed to catch Jesus off-guard and nail Him to the cross. But God’s strength is made perfect in weakness; Jesus’ death was the greatest demonstration of power of all!
Here is the sermon for March 11.
Catechesis Notes for the week: There are many today who will in one way or another tell you that what you have (in terms of possessions, happiness, etc) is related to the level or degree of your faith. They essentially claim that if you believe hard enough or pray long enough, God will heal you, give you the job you desire, restore/strengthen your marriage, etc. If things are not the way you want, their message is that you have done something wrong or have not done enough right. Such a way of thinking is dangerous, and has led many down the road to perdition. God gives to all people far more than they, as a result of their sins, deserve. But it is not proportional to anyone’s faith or works except God’s own. Someone who is rich does not have greater faith than someone who is poor. One person who recovers from disease is not a better Christian than one who dies as the result of his disease. When we measure things in terms of what we can see, we are not measuring faith. Sometimes (as in the case of Joseph, Job or Paul), God has allowed bad things to happen so that faith may be strengthened or so that a better end may result. Whether we have much or little, whether we feel blessed or not, all that we have is a gift of God, far more than we deserve. If another has more, it does not indicate a greater faith, that we should envy or covet. When we get rid of our concern for the blessings we do or do not have, then we will truly be blessed with riches beyond measure, for then we will be holding on to the treasure that is found only in Christ’s sacrificial blood.
Catechesis Notes for the week: We live in a very hostile and violent world. We cannot watch the news on television or read a newspaper without realizing the animosity and hatred which many show for one another. Sometimes it is based on what a particular person has done or said; other times it may be based on a person being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jesus warns us in Scripture that we will endure persecution for the sake of the Gospel. But He does not tell us to invite it. How do we strike the middle ground between asking for persecution and running from it? How do we respond to it? We confess in the creed that (as Luther explains) God “defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.” Yet we have been hurt and know others who have. This obviously does not mean that we will never suffer the slightest injury (or else it is proven wrong). We also know that (Psalm 31:15) our times are in His hand. So what do we do about the persecution which Jesus said we will face? When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, did He mean that we should never try to defend ourselves? When in Gethsemane, Jesus told His disciples not to attack with swords lest they perish by the sword. But this was the time when Jesus knew He must be taken before the authorities in order that He might suffer and die for the sins of the world. Jesus does not tell us to avoid every form of persecution, but He instructs us to stand against those who teach contrary to His Word. Will we get hurt? It is likely. But nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord, not even death! So let us obediently follow Him who gave His life for us.
Catechesis Notes for the week: We like to be independent. We like to be in control and have choices. It is part of the freedom we enjoy as Americans. But there is an ever-present danger of forgetting that God is the giver of all good things. Luther said in his explanation of the Creed, “He also gives me . . . all I have.” As people separate themselves from the Word of God, it becomes easier and easier for them to take credit for the things they have. They may point to their employment, their talents, their “being in the right place at the right time”, their family, or a number of other things as the source of what they have. Such a view is true in part, but one is missing the greater truth if he ignores that God is responsible for his talents and abilities, his family, his circumstances, etc. All that we have is given to us, rarely by God directly but through His means on earth. He gives us food through farmers and grocers. He gives us clothing through manufacturers and retailers. But ultimately, He is the source of all those good things. Because He uses that which is sinful and imperfect, our needs are not always met perfectly. But there is one need He has met perfectly. Through Jesus blood, without any merit or help on our part, He forgives our sins. Whatever else we think we lack, we have the one thing needful for eternal life.
Mark 14:32-42. When we rely on our own knowledge, experience, and understanding, it is like using a flashlight to see the world. Jesus comes to be the light that shines in our darkness. He is the light that overcomes the darkness of sin.