Funeral Sermon for Doris Trahms
August 26, 2017
John 8 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I John 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Dear Friends in Christ,
A story is told about an unbelieving soldier who was making fun of his friend one day, a friend who happened to be a Christian. The scoffer said, “The trouble with you Christians is that you think you are better than the rest of us.”
To which the Christian soldier replied, “No, we’re not better than the rest of you, just better off! Just better off. That may describe not only Christians compared to non-Christians, but also Christians who have died compared to those still living here on earth. Not better, just better off.
St. Paul said it best when he wrote that he desired to depart and be with Christ, which was far better. And again he wrote that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Like many elderly Christians, Doris agreed with St. Paul, more than that – in her final weeks and months, she no doubt yearned and prayed for that hour when the angels would whisk her soul into the presence of Jesus Christ, and she could join the multitudes of departed saints yearning for and looking forward to the resurrection of the dead.
Karen tells me that Doris loved to recite John 8:31-32, she called it her Bible verse, it meant the world to her. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”With that in mind, the sermon theme today is “The truth will set you free.”
In these days, in this family, there are all kinds of tears and all kinds of melancholy, but these tears and melancholy by no means have the final word. Death is in fact the final enemy that every family faces, this family faced it together and there’s no way of getting around the fact that death hurts. Death is ugly, it’s nasty and it separates us from our loved ones. At so many funerals in this sanctuary, including this one, you can hear a pin drop. Urns and caskets have a way of getting us to be still and to know there is a God. Nursing homes and cemeteries have a way of getting us to think through what matters most in life and what doesn’t matter so much.
What matters this morning are the truths that set Doris Trahms free as a daughter of her Father in heaven. It matters that in the waters of Baptism, she was marked with the sign of the cross both upon her forehead and upon her heart, setting her free to live with a clear conscience in all of her days. It matters that as a little child, she learned again and again that Jesus loved her. It matters that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life for her, He suffered, He died, and He rose up again for her, It matters that these truths set her free to live out her vocations in life with the steady and quiet faith worked inside of her by the Holy Spirit. It matters that as she traveled with Robert through all the ups and downs of life, as often as she was still and knew that God was God, as often as she paid attention to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, as often as she confessed her sins, as often as she cried out for mercy, as often as she received the very body and blood of her Savior at His Supper, that often the forgiveness of sins would sweep over her soul, as sheets of rain sweep over a dry prairie.
Today we stare in the face the wages of sin, which is death, but we celebrate the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Or as John said it, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
To the casual observers, funerals may not look or sound or feel much like a victory, but you who are gathered here this morning are not casual observers. You came here, no doubt, not only to pay final respect to a dear Christian woman, not only to grieve with family and friends, but also to be reminded of the victory all baptized and believing Christians are promised. The readings and the music selected by this family lead us to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, who is the author and the finisher of our faith.
This family would invite you to fix your eyes on Christ who has already run and finished the perfect race, at the cross, he has already done battle with and defeated all the enemies of our faith, including death. No matter what you might be going through in life these days, fix your eyes on Him who has already risen up again on the third day, he ascended into heaven on the 40th day, he poured out His Spirit in superabundant fashion on his church on the 50th day. No matter where the roller coaster of life may be taking you these days, fix your eyes on Him who fixed His eyes on Doris Trahms before she was ever born, He in fact has been following her around with goodness and mercy in all the chapters of her life.
Understand that the crown of life Doris received late this past week is hers because Jesus Christ wore a crown of thorns in her stead. The white robe of righteousness she will wear into eternity is hers because Jesus Christ hung naked in her place on the cross. The palm branch that she will wave in victory in paradise is hers to wave because her Savior was whipped and beaten and slapped and spit at and tortured in her stead.
Kevin, Kurt, and Karen shared with me one of their favorite memories of Doris, it was simply the habit she had developed of listening well to people. So also, as one of her pastors for these past 27 years, a favorite memory of her was her desire to listen to God’s Word, her desire to hear that her sins were forgiven, her desire to receive Holy Communion.
Dear Friends in Christ, today is a good day to examine the competing desires in our own hearts and to see which ones are coming out on top. What is it you and I are seeking first in life? Where are your passions leading you? Is the Holy Spirit of God having his way with you in a regular kind of a way, or not so much?
The Holy Spirit is like a well respected coach who would gather his players in a huddle towards the end of a close game and say, “we can beat these guys. Do this and we will win.” He’s like a dear mother who holds close her frightened child in the middle of a storm and sings and reassures, “we’re safe in this house and we’re going to be just fine. The Holy Spirit is like a master teacher who says to a student preparing for an important test, “study these items well and you will do well on the test. I promise.”
So also did the Holy Spirit say to Doris in the waters of Baptism, “You are mine today and forever. Your name is written in the book of life and your mansions in heaven are on reserve.” So also did He say to her in her confirmation classes and in sermons and in daily devotions throughout the years, “trust in me, Stay close to me and I’ll bring you through thick and thin, smooth sailing and stormy seas, no exceptions to this rule.”
In closing I pray that God would send his holy angels to be with all of in all the chapters of life, that the wicked foe may have no power over you. We pray for the truths of God’s Word to keep on setting you free, for the Holy Spirit to be your counselor and your teacher in all the circumstances of your life. We pray for the forgiveness of sins to sweep over your souls and rule in your hearts in contagious fashion, we pray for Jesus Christ to hold you close in days of trouble, we praise God for blessing so many of us with the life and the times of Doris Trahms, and we pray for her remains to rest in peace until that great day of resurrection. In Jesus Name.
Sacrament of Altar Part I
August 23, 2017
I Corinthians 11:23-24 – I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.
The kingdom of God is like a family where three and sometimes four generations attend their Lord’s Supper together. As they do so, they say to anybody who is watching that Jesus Christ died for them, He rose up again for them, and they believe He is coming back again for them. Again and again their sins are forgiven, their faults are forgotten, and their failures are erased. It has become the high point of their family circle, and their joy in the Lord just keeps on getting deeper and deeper.
First in a Series of 13 sermons on Six Chief Parts
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[f] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[g] in you.
Dear Friends in Christ
Dr. Dale Meyer devotion: “What king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace” (Luke 14:31-32).
Today is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. December 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor cripples the American navy. April, 1942, the Doolittle raid on Tokyo stuns the enemy but is militarily indecisive. Now Japan intends to finish off American power in the Pacific with a surprise attack on “AF.” But what did the Japanese code “AF” designate? Hawaii? San Diego? Australia? Our intelligence concludes AF is Midway, a small atoll halfway between Asia and North America. June 4-7, 1942: Outmanned 2 to 1 (the same proportion Jesus used), Americans ambush the Japanese, sink four carriers, losing only one, the Yorktown. “Japan’s six-month blitzkrieg had been stunningly halted, never to be resumed.”
· At the cross, the blitzkrieg of every one of our enemies was halted in stunning fashion, never to be resumed. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
· If you love me, keep my commandments.
1) Three kinds of law – moral (tells all men duties towards God and men), ceremonial (regulated the religious practices of the Jews in OT),political (state law of Jews). Only the moral law was written into our hearts. Jesus fulfilled and ended ceremonial and political law,
2) Summary of first table / second table
· Thou shalt have no other gods before me / besides me. God doesn’t want to be first on the list/ demands He be the only one on the list. As any good husband is properly “jealous” of his wife’s love, so is God “jealous” of our love.
1) Large Catechism, “A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whole heart.
2) Examples of fearing other gods more than God –what other people are thinking or saying of us / those who can hurt the body but not the soul / the loss of romance in youth / loss of jobs or homes in middle age / abilities in old age
3) Examples of loving other gods more than God– money and that which money can buy / left over giving / how much shall I keep for myself?
4) Examples of trusting other gods/ trusting in bank accounts/ having food and clothing let us therewith be content
· Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy god in vain. One of God’s love languages is words of affirmation / He cares how we use His Name / He cares about the words of praise and thanks we bring to him/ story of mom crying when I used a bad word.
3) Deceiving by God’s name
4) Calling upon it in every trouble, pray praise and give thanks
· Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy/ love language of quality time /God cares that we spend time in His Word / time in His sanctuary / that we find a proper balance between work, play, and rest/ Debi and I were just having a conversation about that in recent days.
1) Forbidden to despise preaching and His Word
2) Required to hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it
Three thoughts in closing:
1) Imagine tears trickling down our Father’s face when we love money and all that money can buy more than Him who spared not His only Son. If you love me, keep my commandments.
2) Imagine Jesus weeping when we lace our conversations with profanity for no good reason at all. If you love me, keep my commandments.
3) Imagine the Spirit of God grieved when so many professing Christians drift away from their local congregations/ absenting themselves from the Holy Supper / rushing into busy days without time in His Word. If you love me, keep my commandments.
The Kingdom of God is like a large church in a small town full of people who keep on falling short, but their Father in heaven keeps on giving them a second chance. They have so many good intentions which so very often go so awry, but Jesus Christ keeps on interceding on their behalf. They really do love God, but they have all kinds of competing desires that more often than they care to admit win the day, but the Spirit of God keeps on guiding, He keeps on teaching, He keeps on comforting, He keeps on blessing, keeps on whispering, Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it.
Day of Pentecost, 2017
Acts 2: 12-13 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Dear Friends in Christ
The author and preacher John Piper tells a story of two elderly women who had given their “retirement” years to go to Cameroon for the sake of the Gospel. They had been killed when their brakes gave out and their car plunged over a cliff. He asked, Was that a tragedy? He answered his own question, “No, that wasn’t a tragedy. Let me tell you about a tragedy.” He cited a Readers Digest article about how many Americans are taking early retirement so that they can pursue their own pleasure. One couple had bought a yacht and spent their time sailing off the coast of Florida, collecting seashells. Piper said, “Now that’s a tragedy!” Can you imagine this couple standing before God at the judgment and saying, “Here’s our seashell collection, Lord.”
At least two different ways we can live out the retirement chapter of our lives, or any chapter of life, for that matter. We can live them with definite purpose or with no particular purpose. We can live them controlled by the Holy Spirit or controlled by our sinful nature. We can live them for Christ or for me, myself, and I. We can live our days with the Festival of Pentecost uppermost in our minds, or with Pentecost as pretty an afterthought.
This morning, we ask the question Lutherans have asked for 500 years now, we ask the question Martin Luther loved to ask he wrestled with interpreting Scripture, we ask the question thousands of people from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem 50 days after the resurrection, 10 days after Jesus had ascended, we ask, What does thisPentecost mean?
What does this mean that the Spirit of God was poured out in superabundant fashion on the early church? What does this mean that there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind ,and what does this mean that there were tongues of fire that appeared and rested on the disciples’ heads, and what does this mean the first disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and could speak in languages they had never studied?
One question is before us today, with two answers. The question is, What does Pentecost mean for New Testament Christians?
Answer #1 is that Pentecost means that you can’t keep good men, women, or children (down). No doubt you’ve heard the idiom that “you can’t keep a good man down.” The history of that old saying goes all the way back to the story of Joseph in Genesis. His brothers threw him down in a well, but God saw to it he didn’t die then and there. His brothers sold him down into slavery in Egypt, but God saw to it he didn’t languish in slavery. Potiphar’s wife saw to it that he was falsely accused and thrown into prison, but God saw to it his story didn’t end there. Over the years, Joseph learned what we want to learn again today, God has a plan to turn every bit of evil in our lives into good. Two truths we would learn today about what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit as New Testament Christians.
First, we learn again that God isn’t just for us, He is (inside of us). Certainly the disciples were aware of Divine Presence while Jesus walked alongside of them in His earthly ministry. They could see with their own eyes, you can’t keep a good man down. No doubt they were already asking what does this mean? What does this mean to be baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? What does this mean to take and eat, this is my body, to take and drink, all of you, this is my blood? What does this mean that out of our hearts will flow rivers of living water? What does this mean that we will be dragged before emperors and kinds with an opportunity to witness to our Master?
No doubt they were already beginning to grasp the idea that if God is for us, who can be against us. And now, on this day that had been promised by Joel and also by Jesus, now what does this mean that God isn’t just for us, He is inside of us? Paul would say it this way to the Corinthians, it means that we have a treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us, it means that we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, it means we will be perplexed, but not driven to despair, it means we will be persecuted, but not forsaken, it means we will be struck down, but not destroyed, it means that we will always be carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies.
Pentecost’s reality is that not only can’t you keep a good man down, you can’t keep good women and children down either. We’re good people, of course, not because we have led such good lives, but because the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from every one of our sins. We’re good people not because we have earned that title, but because we have been baptized into the very family of God, the sign of the cross has been placed on foreheads and on our hearts, and in that moment, a river of living water started to flow not just for us, but inside of us.
The Spirit binds us together (into the Church) What the early Jewish Christians learned that day was that the Gospel wasn’t just for the Jews, it was also for the Gentiles. Not just for the circumcised, but also for the uncircumcised. All that God has done for the world in Jesus Christ is implanted in the hearts of all who confess their sins and receive the greatest and best of all God’s gifts – the Holy Spirit. The Day of Pentecost is not the end of the story by any means. It is the beginning of a new era. On that day, the disciples became apostles. From that day forward, they weren’t just called to be followers, now they were sent forth from Jerusalem telling what had happened to them. From that day forward, their faith wasn’t just meant to help them survive, it was to be a contagious, turn your world upside down kind of a faith. From that day forward, men and women regardless of race of class would be having a new experience with the Spirit of God, they would be lifted out of themselves, they would be, introduced to a spontaneous goodness for which they could claim no credit. They wouldn’t need to wait for the Spirit of God to move a prophet to prophesy, the Spirit of God would be on the inside of each one of them. The Spirit would be binding them together into the one holy, Christian, and apostolic faith.
From that day forward, by virtue of their baptism into the Name of the Triune God, they would be given a unity they did not deserve nor understand, their assignment was to guard that unity, to celebrate that Good News, to spread the message that had come to pass that everyone who calls uponthe name of the Lord shall be saved.
Which brings us to a second answer to the question, what does this mean? What does Pentecost mean? First Pentecost means that you will never again be able to keep good men, women, or children down, secondly Pentecost means no more minding our own (business). Two of my father’s core principles in life were to take care of business and to mind your own business. He didn’t say very much, he wasn’t at all flashy or famous, he just kept it short and simple, finish what you start, if you’re going to do something, do it right, don’t be sticking your nose in other people’s affairs. And in so many ways, those are terrific core values to have and to practice.
With at least one exception. Let’s call it the Pentecost exception. From that day forward, the mission of the Church would be to scatter to the four corners of the earth and plant Christian congregations. Congregations where the Word of God would be proclaimed, Law and Gospel would be correctly divided, and Sacraments would be administered. Congregations where hurting people would be helped, broken hearts would be mended, and troubled souls would be comforted. Congregations where the cross would be lifted high, resurrection would be celebrated, and Pentecost would be the driving force. Two truths the New Testament Church needs to understand.
Truth #1 - Christ came first for the Jews, and then also for the (Gentiles). The 21st century mindset is that good gifts should be offered to all in equal measure, at the same time, with liberty and justice for all. But God’s mindset has always been to take his time, train a smaller group of people, and then to send that trained group of folks out to the masses. That’s what He did by taking his time with the small and insignificant nation of Israel, to take them through centuries of rigorous trial and error training, and on the day of Pentecost, to set them loose with the Gospel to the far corners of humanity. That’s what Jesus did with a small band of disciples, to take them through three years of rigorous trial and error training, and on the day of Pentecost, to set them loose with the forgiveness of sins to Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world. That’s what the Spirit of God has done with this church and school. All year long, for 137 years now in this place, the Holy Spirit has taken his time with us, week after week He molds us and shapes us through trial and error with Word and with Sacrament, on every year on the day of Pentecost, He sets us loose with a joy that just cannot be contained, he sets us loose with a fire that cannot be hidden, he sets us loose with a river that flows up and over its banks. Christ came first for the Jews, and then also for the Gentiles. First for those who were raised up in the Church and then for those who are still on the outside looking in.
Truth #2 - The Spirit provides the fire power for us not only to be saved, but to (prophesy). When Peter says that in the last days, your sons and daughters shall prophesy, he’s not saying that all of us will be able to predict the future in a supernatural kind of a way. He is saying that all of us will be able to speak on behalf of Jesus Christ. He’s not saying that we’re all called to be pastors and missionaries to far away places, he’s saying we are all called to listen carefully to broken hearted people all around us, he’s saying we’re all called to pray with those who are at their wit’s end in life, he’s saying we’re all called on to speak of that which we have seen and heard to be true, he’s saying we’re all called on to not just be minding our own business in life, we’re called on to be about our Father’s business in a thousand and one different ways, in every one of our days.
Debi and I were reading a devotion for older folks by Jane Wilkie (a college friend of ours), the other day. She wrote that many of us have prayed the prayer, “if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. She proceeded to turn that little prayer upside down by suggesting this prayer, If I should wake before I die, I pray the Lord to show me (why!) Her point was this – it’s tempting for us in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod to be what Billy Graham is said to have said about us years ago – that we are a sleeping giant. In other words, that we have a strong message of truth and purity inside of us, but that we pretty much keep it to ourselves.
If I should wake before I die, I pray the Lord to show me why. The kingdom of God is like a large church in a small town full of folks who are waking up to the fact that life isn’t so much about me, it’s about Jesus Christ. They are realizing more and more that life isn’t so much about my needs being met, it’s about walking alongside of others making sure their needs are being met. Less and less do they wonder what they can get out of the sermon every Sunday and more and more do they wonder what it means to have the Spirit of God poured out and spilling over. More and more do they wonder what it means “that your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
5th in a Series of Six Sermons
Fifth Sunday of Easter /May 21, 2017
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
Dear Friends in Christ,
In our Easter sermon series, we have invited you to focus on the simple truth that the road to your future runs right through the past of the ancient church. This sermon is the fifth in a series of six. First we gave attention to the ancient future God, second to His Word, third to the role of suffering, and last Sunday to the Church. This morning – Ancient Future Promises. Two questions we ask today – first what does it mean to be in the family of God? Second, what does it mean to rest in the promises of God?
The Neighborhood Bully
A true story is told of a boy that was getting picked on by the neighborhood bully. The bully teased and he taunted, he ridiculed, he ranted, and he raved, he pushed and he shoved day after day until one day with his Marine Corp dad happened to see what was happening. This dad did what any good father would do. He picked up the neighborhood bully by the scruff of his neck and scared the living daylights out of him. He held him in the air until it was clear that he understood that if this bullying happened even one more time, there would be hell to pay.
From that day forward, the boy that had been getting picked on rested in his dad’s strength, he rested in his dad’s promises, he rested in his dad’s faithfulness. Dear Christian friends, when Jesus Christ suffered once for our sins under Pontius Pilate, when Jesus Christ was crucified until he was dead and buried, when Jesus Christ was raised again on the third day and went down into hell and proclaimed victory to a multitude of eternal losers, this is what He was doing. He was picking the devil and all the forces of evil up by the scruff of their neck, he was telling these neighborhood bullies there was a new sheriff in town. He was announcing once and for all that their days of taunting, teasing, and tempting the people of God into all kinds of despair and doubt were done. He was proclaiming to the world their days of ridiculing and ranting and raving and ruling in the hearts and minds of God’s precious people were finished. He was inviting one and all to be in his family and to rest in his promises.
Three meditations we offer now, what that meant for Noah’s family, what that meant for the early Christians to whom Peter was writing, and what that means for us today
For Noah’s family, resting in the promises of God meant 120 years of preparation and then going for the ride of a (lifetime). At a recent pastors’ conference, we listened to a St. Louis Seminary Professor of history who indicated that he tells his classes of seminarians these two things. First, that sometime between Jesus and your grandma, things happened. Second, the Word of God was in your congregation long before you got there, and if you don’t screw it up, it will be there after you leave. Another way of saying that the road to your future, dear friends, runs right through your past.
The ancient story of Noah teaches us first of all how patient is our God and secondly how there is a definite limit to that patience. For 120 years God waited while Noah built that ark. For 120 years, God waited for repentance and faith, he waited in vain. For 120 years, men remained fixed and hardened in their disobedience and in unbelief. It’s not hard to imagine them laughing at Noah for building a big boat on dry land, no doubt they teased and they taunted, in today’s text, these scoffers, these who would not listen, these who went about life ignoring every possible warning sign they could ignore are identified as spirits in prison getting paid a surprise visiting early one Sunday morning by a risen Christ.
For Noah’s family, the same water that drowned so many served as their salvation. Resting in God’s promises for them meant riding out the mother of all storms, it meant being safe and secure in an ark 450 feet long, 75feet wide, and 45 feet high, it meant trusting that God was a promise keeper, it meant believing that which they could not see, it meant coming face to face with a God whose patience may seem endless, but it’s not.
For early Christians, resting in the promises of God meant believing that there was a significant purpose to their (suffering). Peter was writing to Christians who were under the threat of persecution if they did not burn incense to the emperor as a personification of the divine spirit of Rome. He urged them to stand strong in their faithfulness to Jesus. He invited them to believe they were being blessed even though it felt like they were being cursed.
Jesus had already told his apostles they would be brought before kings and emperors on account of his name, which in God’s upside down way of thinking would be a good thing. What would feel like the end of their world would actually be an opportunity to be His witnesses. Jesus had already told them not to worry beforehand how to defend themselves because He would give them words of wisdom their adversaries would not be able to contradict. Here Peter reaffirmed it for early Christians that their good behavior would give credibility to their message of hope, their gentle and respectful testimony to Jesus Christ would be blessed beyond their wildest dreams to the far corners of the world, their enemies would be put to shame, their suffering would carry with it significant purpose.
Early Christians were to never forget their Savior had suffered once for their sins, and therefore their sins had already been forgiven. Their baptism into the family of God meant they would never have to live as orphans, it meant the Spirit of God would dwell with them and be inside of them, it meant they could look themselves in the mirror at night, the mercies of God would be new in the morning. Their baptism into the family of God had saved them, it had washed them clean, their Savior was sitting at the right hand of their God, they could rest in the simple truth they had friends in high places.
For us, resting in the promises of God means living safe in the ark of the Christian Church with a cleansed (conscience). Just yesterday little Paxton Kaminiski was born again into the kingdom of God. He is the brother of Payton Rose, he is the brother of Tatum, son of Scott and Kate by virtue of his first birth. He is brother of Jesus, he is the brother of all baptized believers worldwide, he is the son of his father in heaven by virtue of his second birth. We prayed yesterday that he would be kept safe and secure in the ark of the holy Christian Church, we marked him with the sign of the cross both upon his forehead and upon his heart, we poured water on him in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and as we did so, this congregation made a promise to walk with him, to encourage him, to pray for him, to help him to live with a clear conscience in all the chapters of his life.
The kingdom of God is like a large church in a small town full of folks who consciences are stained and soiled and at the same time free and clear. Left to themselves, they would be at the mercy at the neighborhood bullies who reside in dark and invisible places, but they have not been left to themselves. More and more these folks make the sign of the cross and remember who they are, less and less the worry about what the future holds. More and more they go about their vocations with the peace only their best friend forever can give, less and less they are afraid of their enemies. More and more they get asked for the reason for the hope that is within them, less and less do they keep good news for themselves. For them, resting in the promises of God is like spending time at a family reunion, knowing they belong, reminiscing about the good old days, looking forward to days even better.
“I can’t imagine not having a family.” A good friend of this congregation told me just this week that he and his wife were adopting a boy who just turned 18. If all goes well, he will soon be the big brother of three siblings, the son of stable and loving parents, he will have cousins he hasn’t even meet, aunts and uncles who already have a place in their hearts for him. When I asked my good friend why he was adopting this young man, he told me this boy’s story full of bouncing around from one foster home to another, a story of brokenness, a story where kindness and patience seemed to be mostly missing. Then he told me what I won’t soon forget, he said he couldn’t imagine this boy turning age 21 and not having a family. It seemed the logical thing to do, and so they made the decision not to let this boy be an orphan. This very day, this good friend of ours, now a preacher, is no doubt reading and hearing this promise from heaven above, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good. But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed…..Even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther