Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daily Scripture readings August 23 - 29, 2009

Daily Lectionary

August 23 1 Kings 3:1–15; 2 Corinthians 1:1–22

August 24 (St Bartholomew) 1 Kings 5:1–18; 2 Corinthians 1:23—2:17

August 25 1 Kings 7:51—8:21; 2 Corinthians 3:1–18

August 26 1 Kings 8:22–30, 46–63; 2 Corinthians 4:1–18

August 27 1 Kings 9:1–9; 10:1–13; 2 Corinthians 5:1–21

August 28 1 Kings 11:1–26; 2 Corinthians 6:1–18

August 29 1 Kings 11:42—12:19; 2 Corinthians 7:1–16

NEXT WEEKS LESSONS: the twelfth sunday after trinity

A man was brought to Jesus who was deaf and therefore also had an impediment in his speech (Mark 7:31–37). In the same way, all are by nature deaf toward God and therefore also unable to confess the faith rightly. For “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:9–17). Jesus put His fingers into the man’s ears, and He spat and touched His tongue. Even so in Holy Baptism water sanctified by the words of Jesus’ mouth is applied to us; and the finger of God, that is, the life–giving Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:4–11) is put into our ears in the hearing of the baptismal Gospel. Jesus’ sighing “Ephphatha” opened the man’s ears, and his tongue was loosed to speak plainly as Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah, “In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book” (Isaiah 29:18–24) So also, He who sighed and breathed His last on the cross for us has given us to hear and believe in Him and has opened our lips that our mouths may declare His praise.


Almighty and merciful God, whose gift it is that Your faithful possess all things pertaining to faith and life, we implore You that we may so faithfully cling to Your promises in this life that we fail not finally to attain to Your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament: Isaiah 29:18–24

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 3:4–11 or

Holy Gospel: Mark 7:31–37

Trinity 11 August 22-23,2009

“The Pharisee and the Tax Collector”

Luke 18:9-14

Trinity 11

August 22 – 23, 2009

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

When you are considering a Bible passage and how it applies to you, one of the things to do is to figure out where you fit in to the story. Who am I in this particular portion of Scripture? Which character represents me, my thoughts, my actions? Well, in today’s Gospel, you’ve got two choices. Either you’re the Pharisee or you’re the tax collector. Either you’re the self-righteous puritan or you’re the thieving, unclean sinner. Not much of a choice is it? But those are your options. And there’s no middle ground. Who are you?

“Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” “Well,” you say, “that’s certainly not talking about me. I know I’m not righteous. Nobody’s perfect.” However, don’t be so quick to dismiss what Jesus says. Sure, I don’t think there’s anyone here who would stand up and say that they’re perfect and righteous. We’ve all made mistakes; we all have our flaws. But on the other hand, most of you think that the flaws you do have aren’t all that serious. And you’ve got pretty good rationalizations for your mistakes. How many of you really think that your eternal life is in jeopardy because of who you are and what you’ve done?

You see, most think, “Sure, I’m not without sin, but all in all I’d say I’ve lived a decent life. There’s more good than bad in me, and certainly that counts for something with God. I try my hardest to do what’s right, and when I mess up, God’s not going to send me to hell for that, is he? I mean, come on, I go to church, I give offerings, I volunteer. Compared to a lot of others in this society, I think I’m doing OK. There’s a lot of bums and weirdos out there in our culture-have you seen Jerry Springer recently? I thank God that I’m not like that. And neither am I like those fat cat corporate CEO’s making ungodly amounts of money. No, I’m just regular working person. I do my best to live a good life, and I think in the end God will reward me for that.” Does that sound a little more familiar? That’s how the contemporary Pharisee talks. If that is how you are tempted to think or talk, God help you and grant you repentance.

The Pharisee’s problem was not that he sought to live an outwardly righteous life. Would that all of us would be more pious and zealous in doing what is good and right. Would that all of us would give the full 10% tithe in our offerings each week rather than financial leftovers. No, the Pharisee’s problem was inward and in the heart; he trusted in himself and in his own deeds to put him right with God. He didn’t place His confidence in what God had done for him but what he had done for God. The focus of his religion was not the Lord but himself.

And you can see that in the way he prays. Five times in this short prayer he uses the word “I.” “I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” In fact, Jesus says the Pharisee prayed “with himself,” almost as if God was the bystander and he was the main event. Beware of prayers and worship in which God is simply there as a prop and window dressing while the focus is really on those doing the praying and the worshiping. In the end that is self-worship and self-righteousness.

God gave His good and wise Law not so that you may justify yourself but so that you may see how much you need His help and deliverance. The Law is there not so that you can see how good you’re doing compared to others. It is there so that you can see how you’re doing compared with the holy God and what He requires. The purpose of the Law is not only to show you how you must live but also to expose how greatly you have fallen short of its demands.

When all is said and done, the Pharisee and the tax collector are in the exact same condition. Though one looks good and impressive and the other doesn’t, both share the same heart disease called sin. Both of them are foul and unclean within. The tax collector is showing symptoms of his sin-disease, whereas the Pharisee seems to have his mostly under control. But both have the same root disorder; both are just a heartbeat away from death, as the Epistle says, “You were dead in trespasses and sins.”

Let me ask you: Who’s in the better position, the man about to go in for heart surgery or the one unaware that he has the same condition who’s about to fall over dead? Who’s in the better position before God, the Pharisee who falsely thinks that everything’s fine, or the tax collector who understands the true diagnosis? Learn from the Pharisee and the tax collector. Believe the terminal diagnosis that the Law has made about you. Humble yourself before God in true repentance; seek His healing, His cleansing, His righteousness.

It is written, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart-these, O God, You will not despise.” The Lord certainly did not despise the tax collector as the Pharisee did. For the tax collector comes not in pride but in lowly penitence and faith. This is not fake humility or going through the motions. The tax collector stands afar off from those praying in the temple; for he knows how his sin cuts him off from God and others. He does not raise his eyes to heaven; for he knows he deserves no heavenly blessing. He beats his chest when he prays in token that he is worthy to be punished severely. He cries out his only hope, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”

The tax collector places his confidence and trust not in anything about himself but entirely in the Lord and His mercy. He despairs of his own merits and character and entrusts himself completely to the merits and character of God. He relies not on his own sacrifice but on God’s sacrifice. For when the tax collector prays for mercy, he uses a word that has to do with the offering up of the animals there in the temple. He desires the atonement for sin that only God can provide through the shedding of blood. Remember, it was at these times of public prayer in the temple when an animal would be sacrificed on the altar according to God’s command to cover the sins of the people. Therefore, at the very moment in which the tax collector prays, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” his prayer was being answered there in the sacrifice which the Lord provided. The tax collector trusted in the Lord’s sacrificial mercy, and he yearned for the day when the Messiah would come and bring all these things to their fulfillment.

The Pharisee thought he was righteous, but he is not the one who is justified before God. No, it is the tax collector who goes down to his house justified, declared righteous in God’s sight. And so it is also for each of you who pray in humility and penitent faith, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” For the sacrifice has also been made for you, not on the altar of the temple, but on the altar of the cross. There Christ, the Lamb of God was offered up once and for all. By His shed blood your sins have been fully atoned for, and you have been put right with God. As it is written, “You who once were far off (as the tax collector stood far off) have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” You are justified before God, declared righteous in His sight through Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” It’s all yours because of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I began this sermon by pointing out how, in applying a Bible passage to yourself, it’s good to find where you are in the story. But even more so, it is important to find where Jesus is in the story for you. In today’s Gospel He is there in the temple, the place of God’s holy presence; He is there in the sacrifices, which foreshadowed His own. And Jesus is also there in the tax collector, who humbled himself and was exalted in the end. Even so, it is written that the Son of God humbled Himself even to the point of death on the cross, in our place and for our sins. Therefore, God the Father has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Fellow baptized, to be a Christian is nothing else than to follow in this way of Christ-to be laid low with Him through repentance and death to sin, and to be raised up with Him through faith to new life and the resurrection of the body on the Last Day. God grant you all to know the truth and the wisdom of Jesus’ words, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sermon by Rev. Herbert Mueller Jr. The President of SID LCMS

“Mary Shows the Way”
Luke 1:46-55
St. Mary, the Mother of Our Lord – Trinity, Girard
Sermon by Rev. Herbert Mueller Jr.
SID President

Two of our Scripture Lessons today seem to have given us a little bit of Christmas in the middle of August
- When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born…
- Gospel brings us “Mary’s Song” when she knew she would be the mother of the Savior.
All this is because on our church calendar, August 15 is the day the Church remembers St. Mary, as the Mother of Our Lord.

à But why should we remember the blessed virgin Mary?
à As Lutheran Christians with the Word of God at the center of our life together
o We do not worship or pray to Mary, as some do…
because the Word of God tells us to worship God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
o Nor do we place Mary on the same level with Christ, such as many do in the Roman Church.

So WHY do we remember Mary?
à We bless and honor her, we give thanks to God for her, both because she is THE MOTHER OF OUR LORD, and because we see her as a PRIME EXAMPLE of true faith in Christ.

I have expressed it in my theme for this day

Mary Shows Us the Way
à The way to receive God’s Word and the gifts of God’s grace
à The way to confess our unworthiness and praise God
à The way to look to Jesus for everything…

In the portion of Luke’s Gospel that comes before our text,
We have the familiar story of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary.
à You know the story of the angel’s conversation with Mary…
The story ends with Mary saying:
o I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me as you have said.

Once the angel has explained what God will do for her and in her, Mary simply receives in faith what God has said, and what God will give.
à So Mary shows us the way to receive God’s Word, and the gifts of God’s grace.
o You could also say that Mary is showing us here, HOW TO BE THE CHURCH.

à The Lord speaks His Word, and we are called to say, with Mary, Let it be to me as you have said.
à Here’s how to be the Church… The Lord comes to us with His gifts, and we are called simply to receive them in faith.
o We hear the word – Your sin is forgiven you – and we say: Let it be to me as you have said…
o We receive the gifts of Christ – This is my body… This is my blood – Let it be to me as you have said.
o We remember our Baptism – We were buried with Christ by Baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead, we too may walk in newness of life – Lord, let it be to me as you have said…

Example of my mother – 80 years old, talking about her body.
She’s going to turn that one in and get a brand new one. And so will you. And so will I.

That’s the Church’s faith – with Mary showing the way: Lord, let it be to me as you have said.

Once it had been made known to Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was also expecting a child, Mary went to visit her…
And after Elizabeth blessed Mary, asking, Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Mary responded with her song – the Magnificat – our Gospel text

In her song, Mary continues to show us the way
First – the way to praise God
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

à Mary is not looking to herself AT ALL, but she magnifies THE LORD, rejoicing in God HER Savior.
à She is not saying – Look at me! – Look at what I have! Not even, look at what I have from God.
à No – She points only to God

So the Church today – you and I – are called to look only to what God does for us.
Here’s the next part of her song:
For He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. An older translation does it this way – He has regarded the humble… For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.

Martin Luther explains: “Mary… does not glory in her worthiness nor yet in her unworthiness, but solely in the divine regard, which is so exceedingly good and gracious that He deigned to look upon such a lowly maiden, and to look upon her in so glorious and honorable a fashion.”
It was not Mary or her humility that was the thing, but that God looked on her, that God regarded her.

What this means is that Mary counts herself completely unworthy of the honor given to her that the should be the mother of the Savior.
Yes, all generations shall call her blessed, but only because He who is mighty has done great things, for His mercy is on those who fear Him.

Here’s another interesting take on this from Martin Luther:
“Mary confesses that the foremost work God did for her was that He regarded her, which is indeed the greatest of His works, on which all the rest depend and from which they all derive. For where it comes to pass that God turns His face toward one to regard him, there is nothing but grace and salvation, and all gifts and works must follow.”

This attitude, where we look for everything Jesus has done for us, can help us see together what God is really doing here with Trinity Lutheran Church, between Girard and Virden.

We have done some work together here, pastor and people, so I know what you have been thinking about your congregation.
We’re only a small congregation. We can’t do much.
We can hardly make it as a congregation.

Of course, when you look at your congregation through human eyes, that’s what appears to be true. But that’s not how God looks at you.

Mary’s word here teaches us to see how God regards you, how God looks on the humble estate of His servant, Trinity Lutheran Church… How the mighty one has done great things for you,
Not because we deserve it, But solely because of His mercy.

DO you see, then, how Mary SHOWS US THE WAY to look to Jesus for everything.
He has shown strength with His arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

It’s not Mary, but Mary’s child.
Mary is just like us, born in sin of sinful parents, but the Holy Spirit covered her, set her apart and made it so that she gave birth to Jesus, pure and holy, not touched by sin, as we are.

This is what fulfilled all the old promises, that…
In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the law.

And then… All of this came true, all of this came to a head, as Mary watched when they nailed her son Jesus up to the cross.
That’s where Jesus – showed strength with His arm, nailed to the +
That’s where Jesus – scattered the proud, by His humble death
That’s where Jesus – brought down the mighty, and where Jesus exalted the lowly…
At the cross, that’s where He fills the hungry with good things, those who are hungry for righteousness and forgiveness.
That’s where God remembers His mercy, in the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

That’s where God gives us the right to call Him Father, and where we become His beloved sons and daughters. Where we receive His eternal inheritance.

So also NOW… with her song, MARY SHOWS US THE WAY
à The way to receive God’s Word and His gifts in faith
à The way to confess our unworthiness, not pointing to ourselves, but only to what God has done.
à So Mary then, shows us the way to look to Jesus for everything.

And with all of this, as we receive the Word of God as Mary did, as we confess, as we look to Jesus…
Then this Scripture in our Old Testament Lesson becomes true also for us.
I will rejoice greatly in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

There is THAT MOMENT in a wedding, when the bride steps out.

But in a far, far greater way, the Word of God and the example of Mary, teach us to believe, that’s now how God looks on us.

Just as God REGARDED Mary, so in Jesus, He has clothed YOU with the garments of salvation, He has covered YOU with the robe of His righteousness. He has prepared YOU as His lovely bride forever.

Tell the STORY of BEVERLY…
She could not believe…

But the good news began to come through for her when the Lord helped her to see…
You are the bride of Christ. And, as Mary said, Let it be to me…
You are the one He loves … Let it be to me…
You are the one He regards… Let it be to me, as you have said

And that’s how MARY SHOWS US THE WAY!

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… for He has regarded the low estate of His servant.

In the name of Jesus! Amen.