Saturday, July 9, 2011

Daily Readings for July 17-23, 2011

NEXT WEEKS LESSONS: The Fifth Sunday after Trinity

I Kings 19:11-21: The prophet Elijah is shown by the Lord that the Lord's greatest power and glory will be demonstrated in the "still small voice" of His Word that preaches salvation to the poorest and lowliest sinner. So it is for us, in the time of faith, this earthly life, the Lord comes to us in His Word. Unlike Satan, He does not force Himself upon us in an oppressive and coercive way, He speaks to us, calling us to repentance and faith that He might bestow upon us the freedom of life with God through the forgiveness of all our sins.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25: "Christ crucified" is what the true Church of God and her ministers preach. This means that we believe in the God who became man and died for our sins. This means that we preach what is considered "foolish" and a "stumbling block" to the unbelieving world, namely, that salvation is a gift of God's grace alone through the death of His Son for all those who believe without distinction.

Luke 5:1-11: By a great miracle, Jesus called four fisherman to be fishers of men in token that the Gospel must be preached to the four corners of the earth. Peter, on behalf of all ministers, rightly confessed "we have toiled...and caught nothing; nevertheless, at Your Word" we will preach the Gospel. This miraculous sign gave Peter a deep sense of his own sinfulness. The minister of the Gospel has no strength apart from the Word he is called to preach. But this Word is all sufficient for the task at hand. "To obtain faith in Christ" the Lutheran reformers declared in the Augsburg Confession, "God instituted the preaching office to give the Gospel and Sacraments. Through these (the Gospel and Sacraments) the Holy Spirit works faith when and where He pleases in those who hear the Gospel." (Augsburg Confession, Art. V)

Readings for the Week of Fourth Sunday after Trinity July 17-23

July 17 “Be Merciful”—Luke 6:36-42, Joshua 6:6-27, Acts 10:18-33
July 18 The Mustard Seed and the Leaven—Luke 13:18-35, Joshua 7:1-26, Acts 10:34-48
July 19 A Man with Dropsy Is Healed on the Sabbath—Luke 14:1-14, Joshua 8:1-28, Acts 11:1-18
July 20 The Parable of the Great Supper—Luke 14:15-35 Joshua 10:1-25, Acts 11:19-30
July 21 The Parable of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin—Luke 15:1-10 Joshua 23:1-16, Acts 12:1-25
July 22 The Parable of the Prodigal Son—Luke 15:11-32 Joshua 24:1-31, Acts 13:1-12
July 23 Sunday’s readings 1 Kings 19:11-21, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, Luke 5:1-11

Sermon for Trinity 4 July 17-18, 2011

Trinity 4
July 17-18, 2011
Luke 6:36-42

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

Our Lord's summary of the second table of the Law is not simply “Love your neighbor.” It is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “As yourself”; is a command to empathy. The golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto” also demands empathy. It is not enough that we do right unto others. We are to do unto them as we would have done unto us.

Empathy involves more than what we should do unto to our neighbors or should leave undone, according to their needs. True empathy also changes how we look at or think about our neighbor's faults, sins, and fortunes.

Empathy is commanded because our fallen mind is not empathetic. It is selfish. When we consider our own actions, we make excuses. We want to be admired, think we've earned what we have, that people should respect us. When we consider the actions of others, we see serious character flaws, and people who were born with silver spoons in their mouths. We are all hypocrites. We all invoke a double standard. We should be ashamed.

Take our road rage. Our vanity would have us believe that we are good drivers. We are not. You are not. Face the truth. We are all terrible drivers. There are no good drivers. None of us obey the laws. None of us concentrates as he should. When we keep the law, or almost keep it, we do it out of fear of punishment, not because we recognize the safety issues involved or care about fuel consumption. And, yet, despite the fact that we do not behave, that we break the law, that we fail to merge when we should, or let others in, or stop at yellow lights if possible, that is what a yellow light means, “not” we easily become angry at others for doing these same things. If you were not a hypocrite, you would never become angry at other drivers.

It is a similar vanity that makes us armchair quarterbacks. We think we can understand and critique the coaches of our favorite teams or players, as though we know more about the game, or have more experience and talent than they do. In the same way, we think we can understand and critique a great performer or even have more fashion sense than Hollywood starlets.

When it comes to politicians we are even worse. My guess is that if you have never said they are all stupid, you have said either that President Obama is stupid or you have said President Bush is. In objective fact, none of them, no matter what your opinion, are stupid. All of them have earned impressive, advanced degrees and accomplished great things. To be sure, they were all born to money and privilege, to some degree, but they have accomplished great things in their careers, far beyond what any of us has done. Could you do what they do or have done? No. We should be able to see that and admit it. To be blind to it, is simply to be blind, and to think yourself better than them despite the evidence. They don't give away degrees at Harvard and Yale for nothing. On top of that, the Scriptures clearly teach that we owe our leaders respect and obedience. It is sinful to disparage the person of the president even if you disagree with his policies.


If that is true of our secular leaders, it is also true of our pastors, the district president, the president of synod, the president and professors of the seminary, and so forth. Gossip is gossip is gossip, no matter how much we try to dress it up.


We are all beggars, unworthy of the love that is lavished upon us. None of us live out this love, this mercy, that is poured upon us, and are as merciful as our Father is merciful. The deeper we look into our hearts, the more hypocrisy we find. Yet, love is lavished upon us anyway, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

Here is what ought to impress us, to take our breath away, to change our minds and hearts: the Lord removes the logs from our eyes, despite us. Your Father is merciful. He is the perfect embodiment of the Law. He does what we have never done. He loves us as Himself, does unto us what He would have done unto Himself. He loves us perfectly, without fail, without holding anything back. He keeps the Law for us and then He allows the Law to do to Him all it should have done to us, and it counts for us. His good works, His mercy, His love is counted as ours and our sins are counted as His.

This mercy is full and without end. It is utterly unencumbered: He simply loves us. There is no baggage, grudges, or fear in God that we will reject Him again or take advantage of Him, even though He knows full well we might. We might, but He will not stop. He will not quit. His mercy endures forever.

He loves all creation, all that which He made good and which He has redeemed in the death of the Son, but He loves humanity before and above all, despite the fact that it is humanity that deserves punishment or which has caused such chaos and suffering upon the original goodness of creation. The animals, plants, and very planet itself suffer because of our sin. Yet God's mercy for us endures. He takes up our flesh. He restores creation in His death to save us. He pays the price of our folly and selfishness, and ushers in a new age in His resurrection, promising a new heaven and a new earth, the end of death's sting and Hell's claim, even as He forgives the sins that poisoned and destroyed this old earth.

His mercy is without any deceit. He loves us from His very heart. There is no partiality. All of humanity has been reconciled to the Father in the Son, declared righteous, none are deserving, none are truly better than the others, none are lacking this saving love from God, though, sadly, some are lacking faith and reject this love. All are loved, the good and the bad, the greatest and the least. And thus does He cause His sun rise over the evil and the good, even as He causes His Son to pay for every sin.

This is real mercy, not a frustrated giving-in. He does not pooh, pooh our sins and say, “no problem.” He dies for sin. Nor does He love us with words alone, but He loves us in deed and truth. He not only removes the guilt of our sin and bestows His Name and the promise of a future upon us, but He also feeds us, provides for us, and prepares a place for us beyond the grave.

His mercy is unchanging and inexhaustible. He is constantly moved by compassion. And this mercy is free. He does not love for the sake of reward. He is not self-seeking. He does not love those who can or will love Him back, but loves all. He does not see a log or speck in your eye or any flaw: He sees perfection, an immaculate bride, a friend. Your Father is merciful because that is His nature, because He is good, because He is love.

This mercy is poured out, lavished, shaken together, overflowing, in the Cup of His Blood given to you to drink for the forgiveness of your sins.

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

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday After Trinity July 10, 2011

Trinity 3
July 9-10, 2011
Luke 15:1-10
“Lost and Found”

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

For the most part, we have lost our ability to rejoice.

A women has 10 100 bills and loses one. She sweeps the house and searches until she finds it. And when she does, she is a wreck. She locks it away in a safe place. She does not rejoice. She frets over what nearly happened and what might have been.

Think of the mother who briefly loses her child in the mall. Does she rejoice when he is returned? Does she gather her neighbors for a party in the child's honor? Of course not. She scolds the child for wandering off . She cries not for joy but for fear and frustration.

We cannot rejoice because we are afraid. We are afraid because we love this world and its pleasures above all things. That greed and lust fill our hearts with fear and bend us into ourselves. We fear loss of this stuff because we do not trust our Father in heaven. We are afraid that either He does not know what is best or is not powerful enough to make it happen, or worst of all, that He doesn't really care.


The Lord Jesus Christ has come to earth seeking the lost sheep of the tribe of Adam. The economics of heaven don't make much sense to the likes of Donald Tru,p. I know what you're thinking: Donald Trump and his fellows don't make any sense. OK. But our economics at least tries to be reasonable, to be predictable, to be mathematically sound. The economics of heaven begin without a beginning. How can you count or measure when you don't know where to start? Then it moves to 1+1+1 = 1 or 3, but not really, really 1+1+1 = something inexpressible (which is to say unthinkable) so we coin a new word, “Trinity.” And if that doesn't set your head spinning, the greatest mystery, the most incomprehensible of all things, is the unfair and disproportionate trade of our sins for the Lord's righteousness. Who strikes a bargain like that? If we stole it, took it by conquest, by power, with rape and violence, that would make sense. We know how that works. But we lost the war. We had no power, no strength. However bold our desires in the war to be take what was God's we failed. We should be the victims of conquest, have our women drug into the back rooms, our children humiliated and abused, thrown into slavery in front of their fathers. Our Lord holds all the power. We deserve nothing but punishment. But He gives His Kingdom to us who tried to steal it. He gives it for free while taking on the punishment and wrath that we deserve. And then, on top of all that, as though that weren't crazy enough, He keeps doing it. He keeps giving, forgiving, blessing. He gives more than we need. Our cups overflow. He is seemingly wasteful because His love is extravagant and beyond our counting.

In this system it makes a bit more sense for a shepherd who lost a single sheep to abandon the 99 for it. That is not what we would do. We would get the 99 home safely first. Because we are ever afraid of “throwing good money after bad.” We wouldn't want to find the lost sheep only to lose all the rest. But so also we don't pay for labor not performed. We don't give away our lives and livelihoods to rebellious sons who want us dead so they can party. We don't die for our cattle. We slaughter them for meat and clothing. But Our Lord, though one of us, is not us. He goes after the lost sheep. For in the economy of heaven, there are no acceptable losses, no collateral damage. No one is left behind. One lost sheep is unacceptable. Every lost sheep is found, no matter what the cost.

Again, this is not our way. We count the cost and figure out the profit margin. We take our risks. And even when we do something akin to what the Lord does, we do it with fear, with a firm eye on what is in it for us. What happens when your son comes out of rehab, for the fifth time, and comes home? Do you throw a party? Do you tell the world? No. You are not only ashamed, you are afraid. You want it to stick, but you don't know if it will. So you hedge your bets. You are careful. You are supportive, but not extravagant. Not so the Lord. He is extravagant. He is ridiculous, radical, extreme. He invites us back without fear or disappointment, and though the Pharisees and scribes might grumble and mock Him for you, He is not ashamed of you. He does not hold out. He does lock the liquor cabinet or institute a new set of rules. He and the holy angels rejoice without reservation and without fear. They believe in you.

It is not merely that you are valuable to Him, that He loves you and wants you back. It is that He is not angry with you for getting lost, no matter how many times you have done so before. He does not hold a grudge. He does not live in fear. He does not think you will probably do it again. He counts you and sees you as perfectly holy and innocent. He is glad to give away His Kingdom, to hold a feast, to be with you. Because in Him you are worthy and He loves you. He and His angels rejoice in your repentance and faith. Their confidence is not foolish. Rather it rests firmly in the strength of the Lord's promise and grace.

For the Lord Jesus Christ did not die in vain. He has risen from the dead as the Victor over Hell on your behalf. Hell has lost its claim on you. Justice has nothing to ask or demand of you. There is no one left to accuse you. You are free, holy, righteous, and innocent by the authority and love of the Lord Himself. He has placed His Name upon you. Who can stand against you? He will not forget or forsake you. He gets what He wants and He wants you. He will come after you. He will find you. He will keep you.

Thus does He provide sustenance for your journey in His Holy Body and Blood. He has found you. Now He holds the feast. His Body and His Blood are both the feast and the way home. The Sacrament of the Altar is the goal and the means. It is Jesus, alive from the grave, giving Himself to you for you, giving away His Kingdom.

That is the cause of great rejoicing in heaven. Let it be the same for us. In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Readings for July 10-16, 2011

NEXT WEEKS LESSONS: The Fourth Sunday after Trinity

“Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36–42). The old Adam in us, however, wants to condemn and seek vengeance. But the Lord says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” (Romans 12:14–21). To condemn, to avenge yourself, is to put yourself in the place of God. It is to fail to trust that He is just. Ultimately, it is to disbelieve that Jesus suffered the full vengeance for all wrongs. Only Christ is merciful as the Father is merciful. He is the one who overcame all evil with the good of His cross, forgiving even His executioners. Jesus is our Joseph, who comforts us with words of pardon and reconciliation (Genesis 50:15–21). He is the One who does not condemn but gives life that runs over. Only through faith in Christ are we sons of the Father—being merciful, forgiving, doing good to our enemies. For in Christ we know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:8–13).

Collect: Grant, O Lord, we implore You, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by Your governance, that Your Church may joyfully serve You in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament: Genesis 50:15–21
Epistle: Romans 8:18–23
Holy Gospel: Luke 6:36–42

Daily Readings for the Week of Third Sunday after Trinity

July 10 Proverbs 17:1-28, John 16:17-33 Proverbs 31:10-31, John 21:1-25
July 11 Parable of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin—Luke 15:1-10 Joshua 1:1-18, Acts 8:1-25
July12 Confessing Christ—Luke 12:1-12 Joshua 2:1-24, Acts 8:26-40
July 13 The Parable of the Rich Fool—Luke 12:13-34 Joshua 3:1-17, Acts 9:1-22
July 14 The Faithful Servant—Luke 12:35-48 Joshua 4:1-24, Acts 9:23-43
July 15 Christ Brings Division and Suffering—Luke 12:49-59 Joshua 5:1–6:5, Acts 10:1-17
July 16 Looking ahead to Sunday’s readings Genesis 50:15–21, Romans 8:18–23, Luke 6:36–42