Seminarian Martin Loescher delivers a sermon entitled “God Gives Us Freedom & Life in Christ Jesus” based on Romans 8:1-10 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, March 31, 2019
Transcript not available
Pastor Jeremy Husby delivers a sermon entitled “Jesus Is Anointed to Make Missionaries” based on Luke 5:1-11 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, February 10, 2019
Did you notice the strong connection between the readings in Isaiah and Luke today? In both, God calls workers to share his Word; first Isaiah, then Peter, James, and John. In both, before the call is made, there is an impressive showing of God’s glory; for Isaiah, it was in a vision where the Temple shook and something as simple as the train of God’s robe filled the Temple and, of course, for Peter, James, and John there was this miraculous catch of fish that happened after catching nothing all night long. And, in both these readings from God’s Word, that show of God’s power elicited the same reaction from his prospective missionaries. Both Isaiah and Peter recognized that they were in the presence of God Almighty and were absolutely terrified—and then they were comforted, and then they were called.
It is actually quite interesting to note the timeline of Peter’s call into the gospel ministry. He had already been in Jesus’ company for some time. He must have witnessed some of the other miraculous signs that Jesus had been performing. He would have been a part of the crowds that had been gathering from all over to hear Jesus preach and teach. In fact, he was so enamored with Jesus that Luke records, in the chapter just before the Gospel appointed for today, that Peter had invited Jesus into his own home and, subsequently, watched as Jesus healed his mother-in-law.
Peter had been praying with Jesus. He had been meditating on the words that Jesus had been saying. He was gaining quite a bit of respect for this great teacher. So, naturally, when Jesus asked to use his boat as a pulpit to preach to the people on the seashore, he obliged. And, even when Jesus tried to tell him how to do his own job, after fishing and catching nothing all night, he submitted his pride and acumen to what the Rabbi wanted.
Prayer with Jesus and meditation on what Jesus said. That’s actually two-thirds of what Martin Luther said makes for a great theologian and missionary for God.
And, so, as the time was coming for Jesus to call Peter into his ministry, it was time to initiate that important third aspect. Prayer, meditation, and, in German, Luther called it Anfechtung. In Latin it’s called tentatio. In English? Well, there’s not really a word for word translation, but it is often described as an agonizing internal struggle—you know, like the kind when you find yourself face to face with the Almighty God who created you and, if he so wished, could destroy you.
You don’t have to read a biography about Luther to understand why he emphasized that last part, do you? Haven’t you experienced the same to be true? Don’t you find out the most about your God and your faith when you are going through or have gone through an agonizing internal struggle?
Or, maybe it’s easier to look at it in comparison. You just got a promotion at work. Your marriage couldn’t be stronger. Your kid just won another award and you just finished your basement renovation. Sure, you may recognize the guiding hand of your God behind it all and be thankful for his blessings, but which one causes you to spend all day talking to your God? Which one forces you to your knees, recognizing your helplessness, completely dependent on him?
That’s not to say that God’s physical blessings in your life are bad or that they somehow would disqualify you from being one of his workers here on earth. But, as it was for Isaiah and for Peter, it is important for you to recognize and remember exactly who God is, who you are, and what he has done for you before you seek to share that truth with others.
Your own personal Anfechtung and tentatio may differ from those around you. For some it is sickness, disease, or the separation of death. For others it is persecutions that come for being a Christian. Still others experience it when the Devil continually reminds them of that one scientific fact that doesn’t seem to jive with what the Bible says, when a Christian doesn’t act very Christian-like toward them, when, for what seems like no reason at all, a wife turns her attention to another man, or when all that life is throwing at them just becomes too much to handle.
It is in those moments when Christians, who have spent time in prayer with Jesus, who have meditated on the words that he has said, seek to find strength outside themselves because they recognize they cannot do it on their own. They realize, like Isaiah, that they are ruined in the presence of God and, like Peter, that their sin causes them to be unworthy of his care and concern.
There in the depth of despair, helpless and hopeless, in an existential and anxious awareness of your own failings and faultiness, is when you can finally search for, and find, true hope and assurance outside of yourself.
Don’t be afraid. That’s what Jesus said to Peter and that’s what he says to comfort you as well. Yes, the consequences of sin surround you in this world and they are difficult and painful and cause agonizing internal struggles. But none of them, no matter how powerful, can overpower Jesus and his work done for you or take you away from the love that he has for you. In fact, in his love for you, he often uses those terrible times in your life as opportunities to draw you closer to himself.
When you are sick, he sends you to pray and meditate more on his Word, where he tells you I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
When you are afraid, he sends you to pray and meditate more on his Word, where he tells you fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, and uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When you are overwhelmed, he tells you to Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
When you sit your 7-year old on her pretty pink ballerina bedspread, hold her tiny hands inside your own, and tell her that her mother is dead, he speaks and says I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
He overcomes your anfechtung and tentatio with the only thing that will work; the only thing more powerful than them all: himself. He gives you all that he is and all that he has done for you—from his perfect life lived in your place and sacrificial death to pay the price for your sins to his ability and promise to work all things for you and for your good; to fulfill for you each and every one of your needs.
He has cleansed you. He has made you worthy in the eyes of your God. He has given you the strength to endure anything that this world might throw at you and now—after prayer, meditation, and an agonizing internal struggle, he calls you to share that cleansing, that worthiness, and that strength with everyone that you may meet.
Yes, God has made missionaries to share that good news with people in far off lands who do not yet know it, but even here in Hartford, among your co-workers and in your own circle of family and friends, God has called you to be his theologians and missionaries. The fields are ripe—go harvesting. Even if you have been working to catch your fish all night, drop down your nets again. Amen.
Guest Pastor John Boggs delivers a sermon entitled “We Believe and Therefore Speak” based on 2 Corinthians 4:13-15 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, February 3, 2019
Transcript not available
Pastor Jeremy Husby delivers a sermon entitled “Jesus is Anointed to Fulfill the Scriptures” based on Luke 4:14-21 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, January 27, 2019
It was Jesus’ custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day. That didn’t start simply after his baptism in the River Jordan, his temptation in the wilderness that followed, or when he got back from the wedding at Cana. It was his custom from the 8th day of his life. At his circumcision, in some ways not unlike after a child is baptized today, Jesus was welcomed into the family of God and, after that ceremony, he was brought to weekly worship.
However, even though it was his custom, there was something that made this Saturday’s worship attendance a little different. His presence at that particular place of worship was somewhat of a homecoming experience. He had been away—being baptized at the River Jordan, facing the devil’s temptations, attending a wedding and, after that first miracle, performing other miracles as well.
In addition, news had been spreading about him lately. The Nazareth Daily Bugle, if it would have existed, would have had op eds written about the local boy who had turned into a countryside and countrywide phenomenon. People wanted to hear him preach and teach. They wanted to watch him perform signs and wonders. They just wanted to be around this captivating man.
So, it is no surprise that when Jesus went back into the synagogue that he grew up inside, the people would want to hear what he had to say. Somewhat similarly to what is done in worship services today, prayers, songs, and readings from God’s Word were regular portions of the synagogue’s liturgy and order of service. And, after a few readings, there was time for a speaker to preach a message based on one of those readings. (If only we had kept the custom of sitting down to preach that message!) Either way, when the time came for that Sabbath’s sermon, Jesus stood up to read and sat down to preach.
What would the local boy say? What applications could the carpenter’s son proclaim from Isaiah’s prophecy? In the verses that follow the Gospel reading appointed for today, it seems as though the people didn’t much care for his sermon. But it wasn’t because he still needed some seasoning in his presentation, like a seminary student who preaches the whole counsel of God with gestures and inflection that could use a little more experience. Nor was it because he had one of those sermons where he probably could have said amen 6 or 7 times already, but just said the same thing again and again. They certainly couldn’t have been upset about it being too long—it was only 8 words!
No, the reason they didn’t much care for his prepared remarks was because, in those 8 words, he was claiming to be something special and something for which they had been waiting so long to see. In fact, their waiting was so long that their impression of how those scriptures would be fulfilled had gathered some extra expectations that Jesus certainly wasn’t living up to.
They wanted a king. They wanted political freedom. They wanted someone to sit, not on a synagogue chair, but on a golden throne in an ornate castle and spread the borders of his kingdom with actions, not simply with words.
Is that what you want in your Jesus? Someone who isn’t only going to speak, but is going to act? Someone who will fill your bank account. Someone who will turn this corrupt democracy into a productive theocracy. Someone who will support you when you do what feels right to you. Someone who will take action against the terrorists and those zealots who kill and destroy in the name of false gods.
Like the people of Nazareth, there are times when the expectations of who Jesus, the Christ, should be overshadow exactly who God told you he would be. Instead, rather than looking for signs and wonders, listen to him. Listen again to Jesus’ short sermonette: Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
The one who fulfills the Scriptures did so, and does so, for you through what you hear.
The work Jesus was anointed to accomplish, according to the prophecy of Isaiah, doesn’t have anything to do with your bank account, corrupt politicians, or terrorists. It didn’t deal with the Messiah, the Christ, that people wanted, but the one that they, and all people, including you and me, needed.
Friends, you were poor; not because your savings couldn’t support your daily physical needs, but because you were lacking the wealth of the riches stored up for you in heaven.
You, too, were captives; not because you can’t get your governmental representatives to pass laws against abortion or in support of your personal political platform, but because you had a master who enslaved you and forced you to act in contrast to what your conscience told you was right.
However, though your conscience protested, it is not as though your slave-master, the devil, had to whip you into submission to serve him in sin. Many times, all he had to do was suggest something enticing to your own sinful nature—a nature that was blinded from seeing the difference between selfishness and selflessness.
You were oppressed by the devil, this world around you, and your own sinful nature, which kept you in the state of being a poor prisoner, without any hope of seeing the light of God’s truth.
And, while you were looking, either for ways to continue down the road of death and destruction, or to take the high road of enlightenment, one day, either quite recently or many years ago, the scriptures that testified about Jesus were fulfilled in your hearing.
Someone, somewhere, at some time, came to you in the power of the Spirit. Whether their preaching was a 35 minute sermon delivered rather awkwardly or a quick whisper which wrought welcome relief in your time of woe, it was dynamic; not because of what you saw or felt, but because of what you heard.
It may have been attached to the waters of your baptism, taught to you in a Sunday School classroom, sung into your heart by your mother while you cuddled in her warm embrace, or heard in Steinbrenner’s sermon last Sunday, but either way, anyway it was preached, it was powerful because, through it, the Spirit that was on Jesus (v. 14) then went to work in you.
That good news brought the wealth of salvation to your poor soul, freed you from your enslavement to sin, by opening your eyes to see Jesus as the only way to heaven.
The power of the Spirit, sent through the Word that you heard, convinced your heart to trust that Jesus’ perfect life was lived in your place and that his atoning sacrifice was made to bring you at one with your creator.
The power of the Spirit, sent through the Word that you heard, produced faith in your heart that unlocked Jesus as the fulfillment of all of the Scriptures. Sinful assumptions and expectations are removed and your ears have heard how Jesus is your Messiah and Christ, the same One who was promised to Eve and Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that, because of what he has done for you, the Lord’s favor rests upon you year after year.
Whether you’ve been spending your time away in foreign lands, facing the temptations of the Devil, or attending weddings, make it your custom to come back to your home church week after week to hear his proclamation to you. Jesus was anointed to fulfill the Scriptures and he did, for you and for all. Amen.
Pastor Aaron Steinbrenner delivers a sermon entitled “What Our Family Needs Most – Jesus!” based on John 2:1-11 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, January 20, 2019
I recently read that in 1960 there were 308 cases of child abuse reported in the U.S. Today, there’s a report of child abuse every ten seconds. In 1960 the divorce rate was under 20%. Today, the divorce rate is nearly triple that. Would you be surprised to learn that in 1960 teenage homelessness and teenage suicide were not nearly as prevalent as they are today?
I’m not suggesting that the year 1960 was a little slice of heaven on earth. What I am suggesting is that the home…the family unit…the very core that God designed is under a tremendous amount of stress today. I am suggesting that the devil, that roaring lion, has been trying to sink his teeth into the family unit for generations upon generations. I am suggesting that societal trends are doing less to build up and support God-fearing families and they’re doing more to tear them apart.
What are Christians to do? Run scared? Surrender? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em? I am suggesting that we redouble our efforts….that we regroup…that we surround ourselves with godly influences and peer groups and friends who will support us in our Christian faith, not try to sabotage us. And mostly, I am suggesting that we rally around the One Our Families Need Most – Jesus.
Today in our Gospel we see him as he often shows himself in Scripture…steady…caring…ready to help. It’s the first of his miraculous sings, we’re told. Well, it must have been a doozy, huh? Actually, it was all pretty lowkey. It happened in a little town called Cana at a little wedding. Wedding celebrations lasted days, even up to a week. People took off of work and celebrated with the family. Wine was not only a staple – something people would drink with meals, but it was also part of the celebration. At some point the wine ran out. Mary approaches Jesus. Jesus reminds Mary that he will dole out blessings at his rate and in his time. Mary steps back and waits on Jesus.
Isn’t that a beautiful, peaceful picture…Mary steps back and waits on Jesus, telling the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Our homes could use a little more of that…waiting on the Lord…trusting in his hand of blessings…trusting him to give at his rate and in his time. If I had to make a list of things that would instantly make my life better, what would I include?
- More money
- Better health
- A boss who appreciates me
- More money
- A spouse who understands me better
- An extra week of vacation
- Did I mention more money?
Instead, you already have what your family needs most – Jesus. And he knows how to take care of you. Bring your requests to him…big ones and small ones…just like Mary did. Pour your heart out to him. He’s listening. But then step back and wait. Step back and trust.
Turning water into wine may not seem so flashy, but it does show you and me that Jesus cares…he pays attention. When things matter to us, they matter to Jesus too. But know this, just because this miracle of turning water into wine might seem lowkey, but it is no simple matter.
In 1988, first game of the Word Series – A’s versus Dodgers. Bottom of the 9th. 2 outs. Dodgers are down 3-4. After a nearly 7-minute at bat, Vic Scully, Dodgers announcers exuberantly shouts out, “The impossible has happened.” That’s because Kirk Gibson, who could barely walk, stepped up to the plate and hit a 3-2 slider over the right field wall…home run…Dodgers win. “The impossible has happened.” Improbable yes. Unlikely, yes. Against the odds that a badly injured Gibson would hit a home run in that scenario, yes. But not impossible. Impossible means it cannot be done. Impossible means there is no way something can happen in the natural course of things. Impossible means it would take a miracle…the hand of God…intervention from God himself. Kirk Gibson hit a baseball 375 feet. There are literally thousands upon thousands of people who can and have hit a baseball that far. That’s not impossible. Turning water into wine. That’s impossible. That takes power. That takes the hand of God.
With Jesus we get used to seeing the impossible happen.
- The Son of God takes on human flesh and is born of the virgin Mary.
- The Son of God lives perfectly and dies sacrificially – paying for ALL sin.
- The Son of God says, “whoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life”
This powerful Son of God intervenes. He takes care of our biggest problem of sin and carts it away – removes it from the equation. He confronts our biggest obstacle, death, and turns it into a sleep…a doorway to heaven. That’s a miracle! That’s something thousands of people cannot do….only ONE can and has.
This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. The Gospels are filled with miracles. Again and again Jesus did things that only God could do. This miracle in Cana, along with all the other miracles, got people to pay attention to his greatest work (that only God could do): his death and resurrection. AND these miracles bolster and build up the faith of his disciples.
Don’t the miracles of Jesus do the same for us?
- If those miracles ignited the faith of his disciples, don’t they also ignite our faith?
- If those miracles caused the disciples to be excited to follow Jesus, to drop everything and follow Jesus…to become life-long students of Jesus and his Word…don’t we too?
The world is not a nice place. Our families struggle at times. Let’s not wish we could turn back time and revisit the 1960’s, let’s instead run to Jesus…rally around Jesus. What Our Families Need Most…we already have. Jesus. Helper in every trouble, the Forgiver of every sin, the Listener to every prayer, the Provider of every need…and we pray, the welcome Guest in every marriage…every home…every family. Amen.