Archive for July 2012

Sermon: The Final Word

The following sermon was preached this morning at the International Center Chapel by the Rev. Dr. Edward Grimenstein, Manager of LCMS Disaster Response.

July 20th, 2012
Mark 6
The Final Word

John the Baptist wore sackcloth and ate locusts.  John baptized in the Jordan and spoke out against adultery.  In the end he was killed and his head ended up on a platter.  When we think of John’s life and all he did, it sure does seem that his story ended with his head on a platter.  It seems like the final word – but maybe not.

John spoke a faithful message and he paid the price, the ultimate price – his life.  The world did not like John’s message, and spoke out against John’s message.

And if you speak faithfully you also will face this yourself.  Whether we speak faithfully about health mandates or abortion, gay marriage or polygamy, adultery or idolatry; it doesn’t matter.  This world and our own sinful flesh will fight against you and try to silence you.  But you are just like John, called to speak and live the truth of Christ’s gospel, and to face the world’s anger against you.  This doesn’t necessarily mean your life will end with your head on a platter, although many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being martyred in the world today.  But what you can be sure of is that this world, and our own sinful hearts, will ridicule Christ’s gospel, say that you are out of touch, or try and have you believe that all people should just be left alone to live as they want.

But as hard as it tries, this world did not have the final say about John the Baptist and this world will not have the final say about you.  When we think of the story of John the Baptist we usually think it concludes with John’s head on a splatter.

But listen to how the scriptures conclude the story of John the Baptist, “When his disciples heard of [John’s death], they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.”

After John’s death believers in Jesus came, took John’s headless body away from Herod’s palace and buried him.   And by lovingly burying John they proclaimed the greatest sermon ever preached, a Word this world could not speak against – they proclaimed hope in Christ’s future resurrection from the dead.  This world could cut off John the Baptist’s head a thousand times but it would never succeed in silencing the sermon proclaimed by those believers in Christ.  They knew without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, would also take away death.  This is a Word the world cannot conquer, cannot fight against and, no matter how hard it tries, cannot silence.

Remember that Word, because that promise given to John is also your promise.

No matter what you face, in this world or even within yourself, Christ will have the final Word.  No matter if we die in a hospital bed or like John, die at the hands of this unbelieving world – this world will not have the final Word on you.  Jesus will have the final Word and that final Word will be, “Welcome my child, welcome into my kingdom prepared for you before the world began.”  Amen.

 

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Second meeting held between Missouri Synod Lutherans, North American Lutheran Church Second meeting held between Missouri Synod Lutherans, North American Lutheran Church

 

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(Pictured Back Row: Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Rev. Mark Chavez, Bishop Emertius Paull Spring, President Robert Bugbee;
Pictured Front Row: Bishop John Bradosky, Rev. Dr. James Nestingen, Rev. Prof. John Pless, Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Rev. Dr. David Wendel)

ST. LOUIS—July 20, 2012—Representatives of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran Church—Canada met in Hilliard, Ohio July 19-20 at the NALC offices.

At the meeting, the NALC was represented by Bishop John Bradosky, Emeritus Bishop Paull Spring, Dr. James Nestingen, retired Seminary professor; Rev. David Wendel, NALC Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism; and Rev. Mark Chavez, NALC General Secretary.  LCMS representatives were Dr. Albert B. Collver III, director of Church Relations and assistant to the LCMS President; Rev. John Pless, director of field education and assistant professor in Pastoral Ministry and Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Dr. Joel D. Lehenbauer, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations. President Robert Bugbee of the Lutheran Church—Canada attended as a formal observer.

One of the main focuses of the meeting was discussion of areas of practical cooperation, such as the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and disaster relief. The church bodies gave an update on recent developments within their churches. The group discussed a working agreement on Inter-Lutheran Consultation and agreed on a draft to be presented at the next meeting scheduled for December 2012. The draft identifies the goal of the consultation:  “to consider ways by which our churches may work together to make Christ known, and to strengthen the Lutheran witness by word and deed in the church and community.” The draft also proposes that Lutheran Church—Canada be a full participant in the consultation.

Plans were made for a series of five dialogues to be held over the next few years. The December 2012 meeting to be held at Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne will focus on the relationship between the Gospel and the Scriptures.

Sermon in IC Chapel

The following sermon was preached this morning at the International Center Chapel by the Rev. Dr. Dien Ashley Taylor of Redeemer, Bronx. 

Psalm 85:8-13

In the Name + of Jesus.

The folly of a “Facebook world” has people listening to the voices of others before decisions get made.

If people want to stay at a hotel, they not only look up the hotel but then look at what others say about it.

If they want to get a car, they get the opinions of everyone else first.

Although helpful, it can be paradigmatic of how we have been exiled, hearkening to the many disparaging voices of an ever-confused world.

Their voices have no authority.

They keep us crying hopelessly around Babylon’s sad waters reminiscing only about good ol’ days that were not actually all that good.

In rebellion with God and in disobedience to His Word, we have listened to the voice of the slithering serpent like our parents in Paradise instead of taking our cues from the One who has made us to be in perfect communion with Him.

We heard it this past weekend.

We seek the opinions of jealous mothers after we dance and gladly ask for the heads of prophets on a platter.

We imprison those whose words we wish to silence, hoping to mute their prophetic cry so that we can keep improper relationships in tact.

We care more about the people we invite to our parties and what they think instead of fulfilling our family vocations as the Lord intended.

It is the folly of a “Facebook world,” the “save face” world, where our identity is wrapped up in the opinions of the popular press.

But our Lord has called us to a different life by the power of the Holy Spirit—He has reached out to us in Christ Jesus to save us from a pitiful existence that seeks counsel from the wicked and instead gives us the chance as His sheep to hear our Shepherd’s saving voice.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people as the perfect righteous Son of God hung on the cross for our sin and rose from the dead to save us, forgiving us our sin and giving us new life as His strong Word bespeaks us righteous.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people at the waters of the baptismal font where He connects us with the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, putting us to death so that we may rise with Him.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people from the pulpit as His Holy Word is read and proclaimed, as Law and Gospel are properly distinguished, as sin is condemned and hope and comfort are offered in Jesus Christ.

This is the text message that is worth reading, hearing and sharing.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people as His called and ordained servant speaks to repentant sinners the word of freedom, release and forgiveness that cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

“I am forgiven in Christ Jesus.”

Now that’s a “tweet” that’s worth “tweeting!”

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people as His Spirit leads us to the Altar where the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthens us and keeps us in His grace.

At the altar where steadfast love and faithfulness meet and where righteousness and peace kiss each other, where faithfulness springs up from the ground and righteousness looks down from the sky, Christ Himself speaks and gives us what is good so that our land yields its true increase.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people as the saints encourage each other, in mutual consolation, comforting one another with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God.

With hundreds of channels and voices clamoring in the invisible airwaves, our Lord invites us to tune into the station of our salvation—to hear what the Lord God has to speak.

Let us not return to our folly—it leads not to life but to death.

The opinions of losers never got anyone anywhere anyway.

The “dearest friend to me” Christ Jesus has befriended us.

Let us listen to Him this day.

Let us hear what God the Lord will speak as His righteousness goes before us and leads us to the Day of His return when the world will hear Him speak, fall on their faces and cry out what we are privileged to cry out today: “Alleluia!  Salvation and Glory and Honor belong to our God and to the Lamb.”

For on that day, God the Lord will speak peace to His holy ones forever.

Let the Church cry out with the Psalmist in these last days and proclaim with faith: Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, His saints.

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

Soli Deo Gloria