Translating God's Word for a new generation
So, what did you get dear old dad for Father’s Day this year? Perhaps new equipment for the grill or a hat with the logo of his favorite baseball team ... or, maybe, that tried-and-true gift of a necktie. One of the things we recognize as we give gifts to dad is that dad has already given a lifetime of gifts to us. We thank God for Christian fathers who care for our physical and spiritual needs! However, as loving as our earthly fathers may be, the love of our heavenly Father is even greater. Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11) We thank our Father in Heaven for His gifts of the Holy Spirit, daily necessities, eternal life, and yes, the gift of earthly fathers, too.
Not all news is good news; not every story is a happy one. But the Scriptures tell us of the grace God has shown to His people, even in their sinfulness and rejection of Him. God does not give up on His creation. The seeds He has planted will bear fruit according to His promise; there will be a happy ending! In this season of growing, we renew our hope in the Lord, who is our health and salvation. “Rejoice in hope,” Paul’s timeless directive to the Christians of Rome in the first century speaks to us today. Even in times when life presents challenges, in Christ we are renewed day-by-day!
God created the Sabbath to be a time of rest and reflection for His people. Both genuine rest and thoughtful reflection are often in short supply in our fast-paced world. Again, we hear the call of Jesus: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) As we experience the Sabbath in the way God intended, we find refreshment for our souls as He has promised. In our worship, we remember the gracious acts of God and respond to them with grateful hearts. “Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!” (Psalm 81:1) With joy we gather for worship on the Lord’s Day. He is here! We have much to celebrate!
In the cry of the seraphim, calling “holy, holy, holy,” there is an eternal echo that announces the presence and power of our God, the Holy Trinity. The Festival of the Holy Trinity gives us an opportunity to stretch our faith. There is a sense of both majesty and mystery as Isaiah the prophet is commissioned to go and speak on behalf of the Lord; he is blessed with a holy task, a task that is ours to share. We are called to proclaim that God is Three in One, known and praised as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Joining our praise with the hosts of Heaven, we share the truth that God has revealed Himself to us. Like Isaiah, we are the people of a triune God!
There was an old television show called "To Tell the Truth." By means of questions and answers, the panel was to guess which of the three contestants was the real subject. This, of course, meant that the other two contestants had to lie their way through the answers. In many ways, we are confronted daily with a similar struggle between truth and lies.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth.” Working through the Scriptures, God reveals this truth—both the ugly truth and the beautiful truth. The ugly truth is that we are sinners; the beautiful truth is that, in Jesus, God has forgiven our sin and has come to bring us eternal life. The Spirit says through the prophet Ezekiel, “You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves” and “I will put My Spirit within you, and you shall live.” (Ezekiel 37:13-14). The day of Pentecost demonstrated that no barriers of language—or anything else in all creation—can hinder God’s will to speak truth to the entire world!
This weekend, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus Christ and pair it with the daily impact mothers have in our lives. The calendar of the Church and the calendar of our culture sometimes make for strange acquaintances! Pastor Seidler brings the message and marries the miracle and mystery of our faith to the moms we cherish and celebrate. Add to that communion and baptism and new members, and we have the fixings for a great weekend at Concordia.
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, ... who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified.” The Holy Spirit is worshiped because He is God, the third person of the Holy Trinity. Today, Jesus continues to prepare His disciples for His departure. He will leave them by way of the Cross and tomb of death. Even though He rises from the dead, He will leave them again at His Ascension. Yet, He wants us to know and believe that He never really leaves us. He tells us that He will be with us always. He calls the Holy Spirit “another helper.” Though the Spirit is a person distinct from the Father and the Son, yet He is also the Spirit of Christ in the mystery of the Trinity in Unity. The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to show Christians how to live a life of self-sacrifice in service to others.
Only after Easter were the disciples able to understand Jesus’ words. Now they knew that Jesus was and is God in the flesh, our way to the Father. Today, we hear how this is possible. Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches. It is only because of Jesus, who is the vine, that we become branches. Our sermon today encourages us to share this Good News that Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life, so that others will also know who Jesus is and be branches grafted into the vine.
One of the most comforting truths of God’s Word is that our God knows His own by name. That is how significant you are to Him. Today, we hear Jesus identify Himself as the Good Shepherd. We are His sheep and He knows us well. As the wolf tries to steal the sheep from the flock, so the devil uses the cares and difficulties of life in attempts to steal us from the Good Shepherd. However, not only does our Shepherd know our names, but He also assures us that we are held in His truth. May God richly bless your worship.
It took the Resurrection to reveal God’s eternal plan to save the fallen human race. Who among the people of Jerusalem knew that “this Jesus whom you crucified” would be Lord and Christ? Who knew that it would take His blood to pay for our sins? And, how could the disciples on the road to Emmaus understand that their guest was Jesus, risen from the dead, until He revealed Himself in the breaking of the bread? We would also be clueless were it not for the grace of God in revealing His plan of salvation to us and working faith in our hearts to believe it. To Him be the glory forever!