Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
9 E Homestead Ave. Palisades Park, NJ 07650 201-944-2107 Sundays 11:00 a.m. We preach Christ crucified (1. Corinthians 1,23)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Galatians 5,25-26; 6,1-3.7-10. 15. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

Galatians 5,25-26; 6,1-3.7-10  4518
15. Sonntag nach Trinitatis  060  
Gorgonius, Dorotheus and Peter, Martyrs at Rome 304 (Emperor Diocletian)  
9. September 2018 

1. О Triune God, blessed be Your Name, increase and preserve in us the fruits of faith, so that they are of benefit to our neighbor and sweeter to us from day to day.  Amen. (Starck 210) 
2. »If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Brothers and sisters, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him or her in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  
3. In His Beatitudes, Jesus teaches us: »Seek first the reign of God and His righteousness, and all these temporal needs will be added to you« (Matthew 6,33). With this teaching Jesus sets our priorities: we should be concerned first and foremost with our salvation. Therefore, when Jesus exhorts us to seek first the reign of God and His righteousness, He is exhorting us to seek Him who is the world’s righteousness and ours; He is the pathway to the reign of God. 
4. To say „Jesus is our righteousness“ is to say that His righteousness makes us righteous and justified in God’s sight. Jesus has forgiven, redeemed and saved us through His vicarious sacrifice on the cross. We call this justification, and sanctification flows forth from it. Our trust in Jesus for salvation then frees us to love and serve our neighbors. 
5. The Apostle Paul list some ways to love and serve our neighbor, particularly that we bear their burdens and do good to them. He lists some open general admonitions and exhorts us to fill in the specific good work as the need arises. One day it may be helping them get to the grocery store; another day it may be raking their leaves. Sanctification flows from justification and looks for ways to be of help to our neighbor. Thus Paul exhorts us: »Do not grow weary of doing good, as we have opportunity, but do good to everyone, especially to those who are fellow Christians.« 
6. One’s vocation is also an opportunity to do good. If you teach, then teach well. If you are a parent, then raise your children in the faith and teach them to be good citizens. If you are simply a paper pusher, then push those papers with joyfully efficiency as you help the larger cogs in the corporation turn smoothly. If you have a trade skill, then craft the best product you can. When we put our best foot forward in our vocation, then we ultimately help our neighbor to be blessed. 
7. »We live by the Spirit, and we walk by the Spirit.« Jesus promises that those who seek Him first and His righteousness will thus be blessed with receiving the temporal needs of this life. We walk in the faith and good works bear fruit in our lives. Only Christians can bear good works that are pleasing to God the Father, and that is solely by the merit of Christ and the faith that trusts in Him as one’s Savior.  Amen. 
8. Let us pray. O Lord, our Good and Gracious God, today we taste and see that You are good; we have heard it preached into our hearts; through Your means of grace comfort and assure us that the person is blessed who takes refuge in You, so that we may be confident to cast all our anxieties and cares upon You alone, and in doing so receive rest, peace and joy.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.     

ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

1. Thessalonians 1,2-10. 14. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever 
se cwide þæs béaggiefan ábireþ ferhþ

1. Thessalonians 1,2-10   4418 
14. Trinitatis  059
Hannah
Stephan, King of Hungary, 1038 
Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig, Pastor and Danish Hymn writer. 1872
2. September 2018 

1. О Triune God, plenteous in mercy, kindle in us the light of faith, so that we can rightly confess You as the One True God who has revealed Himself in the Word to be our Savior and Deliverer. (Starck 209).  Amen.  
2. »We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel arrived to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the Living and True God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to arrive.  
3. The Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians Christians that he and his missionary companions pray for them and give thanks to God for all their work of faith, their labor of love, the steadfastness of hope they have in Jesus and the proclamation of His gospel. Paul also exhorts Christians to pray in his Epistle to Timothy: »I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for rulers and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, Godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior« (1. Timothy 2,1-3). Paul also exhorts us to pray for people to hear the gospel and believe in Jesus for salvation (1. Timothy 2,4). 
4. In exhorting us to pray for people, St. Paul is simply exhorting us to follow the 8. Commandment, as Luther explains it: we should not tell lies about our neighbor, betray them, slander them or hurt their reputation, but we should defend them, speak well of them and explain everything in the kindest way (Luther). Praying for others is a great way to defend and speak well of our neighbors before God.  
5. Jesus’ healing of the lepers in today’s Gospel pericope exemplifies caring for and speaking well of the neighbor. He showed them mercy, healed them merely by the power of His words and one returned to offer thanks and praise to Jesus for His gracious gift.  
6. The Psalmist likens this thanksgiving to sacrifice, where he writes: »The one who offers thanksgiving as a sacrifice to Me, the Lord; I will show the salvation of God to the one who orders his way rightly!« (Psalm 50,23). To order one’s way rightly is to walk in faith that trusts in Jesus. »The righteous will live by their faith« (Habakkuk 2,4; Romans 1,17; Galatians 3,11; Hebrews 10,38). And the Apostle Paul tells us that the Thessalonians live by and walk in their Christian faith and that their faith has gone forth everywhere. This gospel preached by Paul and believed by the Thessalonians is the same gospel preached today and believed by us. The true path of righteousness and salvation runs through Christ. He has paid the ransom price of sin for us; He has done it all for us. Believe the gospel, for Jesus freely gives us forgiveness and salvation. 
7. Paul continues to unpack the blessings of this gospel, for it has real world consequences. We may and can live our lives without fear. Nothing in the world can undo Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice; no one can snatch us out of His hand. If you believe in Jesus, then you have eternal life, for Satan, the accuser of mankind before the Heavenly Father, has been judged, condemned and defeated by the crucified and risen Christ. The gospel will triumph over the rebellion waged against it. When the Last Judgment arrives, the wicked will be castaway and the believers will be welcomed into heavenly fellowship. Christians do not fear the day of judgment for before Christ will be our Judge He was first our Mediator. He has borne our judgment upon His own body and in doing so He has redeemed us and He declared us righteous by His own merit. Those who were scheduled to be judged have instead been justified. 
8. Such blessings go forth as we receive the gospel and accept it not as the word of men but accept it as what the gospel really is: the Word of God which is at work in us, believers in Christ and His gospel (1. Timothy 2,13). The Word of God is a Lamp to our feet and a Light to our path (Psalm 119,105). The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of God endures forever (Isaiah 40,8). For Jesus says: »If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, then ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you« (John 15,7). Thus we give thanks to Jesus for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we daily remember them in prayer as we await for Jesus to return from heaven.  Amen. 
9. Let us pray. O Heavenly Father, who shows compassion to His children; help us to show compassion to our neighbors, so that they see in us Your great compassion in Christ Jesus, that they turn from their sins, that they believe in Your Son and rejoice in the last day when Jesus returns to bring all His believers into heaven.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Vol. 4. © 1963 Henry Regnery Co. 

VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Genesis 4,1-16. 13. Sunday after Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

Genesis 4,1-16       4318
13. Sonntag nach Trinitatis  058  
Samuel, Prophet, 1096 bc 
26. August 2018 

1. О Gracious and Merciful God, we draw near to You today with praise and thanksgiving, for You have mercifully kept us safe during the past week. Help us to lay down our burdens, turn our minds to You alone and receive the prayers we bring before You.  Amen. (Starck 2) 
2. »Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying: „I have gotten a man with the help of Yahweh.“ And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. At harvest time Cain brought to Yahweh an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And Yahweh had regard for Abel and his offering, but He paid no attention to Cain and his offering. So Cain was disappointed and very angry. Yahweh said to Cain: „Why are you disappointed and angry? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.“ Cain spoke to Abel his brother: „Let us go out to the field.“ And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then Yahweh said to Cain: „Where is Abel your brother?“ He said: „I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?“ And Yahweh said: „What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it no longer yields to you its strength. You are a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.“ Cain said to Yahweh: „My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, You have driven me today away from the ground, and I am hidden from Your face. I am a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.“ Then Yahweh said to him: „Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.“ And Yahweh put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. Then Cain went away from the presence of Yahweh and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.« 
3. The sin of the father is passed on to the son. Adam, in sinning, brought death upon humanity; Cain took it a step further: he murdered his own brother with his bare hands. To murder someone is terrible, but to commit fratricide is horrendous. When Adam had sinned, he hid when he heard God approaching; Cain leaves the presence of God to dwell east of Eden. In both Adam and Cain we discover a truth about ourselves: it is our sinful nature to hide from God after we have broken His commandments. We make excuses. It’s not my fault. Someone else is to blame. Truly we are the fallen sons and daughters of Adam and Cain.
4. What is Jesus to do with us excuse-making sinners? Our Lord stands in our midst to confront us with our sin and then He saves us from that very sin. He went to Cain not in fierce anger brandishing a weapon demanding to know why he has murdered his brother, Abel, but rather He goes to Cain and gives him the opportunity to admit his guilt, repent and seek God’s mercy. He punished him for his serious, horrific crime, but God is not a fierce troll Cain slanders Him to be. Jesus showed Cain undeserved mercy. He refused to forsake Cain and even gave him a mark to protect him from those who would kill him for being a dreadful kin-slayer. Cain’s response is to double down on his intransigence. Cain walks away from God just as he walked away from his brother. Cain rejects God’s mercy and grace, which really should not surprise us because earlier Cain refuse to show mercy to Abel.
5. The Apostle Paul connects Adam to Jesus. He writes: »For as by the 1. Adam there is death, so also by the 2. Adam there is resurrection. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all live (1. Corinthians 15,21-22). „For by the sacrifice of His own body Christ both put an end to the law which was against us and made a new beginning of life for us, by the hope of Christ which He has given us. For since from man it was that death prevailed over men, for this cause conversely, by [thus] the Word of God being made man has brought about the destruction of death and the resurrection of life“ (Athanasius II,10). For as by the 1. Abel whose blood cried from the ground, so also the 2. Abel’s blood cried out. For as in Abel’s blood the cry is: justice!, so also in Christ’s blood the cry is: justification! Jesus became low and despised to bring to nothing things that are (1. Corinthians 1,28) and thus bring life from death and resurrection from the grave. For as the 1. Seth (foundation) was appointed to be the heir of the Christ, so also Jesus is the promised Appointed One to save fallen mankind. Christ Jesus is the Cornerstone of the foundation of the apostles and prophets upon whom the Church is built.  
6. Jesus was born in order to save His fallen creation. He brings eternal life to us poor sinners whose guilt weighs down upon us like a millstone. Jesus has removed this overbearing guilt and has born it up on His shoulders at the cross. He has brought everlasting salvation to those condemned by their conscience and the Commandments. In Christ we see the Heavenly Father’s love and mercy upon sinners. We are no longer fugitives and wanders from Him. We are no longer self-imposed exiles. We no longer fear for our lives, fearing the imminent judgment upon us for our many sins. Christ has redeemed us back to our Heavenly Father. For

O Christ, our Joy and Glory, 
Thou of our life the Light, 
Will usher us before Thee 
To mansions glad and bright, 
Where in joy everlasting 
E’en as the sun we’ll shine, 
With all our brethren tasting 
Of pleasures all Divine (LSB 409,14).  Amen. 

8. Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, whose Name is to be praised; help us proclaim Your Merciful Name to our neighbors, helping them in their time of physical and spiritual need, so that they may be cared for and likewise give glory to You alone.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.     
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
Athanasius. On the Incarnation of the Word
   Gerhardt, Paul. „A Pilgrim and a Stranger“. Walther’s Hymnal. Copyright © 2012 Matthew Carver. 

Starck, Johann Friedrich. Starck’s Prayer Book. Copyright © 2009 Concordia Publishing House. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Acts 3,1-10. 12. Sunday after Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever 
se cwide þæs béaggiefan ábireþ ferhþ

Acts 3,1-10   4218
12. Trinitatis  057
Gebald, hermit near Nürnberg, 8th or 11th c.
19. August 2018 

1. О Faithful God, Who hears and answers our supplications, do not for sake us when we are sick or suffering but remind us of your Fatherly promise to abide with us, so that we are encouraged by your words: »I will never leave you nor forsake you« [Joshua 1,5]. (Starck 226).  Amen.  
2. »Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at 3 pm, which is the hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was being carried, whom they placed daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said: „Look at us.“ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said: „I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!“ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.« 
3. First century Jewish society did not have have government programs to help the poor, such as Medicaid and disability payments; instead they had almsgiving, which is giving money or food to the poor. Almsgiving partly derived from a general Middle Eastern philosophy that taught one to care for the neighbor, the stranger and the guest. The 10 Commandments furthermore exhort the Jews, and us, to love our neighbors, and almsgiving is one way of doing good to the neighbor who is poor, sick or infirm. 
4. The 1. century Church continued this almsgiving practice. In Acts 6, the Church set aside 7 men to be deacons. The apostles would devote themselves to the pastoral ministry of prayer and the preaching of the Word, while the deacons would be ordained by the apostles to serve tables. The diaconate office soon took up many almsgiving functions, such as making sure the poor were fed, caring for the needs of the destitute and were doctors and nurses to the sick. Hospitals, as we know them, are the result of the Church and her diaconal office. We usually think of the Council of Nicaea in 325 as giving us the Nicene Creed that we confess each Communion Service, but that council also produced practical admonitions, one of which exhorted the construction of a hospital in every town that had a cathedral (Wikipedia). Two of the earliest of these hospitals were built by the physician St. Sampson the Hospitable (d. 530) in Constantinople and another by Basil (330-79), the Bishop of Caesarea, Turkey (Wikipedia). 
5. Martin Luther also implemented almsgiving throughout the churches of the Reformation. Several years ago, the noted Lutheran scholar Stephen Ozmet wrote in the New York Times: „Consider Luther’s view on charity and the poor. He made the care of the poor an organized, civic obligation by proposing that a common chest be put in every German town; rather than skimp along with the traditional practice of almsgiving to the needy and deserving native poor, Luther proposed that they receive grants, or loans, from the chest. Each recipient would pledge to repay the borrowed amount after a timely recovery and return to self-sufficiency, thereby taking responsibility for both his neighbors and himself. This was love of one’s neighbor through shared civic responsibility, what the Lutherans still call „faith begetting charity.“ He who receives, recovers and profits from society in a time of need has a moral responsibility to pay society back by acting in turn as a strong citizen who can help fill the common chests and sacrifice for his now needy neighbors, who had once helped him. Such is the sacrificial Lutheran society. In classic Lutheran teaching, the salvation of the believer „by faith alone“ does not curtail the need for constant charitable good works, as ill-informed critics allege. Faith, rather, empowers the believer to act in the world by taking the worry out of his present and future religious life“ (Ozment). 
6. Wilhelm Löhe, a 19. century Bavarian Lutheran pastor, established in Neuendettelsau the Deaconess Mother House in 1849 that served as a school to teach deaconesses and as a hospital;  it remains a thriving diaconate facility for both men and women, and is one of the largest diaconal institutions in Europe. Löhe wrote this in regards to almsgiving: „The Lutheran Church regards the care of the poor as a duty of the Church, as it was in the times of the Apostles; as still her domain the sick, the pilgrims and the orphans are today her care, as they always have been“ (Löhe 179). 
7. At the same time as Löhe, C. F. W. Walter was writing in St. Louis: „A Christian congregation must not appeal to the fact that there are governmental relief funds and poor-houses, which they also support. The Christian congregation should consider it a disgrace to see her poor cared for by a world the government“ (Walther 219). He then mentions Luther’s admonition to establish a specific office of almoner: „Here we see first how our Christian congregations should be organized. They provide for the souls, are occupied with preaching and prayer, but also bring it about that the body is provided for, set up some men who distribute the goods as you have heard“ (Walther 219 to 220).  
8. The LCMS formally instituted diaconate programs in 1922. In 1980 Concordia University Chicago began both undergraduate and graduate diaconate degrees. In 2002, both seminaries, St. Louis and Fort Wayne, started graduate level diaconate programs. 
9. Consider also many of the earliest hospitals and colleges in colonial America were established by churches, pastors and lay people. „In the United States the traditional hospital is a non-profit hospital, usually sponsored by a religious denomination. One of the earliest of these „almshouses“ was started in 1713 by William Penn in Philadelphia“ (Wikipedia). Interesting how the first American hospitals were called „almshouses“. The 7 Ivy League colleges (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Brown and Dartmouth), plus William and Mary and Rutgers, are the earliest colleges in colonial America, and all 9 of these institutions were closely linked to a particular Christian denomination. Harvard trained Congregationalist (Puritan) and Unitarian ministers. William and Mary was founded to be a College of Divinity, Philosophy and Languages, plus the arts and sciences. Yale was established to train clergy and political leaders. Princeton was founded to train ministers. The University of Pennsylvania was started to train clergy and focus on other colleges of arts and sciences. Columbia was established by the activity of the Church of England. Brown was founded by the Baptists. Rutgers was established to train Dutch Reformed ministers. Dartmouth was founded by a Congregationalist (Puritan) minister. 
10. Throughout His public ministry, Jesus preached and cared for those in need. He continues to do so into the 21. century as His Church and His Christians serve their neighbors. The gospel creates faith, faith believes in the crucified and risen Jesus unto salvation and faith bears forth works of mercy. When we help our neighbor we are being a deacon/deaconess for we are serving them. Every time we utilize our talents, abilities or alms, then we are being a merciful servant to our neighbor. Through these acts of mercy, the Holy Spirit brings proof of the validity of the gospel and its power to save men and women, both in body and soul, unto life everlasting. 
11. May the Holy Spirit grant each of us opportunities to tell the gospel and help a person in need, thereby assuring them that God indeed does love them, cares for them, has redeemed them and desires their temporal needs be met. May we be servants of that Divine mercy.  Amen. 
12. Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, Your Name is blessed at all times; send us the Holy Spirit, so that we are empowered by the gospel to give alms for the benefit of our neighbors.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Vol. 4. © 1963 Henry Regnery Co. 
VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. 
Löhe, Wilhelm. Löhe on the Church. Copyright © 1908 Pilger Publishing House. 
Ozment, Steven. „German Austerity’s Lutheran Core“. New York Times. Saturday 11. August 2012. 
Walther, C.F.W. Pastoral Theology. Copyright © 1995 Lutheran News. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Galatians 2,16-21. 11. Sunday after Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

Galatians 2,16-21       4118
11. Sonntag nach Trinitatis  056  
Clara of Assisi, Italy, Abbess, 1253  
12. August 2018 

1. О Christ, our Risen Savior, create trust and hope in the gospel of Your resurrection, so that in believing unbelief is conquered by faith and in this victory we have received the seal and assurance of the gracious forgiveness of sins and peace with God.  Amen. (Starck 88) 
2. »We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because no one will be justified by works of the law. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.« 
3. The Apostle Paul had received a classical education and a traditional Pharasaic education. He was well-versed in logic, rhetoric and the Holy Scriptures. Yet, in his Epistle to the Galatians, Paul’s eloquence is both simple and profound, where he writes: »A person is not justified by the works of the law but is justified through faith in Jesus Christ.« Paul clearly teaches that we cannot earn justification by obeying the law. This was the exact opposite of what the Pharisees taught, for they believed one can and must earn justification by obeying the law. Thus, Paul, and Jesus before him, clashed with the Pharisees over the Scriptures, the law and how one merits justification. 
4. The rich young man prided himself in perfectly keeping the law (Luke 18,18-30); he was either a Pharisee or one who follows the Pharisaic teaching about the law and justification. So Jesus exhorted him to an even higher legal standard: well and good, now sell all your wealth, give it to the poor and follow Me (Luke 18,22). The apostles reasoned that forgiving someone 7 times a day must satisfy the righteousness of the law, but Jesus raised that legal requirement significantly higher: no, not 7 times but forgive him 490 times in a day. The Pharisees taught the Jews to love their neighbors; that’s a good start, Jesus affirmed, now love your enemies as well. If we, like the Pharisees, believe we can earn our justification before God by doing the works of the law, then Jesus will raise the legal standard even higher, yes to such heights that we can never achieve justification by the law. 
5. There is a way to merit justification. The way of justification is the way of the cross where upon Jesus merited our justification; He justified us by suffering and dying on the cross. We receive this justification by believing that Jesus has died to justify us. 
6. Jesus on the cross is where the law and gospel beautifully intersect and interact. Jesus was on the cross because of the law. The person who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18,20). Jesus took our place upon the cross as a sinner, bearing our sin and receiving the punishment the law exacts upon guilty sinners. J. S. Bach majestically set to music Paul Gerhardt’s hymn, where he writes of this mercy: 

What Thou, my Lord has suffered 
Was all for sinners gain; 
Mine, mine was the transgression, 
But Thine the deadly pain. 
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! 
’Tis I deserve Thy place; 
Look on me with Thy favor, 
And grant to me Thy grace. (LSB 449,2). 

Jesus on the cross is also an outpouring of Divine grace. Jesus was punished for our sin and in being punished He purchased the full forgiveness of our sins. He has redeemed us back to His Father and has paid the ransom price the law demands.
7. The Crucified Christ reveals God in all His wonderful, merciful love. God the Father is no longer angry at us, for His anger has been poured out in full upon His Son, and Jesus shows us the friendly heart of our Heavenly Father. Jesus merited this by doing what the law demands and now gives us the benefit of that merit by grace,  and we receive this gift of salvation through faith in Him. Again Gerhardt: 

Christ brings me to the portal 
That leads to bless untold 
Whereon this rhyme immortal 
Is found in script of gold: 
„Who there My cross has shared 
Finds here a crown prepared; 
Who there with Me has died 
Shall here be glorified“ (LSB 467,7). 
8. God has justified us. The law teaches „do this, and live“, but that same law cannot justify us. The gospel points us to Christ and creates faith in Him unto life everlasting. The Apostle Paul proclaims: »No one will be justified in God’s sight through the works of the law, since the knowledge of sin is revealed through the law. But the gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe, for the justification of God is revealed in the gospel beginning and ending in faith, as it has been written: The justified will live by faith [Habakuk 2,4]« (Romans 3,20; 1,16-17). We hear the absolution of God, I forgive you, and believe that the forgiveness purchased on the cross is for us.  Amen.
9. Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, our Justification; make known Your saving work of the cross and the empty tomb, so that we may call upon Your Name and give thanks to You, our Righteousness.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.     
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
   Gerhardt, Paul. „O Sacred Head, Now Wounded“. Lutheran Service Book. Copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. 
  Gerhardt, Paul. „Awake, My Heart, with Gladness“. Lutheran Service Book. Copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. 

Starck, Johann Friedrich. Starck’s Prayer Book. Copyright © 2009 Concordia Publishing House. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Romans 9,1-5.31-10,4. 10. Sunday after Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever 
se cwide þæs béaggiefan ábireþ ferhþ

Romans 9,1-5.31-10,4   4018
10. Trinitatis  055
Nonna, mother of St. Gregory of Nazianzen, 4th
Oswald, King of Northumbria, England, Martyr 642
5. August 2018 

1. О Gracious God, who shows mercy to men and women, grant us a faith that bears good fruits, so that through our good works our neighbor may be helped and blessed (Starck 138).  Amen.  
2. »I am speaking the truth in ChristI am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spiritthat I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship and the promises. To them belong the Patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever.  Amen. But Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written: »Behold, I am placing in Zion a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offense; and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.« (Isaiah 8,14) Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.  
3. The Apostle Paul tackles the age-old question: how is one saved; is it by doing the works of the law or is it by believing in God? The question was a relevant one in the 1. century ad. Paul lists the blessings afforded to Israel as the Lord’s chosen people, and then he declares: »Israel pursued a law so as to attain righteousness and they did not succeed in attaining that righteousness. Yet, Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness through the law have attained that righteousness through faith.« 
4. The Apostle Paul had been a prominent Pharisee before he became a Christian. He himself described his philosophy before believing in Jesus: »as to the law, I was a Pharisee« (Philippines 3,5). In the 1. century ad, the scribes and Pharisees represented the official interpretation of the Jewish law and the traditions of their elders. These interpretations were taught in the synagogues by the rabbis. The Pharisees interpreted the Holy Scriptures to teach that by obeying the law one became and remained righteous. Their premise was: the Lord gave us the law at Sinai, therefore He intends for us to perfectly keep this law. To ensure that the law was kept, they exhorted their fellow Jews to obey the 613 statements and principles of the law, ethics and spiritual practices contained in the pages from Genesis through Deuteronomy. If all these hundreds of laws and rules were kept, then one would merit the perfect obedience of the law. The Pharisees boasted that they indeed keep the 600-plus precepts, and therefore they have attained righteousness by doing the works of the law.
5. Jesus and Paul had their greatest arguments with the Pharisees over the purpose of the law in regards to righteousness. Jesus once scolded them: »Woe to you Pharisees, for you tithe mint, rue and all kinds of herbs, yet you neglect justice and the love of God; you should have practiced these things without neglecting the others« (Luke 11,42). Later, Jesus told this parable to some, the Pharisees, who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: »Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: „O God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.“ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying: „O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!“ I tell you, this tax collector went down to his house justified, rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.« (Luke 18,10-14). Earlier in his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul declared: »Everyone, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, for there is no one who is righteous, not even one [Psalm 51,5; 14,3], not even Pharisees. No one will be justified in God’s sight by works prescribed by the law, for the knowledge of sin occurs through the law« [Psalm 143,2] (Romans 3, 9-10.20).
6. Unrighteousness sinners need the righteous of God. This righteousness cannot be earned by obeying the commandments. This righteousness cannot be merited by doing things we think are pleasing to God. This righteousness is given only by God in Christ. The Apostle Paul summarizes it this way: »Righteousness is pursued by faith, for Christ is the end of the law so that all who believe shall be justified« (9,32.10,4).  
7. In Christ, we see that God the Father desires to save everyone, both a Jew and Gentile. In Christ, we see the great mercy and love of God, »for everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved« (Romans 10,13). »Righteousness is reckoned to all who believe in Christ who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised from the dead for our justification» (Romans 4,24-25). We are righteous and justified by faith in the crucified and risen Christ; He is the End of the law and the Source of the gospel. By grace we have been saved by faith (Ephesians 2,8). Righteousness and justification are given as a gift through/by the merit of Christ Jesus. 
8. We have been built upon Stone, Christ Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12,1-3). Go in peace, for He has elected us unto salvation.  Amen. 
9. Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, You are our God and we are the people of Your pasture and the sheep of Your hand; bless our house of prayer, so that we may worship here in solemnity and be refreshed by the gospel that promises us forgiveness in Your Name and grant us opportunities to share this gospel with our neighbor.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Vol. 4. © 1963 Henry Regnery Co. 

VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands.