Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sermon for 11/29/15: First Sunday in Advent

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

He wasn’t waving to the crowds from an expensive sports car. He wasn’t riding on a fancy parade float. He wasn’t dressed in a fancy tuxedo with a sash to proclaim Him the homecoming King. Jesus is the King—the great King of kings and Lord of lords, worthy of a glorious parade to surpass the wonder of Caesar riding victorious into Rome. But He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The power of God is hidden in the weakness of human flesh. He has come to Jerusalem as the priceless Ransom to purchase sinners with His blood. He has come to be enthroned on the cross. He has come to die.

He comes with power, but He is known in weakness. He is the Lord of Life, but chiefly we celebrate His death. He came before; He will come again. Though His triumphant entry into Jerusalem was made in humility, in the fullness of time He will come in glory. Every knee will bow; every tongue will confess, “Jesus is Lord.” Both the good and the evil will know and confess the truth—the good to their everlasting joy, and the evil to their everlasting despair and shame. All of creation will know what the angels already know. The dogs, trees, rocks, and birds will see your faith, your burning lamp of hope. The world will see the sons of God as the sons of God; they will see you in whom God is well-pleased. Jesus will come in glory; the Kingdom of power will be known. It will be seen in you. This is why we pray: “Stir up your power, O Lord, and come to rescue us from the threatening perils of our sins, and save us by Your promised deliverance.”

Jesus comes already now. He comes in power hidden in weakness. It is not the power of might and strength as the world counts such things. It is the power of love, of deliverance and protection. It is the power of sacrifice. This grace has made Him your Lord. He rules in you through forgiveness. He comes in humble things, things that you might look upon Him and not be destroyed. God has a face. By faith you gaze upon the face of the Child born of Mary, the face of a Man. And though He was despised and rejected, He is beautiful to you. He is wonderful. Though He comes in weakness, He is mighty. His feet, pierced and scarred, are most beautiful, for He brings Good News from God. He has reconciled you to His Father. He has opened heaven. He fulfills His promise. He keeps His Word. He is your God, and you, by grace, are His people, His beloved Bride.

He comes now in power. He is not some random god far off. He is our present, promise-making, promise-keeping God. He knows no borders or limits. He abides in the flesh of a mortal Man made immortal, raised and exalted. A Man sits at the right hand of God and rules the Universe. He is God and Man, and through Him, man is welcome in heaven. He is in heaven, but He is also here. He is hidden from the world and yet present—hidden in the water, hidden under bread and wine, hidden in the voice of His messengers, but present and powerful. He is seen by faith, and He reveals Himself to you in His Word and holy gifts. The Kingdom of heaven, the Kingdom of power, glory, and grace, is within you.

This is a strange parade, not at all what one would expect of a procession to honor the God who dwells among His people. That eternal parade of well-deserved glory will come in due time, at a time which only the Father knows. As we wait for that day, Jesus continues to come among us. He continues to come to you humbly, hidden, but no less powerful—for in those humble ways, He comes to save you. We continue to pray, “Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come.” Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Sermon for 11/25/15: Eve of the Day of National Thanksgiving

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have so much of what you need or want that you have to build bigger buildings to hold it? Wouldn’t it be great if your harvest was so plentiful that you needed extra trucks to carry it to the silo? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if that year-end bonus was so large that you had to open an extra bank account? Wouldn’t it be exciting if your team scored so many points that the scoreboard couldn’t count that high? Wouldn’t those be wonderful problems to have? It would be hard, in fact, to even consider those to be problems. If only all our problems would be so taxing! May the Lord smite me with it! May I never recover!

But whether one is rich or poor, the wealth of this world comes with problems of its own. The rich man has been blessed to abundance by God with daily bread.  He has everything he needs to support his body and life for many days.  So this rich man sits in his easy chair and thinks, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” It is not sinful to be rich. It is not sinful to enjoy the blessings which the Lord provides for you. But it is sinful to ignore the source of your blessings. This rich man forgot the God who made him and blessed him.  He was not interested in the things of God. He was interested in happiness; he was interested in the pleasures of this life. He was interested in himself instead of being interested in God.

The psalms have a word for those who are not interested in God. Twice the psalmist says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” That is exactly what God called this rich man.  God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” Or as Jesus said elsewhere, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

That is the problem on our hands, while we gather to give God thanks at this traditional time of thanksgiving in our nation. When we take stock of the harvest of blessings that God has poured out for us, we see that God has blessed us plentifully, with blessings beyond our ability to store them up. He has poured His blessings generously into our homes, workplaces, schools, government buildings, and the Church, beyond the capability of these man-made buildings to hold them all. And while we, who have been made so rich by God, consider with wonder this great bounty, we are right to ponder the wonderful problem this presents to us: “What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?” What shall you do, rich people? My brothers and sisters in Christ, repent, lest you be found by the Lord to be a fool.

This bounty of blessings is provided by God to make us wise unto salvation.  Our Heavenly Father provides “all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.” The Lord gives graciously so that we learn the truth that the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. Although a man’s life soon ends, there is yet time to turn away from the way of the fool and to walk the way of the wise, those who walk in the light of the Son of God who is abundant in mercy. It is in our Savior Jesus that we see the full bounty of God’s grace and compassion and love. It is in our Savior Jesus that we find the full abundance of God’s blessings upon us. It is in our Savior Jesus we fully grasp the truth that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Even so, God the Father now hands down to you every heavenly blessing in Christ Jesus, in overflowing abundance.  He has blessed you with forgiveness of all of your sins in the holy washing of your Baptism.  He has blessed you with the promise of eternity in the world to come through the proclamation of His Holy Gospel.  He has blessed you with a new life marked by continual thanksgiving through the Feast of His Body and Blood.

So yes, my brothers and sisters in Christ: eat, drink, and be merry; rejoice, giving thanks to God for all of the blessings that He has poured out upon you. Enjoy them, and enjoy sharing them with your neighbor, for our gracious Father will continue to provide all that you need: both for this life and for the life to come. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sermon for 11/22/15: Last Sunday in the Church Year

Audio link: RIGHT-CLICK HERE to save the audio file.

Enough Oil

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

If only we had the same urgency of heart and mind to be ready for our heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord Christ, that we have pursuing all the things we think are so important in this life! If only we so eagerly awaited our Lord's return with the same energy and zeal that we store up for the start of football season or summer vacation! "Sleepers, wake!" says the Apostle, and in the Lord's parable: "Behold! The Bridegroom is coming!" Dear Christians, this is no time to be fooling around with how much oil is in our lamps! Now is not the time to wonder whether we can go get some oil and still make it to the wedding feast! When the Bridegroom arrives, the doors are shut! And while those who are outside may have been invited to the wedding, once the doors are closed, they are unknown to the Bridegroom.

Jesus tells this parable in order to save us. He speaks to us of these five virgins who are wise and the five who are morons in order to rescue us from the fate of those foolish ones. Likewise also the Lord's apostle St. Paul warns the Thessalonians and us about the Lord's coming so that we are not caught unawares but rather whether asleep or awake—that is, living or dead—we are ready to rejoice when the Bridegroom shows up. The world goes blissfully, ignorantly on its way, never considering that there will be a day when everyone will try to get into the wedding feast, but only those who have oil for their lamps will be behind those closed doors! Aside from the most die-hard atheists, doesn't everyone want to get to heaven? People fly planes into buildings and blow themselves up thinking that will get them straight to paradise! People pay money for preachers to tell them the steps they need to take to get themselves right with God and get to heaven on the Last Day. People live their lives to be as good as possible in the hopes that they might get in. But all such faith and trust in ourselves is a damning trust. So Jesus tells us about the wise and foolish virgins to rescue us from the religion of the world, the notions of our sinful flesh, and the seductive lies of the Devil. He preaches to us to save us and bring us to everlasting life.

The oil is what matters, but it’s not something we can get for ourselves. The oil is what Christ pours forth from Himself. The oil in our lamps is the Spirit and the Gospel and the Body and Blood and the water of Holy Baptism. The oil is the means of grace—the Gospel and Sacraments—and the Holy Spirit and faith, all of which go together and none of which can be apart from the others. To be ready for the Bridegroom is nothing other than to be filled with the gifts of Christ, to be filled to overflowing. The Lord always has more! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The wise virgins are those whose lamps are full of this oil. You are ready for our Lord's return because your lamps are full of this oil. You have been baptized. You have been absolved. You have heard the Gospel preached to you. You have feasted on the Body and Blood of Christ. All these things will be given to you over and over until the day that you die and are with Christ as the angels cry, "Behold the Bridegroom!"

My dear Christians, that Day will come; those doors will be shut. If you believe you have enough oil, then tremble in fear at the prospect that you will be shut out on that Day! But if you know that you can never have enough oil; if you must make sure your lamp and vessel are filled; if you recognize your need to live every day in your Baptism, to confess your sins, to grow in the Word and feast at the Holy Supper, then rejoice! Wake up! The Bridegroom is coming! He comes to gather you to His wedding feast and take you as His own for all eternity. He has filled your lamp and shall keep it full. He’s coming soon. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

PARODY: Ain't That a Slap to the Head

Something special for my 600th blog post...

In honor of St. Nicholas, whose feast day is December 6, a parody of "Ain't That a Kick in the Head," made famous by Dean Martin. Hat Tip to Joshua Reynolds for the idea.

Ain't That a Slap to the Head

How stupid can one man be
To spout public heresy?
Like Saint Nicholas said,
"Ain't that a slap to the head?"

To say that the Son was made
Is madness of highest grade.
Like ol' Saint Nick said, quote,
“Your heresy gets my goat.”

Your head is spinnin'.
Arius, you won't be winnin'.
Nicea's just the beginnin'.
Rightful confession is...beautiful!

I'll swing 'til your face is red.
I'll revoke your clergy cred.
Tell me, chap:
Aint that a slap to the head?

Like Saint Nicholas said,
"Ain't that a slap to the head?"

Like ol' Saint Nick said, quote,
“Your heresy gets my goat.”

Your head is spinnin'.
Arius, you won't be winnin'.
Nicea's just the beginnin'.
Rightful confession is...beautiful!

False prophet, you've made your bed.
Repent of the lies you've spread.
Tell me, chap:
Aint that a slap to the head?

Tell me, chap:
Oh, ain't that a slap?
Tell me, chap:
Aint that a slap to the head?

(c) 1960, 2015, Sammy Cahn and Alan Kornacki

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sermon for 11/15/15: Second-Last Sunday of the Church Year

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Sheep by Grace

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

It is the truth: we are not saved by works; we don’t get right with God by what we do. We can hear it over and over, but we find it hard to believe. We can hear that it is by grace that we have been saved, but there is still a part of us, no matter how small, that still supposes that we’d better end up with more good works than sins on the Last Day. There’s still that way of thinking which infects even Christians that, when we stand before the Lord on that Day, we will have to show positive good balance sheet or else we’re doomed. We can hear that Jesus saves us. We can hear that Christ lives in us and does good works for others in and through us. But we still suppose, even if just a little, that we had better have something to show for ourselves when we face the Lord at the End. So to rescue us from that thinking, Jesus tells us how it’s going to be. Sheep have done good works. They may not even know it! But they have done them. And it pleases the King. And the King gives them an everlasting inheritance forever with Him. But those gifts are not because of their works.

Two things in the story prove this. First of all when we stand before the Lord, we are already sheep and goats. Jesus doesn’t even address their good works of helping others until they’ve been separated. Secondly, the kingdom has been prepared for them from “before the foundation of the world”—before they were even born or had done anything for anyone! What ties these together is Christ, for He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He was the sacrifice for our sins before we had even sinned! He is the Good Shepherd who brings us into His flock, the Church. He is the one who gives His life on the cross to take away our sins, who rises from the dead to gives us life. Jesus not only saves us from our sins; He also sets us apart for good works. And He even does those good works in and through us. He makes all that you do into something good because He has forgiven whatever is evil and makes holy everything else. Jesus rescues us from thinking our good works have any purpose toward our salvation.

So the question is, how do you know whether you are a sheep or goat before that Last Day? You don’t write down a list of what you’ve done. You don’t keep track of good versus bad on your balance sheet. No, you hear your pastor tell you: You are a sheep: already, now, because of Jesus. You were made a sheep when you were baptized. The very Christ who lives in and through you does so because His Word of forgiveness fills your ears, His absolution declares your sins null and void, and His body and blood are in you to raise you up on the Last Day.

So go and live your life. Go and serve others. Forgive their sins as you have been forgiven. Bear their burdens as your burdens have been carried. Carry out your callings as forgiven children of God in Christ. And then, when you stand before the King on the Last Day, He shall praise the things you’ve done—you won’t even know the half of what you’ve actually done in Him and for others. And until that day, don’t worry whether you’re a sheep. You are. Jesus has made you so. And that means you’ve got an everlasting kingdom waiting for you, and it has been ready since long before you could try to earn it or deserve it. It’s yours, a free gift from your Father in heaven. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

PARODY: Red Starbucks Cup

Facebook has blown up over the stupidity of one or two (or maybe a dozen) so-called Christians who may or may not be objecting to the lack of Christmas messages on Starbucks cups. So with that in mind, I decided to put pen to paper once again for the purpose of parody. Here's my humble effort.

Red Starbucks Cup
(parody of “Red Solo Cup”)

Now a red Starbucks cup ends pumpkin spice season,
But there’s no “Merry Christmas” for some unknown reason,
And taking it off does not seem too pleasin’
To one or two Christians, it seems.

While most true believers don’t seem to be bitter,
Social media seems to have gone all a-twitter
‘Cause some silly bleaters with hearts all a-flitter
View these plain, red cups and scream.

(refrain) Red Starbucks cup, no tree? What’s up?
Let’s all sound stupid. Let’s all sound stupid.
Red Starbucks cup, my dander’s up.
Proceed to stupid. Proceed to stupid.

Now I really love your overpriced Joe,
But it seems like you’re bashing on Christmas, you know?
And we take our holidays serious, yo.
So that, my friends, makes us sad.

But I have to admit it makes Christians sound silly
When we call for boycotts of stores willy-nilly,
Is it Starbucks’ job to share Christmastime, really?
Come on folks. This just sounds bad.

(refrain) Red Starbucks cup, no tree? What’s up?
Let’s all sound stupid. Let’s all sound stupid.
Red Starbucks cup, my dander’s up.
Proceed to stupid. Proceed to stupid.

My bros and sisters in Christ, please be thinkin’.
This shaken black tea lemonade I’ve been drinkin’
Does not mean that any of us should be shrinkin’
From sharing Christ’s love on our own.

You few so-called Christian objectors, you’re crazy…
Or silly, or foolish, or maybe just lazy.
One thing’s for sure, your thinking is hazy.
Your whining is so overblown.

Red Starbucks cup, yes, you’re just a cup.
You’re caffeine.
Thank you for being caffeine.

(refrain) Red Starbucks cup, no tree? What’s up?
Let’s all sound stupid. Let’s all sound stupid.
Red Starbucks cup, my dander’s up.
Proceed to stupid. Proceed to stupid. (repeat)

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Sermon for 11/8/15: Third-last Sunday of the Church Year

Audio link: RIGHT-CLICK HERE to save.


Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 
Sun and moon shall darkened be,
Stars shall fall, the heavens shall flee;
Christ will then like lightning shine,
All will see His glorious sign...
We have seen the signs; the days are at hand. Have we seen false christs and false prophets? Just turn on the television, and Joel Osteen’s shining teeth and false promises are staring back at you. Within the visible Church, faithless Christians and false pastors ridicule such things as the Lord’s Prayer and the Creeds which confess the very Word of God, and replace them with liturgies which spring from the hearts of men and prayers for earthly riches. They take the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which are the work of God to forgive sinners and give them life, and turn them into decisions by which sinful men claim to prove their faith to the world and earn their place before God. Have we seen people pretending to know when Jesus is coming and where He will be? In the last month, another prophecy of the return of Christ has proven false—just one of many such predictions that have come and gone. If that’s not enough to convince you the day is at hand, remember this: the world praises laziness, abortion, lust, and everything else the Word of God calls evil, and it vilifies what the Word of God calls good and just and right. We are living in the days of which Jesus spoke. We are in the midst of the great tribulation, as indeed have been all who have lived by faith since Christ ascended.

Between all the horrors of a fallen world and the temptations of a false spirituality, the baptized are as surrounded by evil as Noah and his family before the flood. The life of a Christian is not a life of ease, nor does Jesus promise it will be; in fact, the opposite is true, for Jesus promises us that we will be persecuted because our Lord is despised by the world. Our life in Christ is a life lived under the cross. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something; a preacher who tells you that this is your best life is looking to add an addition to his mansion. Even in those instances where life is comfortable, when the weight of the cross isn’t as cumbersome, do not give into the temptation of believing this is God’s thank-you gift for your life of faith, lest you become so attached to your earthly blessings that you forget the things of God.

Our Lord knows we will go running for Him where He will not be found. He knows we will look for Him under every nook and cranny, thinking He will appear secretly to us first, before He appears to the rest of the world. Rest assured, we will know along with the rest of the world when Jesus returns visibly to judge the living and the dead. That’s a certainty that should put us at ease.

Jesus does give us the tiniest of hints about the when of Judgment Day. When we see or hear those false christs and false prophets who claim to have that “new revelation” or “insider information” concerning the End Times, we should stop walking toward them and put a finger in our ears. But hasn’t this been going on for a long time? Precisely! That’s why Paul says therefore comfort one another with these words. Though we might not think judgment is comforting, it is. Judgment is a certainty proclaimed in the Bible. We believe the Bible to be God’s error-free Word to us. No matter what anyone else says or does, we have the certainty of Holy Scripture that tells us the Truth about the faith.

Though we may not know what tomorrow holds, we know there is a bright future for those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Though we are sinners living in a sinful world, we live in the sure and certain hope of eternal life. While we live here, God feeds our faith through certain things. He attaches forgiveness, life, and salvation to words, water, bread, and wine. We believe that these means certainly sustain us until Jesus comes again to take us home.

The life in Christ through Word and Sacrament is certainty amid the mountains and valleys of uncertainty we tread every day. God’s people gather around God’s altar and pulpit to be comforted with God’s Word. His Word says Jesus will return as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west. Before you know it, the Lord is come, the dead will rise, the living will be caught up in the air with Christ, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. This is our certain hope, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. Christ is coming soon. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.                

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Sermon for 11/1/15: Feast of All Saints

Audio Link: Right-click here to save.

Saints Now and Eternally

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

The most popular preachers are those who want you to believe that, if you are a Christian, your life will be better. You will be "blessed" with riches and your problems will disappear. Apparently they have not read the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells us that you are blessed when you have nothing but Christ, when the world hates you because of Him. The devil hates Jesus. The world hates Jesus. Your own flesh hates Him! All three of those enemies are after you because you belong to Jesus. The devil’s highest goal is to get you to stop trusting in Jesus. He wants you to believe that God is going to punish you. Dear saints of God, don’t believe him. We saw St. John's vision in the book of Revelation. The robes of the saints are white. You have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. Satan can accuse you all he wants, but it doesn't change the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, died for your sins and blotted them out by the blood that He shed on the cross. The devil says you're no saint, but the Lord says you are His. Are you going to believe the father of lies or your heavenly Father? Dear Christian, your whole life, you will struggle to believe you are a saint when the devil says you aren't. But thanks be to God in Christ, whose death and resurrection wipe out your sins and defeat the devil's lies.

But there's more suffering for Christ's saints in this life. The world hates you because of Jesus. Jesus says, "Blessed are you when you are persecuted for my sake." That means the world doesn't just hate you because of you. It hates you because you are in Christ. It hates you because you desire to do good and to make peace and to be merciful to others, because you desire to live like Christ. Sometimes we try to do good, and it seems like the world pays us back with trouble and difficulty and misery. What did you expect? The world hates Christ and so it hates those who are His. The mere fact that you are baptized is an accusation against a world that despises Christ and His gift of eternal life. So the world will hate you. It is your connection to Jesus that earns you the scorn and bitterness of this world. The world hates Christ. It put Him to death. But He has risen! He has overcome this world. And you will overcome it too.

There is still more suffering and struggle for Christ's saints! Our own sinful flesh hates Jesus too. It rebels. It struggles. It wants to break free. It wants to toss Jesus out and go back to enjoying the favor and temptations of the world. It's bad enough to have Satan and the world against us because of Jesus, but our own flesh? We are temples of the Holy Spirit, and in us the Spirit does battle against our flesh. Your sinful nature wants nothing to do with Jesus or righteousness or God's Word or loving others. It wants to live and do its own thing. So the sinful nature has got to go. So it is that the Old Adam within us gets drowned at the font in Baptism. That Old Adam is silenced by the words of absolution and purged by the body and blood of Jesus within you. It is those gifts of Jesus that make you saints. And that is our struggle: that when we act like pagan sinners, the Lord still calls us saints! That is the Spirit at work within you, so you may believe your sins are forgiven and that you are God's children. When you see Jesus face to face, you will see what God Himself has made you: a new creation by His Word and sacraments!

If you listen to the beatitudes closely, you will see that He describes His saints in this life, but He describes gifts which are for the life to come. That's the struggle of saints. We know our Lord has given us forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We know the glory of the Lamb's throne in paradise awaits us. Until that day, we live as saints whose hope is in Christ's promises. The Lord calls us blessed even though we are targets of the Devil. The Lord says we are blessed even though we are hated by the world. The Lord says we are blessed even though our sinful flesh could care less. You are baptized, absolved, fed with Christ’s body and blood. That's what makes you a saint!

But it is a mighty struggle with such great enemies out to get us. That is why we celebrate All Saints' Day! We are blessed to see the gifts of Christ in the saints who have gone before us: saints who were fed to the lions or burned like torches; saints who were skinned alive or exiled to dismal places; saints who witnessed to kings. The saints who are in heaven are the saints who heard the preaching of Christ in all times and all places, like our own parents and children who have gone before us, delivered from this evil world and brought into the glory of Christ's heavenly throne. When we sing in the liturgy, Sunday after Sunday, about "angels and archangels and all the company of heaven," we are rejoicing that our Lord really keeps His promises. He really does preserve His saints through their hardships and struggles. He really does indeed deliver His saints from their enemies. He has done it for them, and He will do it for you. After all, you are saints. Jesus says so. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.        

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.