Sermo Dei: Higher Things Te Deum Friday Matins

Text: Luke 1:46–55

Mary couldn’t keep the Law; neither can you. Mary didn’t earn God’s favor by her purity or good works; neither will you. Our salvation is born not out of riches, but out of poverty. The salvation of the whole world is not born in splendor or glory, but in lowliness, in a manger, from the womb of a virgin whose unexpected pregnancy is cause for her fiancé to divorce her discretely and consign her to a life of quiet shame.

It’s hard to believe that God’s reign of redemption begins in this way: not with a royal birth announcement, no fawning media, no paparazzi desperate to get a shot of the pregnant mother or the new-born king, but instead with a nobody sinner.

Mary is great, though; great because of whom God has made her to be, because of what God has given her to do. She is the bearer of the Son of God, Jesus, the Christ. She is great because the Holy Spirit has come upon her, overshadowing her with His power.

She is great because she receives from the Lord in faith, believing His promises. She is saying, “Let it be to me according to all the promises that God has made to his people. Let it be that salvation should be accomplished through this Son that God is giving to me.”

Let this be for all those who are poor in spirit, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who come before the Lord with empty hands and hearts. Mary and we are beggars, who cannot and will not earn the Lord’s favor but instead gladly receive his love and grace. We don’t receive the proof of His love in glorious things, but instead in lowly things: Jesus dead on the cross; in words spoken by your lowly sinner pastor; in simple washing; in sometimes stale bread and overly sweet wine. All the promises of salvation come to us, according to and by the Lord’s Word.

These mighty and eternal promises of God to love and save you and me are sung throughout the Scriptures. But perhaps they’re best summed up in the glorious fourth servant song of Isaiah, which tells us all about the wondrous love of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary to die for her and you and me and the whole world:

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…” (Isaiah 53)

This is a song about Jesus. He is God, Mary’s Savior. And He is God, your Savior. He exalts the lowly. And He will exalt you, even from your grave, into the resurrection of eternal life. Jesus fills the hungry. And He will feed you at this altar, and your altar at home, and at the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom. “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.” His mercy will be poured out on you.

Though Mary had nothing by which to show herself great in God’s eyes, He gave her Jesus. Though you have nothing to show for yourself before the Lord, He gives you His words and promises in the Gospel so that you can treasure them up in your heart. He fills up your empty, beggar hands with Jesus. Your sin goes to Jesus, His righteousness to you. Your lowliness to Jesus, His glory to you. Your poverty to Jesus, His riches to you. Your death to Jesus, His life to you. 

Magnify, O soul! Rejoice, O spirit! For God your Savior has done great things for you, in lowly ways. Your death to Jesus, His life to you.

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

– Pastor Michael Schuermann
S.D.G.

Sermo Dei: +Peg Seitz+

Text: Luke 5:1–11

Dear Family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“It’s not about me.” That’s what Peg wanted to get across – she titled her book with this sentence. It’s not about Peg. It’s about Jesus. Everything is about Jesus; all of life is about Jesus. That’s what Peg believed.

This belief is a gift from God. Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” The one necessary work that God asks of us, and that God works in us, is that we believe in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Peg believed in Jesus Christ, her Savior.

But she couldn’t do it on her own. She was sinful from conception, just as King David knew he was when he wrote down those words in Psalm 51: “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Like all of us, Peg was dead in her transgressions.

But new life was given to her from God. Her faithful parents brought her to the font, where she was baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection on October 1, 1953. Thereafter she walked in the “newness of life” that Paul describes in Romans 6, which we spoke together at the beginning of the service. “We were buried therefore with [Jesus] into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Having been blessed with the baptismal gifts of a regenerated heart, the Holy Spirit, faith, and the complete and certain forgiveness of her Sin, Peg could rightly say that it wasn’t about her. It’s all about Jesus, for her; and for you.

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A Need to Speak for Life in Illinois

In 1977, the State of Illinois saw a bill passed through the legislature and signed into law that implemented a ban on the taxpayer funding of abortion. This included not allowing coverage of abortion services in state employee health plans, as well as not allowing the coverage of abortion services in Medicaid. That year – 1977 – over 12,700 abortions were paid for by tax dollars under Medicaid. The ban was challenged in the courts, but was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980.
The ban has since remained in effect, but a bill was recently introduced into the Illinois House that seeks to remove this ban on taxpayer funding of abortion through Medicaid and state employee health plans. In other words, the removal of the ban would allow blanket funding of abortion services with taxpayer dollars, with basically no restrictions whatsoever. The bill also would allow the Department of Human Services to provide taxpayer-funder grants to organizations that provide referrals for, counsel for, or even provide abortions (e.g. grants would be allowed from the state to Planned Parenthood).
Simply put, this is a terrible bill that is not only harmful to our littlest neighbors and women in need to true help, but is also dangerous to the consciences of so many citizens of the State of Illinois.
The bill has made it through committee and now is on the calendar to be debated and voted one by the full Illinois House, likely sometime in mid to late April.
I’m asking you to take a few minutes and write a letter or make a phone call to your State Representative and tell him to vote “NO” on IL HB 4013. Again, please take a few minutes and write a letter or make a phone call. To confirm your Representative, you can search here.
If you’re unsure what to say, politely ask them to vote “NO” because the bill would 1) be harmful to unborn children who have no say in the matter of whether they should be killed by abortion or not; 2) would be harmful to mothers and fathers who are scared and in need of help, but are misled into thinking that killing their child is the best way out; and 3) would be harmful to the consciences of Illinois taxpayers, who should not be forced to subsidize the intention killing of unborn children in any way.
Please also be unceasingly praying that our leaders at the state and national level would seek to protect the unborn, mothers and fathers who are scared, and the consciences of all citizens.

It Is Finished

Evangelist:
sprach er:
[Jesus] said

Jesus:
Es ist vollbracht!
It is accomplished!

30. Aria Alto
Violino I/II, Viola, Viola da gamba sola, Continuo
Es ist vollbracht!
It is accomplished !
O Trost vor die gekränkten Seelen!
What comfort for all suffering souls!
Die Trauernacht
The night of sorrow
Läßt nun die letzte Stunde zählen.
now reaches its final hours.
Der Held aus Juda siegt mit Macht
The hero from Judah triumphs in his might
Und schließt den Kampf.
and brings the strife to an end.
Es ist vollbracht!
It is accomplished!

Lenten Midweek 4 – Mark 15:1-20

Thanks to the Rev. William Weedon for much inspiration on this sermon. A few of the sentences, and the closing prayer, are directly from his hand.

By His holy cross our Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed all the world. Tonight we behold Him standing nearly silent, like a sheep before its shearers.

We behold Him betrayed by Judas, one of His own disciples; dragged by night through the streets into the hands of the Council; bound up and delivered into the hands of Pilate and the Romans.

These cowardly children of the devil aren’t satisifed to do their own dirty work. Their law doesn’t allow it! They cannot shed this man’s blood! Oh what hypocrites we are when sin gets ahold of us; we’ll hide our betrayal of our Lord behind our own self-righteousness.

But then a question from Pilate: Pilate has no self-righteousness to worry about, at least not before God. He’s not out to impress the Lord with his works. He’s a coward of a different sort, one who will do whatever it takes to keep the peace. He’d rather this all just go away, at least from His hands.

“Are you the King of the Jews?” And [Jesus] answered him, “You have said so.”

Jesus confesses – he does not deny – But confesses that He is indeed a King. And then as Mark tells the story, Jesus says nothing more except in prayer to His Father. He has spoken the words of eternal life. It is for these, His wonderful, life-giving words, that He is put to death.

Pilate gets what’s happening here, at least in part. The Chief Priests are envious. The freedom of the Gospel leaves no room for their authority which is based in self-justification and law. This is why we lash out at God too. To completely let go of the idea of us earning even just an itty-bitty-bit of God’s pleasure is something we mightily struggle against. The preacher comes in and shows us the true freedom that Christ’s Gospel gives and our sinful flesh rages against it. In our sin-darkened hearts we hate Jesus’ overwhelming grace just as much as His people did. But, thanks be to God, our Lord rescues us from our sin—even this sin—and keeps us in belief and faith.

But not so these hardened sinners. The Council wants Jesus dead and their reign preserved. Pilate wants peace at all costs.

So “Crucify him… Crucify him” it is. Put this King of the Jews in His rightful place. Curse Him beyond all curses by hanging Him on a tree. Cast Him outside of the holy city, outside of Zion, outside of God’s presence. Set free the murderer Barabbas. Even he is better than this King!

And that is the point. Jesus came to set the Barabasses of this world free. We are Barabbas. We are guilty of murder and rebellion. Jesus came to be cast outside of Zion. Jesus came to be put outside of the presence of God. This is His terrible, painful work; all done because He loved the world.

Pilate washes his hands. The soldiers mock Jesus, arranging a mock coronation with a royal robe and bloody crown. Why is he still silent, they wonder? They beat him and spit on him and still, no words.

Jesus is resolute. He is the King and He will pay for the sins of His people. He loves them. He loves us. He loves you. No matter what you do to King Jesus, His love is unstoppable. He is not like you and me. He is without sin, without malice, without hatred. He is perfect, loving, and obedient. Unto death. For you.

Let us pray:
O King and Lover of us all, O Bleeding and Dying Redeemer, O Silent and Suffering Lamb of God, have mercy on us who deserve no mercy. Grant peace to us who would give you no peace. Transform us by the vision of Your silent, suffering love, O King of kings!

Amen.

– Pastor Michael Schuermann
S.D.G.