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!

Sermo Dei: +Edward Pontarelli+

Text: John 6:27–40; Revelation 7:9–17

Dear Alice, Terry, Cherie, family and friends; grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b)

Those are words of tremendous faith, uttered by Job. He’s just lost everything: home, property, servants, even all his children. And yet he remains faithful and leaves all things in the hands – the merciful, loving, trustworthy hands – of the Lord.

I remember these words coming up somewhat casually on Wednesday night, after our dear Ed had fallen asleep in Christ. So I want to bring them up far less casually now: these words of Job teach us how to respond to everything which we go through in our lives. The mark of a Christian is to trust that God’s will is good for His beloved people – no matter how difficult it is.

Continue reading “Sermo Dei: +Edward Pontarelli+”

What Are You Giving Up?

Lent’s here: What are you giving up? That’s the question every year, isn’t it? Chocolate or sweets is always popular. Nowadays I’m aware of a whole bunch of people who step away from Facebook or Twitter for these 40 days.

Go ahead and give up chocolate or sweets or TV or Facebook or whatever for Lent. Do it; really, it’s good for you.

These are all fine and good. As Luther writes in the Small Catechism, “Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training.” Far be it from me to dictate whether something you choose to give up is good or bad. Though, I would be remiss to fail to remind you that none of this will affect how our Lord looks at you: He sees Jesus, giving up His very life for you. God’s pleasure with you is not because you give something up; it’s because He gave up His only Son.

But allow me to encourage you to give up something more. Give up whatever it is that keeps you from being in the Divine Service every Sunday. Give up your meal plans or housework or whatever it is that drives you straight out the door after the Divine Service and keeps you and your children from the Sunday Scripture Study and Sunday School. Give up the distractions and hustle and bustle that keep you from stopping and reading some Scripture and praying every day, individually and as a family.

Lent is about reflecting on our weakness and sinfulness, and thus repenting. And that repenting can hurt. But the hurt is good; it’s ripping out the rotten cancer that’s leading us to put ourselves before God and our neighbor and not do those things which He desires of us. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

So please, allow me to offer this request and accompanying advice:

  • Put the Sunday Divine Service and Scripture Study on your calendar for the rest of February and all of March. Do it right now. Make it a non-negotiable appointment. It might hurt, but you won’t regret it.
  • After dinner each night, sit down with everyone in your household and have a devotion together. I’m not always good about this, either. I know from experience that it takes work to establish and sustain this habit. Remember, the devil and your old sinful flesh want you to watch American Pickers instead of being in the Word. But I promise: when you hear from God every day and pray to Him, your days will be better.
  • Ask your neighbors or coworkers how you can pray for them during Lent. It’ll help them, and it may provide an opportunity to talk more about Jesus; you might even get a chance to invite them to the Divine Service!
It is not good for Christ’s people to be absent from the Divine Service, to not be studying His Word together with their pastor, to not be reading and praying together as a household. Nothing good comes from this. We must repent of our distraction and laziness.

But every good comes when God’s people are listening to Him and receiving His Supper; when they are being taught by His pastors; when they are caring for one another in daily study and prayer.

So again I plead: come to the Divine Service, come to Scripture Study and Sunday School, devote yourselves daily to the word and prayer. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Dear Christians, what a treasure we have from Jesus! Let us use it as fully as we can during this Lententide, and always.

Sermo Dei: +Kevin James Trimpe+

Text: Luke 7:11-17

Dear Cindy, Jared, Ryan, Curtis, Hillary, brothers, family, friends; Our Lord’s comfort be yours today as you mourn.

Funerals have a bittersweetness to them. We’re here in Christ’s Church because this man – Kevin James Trimpe – belongs to Christ; He is a child of God who has received Christ’s forgiveness and life. At the same time, though, this isn’t where we want to be today. This isn’t what we want to be doing. We want no part of death, or the great sadness that comes with it; especially when it’s a man we love and who loved us.

resurrectionWe want no part of death because it scares us. We want no part of death because it reveals to anyone who’s looking just who we truly are. We are sinners. So was Kevin. We all are slaves of sin; and so we behold our reward: death. We want no part of it. We desperately want to deny it or at least move on from it as quickly as possible.

This is, I think, in large part why we don’t know what to say to people who are mourning. What do you hear at the reception? “I’m sorry for your loss.” “My condolences.” “Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.” “He’s in a better place.” “It’s going to be OK.” And you know what? All of these are fine things to say. They are the best we can do on our own at offering comfort, especially when we have been made most uncomfortable.

We say these things because though we empathize, and we want to help, we know that there’s nothing we really can do to help and so we don’t really know what to say.

The Gospel lesson for the funeral service today is the same Gospel lesson that was heard here in the Divine Service this past Sunday. The story told in these few verses teaches us that when it comes to funerals, the one who can speak the most comforting words – the words that give us true comfort and hope – that person is Jesus only.

Jesus approaches the widow there at Nain, and He speaks to her. But it’s a little shocking, at least at first: “Do not weep.” That is, Jesus says, “Stop crying.” Which seems a bit blunt. But Jesus says this because He has in mind what He’s about to do.

Jesus stretches out His arms and halts those who are bearing the boy’s body to the grave. And He opens His mouth again and speaks words which make alive: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” And the young man sits up and begins to speak. He is fully alive.

Jesus’ words and actions here are a comforting lesson for us. Jesus can gently tell us that there’s no need for weeping, because He has all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus has the power to forgive sin. Jesus has victory over death.

This is the most important thing you can ever hear. Jesus, the Son of God, became man to trample down death by His own death. And this resurrection of this young man at Nain is a preview, a foretaste of things to come.

On the Last Day, Jesus will return and say “Arise!” to all the dead. Kevin will sit up, stand up, behold Jesus. It will be just like we heard in the reading from Job. Kevin will see Jesus with his own eyes, in his own glorified, perfect body that Jesus has resurrected. Sickness and suffering, ill-health and mysterious ailments will not return.

When Jesus raises the widow’s son at Nain, He shows us who He is. He is the Lord God, the only one who has true power to give life. And we learn what His eternal kingdom looks like. Death is not natural; it’s not just a part of life. Death has no place in Jesus’ kingdom. So there is no death. There’s no sickness, no pain, no weeping. Death is defeated, Jesus reigns. And where Jesus is, there is forgiveness and life for His people – for Kevin.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He dies no more. Death has no more power over Him. On the Last Day, Kevin will rise from the dead. He will die no more. Death has no more power over Him. For he belongs to Jesus, forever and ever.

Dear friends, this is our hope, for Kevin and for ourselves, in Christ. Not a hope based on speculation or wishful thinking, but on the promises of Jesus. Christ dies and was raised. Kevin has died, and he will be raised from the dead on the Last Day into the joyful, wonderful, glorious eternal life with Christ.

How do we know this? Because Kevin is a baptized child of God. We heard this at the beginning of the service. In Kevin’s baptism Jesus gave His own death and resurrection to Kevin. Christ joined Kevin to Himself, and Himself to Kevin. Christ’s death for sin is Kevin’s death. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is Kevin’s resurrection. Christ died, was buried, and was raised. The same is and will be true for Kevin.

So do not weep, Cindy. Do not weep, Hillary, Jared, Curtis, Ryan. Or, I should say, do not weep as those who have no hope. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Kevin believes in Him, so though he dies, yet shall he live. Everyone who lives and believes in Christ shall never die. Jesus is the Christ, the one who has taken all sin with Himself to the Cross. Jesus is the Christ, who was raised on the Third Day as a promise of eternal life. And Kevin is His. On the Last Day, Christ will resurrect Kevin and give Him everlasting life. And in Christ, we will be there with him.

Amen.

Sermo Dei: Baptism of Our Lord

Text: Matthew 3:13-17

I’m sure I’ve said this before here at Good Shepherd, either here in the pulpit or in our Scripture Study, but I’ll say it again (for the first time?): when you’re listening to the Scriptures, listen for the thing that seems out-of-place. Often in those little phrases do we find the significant teachings of our Lord.

There are many extraordinary things in what we hear from our Lord’s word today. A river seasonally overrunning its banks doesn’t heap up in one place just because some holy men carrying a holy box stepped into it. By Jesus’ time, prophets of the Lord are seldom seen and heard from – even less so today. The sky tends not to be rent open wide when someone wades in the water. Certainly disembodied voices don’t sound forth from heaven, nor do dove-like Spirits descend in plain sight.

Yes, these are all extraordinary in a miraculous sort of way. But they are commonplace occurrences when the Lord is involved. At His direction all sorts of astounding events take place: plagues ravage Egypt, the Red Sea is divided, water pours from a rock, manna appears daily for decades. The Word of the Lord causes city walls to crumble at the mere cry of His people. In fact, with His own speaking the entirety of creation comes into being.

The Lord regularly converses with His people: from a bush that burns and is not consumed, from the thin air many a time, in the appearance of travelers visiting Abraham.

An abundance of prophets appear in the midst of the Lord’s people, preaching repentance and a return to the Lord. The list is long, long, long, and ends with John baptizing in the wilderness.

Spectacular atmospheric phenomena are even a bit old-hat with YHWH. Pillars of fire and cloud, a whirlwind whisking away Elijah, the heavenly host appearing and shouting forth their Gloria, the Glory Cloud hovering over the Tabernacle, the fierce and frightening tempest atop Mt. Sinai, the sun standing still.

From a certain perspective these are tremendously out-of-place events. But not from our perspective. We consider these things knowing that there is a God who is Almighty, and who operates with great power and glory. These things come with the Lord by default.

However, considering things from this perspective helps us begin to see what is truly unusual here. Because God is God, it’s usual to consider Him as apart, separate, present but not with us.

It’s a perfectly natural way to look at things. After all, the Lord self-describes Himself in this way. I read from Isaiah last week where the Lord says His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. Again, He is the one who makes rivers turn to blood, plagues of locusts descend in judgment, fiery serpents to slither amok amongst the people of Israel, the ground to swallow up those who sin against Him. He is righteous, He is a consuming fire, Holy is He. When Isaiah beheld the presence of the Lord he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Because of who the Lord Himself is, we have to see Him as separate. Even when the Son of God is incarnate, we cannot help but think of Him as not one of us. He may be a man, but He is still sinless. He can do no wrong; we can do no right. As John preached, “His winnowing fork is in his hand…”

John was preaching this message of repentance. He was doing his God-given task, preparing the sinful people for the coming of the kingdom of God and the arrival of God’s Righteous One. John was baptizing the people into repentance that they might believe in the salvation coming from the Lord.

When this Righteous One – Jesus – walks up to the Jordan and up to John and says, “baptize Me, too,” John does a double-take and can’t get past what he thinks his message has meant. If we are sinners and the Messiah is righteous then we cannot be in this together. “For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” This cannot be, John thinks. No, John says! “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

This is the same thing we say to Jesus when we dare to lay before Him our sins and think that they cannot be forgiven. This is the same thing we say to Jesus when we only want to talk about Him as powerful or Almighty or some other attribute that keeps Him at arm’s length from us. Whether because we’re terrified or because we don’t want Him quite that involved in our lives, we are keeping Jesus separate from us. Repent.

For here, in Jesus’ answer to John, is the extraordinary thing. “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Jesus does not need this baptism. He has no need for forgiveness.  He has nothing to repent of. Jesus comes to the baptismal waters of the Jordan fully righteous, perfect, without blemish or spot or stain.

Yet Jesus comes to these waters loaded down with sin – “…the sin of the world…” as John put it. That’s why Jesus is here, to fully be a sinner with us. There is no distance between us and Christ, no separation. In His baptism, Christ makes Himself completely one with us. What John saw as necessary separation – sinner’s baptism only for sinners – Jesus gently puts aside and says “it is fitting for us…”

Jesus’ Baptism is our Baptism. It is not the water that does it – it’s no mere water – but it’s the Word in and with the water that makes this Baptism. That is, it’s Jesus there in the water – being sinner for you – that makes it.

There is water in our Font today that you might go to it and touch it – even make the sign of the cross with it – and remember that it was sanctified water poured over you too; sanctified by Christ. For in your baptism you were buried with Christ and raised with Christ. This water saves by His death and resurrection. You were baptized into Him. His Name was given to you – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – that same Name that was there at the Jordan! You are His. His Baptism, His anointing, all yours. You have received the Holy Spirit.

All this, of course, is because Jesus the sinless one now sinner was one with you, appeasing the wrath of God against all sin, even yours. Jesus made the payment, so now in your Baptism you are free.

And as Luther was wont to point out, you are not those who were baptized, but those who ARE. Even now you are dripping wet with the saving waters. Sometimes it can be hard to see, but nothing now separates you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing. Tribulation and suffering come, but for you these are marks of being Christ’s. “Blessed are you” He says.

And these things will not last. There is an end to them. And though your skin may be thus destroyed, and tyrants and governments and even family and friends may rage against you, yet in your flesh you shall see God; your eyes shall behold Him, and not another.

In this is the extraordinary thing. Though He did not need to do so, the Lord saw fit to humble Himself, become a man, become you, become Sin itself, and put Himself to death (and Sin with Him.) For you. In this way, Jesus fulfills all righteousness and then gives all that righteousness to you. All this so that the Father can beam “Be-lov-ed, Heir of gifts a king would covet!” (LSB 593) Beloved by the Father you are. Remember your baptism, dear sons and daughters of the King. You ARE baptized and are fully righteous in Christ.

Amen.