Friday, March 29, 2013

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts

Easter 2, Series C April 7, 2013

Lessons for Second Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:12-20 (21-32) No threat could silence the apostles, who proclaimed Jesus redeeming work.
Psalm 148 (antiphon: v. 13)
Revelation 1:4-18 Jesus appeared to John on Patmos to give him a message and the courage to tell it.
        John 20:19-31 Jesus risen presence with His disciples overcame their fear and empowered their faith.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: When the Lord Speaks...
..we believe!   After the apostles miraculous release from jail, they could not be silenced, but continued proclaiming repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus name.  In response to the Lords words, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Apostle John wrote the Book of the Revelation.  One week Thomas lamented the fact that he was trapped in unbelief, and the next week, in response to Jesus command: Stop doubting and believe,  Thomas exclaimed in faith,  "My Lord and my God!"

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord Jesus, you were dead, but now you are alive for ever and ever!  By your death you show me how to die confident of forgiveness for my sins;  in your resurrection, teach me how to live trusting in your love to uphold me in all I do.  Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: Although sin and death held us in bondage, Jesus has claimed our lives by His victory over death, which He has made our own!  All that we have and are belongs to the One who is First and Last and Always!   We cannot help but use our talents, our resources, our lives to proclaim His Lordship and His Love.

OFFERING PRAYER:      Alpha and Omega, First and Last of all things,
                                                You have rescued us from death, and Yours You named us!
                                                You are both our source of life and goal of living.
                                                Use these gifts to tell the world that You have claimed us! Amen.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: The presence of the risen Christ in our lives is over-whelming!  He stops our doubts and creates faith in our hearts!  He propels us to obey God at all costs!  He is the First and the Last, who encompasses death but lives forevermore!  And yet we live our complacent lives as though Christ is only a distant memory and a childs fairy tale!  Still He comes to us, searching us out, putting our hands into His side, compelling our faith with His forgiveness

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts

The Resurrection of our Lord March 31, 2013

Lessons for the Resurrection of our Lord  (for Easter Day, not Sunrise or Evening)      
Isaiah 65:17-25   Isaiah described the age of Gods restoration ushered in by the risen Messiah.
Psalm 16 (antiphon: v. 10)
1 Corinthians 15:19-26 Just as Adams sin brought death to all, Christ by His death has brought us life.
        Luke 24:1-12 The angels words to the women at the tomb brought Peter himself to see that it was empty.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: Easter Triumph!  Easter Joy!
The bewildering message of the angels to the women on Easter morning was quickly investigated by other disciples, who were amazed and wondered at its meaning.  Still today those who trust confidently in our Gods redeeming power know that Jesus resurrection gives promise of our own.  He has given us victory over the sting of death and the power of sin so that our mortal bodies may be raised immortal, and we may serve him in love for all eternity!

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to you, O God!  You have given me victory over sin and death through my Lord Jesus Christ!  What joyous celebration, dear Lord, is mine today because you have conquered death and given me life!  Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: In the new heaven and new earth, the world redeemed by Christs victory, homes and vineyards, all the things that bless our daily lives, will be means to praise our gracious God who has rescued us from sin and death.  Even our material goods in this life have been redeemed and dedicated to Gods ultimate goal.

OFFERING PRAYER:      Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!
                                                Our lives are claimed in victory;
                                                Our deeds proclaim Gods love story.
                                                Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: The message today is all proclamation of the amazing event that death has been defeated and the victory over sin has been won for us!!  We are convicted by our timidity which does not celebrate the victory.  We consider such a tale nonsense, like the creation of a new world where children are not doomed to misfortune and where lambs and lions are good neighbors!  The power of the victory does not depend on our comprehension, but has been secured by Jesus death and sealed by His resurrection, so that, with Peter, we are left wondering what has happened, that God should care for us so much.

BONUS: An Easter Hymn
(with new hymn tune by Allison Ulmer, available on request)

Death is Defeated
   Easter Eucharist
Death is defeated!  See the curse of sin
Crushed in a battle we could never win!
Jesus, the Victor, overcame our foes.
On the third morning triumphant He rose!
He was the Victim; now He serves as Priest.
All that He sacrificed becomes our feast.
Come eat His Body, risen from the dead,
And drink the life-giving Blood that He shed.
Death was the ransom Jesus came to pay!
Now to His glory joyful people say:
Come see His mercy all across the land;
We live our thanks giving praise to the Lamb.
-- Gilbert A. Franke, 1/23/2012
(Rev 3/16/2013)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Our Humble King Comes to Save Us

Matthew 21:1-9 During the Lenten season our focus is especially on the works of Jesus in his suffering and death and resurrection for our salvation. 
We rejoice in the Good News that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our sins against us”.  We recognize that this is the central teaching of all of Holy Scripture.  We remember that it is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls.
            But it is also important for us to remember, recognize and rejoice in the fact that Jesus is not only our Savior—he is also our King who has an absolute right to rule our lives:  each and every part—each and every day.
            And so today, as our confirmands publicly confess Jesus as their Savior and acknowledge him as their King, I want to talk about the rule of Jesus over our lives as king-- and secondly what kind of Savior we have in him. 
The Bible says that when Jesus and the disciples drew near to Jerusalem, he sent two of his disciples and said to them:
Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her.  Untie them and bring them to me…and the disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.
            Up until this moment the disciples’ track record when it came to obedience was not always everything it should have been but this time at least two of them got it right—Jesus the king commanded and his servants obeyed.
            Jesus has a right to command- and expect- obedience from his disciples-both then and now.  It is his word and will that is to have the final say in our lives because he is the King of king and Lord of lords.
And yet, truth be told, we forget that he is our king whose lordship extends over every part of our life.  We do what our king has commanded us not to do.  We avoid doing what our king has commanded us to do.  We find that often times in our lives there is no submission to his will and no obedience to his word. Why?
            At least part of the answer is ignorance-we don’t know what the Scriptures say because we don’t avail ourselves of every opportunity to read and hear and learn them. 
Confirmation is not graduation and we must not stop learning about the things of God.  Just like in the courts of our land, so in the courts of our king—ignorance of the law is no defense.  The king has spoken—his word is readily available in the Bible -- and it is our duty to hear it, learn it, and obey it.
God expects you confirmands to life-long learners when it comes to his Word—that you would hold his Word sacred and gladly hear and learn it--reading your bibles at home and making Sunday School a regular part of your Lord’s Day worship so that you know what God’s Word actually says.
            Second of all, Jesus our King has a right to our possessions.  Everything we have—he has given us.  The two disciples that Jesus sent on into Jerusalem were charged with finding a donkey for the Lord—an animal that belonged to someone else.  If the owner said anything about Jesus’ request, they were to:  tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them at once. 
            We don’t know who owned that donkey the Lord rode into Jerusalem-- but we do know it was enough for him to know that the Lord had need of it. 
The Bible says that, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” and so Jesus our King has a perfect right to all that we have-- for it is his.  We are only stewards of what belongs to the Lord.
            No less now than then, the Lord has need of what we call “mine”.  The work of the Gospel in this place is supported entirely by the gifts God’s people give in grateful response to God’s love.  That is why you confirmands will be getting your own offering envelopes—so you can give back to the Lord what is his for his work.
Unfortunately, too many of God’s people do not have the generous attitude of the owner of the donkey and simply say “no” to the Lord when he asks for support from our tithes and offerings.
            This should not be.  Jesus our king asks for only a small portion of the first-fruits and so we are to give generously as our Lord commands.
            Thirdly, our King Jesus has a right to expect that we will participate in some way—whether big or small—in his mission. 
Jesus needed two of his disciples to fetch the donkey that day.  He needed the owner of the donkey to give it into the Lord’s service.  Later that week he would need his disciples to find and prepare a room for the Passover meal. 
The King’s mission of mercy and forgiveness that was about to reach its fulfillment in the cross and empty tomb needed these workers if it was to take place.
            That is still true today—the Lord needs you to be involved in his mission. The Bibles says that:  we are salt and light in this dark and dying world to make the world a better place and reveal the presence and purpose of our king—we are a kingdom of priests called to serve others and pray for the lost—we are ambassadors of the king through whom he makes his appeal to the world to come to him and be saved. 
This is not my opinion about who you are.  This is what the Savior has made you to be in Holy Baptism and what the King says about you in his Word and he has a right to our service in the mission of the church.
            Besides our serious responsibilities as Christians in the context of our vocations as parents and citizens and workers and students, each of us has an important role to play in in the mission of the King-and that includes you confirmands—whether that is helping with VBS, or cleaning up after a fellowship meal, or serving as an acolyte. 
And so confirmands when I ask for your help, I am not asking for myself but I am asking on behalf of the king.  Each of us ought to be doing something with the time and talent that God has given us to build up the kingdom of God in this place. 
Finally, our King Jesus has the right to our worship.  The Bible says that:
A crowd spread their cloaks on the road and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”
            On any given Sunday, about half of the people of St. Paul Lutheran Church make a conscious decision not to worship the Lord.  On Wednesday evenings it is even smaller percentage who worship the King.
            And while I cannot call everyone to ask them what they regarded as more important than assembling together to worship their king, let there be no doubt that the question does not remain unasked.  The Lord asks it of each of us:  “Where were you when the people of God came together to worship me”? 
You confirmands will make a solemn promise this morning to worship regularly and I pray that you keep it-- because to go week after week without worshiping (as so many do) is nothing less than rebellion against the King’s command.
            When we remember and recognize that:   Jesus has a right to our obedience—he has a right to our possessions—he has a right to expect that we will do our duty in his kingdom—he has a right to our worship—then the cries of the people of Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday become our own:  “Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!” 
            Lord, save us!  Lord, save us from our disobedience to your word!  Save us from our lack of reverent submission to your will!  Save us from our refusal to acknowledge every day, in every way, your rightful rule over our lives as king!  Lord, save us!  And so he does.  The Bible says that the events of Palm Sunday
Took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king come to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.
Just as then, so today, we have before us a day of the King’s gentle grace—a day to acknowledge and confess that we have not always been obedient subjects in Jesus’ kingdom—a day to praise him that he does not come to us in terror and judgment as we deserve—but comes to us in gentleness, bearing the gifts of forgiveness and mercy that he won for us at the cross.
            For the sake of his disobedient servants and in our place, the King became an obedient servant and died.  It is the blood he shed upon Calvary that is the new covenant between God and us—a covenant of peace for all nations through faith in Jesus—a covenant we receive today at this altar in Holy Communion.
            Because this is the kind of King we have in Jesus—one who is gentle and humble—we will gladly kneel before him in grateful obedience and confess to the world that he is not only our Savior but also our King.  May God grant that it would always be so in your life!  Amen.