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Jan. 14, 2018 – Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Text: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Dear Friends in Christ,
What do you think of when you hear these two words – body language? You might think of non-verbal communication where are body language speaks to if we are happy or sad, mad or compassionate, giddy or gory. You might think of the 1980’s game show “Body Language” that was a form of charades. You might think of that girl or guy and well, you know. Where does your mind go when I say – body language?
The Apostle Paul is going to speak to us today about body language. It is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and God our Creator has given us all a body. He has breathed life into our bodies. He has sanctified and saved our bodies. He wants us to use our bodies for His glory.
I am not going to stand in the pulpit today and piously point my finger. I don’t want you to sit in the pew pompously either. We are not going to surround Paul as he tells the world how horrible they are when it comes to use of the body. See, Paul wasn’t writing to pagans. He writes to Christians being influenced by a pagan world. We need to take this personally. The Holy Spirit will lead us to an understanding of . . .
The Corinthians used improper body language when they thought their bodies were actually their own and therefore they could do whatever they desired. We have modern day Corinthian thought. “I have a right to do what I want with my own body” and “My body, my choice.”
Again, let’s not just point; let’s take it personally. We use improper body language to justify pouring too much liquor into our bodies or eating to excess or sitting on our backsides instead of getting our hearts pumping or having sexual intercourse outside the bonds of marriage. “Hey, it’s my body! I can do what I want.”
What are we doing with our body language? Society seems to think hook-ups and hang-ups and friends with benefits is the norm. But recent studies seem to show the opposite. Human beings are having less sex. We can look at that two ways. Good if it is the young and the unmarried. Bad if it is husband and wife. Our technological society shows that human interaction is waning. We would rather be intimate with our devices. Those movies of year’s past are coming true!
Paul’s body language is very clear: “You are not your own” (v. 19). You are not your own because you have been bought. You are not your own because you have been bought with a price. The price for you was high: God’s own blood shed in the person of Jesus. You are not your own, because that blood cleanses you from all your sin. God dwells in you.
If you ever doubt your value or wonder about your purpose in life, remember Paul’s body language and take it personally! In Baptism, the Lord united your body with His. God bought you, cleansed you, and declared you holy. Once we see how God values us and how He made our bodies holy then we can use them properly. Our body language will speak of His glory. “So glorify God in your body” (v. 20b).
Allow me to speak to our young people and singles here today. Sometimes the Church sees you as just raging hormones and zits. That is part of who you are but you are so much more. God created you and knit you together in your mother’s womb. God created you and then in Baptism united you with Jesus. He purchased you with His blood and declared you His most holy place, where His Spirit is pleased to dwell. You can make good, God-pleasing decisions. You can glorify God with your body language.
The same goes for our husbands and wives. Let’s take us back to our marriage worship service where the Pastor said this: “The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for mutual companionship. Marriage was also ordained so that man and woman may find delight in one another. God also established marriage for the procreation of children.” You, too, can make good, Biblical, God-pleasing choices and glorify God with your body language. If you have children, you then pass on a God-ordained model.
Listen to God’s body language. We are not to become monks but to use our bodies in ways that are pleasing to God. We live in our ever-changing world but we don’t succumb to their immorality. When they say: “Go ahead put that drug in your body.” Listen to God’s body language: “I made your body for the Lord, to be united with Jesus.” When the world’s body language says, “You have a right to do what you want with your body,” listen to God’s body language: “Your body is not your own, for you were bought with a price.” When the world and sometimes even the church say, “You can’t control your body, go ahead…be safe,” listen to God’s body language: “You’ve been united with me. I live in you. I will help you. You can glorify Me with your body.”
May the Lord help us all with our…BODY LANGUAGE. Amen.
January 7, 2018 – The Baptism of our Lord Text: Mark 1:4-11
Dear Friends in Christ,
Most of us are not crazy about the realities of life, but our society does have a fascination with reality TV. Survivor, The Amazing Race, and America’s Got Talent fills the airwaves throughout the week.
One of the more popular programs is called The Voice. I am no connoisseur of this type of program but the lady I sleep next to at night is, so I know a little about the show. The Voice is looking for the next big singing star. The unique thing about this show is that when the singer auditions for the first time, the judge cannot see them. They have their back to the performer. They may not like the look, the clothes or their movements, but if they like The Voice, they turn around and say, “I want you!” Then that judge becomes their coach. It’s all about the voice.
Our reality this morning is that we are filthy rags of sin and we need forgiveness for our misdeeds. We may not always want to hear that, but we can’t ignore the voice that tells us. Even if we don’t like this reality in ourselves, we should not dislike hearing the voice. Quite the contrary, rejoice in
There is a voice in the wilderness that is preparing us for the Mighty One. This voice has no previous fanfare or an agent trying to promote him – John the Baptist appears in the wilderness. Could this possibly be the next great voice? Is he in line to be a star preacher? From the look of things let’s not crown his head quite yet. Look at him – rough leather, camel’s hair (didn’t that go out in the stone age), locusts, wild honey. But has he ever got a voice.
He uses that voice to pass on a painful reality to the crowds, you are all sinners. You besmirch your neighbor with your talk. You kill with words just for the sport of it. You take things that do not belong to you. Repentance is needed. Without it you are all going to perish.
But this was no voice of despair. John was preparing the way of the Lord’s forgiveness. Crowds did hear the voice. They came out to John and did repent. They were baptized and in that baptism they were forgiven. Most importantly, they heard the voice that the One who would secure this forgiveness was coming.
The voice from heaven announces to us the beloved Son. Now appears another one who appears on the scene that we would not recognize as a star. Jesus is just another guy in the crowd. From the podunk town of Nazareth in backward Galilee. In fact, He comes to be baptized, like all those sinners.
But you can’t ignore this voice, The Voice: God the Father in heaven. Jesus may not look like much. The Holy Spirit isn’t there to put on a show; He comes simply as a dove. But the voice has power. This voice needs no coaching.
This is no audition. It is not a contest. This voice has the final Word: “My beloved Son is the final Word.” God the Father is well pleased that Jesus will now begin the task of saving all his children lost in the wilderness. The Father is pleased that His Son is heading off to the wilderness to defeat temptation for all who have given into it. The Father is well pleased that His beloved Son will go to the cross to take the punishment for all our sinful failures.
The voice declares these same wonderful things to us today. In His Baptism, He put himself in our place. He came to John to be baptized so that he would be the sinner in our stead. That is, Jesus’ Baptism sent him to the cross for our sins.
That means the opposite is also true; we who are baptized are now in Jesus’ place. Jesus’ Baptism sanctified all water to be powerful when the voice of the Pastor speaks God’s Word. In Baptism, we receive the holiness of Jesus’ life, the forgiveness of his death. Our loose talk and sticky fingers and hurtful words are washed clean from our body and soul.
Therefore, the Voice of God the Father can be heard in the Pastor’s voice. “You – fill in your name – are my beloved son, beloved daughter. With you I am well pleased.” “You are my holy one, my child to live with me forever.”
Unlike The Voice with their blind auditions and backs turned on the performers. God sees us for who we are, but he does not turn his back on us. We are chosen by Him, not because of what we look like or even how we sound, but because we are connected to him through Christ’s Baptism. We hear the voice of God calling us to repentance, and we follow him in faith. Now, then, with great joy, we rejoice to hear THE Voice.
It’s a new year. It’s a time when we take stock of the year past in order to improve the year to come. It’s a time when we sit down to plan and implement what we want to accomplish and even change. Part of that is planning our stewardship for the coming year.
Often we find this difficult and daunting and even joyless. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it is really quite simple and full of joy. So here are some tips to make that planning less stressful. You begin by answering these three questions: Who are you? To whom do I give? And how much?
So, who are you? The Table of Duties in the Small Catechism informs us. Are you a hearer of God’s Word? Are you a citizen of society? Are you a member of a family? Stewardship covers these three estates: church, society, family. We don’t particularly struggle to give to society or family. Our struggles, our difficulties and our questions arise in giving to the church.
So, what is our duty as members of the church with regard to giving? The Table of Duties, again, gives us a guide. If you are a hearer, a member of the church who receives instruction, St. Paul taught: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (Gal. 6:6). This means the local congregation is primary.
Your pastor is the one called to preach the Gospel to you and administer the Lord’s blessed sacraments to you. Your congregation is the place where those things happen. Thus, when God calls us to give to the church, He has the local congregation in mind. For “the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14).
How much do we give to the local congregation? Our only instructions are these: to give regularly (1 Cor. 6:1–2), proportionally (1 Cor. 16:1–2; 2 Cor. 8:12), and generously (2 Cor. 8:20) of our first fruits (Gen. 4:4; Prov. 3:9; Lev. 27:30) with a spirit of eagerness (2 Cor. 9:2), earnestness (2 Cor. 8:7), cheerfulness (2 Cor. 9:7), and love (2 Cor. 8:23).
In other words, giving to the church is not to be an afterthought, given after everything else is spent. In this way, it is deliberate. We give regularly – weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly – keeping in mind our own strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. We set it aside beforehand – before anything else is spent.
From those first fruits, we set aside a proportionate and generous amount. Ten percent was the standard for the Israelites. This was a command for the ancient Israelites. We can give as much as we want, but ask yourself: do we really want to be less generous than was commanded of the Israelites? Is the job of the New Testament Church bigger or smaller than the job given to Israel?
And how are we to give it? We give it with eagerness and earnestness. We give it cheerfully and with love, not out of compulsion. For through the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments, God has made us His children, forgiven us all our sins, given us grace upon grace, promised us life everlasting with Him in His kingdom, and filled us with His own Spirit, the Holy Spirit. This makes giving a joy, as Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
It’s that easy. And it is joyful. For in stewardship, our gracious and giving Lord invites us to take part in the work that He accomplishes here on earth, providing for the ongoing preaching of the gospel as well as those who are in need. Taking part in that makes all our work holy – work that is done in service to the Lord as priestly members of His kingdom.
Carin Henson Jan 1
Nicholas Hitch Jan 2
Pat Orr Jan 3
Bud Kessler Jan 4
Mary McEleney Jan 6
Cathy Cloyd Jan 9
Bob Hanner Jan 9
Nancy Thomas Jan 19
Greg McNeely Jan 20
Beth Mosier Jan 20
Cooper Mosier Jan 27
Linda Dirks Jan 28
Jill Holland Jan 31
Bud Barnett Jan 1
Charles Nottingham Jan 1
Shirley Potter Jan 1
Chloe Hitch Jan 2
Jackie Kwasny Jan 11
Jessica Isaac Jan 12
Bud Kessler Jan 21