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  6.        <title>Atlantis » Atlantis</title>
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  9.        <description>The Domain of the Stingray</description>
  10.        <language>en</language>
  11.        <managingEditor>[email protected] (Chisolm)</managingEditor>
  12.        <copyright>Copyright 2019</copyright>
  13.        <generator>PivotX - 2.3.8</generator>
  14.        <pubDate>Tue, 22 Oct 2019 22:07:43 -0400</pubDate>
  15.        <ttl>60</ttl>
  20.        <item>
  21.            <title>Michaelmas</title>
  22.            <link></link>
  23.            <comments></comments>
  24.            <description><![CDATA[ <div class="pivotx-wrapper"><a href='' class="thickbox" title="Michaelmas 2019 Wordle" ><img src="" alt="Michaelmas 2019 Wordle" title="Michaelmas 2019 Wordle" class='pivotx-popupimage'/></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonlinks"><div class="audiobox"><a href="">Sermon Audio</a></div><div class="pdflink"><a href="http://geoffrey.famwagner.comsermons-pdf/20190929.michaelmas.pdf">Download PDF</a></div></div><p>As I was growing up, I would often wonder what it would be like to be an angel.  The stories of the angelic visits and visions from the Old Testament would fill my head.  Coming from the throne of God to man to relay a message.  To fight on behalf of God’s justice against the corruption on the earth.  The visions that Ezekiel and Daniel had of the angels would often come to mind—frightening images of four-head creatures with wings and eyes in the wings, and the warriors that would contend against the princes of the Persians.  To have been the angel which touched the lips of Isaiah with a coal from the incense as others are flying around the smoke-filled throne room singing God’s praises was an awe-filled dream.</p><p>I often got the picture that angels had it made.  They were, in my estimation, the next best thing to being God.  At least, the ones who remained in the service of God had it made and were the next best thing.  I’m sure I’m not alone in that assessment, as I would estimate that there are some here who have imagined or dreamed or also wondered what it would be like to be an angel.</p><p>But then, St. Peter graces us with these inspired words:</p><blockquote class="quoted">Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.  It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. <span class="biblereference">(1 Peter 1:10-12)</span></blockquote><p class="postblockquote">What things to angels long to look into?  The salvation of your souls.  The grace that is yours for the sake of the sufferings of Christ and His subsequent glories.  That fact that God, in whose presence they fly and sing, from whose presence they brought messages to mankind, deigned to take on the flesh and blood of mankind and live and die as one of them.</p><p>The writer to the Hebrews, regarding the incarnation of the Son of God, related that, “You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor…,” and, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” <span class="biblereference">(Hebrews 2:7, 9)</span>  Scripture confirms the thought that angels are, in a manner of speaking, a higher form of life than humans.  Nevertheless, it was like one of you, a man, that God lowered Himself to, skipping right past angel, in order to bring to you and to all the salvation of their souls.</p><p>So, imagine, if you would please, being an angel, and looking upon God-in-the-flesh.  See Him from their point of view, as He is conceived and born and grows up and learns a trade and suffers and dies and rises again.  A single word, and you would have been at the ready to do whatever God-in-the-flesh requested, and not a single time does Jesus call upon the angels to do anything for him.  Yes, from time to time, they ministered to Him, such as following His temptation in the wilderness, but there is not one indication that Jesus issued an order for angelic intervention, though He did mention that He could have. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Matthew 26:53)</span>  If angels are the wondering type, which seems to be the case, they would gaze upon all of this and marvel at it—that God would concern Himself over man so much that He would become one of them, live and die among them, live and die for them.  “Angels long to look into these things.”</p><p>In today’s second reading, you heard the account of the victory of the archangel Michael over Satan and the fallen angels.  You heard how the victory was and is won through the blood of the Lamb, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  What a glorious sight it must have been, to see Satan and his angels cast out of heaven.  To this Jesus referred when the 72 returned to Jesus with joy, for those same demons were subject to them, to human flesh and blood, in the name of Jesus.  “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  Michael prevailed by the blood of the Lamb.  Man prevails by the blood of the Lamb.  Satan and the demons are subject to man and angels in the name of Jesus, for the sake of Jesus, through the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross for your salvation, for your redemption, as your propitiation, for the forgiveness of all of your sins.  “Angels long to look into these things.”</p><p>And it’s a good thing there is such power in Jesus’ name and in His blood.  It’s a good thing that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is enough to overcome the power of the devil and his minions.  For that very same devil, the accuser who accused you day and night before the throne of God, is now on earth in great wrath because he knows his time is short.  He’s not wasting any time here among you, for he “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” <span class="biblereference">(1 Peter 5:8)</span>  That’s why the angels sung of woe for the earth and those who dwell here in today’s second reading.  Satan fell like lightning from heaven by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of the Word of God; now, he seeks his prey in great wrath, but He is still subject to the power of the blood of the Lamb and testimony of the Word of God.</p><p>But Jesus didn’t stop there in His response to the 72.  Yes, the demons were subject to the 72 in Jesus name.  Yes, Satan fell like lightning from heaven.  Jesus has given authority to the 72, yea, even unto you, to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy.  There is cause for great joy there.  In the name of Jesus, no eternal harm can come to you through Satan’s wiles.</p><p>“Though devils all the world should fill, / All eager to devour us. / We tremble not, we fear no ill, / They shall not overpower us. / This world’s prince may still / Scowl fierce as he will, / He can harm us none, / He’s judged; the deed is done; / One little word can fell him.”  Firm in faith, there is nothing that Satan or his devils can do to harm you.  Firm in faith, you can resist and beat down Satan and his devils underfoot, to trample upon his serpents and scorpions, as it were.  Firm in faith, the victory of Michael is your victory, and the devil will never be successful in His accusations against you.  The blood of the Lamb and the testimony of the Word of God are your victory.  For this, there is great cause for rejoicing.</p><p>But are you firm in faith?  Well, there is the chink in your armor.  There are times of wavering faith, to be certain.  Doubts come and go.  “Does God really care?”  “Is God really present?”  “Does God really know what my suffering is like?”  The angels, who long to look into these things, would tell you that He does, in all three cases.  “See Jesus,” they would say, “who is God-in-the-flesh, God who is your brother, who suffered and died for you under the wrath of the Father for the sins of the world.  Yes, He really cares—He sent His only-begotten Son to die for you.  Yes, He is really present—He still comes to you in Word and Sacrament and whenever two or three are gathered in His name. Yes, He really knows what your suffering is like—He suffered and died as a criminal, bearing the weight of all sins and infirmities to the cross.”</p><p>The irony is such chinks in the armor manifest themselves in rejoicing too much, you could say, in the authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and all the power of the enemy.  Such authority can have the consequence of puffing one up to seek visible achievements.  It’s an arrogant pride and theology of success that Satan can use to attack you and thwart the true ministry of the Word and Sacrament to and even from you.<sup class="endnotes"><a class="note no1" href="">1</a></sup>  He prowls like a hungry lion and devours those whose pride and arrogance place them above God and His Word such that when those visible achievements aren’t there or don’t seem to be there, then the devil has you in his snare.</p><p>That’s why Jesus said, “[D]o not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  There is a greater gift here than the authority to conquer Satan and his devils, not the least of which because they are already conquered by the blood of the Lamb; recall the hymn verse recited earlier—“He’s judged, the deed is done,” it is finished!  So, if you’re trampling snakes and scorpions and all the power of the enemy under foot, it’s because they are already conquered.  So, rejoice, sure, but rejoice all the more that your names are written in heaven.</p><p>This is sure and certain.  Your names are written in God’s Book of Life in heaven, inked in the blood of Christ shed on the cross.  They are there with the names of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, with Peter and James and John, with Paul and Silas and Barnabas, with Timothy and Titus and Philemon, and all the chosen people of old, and even those of more recent blessed memory.  Praise God that you are clothed in a robe washed white in the blood of the Lamb.</p><p>Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners <span class="biblereference">(cf. 1 Timothy 1:15)</span>; Christ Jesus came into the world to save you!  In the waters of Holy Baptism, you were washed and sanctified, claimed as a dear son of God and heir with Christ of heavenly glory; there in the font (or one like it) you were washed and your robes made clean in the blood of the Lamb.  As you come to this table and receive a morsel of bread and a sip of wine and they are for you the very body and blood of Jesus Christ given and shed for you; and as one given faith in these words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” they are for you the medicine of immortality.</p><p>These all proclaim to you the care and concern of God for you, the presence of God to save and redeem you, the suffering that God-in-the-flesh endured for you so that you would not have to.  And for it all, you name is written in God’s Book of Life.  “Angels long to look into these things.”</p><p>I and others may have dreamed of what it was like to be an angel.  It appears to be a glorious existence, and I suppose there is a bit of envy knowing that they now and always stand in the presence of God.  But God did not lower Himself to be in the presence of sinful angels, but in the presence of sinful man, that He might save and redeem them—that He might save and redeem you.  This He has accomplished—Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.  “Angels long to look into these things.”</p><p>Knowing this, and the glory to be revealed when Christ returns, I suppose it’s better—or will be better in eternity—to be a man than an angel.  Angels are now in the presence of the divine, singing His praises, but as a man redeemed of God, reconciled to Him by the blood of Christ, your name is written in the book of life, and you will share in His glory, feast with Him at the eternal banquet, because you are forgiven for all of your sins.  “Angels long to look into <i>these</i> things.”</p><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonaudio" id="listen-">
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  32. </div>audio recorded on my digital recorder</div><ol class="endnotes"><li id="endnote1">I borrow some verbiage from Dr. Arthur A. Just, Jr.’s <u>Concordia Commentary</u> on St. Luke.</li></ol> ]]></description>
  33.            <guid isPermaLink="false">[email protected]/</guid>
  34.            <category>Sermons</category>
  35.            <pubDate>Sun, 29 Sep 2019 15:55:00 -0400</pubDate>
  36.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
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  41.        <item>
  42.            <title>Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity</title>
  43.            <link></link>
  44.            <comments></comments>
  45.            <description><![CDATA[ <div class="pivotx-wrapper"><a href='' class="thickbox" title="The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity 2019 Wordle" ><img src="" alt="The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity 2019 Wordle" title="The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity 2019 Wordle" class='pivotx-popupimage'/></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonlinks"><div class="audiobox"><a href="">Sermon Audio</a></div><div class="pdflink"><a href="http://geoffrey.famwagner.comsermons-pdf/20190915.trinity13.pdf">Download PDF</a></div></div><p>What if the parable of the Samaritan and the traveler isn’t as complicated as it is made out to be?</p><p>It’s a simple story, really.  It tells a moral tale.  A certain man was traveling to Jericho.  Along the road, some thieves stripped him of his clothing, beat him senseless, and left him for dead, naked, alone, and broke.  Two of Jerusalem’s religious elite pass by him.  Neither of them helped him, but did their best to avoid the man by walking around him on the other side of the road.  It wasn’t until a Samaritan came along—a half-breed lowlife, according to the Jews—that the man finally received some help.</p><p>This certain Samaritan bandaged the man’s wounds, salving him with wine and oil.  Then, placing him on his own animal, he takes the man to an inn, pays for his room and board, and sees to it that the innkeeper takes care of him, promising to repay him any extra expenses upon his return.  It was certainly a good thing that the Samaritan had done, but you’ll notice that nowhere in the parable does Jesus call him good, as has become part of common parlance—the Good Samaritan.</p><p>But that is the moral of the story—what the Samaritan did.  If you want to be good—and be saved—then, “Go and do likewise,” as Jesus said.</p><p>Is that how you hear it, though?  Is that how you read it, as Jesus asked the lawyer?  When it comes to parables, treating them allegorically is par for the course.  And why not, when so many begin, “The kingdom of heaven is like...”?  Even though this parable does not begin this way—even though Jesus does not compare the kingdom to the Certain man and Certain Samaritan—Christians allegorize; even the Church Fathers did so.  Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine—even Luther—and others made the characters and places of the parable represent one thing or another.  Often, the man represented the Old Adam, his wounds are sins or the consequences of sin, the priest and Levite are the Old Testament or Law, the Samaritan is Jesus Christ, the oil is the grace of God, and the inn is the Church.</p><p>That’s how you like parables, though.  It makes the parable mean something bigger.  It makes it an illustration of something bigger than yourself.  It removes from you all responsibility, shifting it onto someone or something else.  So, for instance, if the Samaritan is Jesus and the Inn church, then you can see yourself, or part of yourself, in the man beset by thieves.  Now, Jesus binds your wounds, anoints you with the oil of his grace in order to forgive your sins and restore you to life, setting you in the church where he tells the innkeeper pastor to take care of you, supplying all that he needs to care for your needs.</p><p>It all makes for a nice illustration—and it fits the reality of your life in the church—but if you allegorize the parable, then that makes Jesus’ “Go and do likewise” meaningless.  Like I said before, allegorizing this parable removes from you all responsibility.  This parable is a story with a moral given to the lawyer who sought to justify himself.  So, when Jesus told the lawyer to go and do likewise, he was referring to the Samaritan, “He who showed mercy on” the certain man.</p><p>Recall the lawyer’s questions.  “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus responded, “What is written in the Law?  How do you read it?”  The lawyer answered well: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  “Do this, and you will live,” Jesus responded.  Of course the lawyer couldn’t stop there; he needed to justify himself.  To make sure that he was loving his neighbor, or more likely to prove that he really was loving his neighbor, he asked, “And who is my neighbor?”</p><p>That’s when Jesus told the parable.  And in light of the exchange between the lawyer and Jesus, especially the lawyer’s final question, “Go and do likewise,” makes more sense.  This is the moral of the parable, if you’re looking for something to do to be saved, love God and love your neighbor as yourself, and your neighbor is anyone in need whom you meet upon the way.</p><p>Loving God is easy.  No, really, it is.  “I love God;” go ahead and say it.  It’s that easy.  Is there anything you can do to show it?  Is there anything you can do to prove it to someone else?  Well, I suppose you can read His Word.  You can show up to church every Sunday or Feast Day.  Or, you could easily redefine what it means to love God or redefine who God is—you know, be “spiritual, but not religious”—and so long as you do that or are that, then you can say that you love God, and no one can say any differently.</p><p>Loving your neighbor is more difficult.  That’s why the lawyer asked who his neighbor was.  You just can’t say, “I love my neighbor.”  There are actually neighbors out there to love—real, tangible, needy neighbors who need what you have to offer; neighbors to and for whom you can do things.  So, if all you do is say, “I love my neighbor,” but do nothing to show true care and concern for them, help them when they need help, etc., do you really love your neighbor?  No!</p><p>It seems with this parable that the world has it right and the church gets it wrong.  As I mentioned before, “Good Samaritan” is a term that has made it into common parlance for one who does a good deed for a stranger.  There are organizations who have taken the name whose purpose is to be of service to those who are in need, like the certain man in the parable.  These Good Samaritans—whether individuals or organizations—are of service to their neighbor, no matter who that neighbor is.  And the church wants to turn it into and allegory, ignoring “Go and do likewise.”</p><p>There is a reason that Jesus told the parable.  The lawyer needed to learn who his neighbor really was, and that he needed to be in service to all of his neighbors.  Without it, he would have thought that his neighbors are only people like him, people with whom he associates, people with whom he would associate, and that it was only these kinds of people that he needed to serve and help.  Jesus tells him that his neighbor is also the man who is unclean for the sake of his wounds and unapproachable for the sake of his breeding.</p><p>“Go and do likewise.”  There’s the answer to the question.  “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  You shall love God and love your neighbor as yourself by being of service to him.</p><p>How difficult!  There’s a story of a theology professor who taught a course on the parables of Jesus.  Exam time arrived, and the students came nervously to the exam hall.  When it was time for the students to enter, an official came and told them that the exam had been moved elsewhere, some distance away.  The students quickly made their way to the new location, stepping around a man along the way, drunk and lying in the gutter.  As each student reached the new room and opened the paper, they gasped, for there was only one question: What is the meaning of the parable of the Good Samaritan?  They all scribbled away, trying to reproduce everything that the lecturer had told them.  A week later, the results of the exam were published; everyone had failed!  They had all stepped around the man in the gutter (probably the professor, not really drunk), and so had not learned the meaning of the parable.</p><p>It’s like I said, loving your neighbor is a difficult, if not impossible, thing to do.  Sure, like the lawyer, you get along fine loving those who are like you and those with whom you get along.  But what about everyone else whom you encounter?  What about the ones with whom you don’t get along?  What about your enemies?  Love them, too!  Because if you don’t love them, you don’t really love God.  “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” <span class="biblereference">(1 John 4:20-21)</span>  Or, if you want to hear what Jesus, Himself, said, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” <span class="biblereference">(Luke 6:27-28, 35-36)</span></p><p>Oh, you may want to do it, loving your neighbor, be they friend or enemy, but you find yourself unable to do so.  The good that you want to do—like the Good Samaritan—you do not do, the evil that you do not want to do, that you keep on doing. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Romans 7:19)</span>  No, like the priest and Levite, you are more dead to your neighbors, who may be dying on the road side and in need of your care, than like the Good Samaritan.  Who will deliver you from this body of death?</p><p>Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ your Lord! <span class="biblereference">(cf. Romans 7:24-25)</span></p><p>You see, the world will leave you beaten and naked, broke and unable to help yourself.  Your Old Man would do the same, all under the guise of being your friend, being your help, lying to you by telling you that you are good or good enough at loving God and your neighbor.  You are like the Levite, like the priest, and very much like the man on the way to Jericho.</p><p>This place, then, or any number like it, is the inn into which you have been taken, having been bound and oiled and wined, taken care of.  Here Jesus Christ has taken you on His own shoulders as it were, a sheep of the Lamb of God—saved from the body of death.  And here, He bids the innkeeper to care for you, promising to give all that is needed for your care when He returns.</p><p>Jesus returns to this place all the time.  He is present in His Word and Sacraments, giving of Himself for your care, just as He first gave Himself in order to bandage and oil and wine you.  He gave Himself over to death in order to rescue you from the body of death.  Into His body, Jesus took your wounds, and by His stripes, you are healed. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:23-24)</span>  Jesus received those stripes in your stead, beaten to within an inch of his life like the certain man, then nailed to a cross and left to die, like the certain man.  But He is not just a certain man; He is the Samaritan who swaps places with you and receives your punishment for sin in order that He may salve you with His grace—that wonderful oil and rich wine.</p><p>And in a place such as this Jesus places others, brothers and sisters in Christ, who are able to care for you in your times of need, and to whom you are to show care and love as you are able in their times of need.  This is the mutual comfort of the brothers that you can read of in Acts 2:44-45.  However, dear listeners, this consolation and care for your fellow redeemed isn’t to be restricted to whomever is within these walls.</p><p>So, allegorizing the parable can work.  It speaks to the reality of your life in the church this way.  First, though, the parable shows you that if you want to do something to be saved, you must love God and neighbor, but the Word of God—His Law, specifically—shows you that you are unable to do so; that is, not in any way that merits salvation.  Therefore, the responsibility and expectation to “Go and do likewise” isn’t removed from you.  As allegory, the parable shows you the reality of your life as a Christian in a place like this: that Jesus is your Good Samaritan, the only One who can be called good <span class="biblereference">(cf. Luke 18:19)</span>, because He has come for you, given His life for you, and continues to come to you to pronounce to you through His chosen innkeeper that you are forgiven for all of your sins.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonaudio" id="listen-">
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  53. </div>audio recorded on my digital recorder</div> ]]></description>
  54.            <guid isPermaLink="false">[email protected]/</guid>
  55.            <category>Sermons</category>
  56.            <pubDate>Sun, 15 Sep 2019 15:55:00 -0400</pubDate>
  57.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
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  62.        <item>
  63.            <title>Eleventh Sunday after Trinity</title>
  64.            <link></link>
  65.            <comments></comments>
  66.            <description><![CDATA[ <div class="pivotx-wrapper"><a href='' class="thickbox" title="Name Year Wordle" ><img src="" alt="Name Year Wordle" title="Name Year Wordle" class='pivotx-popupimage'/></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonlinks"><div class="audiobox"><a href="">Sermon Audio</a></div><div class="pdflink"><a href="http://geoffrey.famwagner.comsermons-pdf/20190901.trinity11.pdf">Download PDF</a></div></div><p>When Jesus began talking in St. Luke’s 18th chapter, he told a parable “to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”  You probably know the story.  A widow had an adversary against whom she sought justice from a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.  That’s probably the absurd part of the parable, but for the sake of the Jesus is illustrating, it works.  So, the widow goes to this judge time and again seeking justice.  For his own sake, the judge eventually relents and grants the widow her case.  Jesus’ point is that God is much more just than this judge; He will give justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night, and that speedily!</p><p>But then Jesus asked, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” <span class="biblereference">(cf. Luke 18:1-8)</span></p><p>That’s when He moved into the parable you heard today.  You see, the widow in the parable knew she couldn’t rely on herself to get the justice that she needed.  But there were others who were listening to Him speak who did trust in themselves, who thought themselves righteous, who despised others as beneath them.  With the widow in mind, Jesus told them the parable.</p><p>Two men go up to the temple to pray.  Dr. Arthur Just, in his commentary, helps to set the scene for those who, being so far removed from Jerusalem Temple practice, are likely unaware of what was going on there:</p><blockquote class="quoted">Public prayer was permitted in the temple in the morning and the evening during the atonement sacrifice, which was made at 9 a.m. and again at 3 p.m.  Private prayer could occur at any time.  It is possible that the two men came to the temple at one of the two times set aside for corporate prayer, during which time it was customary for people to offer their own private prayers, specifically at the offering of incense after the morning or evening atonement sacrifices.  Thus, these two figures may have come to the temple, the locale of God’s presence, precisely at the time of the atonement sacrifice, and atonement was the reason for the temple’s existence.  This context would point to the promise of the sacrifice of the lamb, who would take away the sins of the people once and for all.</blockquote><p class="postblockquote">That possibly being the case, the sacrifice was made, the burned incense offered, and the two men prayed.  Neither man likely prayed silently, as doing so was highly uncommon; nevertheless, the implication in the parable was that the Pharisee prayed so as to be heard, while the tax collector was back in the corner praying and trying not to be heard.</p><p>The Pharisee prays a eucharistic prayer—a prayer of thanksgiving.  There’s nothing wrong with such a prayer, and I would hope that in those times when you want to thank God for one thing or another, you, too, would pray a eucharistic prayer.  The problem with the Pharisee’s prayer is that the focus is all on him, who he is and what he does, especially in comparison to other people.  “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  Here’s how...”</p><p>It’s an easy enough trap to fall into.  It essentially all boils down to taking credit for the things that God has given you.  It’s not unlike the man in another parable that Jesus told, who tore down his small barns to build bigger ones to store the great bounty that he had reaped. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Luke 12:16-21)</span>  But things don’t have to be so grandiose.  That is to say, at any moment when you start thanking God for what it is you have, what position you’re in, whatever material blessing you have been given, Old Man wants you to take credit for it.  You’re the one who did the work for it.  It was your brilliant idea that led to some big gain and recognition.  You’re the one who lucked into winning something.  “Thank you God that I’m not like those others who don’t work as hard, think as well, win as much...”</p><p>The other thing about the Pharisee’s prayer is that the other men that he thanked God that he was not like, he accuses of being the very things of which Pharisees are guilty—extortioners, unjust, and adulterers.  But that seemed like no big deal for him, since he fasts twice a week and gives tithes of all that he gets. Nevertheless, the extortioners are greedy and rapacious and wicked, words that Jesus used to describe them back in Luke 11:39: “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.”  As for unjust, remember that it is the Pharisees who wrongly see in themselves no need for a physician—for the Great Physician who is the only source of true righteousness.  And while nowhere are the Pharisees described as adulterers, their lack of faith in the promise is described throughout the Old Testament as being akin to adultery.</p><p>This is entirely part of the psyche of fallen man.  Old Adam is always on the lookout for others who share in your sin, but are worse off in it than you are.  So, you, too, can thank God that you’re not like those other men, because they are worse sinners than you are.  And you’ll have no problem pointing that out, too—not in any way that implicates you in this sin, but only in a way that calls attention to the depravity of the other man in his sin.</p><p>And that brings me to the tax collector.  What I just said is exactly what the Pharisee did.  He lumped the man in with those “other men:” extortioners, unjust, and adulterers.  He was sure that the tax collector was these things, if not especially the first.  Tax collectors in the days of Jesus were known for their rapaciousness, or greed, so it would make sense that the Pharisee would make it a point to point this out of him.  As for unjust and adulterous, well, I don’t have a comment on those with regard to the tax collector.</p><p>Maybe he did.  Maybe he would have.  Maybe he was those things.  What he did do was show a piety unlike that of the Pharisee.  He didn’t draw attention to himself.  He held his head down in shame.  He beat his breast and pleaded for mercy: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”  The word Jesus used there in His parable is not the usual word for mercy—a Greek word you might actually know: eleison—but one that the Septuagint used for the cover of the Ark of the Covenant.  Another translation would be, “God, be propitiated to me, a sinner!”</p><p>Simply put, propitiation is made when demands are met so as to appease the one who makes those demands.  As you hear it used throughout the Scripture, it means that satisfaction is made or paid for sins, and as the writer to the Hebrews put it, “[W]ithout the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”  The shedding of blood propitiates God for the forgiveness of sins; and the blood demanded is that of the sinner, unless a substitute could be found.  The blood that was shed in the Old Testament to make propitiation was that of bulls, goats, and lambs; once a year, this blood was sprinkled on the cover to the ark of the covenant, making propitiation for the sins of the people of Israel on Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement.</p><p>Now, it’s likely not Yom Kippur in the parable, but as Dr. Just pointed out, it was likely one of the times of the daily atonement sacrifices—perhaps a burnt offering or peace offering or sin offering, all of which pointed to the sacrifice of Yom Kippur, which itself pointed to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God on the cross.</p><p>This is what Jesus was pointing his listeners to with this parable.  The Pharisee set himself apart from all men.  He’s better than them and made sure that God and everyone around him knew that, and this was especially true of the tax collector that he recognized in the temple with him.  The Pharisee trusted in himself and what he did.  He exalted Himself.  He was right about the difference between himself and the tax collector; they are quite different from each other.  The tax collector didn’t trust in himself.  What he knew of himself told him otherwise.  The only way he could be right with God was if he was made that way from outside of himself—if he was propitiated to God.  Jesus purposefully used the word which could be translated “be propitiated” in place of mercy at a time when the daily atonement sacrifices were taking place.  He makes the tax collector out to as one who reflects the faith that He wondered after the previous parable if He would see—it’s the faith of the remnant which humbles itself before the almighty hand of God, which yearned for the Messiah to come and make the final atoning sacrifice for His people.</p><p>“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”</p><p>The Messiah has come and made that final atoning sacrifice, and that propitiation will finally be realized when the Messiah comes again on the Day of Judgment.  The Messiah is Jesus, the Great High Priest who enters into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the sacrifice by which propitiation is made and atonement won.  The Messiah is Jesus, the Lamb of God who sacrificed Himself and shed His blood in order to make propitiation and atonement.</p><blockquote class="quoted">Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.  For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.  Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. <span class="biblereference">(Hebrews 2:14-17)</span></blockquote><p class="postblockquote"">That passage from Hebrews is the only other place in all of the New Testament where that same word used by that tax collector as a verb is also used as a verb.  Jesus is the only One who could do all parts in propitiating the world to God, once for all.  It is His blood used as payment, and He is the one who carried it to God as High Priest to offer it as your atonement.</p><p>This fact is declared to you at Holy Baptism, when you hear the words of Holy Absolution, and as you receive Christ’s very body and blood as bread and wine in Holy Communion.  In each and every one of those times, the work of the Messiah is given to you, apprehended for you by faith—faith like the tax collector and the widow—and made your own.  As Rev. Dr. Carl Fickenscher once said, “The Sacraments give us what the cross earned.”</p><p>Jesus is your Messiah.  He is the one who laid down His life and shed His blood for you, and He took it up again.  He is the one who pleads His own blood on your behalf, declaring you propitiated to the Father for His own sake.  With the God-given faith that doesn’t lose heart but prays continually, which looks outside of yourself for justice and atonement, you are gathered here again and again to pray, “God, be propitiated to me, a sinner!”  You are brought here in faith by the Spirit to recall, again and again, the atonement Sacrifice made once-for-all by Jesus Christ on the cross, to look forward to the day when that atonement is finally and fully realized on the Day of Judgment.  So, in faith, you do not lose heart, but hope for that day, as you leave here justified again and again, because you are forgiven for all of your sins.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonaudio" id="listen-">
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  75.            <guid isPermaLink="false">[email protected]/</guid>
  76.            <category>Sermons</category>
  77.            <pubDate>Sun, 01 Sep 2019 15:41:00 -0400</pubDate>
  78.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
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  83.        <item>
  84.            <title>Ninth Sunday after Trinity</title>
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  87.            <description><![CDATA[ <div class="pivotx-wrapper"><a href='' class="thickbox" title="Ninth Sunday after Trinity 2019 Wordle" ><img src="" alt="Ninth Sunday after Trinity 2019 Wordle" title="Ninth Sunday after Trinity 2019 Wordle" class='pivotx-popupimage'/></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonlinks"><div class="audiobox"><a href="">Sermon Audio</a></div><div class="pdflink"><a href="http://geoffrey.famwagner.comsermons-pdf/20190818.trinity9.pdf">Download PDF</a></div></div><p>To better understand this text, it might be helpful to understand it’s place in the grander scheme of St. Luke’s Gospel.  This is the beginning of chapter 16, which naturally follows chapter 15.  Chapter 15 is known, of course, for the three parables it contains: Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and the so-called Prodigal Son.  Jesus told these parables to the Pharisees to demonstrate the love of God and all of heaven for the lost, because the Pharisees scoffed at Jesus for receiving and eating with sinners and tax collectors.</p><p>The parable of the Prodigal Son presented Jesus with an opportunity to shift His focus.  In that parable, as you know, Jesus told of a young man who essentially told his father to drop dead—he demanded his share of the inheritance, then ran off to a distant country and squandered it in wild living.  The older son, faithful to the father, remained home and tended to what was left, and all of that was going to be his upon his father’s death.  Conditions had grown bad where the younger son was, and he was left with nothing.  Hopeless, he devised a scheme tor return home to be a servant in his father’s house; when he got home, however, he was never able to follow through with the scheme.  His father ran out to him on the road, called out for a robe, sandals, and the family ring to be placed on his son, and called for a fattened calf to be prepared for a feast—his lost son had returned to him, and he was going to have a party, for “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”</p><p>Something was missing, though.  The older son refused to join the party.  Like the first time, the father ran out to him and urged him to join the festivities—his brother has returned!  And that’s how the parables ended.  Jesus didn’t say whether or not the older brother joined, probably because he wanted the Pharisees—the older brothers—to realize that they, too, could rejoice over repentant sinners and join them in the party to come.</p><p>From there, Jesus turned his attention to the disciples, and that’s where today’s text picks up.  The Pharisees were probably still around.  They might have been listening to what Jesus was telling His disciples if they weren’t fuming over or pondering what He had just told them.  In turning His attention to the disciples, He shifted the focus from the coins or sheep or sons in the previous parables, to figures of the shepherd, the woman, and (most especially) the father.  So, he told them the parable of the Unrighteous Steward.</p><p>As is usually the case when the parables of Jesus are read, the natural inclination is to find oneself in the parable.  “How does this parable relate to me?” is the question.  It would make sense, given the previous three parables—in those, as a Christian, you would likely identify with the lost sheep, the lost coin, or the lost son over whom God, the angels, and all of heaven rejoice when they are found.  Yes, you have been found in Christ, redeemed by His blood, and so at the time of your Baptism and every time you hear the words of absolution, these all rejoice over you.</p><p>So, when it comes to this parable, you likely, in some regard, identify with the unrighteous servant, though you might twinge at the idea of identifying with someone who remains being called unrighteous.  You have been washed, cleaned, restored, renewed, forgiven, saved—you are declared righteous for the sake of Christ.  How is it that Jesus would use someone called unrighteous to refer to you? Because the focus of this parable isn’t you, it isn’t the unrighteous servant, it’s the master.  And by having told this parable, Jesus intended to get you to think more on the shepherd, the woman, and especially the father in the previous three parables.</p><p>So, focus on the shepherd, the woman, the father, and the master.  What do these four have in common?  They are merciful, and they are compelled by their mercy to act with overwhelming mercy toward the lost and unrighteous.  The shepherd leaves the rest of his flock to search diligently for the lost sheep.  The woman tears apart her house to look for her lost coin.  The father runs with mercy to both sons and wants them both in the party.  And the master...well, that will take a little more explaining.</p><p>So, the steward gets word that he is about to be put out of his job—he’s unrighteous, as he has been mismanaging his master’s assets.  He ought to die for this; the master is well within his rights to demand the steward’s life.  Well, as it turns out, the steward realizes just how merciful of a master he has, and he counted on the master acting in mercy toward him.  The master was merciful—he was put out of the job, but he kept his life.  But, there is more to the master’s mercy that the steward counted on.  So, he goes to his master’s debtors and reduces their debt.  This, of course, would give the debtors a favorable view of the steward, though he would only have been a messenger of the master’s mercy in this case, and especially of the master—they would want to continue to do business with the master, which also serves the master’s interests, in the long run.  The master was impressed with the steward’s actions, and praised him.</p><p>Therefore, if you want to identify with the unrighteous steward, then see in your God One who is merciful, much more so, like the master.  Are you a perfect steward of what your Master has given you?  No, you are unrighteous in the things of your Father, and for that you ought to die—that is how the Law of God reads.  Nevertheless, God is merciful, and He spares your life for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He is more merciful, because He further grants you a place in paradise with Him eternally—as in the parable of the Prodigal Son, you have a place at the party, and as such, rejoice with all of heaven over every sinner who repents, be they your brother in Christ, or one who is becoming your brother in Christ.</p><p>And it is for this reason, then, that Jesus transitioned from the parable to instructions on mammon, as you might know the word from other translation.  It flows naturally from the parable, where the unrighteous steward made a prudent use of mammon—not his, though, mind you.  So, Jesus said,</p><blockquote class="quoted">And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.  One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.  If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.</blockquote><p>The steward was able to make friends for himself using mammon.  Jesus called it unrighteous because it cannot save.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, as it is also a gift from God, but as with all gifts, there is this propensity among mankind to misuse and abuse that which gives, and money is no different.  Jesus said to use it wisely, make friends for yourself using it, that when it fails, you will have people who can return the favor.  More than that, make use of it for the sake of the kingdom.</p><p>If you’re curious how that can look, Jesus said in Luke 12,</p><blockquote class="quoted">Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.  Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. <span class="biblereference">(Luke 12:33-34)</span></blockquote><p class="postblockquote">In short, use your money and possessions—your mammon—in service to God and His Christ, in the Kingdom of God on earth.  Similar to the father in the previous parable, use what God has given you in service to your neighbor, with the intent that they can hear and believe the Gospel.  I said that money cannot save, and that’s true, but it can be a means to bring someone to the place where they can be saved, and you just might be the person who uses it to that end, and so, “[M]ake friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.”  In other words, your wealth won’t last, but being with someone in eternity will.</p><p>That is the reason that God gives you what you have.  You are faithful in this little to Him by using it for the purpose for which He has given it.  “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.  If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?”  Hear it again.  If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?  It’s a valid question, and it should cause you to question just how faithful you have been in unrighteous wealth.  Have you done what God expects of you with what God has given you?  The only honest answer would have to be, “No.”  Sure, sometimes you do, or in part you do, but that also means that sometimes you don’t and in part you don’t—which means that you don’t.</p><p>So, since you have’t been faithful with what God has given you, should you expect him to entrust you with true riches?</p><p>What are those true riches?</p><ul><li>The Word of God</li><li>Holy Baptism</li><li>Holy Absolution</li><li>Holy Communion</li><li>Forgiveness</li><li>Life</li><li>Salvation</li><li>Any and all of those theologically loaded words, if you know what I mean</li></ul><p>If you can’t be faithful with the little riches that God gives, why should you expect Him to give you these true riches?  And those little riches are also more than just wealth and money, but everything that He gives you.  You can recite two lists from Luther’s Small Catechism, “He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.  He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have,” and, “[E]verything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”  Can you say that you’ve been faithful in each and every one of these gifts—and the like?  Again, the only honest answer has to be, “No.”  Sometimes you do, or in part you do, but that also means that sometimes you don’t and in part you don’t—which means that you don’t.</p><p>So, again, I ask, why should you expect God to give you true riches?  If you have been listening to the parable, you would know that you should expect God to give you true riches because He is merciful; and more than merciful, He gracious and faithful to His promises.  He has given you the true wealth of faith in Him, trust in His Son and in no one else and nothing else for salvation.  Sometimes, your job is demanded of you, in whatever form that takes, but your life is not.  That’s because your life is won in Christ, whose life was given for yours on the cross.</p><p>By way of Baptism, you have been placed in Christ.  There at the font, by the pouring of the water with the Word, you have been given faith.  This faith takes God captive in His Word, as demonstrated by the Canaanite woman seeking healing for her demon-possessed daughter. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Matthew 15:21-28)</span>  This faith holds to His promises, which is no big thing because God is faithful—He keeps His promises.  By this faith, you can expect your merciful and gracious God to be merciful and gracious to you.</p><p>This is because God delights in showing you grace and mercy.  He sent forth His Son—His only-begotten Son—to be man like you, and in being man, God took your place under the Father’s wrath, showing you mercy.  Now, He sends the Spirit to bring you to faith, and to bring to you grace upon grace, to enable you to love and serve your neighbor, so that they and you can by faith hear and receive these words again and again: you are forgiven for all of your sins.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonaudio" id="listen-">
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  96.            <guid isPermaLink="false">[email protected]/</guid>
  97.            <category>Sermons</category>
  98.            <pubDate>Sun, 18 Aug 2019 15:51:00 -0400</pubDate>
  99.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
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  104.        <item>
  105.            <title>Seventh Sunday after Trinity</title>
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  108.            <description><![CDATA[ <div class="pivotx-wrapper"><a href='' class="thickbox" title="The Seventh Sunday after Trinity 2019 Wordle" ><img src="" alt="The Seventh Sunday after Trinity 2019 Wordle" title="The Seventh Sunday after Trinity 2019 Wordle" class='pivotx-popupimage'/></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonlinks"><div class="audiobox"><a href="">Sermon Audio</a></div><div class="pdflink"><a href="http://geoffrey.famwagner.comsermons-pdf/20190804.trinity7.pdf">Download PDF</a></div></div><p>Three days.  Seven loaves.  Seven baskets of leftovers.  4000 people.</p><p>Much has been made of these numbers, and much can be made of them.  The people of God love to pour over them and decipher them, and it can be fun to do so.  Three and seven are numbers representing holiness, divinity, unity, and completeness—as in the Trinity and the fullness of the week or the fulfillment of the week in the Sabbath.  4000 is broken down into its parts: 4 times 10 cubed—four corresponding to the whole creation, as in the four corners of the earth, and ten representing the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, the law and governance.</p><p>Many sermons have been prepared around these numbers and their significance.  Often, when covering Biblical numerology, these sermons overlook the more important part of today’s text.</p><p>“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.  For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” <span class="biblereference">(Isaiah 30:18)</span></p><blockquote class="quoted">Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in [showing mercy].  He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities under foot.  You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.  You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old. <span class="biblereference">(Micah 7:18-20)</span></blockquote><p>These passages, from Isaiah and Micah, respectively, are fulfilled in your hearing by Jesus on the crowd of 4000.  For there, He told his disciples, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.”  Then, He proceeded to feed them miraculously from seven small loaves of bread and and a few fish.  This text is all about the mercy and compassion of God, especially as lived out in the person of the Son.</p><p>What drove Jesus to have compassion on the crowd?  To put it plainly, it was Jesus Himself.  He had been teaching them, instructing them, maybe even healing them, and they were hanging on every word of His.  They might not have eaten anything in those three days they spent doing this, and Jesus, being God, knew it all.  His teaching done, they would have to go home, and some of them, being with Him for so long, would have to go a long way, and having nothing to eat, they would have grown weary and fainted along the way.  So, Jesus delighted to have compassion and mercy on them and feed them!</p><p>Now, don’t misunderstand me.  They likely didn’t plan to be with Him for so long without food, and therein is the problem, insofar as there is a problem in the text.  The people were away from home for so long and had no provisions.  Such unpreparedness deserves the weariness and fainting that would have come with having no provisions—if you don’t eat, you’re going to grow weak!  Such is a consequence of the sinfulness with which all of mankind is infected.   But to a God who delights in showing mercy, this is nothing which cannot be overcome.</p><p>It’s all symptomatic of life in this Vale of Tears.  As you go headlong from one sin into the next, your sinful condition is made more and more evident to you.  There is nothing you can do, either in planning how to get out of it or even getting out of it altogether yourself.  You are lost, having to face the consequences of your sin, and the words of St. Paul are probably ringing in your ears right now: “The wages of sin,” the consequence, as it were, “is death.” <span class="biblereference">(Romans 6:23)</span></p><p>Death is what you deserve for your sin.  Weariness, fainting, and possibly even death is what the crowd deserved for having no provisions for the days, traveling home on an empty stomach.</p><p>But God exalts Himself to show mercy.  Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve.  A lenient judge is one who shows mercy by reducing a sentence for a crime, or eliminating it altogether.  That’s the kind of justice that God shows—that’s the kind of Judge Jesus is—He eliminates the sentence for your sin.</p><p>In the case of the crowd upon which He had compassion, He demonstrated His mercy by feeding them all by way of seven small barley loaves and a few small fish.  And their cups ran over to the tune of seven baskets full of leftovers.  If that’s not the overwhelming mercy of God, then nothing is.</p><p>In your case—in the case of all humanity—God exalts Himself in His show of mercy by sending the Son.  God would not have the sinner die, Ezekiel exclaims <span class="biblereference">(Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11)</span>, so He Himself takes on the flesh and bone and blood of His creation, becomes one with Man, and assumes into that perfect flesh the sins of the world, and dies with them, shedding His blood as the payment.  God died on the cross for and with the sins of the world.  No, you do not get what you deserve for your sin, for you should be the one on the cross giving your life for your iniquity, but “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” <span class="biblereference">(Isaiah 53:6b)</span></p><p>No, you do not get what you deserve, and if that is not the overwhelming mercy of God, then most certainly nothing is.  Once again, the words of St. Paul should be ringing in your ears:  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  You do not get what you deserve: death for your sin; and that’s mercy, but you receive the free gift of God in Christ Jesus, which is life, and that’s grace—getting what you don’t deserve.  “For God…[had mercy on] the world,” if you don’t mind my editorial change, “that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that [he would be gracious so that] the world might be saved through him” <span class="biblereference">(John 3:16-17)</span>—again, an editorial change.</p><p>I will add that none of this is deserved.  You don’t, in any way, earn God’s mercy and grace.  Your kindness and mercy toward others, while expected and demanded, will not earn you any favor with a just God who requires perfection.  For, while you may do good in one moment, in the next, you are not, and all the good that you do, because you struggle with your sinful condition, is like a filthy rag before the almighty justice of the Father. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Isaiah 64:6)</span></p><p>So, one might be tempted to give the crowd some credit for Jesus’ mercy by stating that He showed them compassion because they stayed with them for those three days.  That, however would betray Jesus’ own words in the text.  Jesus had concern for their well-being, that they would be so hungry as to grow weary and faint on their way home, so He fed them.  It would, likewise, betray what was written by the prophets, as you heard earlier, that God delights in showing mercy—it’s who He is and what He does, apart from any worthiness or merit in yourself.  You can only go so far to say that Jesus showed mercy to the crowd because they NEEDED to be shown mercy, having taking for themselves no provisions.</p><p>So, for you, that you don’t get what you deserve—that God shows you mercy—is on all Him.  As with the crowd, so for you, God delights in showing you mercy, not because you have somehow earned it, but because that is who God is and what He does.  You can only go so far to say that you NEED to be shown mercy, because you are completely lost in your sinful condition.  Therefore, thank God that He delights in showing mercy.</p><p>Likewise, He delights in being gracious—giving you what you don’t deserve.  In His divine compassion, He removes from you your iniquity and having placed it on His Son, He died with it.  In place of that iniquity, He gives you life and salvation and a trust in Him which relies on Him for all that is good for you, and a holy desire for more.  God has had compassion on you; He has shown you mercy to remove your sin from you as far as east is from the west.  By faith, you cry out, “Yes!  Amen!  Give me more.”  And He delights in showing you grace, and so you are forgiven for all of your sins.  And where there is forgiveness, there is also life and salvation.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonaudio" id="listen-">
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  117.            <guid isPermaLink="false">[email protected]/</guid>
  118.            <category>Sermons</category>
  119.            <pubDate>Sun, 04 Aug 2019 15:25:00 -0400</pubDate>
  120.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
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  125.        <item>
  126.            <title>Second Sunday after Trinity</title>
  127.            <link></link>
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  129.            <description><![CDATA[ <div class="pivotx-wrapper"><a href='' class="thickbox" title="Trinity II 2019 Wordle" ><img src="" alt="Trinity II 2019 Wordle" title="Trinity II 2019 Wordle" class='pivotx-popupimage'/></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonlinks"><div class="audiobox"><a href="">Sermon Audio</a></div><div class="pdflink"><a href="http://geoffrey.famwagner.comsermons-pdf/20190630.trinity2.pdf">Download PDF</a></div></div><p>If you wanted to get Jesus to talk to you, you’d say something that sounded religious.</p><p>It’s an age-old habit.  If you want to impress someone in a given field, you say what little you know about their field.  If you want to make a good impression on a native speaker of a foreign language, you say what you can in their language—or at the least, learn to greet them in their language.  Your God recognizes this, which is part of the reason why St. Paul was inspired to write, “Knowledge puffs up.” <span class="biblereference">(cf. 1 Corinthians 8:1)</span></p><p>So it should come as no surprise as Jesus was eating with a group of Pharisees, that one of them would speak up and say something religious.  Now, Luke did write that they were watching Him carefully, and you know that means that they were waiting for an opportunity to catch Him in an “A-ha moment.”  There’s little better way to do that to someone you acknowledge to be a good teacher <span class="biblereference">(cf. Luke 10:25; 18:18)</span> than to shoot off at the mouth something that sounds like good teaching.</p><p>“Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”</p><p>Sounds okay, doesn’t it?  Can you point out anything wrong with it?  Will everyone who eats bread in the kingdom of God be blessed?  Yeah, I’m sure that’s the case.  But Jesus knew this man had other things in mind.</p><p>So, He tells a parable.  Now, Luke didn’t write that it’s a parable.  Jesus didn’t say that the Kingdom of God could be compared to what’s going on in this story. Nevertheless, since Jesus is making a point by telling a story, it is a parable.</p><p>A man once gave a great banquet.  He had invited all of his friends and relatives.  It’s the kind of banquet that they’re used to given and going to.  One would host and invite the rest, then one of the rest would host the next one and invite the rest, and so on and so forth.  The Pharisees knew this, especially given what Jesus had just told them before today’s text. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Luke 14:12-14)</span>  They were also likely participating in just this sort of thing with the meal to which they had invited Jesus.</p><p>Well, as the story went, the feast was ready, so the master sent his servants to bring in those invited, but this time, things were different—the guests all requested to be excused.  Now, this was likely nothing new.  Sometimes, when you’re invited to a party, you just can’t make it because of some other commitment or some other pressing need comes up.  The excuses given in Jesus’ parable sound like these sorts of things—some other commitment or some other pressing need has come up.  The thing is, though, what you heard are only three of the excuses; it would seem by what continues to happen that everyone invited refused the invitation.</p><p>The master told his servants to bring in others and compel yet others to come to the banquet.  The difference between these others and those invited is that these others aren’t the sort of people those invited would have invited to their banquets.  In fact, these are the kinds of people that would normally only have dreamed of going to such a banquet; to them, this would have been no ordinary experience.</p><p>So, then, how does one connect this parable with what the Pharisee said?  “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  Well, the others brought and compelled into the banquet would certainly have thought of themselves as blessed.  There they were, enjoying a feast unlike anything they had ever had before and likely would never have again.  In that regard, that’s not unlike the feast of bread in the Kingdom of God for those who eat it, especially in the first part.</p><p>Also, bear in mind that this feast of bread in the Kingdom of God has a foretaste even now here on earth.  This ongoing feast has been celebrated for centuries, known as the Sacrament of the Altar in the post-resurrection church, a fulfillment of the Passover meal, which could be seen as that foretaste in the pre-resurrection church.  These days, in the post-resurrection church, Jesus gives His body as bread to eat in order to keep you in the one, true faith unto life everlasting, where you will eat that blessed bread in the Kingdom of God.</p><p>The trick is not to become so complacent in this ongoing feast that you find yourself making excuses in order not to take part it in, and in those excuses to become completely justified in doing so.  Now, I say that knowing full well that occasionally, something does come up that would keep you away from this hallowed banquet hall, but that is the exception, and not the week-after-week norm.  No, there is something more going on in the excuses in Jesus’ parable that translate to a desire not to be here week after week.</p><p>There’s an old proverb accredited to Apuleius, a 2nd century Latin poet, rhetorician, and Platonist philosopher.  “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  Something can become so familiar, so rote, so (dare I say) ordinary that you can find contempt in being there, participating in it, and doing the thing.  How often do things become so routine that you loathe being at them?  Friday comes, and you cannot wait to get home because it’s been a long five days at work, and you can use a break in your weekly routine.  Or perhaps you’ve been at your job for decades, and your skin is wearing thin—it’s long past time to move on.  Anything can become so monotonous and routine.</p><p>God forbid that this is the case with the Lord’s Supper, the Divine Service, even the other regular activities at church.  Nevertheless, I’m afraid that this is exactly what can happen.  Think honestly for a moment.  You come here week after week.  Do you come here looking forward to the service being over so that you can get to something else you’d rather be doing?  And that not in childish ignorance, either.  If that’s the way you really feel about it, why even come here at all?  I’d be lying if I said I never felt that way.  God forgive me for such an attitude.</p><p>What underscored those excuses, the attitude that is prevalent in wanting to be somewhere other than here?  It’s an indifference to the holy things of God.  It’s seeing the Word and Sacraments as being ordinary things.  It’s thinking that this stuff here is just the same-old-same-old, it doesn’t matter if you miss a week, a month, a year, a decade… </p><p>What did the master in Jesus’ parable say about those who thought of his banquet as ordinary?  “None of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.”</p><p>At the Word of Jesus, you are invited and gathered here around Him, His Word, and His Sacraments.  He deigns to grace you with His presence again and again in these ordinary-looking means.  But they are anything but ordinary, for they are Christ for and in you.</p><ul><li>By the Word, Jesus gives Himself to you and declares you forgiven, renewed, and redeemed.</li><li>By Holy Baptism, ordinary water by all “reasonable thought,” Jesus washes you clean of all iniquity and joins you to Himself.</li><li>By Holy Communion, ordinary bread and wine by all “reasonable thought,” Jesus gives you his very body and blood for your forgiveness, life, and salvation.</li></ul><p class="postblockquote">Now, it’s understandable to think of the Word and water as ordinary, though the very Word of God declares of them that they are anything but.  However, to consider the body and blood of Jesus, the very Son of God incarnate, as ordinary—that should be unfathomable  with any amount of holy, common sense.</p>
  130. <p>Still, as I said, you are here, brought to this hallowed hall by God, the Holy Spirit, to hear Jesus in His Word proclaimed to you by His called servant, to receive Jesus in that proclamation, and to be renewed in body and soul by His Word and Sacrament.  He gives Himself to you in these means in order that you would be His forever, to be blessed by Him to eat bread in the Kingdom of God.  So He comes to you and cleanses you from this attitude of indifference.  No, these are no ordinary means—they are God come down to you in grace and power; they are your life and salvation.  They are the forgiveness of all of your sins!</p><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonaudio" id="listen-">
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  140.            <category>Sermons</category>
  141.            <pubDate>Sun, 30 Jun 2019 15:50:00 -0400</pubDate>
  142.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
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  147.        <item>
  148.            <title>Presentation of the Augsburg Confession (transferred)</title>
  149.            <link></link>
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  151.            <description><![CDATA[ <div class="pivotx-wrapper"><a href='' class="thickbox" title="Presentation of the Augsburg Confession (transferred) 2019 Wordle" ><img src="" alt="Presentation of the Augsburg Confession (transferred) 2019 Wordle" title="Presentation of the Augsburg Confession (transferred) 2019 Wordle" class='pivotx-popupimage'/></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonlinks"><div class="audiobox"><a href="">Sermon Audio</a></div><div class="pdflink"><a href="http://geoffrey.famwagner.comsermons-pdf/20190623.presentationoftheaugsburgconfession.pdf">Download PDF</a></div></div><p>Articles IV, V, and VI form the crux of Lutheran doctrine and practice—you can read them on the back of your bulletins this morning.  Everything else that is taught and believed in the Lutheran church is informed by what is espoused in these three articles.  Why aren’t they the first three articles?  Basically because the first three—on God, Sin, and the Son of God—get you to these three.  So, you can’t have these three without those three, and on those three, most of Christianity agrees.  Once you get to Articles IV, V, and VI, though, confessions and denominations diverge.</p><ul><li>Article IV states that man is justified freely before God on account of the Son of God and for His sake, and this through faith, apart from any works, strength, or the merits of his own. This faith is trust in God and a belief that one’s sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake by the all-atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.</li><li>Article V states that this faith is obtained by way of the Word of God being proclaimed to you, and that the Office of the Holy Ministry was especially instituted by God in order that you would have the Word proclaimed to you, hear of your sins forgiven, and that the means of grace would be given to you.  Of chief importance, though, is that faith is obtained by way of the Word, as you heard in today’s Epistle:</li></ul><blockquote class="quoted">But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. <span class="biblereference">(Romans 10:14-17)</span></blockquote><ul><li>Article VI states that good works that a Christian does are bound follow this gift of faith.  These works are necessary—yes, they are required of you—but not insofar as they inform your justification or salvation, as was aforementioned.</li></ul><p class="postblockquote">Anything other than this is a perversion of Biblical doctrine and should be rejected as either heterodox—which can simply be understood as a different teaching held by anyone—or heretical—which would be an established, false teaching.  Even the Augsburg Confession does this.</p><p>Scripture teaches salvation by grace, that works and being good avail nothing.  You heard Luther say as much last week, but you heard it also in today’s Gospel.</p><ol><li>Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”  If that is true, and since Jesus is the Truth <span class="biblereference">(cf. John 14:6)</span>, then it is true, then it holds that in order to have a part with Jesus, it’s all on someone else, not you, that you have that part with Jesus.  In keeping with the Vine and Branches theme that Jesus uses, you are grafted onto the Vine, Jesus, by the gardener—and it should go without saying that a branch neither grows apart from a vine nor is one grafted onto a vine by itself.</li></li>Furthermore, there is this word from the pen of St. Paul: “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this [that is, faith] is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” <span class="biblereference">(Ephesians 2:8-10)</span></li><li>Additionally, when describing your state and condition before God before salvation, the Bible says that you were a dead man, stating that you were dead in your trespasses and sins. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13)</span>  By way of the gift of faith, then, you have had a resurrection, as it were, to newness of life—a newness given to you in the waters of Holy Baptism. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Romans 6:3-4)</span>  A dead man can no more wake himself from the dead as a child can choose to be born or adopted, which, by the way, are other words used to describe your coming to faith. <span class="biblereference">(cf. John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3, 23; Romans 8:15, 23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5)</span></li></ol><p class="postblockquote">No one in history was saved because they were good.  Last week, you confessed the Athanasian Creed, wherein you said, “At [Jesus’ second] coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works.  And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.”  “They that have done good,” are those who hold to the catholic (little-c) faith, which you also confessed last week, not those who work good toward salvation.  As St. Paul recounted, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” <span class="biblereference">(Romans 3:10b-12)</span></p><p>Nevertheless, good works are commanded, and as they are commanded, then you confess that they are necessary.  What are they for?  They are given to you in order that you may serve your neighbor.  As Jesus once said, “The poor you always have with you.” <span class="biblereference">(John 12:8)</span>  A look throughout the Old Testament sees the commandment from God to care for the widow and the fatherless children inasmuch as the Children of Israel were to be a light to the Gentiles.  That expectation continued with the New Testament church, and even unto today.  Care for the widows.  Care for the fatherless children.  Care for the poor who are always with you.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  If you want to know what you can do to that is pleasing to God in heaven, this is it: serve your neighbor—this is the good work you have been given to do.</p><p>As if to underscore the necessity of these good works, St. James the Just, brother of Jesus, wrote,</p><blockquote class="quoted">What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.”  Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. <span class="biblereference">(James 2:14-18)</span></blockquote><p class="postblockquote">So Jesus continued, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”  These kinds of works—without partiality, without seeking recognition, without compensation, and sometimes without the realization that you are doing anything, and without the hope of merit before God in heaven—prove your faith; prove your living faith.  As was said before, though, these cannot be done apart from God and being in Christ.  He gives them, you do them in Christ—apart from Him you can do nothing.</p><p>That’s why Jesus said, “Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  Bearing fruit is the good works you are given to do.  Those who don’t bear fruit are taken away.  And in doing the good works, you are continually pruned—a proclamation of Law and Gospel to you—that you may continue to bear fruit, and bear more, in fact!</p><p>Four times now you have heard me say that God has given these works to you.  This is exactly as it was written by St. Paul.  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.“ <span class="biblereference">(Ephesians 2:10)</span></p><p>Salvation is grace alone, which has been sufficiently demonstrated.  And this comes to you by way of the Word of God alone, which has likewise been sufficiently demonstrated.  What isn’t mentioned in these two statements?  Faith alone!  It is faith alone which apprehends the grace of God proclaimed and distributed in the Word of God and makes it your own.  Hence what Jesus said in today’s Gospel: “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.”  By faith you believe that you are received into God’s favor, and that your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for your sins, just as you read in Article IV on the back of your bulletin.  These three Solas—sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura—underlie everything confessed in these three articles of the Augsburg Confession.</p><p>As a branch on the Vine, Jesus Christ, you are continually refreshed and renewed by the Vine.  His Word—verily, Jesus Christ Himself—is continually proclaimed to you.  His Sacraments are often administered to you.  And so you are kept grafted to the Vine, pruned and cared for that you may continue to produce the fruit that you have been given to produce.  But you are already clean because of the Word that was spoken to you and into you—washed and sanctified for the sake of Christ, forgiven and redeemed and saved—and that is completely by the grace of God.</p><p>What are works in the face of such grace?  How can your good works compare to the free salvation by God’s grace?  They can’t!  The moment you think of them as somehow meritorious, they are as a polluted rag, an unclean thing, as the prophet declared. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Isaiah 64:6)</span>  They could never be meritorious for they are given by God to His children to do, and please Him only on account of Christ, through whom they are done!  Besides, given the choice, would you help and serve your neighbor, or to his detriment, help and serve only yourself?  Good or not, however, it is as Christ declared of these works, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” <span class="biblereference">(Luke 17:10)</span></p><p>No, the grace of God doesn’t compare at all with works , especially when seen as meritorious.  Since it is grace, it is a gift, not to be compared with works seen as meritorious.  Since it is a gift, it is unearned and undeserved, freely given by God for the sake of Jesus Christ, who by His life, death, resurrection, and ascension performed the only meritorious work for salvation and redemption, and that once for all, when He gave His life on the cross as your ransom.</p><p>That’s why Jesus said what He did.  “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  What sounds like a bunch of law is chock full of gospel.  “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.”  You are clean for the sake of Christ, now go serve your neighbor, which you can do because you are already clean—that is, you are forgiven for all of your sins.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonaudio" id="listen-">
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  157.    <div class="pivotx-media-audio-download">Download media: <a href="">20190623.presentationoftheaugsburgconfession.mp3</a> (5.75 MiB)</div>
  159. </div>audio recorded on my digital recorder</div> ]]></description>
  160.            <guid isPermaLink="false">[email protected]/</guid>
  161.            <category>Sermons</category>
  162.            <pubDate>Sun, 23 Jun 2019 15:55:00 -0400</pubDate>
  163.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
  164.        </item>
  168.        <item>
  169.            <title>Ascension of Our Lord</title>
  170.            <link></link>
  171.            <comments></comments>
  172.            <description><![CDATA[ <div class="pivotx-wrapper"><a href='' class="thickbox" title="Ascension of Our Lord 2019 Wordle" ><img src="" alt="Ascension of Our Lord 2019 Wordle" title="Ascension of Our Lord 2019 Wordle" class='pivotx-popupimage'/></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonlinks"><div class="audiobox"><a href="">Sermon Audio</a></div><div class="pdflink"><a href="http://geoffrey.famwagner.comsermons-pdf/20190530.ascensionofourlord.pdf">Download PDF</a></div></div><p>What does it mean, “He...ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things?”</p><p>Well, for starters, what you heard in Mark 16:20 begins to answer the question.  “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”  As you heard, this was stated following the Lord’s ascent from the disciples eyes.  Out of view, Jesus is now bodily present everywhere.  Don’t ask me how this works; this is simply the truth that is confessed according to the Scriptures and espoused in the Lutheran Confessions.  In His bodily omnipresence, Jesus fills all things.  I suppose that were He still manifested on earth, it would be more difficult to grasp His omnipresence—you could point to a person and say, “Jesus is there,” and the eyes of fallen flesh would or could override what your eyes of flesh “see.”  Out of sight, you can believe, though not fully understand, that Jesus is everywhere, filling all things.</p><p>Before ascending, though, Jesus promotes, as it were, His disciples to apostles.  He sends them, though He did tell them to wait until Pentecost, when they would be anointed with power from on high.  As His apostles, they went everywhere proclaiming the Gospel, as He directed them—“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”  So, it follows:</p><ul><li>Where two or three (or more) are gathered in the name of Christ, Jesus is there. <span class="biblereference">(cf. Matthew 18:20)</font></li><li>When the Word is proclaimed, Jesus is there.</li><li>When water is applied to someone with the Word, Jesus is there.</li><li>When sins are confessed, Jesus is there.</li><li>When sins are forgiven, Jesus is there.</li><li>When the faith is professed, Jesus is there.</li><li>When the body and blood of Christ are consumed, Jesus is there.</li></ul><p class="postblockquote">Jesus is there in those things happening, working through and with those things happening—in other words, filling them.  And if Jesus is there filling them, then there is forgiveness, life, and salvation there!</p><p>Why?</p><p>Again, it is as you heard in Mark 16:20, as well as back in verse 16.  “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  Jesus worked with the apostles as they proclaimed the Gospel.  His people brought the message of salvation to all the world, and as they proclaimed the Gospel, people believed.  As St. Paul declared, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” <span class="biblereference">(Romans 10:17)</span>  The Apostles proclaimed the word of Christ, and the people heard, and by that hearing, they believed!</p><p>What happens as people turn from unbelief to faith?  St. Paul also explained this:</p><blockquote class="quoted">Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  <b>And such <i>were</i> some of you</b>.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. <span class="biblereference">(1 Corinthians 6:9-11, emphasis mine)</span></blockquote><p class="postblockquote">In short, people go from being unrighteous to being the righteousness of God in Christ.  “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” <span class="biblereference">(2 Corinthians 5:20)</span>  If one is in Christ, He is a new creation <span class="biblereference">(cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17)</span>, and Christ is in Him.  Jesus filled the Corinthians, such that all of that unrighteousness was in their past; they are no longer those things.</p><p>Still ascended, Jesus continues to fill all things.  Like the people of Corinth, He has filled you, and so you also are washed, sanctified, and justified.  Like the people of Corinth, some of you were some of those things—sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers—or some other thing.  And you know that you still struggle with this, that, or the other thing.  Nevertheless, you are filled with Jesus, and He is present with you, certainly always, but also in those times, as I said earlier, when you confess your sins and are forgiven for your sins, strengthening you for your struggle, and receiving you unto Himself.  And this because you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.</p><p>You have heard the message of salvation: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.  And it is your joyful privilege to carry and proclaim that message to all the world—or at least, in the little corner of it in which you have been placed.  People need this message of salvation, the Jesus-filled message you have been given to proclaim.</p><p>So, as He continues to fill all things, Jesus gives.  “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God...”  In other words, Jesus has given you the apostles, prophets, and evangelists, who have recorded His Word for you, and the pastors and teachers, who preach His Word to you, that you may be equipped, that is filled with Jesus, in order to do the work of ministry.  Ministry is service to your neighbor for the purpose of building up the body of Christ, and that would be the proclamation of the message of salvation to that hurting world, to the end that everyone attains the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God.</p><p>If you don’t believe that you have a part in bringing people to salvation, hear what is said through the evangelist St. Mark and the Apostle St. Paul.  Jesus ascended far above all the heaven, that He might fill all things.  They went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them…  Jesus filled all things, including you, that you might proclaim Him to your neighbor, that they might be baptized and believing, washed, sanctified, and justified, no longer unrighteous, filled with Jesus—just like you.  He does not leave you alone to do this, for He works with you, He works through you, in order that others might hear and believe.  As St. Paul put it,</p><blockquote class="quoted">So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.  <b>For we are God’s fellow workers</b>.  You are God’s field, God’s building. <span class="biblereference">(1 Corinthians 3:7-9, emphasis mine)</span></blockquote><p class="postblockquote">“We are God’s fellow workers,” he wrote; so, you work with God, God in Christ working in you, since Christ fills you, as He fills all things.</p><p>This is what the ascension of Jesus means.  This is why He fills all things: that you might be in Christ and that your neighbor might be in Christ, all having heard the message of salvation, being joined in the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, who died and rose again and ascended so that you would be forgiven for all of your sins.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonaudio" id="listen-">
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  180. </div>audio recorded on my digital recorder</div> ]]></description>
  181.            <guid isPermaLink="false">[email protected]/</guid>
  182.            <category>Sermons</category>
  183.            <pubDate>Thu, 30 May 2019 23:33:00 -0400</pubDate>
  184.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
  185.        </item>
  189.        <item>
  190.            <title>Busy, Busy, Busy</title>
  191.            <link></link>
  192.            <comments></comments>
  193.            <description><![CDATA[ <p>Here I am, nearly a year after the last entry, only to say that I have been very busy.  I have a second job&#x2014;have had it for over a year, now&#x2014;and that has constricted my office time a little.  Tack on taking kids to school, and that means that I can't get into the office earlier to "relieve" some of that constriction on the front end.  Of course, the second job means I'm also spending more time out of the house now.</p><p>Consequently, the time I have to update my blog in any meaningful sense has severely decreased.  I want to include more sermons; I have plenty to share.  I also have other things that I would have liked to have written about, some of which I'm sure I have forgotten.</p><p>So, here's a short entry just to keep things "going" here; a quick update on what I've been doing and not doing.</p> ]]></description>
  194.            <guid isPermaLink="false">[email protected]/</guid>
  195.            <category>My Ramblings</category>
  196.            <pubDate>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 08:43:00 -0400</pubDate>
  197.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
  198.        </item>
  202.        <item>
  203.            <title>Cantate</title>
  204.            <link></link>
  205.            <comments></comments>
  206.            <description><![CDATA[ <div class="pivotx-wrapper"><a href='' class="thickbox" title="Cantate 2018 Wordle" ><img src="" alt="Cantate 2018 Wordle" title="Cantate 2018 Wordle" class='pivotx-popupimage'/></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonlinks"><div class="audiobox"><a href="">Sermon Audio</a></div><!-- <div class="pdflink"><a href="http://geoffrey.famwagner.comsermons-pdf/20180429.cantate.pdf">Download PDF</a></div> --></div><p>[Sermon text and PDF to be posted soon, as time allows.]</p><div style="padding:10px;"></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.</i></div><div class="sermonaudio" id="listen-">
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  214. </div>audio recorded on my digital recorder</div> ]]></description>
  215.            <guid isPermaLink="false">[email protected]/</guid>
  216.            <category>Sermons</category>
  217.            <pubDate>Sun, 29 Apr 2018 15:00:00 -0400</pubDate>
  218.            <dc:creator>Stingray</dc:creator>
  219.        </item>
  223.    </channel>
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