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We Have Hope

Saints Triumphant Sunday

We Have Hope

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

It was a long day.  A usual day, but a long day.  Get the kids up.  Get the backpacks packed.  Rush out the door.  Meetings, meetings, meetings.  A pile of work that somehow was growing and not shrinking.  More meetings.  A massive headache.  Screaming down the highway, rushing to pick the kids up from school on time.  Getting home past dark.  Whipping up something for dinner.  It was a long day, but a normal day.  Until the phone rang.

“Is this Sheila Johnson?  Ms. Johnson it’s your husband.  There’s been an accident.  You need to come to the hospital immediately.”  Sheila nearly dropped the phone as she dropped her dinner plate.  She left the pool on the floor of spaghetti sauce mixed with fresh tears as she grabbed the kids and rushed out the door.  Whatever the speed limits were, she wasn’t following.  She drove almost as fast as her heart was beating.  Her family had never really prayed before.  They didn’t care too much about God because they didn’t really have time for God.  But to whatever god was out there, she was fervently and feverishly praying.  “Oh, Lord, please.  Please no,” she kept repeating.

Sheila burst into the ER.  She left the kids in the waiting room as the doctors pulled her into a private room.  “I’m sorry Ms. Johnson.  You’re too late.  There’s nothing we could do.  Your husband has passed.”  The room erupted with an inhuman roar.  And as quickly as the wild wailing began, Sheila was passed out on the floor.   Read the rest of this entry

Something to Boast About

15th Sunday after Pentecost

Something to Boast About

Text: Galatians 6:12-16

Seventeen days ago, on September 4, 2014, comedienne Joan Rivers died.  Though she showed the battle wounds of countless plastic surgeries and several frantic decades of Hollywood life, it seemed to many that Joan Rivers was ageless and would keep going strong for years.  But after complications during a surgery, she finally passed away at the age of 81.  Not to worry though, Joan Rivers had her funeral planned out well in advance.

The funeral was two weeks ago at Temple Emanu-El in New York City.  Here are some of the details of the funeral.  Guests started arriving around 11am and were welcomed by the New York Gay Men’s Chorus singing “irreverent, fun songs” as they were described.  The Rabbi opened with prayers that were followed by Broadway star Audra McDonald giving a moving performance.

Next, several celebrities stood to honor Joan Rivers and share their fond memories and gushing compliments.  The last to speak was Melissa Rivers who read a touching letter that left the audience laughing.

Actor Hugh Jackman ended the service with another spectacular performance that ended with the crowd standing and cheering.  As guests left, Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York was one of the songs played.

The funeral was apparently quite the event.  Hoda Kotb, co-host of the Today Show described the funeral this way:  “It felt like a Broadway show with tons of humor, lots of tears and it ended with a standing ovation.”  Hoda and countless other celebrities attended this extravaganza.  Although someone was conspicuously missing—Jesus.   Read the rest of this entry

Rejoice in What God Will Do

The 3rd Sunday of End Times

Rejoice in What God Will Do

Text:  Isaiah 65:17-25

Three years ago on this day of the church year I told you the story of a friend pastor of mine whose young child tragically stopped breathing and died.  I’ve shared other sad stories.  A friend pastor whose baby was born with a hole in the heart and parts of the brain missing.  Former members of our church whose daughter was born a few months ago with hydrocephalus.  She’s currently receiving ground breaking treatment at Duke University.  We have a student in our Preschool that is fighting cancer and a tumor fused to the top of his spinal chord.  On Thursday a man with a gun was shot by police in the newborn wing of the Children’s hospital just down the road from my parents’ home in Milwaukee.  I know other stories.  You know other stories.

A few months ago we included in our prayers our former vicar or intern Jacob Hoff and his family when his mother-in-law passed away after fighting brain cancer for about six months.  A few weeks ago I told you about the pastor in his 60s that died from lung cancer, making a cross over his heart as he took his last breath.  I know other stories.  You know other stories.

Some of you have experienced these sad stories very recently.  A lost grandfather.  Or mother.  Or friend.  A new person with cancer.  A new life-threatening illness.  Another life expected to be too short.  Another life cut short.  Some of you have such stories right now. Read the rest of this entry

Which is Better? Life or Death?

3rd Sunday after Pentecost – Confirmation Sunday

Which is Better?

Text: Philippians 1:18b-26

Intro

Today is a special day for Christ the King.  We haven’t done this before.  Strange enough, in the six year history of Christ the King today is our first ever confirmation Sunday.  We’ve had plenty of adults join our church when standing up here to confirm their unity of belief and dedication to the Lord.  I’m privileged to have taken most of you adults here today through those instructional classes.

We’ve also had plenty of young’uns at Christ the King.  Hence the herd that stampeded down the hallway to children’s church a few minutes ago.  But we’ve never had eighth grade students go through catechism classes and confirmation.  Today, we have our first three.

The practice of catechism classes and confirmation is not something unique to Christ the King.  It’s not even specifically Lutheran.  In fact, the practice is as old as the Christian church itself.  Just before Jesus ascended into heaven he told his disciples, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing the in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  You heard those words this morning and saw that command carried out with Lucy’s awesome baptism.  But Jesus also continued that command saying, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing the in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  So Jesus’ disciples and the early Christians began to thoroughly teach everything Christ taught. Read the rest of this entry

Thanks Be to God! He Gives Us the Victory through Jesus Christ Our Lord!

Easter Sunrise

Thanks Be to God! He Gives Us the Victory through Jesus Christ Our Lord!

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Intro

It hurts, doesn’t it?  Death.  It hurts.  A lot.  To see your grandmother lying lifeless, to see your father no longer able to play catch or give piggyback rides—it hurts.  To have your sister, your child here and then gone—it hurts.  To see the person you love so much reduced to a pile of ashes in an urn—it hurts.  A lot.

We human beings are so smart and so advanced.  We have phones that talk to us and computers that solve problems for us.  We can split atoms.  We can fly in planes.  We can walk on the moon.  We have cures for all kinds of sicknesses and diseases and miracle anti-aging creams and gels.  But we can’t seem to stop death.  It doesn’t matter who you are or how powerful you or how rich you are.  You can’t stop death.  Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth in St. Augustine is as pointless as paying the money to see the cheap tourist trap.  Everyone will die.  And it hurts.  A lot.

Death devastates us.  Death shakes our equilibrium and shatters our spirits.  It brings oceans of tears and waves of emotions.  It leaves gaps in our lives and holes in our hearts.  Death hurts.  It aches.  It burns.  It stings.  A lot. Read the rest of this entry