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Image result for peter kneeling before jesus in the boat

Text: St. Luke 5: 1-11

The Gospel for today can be divided into three parts.  Two boats are not being used because the fishermen are washing their nets, in other words, they are done for day and we’ll find out a little done in. After Jesus heals so many, the crowds are “pressing in on Him” and we are told, “…to hear the word of God” and the Lord taught the people, “…from the boat”.  In a Church sanctuary where the people sit is called the “nave”.  The Latin root word for nave is “navis”, that is, ship.  We also have our word “navy” from the Latin.  Jesus is in the boat preaching and in the nave preaching the pure Word of God as a pastor is called to do so.  Earlier when all were seeking Him to stay in Capernaum but Jesus I must go and preach, for that is purpose for which I have come. From the boat, with the Word of God in the center, the boat is the Communion of the Word.

In the second part of the Gospel, Peter tells the novice Fisherman, when he says to Peter go out again and let down our nets into the deep, we’ve toiled all night and caught nothing, “…But at your word I will let down the nets.”  Peter has an up and down record of faith in the Gospels, like we all but here he has the stirrings of faith.  He has seen Jesus healing so many that something is up with this man. But at Your word…we take people at their word.  Why?  Because they have shown themselves by word and deed to be trustworthy and so we take them at their word. Faith is trust and Jesus  has shown

 Peter bowed down and knelt in fear.  If Peter had only said, “Depart from me”, it would have been funny:  Please get off the boat you’re sinking us!  But Peter realized something else when he sees the catch: I am a sinful man.  Notice that Jesus does not at this occasion preaches God’s Law, no dos and don’ts.  Peter sees the overwhelming beneficence and benevolent gifts of God!  This is like the feeding of the 5,000.  He is receiving nothing he could have imagined and ask for, after a night of catching no fish. He, a sinner, is overwhelmed by the goodness of God. I pray with many hospice patients thanks for the roof over our head, the clothes on our back and food on our table. In today’s Old Testament lesson, Isaiah the priest sees in the Temple with his mortal eyes the thrice-Holy God.  In the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, we sing,

Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Love and purity are one in the one Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Love and holiness go together. Isaiah was looking at the absolute holiness of the Lord.  And in 1 John,  it is written God is love.  Isaiah is looking at the absolute holiness of God’s love, love’s pure light. He realizes in an instant I am a man of unclean lips living in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my  eyes have seen the King, Sabaoth Lord.  The Lord then brought to Isaiah a burning coal from the Altar to touch the new prophet’s lips: your sins are atoned for.  I think that burning coal is a type of Christ Jesus atoning for our sin once and for all, like that burning coal. The Lord does not leave Isaiah but calls him.

Simon’s prayer to Jesus, depart from me was not answered in the affirmative.  Jesus did not depart from Peter but called Him and James and John. Jesus was in the boat with them.  One day Peter would bow down again to the Lord…in freedom in praise and prayer and the confession of faith: Jesus is Lord. Peter confessed His sin and Jesus would atone for it by His Word and His Life.  Jesus is in the boat, the nave today.  The Church is the communion of the absolved.

When going fishing, what do we usually do with the fish?  Dinner!   Right!  Eat ‘em.  Here in the third part of the lesson, the translation in the Gospel for “Catching”, as in catching fish, is ζωγρῶν, zogron,  and only St. Luke uses this word and it literally means, “caught alive”. Caught alive to be alive.  Out of the βάθος, the bathos (as in bathysphere), we are caught in the Gospel net of His love and mercy. In the depths, in over our heads, in  sin, sorrow and sickness, the Lord lets down the net of His Gospel, manned by His pastors and other church workers, to brought up and live in Him forever.   

I speculate.  If a Christian, in a thoroughly anti-Christian states like communist China or in the Islamic dictatorship of Iran, the living of two lives, as a Christian and a citizen of those countries,  must be sharp and hard.  On the right hand, the Christian has breathed the free air of the Holy Spirit, freed in Jesus Christ from sin, death and power of the devil.  On the left hand, the Chinese or Iranian Christian, breathes the foul air of despotism, a servant of the state, in the rule and reign of the powers and principalities, even scared for his life every day. In the ‘70s when I visited Communist East Berlin, part of a college group from then Concordia Senior College, we went to a Lutheran church.  The year before one of our professors met the janitor.  The janitor talked with our group while we were seated in the sanctuary about the real condition of the church in Communist East Berlin. He said that the Church does not leave the four walls of the church building.  There were other people in the sanctuary, and janitor kept on looking over his shoulder to see who was listening. After he talked, he said to us, let’s move over here in the nave.  The Christian caught by Christ out of the depths then lives in the depths.  Political tyranny is official in so many countries. 

Here the tyranny is not official but encroaching. In The Lord of Rings, Theodan, King of Gondor is literally possessed by the evil wizard Saruman.  Gandalf comes to set him free from his bondage to an evil one.  When Theodan is back to himself, Gandalf smiles and says to Theodan, Breath the free air, my friend. We have breathed the free and freeing air of the Holy Spirit, resuscitated in the Gospel, and yet the shackles of pornography, promiscuity, and all the false promises of the devil beckon each and every day.  Many Christians do look over their shoulder, lest someone is listening  to a Christian doctrine that could be construed and skewed as sexist or homophobic. The Twitter thought police are listening.

When called to speak the truth, we need to do so in love, and yet the Church is to speak the Truth.  An American abolitionist in 1852 famously said, Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.  I would add both political and spiritual freedom.  The Lord is ever vigilant.  We are to be vigilant, not vigilantes taking to the twitter mobs or the taking the law into our own hands.  For what it’s worth, the Bible verse as of late that I keep going back to is: Gal. 5: 1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  How is spiritual freedom nourished?  Short answer: the Word of the Lord and His Sacraments. James and John, sons of Zebedee, were partners, κοινωνοὶ, koinono with Simon. The Greek word for partners is related to the Greek word, koinonia, fellowship or communion. We are partnered with Christ’s Church, His Communion. Just think, though the nets were breaking, those brawny fishermen still brought in the nets! The Lord gives us strength and abilities to haul in the net. The Koinonia of the Church around the Crucified and Risen Lord Who is our freedom and our strength.

The price of freedom is also unceasing prayer:

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
    but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138)

The Lord’s goal is catching men, ζωγρῶν,zogron, caught alive  out of the βάθος, depths, the deep of sin, death and the power of the devil to breath the free air. He calls His pastors and His ship, His Nave to go out into the deep to let down the Gospel net. The Church is the Communion of the Mission.

The Lord’s goal is catching men, ζωγρῶν, zogov, caught alive out of the βάθος, the depth of sin, death and the power of the devil with His gospel net. The problem  is we are in the same boat as Simon Peter,  I am a sinful man.  We are in the same boat and so is our Lord, our Captain in the well fought fight.   

THE CHURCH IS THE COMMUNION OF THE WORD.THE CHURCH IS THE COMMUNION OF THE ABSOLVED. THE CHURCH IS THE COMMUNION OF THE MISSION.

And Jesus is in the boat with us absolving, forgiving and uplifting us with His Word, turning to Him day by day in joyful repentance, for without Him, we can’t stay afloat.   We’ve been caught alive by absolution and forgiveness and filled with the Holy Spirit, alive in Christ to show someone where the fishing is good.

In the Name of the Father, and of the +the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Link of the Day

NEW YORK, ABORTION, AND A SHORT ROUTE TO CHAOS

by Bishop Robert Barron January 29, 2019

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True Worship

Image result for Peter kneeling before Jesus in the boat

“…when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 

The congregation at Jesus’ hometown synagogue think they have Jesus all figured out.

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. (St. Matthew 13)

The disciples report the scuttlebutt about Jesus and the way many had Jesus all figured out:

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (St. Matthew 16)

This tendency toward theories about Jesus have had quite a brisk sales in books, movies, and plays in our day.  C. S. Lewis wrote about this in the 20th Century:

“Any theory which bases itself on a supposed “historical Jesus” to be dug out of the Gospels and then set up in opposition to Christian teaching is suspect. There have been too many historical Jesuses—a liberal Jesus, a pneumatic Jesus, a Barthian Jesus, a Marxist Jesus. They are the cheap crop of each publisher’s list, like the new Napoleons and new Queen Victorian. It is not to such phantoms that I look for my faith and my salvation.” (from his essay, “Why I am not a Pacifist”)

Almost every year at Christmas and/or Easter, there is some report on a new take on the Lord contrary to the Scriptures.  In the 20th century there were two popular musicals/operas about the life of Christ:  Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. In the former He is portrayed as a puzzle , yet a ‘superstar’ and in the latter as a clown. Evangelicals have portrayed Him as football coach, liberals as a revolutionary or a teacher alone.  These, even if well-intentioned, are, “…set up in opposition to Christian teaching”.

This coming Sunday’s Gospel reading is St. Luke 5: 1-11 and after the great catch of fish, Luke reports, “…when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”  When the pagan magi worshiped the infant Jesus, they fell down before the Lord.  There are so many times when people fell down, knelt and worshiped Jesus. Even the demons do (Mark 3:11-12). 

Would I, or anyone for that matter, want to fall down before a Marxist revolutionary?  Or a clown?  A liberal Jesus? A puzzle? Those portrayals and writings about Jesus do not draw forth worship. Why?  All those portrayals are not real.  They are men’s inventions as are all of our idols. They are “phantoms”.   The actual and real Biblical report shows us the fact that in Christ is the Father’s love made manifest to even  God shedding His blood on the Cross for us. A shadow portrayal is only a projection of the unregenerate flesh.  Note:  none of these man-made portrayals can point us to the One Who, “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God” (The Nicene Creed).  Only the real God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (cf. St. John 3: 16). All man made portrayals, depictions and theologies are blood-less.    As they are bloodless then they are loveless.  When we read for ourselves that Christ is indeed died for us, the love of God fills us with His mercy to love as we have first been loved. 

T hey are “phantoms”.   The actual and real Biblical report show us the fact that in Christ is the Father’s love made manifest to even  God shedding His blood on the Cross for us. A shadow portrayal is only a projection of the unregenerate flesh.  Note:  none of these man-made portrayals can point us to the One Who, “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God” (The Nicene Creed).  Only the real God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (cf. St. John 3: 16). All man made portrayals, depictions and theologies are blood-less.    As they are bloodless then they are loveless.  When we read for ourselves that Christ is indeed died for us, the love of God fills us with His mercy to love as we have first been loved. 

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Divine Service March for Life 2019

This Sermon was preached by Pastor Christopher Esget in the Divine Service, The Feast of the Confession of St. Peter, before the March for Life at The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Conference for Life. The original posting can be found here.

My dear brothers and sisters who are Lutherans for Life, today, January 18, is the festival of the Confession of St. Peter. That’s more than a coincidence. Peter’s confession tells us why we March for Life.

We are not here to protest. We are here to confess.

To the disciples Jesus put the question: “Who do you say that I am?” That question is more important than any other.That same question Jesus puts to you: “Who do you say that I am?” 

“Doctrine is life – the doctrine of the God who is for us, the God who desires to be our God, the living God who wants us to share in His divine life.”

The question has a dogmatic answer. But dogma never exists alone. Doctrine does not exist for itself. Doctrine is God’s gift to us. Doctrine is life. Well, not just any doctrine, but the doctrine of the God who is for us, the God who desires to be our God, the living God who wants us to share in His divine life.

At the head of the Ten Commandments is this beautiful declaration: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Ex. 20:2). The Lord does not merely state His self-existing reality. He announces Himself in relation to His people. “I am the Lord your God.” Our confession in response does not say, “You are God,” but, “You are our God.” 

“Doctrine is life because it draws us into communion with Jesus, in whom is life.”

This is how the Small Catechism teaches us to confess. We say more than God is the creator. We say, “I believe that God has made me and all creatures, that He has given me my body and soul,” etc. And then we say more than “Jesus Christ is Lord.” We confess, “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from all eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me.” And then, “The Holy Spirit has called me.” 

Doctrine is life. Doctrine is life because it draws us into communion with Jesus, in whom is life.

That’s what Peter is confessing when he answers Jesus’ question: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replies, “You are the Christ.” Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Peter then added these words: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Except Peter, I think, said it more like this: “You are the Christ, the Son of God – the Living One.”

God is not merely alive; He is life. And that life is not static, but dynamic. He is living.

Everything that lives has life from God. St. Paul told the pagan philosophers on Mars Hill, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

That doctrine undergirds our confession at the nation’s high court today. All human beings are created equal – because all human beings are created. The limbs that God has joined together, let no abortion tear asunder. That baby is living, no matter how small. To be pro-life is also then to embrace that life. Thus we also confess, “That baby, no matter his color, no matter what drugs or alcohol have done to his brain, that baby is loved by God and so by the people of God. He is welcome in our churches, and in our homes. And the teenager who is pregnant, and scared: she is welcome in our churches, and in our homes.”

We are not here to protest. We are here to confess. And we leave here ready to live in, with, and under that confession.

What St. Paul said of all human beings—“In Him we live and move and have our being”—that is the general principle of life that pertains to everything living. But you know that into this world has entered a corrupting negation: death. 

Our world has come not only under the power of death but has fallen in love with its captor. To a dying world we not only confess the general goodness of life but the hope of the Living One. We heard from St. Peter himself this morning, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” God’s love for us not only wants us to be alive, but to share in His life. His plan is to make us and all Christians “partakers of the divine nature.”

And here we must confess how much we have failed to love the “things that pertain to life and godliness.” How often have you instead loved the corruption that is in the world? How often have you succumbed to sinful desire?

What corruption is in your mind? Your mouth? Your heart? Like Peter, you have not set your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.

We are heirs of the Reformation, protesting indulgences, while indulging the sinful nature in the most horrible abuses of Gospel liberty.

“A March for Life must begin with a confession that we, too, have been steeped in the culture of death.”

A March for Life must begin with a confession that we, too, have been steeped in the culture of death. That death infects our church politics, our family dynamics, and what we allow on our screens and into our souls.

Repent! Repent and rejoice, for we have a Jesus who delights in confession. He hears your confession. He hears your confession of sin, and bids you confess Him as the sin bearer. He hears your confession that you have walked the paths of darkness, and bids you confess Him as the light who scatters the darkness. Jesus hears your confession of Him, and He in turn confesses you before His Father.

Jesus is not ashamed to call you His brother. He exchanges your death for His life. Today again, He summons you to His table and gives you “all things that pertain to life and godliness.”

“We are not here to protest. He are here to confess to the world Christ, in whom is life.”

We have been called Protestants, but we are not here today to protest. We are here to confess. We confess our sin. We confess our Savior. 

Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This doctrine is life. This confession is life. This is the Lord who brings His people out of the house of bondage. This is the Christ who tramples down death by His death. This is the Spirit who is pro-life, for He is the Lord and giver of life. This God has made you; this Jesus is your Lord; this Holy Spirit has called you by the Gospel. 

We are not here to protest. We are here to confess to the world Christ, in whom is life. +INJ+

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Bio:  Jacob, the third of the three Hebrew patriarchs, was the younger of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. After wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, Jacob, whose name means “deceiver,” was renamed “Israel,” which means “he strives with God” (Gen. 25:26; 32:28). His family life was filled with trouble, caused by his acts of deception toward his father and his brother Esau and his parental favoritism toward his son Joseph (March 31). Much of his adult life was spent grieving over the death of his beloved wife Rachel and the presumed death of Joseph, who had been appointed by the Egyptian Pharaoh to be in charge of food distribution during a time of famine in the land. Prior to Jacob’s death during the blessing of his sons, God gave the promise that the Messiah would come through the line of Jacob’s fourth son, Judah Genesis 49).

Reflection:

“The great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was once approached by a woman distressed from her recent reading of Romans 9:13. “I cannot understand,” she said, “why God should say that He hated Esau.” “That is not my problem, madam,” Spurgeon replied, “My difficulty is to understand how God could love Jacob.”–Fr. Reardon, Touchstone.

The Lord’s favor is on those who are repentant. Esau was not repentant. Jacob knew he was a “deceiver”!  As Luther commented that Esau was contrite because of punishment not because of the sin against God.  Esau sold his birthright and was only sorry for losing it, not for the sin of doing so.  God could wrestle with Jacob because Jacob knew his sin…Esau was on the sidelines waiting his due.

The Lord can work with sinners as they know their sin, He changes them by His grace and providence…and with Jacob it took time…with us as well. Sinners are such unlikely saints!

Sin is a tangled web, as we see in Jacob’s family of origin and in his own family with his two wives, Rachel and Leah and his two concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah.  Eleven of his 12 sons sold their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt and then told their Father that Joseph had been killed by a lion.  Families have problems, many times grievous and perplexing beyond therapeutic help, yet God’s promise is for sinners and the Lord works through what we have called in our day, “dysfunctional families”. Maybe most need repentance and forgiveness rather than therapy and acceptance.  

Jacob spent most of his life grieving for the death of his favorite wife Rachel and thinking his son Joseph dead.  Eventually, the 11 brothers repented.  As someone has commented:  it took the Lord only 6 days to create the heavens and the earth but 33 years to redeem us…and when we factor in the scope of Israel’s history, it took a lot longer, but He did so at the right time and He would do so again through Jacob’s son Joseph. And in the Son of Jacob, centuries, later, the Christ, the Son of God. Son of God, son of Joseph and Mary was born in a family for the love and redemption of all families.

Let us pray:  Lord Jesus, scepter that rises out of Jacob, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, rule our hearts through Your suffering cross and forgive us our sins, that we may become partakers of Your divine life;  for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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Image result for simeon in the temple

The Lessons:

1 Samuel 1: 21-28    Psalm 84   Hebrews 2: 14-18     St. Luke 2: 22-32

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and ever-living God, as Your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, grant that we may be presented to You with pure and clean hearts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About the Feast Day:  

Thirty-two days  after Jesus’ circumcision and seventy weeks after teh announcement of John’s birth to Zechariah by the angel Gabriel, the Lord comes to His temple to fulfill the Torah (Luke 2: 22-38).  The days are fulfilled with the presentation. Jesus’ parents keep the Torah and fulfill it by bringing Jesus to His true home. Also, Jesus’ parents offer the alternative sacrifice of two turtledoves or two pigeons. Leviticus 12:8 allows this instead of a lamb, since not everyone could afford a lamb (showing the poverty and humility of Joseph and Mary). Yet no lamb was necessary because already here at forty days old, Jesus is the Lamb brought to His temple for sacrifice. Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis is a beautiful example of the immediate response to this inauguration of God’s consolation and redemption in the Christ Child. Speaking to Mary, Simeon also prophesies about the destiny of the child. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  

St. Luke 2, the Nunc Dimittis, or the Song of Simeon:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.

 Here  was a 40 day old infant, not potty trained, born in poverty, with his poor parents  and this crying Child is being sung about as, “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel“?  A child has achieved nothing and yet has received everything with no choice in the matter. The Child had not demonstrated wisdom nor talent nor anything to earn an accolade, not even the praise of being born for that praise of labor belongs to the mother. Later Jesus’ disciples would say of the Temple in marvel at it and say to the Lord, “…Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (St. Mark 13: 1). What did this Child compare with the magnificent Temple in which the Presentation occurred?  How did a poor child compare with one of the wonders of the ancient world?  

What did Simeon see in the Child that he sang that the Child is “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel”?  He did.  How did Simeon see this in the Child presented this day in the Temple?  We are told earlier in Luke chapter 2 about Simeon that  “…the Holy Spirit was upon him.” (vs. 25.)  The Holy Spirit taught Simeon, Behold, Simeon you have seen the Christ!  The light and revelation of Jew and Gentile! “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (St. John 14: 26).  The Holy Spirit witnesses and teaches through the Word alone of Jesus Christ. This is the way Simeon knew the Child was and is the One.   “…for my eyes have seen your salvation”.

The magnificent Temple and its wonderful stones did not save.  It is  the Lord, whose house the Temple was, alone saves, presented in His Father’s House for us and for our salvation. In Him the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell.  Our church buildings, our church polities, our denominational stratagems, our good works, our self-chosen spiritualities do not, can not and will not save. They are to point to the Holy Trinity and not our selves.  Here is God deep within human flesh, born under the Law to redeem us, presented that day in the Temple for us and for our salvation. “The deeper we plunge Christ into the flesh of mankind, the better for us.” (From Luther’s House Sermon on the Presentation, 1537) He who needed no sacrifices to be made pure is the Sacrifice to make us pure. Outside of the Christ is only darkness.  In Him, love’s pure light shines.

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