Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Twelve years ago today, Kristi became my Bride.
Happy anniversary to my beautiful, wonderful, Disney princess -- Cinderella Charming herself -- Mrs. Kristi Heinz! :-)
After our picture-perfect wedding, we had an incredible honeymoon at the Grand Floridian, where we were treated like royalty! Amazing dinners, outstanding concierge service, the Disney "white glove" treatment, and most importantly, my lovely wife, made this a most magical week.
Seems like so long ago -- yet it seems like yesterday!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
This morning I made the following announcement to the faithful gathered at Saint John's Lutheran Church in Lanesville.
A little over ten years ago, we were faced with a similar situation and decision: to remain with many loved ones and a Call that was filled with the familiar, or to say, "Here am I; send me, send me!"
Today, after three weeks of much prayer and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the Lord can currently make the best use of the talents and abilities He has given my family and me in the context of St. John's Lutheran Church & School in Chicago.
I thank the Lord of the Church for the four years of blessings and fellowship at Mt. Greenwood Lutheran Church in Chicago, and then the ten years of blessings and fellowship here.
We ask for your continued prayers, especially in these last few weeks here, for my family and for the two Saint John's, that Christ Jesus would continue to bless us with the healing, forgiving, and sustaining Gifts of His Gospel and Sacraments -- Gifts He will always deliver to His Church through the pastors He sends out in the footsteps of the Twelve.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
They laughed at Him. Everyone knew that inside the house, a girl’s body was lying there, cold, still, and lifeless. She was dead. But Jesus said: The child is not dead but sleeping.” And so the people gathered to mourn with the family started laughing. “What are you talking about, Jesus?” “That’s just crazy.” “Jesus, I thought You were smarter than that.”
The friends and relatives outside did not find Jesus’ remarks funny, but they laughed in disbelief that anyone could even suggests such a thing. Peter, James and John were not laughing at Jesus as if He were stupid, but perhaps on the inside they had a nervous, unsettled chuckle, worried that the people at the house might be right. Jesus, on the other hand, knew this was no laughing matter.
Yet we laugh too. The Lord of Life who defeated death on the cross boldly declares to you that your loved ones who lay in this church yard are only sleeping. And while we pay lip service to that, we often think and act as if they were actually dead. Their bodies have stopped working, and somehow we think in terms that they are no longer living.
This hits even harder when someone departs this life at a younger age. We hear the comfort of the Gospel that they are still alive, but think in fantasy terms and not in a real world reality. The wound runs deep as we remain angry that God took our loved one away so soon. And so it is difficult to receive His Word in trust. Our Savior tells us that the people just outside these walls [in St. John’s Cemetery] are still members of Saint John’s. They are alive and well, active saints in His kingdom. And through our tears of separation, we find ourselves laughing. “What are you talking about, Jesus?” “That’s just crazy.” “Jesus, I thought You were smarter than that.”
So why did this young girl die? Why did Jesus not simply speak healing words to Jairus, like He did with the centurion? Why did He not cure the daughter before going to the house, so she would not die at all?
Dear friends in Christ, Jairus’ daughter died so that the Lord might be glorified. She died to display the salvation and resurrection that comes through Christ. She died that she might experience the saving mercy of Jesus, and remain a witness of that mercy throughout the rest of her life.
And what’s more, by Jesus walking to Jairus’ house, another opportunity for Jesus’ mercy was
given. The woman who had the blood flow for 12 years was healed! Think of it, this woman had suffered for as long as Jairus’ daughter had been alive on this earth! She had endured feminine problems that no doctor could aid or heal or solve. Nothing would stop her ailment. No earthly solution, and she had tried and tried again, no earthly solution brought her good health.
But along came the Great Physician. Our Lord Jesus is so beautifully holy and perfect, that even being in His presence, even simply touching the very edge of His clothing would bring health and wholeness. This woman knew that truth. So she did what she knew would be the perfect therapy: she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. She knew she did not even have to stop Him and trouble Him for any time. She could let Him go where He was going and not bother Him.
Glad to help and heal, Jesus stopped when she touched His clothing. He let her know that He knew. And He gave her great comfort, declaring her faith had made her well.
So we have great faith on the part of this woman, and then a lack of faith on the part of the people at Jairus’ home. Where do you fit in this range? Actually, if you are looking at faith as something you do, or something that you can change the strength of, it doesn’t matter. If that is the case, you are chasing after a non-biblical faith that does not save.
Faith is a gift. The Holy Spirit brings you faith through Baptism and Christ’s Gospel. He keeps and sustains that faith as He delivers Jesus to you. It has nothing to do with you. It is all about Jesus!
As this story unfolds, we see and hear Jairus comforted that Jesus will help him. We behold Jesus healing the woman no one could heal. And we hear Jesus laughed at by those who do not believe Him.
Today I ask you, are you laughing at Jesus? Do your words contradict our Lord? Do you actions cancel out you Christian words? Do your friends and coworkers laugh at you, as they come to see you as a hypocrite laughing at Jesus?
And today the laughter dies down. We have seen our sin, and the Spirit has brought us to repent. We receive forgiveness as we hear in the Gospel how Jesus came to the woman, and to the daughter of Jairus.
This morning Jesus comes to you too. As you enter this holy place, you are touching the hem of His garments. And you hear His Holy Word read and preached, you hear Jesus Himself speaking His healing Word. And as you come to His altar and receive His Holy Body and Blood, you receive the Medicine of Immortality from the Great Physician Himself.
Yes, this morning Jesus comes to you. And He restores you, heals you, and makes you whole. For every ailment to body or soul, our dear Lord renews and restores you. For the sickening sin of laughing at Him, He heals you. For the many times you even unknowingly mock Him, He frees you from guilt and mediates merciful medication.
You have been dead in your trespasses. Yet because of His atoning work on the cross, Jesus declares you have only been sleeping, and He reaches into the waters of the font, takes you by the hand, and raises you to new life. And your flow of blood from the wounds of this life dries up, perfectly healed by the Blood which so freely flowed from His five holy wounds! And Jesus joyfully declares: “Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Amen.