Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feb. 19 Sermon for Service of Corporate Confession & Individual Absolution

Feb. 18-20, I was blessed to be a part of a Higher Things Retreat in Sheboygan. I was honored to be asked to proclaim God's Word at the Feb. 19 Service of Corporate Confession & Individual Absolution. I was asked for a copy of that sermon by someone who was in attendance. I post it here for all who might like to read it.

Peace of the Lord be with you.


The Lord Has Put Away Your Sin
2 Samuel 12:1-13

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The pastor gives Johnnie a nod. When he comes over, Pastor asks him to take a walk with him while the rest of the youth group went off to work on the power point presentation they were going make to the congregation from their Higher Things Retreat – Angels & Archangels in Sheboygan.

Pastor said, “Johnnie, there was a boy who decided he was going to give presents to all his friends, so he burned CDs for 20 friends of the 5 latest albums he’d purchased and gave them to his best friends. Thing is, the bands who recorded those albums only receive their royalty of $1.00 per album when they are purchased. So, in actuality, by burning the CDs, $200.00 that would have been paid in royalties if each of the 20 friends had bought those albums, never went to the band members. Can you imagine if 100 people did the same thing, they’d lose out $10,000? How would the musicians feed their families and put roofs over their heads if a couple thousand people decided to so the same thing?”

Johnnie said, “That should be illegal!”
Pastor responded, “It is!”
“Whoever did such a thing should be ashamed of themselves and punished.”
“You are the man! My son was one of your friends who received a burned CD from you.” his pastor informed him.
“Pastor, I’m a sinner. How could I do such a thing? I didn’t know!”
“Johnnie, the Lord has put away your sin.”

David’s sin in our text was pretty obvious, wasn’t it? Let’s face it, we know that it is wrong to take another man’s wife in adultery, and then kill the man to cover the adultery. If we were to put sins on a scale, that’s one that would rank pretty high, murder is one of the serious biggies. At least, that’s what we think according to the attitude of our society and justice system.

Of course, stealing is another one that ranks right up there. But burning a CD for a friend? That too is stealing, we just don’t like to think of it that way.

As for the others? No, you may have not murdered your neighbor to get his wife as your own, but you have committed both murder and adultery. What’s that? How does that work, you ask?

You hate the jocks at school who make fun of you because you don’t play football. You despise the popular girls who make fun of you because you hang out with the other girls that aren’t on the pom-pom squad. You cannot stand that boy who’s getting straight A’s and it seems like he doesn’t even need to try. And whenever you see Suzie in the hallway, if looks could kill, a million daggers would shoot from your eyes and bore into her heart for dating Herman – she was your best friend and knew you had a crush on him, but she asked him out anyway.

As for adultery, which of you hasn’t lusted in your heart – and Jesus does state that whoever lusts after someone in their heart has committed adultery. And yes guys, that’s why you like girls to wear short shorts, it’s all about the lust. You too girls, you know the thoughts you’ve had about Antonio, the Italian exchange student – he’s such a great athlete and his accent, omg, it’s just so sexy.

But that isn’t all. Sinfulness permeates your entire life. You don’t study your bibles as you should, you don’t pray as often as you ought, sometimes your minds wander during the sermon – are you even paying attention now?

Truth be told? I honestly cannot speak for you, I can only speak for myself, but I am guessing you and I are a lot alike. We ask God for forgiveness and then we turn around and go do the same sins all over again.

Yeah, I know how David felt, "I have sinned against the Lord.” And, I know that I might add words which David didn’t speak, but which I am guessing you also may feel in your heart, even as I feel them in mine, “And there is no way that I should be forgiven for my sin. I am a Christian pastor, I know better, I know what God has done for me, and still I go on sinning? I deserve death and eternal punishment.”

Hear the word that God would speak to you through the mouth of His servant, the pastor, in the absolution, "The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die”

That’s it exactly. There is nothing left of your sin, it is put away. No, you did not overcome it, you may have tried harder – for a couple minutes, but you certainly didn’t do better. In short, it wasn’t you who put your sins away, the Lord did. Christ lived that sinless life you cannot live, a perfect teenager! (Oh how I’d love to have just one of those at home - just as they’d probably like to have a perfect father at home.)

There is nothing left of your sins, for all of your sins were laid upon Christ who took them into His own flesh. When He died upon the cross, He took with Him the death that your sinfulness deserved, and put it away in His tomb. When He rose from the dead, it was left there, put away, buried from you, forever.

In the waters of baptism, the Lord has put away your sin. They are drowned in the water of daily contrition and repentance, and you are robed in Christ’s perfect righteousness.

You are invited by God to hear the precious words which Nathan spoke to David, proclaiming His sins forgiven. When the pastor pronounces the absolution upon you, He is proclaiming to you that the Lord has put away your sin, that they were buried with Christ. Do not doubt, but believe it is so. You shall not die, but live eternally in Christ. Amen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Higher Things Weekend 2/18-20

Well, for about 40 hours, over 200 people (predominantly youth) were gathered at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sheboygan www.trinitysheboygan.org for a Higher Things retreat entitled, Angels & Archangels. You can go to their website and even view some of the services from that Retreat.

Trinity was a very gracious host congregation - great folks there who made us all feel welcome. I could try and say thanks to those involved, but I really don't know all the names of everybody involved, so I will just say thanks to everybody who was a part of making this retreat. Thanks to:
those who organized it,
who planned the meals,
stuck up posters,
cleaned the building,
cooked the food,
gave directions to lost youth looking for a room,
worked on the schedule,
organized the speakers,
planned the worship services,
and generally pitched in and helped in any way whatsoever.

Thank you!

Also a big thank you to all the speakers who taught, imparting great insight through ongoing catechesis to Christian faith and life. I managed to learn a few things, and from the conversations I had on the trip home, so did my youth.

I have been blessed to be a part of a number of Retreats and Conferences, and the youth entrusted to my care have also expressed great enthusiasm about what they learned and were glad to have been fed the Word. It is a blessing to be a part of something which tries so hard to be distinctively Lutheran, rejoicing in what we believe and how we practice and confess those beliefs.

Again, thanks to Trinity Lutheran Church in Sheboygan for their making the Angels & Archangels Retreat such a great event.

Peace of the Lord be with you.