Thursday, March 27, 2014

Homily for The Feast of the Annunciation

Several years ago at a coffee shop and I overheard a discussion about religion between two women. I’m not much of an eavesdropper but in this case I couldn’t help it. Religion came up and a woman began to explain that she was Lutheran. She didn’t say faith alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone or anything like that to explain what being a Lutheran is all about. All she said is that she was a Lutheran. To explain herself further she simply said to her friend, and I quote “Lutherans don’t believe in the Virgin Mary.”

To be fair, maybe she didn’t mean that. Perhaps she meant to say that Lutherans don’t worship Mary or pray to her or something like that.  But she didn’t say that. She said Lutherans don’t believe in the Virgin Mary.  

Maybe not all Lutherans are that confused. But we Lutherans can be funny people. It’s like saying Lutherans don’t chant or make the sign of the cross even though these things are indicated and suggested in every single catechism, altar book, and every Lutheran hymnal in existence for the last 500 years.

But tonight we observe the historic Lutheran tradition of indeed believing in the Virgin Mary on the feast of the Annunciation. Because if we don’t believe in Mary you can’t really believe in God either.  Or more simply put, if Mary and the church is not your mother than you can’t have God as your Father either.  

Tonight the angel Gabriel comes to Mary, a virgin, in a small town much like Wittenberg, named Nazareth. The angel sings to her, saying “Greetings, Mary, O highly favored lady, the Lord is with you…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you; the child will be called holy…you shall call his name Joshua” – which is to say his name shall be called Jesus. 

The same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation will now hover over the waters of Mary’s womb to bring forth the creation’s Redeemer. And the very Son of God is born. A manger becomes the royal throne - a feed trough from which cattle eat is laid the heavenly bread. All so that He might provide men who live like the beasts of the earth with true spiritual food (Gregory Thaumaturgus). Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabbaoth. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.      

The book of Revelation in chapter twelve describes the Virgin Mary in the following way “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Clearly God has a special place for Mary in heaven and perhaps we should make a special place for her as well. She did after all give birth to the creator of the heavens and earth. She is the mother of God, as our Lutheran Book of Concord says. She changed his dirty diapers – comforted him when he cried.  And for that we should be very thankful.  

Tonight the angel comes to Mary with good news for all of us. In the beginning God had said be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and as the saying goes, if you want the job done right then just do it yourself. So God did just that. When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.   

God Himself would be fruitful and multiply in the womb of Mary, who is the new Eve and Bride – an image of the church herself. She is married to Christ – the Bridegroom - the new and greater Adam – to become fruitful and multiply and fill the earth – giving birth to, well, Christians, like you, children of God. Children of Christ – son and daughters of the church.

From the life-giving womb of our church – our baptismal font – the promises of God in paradise actually become true.  Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  And so it was that you have been borne, not by flesh and blood but by the will of God.

Although Mary was the first to carry Christ, have his blood mingled with hers and his flesh becomes hers – it’s much greater tonight for you. Her heart was pierced when she saw her son bleed for the sins of the world. He was wrapped and laid in a grave. Weeping may tarry for the night but joy cometh in the morning. Because death could not hold him. He walked out of the cave into the morning light - to destroy sin, death, and the grave forever.

In the beginning, on the third day of creation, God made the trees sprout up from the earth but now on the third day of the new creation, the tree of life is again seen by all. The Holy Cross has made a bridge between the heavens and earth – and you can safely pass through on dry ground – through the Red Sea of His holy blood.  The cherubim and seraphim and angel hosts which guarded paradise have swung the doors wide open – even tonight! 

Joshua, Jesus, Immanuel, it all means that same thing. God is with us. Bread from heaven – water from the Rock – and blood from His side. The Gospel is fulfilled tonight.  In the manger of your hearts and in the womb of your souls. Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. You shall be called a Christian because you belong to God.

Like Mary, the angels have a message for you too.  Because you also bear Christ. His flesh is mingled with yours and his blood becomes your own. The Holy Spirit has overshadowed you and your sins are all forgiven.  You are reconciled with God by the blood of His Son – and therefore you are reconciled with one another.  It’s good to be a part of the holy family, to sit at the same table with the whole family of God. With Mary, Joseph, St. Peter, and St. John. With St. Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther and our sainted parents and friends who have gone ahead.

But greatest of all is that you commune with Christ your brother, Mary your mother, and God as your Father. And what could be more Lutheran than that? In the name of Jesus. Amen.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Homily for the Feast of St. Joseph, Guardian of Our Lord

(painting: Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, 1670-75, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682)

"An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matthew 2:13-15).

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Fathers day is sometime in the middle of June but it generally gets passed over with the end of school and summer vacation.  Today, on the feast day of St. Joseph, it’s probably a better day to commemorate fathers.  Joseph is really a man for our times. His fianc√© Mary agrees to bear the Son of God in her womb. And as her tummy got bigger it’s hard to imagine what all the locals said. And if they called her the Virgin Mary, no doubt it’s was out of cruelty rather than praise.

And what did they say when they walked past Joseph’s wood shop?  But Joseph marries her anyways and decides to love her. He stays by her side. They are poor so he helps her give birth in a barn  – holding her hand, he comforts her and speaks kindly to her.

Jesus is born. And Joseph is his earthly father. In our text tonight Joseph is visited by an angel in a dream warning him to take his baby boy and Mary down to Egypt to escape the bloody swords of Herod’s hench men. Just as Joseph in the Old Testament guarded the grain in Egypt, now Joseph in the New guards the grain in Egypt – the very bread of life – Jesus.  Joseph fulfils his calling. He honors his wife, he guards and protects his family. This is what fathers do.

Joseph would no doubt teach Jesus to take his first steps. He would stay near his bed when he got sick. He would teach Jesus how to make a living through carpentry. Jesus would learn a trade.  Most importantly Joseph would bring Jesus every Sabbath to the synagogue to learn more about His Heavenly Father and His will for His Son.

This boy of course is the Son of God, but even the Son of God needed a dad to keep him safe. He who made the heavens and earth still needed a dad to point out and name the stars for him. Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man – very much through his dad – through Joseph.

But in father’s carpenters workshop, filled with wood and nails, he never forgot the will of His Father in heaven.  

Joseph is something of an insignificant woodworker of an unknown town. He was for the most part poor.  He trusted in God. He loved his wife. He cared for his son. He worked hard and put food on the table.  They prayed and he brought his family to hear God’s Word.

For fathers, husbands, and sons what better example could we have? Joseph likely died early on because only Mary is at the cross. Perhaps work, sickness, or fatigue got the best of Joseph but so what?  His work was accomplished. He obeyed his calling. He trusted in God, he cared for His Son, and was saved through Him. He trusted in the same heavenly Father, and cared for the fruit of Mary’s womb and he too entered into eternal glory.

It’s no secret fatherhood is under attack. Men sleep around with women, use them, abuse them, and then leave them. These days guys get girls pregnant and rather than protect the wife and child they morph into Herod himself and have their firstborns put to death before they can escape the womb.

The children that do somehow survive are increasingly growing up with no father at all or a series of boyfriends who come and go, leaving them broken and beaten. No guardians and no protector to keep them safe.  

But Joseph shows us a better way. Fathers care for the weak and protect the most vulnerable. Joseph doesn’t obey his fallen flesh, he doesn’t look out for his own interest but only to the interest of those whom God has entrusted to his care.  Tonight Joseph obeys God and does what the angels tell him. He shows us and the whole world a better way. That fatherhood is about self-giving sacrifice, gentleness and love - forgiveness and grace.    

Like St. Joseph, the guardian of Jesus, you too are called to be the guardian of Jesus in your heart. Hold him in your hand in the sacrament and cradle him in the manger of your soul. Like Joseph listen only to the voice of the angels and keep your eyes on Jesus – and keep him close.

Remember that you too have a place in the holy family.  Did not Jesus himself say to his disciples “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt. 12:50).

Therefore you can approach the altar with the whole family of God. With angels, and archangels, and the whole company of heaven. With Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and all the saints in glorious light. Like Joseph hear the angel voices and follow their commands – they bid you to come - eat, drink, and be merry. Because tonight sinners are forgiven and loved by God. Families are reconciled, and Herod and hell itself are destroyed. In the name of Jesus. Amen. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Homily for Second Sunday in Lent (Reminiscere)

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly" (Matthew 15:21-28).

It’s always great to baptize a little child.  Jesus says “one must become like one of these little children to inherit the kingdom of God.” As Jesus ascends to heaven he says “go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In the book of Acts Peter says “Repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of sins…this promise is for you and for you children.” 

But when we baptize and when we bring in new members we are not always perfectly honest with them.  Those who are part of God’s family don’t have it easy.  It’s not an easy ride.

Just ask Jacob.  In our text this morning He is running away from his brother Esau who is coming with 400 men to most likely kill him. If you think your family has problems, think again, just look at God’s family in the Old Testament. Or if you think the families on the Jerry Springer show are messed up just read the Bible.  Jacob stole Esau’s birthright and now Esau is coming for payback. Jacob is terrified and he’s on the run.

Just when things couldn’t get any worse, a man storms Jacob’s camp in the middle of the night to pick a fight. And this is not any man but God himself wrestling with Jacob. And it’s a no holds barred type of fight. Black and blue, bruises and blood.

But why?  Remember when God appeared to Jacob in a dream.  God showed him a ladder from heaven to earth. God spoke to Jacob and promised him protection, children, and many blessings.
The Lord had promised Jacob a safe journey. But now the Lord is dashing all these promises as he violently tosses Jacob around in the middle of the night. But Jacob fights. He doesn’t give up. He is tenacious and stubborn.  He takes the blows and even returns a few. The brawl goes on through the darkness and terror of the night and Jacob refuses to go down without a fight.  There he is kicking, thrashing, and rolling around in a violent struggle for life and limb.  Soon the morning comes and the day breaks, the sun begins to arise beyond the mountains.

And at last the Lord relents. He softens his grip and asks Jacob to let him go. But Jacob knows who he is wrestling with. It is the Lord – the pre-incarnate Christ – God of God and light of light – very God of very God. And Jacob remembers everything that was promised to him – forgiveness, a safe journey, and salvation. And Jacob wants God to make good on His promises.  

With a firm lip and stubbornness, he refuses to let go of God until he is blessed by him, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” cries Jacob. The Lord does bless Jacob and tells him that his name is no longer Jacob but “Israel” which means one who struggles and fights with God and wins. Jacob goes limping off in the morning light with the blessing of God and the promise that Esau will forgive him through the blood of Christ. Jacob now Israel struggles with God and wins.

Which brings us to today’s Gospel text. A woman comes to Jesus for mercy. Her daughter is demon possessed and she’s exhausted all other options.  She desperately cries out to Jesus for help. At first Jesus doesn’t answer her cries. He ignores her.

He says she’s not a priority. Then he calls her a dog. Like, Jacob, she finds herself in something of a wrestling match with God. And God does not seem to be for her but very much against her.  Jesus does not particularly appear to be her friend, but rather her enemy. He ignores her, even insults her. But this woman has faith. She does not give up. She wrestles by faith and not by sight. She believes against all experience that Jesus is indeed for her. Even though the Lord seems to be saying “no,” she grabs hold of him and demands that he will say yes. 

Yes Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table. Jesus is blown away. O woman great is your faith! Her daughter is healed instantly. And she praises God.   

Then there’s us. We barely ask God for anything. Complaining and blaming others comes much easier. We are easily discouraged. We are quick to give up. Unlike Jacob, we’ll throw in the towel as soon as trouble comes our way. Prayer comes to a screeching halt, your Bible still collecting dust.

What we can honestly say about Kaitlyn this morning and what we can honestly say about you:  Is that the Christian life is filled with trouble, loss, and violence. Dark nights, and wrestling matches with God. God is often rough with those whom he loves.

But God is much rougher on His own Son. He was pummeled with your sin and wounded from your iniquity. He was black and blue, bloodied and bruised by your sins. He wrestled against the powers of sin, death, and the devil.  All to guarantee your safety from the powers of hell and to make a way for safe travel to the promised land.  It was he who was condemned to death that you would be given eternal life.  He was cursed by God on the cross that you would be blessed for all eternity. He believed that God was for him, despite evidence to the contrary.  Jesus died for your lack of faith that you would be filled with his mercy.

You are all descendants of Jacob who is now named Israel.  The church is the new Israel who strives and wrestles with God.  The Christian life is not a frolic through the rose garden, it’s a life and death struggle often with God himself.   But despite all evidence to the contrary God is for you and not against you.

Like all fathers who love their children, God wrestles with those whom he loves – and is most proud when he lets them win. He works all things together for good for those who love him. Therefore you live by faith and not by sight. 

We refuse to let go of the Lord until we are blessed by Him. And that’s exactly what God does, as he announces his love for sinners.

Like Kaitlyn you are all God’s children now. You are baptized and made holy. This promise if for you and for your children.  And you get much more than crumbs that fall from your masters table. You receive his very body and blood.

And like Jacob you can depart in peace with your head held high, and walk out into the morning light -  knowing that you too have wrestled with God, and won.  In the name of Jesus.  Amen.   

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cleaning the House for Lent

Every so often the house needs to be cleaned from top to bottom. We’re not just talking about a mere tidying up but the major deep down sort of cleaning, from floor to the ceiling. Floor needs to be swept, windows sprayed and wiped, cob webs identified and eliminated. Old newspapers, magazines, and in our case lots of toys need to be picked up, sorted, and put away in the proper place. Most importantly junk that has gotten in the way needs to be bagged up and taken out to the trash.

The holy season of lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday is a lot like a 40 day house cleaning. Let’s face the facts - our lives are messy and things have piled up in such a way that Bible reading, prayer, and devotion to Christ have been nearly covered up or perhaps even disappeared by all the clutter.

This Lenten season, this entire month, is a time for “taking out the trash” that disrupts and clutters your spiritual life. Clear out the garbage of the sins that trouble you by the forgiving and cleansing Absolution of Christ. If prayer is not an everyday habit then make it into one. Sweep your heart clean of any idols that are preventing you from being present in weekly worship to hear and receive the gifts of the Risen Christ.   

On Ash Wednesday we will trace the sign of the cross upon our foreheads and say “From dust you came and to dust you shall return!” C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity that “the clergy (pastors) are those particular people within the whole Church who have been specially trained and set aside to look after what concerns us as creatures who are going to live forever.”  The eternal realities of heaven and hell hang in the balance and the unholy trinity: the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh are at constant war against faith in Christ. During Jesus 40 days in the wilderness he was tempted by Satan and destroyed his power by throwing the Words and Promises of God right back in his face.

During Lent we too stare down Satan and throw the promises of God in his face. God loves sinners.  We remember Jesus suffering and passion. We remember His death for us.  We eat His holy body and life-giving blood. We remember our baptism. We clean house by letting Jesus exorcise our demons, take out our trash, and rightly order our lives toward repentance, faith, and holy living in the Gospel and blood-bought forgiveness of sins.       

Actions Steps for Lent
Make time to attend church every Sunday.

Be present for Midweek Divine Services, as well as the meal and fellowship which precede the service.

Attend one of pastor’s weekly Bible classes.

Take home your Let us Pray bulletin insert (inside bulletin) to guide you in Scripture reading and prayer for those in need of healing.

Portals of Prayer is a daily devotional tool available in narthex to take home.

Consider making use of Individual Confession & Absolution – available Saturdays in Lent from 6:55am-8am.  (What is Confession & Absolution? See Luther’s Small Catechism or open your hymnal to LSB 290).

Pray the Our Father before or after your evening meal.

Dust off your Small Catechism and put it on your bedside table. Refresh yourself!       

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The First Sunday in Lent

The Sunday of the Temptation

For 40 days, Goliath, a fierce and murderous giant of the Philistines, comes out to slay the people of Israel. Saul and all the Israelites shook in their sandles, knees wobbled in fear at the very sight of Him.

Only a young Shepherd boy from Bethlehem is up for the challenge. This shepherd, and keeper of sheep walks boldly into enemy territory armed only with the Words and promises of God. And this Shepherd from Bethlehem takes his sling and hurls a stone between the giants black eyes. This hellish giant falls to the ground and the holy people of God erupt and shout for victory. The shepherd boy of Bethlehem runs to the dead giant and finishes him off by lopping off his ugly head with a sword.  He holds his tropthy high and the Israelites cry out even louder songs of victory. David leads the people in a procession and carries the severed bullies head to Jerusalem to proclaim the victory that God had won. All the people began to say, "who is this man, and whose son is he?" He is destined of course to be King of Israel.

This morning we see another battle taking place. Jesus is anointed to be a different sort of king in the waters of the Jordan River. He is still dipping wet as the Spirit leads him to the front lines of hell to do battle against another tyrant – another bully who will not leave God’s people alone – Satan himself. And another shepherd from Bethlehem steps forward to challenge the hellish giant.  Just like Goliath who waged war for 40 days, the greater Goliath Satan, unleased spiritual warfare upon the Son of God for 40 days and 40 nights. He hurled everything he had and shot all his fiery darts at Jesus.  “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. If you are the Son of God, save yourself.”  The devil finally snarled and took him to the top of the mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, saying “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Jesus, armed only with the weapons and armor of God’s Word, fired right back at him, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  When tempted, Jesus took out his sling and fired back, saying “Again it is written, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” When the devil offered him power and riches and glory for himself, Jesus reached back and slung the rock of God’s Word between the devils beady eyes, and he hit the dust. “It is written. You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

Up on top of another high mountain Jesus will crush the head of the giant serpent as promised in Genesis chapter 3.  In the same way that David carried the severed head of Goliath to Jerusalem, now we see Jesus severe the giants head by the sword of his holy cross.  A shepherd from Bethlehem is God’s Son and our mighty king – a Crucified King.  A shepherd warrior king who goes out to battle Satan and puts his belly on the dust, as promised by God in the beginning.

God fights for you and wins. He knows what spiritual losers we are. Like Saul and the Israelites he knows how wobbly and weak you can be in the face of danger.  Our Lord knows that we can be a bunch of spiritual wimps. He knows how wobbly we are in our faith.  When it comes to battling the devil you have not put up much of a fight.  And barely even a whimper. When Satan speaks you listen. When Satan tempts you, you give in. When tempted to give up on God, you are all too eager to take a few weeks off from church or to give up on prayer and study of God’s Word altogether.  

Repent. You have never been the fighting type. But rejoice for there is one who fights for you. When you caved into temptation, Jesus didn’t give in. When you refused to speak God’s Word Jesus spoke it for you.  When you retreated, Jesus held his ground. Jesus fights for wobbly, weak kneed sinners. Jesus fights for the likes of you. He is tempted for you, endures for you. Suffers for you, dies for you.  He rises victoriously from the jaws of death for you.

Satan is cast out and demons are destroyed by His rising.  And today he speaks words of forgiveness and healing to you. He arms you with His Word and Spirit.  He strengthens you with a victory meal of his holy body and blood.    

The Lord is your shepherd who leads you beside the still waters of baptism. He restores your soul. Ye, thou you walk through the wilderness and in the valley of shadow of death you will fear no evil. His cross comforts you. Goliath is dead and his head is lopped off. Satan is cast down to hell and you no longer belong to him. You belong to God.  You belong to your shepherd king from Bethlehem who is the Son of God. The one promised before the foundation of the world. You belong to Jesus.

He has done all things well for you. You can stare down death, hell and Satan himself knowing that for those in Christ the battle has already been won.  In the name of Jesus.  Amen.   

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Homily for Ash Wednesday

God said “The day you eat it, you shall surely die.”  Words that God spoke to frightened Adam and Eve on the saddest day of human history:  “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Tonight you receive a sobering reminder that someday, perhaps even someday soon, you will die. For a father, like myself, it’s a strange and heart wrenching thing to smear ashes on my wife, and girl, and little boy.  Not only is it a reminder to them, but it’s a reminder to me that someday, God will lie their little bodies inside a casket – and lower them into the ground.

In my home we sing “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of poesy, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.” We hold hands, sing, and all come crashing to the ground at the same time. And the words are true. If the Lord does not first come bursting through these dark winter clouds, with the trumpet blast, and all his angels.  We will go back to the dust and ashes. Death will come after us. Bones get weaker, breath becomes shorter. Hearts, and kidneys grow tired. Life is squeezed out of us until we breathe our last and return to the ground. Ash to ash, dust to dust.

Ash Wednesday is a day not to beat around the bush. We are dying sinners in a dying world. And it’s true for everyone here. For little babies, children, for the elderly, and for those who in the prime of their life. Death and the curse of sin has its mark on all of us.

We are all marked to show our mourning, our shame, and our death. We mark ourselves with ashes to show our repentance. Like Job who repented in dust and ashes. Like the prophet Jeremiah. Like Daniel in the Old Testament.

Let us tonight be perfectly honest and confess our sins. We all stand guilty before a holy God. All have fallen short of the glory of God.  Sin fractures our families, compromises our marriages, hurts our children, and threatens our church. Eventually sin has it’s way with us because eventually we die from it.  What we need is a Savior.

A savior who becomes a man of dust – like you. A Savior who leaves his throne in heaven to come down to the dust of earth. A Savior who cares for his family, blesses his children, lays down his life for his bride the church.  A Savior to do what you have failed to do. A Savior to also bear your sin.

A Savior enthroned in glory at Golgotha – seated at the throne of the holy cross. Dying breath giving life for sinners doomed to die.  A Savior who cries out in victory “It is finished,” and drinks the cup of the Father’s wrath down to the hellish dregs.  A Savior to be laid in a dusty tomb to empty death of all its power.

A Savior raised up from the dust of death to defeat Satan forever.  A Savior, who in the words of Ezekiel raises up a valley of dry bones – raises up sinews, flesh, and bones restored. New skin placed upon you as the very breath of life breathed into resurrected lungs.  Breathe of life which says to you “Your sins are forgiven.

God became a man of dust for you. Even though the grave closes over your head and your body lies in dust and ashes death won’t be able to hold you. Your sins are answered for.  Death has no claim on you. You belong to Christ.

 Your forehead is not just smeared with ashes. You are marked with the holy cross. The Savior’s cross who exchanges your death for his perfect life.Your life is different now. You are baptized. He has given you his name. You are His.

Go and sin no more. If you have a wife – delight in her piety. She is holy and a gift to you. Parents, your children are on loan to you from God. They don’t ultimately belong to you but to Him.  What more could we pray or ask for them that they be Christians and believe in Him. This is enough to make us more than glad. If you are single rejoice in those whom God has placed in your life to love as he loves. Children love your parents.

Tonight Jesus gives the very Bread of Life and the cup of salvation.  Eat and drink and you shall surely live. He gives his resurrected body. He gives himself. He forgives you and He loves you. In Him are families reconciled, marriages restored, and children found perfectly pleasing to their parents.      

Ashes, ashes we all fall down. Like children singing a nursery rhyme you too can laugh again and play. Not even death can end our gladness. Jesus did not stay in the grave but walked out into the morning light – and so shall you - along with all God’s children.  In the name of Jesus. Amen.