Waiting to Be Revealed – Sermon for April 23/24, 2017

Waiting to Be Revealed
1 Peter 1:3-9
2nd Sunday of Easter
April 23rd/24th, 2017
St. John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

 

Christ is risen! Alleluia!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Everyone loves going on vacation. A little time away is often medicine for the soul. A trip someplace warm in the middle of winter, a visit to a national monument, or just a few days with family who live out of state.  But when does your vacation actually start? If you’re going on a particularly special trip, the tendency is to count the days. For the last week or two before your vacation, you count down to the moment when the clock strikes five and you’re done with the last shift. Maybe you’ve got an app on your phone. Maybe you’ve literally circled the date on the calendar on your wall. You have the date in your crosshairs, and your excitement grown with each step toward that day.

But that’s not when vacation starts. Usually, that’s when a whole new slate of headaches starts.  If you’re flying, you’ve still got to unload your car and get all your luggage onto the little shuttle bus that takes you to the airport. Then you’ve got to get in line and make it through the baggage check. Then comes the TSA line and trying to get through security. All of that usually adds up to one of two extremes – you’re either running to your gate trying not to miss you flight, or you’re sitting at your gate 3 hours early. There’s usually not much in between. Driving can be even worse. You count down the minutes at work until that last day is done, but what are you really counting down to? Trying to fit all those suitcases into the back of your car? Sitting in construction or rush hour traffic? Stopping for bathroom breaks and snacks? Trying to stay awake as you push on toward your destination? The pain in your back from driving for so long?

The point is – we often count the minutes to vacation, but we tend to count to the wrong place. We tend to count to the moment work ends, not the moment vacation begins. Those usually aren’t the same thing. Of course, loading the car and walking through the airport on your way to vacation have an air of excitement, much more than having to do those things for the trip home. But they aren’t the best that vacation has to offer. That comes at the end of travelling. That comes at the destination itself. That’s when vacation really starts.

In some ways, that’s how the Christian life works. Our life as the children of God in this world are like that time between leaving work the last time on your way to vacation and actually arriving at the resort. That’s what Peter says in today’s Epistle reading. He says that we have been born to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He says that we have been born to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. That’s the vacation part. But Peter also says that this inheritance is being kept in heaven for us. It’s in heaven, we’re on earth. Peter says this inheritance is being kept for us who are being guarded for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. The hope is ours. The inheritance is promised. But it hasn’t been revealed yet. And Peter says that we rejoice in this inheritance, but also that until we actually receive it we will be grieved by various trials that test our faith. It’s like we’re on vacation, but we haven’t actually gotten there yet. Instead, we’re struggling to make it to our destination.

The reading from Acts today is an example of one such moment from the life of Peter himself. Peter and the other Apostles were fulfilling the commission Jesus had given them to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching. They were taking the good news of the resurrection out into the towns and villages, and they were performing many signs and wonders to validate their words. But not all wanted to hear. Peter and the other Apostles faced trials. In today’s reading from Acts, they were arrested for proclaiming the gospel. They were beaten. They were chased out of the Temple. But they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. They would not be deterred. They did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. With their eyes on the imperishable, unfading inheritance being stored for them in heaven and waiting to be revealed, they were able not only to make it through the trials of the moment, but to rejoice in them.

The fact is, our life in this fallen world is marked by similar hardships. Our life in this fallen world is confusing. We have the great joy of the forgiveness that is already ours, but we aren’t in heaven yet. It’s like we’re done with our last day of work before vacation, but we still have to load the car. Or we’re stuck in traffic. Or we’re the 178th person in the TSA line. Except it’s not minor inconveniences that we’re dealing with. It’s real burdens. It’s death and disease. It’s perpetual temptation and the threat of falling away from the faith. It’s the hostility of the world around us as the animus toward Christianity continues to grow. And what is our response to these threats?

Often our instinct is to lock the world out like the disciples did on that first Easter. On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. They were afraid that they were going to be hunted down and executed just like Jesus was. And their fear blinded them to the promises Jesus had made before his crucifixion. But Jesus came and stood among that fear-filled group and brought peace. He brings the same peace to you today – the peace of knowing that you have an inheritance stored up for you, waiting to be revealed. Often we want to lock out the world, afraid of the dangers outside our door. But Jesus comes and speaks peace. He speaks peace and then sends us back out into the world. He knows we will face hardships. He knows we will face temptation. He knows our life will not look particularly comforting. He knows we won’t be able to see ourselves as being all that different than anyone else in the world around us. But blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Blessed are those who realize that there is something more than this life in store for the children of God.

We are often tempted to lose hope. We are tempted to let the challenges of life overwhelm us. In these moments of despair, our Lord gives us the gift of a living hope. He comes to us through the proclamation of his Word and calls us to remember the promised inheritance. When death fills us with fear, our Lord reminds us that we have an inheritance that is untouched by death. When the evil of the world fills us with fear, our Lord reminds us that we have an inheritance that is unstained by evil. When the fleeting and temporary nature of this creation fills us with fear, our Lord reminds us that we have an inheritance unimpared by time.  This inheritance is yours. Moth and rust will not destroy it. Sin and evil will not defile it. It will never wither. It will never fade. It will never wear out. For it is being guarded by Jesus himself.

The trials of this life will not destroy you, for you are a precious child of God. Instead, they reveal your true character, like fire reveals the true character of gold. The true character of the Christian life is faith in the promises of God. It is not financial security. It is not perfect health. It is not perfect family life or relationships. The character of the Christian life is not defined by things of this world. Our Lord has not promised us that life will be easy. He has not promised us that we will always feel good. He has not promised us that we will be immune from the effects of sin and decay in a fallen creation. What he has promised us is the outcome of our faith: the salvation of our souls.

That is your final destination. Salvation is yours, right here and now. You are on vacation, so to speak. But you aren’t all the way there yet. You will be soon, but not yet. And yet all the sufferings of this life are nothing but a small drop in the ocean of eternity. So rejoice in the life you have now. Rejoice even in your trials. Rejoice if you are counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of your future resurrection Much like even the longest TSA line can’t totally kill your joy when you’re on your way to Disney World, the promise of resurrection fills you with a joy that is inexpressible. Let the word of Christ fill you with a living hope, one that will sustain you in the trials of this life until our Lord brings you home.

Christ is risen! Alleluia!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Jesus Lives, the Victory’s Won – Sermon for Easter 2017

Jesus Lives, The Victory’s Won!
Exodus 14:10-15:1
Easter Dawn
April 16, 2017
St. John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

 

“Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?” What?! Talk about a tone-deaf! That’s not the gratitude Moses was probably hoping for after marching in to Pharaoh’s palace and demanding he “Let my people go!” That’s the perspective of a teenager who screams at her parents that they never give her anything as she goes stomping off down the hallway of the house they pay for, flinging herself onto the bed they bought her and crying into the pillow they gave her before texting or Snapchatting or Instagramming her friends on the smartphone she got from, you guessed it, her parents! And those texts and Snapchats will all be bitterly and angrily written to let the girl’s friends all know how awful her parents are and how they never give her anything.

“Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?”  Did God bring you out of Egypt to kill you? No! Of course not! If he wanted to kill you, he would have directed the 10 plagues at you instead of against the Egyptians. If he wanted to kill you, he wouldn’t have given you the Passover Lamb whose blood painted on your door posts protected you from the Angel of the Lord, he would have left you ignorant and let your firstborn die too. If he wanted to kill you he would have left you to suffer in Egypt under the whips of your slave masters. “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us out here to die?” No! What had God done to this point that could possibly give you that impression? “What have you done in bringing us out of Egypt?” What do you mean, ‘What have you done?!’ I’ve set you free from a life making bricks with no straw. I’ve set you free from those who would drown your sons in the Nile. I’ve set you free from slavery and oppression. That’s what I’ve done! And now you want to go back?

Talk about short-term memory loss. Talk about selective amnesia. The Israelites were blinded by the threat of Pharaoh’s army closing in. And, to a certain extent, I can’t say I blame them. I mean, each and every one of them had been conditioned from a young age to fear the Egyptians, to cower before the whips and swords of their captors. Now, just a few short days after leaving slavery behind, here was Pharaoh’s army threatening to recapture them. A lifetime of conditioning doesn’t just go away overnight. So to a certain extent, I can understand the fear of the Israelites. They looked at their situation and processed the information according to the only reality they had ever known – the reality of slavery in Egypt.

But God had something different in mind. The Angel of the Lord who had been leading the people in the pillar of cloud and fire moved to the rear guard to protect the people from Pharaoh’s army. God had Moses stretch out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back, and the people of God passed through on dry ground. Of course, the Israelites didn’t stop complaining once they were on the other side. Instead, before they ever reached, Mt. Sinai they accused God of freeing them from slavery only to starve them in the desert, a complaint he answered by giving them miraculous bread from heaven. Then they accused God of bringing them out of Egypt only to kill them with thirst, a complaint God answered by bringing forth water from a rock. Then, while at Mt. Sinai, they thought God had killed Moses up on the mountain, so they demanded that Aaron build them a golden calf to replace the God who had supposedly abandoned them. When they left Mt. Sinai they refused to follow God into the Promised Land because they were afraid of the people who lived there, even accusing God once again of delivering them from Egypt only to kill them by the swords of the Canaanites. And none of these example even touch on Israel’s 40 years of wilderness wandering. These are all accusations against God that happen in the same year as the 10 plagues and deliverance from Egypt. It’s like Israel was completely blind to the many times God had delivered them. All they could see were the challenges and fears before them.

Does that sound familiar? Do you see yourself in the story? Do you see yourself in the Israelites? You should. Each of us should. We are all guilty of stunningly selective amnesia. Here we are today to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Re-sur-rection! Life from death. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. More than that, he lives! He has defeated death. Christ is arisen from the grave’s dark prison. All our hopes would be ended had Jesus not ascended from the grave triumphantly. But he did ascend from that stone cold tomb. Jesus lives, the victory’s won!

Yet how often do we, like the Israelites of old, respond to our deliverance by ignoring the manifold ways God has revealed his love for us, focusing instead on the challenges and problems and fears in our lives? “Jesus lives!” the angels say, and our response is, “Yeah, but money’s tight this month. Have you conquered death only to starve me in this life?” “Jesus lives!” the angels say, and our response is, “Yeah, but my cancer isn’t getting any better. Have you conquered death only to give me over to an army of murderous cells?” “Jesus lives!” the angels say, and our response is, “Yeah, but look at how many people are turning their backs the church today. Look at how few there are left. Have you conquered death only to abandon me in the middle of this desert?” “Jesus lives!” the angels say, and our response is, “Yeah, but it’s getting harder and harder to live as a Christian in America. Have you conquered death only to destroy us with the swords of those who inhabit this land?” Are we any different from the Israelites of old? “Have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? To kill us with starvation or thirst?  To destroy us with the sword of our enemies?”

A lifetime of conditioning doesn’t go away overnight.

We do, indeed, live in a world that attacks us our whole life long. We live in a world that gives us reason to fear. So our Lord’s response is as simple as it is merciful. He calls our gaze away from the problems. He calls us to look at the deliverance, to fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. O Israel, why are you frightened by the hunger or the thirst or the army closing in on you? Look at the manna and the water from the rock and the Red Sea being pushed back for you to cross! O Christian, why are you focused on the chaos and disease and evil in your life and in the world around you? Why are you focused on chemical attacks in Syria or capricious politicians or the storm clouds brewing in the relationship between church and culture. Yes, in this world you will have tribulation, but take heart. Jesus has overcome the world. This world threw all it could at our Lord. Satan and his demon host attacked our Savior in every way they could conjure. And our Lord bested them all. Our Lord bested death itself. The grave could not hold him.  He has triumphed gloriously. The hosre and his rider have been thrown into the sea! Jesus lives, the victory’s won!

And in your baptism, you live too. You live in him. In this life we will still have hardship. Jesus never promised us anything different. What he promised us is that this life is not all there is. This life is a desert wandering. We are free from the slavery to sin and death, but we have not yet arrived in the promised rest. Like Israel who had been delivered from Egypt but was not yet in the Promised Land, our time in this desert is filled with reasons to fear, with death and disease, with enemies both physical and spiritual, with temptation and despair and doubt. But the gift of today is that our Lord has given us something else to look at. Rather than looking at the problems, look at the cross. Look at the empty tomb. Look at your deliverance. Jesus lives, the victory’s won!

Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on, nor about the things the people of this world will say about you, what they will call you and what you will suffer on account of being faithful to Christ. For the Gentiles seek after these things. But you have a Heavenly Father who knows you need them. And you know he will provide them. You know he loves you, for God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And now Christ lives. And no matter what this world throws at you, your Lord will deliver you.

Jesus lives, the victory’s won. All you need, God will dispense. Let this be your confidence. Jesus lives, the victory’s won. Death’s reign is done. Brighter scenes will soon commence. Let this be your confidence. Jesus lives, the victory’s won. And now even death itself is but the gate to life immortal. Let this calm your trembling breath in the face of life’s challenges. Let this be your confidence.

Christ is risen. Alleluia!
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

 

 

Jesus, the Resurrection – Sermon for April 2/3, 2017

Jesus, the Resurrection
John 11:1-45
Fifth Sunday in Lent
April 2nd/3rd, 2017
St. John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

            Spring is in the air.  Finally.  Maybe. You can never quite tell in Michigan, can you? One day it’s sunny and beautiful, the next it’s snowing and sleeting. But regardless of what’s going on with the weather, we have turned the calendar to April. Every morning when I get dressed I can hear the sound of birds chirping outside my window.  The days are getting longer. March Madness is almost over, baseball season is here. But the surest sign that warmer days are ahead is the return of the construction barrel, that ubiquitous orange decoration that frustrates drivers across the state from the first thaw until the winter chill returns at the end of next fall.  Yes, construction season has returned, so get ready for some detours. The barrels are already out on Garfield, and I hear Schoenherr between 15 and 16 Mile roads will get torn up too, not to mention the major closure on I-75 South between Detroit and Downriver.  If you are headed in those directions, better plan on being rerouted.

Today’s Gospel reading tells of a rerouting of sorts.  It tells of a detour. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem where he would be greeted by throngs of people waving palm branches as he enters the city riding on the colt of a donkey.  But that’s the reading for next week. Before we reach the triumphal entry of Palm Sunday, we take a slight detour and visit the cemetery.  This detour might have taken us to the deathbed of a dying Lazarus, but as you just heard in the reading a few moments ago, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was ill, he waited for two full days before going to him.  We visit a cemetery instead of a hospital bed because Jesus waited.  He waited for Lazarus to die.

When He finally arrived, Martha, the sister of Lazarus, greeted him with the following words: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”  Jesus had a reputation for miraculous healing. That’s why crowds of people would bring their sick loved one to Jesus. Martha knows Jesus healed a veritable army of strangers, but when his friend is deathly ill, he doesn’t drop everything and rush to heal him? Why in the world would Jesus wait? Why would he do that to her? In her grief she comes out and accuses Jesus of being responsible for her pain.  “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died. If you wouldn’t have forgotten about Lazarus, if you would’ve only gotten here on time, when I told you to be here, then my brother would be alive, and I wouldn’t be hurting.”

Jesus comforts her by reminding her, “Your brother will rise again.”  And Martha admits knows that Lazarus will be raised on the last day.  But that offers little comfort to her right now.  Right here and now, Lazarus is still dead.  This isn’t what Martha had in mind at all.  This isn’t how Martha planned it. This isn’t what her life was supposed to be. So Jesus tells Martha, “I am the resurrection.  I am the Life.  I may not have been here on your time table, but I am here now, here in my time, here for you.”  But Martha didn’t understand.  What Martha wanted was for Jesus to have healed her brother and protected her from feeling grief.  But Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus had something else in mind.

Lazarus’s other sister Mary also greeted Jesus, much in the same way as her sister Martha.  She also tells Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”  And then she breaks down into tears, overrun with grief at the death of her brother.  Jesus, seeing her grief, weeps with her.  The sadness and grief he feels is evident by his own reaction to the situation. But some of those who had gathered at the tomb saw Jesus weeping and said, “Couldn’t he who opened the eyes of the blind have kept this man from dying?  Couldn’t he have prevented this pain?”  From their perspective, Jesus is to blame for this pain. Jesus should have done something to keep Lazarus from dying.  Then Mary and Martha wouldn’t have to experience the terrible grief of losing a family member.  Then Mary and Martha would know that Jesus loved them, if he shielded them from the hurts and afflictions of this life.  But Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus had something else in mind.

It’s in the words of Jesus that we see what that “something else” was. “I am the resurrection and the life.”  Resurrection.  Now there’s a loaded word.  For while resurrection certainly calls to mind images of life, in order for there to be a resurrection there must first be a death.  If there is no death, there can be no resurrection.  When Jesus tells us, “I am the resurrection and the life,” what he is also saying in these words is “I bring death.”

“How can Jesus bring death?” you may be asking yourself.  “Didn’t Jesus tell us that he came in order that we, his sheep, may have life, and have it abundantly?  How can Jesus bring death?”  And yet we’re left to meditate on what Jesus really said, not just on what we wish he would have said. “I am the resurrection,” he said. Jesus brings death.  Jesus brought death to Lazarus. He waited to go to the house until Lazarus had died. But death doesn’t get the last word because Jesus doesn’t bring death to just Lazarus. Remember, this stopover at the tomb of Lazarus is nothing more than a detour on Jesus’ journey to his own tomb.  Don’t forget where Jesus goes when he leaves Mary, Martha, and their resurrected brother.  Think of where this road is taking him, from Bethany to Jerusalem: to Palm Sunday, to Maundy Thursday, to Good Friday and the cross.

“Hosanna!” the people will shout when he arrives in Jerusalem, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Have mercy on us.  Save us!”  And save them he will, but not in the way that they expect. Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  Behold, the perfect sacrifice, bloodied and dead under the judgment our sins deserve.  Behold, he who is the resurrection and the life. But for there to be resurrection, there must be death first.

All too often, we too would have Jesus simply protect us from our daily pain and affliction.  Like Mary and Martha, we look at the problems and hurt in our lives and say, “Lord, you could have prevented this!  Why did you let this happen to me?  Where were you?”  We look at Jesus as the one to deliver us from financial or emotional difficulties, to heal our earthly infirmities or cure our cancer.  To make everything right and comfortable and to put things just the way we want them. We cry out, “Lord, have mercy on me where I tell you to, where I think I need it.”  But Jesus has something else in mind, something greater.

Jesus didn’t take on human flesh in order to make us comfortable or to give us what we think we want.  He didn’t come to make us only feel better for a little while.  He came with the true cure.  He came to make us his own.  He didn’t come to put a band-aid on our sinfulness.  He came to kill it, to crucify it with himself on the cross.  If anyone would follow him, let him take up his own cross. “Or don’t you know, all of you who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death?”  The road from Bethany to Jerusalem, like all roads in the life of Christ, leads to death.  The entire journey of Lent is a journey of death, a journey of repentance where our old Adam daily drowns and dies, along with all sins and evil desires, and a new man arises to live before God in righteousness and purity for ever.

Jesus is not impressed with our perception of the problems in our lives; he knows what the true problem is: sin.  That is why he came.  That is why he went to Jerusalem.  That is why he lived. That is why he died.  There were no construction barrels that could keep our Lord from reaching his destination.  There was nothing that was going to keep him from reaching the cross.  He didn’t come to give us what we want.  He came to give us what we need.

“I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus said. He came to earth, took human flesh, and traveled to Jerusalem for one reason: to die and rise again.  And through our baptism we too die with him there.  But death is not the final word; Jesus is the resurrection.  And Jesus is not only the resurrection, he is our resurrection.  He is your resurrection. Now we live in our baptism, living in repentance, dying to our sinful flesh, united to Christ in his resurrection.  The resurrection lives within us.  Christ lives within us.  Jesus did not give Mary and Martha a temporary solution or quick fix.  Jesus came to bring true life and true freedom, the life and freedom which can only be had through death . . . and resurrection.  Such is your life as a child of God, a life of death and resurrection.  So live as the children of God you truly are! Repent! and die to your sins.  Repent! and be made alive in him who is the resurrection and the life.  Repent! and live in Christ, never to die again.

Salvation for Body and Soul: Easter Sermon – 2016

Salvation: Body and Soul
Job 19:23-27
Easter Sunday
March 27, 2016
Saint John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

The human body is a fascinating thing.  Did you know, for example, that your tongue print is as unique as your fingerprints. Or that your nose can remember around 50,000 different scents? Not just the ones you want to remember like the smell of lilac blossoms332494efda5e31c9f1894833f70ee129 or freshly brewing coffee, but even the unfortunate memories of skunk and rotten milk: your nose knows which is which. Did you know that the average human heart pumps around 2000 gallons of blood each day through the 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body? Think about that: that’s enough fluid to practically fill a pool that’s four feet high and twelve feet in diameter being pumped through enough blood vessels that you could wrap them around the earth two and a half times at the equator. I find that personally mind blowing and a little hard to believe, but I read it online, so it must be true! And it’s all in your body.  And we are here today to celebrate that Jesus redeemed all of it.

You see, sometimes we get the idea that Jesus simply died to save our souls, or that the soul is somehow more important than the body.  But the reality of being a human is that your body and soul are inseparable.  You are not a body with a soul or a soul with a body; you are body and soul together, joined as one like nothing else in all creation.  There are those in our world who would argue differently. There are those who would tell you that the body is irrelevant at best, or at worst a mistake. It is not a particularly new argument, it has been argued by different religions for millennia. However, it is picking up steam in popular culture once again.  There are those who would argue that the body is a burden or a crutch that must be overcome in order for your soul to be free.  There are those who would argue that the biology of one’s body could be a mistake, saying one might be a man trapped in a woman’s body or a woman trapped in a man’s body.  There are those who would argue that the body is irrelevant, that one’s gender or biology has no bearing on who a person truly is.  This is yet another symptom of the sad fact that we live in a culture that has, by and large, bought into the lie that what matters most is reality as you see it, not reality as it actually is.

And yet for all the talk about how unimportant the body is supposed to be, we spend an awful lot of time as people trying to save it.  Think of all the technology, medicine, surgical procedures, and cosmetics that are dedicated to the preservation of the body.  If we are really just souls trapped in a fleshy cage, why is it our instinct to spend so much time, effort, and resources decorating, repairing, and even remodeling that cage, when we should really be trying to escape from it?  Because deep down inside we know that the body is important. The truth is hard to kill. We may want to believe that our body is not a very important part of who we are; we may love the supposed freedom of choice we think that gives us, but try as we might to drown reality under a sea of our personal opinions and the ideas we would like to be true, the actual truth has a nasty habit of popping back up to the surface.  And today is a celebration of the truth; it is a celebration of reality.  Today we jesus-died-for-you2celebrate not the symbolic or metaphorical resurrection of Jesus. Today we celebrate his actual flesh and bone resurrection. Today acknowledges the importance of the body both to us and to God himself.

There is great joy to be found in acknowledging reality as our Lord created it.  You and your body are not an accident. Your body was created for you and given to you as God’s gift. Now, there are certainly cases where sin has corrupted God’s once perfect creation, no one is arguing against that sad reality. There are cases where disease or other ailments have made some bodies harder to live in than others.  That’s why when Jesus walked the earth he healed people, putting back together what sin had broken. He healed the blind and the lame and the mute and the diseased. He gave them back their bodies because the body is important, essential even, to human existence. Jesus restored what sin had corrupted.  But those corruptions are the exception, not the rule. The design for creation remains. God has given you a body and has designed it for you. He has given you specific talents and abilities to be used for the benefit of others.  He has made you good at certain things, maybe you’re good with your hands, or maybe you have a knack with machinery or accounting or art. Whatever the case may be, believing in the Creator means we believe that these skills are not ours by chance, but are God’s design for us that he will use in service to others.

Today is a celebration of the fact that not only has God created your body for you, he has redeemed it. That’s why Jesus took on human flesh. Jesus came to earth not simply to teach us how to live, he could have done that from heaven. In fact, he did just that when he wrote the Law into our hearts and clarified it from Mount Sinai. Jesus did not come to earth to reveal some secret or esoteric knowledge reserved for the select few. No, Jesus took on human flesh in order to redeem human flesh, he took a body in order to redeem the body, to redeem your body. And that’s exactly what he did, he who for the joy set before him endured the cross, something, that he needed a body to do,  despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of God,[1] he who did not consider his equality with God a thing to be clung to at all costs, but who made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, and being made as a human, fully human, body and soul, he became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.[2] And he did it for you, to redeem you, the whole you, body and soul.

Your body is important to God. It is a gift, not a curse.  Yes, there are a multitude of problems that our bodies face in this life: hunger, deformity, disease, pain, and eventually death.  There are temptations and misunderstandings about gender and sexuality. But these temptations come not because the body is bad, but because it is a good gift from God that Satan is out to destroy.  Satan wants us to believe in the separation of body and soul.  He will tempt us to ignore the body and focus on the soul, tempting us to believe that our salvation is found by thinking the right way or found in the strength of our believing.  He will tempt us to believe that it doesn’t matter what we do with our body so long as our heart is in the right place.  He wants to drive a wedge. Or he’ll take the opposite track and tempt us to believe that salvation is found only through the body by living the right way and making the right choices. He will tempt us to believe that it doesn’t matter what images go into our eyes so long as our body does not act out the lust, or that it doesn’t matter what hatred or bitterness we harbor in our hearts so long as our body does no harm to another.  But his end game is the same: separate body and soul in our thinking.  Today undoes Satan’s web of lies and reminds us of the reality that salvation is found nowhere in ourselves, body or soul, but only in he who is the way, the truth, and the life:[3] in Jesus, the only name under heaven given to men by which we can be saved[4], in Jesus who became body and soul for us.  It’s not our actions or inactions that win us salvation; salvation is found in the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, today we rejoice with Job.  For we too know that our redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth, and that even after our bodies have been destroyed by disease or death or decay, yet in our flesh we shall see God.  And our own eyes, the eyes that belong to this very body, will see him for themselves.[5]  We rejoice in he_is_risen_wallpaper__yvt2the knowledge that our bodies are not irrelevant or burdensome, but rather a gift, a gift so important to God that he would take one himself to suffer in our place. Your body is a gift so important to God that he brings the gift of salvation to that body today, not merely in theory, but in physical and fleshy ways, bread and wine that fill our mortal stomachs with the food of immortality, salvation for our bodies as well as our souls.  That’s why when we stand before the grave of a loved one waiting for the moment when that casket is lowered into the earth we pray that God the Father who created that body, that God the Son who by his blood redeemed that body, and that God the Holy Spirit who sanctified that body to be his temple would keep those remains until the resurrection of all flesh.[6]  That’s why at the end of communion we pray that the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ would strengthen and preserve us body and soul unto life everlasting. For body and soul together is life. It is our life in this world. It will be our life in the world to come.

So rejoice today that your body is not an accident, it is a gift – the gift of life itself. Whatever temptations or afflictions you face, whatever diseases or ailments have attacked your body, know that Jesus died for all of it. He redeemed you from all of it. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”[7]  May our Lord continue to provide for all our needs of body and soul as we celebrate his resurrection, and as we wait for him to come again.

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Christ is risen! Alleluia!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

[1] Hebrews 12:2

[2] Philippians 2:6-8

[3] John 14:6

[4] Acts 4:12

[5] Job 19:23-27

[6] Blessing from Lutheran Service of Committal. Pastoral Care Companion p. 134

[7] Philippians 3:20-21

Life in Peace – Funeral Sermon for Lori Bargowski

Lori Bonita Bargowski
Luke 2:25-32
Funeral Sermon
February 4, 2016
Saint John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

LSB Icon_053

“Lord, now you let your servant go in peace. Your word has been fulfilled.” Peace is one of the great gifts from God. Our world speaks often of peace, but our world can’t ever understand the fullness of peace. To our world, peace is the absence of something. The absence of war. The absence of heartache. The absence of strife. But the peace of our Lord is so much more. It’s not about what’s not there, but about what is. More accurately, the peace of our Lord is about who’s there. It’s about Jesus. Where Jesus is, where Jesus has done his work, where Jesus has created faith and reconciliation, there is the fullness of God’s peace. There is the peace that passes understanding. There is the peace that cannot be overcome by the changing winds of this life. There is true peace.  It is that peace that I think of when I think of Lori. Lori lived in the peace of the Lord. Lori has now departed in the peace of the Lord.

Of course, for those who knew Lori, peace might not be the first word that pops to mind when you think about her personality.  Mischief, maybe. But peace? She seemed to find great joy in disturbing the peace. After all, she was the one who taught her granddaughters how to shoot the wrappers off their straws in the restaurant. And if that wasn’t help enough, she would always send a few straws home with them, just a little ammunition to help them disturb the peace around their own dinner table a little. She was the one who had dancing Santas and huge light displays set up for Christmas, not to mention the crazy hats she would wear for the holidays. Silent Night? Sleep in heavenly peace? Not in Lori’s house.  She struck me as the kind of person who might get out the sharpie if she saw you sleeping too peacefully. She was a wonderful woman, a true joy to be around, always smiling her contagious smile, always joking around, and often up to something.

So maybe life with Lori wasn’t always the most peaceful, but I still think that’s because she was a woman who was filled with the peace of the Lord, with the true peace that passes understanding. She was a woman who knew her salvation rested safely in the hand of the Good Shepherd, and that knowledge gave her peace. That took off the yokes and shackles of this life so that she could be a fun-loving trouble maker, the kind of woman who makes you smile when she walked in the room because you always wonder what she would do or say today to make you laugh, the exact kind of woman you always wanted around to liven things up. And she was around a lot.  She gave selflessly of her time. When the news began to spread throughout the congregation that Lori had died, more than one person asked me, “Is that the lady who worked at the library?” She was Sunday School Superintendent at her former church. She was part of the leadership for the Fraser Historical Society. She helped around here with VBS. She joined in for the 150th Anniversary skits in the gym. She sang in the choir. She was an active woman who embraced life, who embraced relationships, who embraced joy.

And I believe that is because she was filled with the peace of the Lord that Simeon sings about in the Gospel of Luke.  Whatever else was or wasn’t happening in her life, Lori knew she was a child of God.  On May 7, 1950, Pastor Winterstein at Huntington Woods Lutheran Church baptized Lori into the family of God.  The gift given to Lori that day shaped her attitude toward life. She knew that her salvation was secure. She knew that no matter what failures or shortcomings might be part of her life story, her Lord would not fail her. He would fulfill the promise the made to her that day. He would sustain her in the true faith unto life everlasting. And so Lori lived a life rooted in the promises of God.  She was a combination of Mary and Martha, both sitting at the feet of our Lord hearing his word, while also actively serving him by serving the people of this world. She knelt at this very altar to be strengthened and nourished by the body and blood of her savior. And when she returned to these very pews after communion, she would join the body of Christ here singing the words we heard just a few short moments ago. “Lord, now you are letting your servant go in peace. Your Word has been fulfilled. I have seen my salvation.”

God was at work in her, and that filled her with peace. That is our peace today, too. For as many memories as we have of Lori, as fun as she was to be around, the sad reality remains that her time on this earth was always destined to come to an end. That day will come for each one of us. None of us will escape it. But for those of us who hold Jesus in our hearts through faith like Simeon held him in his arms, the promise is that we too will depart in peace.  For that’s what our Lord does. He takes hold of us in baptism, covering us with the robe of his own righteousness that covers all our sin. He comes to us through the proclamation of his Word to speak peace into our chaotic lives.  Not a peace that is the absence of busyness or strife, but the true peace that comes from being united to our redeemer. The peace that fills us from head to toe, even when we don’t feel particularly peaceful. For it is not a peace that relies on us or our emotions or our schedule or our circumstances – it is the peace of the Lord. It is the peace that comes from knowing how the story ends – with the resurrection of the body into life everlasting.

That peace is yours, for Jesus is yours. That peace allowed Lori to look past the struggles and burdens of this life. She had more than her fair share of health concerns. Her poor body had been through so much in the last few years. And yet she kept her eyes focused on Christ through it all. In the words of the Apostle Paul, because she was raised with Christ through faith, she set her mind on the things that are above, where Christ is. She knew that her life was hidden in Christ with God. And she knew that when Christ who is her life appears, then she also will appear with him in glory. That is the promise she is waiting for now, resting safely in the hand of our Lord until the day of resurrection.

Let that same promise of Christ fill you with peace in this time of grief. Lori used to tell her grandkids that she loved them. When they would reply with the same, she would say that she loved them more. When they would reply with the same, she would say, “No, I love you more because I’m bigger.” Well, Jesus is bigger still, and his love is stronger than death.  He loves Lori and will raise her back to life with all those who have gone before her in the faith, and with all those who will come after her. Let that promise fill you with peace amid your grief today. You will see your mother, your grandmother, your friend again in the resurrection on the last day.  Let the promise of your own resurrection fill you with peace in the days to come.  For the promises of this world are fleeting, and the peace of this world is fickle. From one day to the next, the peace of this world waxes and wanes.  We’re always chasing after it, but will never catch it. “If I can just get the right job, or take the right vacation, or buy the right house,” we tell ourselves, “then I’ll have peace.” But that peace will never last. It is not true peace.

True peace comes from our Lord, form being united to him, from holding him in your heart through faith. And that’s exactly what he’s given you. That’s what he gave Lori. I have no doubt about it. In those last days of her life, when I had the opportunity to sit with her in the hospital and talk to her about Jesus and forgiveness, when I had the opportunity to give her communion one last time, she gave me two thumbs up. She was at peace.  She knew where she was going. She knew Jesus had her.  May the same peace fill your hearts and minds today.  For the same Jesus that has brought Lori safely home is guarding you too.

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Distractions – Sermon for Sept 20/21, 2015

Distractions

Luke 7:11-17

16th Sunday After Trinity

September 20, 2015

Saint John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

The story of the tortoise and the hare is one that children across the country hear from an early age. Its message is simple: slow and steady wins the race. But another way to understand the moral of this story is: don’t let distractions stop you from reaching your goal. The tortoise in the story has laser-like focus. He knows where he’s going. He knows how to get there. He knows he’s not the fastest animal, but what he lacks in flashy speed he makes up for in dedication and perseverance. It may not have broken any speed records, but the tortoise made it to the finish line. He was not overcome by distractions. 690024723The hare, on the other hand, lost the race not because he was slower than the tortoise, but because of distractions. The hare is quick off the line, but he gets distracted some way down the road. He stops for a bite to eat. He stops for a nap. He does not focus on finishing the race, but allows other things to take top priority. Those distractions prove to be his undoing. The tortoise and the hare – a story on the danger of distractions.

It’s a story that has application to our lives as children of God.  What distractions are threatening your walk of faith? This life is a journey, and we are called to be like the tortoise, slowly but surely plodding along toward that heavenly rest.  But how often do we find ourselves more like the hare, distracted by the things around us?

In a roundabout way, today’s Gospel reading has to do with this same question.  Today’s Gospel reading has to do with the heart and soul of Christianity, the thing the devil is always trying to distract us from. Today’s Gospel has to do with life overcoming death through Jesus, and that, when it comes right down to it, is what the Gospel is all about. In the reading you have Jesus at the height of his popularity. He is travelling the countryside healing the sick and lame, teaching the people that the kingdom of God is near, miraculously feeding the multitudes with a few loaves of bread and some small fish. At this point in his ministry, Jesus attracts a crowd everywhere he goes. Not only a crowd of the locals, but there’s even a crowd of people who travel with Jesus. They are almost like roadies, setting up camp in whatever town Jesus stays the night, going wherever he goes, hoping to see the next miracle, to experience something great. It is a crowd bustling with excitement, a crowd bustling with life.

As this lively crowd followed the Lord of Life to the village Nain, they were met on the road by a funeral procession. A parade of life meets a parade of death. It’s almost a microcosm of the very story of the universe – the epic battle of life versus death. And in the battle of life versus death, Jesus always wins.  He is moved by the plight of this dead man’s poor mother, who was a widow, no less. He had compassion on her. His heart broke for her like his heart breaks for all who grieve in the face of death. And death is all around us.  Just this past week in our faculty devotions here at St. John we prayed for several families who were grieving the death of loved ones. Every day families across the world lose loved ones to the jaws of death. The point is, our Lord’s heart breaks for each tissot-resurrection-nain244x200one of those families. Our Lord’s compassion flares up whenever he sees a funeral procession. In this way, the story from the Gospel of Luke is not the exception, it’s the rule.  It is the way our Lord works. When our Lord sees death, he is moved by compassion. His heart breaks. When he saw the woman, he had compassion on her and walked up to the coffin and said, “Young man, I saw to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up. The Lord of life defeated death. Life wins.

That is the heart and soul of the Gospel.  Life wins. Jesus gives life: that is what Christianity is all about. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might have life through him.  Death was the problem that brought Jesus to earth, and life is the result of what he did when he got here.  When our Lord in heaven saw our plight, when he saw death and what death would do to his creation, when he saw how death would bring tears and sadness to his creatures, his heart broke. He took action. He set about to undo the curse of death. That is the gift of the Gospel.

And yet there are so many distractions that would take our eyes off of this great gift of God.  There are so many ways that we ourselves become the distraction to take other people’s eyes off this great gift of God.   The world around us seems to be a more and more comfortable place for sin each day. It can be frustrating to see the people around us living in open and unrepentant sin. It shouldn’t surprise us when an unbelieving world acts in unbelieving ways, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. It can be discouraging to see the sin of our culture because we see the terrible consequences that come along with it. We see the broken relationships and broken lives that are the result of the sexual revolution. We see the broken lives that are the result of addiction. We see the sense of entitlement and the disrespect so common in our culture and we know it’s wrong. And we know the solution is found in our Lord’s Word. We want to fix it. And our Lord has indeed called us to be the voice of truth in a world of lies.

But we have to be careful not to get distracted in this effort, for the Kingdom of God is not of this world. Politics will not fix sin. Passing the right laws or electing the right officials will not fix sin.  You can’t convert people to Christ by force. And while we know from our Lord’s Word how this world is designed to run, we have to remember that this world is broken by sin, and will stay broken by sin until the day of our Lord’s return. The gift of the water baptismGospel is not that it will somehow fix this world, but that it promises us life beyond this world.  Even more importantly, we can’t let the sin of the culture distract us from our own sin. We can’t let it turn us into self-righteous Pharisees who think we have no need for a savior. We can’t fall into the trap of evaluating our standing before God by comparing ourselves to other people instead of listening to the holy Law of God. For these are nothing but distractions that Satan would use to take our eyes off the two most basic truths in all the world: I am a sinner, and Jesus is my Savior.

In humble repentance, we remember that no matter what sins our culture embraces, no matter what excuses we cling to in an effort to justify our sinful behavior, the truth will catch up to us eventually. Even if we dedicate all our days to leading a godly life in what we say and do, those days are still numbered.  We will still die. But overcoming that death is the point of Christianity.  The heart of the Gospel is Jesus putting back together a creation broken by sin.  The miracles of Jesus recorded in the pages of Scripture give people a small taste of what heaven is all about, a small taste of what the kingdom of God is.  It is a kingdom of life. Sin and death may be realities in this fallen creation, but when our Lord first created the universe neither was there.  Blindness may be a reality in this creation, but when Jesus leads the parade of life past the blind, sight is restored.  Paralysis may be a reality in this fallen creation, but when Jesus leads the parade of life past the lame, they take up their mats and walk. Death may be a reality in this fallen creation, but when the parade of life marches past, life wins.  And when Jesus leads the parade of life into the new heaven and a new earth, there will be no more suffering and death.  That’s the promise that was made to you in your baptism, when you were brought into the parade of death.

We’re marching to Zion, as the hymn says, but we’re not there yet. The resurrected man from today’s Gospel reading eventually died again. Those who were miraculously healed by Jesus didn’t ultimately escape the reality of death.  Their death may have been delayed, but ultimately they had to face it. Each of us must face it.  That is the curse of life in this fallen world.  That’s the consequence of sin.  But that curse is why Jesus came to earth: to conquer sickness and death into eternity.

The eyes of faith look forward to this day.  For the baptized child of God, life is a journey toward this day.  Our time on this earth is a parade down a trail lined with distractions, haunted by the reality of sin and sickness and death. But our eternity is secure.  That is the gift of baptism. That is the gift of Jesus. Don’t be distracted by the sin of this world. Don’t be distracted by the sadness. Don’t be distracted by the emptiness. Be fed and jesus-died-for-you2nourished for this journey with the body and blood of our Lord himself given in bread and wine for the strengthening of our faith. Our Lord walks this journey with us through his Word, as we take time for devotions and prayer. Our Lord is guiding us down the path to eternal life one step at a time. Don’t be distracted by this world of death. Remember that you are marching in our Lord’s parade of life. And when it comes to Jesus, life wins.

Funeral Sermon for Millie Reindel

Millie Reindel

Funeral Sermon

John 14:1-6

October 20, 2014

St. John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

             1919 was a busy year.  In January, the 18th Amendment was ratified, ushering in the era of prohibition, bootlegging, and the Roaring Twenties.  February saw Benito Mussolini rose to power in Italy, while in March of that year a man named Mahatma Gandhi begin his crusade of passive resistance.  President Woodrow Wilson was in office1919d_one_cent_obv when the Treaty of Versailles brought an end to World War I in July.  And in December, 1919, Millie Reindel was born Millie Buelow at her family’s farmhouse in Mount Clemens, MI.  Just a few days later she was baptized by Pastor Wuggazer of St. John Lutheran Church in Fraser, MI, where she has been a member ever since.  December 1919 to October 2014.  Almost 95 years.  She was not only a lifelong member of St. John, she was a long life member.  A lot has changed around here in the almost century since Millie became a baptized member of St. John.  Pastors have come and gone.  Principals have come and gone.  Teachers, musicians, and members in general have come and gone.  The congregation has slowly moved itself to the north side of 14 Mile road, both by building and adding to the school facilities, and ultimately by building the sanctuary you are all sitting in today.  Yes, a lot has changed at St. John since 1919, and Millie was part of it all.  But one thing has been constant for all those years: this was Millie’s church.  From the cradle to the grave, St. John was Millie’s home.

Of course, there were plenty of other things that made Millie who she was.  She was a gentle and patient mother who was quick to speak a kind word about everyone she met.  She loved going to her lake house in Lewiston, loved her children and grandchildren, and was thrilled when she became a great-grandma.  She and Irwin were proud of the hardware store, a store opened by Irwin’s dad in 1898 and now in its third generation of Reidel ownership.  From what I hear, she had a special place in her heart for the antique car down there, and I’m sure many of you can still picture her sitting in the car’s rumble seat for the Fraser Parade.  Millie was involved in a lot of activities and had many things in her life that brought her joy, but you can’t tell the story of Millie without St. John.  So much of her social life and friendships were found at church in the LWML, in the 55-Plus Club, in the fish fries and pancake dinners.  Millie was a lifelong member here, and that’s a rare thing these days.  Fewer and fewer people attend the same church from the cradle to the grave.  Millie did.  95 years in one place.  95 years at one church.  That’s a remarkable thing.  And yet we’re here today because as remarkable as 95 years is, it was always destined to come to an end.  As Millie’s kids told me last week, she was the last Reindel of her generation.  Millie’s remarkable 95 years saw her outlive her husband, her siblings, and most of her friends.  As long a period of time as 95 years is, it has an end.  Her days on this earth were numbered from the start.  Each of our days on this earth is numbered.  None of us will be here forever.  No one will be a member of this congregation forever.

Which is why we celebrate that Millie was a member not only of St. John Lutheran Church in Fraser, MI, but also a member of the Body of Christ.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, we now regard no one according to the flesh, for if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[1]  Millie was a new creation, brought forth in the water of Holy Baptism on December 28, 1919.  Since that day, since that holy washing, the Spirit of our Lord has been alive in her, nourishing her through the proclamation of God’s Word, strengthening her through the body and blood of Christ given and received from this very altar, from these very hands.  In this very room, from this very pulpit, Millie heard week after week of her Lord Jesus.  She heard how he was born for her, how he lived for her, how he suffered for her, how he died for her, how he was buried for her, how he was raised for 09921b4fde359d4fc3cc49da1c3e272cher, how he ascended for her, and how he was now in heaven preparing a room for her in their Father’s house.  If it were not so, Jesus would not have told us.[2]  But it is so, and Millie knew it.  She knew it because she is a member not just of St. John, but of the flock of Jesus, her good shepherd.  She is one of his sheep.  She knows his voice, and nothing can snatch her out of the Father’s hand.[3]

That is our consolation.  That is our hope in the midst of grief.  For over 80 years Millie received the body and blood of Jesus from many different pastors in this place.  The pastors changed over time.  The language changed from German to English.  The location changed from the building across the street to the one we’re in today.  But Jesus didn’t change.  It was always the same Jesus coming to his precious daughter Millie to guard her and protect her in the true faith unto life everlasting.  And because it was always the same Jesus, Millie could always leave the altar singing, “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace.  Your word has been fulfilled.”  Dear friends in Christ, God’s Word has been fulfilled for Millie.  She has now departed in peace to be with our Lord.  In the Father’s house are many rooms, and one of those room’s belongs to Millie now.  December 1919 saw Millie Reindel born into this life in her parents’ farmhouse.  December 1919 saw Millie Reindel born into life eternal in the waters of holy baptism.  October 2014 saw Millie take the next step in her eternal life, one step closer to the resurrection of the body unto life everlasting.  Her time at St. John may have come to an end after 95 years, but her time in the Church Triumphant will never end.  Her days on this earth may have been numbered, but now she lives in the Kingdom of God that needs no sun or moon to mark the time, for there is no end of days there.[4]

There is no end to those days because our Lord has swallowed up the covering that is cast over all people in these.  He has swallowed up death.  Death may have swallowed up our Lord in the cold darkness of cross and tomb, but death could not hold him.  He burst forth to life that Easter morning.  In the resurrection of Jesus death itself is now swallowed up.  Now it has no hold over Jesus or any of those who have been united to him.  It has no hold over Millie.  Death may have swallowed up Millie on this earth, but that was just theIs25 trip through the birth canal into new life in paradise.  Millie has now added her voice to the chorus of saints in heaven singing, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”[5]

Today Millie is rejoicing in the salvation of our Lord.  Let us learn to walk the same road.  For while we may not have been members of one single congregation all our days this side of heaven like Millie was, our days remain numbered like hers.  Our last day is coming.  She approached her last day with hope in her heart, for she knew she was a forgiven child of God.  Let us also learn to cling to that same hope, found in the cross of Christ.  Lift up your eyes to the hill of Calvary, and see your salvation.  From where does our help come?  Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, even in death; he who keeps you will not slumber.   Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.[6]

He did it for Millie.  May he do it for us too.

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[1] 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

[2] John 14:2

[3] John 10:27-29

[4] Revelation 21:23

[5] Isaiah 25:9

[6] Psalm 121