The Promise and Warning of the Rainbow

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Pentecost 9, 2021 Proper 12
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
July 25, 2021
Genesis 9:8-17, Ephesians 3:18-21, Mark 6:45-56

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            Rainbows are kind of magical.  When you see one you want to share it with others.  “Look!  A rainbow!” You run inside and tell your family to come out and see it before it goes away.  You want to celebrate a rainbow.  When I was growing up when we would see a rainbow my mother would get all us kids popsicles.  Rainbows conjure up many thoughts and memories.  Leprechauns and legends of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow,” where troubles melt like lemon drops.  Kermit singing Rainbow connection.  Rainbows are amazing. 

If you look it up, A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflectionrefraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicoloured circular arc.[1]  Sometimes definitions can kind of burst the magical bubble.  “Wow!  Look at the light reflected, refracted and dispersed.” 

But a rainbow is not just reflection, refraction and dispersion of light.  The rainbow is a powerful sign; the rainbow hold great significance.  The rainbow is the sign of the covenant that God established between Himself and all flesh that is on the earth.  Genesis 9:14–15 (ESV) 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 

You see a rainbow and it is the sign of God’s covenant with all flesh, and His covenant with you, that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood.  A rainbow reminds God of His promise and reminds you of His promise.  This is good news for you.  It was very good news for Noah and His family. 

Traumatic events can have a lingering effect on people.  Noah and his family have been through the wringer.  For decades they must have endured ridicule for building a huge boat where there was no water all the while knowing what was coming for anyone who was not on the ark when the rains came.  As they entered the 450 foot long, 75 foot wide, 45 foot tall casket-shaped ark they knew life would never be the same.  For the Lord had promised, Genesis 6:7 (ESV) 7 … “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Seven days after entering the ark, the rains began, and the waters rose, and the ark floated up off the ground.  Noah and his family knew that all the other people and animals with the breath of life in them were drowning.  Once in the ark, Noah and his family endured a year of isolation and little sunlight while they cared for the animals that would repopulate the earth.  This whole experience must have been terribly hard on the eight souls on the ark.  So much death.  So much uncertainty.  Not to mention the smell of their floating zoo.  Such a long year sealed in the floating casket.  You’ve got to imagine that after getting off the Ark they may have gotten a bit twitchy when it next started to rain.  In our Old Testament reading from Genesis God repeats His promise over and over because, as Martin Luther writes, “Therefore they could not be talked out of their fear and terror by a word or two; a great abundance of words was needed to drive back their tears and to soften their grief.”[2]

            With the promise of the rainbow they do not need to fear the rain.  God will never again destroy the world with water.

            The rainbow is a great comfort to Noah and his family and also to you, but there is more.  There is more depth to the meaning of the rainbow.  A rainbow is also a warning.  God made His covenant with Noah to never again destroy the world with water because — God did destroy the world.  God is capable of judgment and destruction and He will destroy the world again, only this time with fire.  The rainbow’s colors progress from violet, indigo and blue, the colors of water, to yellow, orange and red, the colors of fire.  The rainbow is a comfort and a warning.

            God is a God of mercy but also a God of judgement and judgement day is coming, a rainbow reminds you of this.  Judgement day is coming.  Matthew 3:10 (ESV) 

10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Matthew 3:12 (ESV) 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

            Judgment is coming.  The wages of sin is death.  You are a sinner and you deserve God’s punishment now and forever.  The rainbow reminds you of God’s past and future judgment.  The thought of God’s judgment can bring fear. But when there is a rainbow there is also rain.  The rain reminds you of another of God’s signs.  The rain reminds you of God’s new covenant with you in water and the Word in Holy Baptism.  God has a covenant with you; a promise sealed in the waters of baptism that you are His…forever.  God has promised to forgive you all your sins and has given you eternal life in the blood of Jesus.

            1 Peter 3:20–21 (ESV) 20 … God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 

            Noah and His family, eight souls in all, were preserved safely through the water.  The children of Israel came safely through the water of the Red Sea.  Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River.  You have come safely into the Kingdom of God through the waters of baptism.

            Eight in the Bible is a number of new beginnings. The eighth day was the first day of the new creation.  Eight people came through the waters of the flood on the Ark.  Jewish boys were marked with the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham on the eighth day of their lives.  Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, the eighth day.  And so, baptismal fonts often are constructed with eight sides to remind you of your new beginning, baptized into Christ.  The number eight and the rainbow are reminders of your new birth in Christ. 

            Jesus suffered and died to pay for the sins of the world, including your sins.  Jesus rose from the dead and death has lost its victory.  Jesus has given you these gifts in baptism and continues to pour out His gifts in His words of forgiveness and in giving you His very Body and Blood in Holy Communion.  God’s promise to you is sealed with water, and water is a great reminder of His promise. Let the sight or feel of water in rivers and lakes, in the pool, in the shower, in the sink, falling from the sky remind you to confess, “I am baptized into Christ.”  Each morning when you rise and each evening before you go to sleep remember your baptism by making the sign of the cross, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

            When you see a rainbow, an arc of refracted light, remember Noah and his Ark of refuge and rejoice in God’s promise to Noah, and God’s promise to you.  God will never again destroy the world with water, and in the waters of baptism you are saved from the coming judgment.  Amen. 


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow

[2] Luther’s Works Vol 2

Chaos to Order

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Pentecost 8 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
July 18, 2021
Jeremiah 23:1-6, Psalm 23, Ephesians 2:11-22, Mark 6:30-44

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            When my oldest son turned three we enrolled him in preschool in Illinois where we were living.  Some 3-year-olds love crazy spontaneity and are unconstrained by rules and order. Not my son.  He wanted things predictable and orderly beyond the ability of the teacher and the other 3-year-olds to provide.  He liked order.  They liked chaos.  We had to withdraw him from the class and wait for 4-year-old preschool.  What kind of parents are we?  Our first child…and he is a preschool drop out.

            Chaos can be very uncomfortable.  I really don’t like the chaos of large crowds where you are so tightly packed that you cannot move where you want, but just have to move with the crowd. I get panicky when I am at the mercy of a mass of humanity.

            Crowds can bring chaos, but there is also can be chaos in being alone.  This can happen after a divorce, the death of a loved one or having your spouse in a care center.  It can also happen after the kids leave home.  The regular order of your life is no longer there.  Plans for the future evaporate.  This chaos of being alone can leave you disoriented and anxious. 

            And there is the chaos of getting lost.  With GPS technology it is harder to get lost, but think of a time, maybe especially as a child where you got separated from your family and you could not find them.  Fear and panic starts to take over.  It is a very chaotic feeling.

            In our lessons today we find a lot of chaos.  In the reading from the prophet Jeremiah the Lord is chastising the religious leaders of Israel for being evil shepherds.  Instead of caring for the sheep, who are the people of Israel, the shepherds destroy the sheep and scatter them.  Instead of guiding them to live in an orderly, faithful way, the shepherds have scattered the sheep to live out their lives without faithful religious order.  They are on their own, lost in the wilderness of the pagan worship of Baal and Asherah and Molech.  They are lost in a world where the people who are supposed to be caring for the sheep are fleecing the sheep for their own gain.  The evil shepherds have brought chaos.

            In our Gospel reading we see the chaos of the crowds that are following Jesus. Mobs have been pressing in on him and are constantly surrounding Jesus so that He and the disciples are not even able to get something to eat.  They need a break from the chaos.  They need a time of peace and calm so Jesus and the disciples retreat by boat to get away from the crowds.  The crowds, however, see what they are doing and run ahead and are waiting for Jesus when He lands.  It is chaos.

            Jesus is fleeing the chaos and the chaos follows Him.  So, does He get back in His boat and try to find another place? No.  Jesus has compassion on the people.  His guts ache for these people in their chaos because…they are like sheep without a shepherd.  Jesus assumes His role as the Good Shepherd and spends the day teaching them many things. The day grows late.  They are in a desolate place.  The large crowd grows hungry.  The disciples want to send them away but Jesus has other plans.  Jesus enacts the promises of God with this great crowd of people.  Jesus is their shepherd. 

            Psalm 23:1–2 (ESV) 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”  Here in the wilderness on the shore of the Sea of Galilee we see the Lord bringing peace and satisfaction to His people. 

            We see Jesus, the Good Shepherd, literally making the people recline in green pastures beside the still waters.  Out of chaos and hunger Jesus brings order and food.  Mark 6:39–40 (ESV) 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties.  The disordered crowd is now set in order.  Like He did in the beginning with creation, Jesus brings order out of chaos.  Then, like feeding the children of Israel manna in the desert, Jesus miraculously feeds thousands of people from five loaves of bread and 2 fish with 12 baskets extra remaining.  Psalm 23:5 (ESV) 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  

            There is great spiritual chaos in the world today. There is the chaos of false gods; gods that were made in the image of man.  In too many Christian churches there is the chaos of not knowing where you stand with God.  The chaos of not knowing — did Jesus die for me, or not.  Some teach that Jesus died for some but not for others and, as a natural born sinner struggling with temptation and sin, you are left in the chaos of constant doubt whether you are saved or not.  Others teach that you need to do enough to be saved.  Be sincere enough, have enough faith, give enough, do enough.  But people know they are never enough and are left in the chaos of doubt.

            There is the chaos of having been driven away from Jesus’ Church.  Many, many people have been hurt by abusive leaders in churches.  There have been horrendous instances of pastors, the under shepherds of God’s sheep, using and abusing the sheep for their own pleasure and benefit. This is despicable.  These evil under shepherds scatter the sheep.  And now the sheep are alone in the world. 

            Others find themselves in spiritual chaos because they have left the Church seeking the freedom to live however they choose.  There is a common phrase used by people who are not part of the Church, “I don’t believe in organized religion.”  They seek the freedom of chaos, but freedom means these sheep wander alone in the world and are easy prey for the devil who prowls like a roaring lion. 

The greatest spiritual chaos that you face in this life is the chaos of death. Nothing else leaves you reeling with so much emotion, whether it is the death of a loved one or facing your own mortality.  Death brings intense spiritual chaos. 

            There is the spiritual chaos of having a pastor who has abandoned the Bible as the source of authority; who only pays lip service to Scripture while preaching what people’s itching ears want to hear. Preaching about how to be successful in life and have God bless you with health and wealth.  Preaching that the source of moral authority is not God’s Word, but whatever is the newest, wokest idea flowing from the cultural elites.  There is chaos when God’s plans for men and women, for sexual intimacy, the sanctity of life, and even Jesus on the cross as the only source of salvation, are rejected as being outdated, hateful, medieval ideas.  It is chaotic to be part of a church that continually changes its teachings to go along with whatever society around them is doing.

The greatest spiritual chaos that you face in this life is the chaos of death. Nothing else leaves you reeling with so much emotion, whether it is the death of a loved one or facing your own mortality.  Death brings intense spiritual chaos. 

            There is so much chaos in life; it is a tangled, knotted mess.  Jesus untangles life.  Jesus brings order out of chaos.  Jesus brings you the Kingdom of God; the reign and rule of God.  Jesus’ reign of service and sacrifice brings spiritual order out of the chaos of this world.  Jesus establishes His Church and gives His disciples the authority to forgive sins and bring His sheep from the chaos of sin, guilt and shame to the order and peace of being the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.  Jesus dies for the sins of the world and rises from the dead to conquer death.  Jesus establishes the sacrament of baptism to seal His sheep as a part of His flock. Jesus establishes the sacrament of Holy Communion to continue to feed His sheep.  Jesus establishes His Church which gathers together to receive His gifts. 

            Each Sunday you take refuge from the chaos of the world as you gather together here in an orderly way to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.  Here, Jesus brings you from the tangled chaos of being a natural born sinner living in a sinful world, to the peace and order of knowing your sins are forgiven and you are right with God as a citizen of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, protects you in the valley of the shadow of death so you are at peace despite the presence of death.  Jesus guides you in the way of righteousness. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Christ conquers chaos for you.  Amen. 

Haunted by Sin

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Pentecost 7 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
July 11, 2021
Amos 7:7-15, Eph. 1:3-14, Mark 6:14-29

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            When it comes to sin, Lutherans are not really very advanced as far ranking sins as greater or lesser sins; mortal or venial.  All sins in thought, word and deed break your relationship with God and need to be covered by the blood of Jesus but some do not have much effect on those around you.  Many sins are those stupid routine sins of anger, lustful thoughts, selfishness that seem to be a constant companion.  You know they are sins and you confess them, but they do not bother you that much. These are part of being a natural born sinner living in a fallen world. 

            There are others sins, however, that can haunt you.  Sins against others.  Big sins. Sins with devastating consequences. Sins that you cannot undo or make better.  Carelessness that leads to the injury or death of another.  The drunken one night stand that could destroy your marriage. The abortion which seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  Sins that haunt you.

            Herod Antipas is haunted by what he did to John the Baptist.  John the Baptist was an innocent victim of Herod’s lusts and cowardice.  Herod Antipas divorced his politically connected first wife so that he could marry his half-niece who was already married to his brother.  You can only imagine the uncontrolled lust that must have driven together Herod Antipas and his brother’s wife, Herodias, despite all the damage and even warfare that their relationship would cause.  And once together they did not want to hear that what they were doing was wrong.  We are all a bit like that.  Far too often, when you are caught up in sinful behavior, you do not want to hear the truth about what you are doing. 

            So when John the Baptist, a prophet of God, tells Herod Antipas, Mark 6:18 (ESV) 18 …It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”, neither Herod or his wife want to hear John’s call to repentance and so Herod has John thrown in prison.  But that is not enough for Herodias.  She must be thinking “How dare that wild haired preacher try to tell me what to do? I want him executed.”

            Then comes the night of Herod’s birthday party.  The drinks are flowing abundantly and Herod’s step-daughter, who is also his niece, and is probably 12, 13, 14 years old entertains the guests with a dance, almost certainly erotic.  Between the lust for his young stepdaughter and the alcohol Herod sloppily promises the dancer anything she wants, up to half his kingdom. Daughter consults with mother and Herodias sees the opportunity to get what she wants.  She asks for John the Baptist’s head on a platter.

            If Herod had courage, he would do the right thing and protect John from his wife’s vindictiveness, but Herod is a coward. He is too afraid of what people might say who heard him make the drunken promise, so he orders John beheaded.

            And later he is haunted by what he has done.  When Herod hears about what Jesus is doing Herod declares Mark 6:16 (ESV) 16 …“John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”  Herod is haunted by what he did to John and now worries John has come back for revenge. Herod is haunted by his sin.

            We see others in the Bible haunted by their sin. Adam and Eve who disobeyed God.  Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery. Moses who murdered an Egyptian. David who committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed.  Peter who denies Jesus three times.  Judas Iscariot who sells Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver.  These and so many others are haunted by their deep, dark sins.  So many people today are also haunted by their sin. 

            This account of Herod and John the Baptist is horrific; something out of some overly violent and sexual medieval story about kings. We get to the end of the reading after John’s head is brought to the party.  Mark 6:29 (ESV)  29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.  “This is the Gospel of the Lord.”  How is this ugly evil the Gospel?

            What is fascinating in Mark is how he sandwiches stories together.  If we zoom out just a bit we see that this account is preceded by Jesus sending His disciples out two by two and followed by the disciples returning and reporting what they have done. Mark 6:12–13 (ESV)  12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. 

            While we are hearing the account of John’s beheading, the disciples are out calling people to repent.  They are doing the very thing that cost John his head.  We see that even in times of opposition and struggle the Church continues on its mission to call people to repent and believe the Good News of forgiveness in Jesus — because there is forgiveness in Jesus. Forgiveness is offered to everyone, some believe the Good News and some reject it.  We see this both ways in the Bible.

            God comes to Adam and Eve and gives them the promise of forgiveness.  Joseph’s brothers receive forgiveness from Joseph and the Lord.  Moses is forgiven and becomes God’s messenger.  David is confronted by the prophet Nathan and David repents and pleads with God for forgiveness.  Psalm 51:1–2 (ESV) 1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!”  David receives the Lord’s forgiveness.

            Peter betrays Jesus on the night of His arrest after promising 14:29 (ESV) 29 … “Even though they all fall away, I will not.”  When Peter hears the rooster crow and realizes what he has done he weeps bitterly.  But there is forgiveness.  On the shores of the Sea of Galilee Jesus restores Peter three times and sends him to feed His sheep.

          So many are haunted by sin and guilt and shame.  This need not be.  Jesus is here for you.  Repent and believe the Good News.  Confess your sins.  Jesus washes away your sin.  Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)  18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 

            Judas Iscariot sells Jesus out to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver and betrays Him with a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane.  After he sees Jesus condemned and brought to the governor Judas has a change of heart. His sin overwhelms him.  There is forgiveness available through Jesus, but Judas instead goes to the priests and throws the money at them they tell him that his sin is not their problem.  In despair, Judas hangs himself.  Judas rejects forgiveness.

            Herod Antipas is haunted by his sin of killing John the Baptist.  The call to repent and believe the Good News is for Herod also, but He does not want anything to do with it.  Jesus is even sent to Herod before His crucifixion, but Herod only wants Jesus perform miracles to entertain him.  Herod rejects forgiveness.

            So many are haunted by sin and guilt and shame.  This need not be.  Jesus is here for you.  Repent and believe the Good News.  Confess your sins.  Jesus washes away your sin.  Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)  18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 

            In Christ your sin is removed from you Psalm 103:12 (ESV) 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 

            In your baptism you were adopted as a child of God through Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 1:7–8 (ESV) 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…”  You have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of your inheritance until you acquire possession of it.”

            In Christ there is forgiveness.  Jesus destroys the ghost of sins past so they cannot haunt you. You are free in Jesus.  So when the devil tries to throw those old, forgiven sins in your face, tell him, “that sin no longer belongs to me.  Jesus paid the price.”  Amen. 

Why Can’t Jesus do Miracles

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Pentecost 6 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
July 4, 2021
Ezek. 2:1-5, 2 Cor. 12:1-10, Mark 6:1-13

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            After healing the woman with the discharge of blood and raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead that we heard about in last week’s Gospel reading, Jesus travels with His disciples to His hometown of Nazareth, a 26 mile walk from Capernaum.  That Sabbath Jesus begins to teach in the synagogue.  The reaction of the people is astonishment.  Some may be astonished like the people of Capernaum, Mark 1:22 (ESV) “22 … they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.”  

Others it seems are astonished because Jesus is a hometown boy and now He is back acting all high and mighty.  They have all heard the stories of what Jesus has done; the healings, the driving out demons, the calming of a storm, the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead.  Jesus is doing things that only God can do.  But Nazareth probably has only about 400 residents and as any of you who grew up in a small town know, everyone knows everybody.  They all know this Jesus fellow.  Despite all they have heard, they know that Jesus is no one special. He is a carpenter after all and His parentage is pretty questionable.  This Jesus is not one of the important people of Nazareth and here He is rolling in after being gone for a little bit acting like He is all that. Who does He think He is?

            Earlier in Mark we saw how Jesus’ family thought he was crazy, now we see the people of Nazareth reject Jesus.  They are offended that Jesus is teaching in the synagogue. Mark 6:4 (ESV) And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 

            Jesus tells them that this is not a problem with Him; it is a problem with them.  He is a prophet and more, but they cannot see past their own issues of familiarity to recognize this.  Mark 6:5–6 (ESV) And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief…

        The people had been astonished wondering, “How are such mighty works done by his hands?”  Now, Jesus can do no mighty works in Nazareth.  Why is that?  What does this mean?

            Why can Jesus do no mighty works?  Perhaps it is Jesus’ judgement on Nazareth for rejecting Him. He taught in their synagogue and instead of following Jesus they bring up Jesus’ pedigree and reject Him.  So maybe Jesus is bringing judgement.  There are times we can wonder if God is judging us. You pray for healing, you pray for relief, and God does not answer the prayer they way you want Him to and you wonder, “Is God judging me for my sin?”

The disciples want judgment.  Jesus rebukes them.  John 3:17 (ESV)  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 

            Judgment sounds like a reasonable explanation, but it does not fit with Jesus’ mission and ministry.  John the Baptist thought Jesus was coming immediately with axe and fire to destroy all sinners, but instead Jesus comes with water and words to bring people salvation.  We learn Jesus’ attitude toward immediate judgment in Luke 9:51–56 (ESV) 51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.” 

The disciples want judgment.  Jesus rebukes them.  John 3:17 (ESV)  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 

            Judgment day will come on the last day with axe and fire.  But until then Jesus is on a mission of mercy.  Jesus is on a mission to save.  This mission continues among us today.  The mission is to save, not judge.  People question Jesus, misunderstand Jesus, resist Jesus, but Jesus does not give up on them.  Jesus takes God’s judgment upon Himself on the cross, pays for the sins of the world and opens the Kingdom of God to all.  So it is not for judgment that Jesus can do no mighty work. 

            Perhaps it is because the people of Nazareth lack faith. Maybe Jesus is unable to do miracles because the people do not believe.  After all, Jesus does marvel at their unbelief.  This is an idea that is still very big concern among Christians today. Faith healers on the television claim that if you just have enough faith you will get a miracle.  There are churches that teach that God wants to bless you with health and wealth and if He is not blessing you it is because you lack faith.  They teach that if God is not answering your prayers the way you want Him to answer, it is because of your lack of faith. 

            To be clear, God does not need your faith to perform miracles.  The creator of heaven and earth does not need your faith to rule the world.  Jesus fed the 5,000 and calmed a storm without anyone’s contributing faith.  When Jesus returns to raise the dead, all people will be raised whether they had faith or not.  So if Jesus is not judging the people for lack of faith, and He does not need faith to perform miracles, why is he unable to work miracles in Nazareth?

            Miracles are not a reward for faith, but miracles can lead to punishment for those who do not believe.  Jesus is not pleased with those who want Him to do miracles as kind of a show.  Mark 8:11–12 (ESV)  11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”  Just before His crucifixion Jesus is sent to Herod who is excited because He wants to see Jesus perform some sign.  Jesus doesn’t.

            For those who have seen Jesus’ miracles and still do not believe there are harsh words of condemnation.  Matthew 11:20–24 (ESV)  20 Then [Jesus] began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” 

            Jesus is on a mission of grace as He visits Nazareth and He is still on a mission of grace here today.  Even though His family and the people of Nazareth reject Him, Jesus wants them to be saved.  Matthew 12:20 (ESV) 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 

            Jesus does not want to harm the people of Nazareth; He wants to bring the Good News.  And so, despite their rejection of Jesus, He still loves His family and the people of His hometown and wants them to believe.  He even heals a couple of people, but quietly.

            It is so natural for us to want to reject those who reject Jesus; perhaps even punish them, but this is not Jesus’ way.  Jesus loves all people; those who follow Him and those who reject Him.  Jesus loves you.  Jesus loves even me.  Jesus wants all people to be saved.  Jesus died for all people. 

            Jesus’ mission of salvation is still for all people. Jesus has not given up on anyone yet. You can look the most ardent atheist in the eye and speak the truth to them, “Jesus loves you and He died on the cross to pay the price for your sins,” and it is true, because Jesus is still on His mission of mercy.  Judgment Day has not yet come.  There is still time.  Repent and believe the Good News. 

The devil loves to throw your sins in your face as if they would keep God from loving you.  Jesus comes for sinners.  Jesus comes for you.  Jesus has sealed you as His child in the Kingdom of God.  You are a new creation in Christ washed clean in the waters of baptism.  You have received the mighty work of forgiveness of all your sins.  Jesus has done a miracle for you and given you eternal life. Amen. 

Faith and Fear

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Pentecost 5 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
June 27, 2021
Lam 3:22-33, 2 Cor. 8:1-9, 13-15, Mark 5:21-43

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            There is an epic battle going on in your life.  Two forces struggling for control.  It is happening when you are working, studying, resting, eating.  It is an ongoing battle.  Even as you sit here in worship the two forces are engaged in warfare. 

            One of the forces is fear.  Fear of the future.  Fear of failure.  Fear of humiliation.  Fear of being hurt by others.  Fear of disappointing people.  Fear of persecution.  Fear of injury.  Fear of not finding the right person.  Fear of your marriage failing.  Fear for parents and grandparents.  Fear for children.  Fear of sickness.  Fear of never being good enough.  Fear that you are lost.  Fear of death.  Fear can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.  Fear leads to despair.  Fear is a powerful force and battles for control inside of you. 

            In our Gospel reading today we have two stories of fear; one inside the other.  After completing His journey across the Sea of Galilee, Jesus encounters one of the rulers of the synagogue named Jairus.  Jairus is beset by fear.  His 12-year-old daughter is very sick; she is dying. This is every parent’s greatest fear. His daughter is dying and there is nothing Jairus can do to save her.  He is helpless and becoming hopeless and despairing. 

            As He goes with Jairus, Jesus encounters another person in the grips of fear. There is a woman who has had a discharge of blood for 12 years.  The discharge of blood renders the woman weak and sickly, but also unclean.  She is not welcome to participate in normal Jewish life. She is an outcast.  Anyone whom she touches or touches her is rendered unclean. This woman has spent all that she has seeking a cure and it has only gotten worse.  She is unclean and she is afraid she will always be.  She is helpless and becoming hopeless and despairing. 

            Jairus and the woman are both in the grips of fear.  But fear has not won because battling with the fear is faith.  With faith there is hope. 

            Jairus has heard about this man Jesus – a teacher, a prophet, a healer, the Christ.  Jesus can do things that no one else can do.  He has the power of God.  Jesus has driven out unclean spirits; He has healed a leper and a paralyzed man.  He has restored a withered hand and just calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee.  Jairus has faith that Jesus can help his little girl.  Faith fights fear.

            The woman with the ongoing discharge of blood is afraid, but faith battles the fear. She also has heard about Jesus and all that he can do.  She knows Jesus can heal her.  Faith fights fear.

            Jairus, a well-respected man in the community, approaches Jesus from the front and bows down at His feet and implores Jesus to heal his daughter.  The woman is an unclean outcast and sneaks up on Jesus from behind in a crowd to touch His garments.  After Jesus calls her out and she explains what she has done Jesus declares, Mark 5:34 (ESV) 34 … “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”  This outcast, unclean woman is cleansed and restored to the community.  Jesus calls her “daughter.”  Faith wins out over fear.

            As Jesus finishes talking to the woman a messenger arrives on the scene from Jairus’ house.  Mark 5:35 (ESV) 35 … “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”  What Jairus dreads most has happened and fear swells inside of him.  Jesus overhears the messenger’s awful news.  As the fear and helplessness and hopelessness and despair grow within Jairus Jesus tells him, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Jesus takes Peter, James and John with Him to Jairus’ house and tells the assembled mourners that there is nothing to be wailing about since the girl is only sleeping.  Jesus takes the little girl by the hand says to her, “Talitha cumi – Little girl, I say to you, arise.”  She immediately gets up and begins walking and Jesus forbids anyone to tell what happened and then tells them to feed the girl.  Faith wins over fear. 

            “Do not fear, only believe.” 

            Fear is a powerful force battling for control of your life, but you have an even more powerful force battling back; faith.  Not faith in faith, but faith in Jesus.  Faith that is not your own doing; faith that is a gift from God the Father through the Holy Spirit.  Faith in Jesus; the Christ; God in flesh who died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead to conquer death for you.  Faith that knows Jesus destroys fear. 

            There is an old Indian story:  One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.  One is evil.  It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.  The other is good, it is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”  Then grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”  The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one that you feed.”[1]

            Faith is fed by focusing on the object of your faith; Jesus.  Faith is fed by hearing the Word of God.  Faith is fed by gathering together to receive God’s promised gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.  Faith is fed by coming to where Jesus has promised to deliver forgiveness and eternal life to you in His divine service. 

            Faith and fear are fighting for control of you.  Which one will you feed?  Fear is fed by obsession with the things of this world.  Fear is fed by caring too much about what others think about you. Fear is fed by fixation with what the latest, greatest experts declare to be the newest, most awful ways that you can be harmed or killed.  The 24 hour news cycle of the cable networks drive fear.  Social media drives fear as you are fed a constant stream of divisive rhetoric, and as you are reminded over and over that your messy life does not measure up to the sanitized, filtered, enhanced versions of life that your friends portray online.  Your unrealistic expectations about life drive fear.  Your realistic expectations about life drive fear.  Fear is driven by the lying, accusing evil one driving you to despair.  Fear is pervasive and powerful.  Don’t feed fear. 

            Faith is fed by focusing on the object of your faith; Jesus.  Faith is fed by hearing the Word of God.  Faith is fed by gathering together to receive God’s promised gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.  Faith is fed by coming to where Jesus has promised to deliver forgiveness and eternal life to you in His divine service. 

            Fear wants to take over your life, call the shots, and be the driving force for everything you do.  Fear wants to control you, but you have faith.  Like Jairus and the woman with the discharge of blood, you know that Jesus is the source of healing.  You approach Jesus from the front as you did this morning by getting on your knees and admitting that on your own you are helpless and hopeless but you know from where help comes.  You approach Jesus at His altar knowing that the touch of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion brings healing from the disease of sin.  You know that Jesus is the cure.  Jesus is the antidote to fear.  Do not fear, only believe.  Feed faith by focusing on Jesus.

            There is a lot of opportunity to be afraid in this life.  Life is hard.  Fear is powerful.  God has not promised an easy, trouble free life.  You know that well.  But through the troubles of this life you do not need to fear.  Romans 8:38–39 (ESV) 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

            You are baptized child of God.  You have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  God has given you faith.  Do not fear, only believe.  Amen. 


[1] https://www.nanticokeindians.org/page/tale-of-two-wolves

Jesus Calms the Storm

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Pentecost 4, 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Hilbert Kamps 
June 20, 2021
Mark 4:35-41

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

The stormy-weather incident recorded for us in this morning’s Gospel lesson is not just a nice story about Miracle Worker Jesus saving His followers from a watery grave. It is also full of teachings concerning

the nature of Jesus as the Christ and the nature of the sinners in the boat with Him. Which is also our sinful natures.

The context leading up to the events in today’s Gospel include a very full day of teaching for Jesus. We heard two of the parables He taught in last week’s Gospel. It’s been a long day.  Jesus is tired.  As is often the case after a busy time of ministry, Jesus decided to get away with His disciples for some much needed rest and relaxation.  In this case, He elected to travel across to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. 

The Sea of Galilee is about eight miles across from west to east at its widest point.            Ordinarily, the crossing should only take a few hours, but on this crossing, a storm came up.  Even though several of the disciples were experienced fishermen, they were still frightened.  This indicates that the storm was certainly powerful. 

Where was Jesus during this storm?  He was asleep in the stern of the boat. He was exhausted from His long day and fell into a sleep so sound that even the storm did not wake Him.

The fact that Jesus was asleep is an important demonstration of the nature of the Christ.  Other than His actual death on the cross, there is no better demonstration of the humanity of Jesus than the sleep of exhaustion.  Every human being on the planet knows what it is to grow tired and fall asleep.  Here Jesus demonstrates His unity with all people.  He sleeps like any other human being.

But then the disciples wake Him and ask for His help.  We should not assume that the disciples were expecting much from Jesus. After all, he was brought up as a carpenter, not as a sailor.  It is more likely that they were  just thinking  in terms of another  set of hands to help bail the water out of the boat or some other similar activity. It may even be that they just wanted Him to move away from the stern so that they had better access to the  rudder. In  any case, they woke Him and asked for help, but they did not expect what happened next.

Jesus woke up and had a few choice words for the developing weather elements.  The word “rebuke” in the text means that Jesus scolded the wind and the water rather harshly.  After that, the wind and the water became calm. 

Now, you and I could scold the weather until we were blue in the face and nothing would change.

Remember in the movie Forest Gump where Sargent Dan is sitting high on the mast-pole and cursing the storm. Well, if we would continue in that sort of activity, people might wonder if they should call the authorities to take us somewhere to get a mental checkup.  Jesus, on the other hand, scolded the weather and the weather paid attention.  It paid attention because Jesus is not just your ordinary, sleepy human being.  He is also the God of all creation.  Jesus’ ability to control the wind and the waves with just a word clearly shows that He is God.            So it is that this one event very clearly demonstrates that Jesus is both 100 % man and 100 % God in one person.

The disciples, on the other hand, were terrified.  The original Greek says that they feared a great fear. They were in a boat with someone who could talk to the wind and the waves and the wind and the waves would pay attention to what He said.    They began to question who their master and teacher really was.

This is one of the themes in Jesus’ life. People often ask who Jesus is.  Today, we heard that the wind and the waves know who Jesus is.

In other parts of the Gospel account, we learn that diseases, birth defects, and injuries know who Jesus is. Even the demons know who Jesus is.  But, when it comes to the human beings, Jesus is a great mystery. They regularly ask, “Who is this? Where does He get this authority?”  Hear the words that the Holy Spirit spoke through His prophet Isaiah.  “The ox knows its owner, and the donkey  its  master’s crib,  but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” (Isaiah 1:3)

The terror  of God traces  its  way clear  back to Eden.  God called and Adam  replied, “I  heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid.” (Genesis3:10)  Adam had sinned and the  presence of  the  holy and almighty God terrified him.  It is the same for  all people who see their sin clearly in the holy presence of Almighty  God. The writer  to the Hebrews  put it  this way:  “It is a fearful thing to fall into  the hands of  the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

That is the reason it  so important that Jesus be both man and God. If Jesus were only God, He could not take our place under the law and live a holy life for us.    He also could not suffer the penalty we have earned for our sin. If Jesus were a man, and nothing more, then His perfect life and sacrificial death would earn the salvation of one and only one person.  The rest of the world would be lost. It is essential for our salvation that Jesus be both God and man. We need the salvation that Jesus provides because the storm on the Sea of Galilee is just one instance of the many disasters that the sin of humanity has brought into this world.

The destruction that storms bring is an expression of the curse that came when sin entered the world.  Our sin not only brings sickness and death to us, but even the world is cursed. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to the Romans: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  (Romans 8:22)

Floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail, lightening, earthquakes, and all the other natural disasters are the result of the curse that our sin brought into the world. These natural disasters are not the  only storms that our sin has brought into the world.  There are other storms in our lives as well.  There are the medical storms of infections, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, cancer, and so forth. There are the relational storms of broken families and friendships.  There are the financial storms of plant closings and layoffs. Ultimately, there is the storm of death that comes to all of us sooner or later.  We may try to deny the existence of sin in our lives, but these storms, both private and public, say otherwise.

It is in the incarnation of Jesus Christ – the fact that the Son of God assumed human nature – that we see God’s loving plan to deal with sin.  In Jesus Christ, God assumed human nature to save humans from their nature –  their sinful nature.  For our own sin doomed  us to perish –  not  just from this earth, but also from the blessings of God’s presence with us.

In first John chapter 1, verse 7 we read; But the blood of Jesus [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) Christ’s human nature allowed Him to be the target of God’s wrath as He hung on the cross.

Christ’s Divine nature allowed Him to endure that wrath for all people in all times and places.  So it is that God took on human flesh and saved us from our sins.

We have complete confidence in that salvation that Jesus earned for us because death was unable to hold Him.  For Christ did not remain in the grave, but, after He conquered death, He rose from death never to die again.  After He rose, He showed Himself to His disciples.  He encouraged them to examine the marks of the cross in His body.      He talked with them and ate with them.  He interacted with them in very human ways.  At the same time, locked doors and windows were no barrier to Him as He appeared and disappeared at will. In His resurrection, He demonstrated that He lives forever as both God and man in one person.

Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.           With that combination, we find our full salvation from sin, death, and the power of the devil. In His humanity, He was able to suffer on the cross in our place and for our good. In His deity, He was able to defeat our foes and rise from the dead to give us eternal life. It is in the person of Jesus Christ who both slept and stilled the storm  that we have our  faith and the promise  of eternal life; as well as the promise that your sins are forgiven, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Jesus Calms the Storm

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Pentecost 4, 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Hilbert Kamps 
June 20, 2021
Mark 4:35-41

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

The stormy-weather incident recorded for us in this morning’s Gospel lesson is not just a nice story about Miracle Worker Jesus saving His followers from a watery grave. It is also full of teachings concerning

the nature of Jesus as the Christ and the nature of the sinners in the boat with Him. Which is also our sinful natures.

The context leading up to the events in today’s Gospel include a very full day of teaching for Jesus. We heard two of the parables He taught in last week’s Gospel. It’s been a long day.  Jesus is tired.  As is often the case after a busy time of ministry, Jesus decided to get away with His disciples for some much needed rest and relaxation.  In this case, He elected to travel across to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. 

The Sea of Galilee is about eight miles across from west to east at its widest point.            Ordinarily, the crossing should only take a few hours, but on this crossing, a storm came up.  Even though several of the disciples were experienced fishermen, they were still frightened.  This indicates that the storm was certainly powerful. 

Where was Jesus during this storm?  He was asleep in the stern of the boat. He was exhausted from His long day and fell into a sleep so sound that even the storm did not wake Him.

The fact that Jesus was asleep is an important demonstration of the nature of the Christ.  Other than His actual death on the cross, there is no better demonstration of the humanity of Jesus than the sleep of exhaustion.  Every human being on the planet knows what it is to grow tired and fall asleep.  Here Jesus demonstrates His unity with all people.  He sleeps like any other human being.

But then the disciples wake Him and ask for His help.  We should not assume that the disciples were expecting much from Jesus. After all, he was brought up as a carpenter, not as a sailor.  It is more likely that they were  just thinking  in terms of another  set of hands to help bail the water out of the boat or some other similar activity. It may even be that they just wanted Him to move away from the stern so that they had better access to the  rudder. In  any case, they woke Him and asked for help, but they did not expect what happened next.

Jesus woke up and had a few choice words for the developing weather elements.  The word “rebuke” in the text means that Jesus scolded the wind and the water rather harshly.  After that, the wind and the water became calm. 

Now, you and I could scold the weather until we were blue in the face and nothing would change.

Remember in the movie Forest Gump where Sargent Dan is sitting high on the mast-pole and cursing the storm. Well, if we would continue in that sort of activity, people might wonder if they should call the authorities to take us somewhere to get a mental checkup.  Jesus, on the other hand, scolded the weather and the weather paid attention.  It paid attention because Jesus is not just your ordinary, sleepy human being.  He is also the God of all creation.  Jesus’ ability to control the wind and the waves with just a word clearly shows that He is God.            So it is that this one event very clearly demonstrates that Jesus is both 100 % man and 100 % God in one person.

The disciples, on the other hand, were terrified.  The original Greek says that they feared a great fear. They were in a boat with someone who could talk to the wind and the waves and the wind and the waves would pay attention to what He said.    They began to question who their master and teacher really was.

This is one of the themes in Jesus’ life. People often ask who Jesus is.  Today, we heard that the wind and the waves know who Jesus is.

In other parts of the Gospel account, we learn that diseases, birth defects, and injuries know who Jesus is. Even the demons know who Jesus is.  But, when it comes to the human beings, Jesus is a great mystery. They regularly ask, “Who is this? Where does He get this authority?”  Hear the words that the Holy Spirit spoke through His prophet Isaiah.  “The ox knows its owner, and the donkey  its  master’s crib,  but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” (Isaiah 1:3)

The terror  of God traces  its  way clear  back to Eden.  God called and Adam  replied, “I  heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid.” (Genesis3:10)  Adam had sinned and the  presence of  the  holy and almighty God terrified him.  It is the same for  all people who see their sin clearly in the holy presence of Almighty  God. The writer  to the Hebrews  put it  this way:  “It is a fearful thing to fall into  the hands of  the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

That is the reason it  so important that Jesus be both man and God. If Jesus were only God, He could not take our place under the law and live a holy life for us.    He also could not suffer the penalty we have earned for our sin. If Jesus were a man, and nothing more, then His perfect life and sacrificial death would earn the salvation of one and only one person.  The rest of the world would be lost. It is essential for our salvation that Jesus be both God and man. We need the salvation that Jesus provides because the storm on the Sea of Galilee is just one instance of the many disasters that the sin of humanity has brought into this world.

The destruction that storms bring is an expression of the curse that came when sin entered the world.  Our sin not only brings sickness and death to us, but even the world is cursed. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to the Romans: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  (Romans 8:22)

Floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail, lightening, earthquakes, and all the other natural disasters are the result of the curse that our sin brought into the world. These natural disasters are not the  only storms that our sin has brought into the world.  There are other storms in our lives as well.  There are the medical storms of infections, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, cancer, and so forth. There are the relational storms of broken families and friendships.  There are the financial storms of plant closings and layoffs. Ultimately, there is the storm of death that comes to all of us sooner or later.  We may try to deny the existence of sin in our lives, but these storms, both private and public, say otherwise.

It is in the incarnation of Jesus Christ – the fact that the Son of God assumed human nature – that we see God’s loving plan to deal with sin.  In Jesus Christ, God assumed human nature to save humans from their nature –  their sinful nature.  For our own sin doomed  us to perish –  not  just from this earth, but also from the blessings of God’s presence with us.

In first John chapter 1, verse 7 we read; But the blood of Jesus [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) Christ’s human nature allowed Him to be the target of God’s wrath as He hung on the cross.

Christ’s Divine nature allowed Him to endure that wrath for all people in all times and places.  So it is that God took on human flesh and saved us from our sins.

We have complete confidence in that salvation that Jesus earned for us because death was unable to hold Him.  For Christ did not remain in the grave, but, after He conquered death, He rose from death never to die again.  After He rose, He showed Himself to His disciples.  He encouraged them to examine the marks of the cross in His body.      He talked with them and ate with them.  He interacted with them in very human ways.  At the same time, locked doors and windows were no barrier to Him as He appeared and disappeared at will. In His resurrection, He demonstrated that He lives forever as both God and man in one person.

Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man.           With that combination, we find our full salvation from sin, death, and the power of the devil. In His humanity, He was able to suffer on the cross in our place and for our good. In His deity, He was able to defeat our foes and rise from the dead to give us eternal life. It is in the person of Jesus Christ who both slept and stilled the storm  that we have our  faith and the promise  of eternal life; as well as the promise that your sins are forgiven, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Repackaging Poison

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Pentecost 2 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
June 6, 2021
Gen. 3:8-15, 2 Cor. 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            Have you ever had a dream where you find yourself at school or work and then you realize you are naked or in your underwear?  Supposedly this is a dream about having your insecurities revealed.  In our Old Testament reading today we find some people who are living out that dream.  Adam and Eve suddenly realize that they are naked.  They are naked and ashamed.  Ashamed not just about being unclothed, but ashamed that they have disobeyed God.  Naked and ashamed, our great-great grandparents try to cover up with fig leaves and then they try to run from God; hide from God.  They have been deceived by the lies of the evil one.  They have broken the world.  Now they are trying to hide from God’s wrath.

            God, however, is not going to destroy them and start over.  Instead, God has a plan for redemption.  God comes looking for His human creations and asks them questions.  He calls to them, “Where are you?”  Genesis 3:10–11 (ESV)  10 And [Adam] said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 [God] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”  Satan deceived the two by questioning God’s word, “Did God actually say?”  He twisted the truth and repackaged rebellion against God as just, “being like God.”

            God asks the naked and ashamed couple three questions which convict the hiding pair of their sin.  Although it turns out it isn’t just Adam and Eve hiding from God in the Garden, the serpent is still there with them. 

            Guilty Adam desperately tries to shift the blame to others. Genesis 3:12 (ESV)  12 … “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”   Genesis 3:13 (ESV) 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 

            The Lord God will address Eve and Adam, but first He speaks to the Serpent; Satan, and He curses the Evil One.  Genesis 3:14–15 (ESV) 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 

            God gives the plan of redemption.  The offspring of the woman will be wounded but He will crush the serpent’s head.  God promises a savior and covers over Adam and Eve’s naked shame with garments of skin. 

            In our Gospel reading the offspring of the woman has come and is preparing to crush the devil’s head while being wounded by the devil on the cross.  As Jesus moves about in His ministry His very presence causes unclean spirits to cry out and then Jesus drives them out.  Jesus has been driving out demons, healing many, preaching and teaching.  He cleanses a leper, a paralytic and a man with a withered hand.  Jesus is attracting such large crowds that He is not even able to eat. 

Jesus’ family hears about this and they twist things around to declare “He is out of his mind.”  The scribes twist the truth of what is going on and try to repackage what is happening. They say that Jesus is casting out demons by the prince of demons.  Jesus, upon whom the Holy Spirit descended at His baptism, is accused being in league with the devil. 

Jesus has come to crush the devil and the scribes say He is working with the devil.  Mark 3:23–27 (ESV) 23 And [Jesus] called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. 

Jesus is binding the strong man, Satan, and plundering his house.  Jesus is freeing people from the power of the devil and the scribes say He is possessed by the devil.  Jesus sternly warns them of the dire consequences of their mislabeling who Jesus is.  Mark 3:28–30 (ESV) 28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” 

            If you reject Jesus and the Holy Spirit, you reject forgiveness.  You will be lost forever.  You will stand before the judgement seat of God naked and ashamed because you have rejected the Lamb’s robe of righteousness which covers over all your sin. 

Sin is serious.  You need forgiveness.  You need Jesus.  If you reject Jesus, you reject forgiveness.  You need the real Jesus who died on the cross for you and rose from the dead for you.  You need the real Jesus of the Bible, not one that has been repackaged and relabeled into someone compatible with the whims of the culture. 

            How wicked would it be for someone to come into your house and take toilet bowl cleaner, pour it into soda pop bottles and put it in your fridge?  It would be a tremendous evil to repackage and relabel poison to make it appear harmless. 

            But that is exactly what people love to do these days. Folks love to repackage and relabel sin to make it seem harmless and fun.  Greed and the love of money are repackaged as ambition and aggressive business skills.  Anger is relabeled as righteous indignation. 

            God created man and woman and said, Genesis 1:28 (ESV) 28 … “Be fruitful and multiply ….”  and Genesis 2:24 (ESV) 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 

God has a plan for sexual intimacy within the marriage union of a man and a woman, but people reject God’s plan and relabel and repackage sexual sin to seem harmless.  Just fooling around.  Just hooking up.  Just shacking up.  So much twisted and perverse sexual sin now repackaged with rainbows and relabeled as pride. 

            Killing an unborn child is called essential health care for women.  Killing the elderly and infirm is called death with dignity.  We so much want to listen to devil’s lie, “Did God really say?” and repackage and relabel sin. 

            When sin is repackaged and relabeled as harmless it is more dangerous than toilet bowl cleaner in a pop bottle.  Because if you believe sin is harmless you will not seek forgiveness, and without forgiveness, sin is eternally deadly.  If you reject Jesus’ forgiveness because you ignore sin it will leave you standing naked and ashamed before the judgement seat of God. Do not fall into this twisted trap of the evil one.

            Renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways. You are a baptized child of God. Your naked shame has been covered by the robe of Jesus’ righteousness made white in the blood of the Lamb.  Jesus paid for your sins on the cross of Calvary. He is the first fruits of the grave promising that you will be raised from the dead. 

            In Christ you have eternal life.  Indeed you are by nature sinful and unclean but you have forgiveness in Jesus.  The Holy Spirit dwells in you.  Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  So stay alert.  1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)  8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 

Everyday, be aware of the devil’s tricks as he twists the true Jesus into a false Jesus, even making Jesus the enemy.  Resist the devil and his lies as he repackages and relabels sin.  The devil knows all your weak points.  Do not dabble with sin and evil.  James 4:7 (ESV)  7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

            Always remember who you are a new creation in Christ. You have been born again in water and the Spirit.  Declare the truth, “I am baptized!  I still struggle with sin, but Jesus has forgiven me.  On the last day I will not be naked and ashamed before the throne of God because I am clothed in Jesus’ righteousness and I will live with him forever.”  Amen. 

Trinity Sunday

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Trinity Sunday 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
May 30, 2021
Is. 6:1-8, Acts 2:14a, 22-36, John 3:1-17

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            The potter grabs up a double handful of reddish brown clay slaps it between his hands and presses it into a smooth ball.  He throws the ball of clay in the center of the rotating potter’s wheel. Over the next hour the potter carefully transforms the lump of clay into a beautifully shaped jar which he then fires in the kiln, paints and fires again.  The potter creates beauty and function from a couple of handfuls of clay.  

            The Lord God Almighty takes a couple handfuls of fresh dirt and slaps it and presses it and forms it into a man and breathes into him the breath of life. From a pinch of flesh from the side of the man the Lord God Almighty forms woman and brings her to the man. From this man and woman, formed from the dust of the ground, all people have descended.  You are the product of the creative power of the Almighty Potter.

            Now, does the clay jar have any rights to demand things of the potter?  What audacity a clay jar must have to have to question the potter who made it.  But that is just what ol’ Grandma and Grandpa Eve and Adam decided to do.  They are clay jars, God is the potter, and yet they are tempted to question God’s instructions.  They are tempted to want to be like God.  The pot is tempted to be the Potter.

            This continues throughout history and even until today.  The pot wants to be the potter.  Isaiah 29:16 (ESV) 16 You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? 

            Romans 9:20–20 (ESV) 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 

            There is an ongoing desire since the Garden of Eden to question God’s authority, to want to be like God, to be your own god.  We want to be like God and make God in our image so God makes sense to us. 

When people make up religions they often make up gods that are like themselves. Joseph Smith made up the Mormon god with the idea that god was once like you and if you try hard enough you can be like god.  People make up gods that make sense.  Gods who demand you do what they say in order to earn their favor.  The Greek and Roman gods were created in the image of man with the same flaws as people.  In Islam, they did not so much make up a new god, but rejected things about the true God that did not make sense; the idea of God being incarnate or God being spirit.  They teach that Allah is beyond all comprehension. Now this helps make God make sense, and while it does acknowledges God’s majesty, it is fatally flawed because it rejects God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in order that the pot can make more sense of the Potter.  There is a deep desire to have a god that makes sense.

            But the true God does not make sense; three persons, one God.  God the Father is spirit.  Jesus was spirit and then took on flesh.  The Holy Spirit dwells in you.  Three persons, one God.  It does not make sense, and that really does make sense.  Because if you have a god that makes sense it means it is a god that someone made up.  It makes sense that the true God is beyond understanding because He is the Potter and you are the pot.

            The true God is spirit; a personal being without a body. John 4:24 (ESV) 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The true God also takes on human flesh in God the Son in order to redeem humanity.  John 1:14 (ESV) 

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

            At Christmas we celebrate God coming to be with us as that little baby boy born in Bethlehem.  “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity.  Pleased as Man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel!”

            The true God is beyond your understanding.  He is incomprehensible.  God does not make sense.  The Trinity does not make sense.  You cannot understand God.  God is uncreated, eternal, infinite, almighty, coequal, coeternal. 

            When we think about it, our minds are really quite limited in our understandings.  God is eternal; He is infinite; He has no beginning and no end.  We have symbols in mathematics to represent infinity, but we do not have a handle on eternity.  I can draw a line with an arrow at each end and say this line goes on forever, but my mind cannot comprehend something that has no beginning and no end.  We cannot understand how God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has always been and always will be. 

            Arius, a theologian from Alexandria Egypt in the late 3rd and early 4th Century AD, taught that God the Son is not coeternal with the Father but was begotten of the Father in time.  This was rightly condemned as heresy by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.  This led to the Nicene Creed.  Opposition to Arius was led by another Alexandrian theologian, Athanasius, along with others including Nicholas of Myra, Ol’ St. Nicholas was not so jolly one day at the council and became so enraged he slapped Arius in the face.  The Athanasian Creed was a further clarification of Biblical truth in opposition to the Arians and clearly expresses what we can know about the Trinity.  It is named after Athanasius who most likely did not actually write this creed which we confess on Trinity Sunday.

            God is eternally holy; infinitely pure; perfectly just. In our Old Testament reading we see Isaiah coming into the presence of God and having an intense time of confession and absolution.  Isaiah 6:4–5 (ESV) 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

            Isaiah has seen God, YHWH Sabaoth.  YHWH of heavenly armies.  There are angelic beings, cherubim and seraphim, Isaiah 6:3 (ESV) 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 

Isaiah knows his sin and feels his own guilt and shame.  But YHWH does not crush Isaiah.  He does not give Isaiah tasks to earn forgiveness.  Instead He sends a seraphim to Isaiah with a burning coal and Isaiah 6:7 (ESV)  7 And he touched [Isaiah’s] mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” 

            As you gather together each week you come into the presence of the eternal God, YHWH Sabaoth, and get on your knees and plead guilty of your sins.  The foundations of the church building do not shake.  The sanctuary is not filled with smoke.  There are no Cherubim and Seraphim flying around.  The danger is that it can get to be routine.  But know that you are coming into the presence of the infinite, incomprehensible God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and admitting that you deserve immediate and eternal punishment.

            But God does not strike you dead.  He does not give you a list of things to do to work off your debt.  Instead, He forgives your sins.  He declares you forgiven and He touches your lips with His Body and Blood in Holy Communion. He cleanses you and makes you holy and pure.  Jesus’ death and resurrection are credited to you as a free gift of love from God.  You are called by God to live out your holiness in love and service to others; doing what you have been given to do and responding to God’s call to do what He wants you to do.  You are called to live as someone whose body is a temple of the Holy Spirit praying the words of Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) 8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 

            When you find yourself alone on a clear, dark night staring heavenward at the stars you stare into infinity and realize how small you are in the universe.  You are small in the universe and still the infinite God loves you and cares for you and forgives you and knows how many hairs are on your head. 

            God is incomprehensible.  The pot truly cannot understand much about the Potter and yet remains the Potter’s treasure.  You have the Spirit of God dwelling in you giving you the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for you.  You have the treasure of God.  2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV) 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  

            The Good News about Jesus comes indeed in jars of clay but it still remains an eternal treasure.  You are a creation of the infinite God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You are a treasured pot made by the eternal Potter.  You have been sealed by the infinite God and while you cannot comprehend eternity you have eternal life.  Amen. 

Bucket of Wind

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Pentecost 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
May 22, 23, 2021
Ezekial 37:1-14, Acts 2:1-21, John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            It is a windy day at the park.  Lots of children are flying kites which soar high into the sky.  But there is one boy who doesn’t have a kite.  Instead he has a five gallon bucket in one hand with the lid in the other.  He is running around holding the bucket high in the air by the handle.  He swoops the bucket through the air and then slams the lid down onto it.  You ask him, “What are you doing?”  He replies, “I have caught the wind.  Do you want to see?”  He lifts the lid. 

            You know that he has sort of caught the wind in the bucket, but it is hard to tell.  It looks like an empty bucket. 

            I think that sometimes when we talk about the Holy Spirit it can be frustrating. Comprehending the Holy Spirit is a lot like trying to catch a bucket of wind.  Today, on the Festival of Pentecost, let’s take some time to ponder the Holy Spirit. 

            Pentecost is an Old Testament festival 50 days after Passover.  It is also called the 

Feast of Weeks.  It is a harvest festival offering the first fruits of the wheat crop to the Lord. On that Pentecost after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension the disciples are together in Jerusalem waiting to be clothed with power from on high as Jesus promised at His ascension. 

            The Holy Spirit shows up that Pentecost in a big way.  The Spirit arrives with the sound like a mighty rushing wind that fills the house where the disciples are.  Like herald trumpets the wind sound announces the arrival of the Holy Spirit who comes like divided tongues of flame which rest on each of the disciples. 

            And in that moment, the confusion of languages that God caused at the Tower of Babel is undone in Jerusalem.  The disciples are enabled to tell the Good News of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension so that all can understand.  They are not just speaking Hebrew, but languages that all can recognize; even the Gentiles. 

            This is a monumental moment in the history of salvation.  The whole world is united as those for whom Jesus died and the gift of salvation is now offered to all; Jews and Gentiles.

            Peter then preaches to the people gathered there from all over the Mediterranean bringing them the Law of God and the Gospel of God.  Acts 2:37–41 (ESV) 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 

            3,000 people received the gift of the Holy Spirit that day in baptism.  These 3,000 who receive the Holy Spirit are the first fruits of an ongoing harvest of those devoted to the Way; devoted to Jesus. You received the gift of the Holy Spirit at your baptism.  You are part of the ongoing harvest of those with the Holy Spirit.  You are one in the Spirit with Peter, James and John and the other eight disciples.  You are one in the Spirit with the 3,000 on that Pentecost day long ago.  You are one in the Spirit with Christians throughout the world and throughout the ages.  

Your body is perishable.  Death is ever lurking.  But God has given you the Holy Spirit as an earnest deposit on you guaranteeing that He will return and raise your body from the grave and bring you to live with Him forever in Heaven.  2 Corinthians 1:21–22 (ESV) 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 

            The Holy Spirit is and does so many things.  He is God’s guarantee to you that He is coming back for you.  The Holy Spirit is the breath of God that breathes in you and gives you faith to believe that Jesus died for you and rose from the dead for you. The Holy Spirit dwells in you and your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit makes you Holy and helps you in the struggle to live out that holiness in this crooked generation.  The Holy Spirit is your helper, your counselor, your comforter. 

            The Holy Spirit enables you to believe.  As Martin Luther writes in the explanation of the third article of the Apostles’ Creed.  I believe in the Holy Spirit…What does this mean?  I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.

            Getting a handle on the Holy Spirit is like trying to catch a bucket of wind.  Martin Luther comments on this passage, “The Lord wishes to say: ‘…Nor can you tell Me how far [the wind] blows and where it stops, even though it blows right in front of your nose.’”

            “Why are some saved and others not?”  Among churches there are different answers to this question.  “Why are some saved and others not?”  In the Roman Catholic Church they would say that some people are members of the Roman Catholic Church and others are not.  Baptists and Evangelical Churches would say that some people have decided to follow Jesus and asked Jesus into their hearts, and others have not.  Lutherans answer this question with an unsatisfying, “We don’t know.  We don’t know how the Holy Spirit works.”

            Jesus is talking to Nicodemus at night in John 3:8 (ESV) 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  The word here for “wind” is also the word for “spirit”.  The word for “blows” is also the word for “breathes”. The Spirit breaths where it wishes. Why do some receive the Holy Spirit and believe and not others?  We don’t know. 

            Getting a handle on the Holy Spirit is like trying to catch a bucket of wind.  Martin Luther comments on this passage, “The Lord wishes to say: ‘…Nor can you tell Me how far [the wind] blows and where it stops, even though it blows right in front of your nose.’”

            How does the Spirit work?  We don’t know?  We do know that the Spirit gives faith to confess Jesus as Lord.  1 Corinthians 12:3 (ESV)  3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. 

            The Spirit works through hearing and reading the Word of God, and through the water and Word of Holy Baptism.  John 3:5 (ESV) 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

John 6:63 (ESV) 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 

            The Spirit is mysterious.  The spirit does not promote Himself, but rather directs you to the object of your faith, Jesus on the cross for your sins; Jesus rising from the dead to conquer death for you.  There is only one Holy Spirit and that same Spirit dwells in each of you and all believers around the world.  The Spirit unifies the Church on earth.  1 Corinthians 12:13 (ESV) 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.  You have the Spirit dwelling in you so you can confess that Jesus is Lord. 

            Next week on Trinity Sunday we will explore how the Trinity, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is incomprehensible.  Today we are getting a preview of the incomprehensible.  Trying to understand the Holy Spirit is like trying to catch a bucket of wind.  You know the Spirit is there, but you cannot see Him.  That’s okay. God is not here for you to comprehend. He is here to save you.  On the Last Day the saving breath of God will breathe on your dry bones and fill your body with life eternal.  Rejoice in Spirit of God who dwells in you.  Amen.