Monday, May 30, 2011

Sermon on John 14:15-21, for the 6th Sunday of Easter, "Spirit, Love & Obedience"

1. Jesus teaches about the work of the Holy Spirit and the shape of the new life Jesus called disciples to: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” How do we react?
a. If we don’t know the height and depth of law, might be unconcerned (“that’s doable!”)
b. If we know how Jesus taught the commandments, we might break out in a little sweat—aware of our own sinfulness (not only outward obedience, but from the heart) (“I could never manage!”)
c. Obedience might be grudging, reluctant or cheerless—pure duty
d. Might get the mistaken impression that we’re saved or justified before God because of our obedience (works righteousness). Can’t be…because “God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” (Rom. 11:32).

2. So is obedience impossible for the Christian? And if so, what does Jesus mean “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” ?
a. True obedience should be an act of willingness and love. Adam and Eve failed to show their love of God by their disobedience to His command in the garden. Obedience to parents and authorities is to show honor and love.
b. Our obedience should be joyful and willing—as 1 John 5:3-5 says: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
c. So obedience to the commands of Jesus is not a matter of reaching a new standard of Law that has been raised above us, but living in and receiving the new identity that you have in Christ. Gospel indicative—statement of fact.

3. Holy Spirit given, so we can love and obey Christ & His commandments. Not on our effort, but the working of the Holy Spirit in and through you.
a. No longer a burden because Christ took the guilt of our disobedience to the cross. Paid.
b. His perfect obedience stands in our place to give us the right relationship with God (called justification). Our works are then also cleansed from every sin, and can be pleasing to God—not because of our perfect obedience, but Christ’s
c. New identity given in rebirth by water and the Spirit. This “helper” is with us forever—the Holy Spirit. Works in us

4. Jesus spoke about His coming departure—“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live you also will live.”
a. Jesus was going to have a short departure when He died on the cross, and they were left sorrowful—but His resurrection return brought them joy once again
b. Then Jesus was going on an indefinite departure when He ascended into heaven (we remember this Thursday, 40 days after Easter)—but He promises to return to Earth a second time to judge the living and the dead and bring the resurrection of all the dead
c. Is Jesus absent? How does He remain actively present (but hidden) from His disciples?
d. What does the Holy Spirit do for us in the present? Gives and creates faith, gathers believers, guides us into all truth in Jesus, enables obedience and love, reminds of all Jesus taught, keeps us in true faith till we die. Faith, love, and obedience are driven by the wind of the Holy Spirit that we cannot see, but is ever-present in our lives.

5. In conclusion, we love and obey because He first loved us and gave Himself up for us. This is the new identity that has been given us as we are born anew in Him, and the call for the life of holiness we are to lead in thanksgiving to Him.

Sermon Talking Points
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1. Why does a Christian desire to keep Jesus’ commandments? John 14:15, 21; 15:9-12; 1 John 5:1-5. Obedience shows our love of God—John 14:21; 1 John 5:2-3. Reflect on how Adam and Eve first showed their lack of love through disobedience to God. How does our disobedience show lack of love?

2. What enables the keeping of the commandments not to be burdensome to the Christian? Colossians 2:14; Romans 7:4-6; 21-25; John 14:16.

3. What is the significance of the new identity that is given to us when we are born of water and the Spirit in baptism? How does that new identity affect how we are able to live our lives and love God and neighbor?

4. What “departure(s)” was Jesus speaking of to His disciples? John 16:28. How would He comfort and provide for them? Would He be absent? Cf. Matt. 28:20; John 14:20-21; 15:4-6. When would He return? Acts 1:11; Matt. 24:27

5. What does the Holy Spirit do to preserve us in faith until that day? Calls us to faith in Jesus; gathers us into the Christian church as believes, teaches us everything that Jesus taught, leading us into repentance and faith and a holy life, gives us a new identity and spiritual gifts to enable our obedience, keeps us in the true faith.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sermon on John 14:1-14, for the 5th Sunday of Easter, "The Way, the Truth, and the Life"

1. Is it important to know the way if you’re looking to get somewhere? Finding your way—directions, maps, GPS, Google maps, a navigator or guide. How important is our destination?
a. Want to get to heaven; Father’s mansions.
b. We’re lost if we don’t know the way. Directionless.
c. Try the Dave Ramsey test—close your eyes, all point in the direction you think is north. How many are right? Have all point South. Does that change which way is North? How is this like our faith in Jesus?
d. Are you spiritually directionless? Multitudes of answers how to get there.

2. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” Christian author put it this way: “Without the Way there is no going, without the Truth there is no knowing, without the Life there is no living.”
a. Without the Way there is no going—can’t get to the Father, to heaven without Jesus. Jesus is the only way. Thomas thought he was lost, but he had Jesus. Not a map or a GPS or list of directions to follow, but the person who is the Way.
b. What does Jesus’ claim say about other religions or paths to God?
c. How do people distort or change Jesus’ words to work around them?

i. All gods are really the same, just with different names. (remember the North example??) (ignores glaring contradictions)
ii. Dishonest use of words, change the meaning from what’s clear and simple
iii. Analogy: mother tells son: “No video games or TV today!” son reinterprets
iv. Another attempt: Hindu story of the wise king and the elephant—blind men only feel or experience part of the elephant—don’t realize it’s a connected whole. Presumption of superior knowledge, privileged insight, they know better than all believers
d. Jesus is the only way to the Father. Know Jesus and you know God. Know Jesus and you have seen God because He and the Father are One. Work in unison.

3. “Without the Truth there is no knowing.”
a. The natural man (our sinful flesh) cannot understand the things of God, for they are spiritually discerned. Through Christ our minds are opened to know
b. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”
c. We have the truth when we are aligned with “True North”—that is Jesus
d. Knowing Jesus is knowing the Father, seeing Jesus is seeing the Father. The Way is a person, not directions. The Truth is a person, not a set of data.
e. His Word leads us into all truth and wisdom.

4. “Without the Life there is no Living”
a. People often say: “never really lived until you’ve done ____.” Usually its an exaggerated way of say that you really are missing out on something thrilling or delicious or beautiful or exciting. Your life is somehow impoverished or poorer for missing it.
b. You haven’t really lived until you know Jesus! Instead of a life of instant gratification, delay gratification, but present peace and hope amidst trials & temptations. Strength against sin that enslaves to death. Can’t hang onto life if in pursuit of death.

5. Not directionless, not lost, but Christ has found us, and sought us. He leads and guides us to Himself—the person who is the way on which we go, the truth by which we know, the life in which we live. May your going be guarded, your knowing be informed by His truth, and your living filled with Jesus’ life.

Sermon Talking Points
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1. Why does believing in God, that is, believing in Jesus, bring peace to the troubled heart? John 16:22-23; Phil. 4:7; 1 Tim. 1:5

2. For what reason did Jesus ascend into heaven after rising from the dead? John 13:36; 14:2-3; 16:7. When will He bring us with Him?

3. Rather than give “directions” or a checklist to get into heaven, Jesus points Thomas to Himself (Jesus), as the Way. What is significant about the fact that the Way is a person? What does it mean that “without the Way, there is no going?”

4. How does Jesus’ message that He is the only Way to the Father run against the grain of our human thinking? How do people today try to change these words of Jesus? Why is it so important that we be able to turn people away from “dead-end paths?” cf. Acts 4:12

5. What does it mean that “without the Truth, there is no knowing?” How is Jesus the source of Truth? John 1:1-2; 17; 8:32; 16:13; 17:17; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Timothy 2:4.

6. How does human knowledge set itself against God’s truth? 1 Corinthians 2 (esp. v. 14); 2 Peter 2:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:3-5; Rom. 1:25

7. What does it mean that “without the Life, there is no living?” Mark 8:35; John 1:4; 3:15; 5:24-29; 10:10.

8. What does our sinful nature often propose is the “real life?” Eph. 2:3; 2 Tim. 2:22; Titus 2:12;

9. How is knowing Jesus to know and see the Father as well? John 5:18-29; 8:12ff. What does such faith in God bring us in eternity?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sermon on Acts 2:42-47, for the 4th Sunday of Easter, "Community of Joy"

1. Early church in Acts, a community of contagious, generous joy—tapped into the fountain of joy, which is Christ. Bonhoeffer said: “What it [the coming of Christ among us] really means, above all, is the joy of God in the world, the joy of God catching fire in humanity, which is hungry for joy. In a thousand ways people today ask, where can we find joy? Church of Christ, you alone know the answer; say it out loud: Christ, my joy”

2. The early church had the joy of God because it had Christ, our joy. Caught fire—the joy of God at Pentecost. World hunger—hunger for joy—feed them Christ! The church is a community of joy because it has that answer for true joy—Christ, who came into the world.

3. The church takes form in the world, around Word and Sacraments and prayer, the same as today. Devoted—not a casual or occasional association, but dedicated, committed, disciples—devoted to what? Apostles’ teaching. Foundation of church’s fellowship, which is the breaking of bread (Lord’ Supper). Services today, punctuated by prayers.

4. Joy in confirming signs and wonders—apostolic age. “It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Heb. 2:3-4

5. Community joy—shared possessions and sold them for the poor. What made it work? A description, not a mandate for us, but what can we learn from or imitate from this? They found joy in giving to those who had need. Joy in people.

6. How can we open our hearts more widely to those in need? Overcome reluctance. Laugh about it. Look for the joy or gratitude in a person’s face. Give more than you expected. Put trust in God. Expect nothing in return. What was joyful about sacrificing and giving up the pleasures they might have otherwise enjoyed? What is the motivation and satisfaction in Christian giving? “The secret to living a good news life in a bad news world is coming to the deep conviction that the high callings of God, the vocations that he regards as great and marvelous, are those in which we serve folks right under our nose.” … “Love does not think about works, it finds joy in people.” Harrison

7. What a beautiful truth! Love finds joy in people! What if you aren’t finding joy in people? Is it because of how you treat them, or how they treat you? The knee-jerk answer to this is that we often don’t find joy in people because of how they treat us, of course! But this is the natural response of our sinful nature. The surprising message of Jesus and His Word is that love isn’t dependent on how they treat us, but how we treat them. And that even if they treat you rotten, we are to love them back. This is a path to finding joy in people. We might be bowled over with surprise to discover how powerful genuine, gracious kindness and love can soften even the hardest heart, if we work at it. We may not always be rewarded with the happy ending to a story, where someone who’s been an enemy has such a dramatic change of heart, but that doesn’t change our responsibility to continue acting with love. There is a joy all in itself in loving and serving and being generous, even if it doesn’t always produce a change of heart.

8. God’s service is not high or lofty things. Under our nose are our neighbors. Time with family, building relationships with love and joy, is a God-pleasing and wonderful thing. Gifts and talents to serve your community. Being faithful, efficient, cooperative, and cheerful in your work is a blessing to all who you work with. Giving of your time and energy at church to accomplish something that you may feel passionate about, or even something that might seem unpleasant. Not every experience or job will be rewarding or exciting or interesting. Part of our communal service is bearing other’s burdens in Christ. Some things just need to be done, and so we do them. But God has set before you countless opportunities for service, and you don’t need to look far to find them.

9. If we do our work with faith and confidence in Christ that our sins are covered and we are serving our neighbor, this is work that the Lord delights in It all comes back to finding joy in Christ, knowing that Jesus has set us free from an obligation to satisfy God by our works, so that our works can be set loose in love and service for our neighbor who needs them. We can live with a deep joy of knowing Christ, and pointing others to Him who need joy.

Sermon Talking Points
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1. What was the earliest pattern of Christian worship, identified in Acts 2:42? How does our Lutheran Service of Word and Sacrament compare to this early outline? What was the foundation of their unity?

2. How did the signs and wonders performed by the apostles provide confirmation of their message? Hebrews 2:3-4; John 3:2; 6:30; 11:47; Acts 14:3; 1 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 12:12. Why are miracles no longer needed as confirmation of the apostolic message?

3. What prompted the early Christians to adopt the pattern of communal living? What made it work in their case? What made it fail under other circumstances? (cf. Acts 5:1-11; 6:1-2)

4. To whom was their generosity turned? Acts 2:45; Matt. 5:42; 6:3-4; 2 Cor. 9:6ff. What is the joy found in giving? (2 Cor. 9:7)

5. How is joy found in the community of believers? What is it about carrying our sorrows and burdens to fellow Christians? In sharing times of rejoicing and thanksgiving? Gal. 6:2; Rom. 15:1

6. How is repentance and forgiveness between one another a source of joy in the community? How does this flow from the knowledge and joy found in the forgiveness of sins from Jesus Christ?

7. How does the love of Christ and the love of serving our neighbor find its joy in people? How can you find your joy in other people?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Sermon on Luke 24:13-35, for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, "Unexpected Companion"

1. “They stood still, looking sad.” Jesus joined the disciples for their sorrowful journey

a. Joy was stolen—hope that He would redeem Israel

b. Beloved teacher had been crucified, puzzling reports of His appearance, but hadn’t seen Jesus

c. Disorienting grief (eyes downturned, hopes dashed, trying to make sense of great loss—grief can show how deeply a person was loved)

d. We see an example of how the Christian’s life is not always joyous. Pr. Harrison talks about how this is a relief to many Christians, because some of the most miserable people are those who are tormented by the belief that they always have to show joy to others to prove they have the gift of the Spirit. It can be quite despairing to be told your life should be full of joy, but you feel none of it. Times of grief or joylessness don’t mean that the Holy Spirit is absent from us.

e. Permission for grief and sadness—esp. at a funeral. Loss of a loved one. Jesus’ own grief–Lazarus. But our sorrow will be turned into joy (Luke 6:21).

f. Jesus arrives to be their unexpected companion on the journey, at first listening sympathetically, hearing their grief, but eventually chiding their unbelief and reorienting them to the Scriptures. Their particular grief was born out of a misunderstanding of Scripture—didn’t realize the Christ had to suffer and die

g. Trying to put together pieces of a puzzle—frustration, disorientation. Glorious catechism lesson of Jesus—reorient, show the picture on the top of the box, and it’s Him! Through the walk, the meal, grand picture of Scripture—till hearts burned with excitement, discovery, and joy! Break bread—eyes opened. Pierced hands—finally they had seen Him! Jesus’ presence had been hidden from them, but suddenly revealed in the breaking of the bread! They had seen Him!

2. Joy for our journey—Jesus our unexpected companion.

a. “Who are You? Our hearts are opened, in the breaking of the bread--Christ the victim, now the victor, living, risen from the dead! Great companion on our journey, still surprise us with Your grace! Make each day a new Emmaus; On our hearts Your image trace!”

b. “Who are we who travel with you? on our way through life to death? Women, men, the young, the aging, wakened by the Spirit’s breath! At the font You claim and name us, Born of water and the Word; At the table still you feed us Host us as our Risen Lord!” (LSB 476:3, 4).

c. We ask for the Lord to surprise us with His grace, be our companion. He travels with us through life till death, claimed and named through baptism, fed at His table. Surprised by grace, joy comes unexpectedly in His companionship

d. We are never alone—even if we are deprived of our family or friends, we have a friend in Jesus, who is more than just a sympathetic ear, He rescues us out of all our troubles, and counts our life as precious to Him, even in death. If it were not for Christ’s resurrection, the yawning, open grave at the cemetery would be the most despairing place in the world.

e. Reorienting ourselves to see Christ as the whole picture of Scripture—finding comfort in knowing that the believers who have gone before us experienced the same fears, doubts, griefs. Joining them in their joy and relief. Feeling the burning of excitement and joy in our hearts to grow closer in our companionship with Jesus, to know more deeply the One who paid the price for our sins and rose, so that He might never leave us or forsake us.

f. Jesus lifts our eyes and our spirits, turns them to the Scripture and sets our hearts on fire with the knowledge that all of the Bible’s pages are brimming with Jesus! They are full of the life and grace of Christ, and point unerringly to Him as the source of our salvation and joy. Suddenly the grand narrative emerges and we see how Christ’s death and resurrection play into the climax and resolution of the plot.

Sermon Talking Points
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1. How were the disciples on the road to Emmaus an example of people whose joy had been stolen? Under what circumstances? What had their hopes been (Luke 24:21)? What was so disorienting about the grief they were experiencing?

2. What griefs have you endured? Think of a time when your joy was stolen or overshadowed by a loss. What was disorienting about your experience with grief?

3. How did the unexpected companionship of Jesus on their way begin to reorient them back to hope and joy? What was it about His presence and conversation that made their hearts “burn within them?” Luke 24:27, 30-35.

4. How is coming to the understanding of Jesus being the heart and center of all the Bible (Old and New Testament), like seeing the picture on the top of a puzzle box? John 5:39; Luke 24:27, 45-47.

5. How is the unexpected companionship of Jesus a comfort and joy to us amidst sorrow and suffering? How does it reorient us toward hope and joy? 1 Thess. 4:13; Romans 5:4-5; 1 Peter 1:3-5

6. In what ways is Jesus such a present companion in life, even now? Matthew 28:20; 18:20; John 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 10:16; Romans 6:5-11

7. How can you be an “unexpected companion” to someone experiencing grief, or joylessness? What message can you bring to them to encourage and lift their spirits?

Easter Triumph, Easter Joy!

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! This joyful Easter response echoes through our churches in the weeks after Easter Sunday or the Resurrection of Our Lord. We celebrated Easter on April 24th, this year, and our Easter celebration continues through the first week of June, before the next church festival of Pentecost (June 12). Easter is always a tremendous experience as we reach the loudest and most joyous crescendo of praise during the year. You just want to belt out those Easter hymns and Alleluias!! The combination of the brass and the choir and the powerful melodies that together proclaim: Victory, Resurrection, Life!! Christ is Risen!

One of the hymns that I think best captures that Easter mood was sung at our services during communion. That hymn is #633, At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing. The first verse reads:

At the Lamb’s high feast we sing, praise to our victorious King, who has washed us in the tide flowing from His pierced side. Alleluia!

The “high feast” or “paschal feast” as you might hear in prayers, is Easter—the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection. Paschal comes from the word Passover—and refers to the great Jewish feast that happened on the weekend that Jesus died and rose again. When Jesus celebrated His Last Supper with the disciples, it was after they had met and celebrated the Jewish Passover meal (Matt. 26:19), which was a living remembrance of how God delivered the Jews out of their slavery in Egypt (read Exodus 12). [We just had a “Christ in the Passover” presentation on April 14th, with Jews for Jesus, explaining the whole significance of that meal and how it points to Jesus.] It was no accident that Jesus died during the celebration of the Passover, because the central element of the Passover meal was the sacrificial lamb, and Jesus is called the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) and the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). It was no accident because that meal pointed to Him and was fulfilled in Him!

Then what does the hymn mean by “who has washed us in the tide flowing from His pierced side”? Hopefully the kids aren’t imagining laundry detergent!  But the song is talking about the “tide” or flow of water that rushed from Jesus’ side when the soldier pierced Him with the spear to be sure that Jesus was dead. This flow of blood and water (John 19:34-35; 1 John 5:6-8; Rev. 7:14) is the cleansing of our sins. Jesus’ blood shed for us on the cross is the reason we call the day of His death—Good Friday—good. We call it good because on that day Jesus washed our sins away through His blood. And the joy of Easter is that death could not hold Him in the tomb!

The hymn goes on to sing about how Jesus blood and body are given for the wine and bread of the Lord’s Supper—the Feast that He has commanded us to celebrate in an ongoing, living remembrance of His self-sacrifice as our Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14). Verse three sings:

Where the paschal blood is poured, Death’s dread angel sheathes the sword; Israel’s hosts triumphant go through the wave that drowns the foe. Alleluia!

Just as the blood of the Passover lamb caused the angel of death to “pass over” the homes of the Jews waiting to be delivered from Egypt, so also the blood of Jesus becomes the shield spread over us, so that we are spared from the eternal sentence of death from our sins. Just as the Israelites walked through the Red Sea waters and Pharaoh’s armies were drowned in the wave, Christ leads His church through the waters of baptism (1 Cor. 10:1-4) toward a redeemed and holy life, drowning our spiritual enemies of sin, death, and the devil.

Easter is ultimately about Jesus’ victory over death, by removing death’s sting—which is sin (1 Cor. 15:56-57). Verses 6 & 7 speak of that triumph and victory:

Now no more can death appall, now no more the grave enthrall; you have opened paradise, and your saints in You shall rise. Alleluia!
Easter triumph, Easter joy! This alone can sin destroy; From sin’s pow’r, Lord, set us free, Newborn souls in You to be. Alleluia!

Easter is filled with such celebration, triumph, and joy, because Jesus’ resurrection means that our greatest enemy of death has been defeated. It is a victory celebration! Only the death and resurrection of Jesus could destroy sin and death. We’re no longer subject to the grave and the fear of death, because we know and trust the One who has defeated them both. We can face our own death unafraid because we are promised to share in His resurrection. That’s joy for life and for living—and that’s joy to be shared! My prayer is that all of you be filled with that Easter Triumph; Easter Joy and that your life would reflect the joy and contentment of knowing that your eternity rests secure with Jesus, our Living Passover Lamb!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Sermon on John 20:19-31, for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, "Gladness and Joy"

1. Christian joy: do we have it, or is it missing? “You Christians lost the world when you lost your joy.” True or false?

a. magnet and mystery

b. difference from happiness--emotion, dependent largely on external circumstances vs. deep and abiding joy. relation of happiness to joy

c. finding joy in unexpected places: why were the disciples joyful in Acts 5:41, that they had suffered dishonor for the name of Jesus?

d. 1 Peter 1:6-8, In this (your salvation) you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

2. Discovering joy
can’t be forced, faked, or manufactured--the quickest way to kill or extinguish joy

a. no way to measure or calculate when or how much you will feel

b. joy can be lost in various ways--most often through forgetfulness of the treasure we have in Christ. Also through deception--truth stolen, or distraction--poor substitutes for joy are given (thrills, pleasure, entertainment, wealth, etc), trial and difficulty can steal joy (shouldn’t be so)

c. feeling on the outside looking in--contrast to how the disciples were locked in for fear, and Jesus broke into their gloom and brought joy un-looked for. measuring our joy against what others have.

d. Harrison on the secret of joy: “In fact, there is a kind of joy so profound, so enduring, that it can only be known and felt in one way. Its weaker shadows must be completely dashed and lost. Here’s the secret: if we seek joy for its own sake, we will not find it. If we seek Jesus, we shall be engulfed and inundated by joy, and quite by surprise.” C.S. Lewis...'2nd things'

e. Joy is elusive if we seek it for its own sake, but if we seek Jesus, joy will come unexpectedly and spontaneously. To find more joy, look always more to Jesus, dive deeper into the good news of what He’s done.

3. The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord
what makes for Easter joy? Jesus breaking into their sadness

a. Peace be with you--reconciliation with God

b. Joy of forgiveness--“Wherever forgiveness is proclaimed there is joy and festive garments...God is so completely different from what we thought or feared. News that he has sent his Son to us and is inviting us to share is an unspeakable joy.” Helmut Thielicke,

c. Jesus’ hands and feet (last week “grabbing hold of His feet”) a real, living body! Contrast of the impoverished ideas of an “afterlife” that some hold--to having the whole ‘you’ go to heaven (without sin of course!)

d. Jesus encounters or visits us--breaking into our gloom and joylessness, through His Word and Sacrament
i. the Word is not dry, quoted, lifeless, powerless, but living, powerful, effective, accomplishing
ii. Words of Eternal life
iii. Word that endures forever
iv. face to face with the love of God in Christ Jesus on the Cross
v. commune personally with the One who gave Himself for you

e. here is profound and lasting joy—in Jesus Christ who has drawn near to us, and broken into our sadness

Sermon Talking Points:
Read past sermons at:
Listen to audio at:

1. Friedrich Nietzche, the German philosopher said, “You Christians lost the world when you lost your joy.” What did he mean? How does (or would) Christian joy be magnetic to those who don’t believe? What are reasons for losing our joy?

2. Look for examples of joy in each of the three readings. Can you create joy by seeking it? Does it work to be told that you should be joyful? Can it be manufactured? Why or why not? Where does true joy come from? How is it discovered or found?

3. Explain the difference between joy and happiness. How can joy exist, even in dark times of life? Read Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 1:6-8

4. What are the things that specifically make Easter joyous? What is the joy of the resurrection? How does it make a difference that the resurrection is of the body? Luke 24:36-43 How was the presence of Jesus of great comfort and joy to them? How is the presence of God itself a source of joy? Psalm 16, esp. v. 11

5. How does the forgiveness of sins always give us cause for rejoicing? What does it mean for you to know that God will not keep a record of your sins, but has set them apart as far as the East is from the West? Psalm 103

6. How does Jesus break into our sadness with joy? How does He encounter us through Word and Sacrament? How does this bring joy?