Monthly Archives: September 2007

17th Sunday after Pentecost

“Make Friends for Yourself”

Luke 16:1-15

Grant us, O Lord, not to mind earthly things, but to love things heavenly, and while we now dwell among things that are passing away, to cleave to those that shall abide forever.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rejoice with me, saints of God. You have been brought to repentance and there is mercy for you. Rejoice with me, saints of God. Jesus receives you and eats with you, sinners though you are. Listen: can you hear the joy in heaven this morning? It is over you that they rejoice. You are the sons of light, and to you the Kingdom has come. You are the prodigals whom the Father receives into His house with joy. Rejoice with me, saints of God. You have been entrusted with the good gifts of the Lord. What remains for you to consider, as children of the Light, is how you should use those good gifts in and for this world. Continue reading

Chesterton on Marriage

Since I put only a small part of the Chesterton quote in my wedding sermon, perhaps you might be interested in the entire thing. It’s from his essay “The Free Family” in “What’s Wrong With the World.”

The principle is this: that in everything worth having, even in every pleasure, there is a point of pain or tedium that must be survived, so that the pleasure may revive and endure. The joy of battle comes after the first fear of death; the joy of reading Virgil comes after the bore of learning him; the glow of the sea-bather comes after the icy shock of the sea bath; and the success of the marriage comes after the failure of the honeymoon. All human vows, laws, and contracts are so many ways of surviving with success this breaking point, this instant of potential surrender.

In everything on this earth that is worth doing, there is a stage when no one would do it, except for necessity or honor. It is then that the Institution upholds a man and helps him on to the firmer ground ahead. Whether this solid fact of human nature is sufficient to justify the sublime dedication of Christian marriage is quite an other matter, it is amply sufficient to justify the general human feeling of marriage as a fixed thing, dissolution of which is a fault or, at least, an ignominy. The essential element is not so much duration as security. Two people must be tied together in order to do themselves justice; for twenty minutes at a dance, or for twenty years in a marriage In both cases the point is, that if a man is bored in the first five minutes he must go on and force himself to be happy. Coercion is a kind of encouragement; and anarchy (or what some call liberty) is essentially oppressive, because it is essentially discouraging. If we all floated in the air like bubbles, free to drift anywhere at any instant, the practical result would be that no one would have the courage to begin a conversation. It would be so embarrassing to start a sentence in a friendly whisper, and then have to shout the last half of it because the other party was floating away into the free and formless ether. The two must hold each other to do justice to each other. If Americans can be divorced for “incompatibility of temper” I cannot conceive why they are not all divorced. I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.

16th Sunday after Pentecost

“The Finder of the Lost”

Luke 15:1-10


In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Among the large crowds that followed Jesus were tax collectors and sinners. Even without knowing much about the special hatred reserved for Jewish tax collectors at this time, it is not hard to guess at their status when they are included in the designation “tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 15:1; cf. 5:30; 7:34). Perhaps we might paraphrase, “Jesus welcomes IRS agents and sinners.” Or, “Jesus welcomes lawyers and sinners.” Or, “Jesus welcomes politicians and sinners.” But it was these tax collectors and sinners who gathered close to Jesus in order to hear His words. Words like, “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored” (Luke 14:34, ESV)? Words like, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33, ESV). What was it that drew these tax collectors and sinners to a Man with words like these? It was the same thing that caused the Pharisees and scribes to sigh with frustration, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2, ESV). He received them. He welcomed them. He gave them words of relief from their self-imposed burdens and their self-inflicted exile. Luke is not being ironic when he calls them sinners. They were. The Pharisees and the scribes were not being arrogant. They were right. The tax collectors and sinners whom Jesus welcomed and with whom Jesus ate were people who had disobeyed the Law of God and everyone knew it. The crowds knew it. The Pharisees and the scribes knew it. The tax collectors and sinners knew it about themselves. And Jesus knew it. Continue reading

Klawitter/Crotteau Wedding

“Marriage in a World of Divorce”

Mark 10:1-9


In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?'” (Mark 10:2, ESV) What a text for a wedding! You’re not thinking about divorce. You’re thinking about marriage. You’re thinking about how you cannot wait to begin this stage of your life together and how great it’s going to be. You’ve got visions and dreams and ideas and plans, and you can’t wait to get started. It’s going to be great. And then the Gospel lesson, which you chose, mind you!, comes along and the first question is, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Continue reading

15th Sunday after Pentecost

“The Salt and the Saltless”

Luke 14:25-35


In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Salt is good, but if even the salt is made tasteless, how shall it be seasoned again? It is suitable neither for the earth nor the manure pile; they throw it out” (Luke 14:34-35). The stories are not hard to find. A close friend denies even knowing his Master, who has been falsely accused and awaits execution. A second friend betrays the Lord of all creation for thirty pieces of silver. A Pharisee of Pharisees murders and imprisons followers of Jesus. And the unbelieving world and the devil rejoice at their downfall. If even the salt is made tasteless, how shall it be seasoned again? On it goes to our day: A priest is convicted of abusing a young boy and the parish has to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. The head of a major American Evangelical organization steps down in disgrace after someone reveals his homosexual affair. A television preacher goes to jail for defrauding hundreds of people who gave money in support of his ministry. A pastor must leave his congregation after accusations of sexual or financial improprieties surface. And the unbelieving world and the devil rejoice at their downfall. If even the salt is made tasteless, how shall it be seasoned again? Both the earth and the manure pile are worth more than such salt. Continue reading

14th Sunday after Pentecost

“Thy Kingdom Come?”

Luke 14:1-14


“[Jesus] said also to the man who had invited him, ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just'” (Luke 14:12-14, ESV).

In the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Thy Kingdom come.” We pray those words once a week, at the very least, and usually many times more than that. Does God need us to ask Him before His Kingdom comes? Of course not! And thank God, because it was when we were still enemies of His Kingdom that He made His Kingdom among us. God became Man and dwelt among us, and His name in Hebrew means exactly that: Immanu-el, “God-with-us.” Luther wrote that we do not need to pray for God’s Kingdom to come in general; that happens without our prayers. But when we pray “Thy Kingdom come” we are especially praying for the Kingdom of God to come to us. Jesus did not come to reign over some vague “world” or nameless “humanity.” He came to make individual men, women, and children citizens of His Kingdom, individuals like you and me. When you were not a member of His Kingdom, the Holy Spirit, by the Word of God, called you to turn from your sin. When you were a member of Satan’s Kingdom, God killed your old self by drowning you in Baptismal water, and then, in the power of Christ’s resurrection, He raised you to new life and you became a citizen of His Kingdom. Your prayer has been answered: the Kingdom has come to you and you are in. The banquet has been prepared and the door has been flung wide open. Come on in. Continue reading

How I Choose Hymns

If you attend Trinity or St. Paul’s, you may have sung (or tried to sing) a hymn (or three) with which you were not previously familiar. The likely reason for that is me. How do I choose hymns for Sunday? First, I focus on the theme of the day, which is usually the theme of the sermon. That means that I look at the words first. Second, I try to find hymns with that theme that I think will be familiar. Now, obviously this means that I choose hymns that are familiar to me. I have no way of knowing what hymns you sang before I got here. That is the purpose of this post. If you attend Trinity or St. Paul’s, please comment and write your 3, or 4, or 5 favorite hymns. That will help me to better gauge my hymn choices, and encourage congregational singing.

We will still sing new hymns, because how else could we learn them? But we’ll work on not slamming you with multiple new hymns per week. There are so many good hymns that have been written since 1941 (when The Lutheran Hymnal came out), and some good ones that predate TLH but which were not included in it, that it would be wrong not to use them. But this way we can work on learning them in a better way. Thanks.

Pastor Winterstein