Lutheran Preaching and Teaching from St. John Random Lake, Wisconsin
By Rev. Christopher Gillespie
St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church & School (Sherman Center) is in Random Lake, Wisconsin and is served by Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie. St. John Lutheran is God's place for Christians to gather around our Lord's Word and be edified by His gifts.
We are a congregation of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). We unconditionally subscribe the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. St. John Lutheran School has been approved for accreditation through the accreditation process of the National Lutheran School Accreditation of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.
The new god, science, attempts to downplay or even eliminate both the pains and pleasures of this life. Its seductive promises cause you to hold out for some “pie in the sky” future that will free you from all pain and sorrow. Instead of seeing life's trials as something to struggle with and overcome, and in the process become stronger, the life-denying god encourages you to hate this life and look forward to a better life that's out there, just on the other side of the next scientific breakthrough or technological innovation. But how can this be true? Science has given you so much that improves your life! Except it doesn't and hasn’t because it's not Christ. Jesus is your strength and faith. He is the life-affirming God because Jesus is Life itself, and anything that is not Jesus is not God, and therefore cannot give you true life.
Samson is a reminder to us of the faults and flaws shared by all the Lord’s servants. No one is perfect and righteous and holy on their own, and it does us no good to compare Samson with Abraham or Moses or David. They are all equally sinful. And they all equally depend on the grace of God.
Baptism, temptation, and cross all go together. This is the way of Jesus and His way is your way. He’s the course set by God the Father. You follow the Son by His Word, led by the Holy Spirit. You are given new life in Baptism. You bear the cross as you are attacked day and night by the flesh, the devil, and this world. And finally, when your last our comes you’ll die just like everyone has always done, except you’ll see the resurrection to eternal life on the last day. There is no other way, or truth, or life that will do.
We are all dying. That’s the message of the ashes and the cross this day. One day those words will be spoken over your dead body, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” as your body is lowered into the ground from which it was made. You were not made to die, of course. Death is not natural. Death is a result of sin and all the brokenness that it brings. Adam and Eve brought death into the world through their rebellion against God, and they passed that sin, that death, that rebellion on to their children. We see the fruits of this sin crystal clear tonight as Cain murders his brother Abel.
7. February 2021
Today’s Gospel is a lovely parable about a sower and His seed. Jesus explains the power of God’s Word to save and likens it to the seed scattered on good ground, who receive His Word, keep it, and it bears fruit in them. But as parables go, there’s always something not quite right or flat out wrong. And that’s precisely the point where the Holy Spirit would captivate our attention.
05. February 2021
Funeral of Darlyne Jane Tews
In Name of the + Jesus. Amen.
My brothers and sisters in Christ—family, godchildren, friends—grace, mercy, and peace are yours in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. Our text for today is Jane’s confirmation verse: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
As you look to Christ in faith, you are looking upon God Himself. As you listen to Him as He preaches and teaches, you are hearing the voice of God. As you were joined to His flesh by Holy Baptism, you are now God’s own child. As you are nourished and sustained by the gift of Christ’s body and blood, you are given to share in His forgiveness and thus His life and salvation. God is indeed with you, not in fear and terror, not in majesty and might, but in the flesh of crucified Jesus, and this “Jesus only.”
Disorder, chaos, and decay are all around. The answer is not to rely on petty tyrants, click-baiting press, pop philosophers, or others to provide you grounding, a sense of reality, and a lens by which to understand the world. And one after another, they will always fail you. Turn to Christ in His Word and receive from Him the institutions He has set up. Support devoted and faithful government. Reject the treasonous and ungodly ruler. Be ever attentive to your family and friends. Remain steadfast in the congregation He has given to you. Hold fast to Him and never let go and Jesus will see you through this present darkness.
Everything that Jesus gives you to live, breathe, and have your being is counter-cultural. Your baptismal identity in Jesus is now most obviously contrary to the world. You can no longer understand yourself as having one foot in the world and one foot in the church. Either both feet are solely planted upon your identity as Christian, in His church, and against the world… or you’ll be swept away in the flood that is sweeping through our world.