EMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH, FORT WAYNE, IN
TEXT: JOHN 10:11-16/ISAIAH 52:7-10
THE GOOD SHEPHERD’S VOICE
THE GOODSHEPHERD’S FOOD
THE GOOD SHEPHERD’S ETERNAL GIFTS
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins – to deliver us from this present evil age.  Greetings to Christ’s Church at Emmanuel Lutheran, Fort Wayne (Soest) from the members of Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center in Shorewood, Wisconsin.  By their partnership in the Gospel and kind permission and encouragement I am able to be with you on this day.  Among us at Luther Memorial pastor-elect Krueger just completed a year of service and learning on vicarage.  You are included in the thoughts and prayers of many there who cannot be with you in person on this day.  Dear pastors; dear Kyle and Kim; dear brothers and sisters in Christ;


Dr. Martin Luther once described seven holy possessions or identifying marks of the church (LW 41:148-166)  The first four were the Word of God; the Sacrament of Holy Baptism; The Sacrament of the Altar; The Office of the Keys (forgiving and retaining sins).  The sixth was prayer; such as the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms.  The seventh was the Holy Cross of Suffering and persecution. That seventh one is not easily seen as an identifying mark or a holy possession.  By nature we would rather not possess but rather give away persecution and suffering and the cross Jesus lays upon us.

EMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH, FORT WAYNE, IN
TEXT: JOHN 10:11-16/ISAIAH 52:7-10
THE GOOD SHEPHERD’S VOICE
THE GOODSHEPHERD’S FOOD
THE GOOD SHEPHERD’S ETERNAL GIFTS

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins – to deliver us from this present evil age.  Greetings to Christ’s Church at Emmanuel Lutheran, Fort Wayne (Soest) from the members of Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center in Shorewood, Wisconsin.  By their partnership in the Gospel and kind permission and encouragement I am able to be with you on this day.  Among us at Luther Memorial pastor-elect Krueger just completed a year of service and learning on vicarage.  You are included in the thoughts and prayers of many there who cannot be with you in person on this day.  Dear pastors; dear Kyle and Kim; dear brothers and sisters in Christ;


Dr. Martin Luther once described seven holy possessions or identifying marks of the church (LW 41:148-166)  The first four were the Word of God; the Sacrament of Holy Baptism; The Sacrament of the Altar; The Office of the Keys (forgiving and retaining sins).  The sixth was prayer; such as the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms.  The seventh was the Holy Cross of Suffering and persecution. That seventh one is not easily seen as an identifying mark or a holy possession.  By nature we would rather not possess but rather give away persecution and suffering and the cross Jesus lays upon us.


Then there is the fifth identifying mark – the fifth holy possession of the church that Luther numbered – it is the pastoral office – the reason we are here today.  Concerning this office Luther made it clear that it was instituted by Christ and that the Holy Spirit chooses only males to fill it.  He also made it clear that the purpose of this office is to administer the first four holy possessions on behalf of the church that is to administer God’s Holy Word and God’s Holy Mysteries that give forgiveness of sins.  Luther’s words concerning the pastoral office are strikingly clear – just as clear and striking as the Rite of Ordination and the Rite of Installation we use today.  As we end this service, the new pastor Christ gives you today will be exhorted in part this way: Go therefore, and be a shepherd of the Good Shepherd’s flock.  Preach the Word of God; administer the holy Sacraments…


This imagery of shepherd and sheep comes from the Son of God Himself.  I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Of all the animals in all the world – “sheep” – is the one Jesus uses to name His own.  “I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me.” 


Ponder that for a moment.  We have come to assign certain characteristics to certain animals; as sly as a fox; as strong as an ox; as wise as an owl.  Remember Jesus doing the same…”go and tell Herod that fox…(Luke 13:32).  But what characteristic would you assign to sheep? Push the point a little by considering animals chosen as sports mascots – perhaps because of their speed or their strength – the Indiana Pacers - the Indianapolis Colts.  But what would you think of a team named the Soest Sheep or the Fort Wayne Sheep?  Firehawks or Komets – maybe – or even Mad Ants - but not sheep!

I
 can’t recall any team identifying itself by name or as a mascot with simple ordinary sheep.  Sheep have no characteristics that make the world desire to be like them or team up with them.  Sheep do not excel in speed or strength or self-sufficiency.  If it comes to competition with other animals, sheep are the losers, not the winners.  In fact, sheep are always on the edge of disaster!  They are easily frightened and prone to illness.  Their wool easily hides festering wounds that can take their life.  They are dependent on another for their food and water.  Yet they are inclined to stray from the one providing the food and water.  The Shepherd’s voice and rod and staff must constantly keep them in safety.


Sheep are inclined to behave as a mob following peer pressure.  If one crawls through a hole in the fence to eat poisonous weeds, they may all try to crawl through the fence.  If one is startled and runs wild, they all run wild.  In Gevas Turkey a few years ago (USA Today 2005) one sheep jumped over a cliff as shepherds were eating their lunch and the rest of the flock – about 1500 sheep promptly follow suit.  In addition, sheep are easily confused and easily downcast.
 
Yet of all the animals created through Him, the utterly dependent sheep is the one that Jesus uses to name His own.  I am the Good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know Me.”  Are you content to be one of Jesus’ sheep?  Do you see yourself as a weak and sin-sick person who would die apart from the voice and the food of the Good Shepherd?  Is that why you come to the Divine Service each week – pastors as well?  If asked by a friend why you so religiously receive God’s Word and Sacrament, would your ready answer be – “because of my great need – I’m a dying sinner and only the risen Christ can give me life-giving care?”  Do you desire your children to hear the voice of the Shepherd each day from you at home, believing they are sheep and that they will not truthfully hear that voice elsewhere in this culture of death and decay?


Dear Christians, the world does not know us as utterly dependent sheep receiving forgiveness and life, because it does not know Jesus as the Good Shepherd who gives life by His sacrificial death on the cross.  In this world of “earn it” and “sell it” and “make it happen”, a posture of total dependence has no value.  How can receiving love and care like a child or like a sheep be true spirituality before God?  How can that qualify us as belonging to the heavenly Father?  How can this possibly determine where we spend eternity?


Even pop Christianity is tempted to see itself not primarily as needing the ongoing ministry of the Good Shepherd’s teaching and feeding – of continually receiving His forgiving love – of receiving His holiness - but rather primarily as doing something for Him.  Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about Christians is that they think they are better than others and that they go to church each week primarily to do something for God.  The truth is they believe themselves to be the chief of sinners – and they gather in the presence of the risen Christ each week to let Jesus do something for them.  Blessed are the poor in spirit (that is – beggars before God) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3). Like sheep we sinners are on the edge of disaster and we never outgrow our need for the constant, intensive care or the Good Shepherd.
 
All of this is why Christ has called so many under-shepherds to feed His flock in this congregation.  From Christmas Day in 1845 and Pastor Husmann down through the decades and into a new century when served by Pastor Zschoche – down through more decades and into this century when served by Pastor Beirlein.  From the first log church in the frontier wilderness to a brick house of worship with spires reaching skyward – from a Lutheran school supported solely by the congregation to your joint effort today with St. John’s, Flat Rock, the beating heart of this congregation has been the Good Shepherd’s care extended to you in His Word and Sacrament.


Now – through you - Christ has called a new under-shepherd to serve you with His gifts.  In the office to which he is ordained today Luther describes a new Pastor Krueger as a holy possession whose purpose is to serve you Christ’s holy possessions that give forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.  He will soon make specific promises regarding the very work Christ calls him to – that all his preaching and teaching and administration of the sacraments will be in conformity with the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.     


That is good news – related to the good news the prophet Isaiah trumpeted thousands of years ago.  How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion (Zion includes Christ’s flock at Emmanuel, Soest) “Your God reigns”.  Your God reigns through humble means. 


When he laid bare His holy arm to give you salvation – in was the arm of an infant in Bethlehem’s manger – knit together in human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary.  When He flexed the muscle of His bared, holy arm to finish your salvation, it was to lift His naked, bleeding, body a few inches on the tree of the cross to cry out in victory, “It is finished”.  That’s what’s different about our Good Shepherd.  All other shepherds protected their flocks only to lead them later to death as food or as temple sacrifices.  But Christ, our Good Shepherd lays down His life for us – He was the one – led as a lamb to the slaughter and as sheep before its shearers is silent so he opened not his mouth (Is 53:7).  Rather than making the sheep into the meal, our Good Shepherd provides His holy body and His holy blood as the meal for us.   

Beloved in the Lord, We all like sheep have gone astray…and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Surely, when He baptized you into His death and covered you with Himself at the font, His forgiveness for you was perfect.  Surely, He who is faithful has not turned back from the promises He made to you there.  Surely as He comes to serve you with His voice and His heavenly meal in weekly worship His forgiveness for you is perfect.  The blood of Jesus…cleanses us from all sin (I John 1:7).  The penitent sinner receiving the promised gifts of Christ in faith should have a clean and a good conscience.  If Satan is accusing you and sullying your conscience – do what Luther did – saying something to the effect of - “Yes, yes, all that is true and there is more – but you must accuse Christ not me – for He died in my stead for my sin.”  His blood cleanses us from all sin – real forgiveness for real sinners – not pretend sinners!  Is it not comforting to know that there is one place we do not have to pretend that we have all the answers or that we are in control?  Is it not comforting that God is faithful to forgive us.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied (Matt 5:6).


No other shepherd has beaten death by His own death!  No other voice can save you or raise you from the dead!  The new pastor you receive today is made of sinful flesh and blood just like all those who have gone before and just like you and me.  His words and ideas, His person and power cannot save you anymore than you can save yourself.  That’s why He is to voice the Good Shepherd’s words!  He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.  Jesus is no hired hand!  He made the heavens and the earth and everything in them (Acts 2:23).  His is one with the Father (John 10:30) and owner of all that is.  He cares so deeply that He bought you back when you had strayed from the Father’s sheepfold.  In the still waters - the waters of rest in Holy Baptism - He has put His name on you and called you by name.


The verses right after our Gospel record the Good Shepherd as saying, I lay down my life that I may take it up again!  I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again.  Wakened from death in His mighty resurrection He is the same Good Shepherd who comes into your midst here to prepare a table for you in the presence of your enemies.  Those enemies are a real wolf-pack – the devil, the world and your sinful nature.  They constantly seek to tear you away from the Good Shepherd’s care.  But they cannot keep Him from restoring your soul!  On this table He comes with heavenly food – forgiveness food for you - His hungry, needy sheep.


As He does so, He joins you in the closest possible way with loved ones who have died in the faith.  Your church cemetery reminds you of how Christians are linked through the ages – one decade - one generation – one century following another.  But the union you have with Christ and His body in Holy Communion is no mere reminder.  The Church triumphant – the body of Christ is with Him when He comes to banquet you.  Even as your chief thoughts are on Him it is not wrong to rejoice in the closeness of those who are with Him who is the resurrection and the life. 


His ultimate purpose for you in all this is to take you home as well – where no wolf can ever attack again.  That’s why He calls pastors to serve His sheep.  As Pastor Krueger serves you as His under-shepherd and not as a hireling, his words will sometimes be hard to hear.  For he must also preach God’s law – and the law always accuses in the right way – the way God has given!  A hireling doesn’t identify the sickness of sin or warn of danger or prepare for danger.  He just preaches a popular, pleasurable word that old-Adam sheep love but that does not feed your soul.   A pastor of Jesus Christ not only publishes peace – the good news of salvation – but also the sad state of our sinful hearts – our chief sin of unbelief – our desire to take God off His throne and put ourselves on – the festering mess underneath our coat of wool for which we rightly cry out “create in me a clean heart, O God” as we look toward the Lord’s Supper.  A true pastor and not a hireling cries out the very reason the saving presence of Christ and His holy possessions are our only hope in this passing world.
 
Kyle, God bless you in serving His people in this place – preaching and teaching not your own words and ideas, but those of Jesus – the whole counsel of God.  Members of Emmanuel, God bless you in hearing the word and feasting on the food the Good Shepherd provides through the pastor He has called to serve you.  Together, through your partnership in the Gospel God enable you to reach out to a world sitting in darkness and in the shadow death.  As Jesus said, I have other sheep that are not of this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd.


For sheep of the Good Shepherd perhaps positive characteristics are not impossible to identify after all.  As sly as a fox – as strong as an ox – as wise as an owl!  How about as satisfied as the Savior’s sheep – for my cup overflows!  How about – as sure as the Savior’s sheep – for He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake!  How about as strong as the Savior’s sheep – for He restores my soul!  How about – as safe as the Savior’s sheep!  Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for Thou are with me Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.  How about – as secure as the Savior’s sheep – eternally secure!  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.  God so bless under-shepherd and flock in this place!


In the Name of Jesus – our Good Shepherd - Amen. 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a