TEXTS: NUM. 11:16-17, 24-25B/2 COR.3:4-18/JOHN 20:19-23
WITH GOD ALL THESE THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To the church of God at Mount Calvary and Abundant Life, with all the saints who gather with you, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Christopher and Kelly and Solomon and Henry, dear members of Mount Calvary and Abundant Life, Pastor Schiflett and other pastors, dear friends and family and guests…greetings to you from the members of Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center in Shorewood, Wisconsin. It is with the kind support and encouragement of God’s people there and their partnership in the Gospel that Barbara and I are able to be with you today. We are deeply thankful to do so on this joyous occasion.

Is it possible that this earth suspended in space – just the right distance from the sun with the right rotation to sustain life – with just the right depth of atmosphere to support life – is an accident of macro-evolution? Is it possible that the human body with miracle upon miracle of irreducible complexities as it is knit together in a mother’s womb – with the incredible wonders of mind and body and senses is an accident of macro-evolution? No, it is not possible! The fool says in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 14:1). His (God’s) invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Romans 1:20). The fool says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 53:1).

 

 

TEXTS: NUM. 11:16-17, 24-25B/2 COR.3:4-18/JOHN 20:19-23
WITH GOD ALL THESE THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To the church of God at Mount Calvary and Abundant Life, with all the saints who gather with you, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Christopher and Kelly and Solomon and Henry, dear members of Mount Calvary and Abundant Life, Pastor Schiflett and other pastors, dear friends and family and guests…greetings to you from the members of Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center in Shorewood, Wisconsin. It is with the kind support and encouragement of God’s people there and their partnership in the Gospel that Barbara and I are able to be with you today. We are deeply thankful to do so on this joyous occasion.

Is it possible that this earth suspended in space – just the right distance from the sun with the right rotation to sustain life – with just the right depth of atmosphere to support life – is an accident of macro-evolution? Is it possible that the human body with miracle upon miracle of irreducible complexities as it is knit together in a mother’s womb – with the incredible wonders of mind and body and senses is an accident of macro-evolution? No, it is not possible! The fool says in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 14:1). His (God’s) invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Romans 1:20). The fool says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 53:1).

Is it possible that man created perfect by God as the object of God’s love – would be deceived to doubt God’s love – would reach for God’s place – You know the tempter’s lie - You will not surely die…your eyes will be opened and you will be like God? Is it possible that fallen man would actually believe He could hide from God and could cover his own shame and could pass the blame to God’s gift of the woman and to God Himself (Genesis 3:1-13)? Oh, damnable yes! It is possible and it is reality! We are dying sinners in a dying world! We are a hiding, blame-passing, self-promoting and self-pitying, unbelieving lot.  It is called sin and Dr. Martin Luther taught that our chief sin is unbelief – wanting to take God off His throne and put ourselves on every day.  All have turned aside…no one does good, not even one (Romans 3:12). All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; (Isaiah 53:6). It is appointed for man to die once and after that comes judgment (Hebrew 9:27).

The statistics are 100 percent – whether in North Carolina or Wisconsin or Indiana. Death spread to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12). Up ahead just a bit – in a year – in a decade – you know how the days fly away – death will come to me – death will come to you – our Lord not returning before our appointed death-day. Death is not natural! It is an enemy! It is a curse of God’s wrath against sin. It is the wages we sinners deserve (Romans 3:26). This we confess regularly in the Divine Service.

But is it possible that God who created us – who saw paradise shattered by man’s rebellion against Him - would act to restore His fallen creatures? Is it possible that God’s love could be of such degree that God Himself would come down in human flesh to face His curse, the enemy of death! Is it possible that God could die for creatures that love to wander? Oh blessed yes!  This is the miracle of the ages! What happened on the cross is the very center of human history! Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! The Word made flesh, hung in naked shame to take away our shame! The Lord of life tasted death for us to swallow up death forever! His bloody yet beautiful cry “it is finished” on His death day means everything for our death day.

Sometimes one may hear the resurrection of our Lord pitted against his crucifixion as if one trumps the other. But that is not what God reveals. You see, the Bible states clearly that it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Jesus (Acts 2:24). That means there was no panic in heaven on Good Friday. Jesus is life itself! All things were created and given life through Him! He has to live! But could His love for us sinners be so deep, so intense, so extraordinary that He would suffer the punishment of death and of the damned in hell in your place – as your substitute!

Dear Christians – “yes, yes, yes!”  As you might say it here at Mount Calvary – “God has spoken – let His people say – Amen!”  The open tomb of Jesus casts a brilliant and beautiful light on His atoning sacrifice – on His crucifixion! Far from pulling our eyes away from this act – Scripture states that this is how we know what love is that Christ laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16). There is no human yardstick to measure, nothing in the universe to compare with God’s self-generated, uncaused love for you! The new song in heaven, the endless praise there does not pull our eyes away from His sacrificial death! The voices of myriads of angels trumpet with a loud voice “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…”(Revelation 5:12). Wonder of all wonders – Christ (God the Son) (God) died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Then He rose again! He had to! It was impossible for death to hold Him!
 
And that’s where the Gospel appointed for the ordination of Christopher Stout into the Holy Ministry begins! Fresh from the grave the risen Christ comes to fearful, imprisoned disciples. On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this he showed them His hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

On the day of His resurrection - the risen Christ does not speak as He did in shattered Eden – “Adam, where are you?” - “Wieting, where are you?” – “Stout, where are you?”   He says “Peace be with you.”  There stands the victorious Christ! God had unleashed His wrath on His beloved Son! The Son’s sacrifice sucked the venom out of Satan’s accusations! “It is finished!”  With glorified body He appears – showing them his hands and his side! The one who stands among them is the crucified one! But, the corpse that lay in the garden tomb is a corpse no longer! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

First He speaks to those with fear-filled hearts – hiding behind locked doors - the ones who so recently deserted and denied Him - the ones of bold promise and bad performance. Yet from His mouth comes – “Peace be with you.” This peace the world cannot give! This peace surpasses human understanding! This peace is objective peace between God and sinful mankind – it exists in the heart of God toward us whether we feel it or not! This peace is what Jesus was ordained to give! This peace is what the angels announced over the fields of Bethlehem as the Prince of Peace was born! This peace is what we need on our death day and therefore for all of our living days as well! This peace is what the risen Lord speaks to you in the liturgy for Holy Communion as He comes to feed you heavenly food. Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther said that believing the words of the Pax (The Peace of the Lord be with you always) are spoken to you by Christ Himself – is the most worthy preparation there is for us to receive the Sacrament. This peace – from Christ Himself - is what brought a sudden outburst of joy in that locked room full of fear. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

And that’s what brings us back to the ordination of Christopher Stout into the office of the public ministry today! For the risen Christ – was not finished speaking peace on that day and He is not finished speaking peace on this day. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven: if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”  As the first order of business on the day of His resurrection – the conquering Lord – began speaking His peace through His sent ones. This second word of peace is for others. In other words - “Peace be with you – for them” – for others. This is a peace to be delivered by those whom Jesus calls and sets aside to give to others who are locked in fear-filled rooms of sin and death!

Such fearful – confining rooms abound! From fear of the past – our bad decisions and missed opportunities to fear of the present – what others think of us – what sickness our bodies are hatching on the inside – to fear of the future – mountains of debt in our country – rapid decay in our culture – growing disrespect for God’s gift of life and God’s gift of marriage between a man and a woman – increasing threats in our nation in matters of Christian conscience - terrorist dangers abroad and at home – economic uncertainties all around.  There can be congregational fears as well – what will happen to us?  Fellow-redeemed – we can get all locked up on the outside with perils aplenty. We can get all locked up on the inside with worries and regrets and guilt and tempted despair! Then when death comes directly into view – Satan will hiss that this is a prison from which we cannot escape!

But in Christ, such is never the case! The risen Christ continually comes to us fearful, locked-in ones with the freedom-giving fruits of His crucifixion! He has made peace for us by the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). This is the Peace given in Holy Baptism and Holy Communion and Holy Absolution – the very heart of the work of the office Christ gives you today, Chris. The keys Christ granted to His church gives the saints at Mount Calvary and Abundant Life the right of calling a pastor – and the Holy Spirit has led them to call you to serve them Christ’s gifts. What a joyful day! What a blessed gift!

Into His disciples Jesus breathed His Spirit – as he has time and time again – as He will for you Chris on this day. We call it ordination! God puts you into His office to breathe out what the Spirit gives you! The Lutheran Confessions clearly state that through the Word and Sacraments as through instruments the Holy Spirit is given (John 20:22). Jesus puts men in His ministry not to push their opinions but to proclaim His Word of Law and Gospel and to serve His people His gifts.
   
It is a loving and freeing thing that you are asked to subscribe faithfulness to these confessions as you are ordained and installed. It is a loving and freeing thing that you speak your “yes” confessing the Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice and your “yes” making the Lutheran confessions your own because they are in accord with the Word of God. Jesus doesn’t breathe out His Spirit to pull people away from His Word but to give them life through His Word.

So, are you sufficient for the work ahead? Excellent vicar that you were, careful theologian that you are, mature and compassionate young man that we see, kind and supportive spouse that you have in Kelly, are you worthy, sufficient for the office you receive today? No, you certainly aren’t man enough for this work! Nor am I! Nor is any man Christ calls to this office! Nor was Saint Paul! Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Christopher – from the beginning of the world these two proclamations have always been taught alongside each other in God’s Church with a proper distinction – the letter that kills – the Spirit that gives life. These two doctrines – God’s Law and God’s Gospel - are to be diligently taught to God’s people to the end of the world. The law crushes and reveals our mountain of sin and always, always, always accuses us. The Gospel comforts and reveals God’s full forgiveness for our sin and always, always, always, announces and gives Christ. St. Paul was personally inadequate for the monumental task of apostolic ministry (preaching judgment and forgiveness in Christ’s Name). So is every man Christ calls to pastoral ministry today.

The Greek root for the word “sufficient” used by St. Paul means “to reach with the hand” – “to attain”. Paul is saying that he is not adequate or fit or qualified – to touch the scope of God’s calling. His hand is too weak! His reach is too short! But hear again what accompanies his confession of personal inadequacy. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us to competent to be ministers of a new covenant…

Beloved saints of Mount Calvary and Abundant life – this is where the deep competence of your new minister comes from. By the grace of God he is what he is! By the call of Christ through you He comes among you today. As he continues to find his rest in God’s means of grace and faithfully serves them to you, the very gift the risen Christ spoke in that fear-filled room is given to you. Oh happy day! What a blessed gift! What Pastor Schiflett and other vacancy pastors have stepped in to do in the past 13 years, Pastor Stout is now put in place to do as Christ’s under-shepherd here.

In this call Chris what an undeserved gift you receive. For, here are the dear people of Mount Calvary – with history in this place that goes back to 1898. They have been through joys and sorrows that will take time to learn. They are so precious to God He put His own Son in the balance to redeem them. And here are the dear people from Abundant Life – a unique congregation. Earthly sight is challenged for some – but the Holy Spirit has given them the eyes of faith. English is the second language for some, but the Lord is opening their lips to confess Christ. And the greatest need for them all and for you from God is this – “Peace be with you.”

That is how the veil of unbelief is taken away! That is how the miracle of faith is given and preserved! “Peace be with you” spoken to hearts hurting from sin. “Peace be with you” spoken to hearts hiding from God and from self.  Real peace! Peace from the Holy Trinity through the death and resurrection and continued presence of the risen Christ!

Is it possible that Christ is present in the waters of your Baptism – saving you (1 Peter 3:21-22), connecting you with His death and resurrection (Romans 6:1-4), forgiving all your sins (Acts 2:38), clothing you with Himself (Galatians 3:27)? Oh, yes – for so He has promised – let His church say - Amen!  Is it possible that He would forsake His promises that He made to you there. No, it is not for He is faithful!  Man can foolishly turn away from God’s grace and eternal life and be lost – but it is never because God has forsaken His promises!

Is it possible that Christ is present to feed you His Holy Body and give you to drink of His Holy Blood for the forgiveness of your sins in the Lord’s Supper! Oh yes – God has spoken – let us people say – Amen! When He gathers you for weekly worship it is the living Christ who comes to teach you and to feed you and speak peace to you. Martin Luther said of Jesus’ bodily presence in the Sacrament…The Lord not only instituted it, but also prepares and gives it himself, and is himself cook, butler, food, and drink. (LW 37:142)

Is it possible that when your pastor absolves you, that his word is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ your dear Lord dealt with you Himself. Oh, yes – for God has spoken and continues to speak His forgiveness through His called servants – let His people say – Amen!  If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”

Jesus’ words are your life! He is your freedom in this bound-up world! He is the answer to all your fears! Today He gives you a new partnership in the Gospel!

Is it possible that there is more to do as His church in this place! Oh, good heavens – yes! God bless you richly – pastor and congregations – to love one another and pray for one another and contend for the truth of God’s Word and grow in cheerful and generous giving and confess Christ clearly in the vocations He has given you and reach out to all those around with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And finally, is it possible that you would be with Him in heaven should you die in Him this evening! Not only possible but certain!  God has spoken – let His people say – Amen!  Your confession of your sin is no accident and your trust that Jesus forgives even you is a miracle – the very work of the Holy Spirit in you.  God bless your life together as the risen Christ continues to come among you to serve you!  “Peace be with you.”  In the Name of Jesus, 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