300 S Ardmore Ave, Villa Park IL, 60181

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Saturday - 4:30 pm Sunday - 8:00 am & 10:30 am Christian Education Sunday - 9:15 am

 

  

Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord?
What has straw in common with wheat?
Jeremiah 23:29a, 28b

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pastor Rob Rogers was born in Seattle Washington. He has a B.A. in Communication from Concordia University, Austin, TX and a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. READ MORE >>

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Pentecost 9 – August 7, 2022
Text:           Hebrews 11:1-16
Theme:         The Answer is Word and Sacrament

 

          Imagine being Noah, building an ark in your back field and proclaiming a world-ending flood because God told you to do so.  Imagine being Abraham, picking up your whole extended family and setting out for a little-known land because God told you to do so. Imagine being Sarah, discovering that you are pregnant at 90! These were all people of great faith who did what was commanded of them even in the face of remarkable obstacles, even in the face of what might have seemed to be common sense.

          That is faith in action and these remarkable people from our history demonstrate for us that life as a child of God has never been any different than it is for us. They lived by faith and we live by faith still.  They had faith in the Messiah who would come and we have faith in the Messiah who came. The hard part of the equation is not the what, but the how.  How do you accomplish this difficult task of living by faith, especially when the devil places so many obstacles in our paths? 

          Well, if I want to drive to Wisconsin, I need fuel for my car.  If I want to swim 1500 meters, I need fuel for my body.  If I want to walk by faith, I need fuel for my soul.  The fuel that God provides for us is His holy Word and the Sacraments.  This place in which we are sitting is not an auditorium for watching religious rites.  It is a gas station for our soul.  We come here to fuel ourselves with God’s Holy Word and the very body and blood of Jesus so that we can walk by faith. If we do not have fuel for our souls, we cannot walk by faith no matter how much we might like to do so, no matter how much we might talk about it, no matter how much we might brag about doing so. It is just not going to happen without the fuel.

          People think about the Church in a variety of ways. Some think about it as though it were a religious club in which people of similar moral views come together to discuss the specifics of their belief systems and to revel in how right they are and how wrong others must be. These people think that the Church is a place where we should receive comfort and consolation and praise for being such good people. The pastor is like the activity director on a cruise or the social worker at the nursing home. His job is to be sure that everyone is happy and fulfilled and that morale is always high.

Some think about the Church as though it were a museum of ancient beliefs and rites in which we celebrate our past but see very little relevance for our present-day situation. These folks come to worship on special days, either special in the year, like Christmas and Easter, or special for them, like weddings, funerals and Baptisms. They are not interested in hearing the Word proclaimed with authority. In fact, they get a little perturbed by anyone having authority over them.  They just want to hear nice things in church and sing old familiar songs that hearken back to childhood and happy times with their family of origin.

Some people talk about Church as though it were health club where you go to pay for your immorality much in the same way people waddle into the health club after Thanksgiving to pay for their sins of pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes with gravy.  My health club had a great sign up in the hall right after the holidays.  It said, “We exercise not in payment for what we have eaten but in celebration of what our bodies can do.”  I like that.  Church is not a payment for the sins we have committed but a celebration of what our faith can do. And, not only a celebration but a filling station that feeds our faith to do even more. If we limit the Church to being some kind of private club or religious museum or even the sin payment center, we are binding God’s hands and saying, “No, Lord. We don’t want your whole gift. We just want the part we can control.”

          Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah…they were not any more amazing than you or me.  They were just human beings who were filled up with God’s Word and Sacrament and so they were able to do miraculous things.  They received the whole gift from God and did not try to limit him to their narrow perceptions. They listen to His Word proclaimed by His prophets and preachers, both Law and Gospel and were greatly blessed. Go home today and make a commitment, if you have not done so already, to read one of the Gospels. Read from that Gospel every day and if you have already read the Gospels, read Acts or the Epistles.  Commit also to be in worship every week no matter what. If you can’t be here, be in worship wherever you are. There are churches in every town on this earth and enough online services to fill weeks on end.  Commit finally to receiving Jesus’ body and blood every time you are able to do so.  If you do this, you will see your faith grow, I absolutely guarantee it.

          As your faith grows stronger, your eyes open to deeper meanings of what Jesus is saying in the Gospel for today. Anxiety is the product of sin.  Hear me well. If you are suffering from any kind of anxiety you are suffering from sin. Satan loves it when we are anxious because when we are anxious, we are not trusting God.  We are limiting God to actions that we can understand and perceive.  There are situations where anxiety is a physical ailment in which there is an imbalance of chemicals in our brains that causes us to be anxious.  Physical ailments are a product of sin being in the world and attacking God’s creation. For such physical ailments, God has provided us with amazing medications that offset the imbalance and allow us to live more normal lives. But the vast majority of anxiety is a spiritual ailment in which our faith grows weak and Satan gets his dirty hooks into us. That kind of anxiety is cured solely by Word and Sacrament. 

          Word and Sacrament is the answer. It is the answer to spiritual anxiety.  It is the answer to growing the Church. It is the answer to rebellious children.  It is the answer to weakening marriages. Word and Sacrament feed faith and empower us to do that which our human nature does not want to do, is afraid of doing.  Word and Sacrament is the answer for everything. Whatever we do, we put Word and Sacrament first and when we put Word and Sacrament first, everything else in this life falls into line.