last edited: Tue, 22 Jan 2019 23:00:24 -0500  
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The overall context of this vicious attack against Nick happened during the March for Life - as Nick was gathered with others to chop down the sacred oak of Abortion.

After the March for Life, Nick and his school mates were first accosted by the speech of the Black Hebrew Israelites - a false Christian cult who for over an hour shouted biggoted, homophobic, racist comments at the boys. When they did not succumb to the taunts, a pagan drum-beater who had many other paths to get up to the Lincoln Memorial in order to complete the "rite" he claims he was completing, CHOSE to enter the group of Christian young men. The pagan animistic drum beater placed himself face to face with Nick - and for minutes, banged his pagan drum in Nick's face without explaining why he entered Nick's personal space - all while one of the pagan's compatriots tried to goad one of Nick's classmates into misbehaving saying, "Go back to Europe" and shouting explitives. NICK encourages his classmate to not engage.

Then, the vultures of Social Media and the Mainstream Media gathered to pick Nick's bones clean. And now, even the corrupt members of the Church's hierarchy have abandoned Nick as Peter abandoned Jesus.

Make no mistake. This was not about a "smirk," this was not about a stupid hat, this was not about any supposed chants. Each time the "evidence" provided by Nick's attackers comes up wanting, the story changes and there is another "explanation" for their outrage.

This was NOT political, this was a SPIRITUAL battle - with the devil and his minions singling out one of Christ's baptised in order to get him to back down and give in. And since Nick didn't back down and kept his composure and (I pray) retained His faith, the attack continues today as Nick remains abandoned to the wolves by even those who should be caring for him and protecting him.

I stand with Nick because I know and understand the words of St. Paul - "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 6:12

Stand strong, Nick. I stand with you. The Lord be with you.

M. DentM. Dent wrote the following article Mon, 21 Jan 2019 12:04:02 -0500
AN OPEN LETTER TO NICK SANDMANN (the CHRISTIAN who stood in the face of evil as our Lord Jesus did, and did not flinch):
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Congratulations, Nick Sandmann. Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them." And you have shown who you are. You have served honorably, admirably, and with distinction as a member of the Church Militant and showed yourself to be a true member of the body of Christ. May God be merciful and grant you peace in the days, weeks, months and years ahead as you go forth in His Name, the Name of Christ the Crucified.

"Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather," said Jesus.


It's taken me a long time to understand this passage of Scripture - after the events of this weekend, I think I get it - and as usual, I disagree with most of the "popular" commentators on the subject and believe Jesus is speaking in somewhat in obverse here.

The corpse, is not the carrion of the spiritually dead to whom God sends chasitsement. Jesus has just pointed out that many worldlings will be trying to deceive others and point to specific places where the Son of Man is. But Jesus has already told us, "the Kingdom of God is in your midst." The Kingdom of God doesn't "come" abruptly with the coming of the Son of Man, the Kingdom of God is in the world. And, as St. Paul says, "I bear in my own body the marks of Jesus," as he has gone through the persecutions he suffered.

If you want to find Jesus in this world - look where the carrion eating vultures are - that is, the worldlings who flock around Christians seeking to destroy those who "bear in their own body the marks of Jesus."

It is the whole Christian Church scattered throughout the world that is the "corpse" in this phrase - the corpse of Jesus - awaiting the final resurrection to Glory upon the return of the Son of Man. The vultures are the worldlings who "smell blood" and seek to further destroy and persecute and pick the bones of true believers.

So Jesus is here saying, where you see a flock of worldlings seeking to destroy righteousness and goodness --- say, for instance - when a young catholic man acts with honor and integrity and distinction in a very difficult situation as he is confronted face to face with idolatrous paganism and despicable perversions of the Scriptures - all seeking to cause him to give into his base nature - and where this same young man has "put to death" the sinful desires of the human heart and is able to stand in the face of such atrocities and "grin and bare it" - there you see the Kingdom of God in this world.

THIS is what was on display on the mall of our Nation's Capital. Nick Sandmann, a true disciple of Jesus of the Catholic faith - was confronted with all manner of evil intentions when a gross pagan banged his pagan drum in his face and a group overtaken with the spirit of Jezebel taunted and goaded him and his classmates seeking to lead them to disregard the promptings of the Holy Spirit to turn the other cheek. Instead of giving in to the sinful desire for retaliation which they no doubt had, they stood up as Jesus did before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate. They showed forth that they are the very body of the risen "corpse" of Jesus. And, "Wherever the corpse is, the vultures will gather."

And the vultures they did gather - as social media, mass media, and a whole horde of vile and hateful people sought to pick his bones clean. Even the vultures within the hierarchy of their Catholic Diocese and School did exactly what St. Peter did when he denied Jesus three times. Worse, they acted as the religious leaders of Jesus day - handing Nick over to be crucified and picked apart by the angry flock of vultures.

Congratulations, Nick Sandmann. Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them." And you have shown who you are. You have served honorably, admirably, and with distinction as a member of the Church Militant and showed yourself to be a true member of the body of Christ. May God be merciful and grant you peace in the days, weeks, months and years ahead as you go forth in His Name, the Name of Christ the Crucified.

Matthew Dent
Pastor
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Standish, Michigan

https://my.hosted.social/articles/dm42/20190121openlettertonicksandmann
  last edited: Tue, 22 Jan 2019 16:47:14 -0500  
And - of course - it's fair to ask - "Just HOW did this go viral so fast?"
    []https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/21/tech/twitter-suspends-account-native-american-maga-teens/index.html[]https://dailycaller.com/2019/01/22/twitter-suspends-account-covington/
  • https://fox2now.com/2019/01/22/twitter-suspends-account-that-helped-ignite-controversy-over-viral-encounter/

  last edited: Tue, 22 Jan 2019 16:13:51 -0500  
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Congratulations, Nick Sandmann. Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them." And you have shown who you are. You have served honorably, admirably, and with distinction as a member of the Church Militant and showed yourself to be a true member of the body of Christ. May God be merciful and grant you peace in the days, weeks, months and years ahead as you go forth in His Name, the Name of Christ the Crucified.

"Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather," said Jesus.


It's taken me a long time to understand this passage of Scripture - after the events of this weekend, I think I get it - and as usual, I disagree with most of the "popular" commentators on the subject and believe Jesus is speaking in somewhat in obverse here.

The corpse, is not the carrion of the spiritually dead to whom God sends chasitsement. Jesus has just pointed out that many worldlings will be trying to deceive others and point to specific places where the Son of Man is. But Jesus has already told us, "the Kingdom of God is in your midst." The Kingdom of God doesn't "come" abruptly with the coming of the Son of Man, the Kingdom of God is in the world. And, as St. Paul says, "I bear in my own body the marks of Jesus," as he has gone through the persecutions he suffered.

If you want to find Jesus in this world - look where the carrion eating vultures are - that is, the worldlings who flock around Christians seeking to destroy those who "bear in their own body the marks of Jesus."

It is the whole Christian Church scattered throughout the world that is the "corpse" in this phrase - the corpse of Jesus - awaiting the final resurrection to Glory upon the return of the Son of Man. The vultures are the worldlings who "smell blood" and seek to further destroy and persecute and pick the bones of true believers.

So Jesus is here saying, where you see a flock of worldlings seeking to destroy righteousness and goodness --- say, for instance - when a young catholic man acts with honor and integrity and distinction in a very difficult situation as he is confronted face to face with idolatrous paganism and despicable perversions of the Scriptures - all seeking to cause him to give into his base nature - and where this same young man has "put to death" the sinful desires of the human heart and is able to stand in the face of such atrocities and "grin and bare it" - there you see the Kingdom of God in this world.

THIS is what was on display on the mall of our Nation's Capital. Nick Sandmann, a true disciple of Jesus of the Catholic faith - was confronted with all manner of evil intentions when a gross pagan banged his pagan drum in his face and a group overtaken with the spirit of Jezebel taunted and goaded him and his classmates seeking to lead them to disregard the promptings of the Holy Spirit to turn the other cheek. Instead of giving in to the sinful desire for retaliation which they no doubt had, they stood up as Jesus did before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate. They showed forth that they are the very body of the risen "corpse" of Jesus. And, "Wherever the corpse is, the vultures will gather."

And the vultures they did gather - as social media, mass media, and a whole horde of vile and hateful people sought to pick his bones clean. Even the vultures within the hierarchy of their Catholic Diocese and School did exactly what St. Peter did when he denied Jesus three times. Worse, they acted as the religious leaders of Jesus day - handing Nick over to be crucified and picked apart by the angry flock of vultures.

Congratulations, Nick Sandmann. Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them." And you have shown who you are. You have served honorably, admirably, and with distinction as a member of the Church Militant and showed yourself to be a true member of the body of Christ. May God be merciful and grant you peace in the days, weeks, months and years ahead as you go forth in His Name, the Name of Christ the Crucified.

Matthew Dent
Pastor
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Standish, Michigan

  last edited: Mon, 21 Jan 2019 13:34:14 -0500  
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Immediately after our celebration of the birth of our Savior, we realize the bloody mess of a world into which He was born.


***NOTE: A sermon is an oral proclamation intended to be heard. The following manuscript served as the primary content but was altered during delivery in some areas.

GRACE, MERCY and PEACE are YOURS this day from GOD our FATHER through our LORD and SAVIOR, Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Thus says the Lord, “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country.”

In the NAME of JESUS. AMEN.

You may notice that since Christmas Day, the sanctuary has been redecorated. Did you see it? On Christmas, the altar frontal and the one here on the pulpit were white. And, you'll note, this morning they are red.

No – it isn't that I thought that the red looked better with the green or that I was trying to make things more festive.

These colors have meaning. White – is not because I wished for a white Christmas – but because the color white represents purity and holiness – in this case, the purity and holiness of the baby born in Bethlehem.

On Christmas day – with the most important furniture in the church decked out in white, we hear St. John say, “we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

And the very next day, the color changes. On December 26th, the Church comes to grips with the reality of what it means that Christ entered the world – that He called men (and women, and children) to Himself to bear His name in this world – A world which neither knows him nor loves Him – but would sooner see him and all who belong to him dead and bleeding out in the streets. This is why the color of the Feast of St. Stephen is red. The color of martyrs. Also the color used on Pentecost – representing the fire that burns brightly within each Christian as they are filled with the Holy Spirit and faith and are unable to back down and shrink back even in the face of opposition.
On December 27th, the Church remembers St. John the Divine – the Apostle of Christ – who men tried to kill but were unable. As legend tells, the emperor Domition condemned the Apostle and Evangelist to die by being boiled in a culdron of boiling oil for refusing to renounce his faith. And yet, He is rescued through the ordeal by God's omnipotent hand. And because John died a natural death and not by the will of those who hated him, the blessed Apostle's day is marked with white, once again, the color of saints.

And then comes December 28th, and the cold reality of the world's hatred of God and the rejection of His love as the church recalls the martyrdom of all the male children 2 years and younger in Bethlehem – with Christ alone escaping because of the dream given to Jesus' guardian, Joseph, telling him to whisk the child and his mother Mary to Egypt to be safe from Herod's rage.

I commemoration of this event, the church is decked out in red today – a stark reminder of the cold cruelty of the world that opposes in every way possible the light of men which shines in the darkness.

In our Gospel text for today, St. Matthew recounts how God had sent an angel to Joseph, “Rise and take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt and remain there, for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him.” Certainly this was to protect and preserve the Child – as well as a means by which God would fulfill His Word spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

But we see most clearly that the existence of Jesus in a place has consequences – real, earthly consequences – and all too often, they appear to our human eyes as tragedy – they bring with them heart ache and pain and suffering.

“WHY GOD?!” becomes the question. What did these small tiny baby boys do to deserve Herod's sword? Why is God punishing them for being there – at the wrong place at the wrong time?

It's tempting to ask such questions and insist on an answer. It's tempting to put God to the test, as Job did, and declare that our ethical understanding of the world imposes some limits on God.

Perhaps it is the name that we give to the day itself that leads us in the wrong direction. Highlight the day as a remembrance of the Holy Innocents, martyrs. And in our worldly thinking, we look upon the fact that they have not yet learned how to steal or murder – that they are incapable of doing the actions required to break the 10 commandments and we are tempted to believe that they are innocent in the eyes of God.

But this is not the case. “In sin did my mother conceive me,” says King David in the Psalm. These children, likewise, born of human parents – born of blood and the will of the flesh and of the will of man – inherited that dreaded disease and so were infected with sin just like every other human child – excepting Jesus only.

The wages of sin is death, says the Apostle. And God is not unjust in carrying out that sentence upon them – just because they couldn't yet act out of their sinful hearts in a way we would recognize.

And yet, these were children of promise. If their fathers were faithful, they had their sons marked in the flesh as God's beloved children saved and rescued by the God who called Abraham out of UR of the Chaldees and promised blessing upon blessing to all of his descendants according to the flesh. Circumcised on the 8th day, these tiny baby boys were marked as inheritors of that promise – the promise of God's love and mercy that pointed forward to the coming of Jesus – who in His flesh bestowed God's blessing upon all mankind.

We see in this how God was not punishing these children – even in the premature end to their lives. Just as God is not punishing any child baptized into Him. This is why the Apostle Peter teaches, “BAPTISM now saves you.” It is your connection to God's mercy and love and forgiveness that you carry with you. Though unseen, it is God's indelible mark upon you – just as it is God's indelible mark upon your baptized child. It is a mark that is seen by the Angels in heaven – and does exactly as we describe as the pastor traces the cross upon your forehead and upon your heart – marking you as one redeemed by Christ the Crucified.

In our modern age, it is impossible to read this account of Herod's slaughter of these baby boys and not consider the ongoing slaughter of the unborn. There are many things in God's Word that speak against the horrific practice of intentionally ending a child's life before they exit the womb. And some attempt to find comfort in the fact that the church speaks of the Holy Innocents murdered by Herod. They try to convince themselves that the unborn child is innocent of sin and so must be whisked away to heaven.

But neither the Scriptures generally nor this text specifically give us such assurance. In fact – both speak against such an understanding. While they are innocent of outward and gross sins, they are still conceived of sinful stock. The poison of sin courses through their veins, inherited as it is from Adam and Eve according to fleshly conception.

But - before they can be brought to the waters of baptism – where God would reach down and touch them with His love and grace and mercy, the practice of abortion stills their beating heart – and ends their earthly life.

It is one thing in the case of a spontaneous miscarriage or other unexpected premature termination of a pregnancy to trust and rely upon the grace and mercy of God. It is one thing to hope that such a child would be welcomed into the arms of Jesus even though they are sinners who would never have the opportunity to be brought to those holy waters of baptism.

It is one thing to look at how God gave the Holy Spirit to John the Baptist – so that he recognized the voice of His savior's mother even at only 5 months after conception – and hope that God will likewise graciously visit the unborn child who is brought to church and hears the word while still in the womb and trust that God's Word is, indeed, sufficient and lay hold of that promise – even as we can look to the loss of David's first son of his unlawful relationship with Bathsheba and have hope when we hear David lament, “I will go to him, but he will never come to me,” trusting that God saved his son before the blessing of circumcision.

But it is another thing entirely to participate in, condone and accept the idea that it is OK to bring about that premature end.

To intentionally cut short the life of a child before it exits the womb, is to intentionally cut that child off from God and His promises.

It is to actively desire that the child has as little chance as possible to be rescued and saved by a God who loves him or her so much that He entered into our world to take their sin upon Himself.

Abortion makes it impossible for that child to be connected to God through the means of Baptism. – The means which God Himself appointed as the way that He WILL be active in a person's life to rescue and redeem and save through Jesus who said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

We see then, that those who prematurely end a child's life before they have the opportunity to be baptized or who gives approval, aid, or assistance in such an act shakes their fist at heaven in the same way that Herod shook His fist at heaven by attempting to slaughter the Christchild.

Indeed, It is good and right that we in the church pray for God's mercy and grace, we beg and plead with Him to be gracious and not visit the sins of the parents and doctors and society against these dear children. Even as we hope in his promises to be gracious and merciful.

But we must not allow such hope to blind us to the reality of how dark and cruel our world is. This is but one example of the devil in this world who by his lies and trickery has deceived so many to accept and give into evil. It is only one mechanism by which the devil seeks to devour those whom God desires to save and rescue.

Dear friends in Christ Jesus, we live and move in the world as it is described in Revelation 12 – with the great dragon seeking the destruction of Christ and His Church.

The failed when he convinced Herod to wage war on the child and come after him with the sword to kill him before He had time to finish his work.

And in the midst of that battle, Herod shed innocent blood. We say “Innocent” not because they were sinless, but because they had done no wrong to Herod. They were no threat to Herod or his rule. They simply were born at the wrong time. They were in the wrong place. Having received God's promises through God's gift of circumcision given to the descendants of Abraham, the suffering of those baby boys and the suffering of their parents at their death was suffering brought about by the ongoing war that Satan wages on earth against God and His elect. But they died martyrs – because they died having received God's promises and in their flesh they confessed their faith in their savior through the gift of circumcision.

But on that day as the devil through Herod sought to destroy the hope of the nations, he failed. God caused Jesus to be whisked away in to Egypt, then to return to Nazareth, and though the devil would seek to derail Him, God raised Jesus from the dead – He ascended into heaven and rules and reigns over his Church.

And though the devil continues to wage war – and fight – Even as the devil continues to cause society and the world around us to rage and rail His believers because of our connection in Jesus, we need not fear or weep – not for ourselves – and not for our children.

Hear the promise of God – spoken through the pen of the man boiled in oil and yet still lived to have the Lord's visions revealed to Him through visions so that we may know clearly this world in which we live: “the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished.”

The devil continues to stir up society and the world to reap utter destruction of God's little band of Christians on earth. He uses every means possible to destroy us just as Herod sought to destroy Christ by the sword.

Therefore we will continue to see injustice. We will continue to see the out flowing of history rip from us those we love as the devil snarls and snaps at us seeking to shake our faith and lead us away from the hope and promises of Christ.

It will be evident in illnesses such as cancer or debilitating neruological disorders, accidents of all kinds, even wars and natural calamity. We will be tempted to ask why God allows such calamity to happen to those who have not done anything in this life to deserve to be punished in such a way.

We will be tempted to weep bitterly and lament as Rachel wept for her children and refused to be comforted.

But thus says the Lord: “Keep your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country.”

These words were spoken to the Children of Israel as they were taken into captivity into Babylon where most of them would die separated from the Lord's promised land, just as so many Christians have died before the coming of the Lord. And they are given to us as a comfort – to bring us peace in the midst of our troubled world.

Though the war is not over, our victory as Christians has been assured. All who are baptized into Christ have the promise given to them individually and personally. God has chosen YOU as His own beloved child – Born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born again of God – born again from above by Water and the Word as He has marked you as one redeemed by Christ the Crucified.

And again, the promise of our reading in Revelation is that God has prepared in the wilderness of this world a place where He nourishes us. In other words, He gathers us HERE, in this place – the Church – where He feeds us with His body and His blood – where he pours the soothing oil of His grace upon our wounds and comforts us in our suffering by delivering the forgiveness of our sins – and where he reminds us of our adoption as His children when he reached down to us in the waters of our baptism to claim us as His own.

As those baptized into Christ, if we die before Christ's return, we will find ourselves shoulder to shoulder with those who were slaughtered by Herod – and St. Stephen who was stoned for his testimony of Christ – and all the Apostles – even St. John – along with all those from every tribe and nation who are brought out of this great tribulation and even now stand before the throne with palm branches in their hands declaring, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb”. And at the return of Jesus, we will be brought back to our own country – the new heavens and the new earth – in the splendor and glory of God's good and perfect creation where we shall dwell with Him forever.

GRANT THIS LORD UNTO US ALL - in the NAME and for the SAKE of Jesus. AMEN.

  last edited: Mon, 21 Jan 2019 13:31:34 -0500  
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"A man shall leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh," ... I am talking about Christ and the Church - Ephesians 5:31-32


***NOTE: A sermon is an oral proclamation made to be heard, not read. The following manuscript and notes served as the main content but was altered during delivery in some places, it is best to listen rather than read.

GRACE MERCY and PEACE are YOURS this day from God our Father, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved. We are gathered here today at the call of the bridegroom – who gathers us here in order that He may hand over to us His love, His grace and His mercy.

This is, in fact, THE REASON that Christians gather together around the altar and the font and the pulpit. From these places – the Church's bridegroom dotes upon his beloved bride.

He descended from His throne in the presence of His Father in heaven and we read in our Gospel text that He also left His earthly mother – all in order to be united to His bride – giving himself in body and spirit to His beloved.

This bride He washes clean and makes spotless in the waters of Baptism – cleansing her from every blemish or wrinkle so that she may be radiant and beautiful and that she might be presented to Him in the splendor and majesty befitting the bride of the only Son of God.

He suffered all, giving up his very life in order that she would not suffer the pains of eternal death, but would have eternal life.

He nourishes and cherishes His beloved bride – feeding her with his very own body and blood so that she may share in His divine and eternal life.

He comes to Her in His Word – not to speak sweet nothings – but to speak those words which themselves give eternal life – words of forgiveness – words of reconcilliation – words of hope – and words of promise that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Like God opened Adam's side taking a rib and making for Adam a helper fit for him, in the course of God's plan of salvation, the soldier pierced the side of Christ Jesus and blood and water flowed. “The life is in the blood!” is the refrain of the Old Testament – and it is through Water that each believer is given new birth from above.

In this way, Christ gives life to the Church – making us clean by the waters of Holy Baptism – nourished and fed by His very body and His very blood

And, as the dearly beloved bride of the eternal bridegroom – knowing His love and His care for us, Christ's bride the Church gladly and willingly submits to Him – and receives that love – and mercy – and forgiveness and grace.

Notice, we do not submit and obey out of fear of his anger or dread of His wrath. The Church submits to Jesus, honors and obeys her bridegroom, Jesus, because He has already shown His loving care and mercy to us – by suffering, dying and rising again. He comes to us time and time again in this life to wash us clean once again from our sin and feed and nourish us with His Word and His Sacraments so that we would endure faithful to the end. And because we know and have certainty of this, the Church willingly submits – out of reverence – trusting in His loving care and receiving His blessing and His grace.

Dearly beloved, we gather here today as Christ's bride, the Church. And as we do, we testify to the world about God's love and mercy for all mankind – as we receive forgiveness of our sins – as we call upon our beloved, the bridegroom for His love and His care and His protection, as we willingly submit ourselves under His Word and by faith lay hold of His promises, we preach and proclaim to the world the very Gospel of God's love for mankind – a true and abiding love that caused God to go to the greatest lengths to pursue us and bring us to Himself.

St. Paul tells us that we must understand the work of Christ in these terms. We must understand that in the most intimate human relationship – God has hidden the central truths of the Gospel. The good news of God's love for mankind and the tender compassion of God who seeks out those whom He loves and makes for himself a beautiful bride out of us poor wretched sinners.

This is what St. Paul means when He quotes God's Word from Genesis, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh,” and explains, “I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

And with this truth in mind, it is easy to see more clearly what is happening in the world around us and understand why we as the Church must maintain a firm line regarding traditional marriage. It is not God's law that it at stake, it is the very heart of the Gospel – the very truth which brings life and salvation into the world is overthrown and destroyed when we give one inch to the godless agenda of a heathen society that seeks the extinction of God's Word and the Gospel egged on and pushed forward by the evil tyrant Himself.

Most of us sitting here find it amazing that the world has moved so far so fast when it comes to the overthrow of the family and society's confusion about marriage.

But it takes only a brief consideration to see that we haven't come very far and it hasn't been very fast.
Indeed there has been a shift – the nearly universal picture of the relationship between men and women – especially between husbands and wives – was that the man was the protector and the provider – one who cares for his wife as his own body, you might say. It was a nearly universal understanding – at least in America, that it was men who would go off to war to do battle against our nation's enemies and protect the women and children at home. Recall the old school code of conduct - “Women and Children first!”

Now such thinking gets called “toxic masculinity” - and the idea of “paternalism” gets considered an evil that needs to be remedied.

But Christ loved His bride enough to lay down His life for her. It was the love and concern of our heavenly father that caused Him to send His only begotten Son into the world in the first place.

Now, let's be honest – there is a small step from a proper respect for women – and the objectifying them. It is one thing to love and care for them, it is another to consider that the differences between men and women mean that women are inferior to men – or that men have a right to have women submit to them. Certainly – THAT is toxic masculinity – the idea that women are objects or inferior.

The truth is women are simply different. They have a different role to fill in society and in the family. Women receive – they receive love – they receive care – they receive protection – and they receive it from men. This isn't because of inferiority – God created women and formed them and therefore they have inherent dignity and honor and glory as a creation of God along side men.

But they are DIFFERENT – and these differences point to the greater reality of Christ and the Church. Christ is our advocate – our champion – our defender – our provider in this life. Jesus is the one who rescues, saves, and protects and cares for us. This is how He loves us.

And this love and care for His bride the church is represented in the world by men taking their proper role in marriage – and in society.

And now you start to see why the world and the devil hate true traditional marriage so. Every marriage – even that of unbelievers – that follows the traditional pattern preaches Christ's love for the Church – His love for us.

….

The undermining of the truth about marriage began with the undermining of faith in the Gospel. As faith and trust in the Gospel has declined, so has marriage.

Many would point to this fact and misinterpret it – they would say that the decline of traditional marriage and the family has been the cause of the decline of faith. But that would be to put the cart before the horse.

Just as it is true that a proper Christian marriage proclaims the truth of the Gospel, it is also true that Marriage gets it's meaning from the truth about Jesus.

The result is, if faith is no longer active, and the Gospel is no longer central, marriage loses its meaning.

Without Jesus, the relationship between the spouses is not grounded in any reality outside itself. And so the imagery of “A man shall leave His father and His mother and hold fast to his wife,” quickly and easily becomes distorted if it does not refer to a SPECIFIC man and a SPECIFIC bride. If it remains in the realm of an idea – a thought – about two people starting a new life together – it becomes easy to interchange man and woman and come up with all sorts of different arrangements. And we see that is what has happened in our society.

This has been a slow steady march for nearly 200 years, as the society at large has done the devils bidding teaching our children to disbelieve and reject the truth of the Gospel – slowly and bit by bit removing everything in society and the world at large that would serve to prop up the church – even as the church as a whole began to decay and rot from within – as her members cared more and more for worldly pursuits – sought only comfort and ease in the pew and rejected the idea of sound teaching. As pastors and laymen alike ceased diligent and careful study of the Scriptures and were content to recite pious platitudes to one another. So that from without and within, slowly, the truth of the Gospel has been robbed – faith has withered – and – from an earthly point of view – the church appears as a poor old begging maid.

Oh, it has not been fast, this has been many generations in the making – as apostacy and hatred of God's Word has taken root in society and even within almost every corner of Christendom – especially here in our own nation.

But in the midst of it, we dare not lose heart. We dare not panic and be afraid as no doubt the servants at the wedding feast in our Gospel were when it became known that the wine had run out. Even the very mother of our Lord Jesus has a hint of panic in her voice as she rushes to her Son and says, “They have no wine!” - which was sure to put a damper on the festivities that day.

In that exchange, having already left His Father's side in the glory He had from the beginning, now Jesus leaves His earthly mother, “Woman,” he says. Not “Mother,” but “Woman,” marking a clear separation. “What has that to do with me. My hour has not yet come?”

And here is where we must pick up with our imitation of the servants that day, as Mary tells them, “Do whatever He tells you.” In other words, be faithful to His Word, cling to His promises. Listen to Him as our Lord and Savior and Master.

They did not know, nor did they understand what Christ was asking of them as He commanded them to fill the water jugs. Just as we do not know what will happen when we take up His charge to fight the good fight of faith – to preach and proclaim the Gospel in our own homes – and in our community – even as we come to regularly hear it preached and taught in our sanctuary.

We cannot see or understand by earthly reasoning what God does through simple water at the baptismal font – we cannot know by our own cunning what God delivers to us in the bread and the wine – we have no earthly reason to hear some man tell us our sins are forgiven and we have no worldly cause that compels us to study the Scriptures.

But these are all the tasks that God places into our hands – the waters of Baptism by which He makes disciples – the foretaste of the eternal wedding feast as Jesus feeds us with HIS body and HIS blood – strengthening our faith – as we hear the words of Absolution and know and believe that Christ Himself has sent to us someone to speak them into our ears so that it is JESUS' forgiveness we receive when we hear, “I forgive you in the NAME of the FATHER and of the SON and of the Holy Spirit.”

And as we abide in His Word. These are all the things that Jesus gives into our hands as His beloved bride – and through these, He clings to us. He pours Himself out for us – He continuse to love and care for us – to nurture us as we walk through this world.

And as we are faithful in these things, He promises to be and abide with us always to the very end of the age – cleaving to us as His bride, the Holy Christian Church – and in the end, to present us to Himself in all the radiance and glory and majesty befitting the bride of Christ.

LET US PRAY -

Gracious God and Father – as the attendants at the feast at Cana were faithful in their task – filling the stone jars to the brim and drawing water to give to the master of the feast – make us faithful in the tasks that you give to us – large or small in this life – by which you promise to work for our benefit and for the extension of your kingdom – delivering your mercy, love, and grace to those in our community and throughout the world.

In the NAME of JESUS. AMEN.