December 01, 2019: 1st Sunday in Advent

Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, as we begin a new church year, focus our attention on what awaits us—not only this coming Christmas and new year, but the larger issues having to do with the eternal future that awaits us.  Equip us to cast aside the deeds of darkness and its attendant temptations and walk into the Light of your grace and mercy.  Yes, sweep our hearts clean of sin so that we have room for your forgiving love.  Amen


TEXT:  Romans 13: 11-14

Dearly Beloved in Our Coming Lord Christ: 

          About 10 years ago our country’s Secretary of State was the point person for a new campaign to improve relations between Russia and America.  That official met with the Russian government in a televised press conference and spoke about a new “reset” of relations.  She even pulled out a giant “reset” button as a prop—kind of like you might see in a Staples ad.  Then she hit the button, expecting it to light up.  Nothing happened!  It was a dud.  It didn’t work.—And so we still find ourselves today at odds with Russia.

          Advent is a Godly time for us to hit a “reset” button in our own lives.  Hopefully, peace and harmony with God and ourselves will come out of it.  And today’s lesson gives us a blueprint to accomplish this, otherwise your life will turn into a dud….


          Advent is our “present time.”  Advent 2019 foretells snow storms on the horizon, a cold winter, people spending far more than they can afford, superpowers squaring off against each other, superbugs which will lay many low, and basically more problems than we can count.  It will feature evil’s intrusion into our lives and cause us to question the meaning of life.  So what are any of us going to do about it?  Listen to Paul: “And do this, understanding the present time.  The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”

          Most would say that the Christian Church is outmoded and time has passed it by.  Most would say it is comprised of stodgy, boring people who live in the past and cling to ancient ideas of right and wrong, along with a morality that doesn’t fit our fast-paced world.  Most would say that the Church is an anachronism, a concept that time has left behind.  Paul tells us to throw off your blanket of accepting this view, to rouse yourself from the slumber of complacency you often indulge in, and to get ready for big things, cosmic events leading up to Christ’s 2nd coming and the end of the world.  Can you imagine eating a big turkey dinner, engaging in self-congratulations around the table, shuffling off and going to sleep—right through the evening news—and missing out on the “breaking news headline” which announces the end of the world?! Christ is coming.  The future of God’s power and judgement is very close by.  And Christmas, in 24 days, will inaugurate His 1st coming in preparation for His 2nd coming.


          It’s time to reset ourselves.  “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

          The word: holiday means “holy day.”  Anything holy is associated with God, isn’t it?  And yet the holidays, including Christmas, usually revolve around selfishness, greed, drunkenness, illicit sex, and generally almost anything that isn’t “holy.”  Because it is the modern American way, even Christians get caught up in this web of evil.  From now until Christ’s birthday the headlines will scream about how holiday sales are up.  It will reek of materialism.  The vast majority will spend most waking hours “thinking how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”  And then in the hard, cold light of January, the bills will come due with a thud.  Likewise, God’s bill will someday soon come due, too, concerning our life and the future of our soul.

          And so we are to ponder all these issues during Advent and hit our own reset button!  Elsewhere, Paul tells us this: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  If you do that, these days leading up to Christmas will be full of meaning, none of which will cause you a sleepless night.  And you can do that by focusing on the Baby Jesus Who is coming to win your freedom from the inroads of evil by triumphing over it on a cross and by handing you His victory—all wrapped up and lying in a simple manger.  Most would call that a quaint, delusional dream; but by His grace, we call it: a promise of God!  So hit your reset button starting today and see the beauty and timelessness of that promise fulfilled in your life this very year!  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

Dec. 1, 2019 

November 24, 2019: Christ The King Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You alone are the King of all creation.  You alone know everything and shape and mold everything so that Your name will be hallowed and Your kingdom of grace may flourish.  Today give us a glimpse into Your greater truth that surrounds and protects us.  Amen


TEXT:  John 18: 34-38

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          I watched a little bit of the spectacle in Washington over the past 2 weeks.  I watched various witnesses being sworn in, declaring they would recount: “The truth, the whole truth.”  And it brought to mind the question of Pilate to Christ: “What is truth?”  Let’s ponder it.


          Is it the truth to declare “the sun is shining?”  Well, not today in Burlington, MA.  But somewhere in the world it is.  So, that truth is therefore dependent on where you live and what time of day it is.  Such truth is relative.  How about: “Today is November 24, 2019.”  Is that true?  Again, it depends on the calendar you’re following.  Here’s another one: “I love you.”  How?  In what way?  Does your love ever waver or fade?  Such truths are relative.  Some will say: What about the truths of science?  I answer: How do you know gravity exists throughout the universe in the exact same way we understand it?  Maybe there’s an alternate universe where it doesn’t exist?  By now you’re a bit exasperated.  Truth, human truth, is relative, dependent upon our understanding of something at that time and in that situation.  Is it any wonder Pilate was a cynic and mockingly asked Jesus: “What is truth?” 

          What precipitated this exchange between the Roman governor and Christ, the King of all creation?  It was Jesus saying: “You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

          This whole exchange brings up a reality-jarring problem all humans face.  That is the difference between subjective truth vs. objective truth.  Subjective truth is whatever is true for you.  So, color blind people see red whenever most others see green or blue.  What is “true” for one may not be “true for the other.”  Likewise, a sociopath may adopt a murderous lifestyle as “truth” whereas most others would say: “That’s horrible and wrong!”  If you boil it down, most of what is called: “truth” in this life, is utterly subjective.  That is, it’s right for me but not necessarily right for anyone else.  And of course, this breeds chaos, so we try to ignore the problem and sort of let the majority rule. 

          Then there’s objective truth, or “it’s true whether you believe it or not.”  Or, it’s true and correct even though you may not understand or grasp its correctness.  Let me ask you this: “What happens when you die?  Where do you go?  What do you do?  Do the same rules of earthly life apply in the hereafter?  And how and from what source do you know anything about this?”   By definition time isn’t timeless.  So, is truth timeless? 

          Pilate was what we’d call a modern man.  He was a cynic.  He questioned everything and believed only in what he had experienced: The power of might makes right and money buys anything.  His question: “What is truth?” stems from all that he could not quantify.


          Jesus’ answer to Pilate is intriguing.  “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  That’s a stunning statement.  It presupposes that Jesus knows real truth.  He presupposes that Jesus possesses knowledge far beyond mere human comprehension.  It presupposes that He possesses knowledge, wisdom and understanding which is timeless and infinite.  Pilate was a smart cynic and he grasped a portion of what Christ was saying.  No wonder he responds with: “What is truth?” 

          Jesus’ response is grounded in the truth that God exists, that He alone knows truth, and that Jesus is God in human flesh.  Recall Him saying: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  That would make Him the King of the universe, answerable to no one.  And because Jesus is God’s Son and there’s unity in the Trinity, all this is True! 

          Jesus tells us about Himself in the Bible.  Here’s another passage: “God Word is truth!”  So, whatever the Bible says is correct across all ages and stands the test of time and human relativity.  So, when Scripture tells us not to: cheat, steal, lie, murder, or commit adultery—those truths are always in force.  Thus, whoever breaks those rules sins against God and “the soul that sins it shall die.”  Such truth is black and white with no extenuating circumstances.  Otherwise God’s truth isn’t true.

          But there’s another great truth in the Bible.  It is this: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them anymore.”  That truth is the Gospel.  It is encapsulated in Jesus’ own words from the cross: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  God is light and him dwells no darkness at all.  God is love.  Those truths show and tell us how He conquered the untruth of Satan’s lies.  They tell us that Godly truth won an eternal victory over sin and evil on the cross and confirmed it by rising from the dead.  So, even that commonly accepted truth: “When you die, you die” is false!  For Christ died but came back to life!  He did it for you and me.  And when we believe in Him, or as Jesus says here: “Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me” well, God’s truth trumps human relativity. 

          My friends, Christ is our King!  He knows the truth, gives it to us through faith, and it sets us free!  It sets us free from the silliness of human understanding about all the great issues of this life and the one beyond.  It provides us a paradigm for living: “If you continue in My words, then you are my disciples; and then you shall know the truth and that truth shall set you free!” 

          Truth is a beautiful thing in that it is never wrong and never goes out of style. So  listen to Christ the Purveyor of real truth and no matter what occurs in this life you WILL live happily ever after!  Our King has made it so and nothing and no one can change that fact!


Welcome to Pinewood!

IMG_0231Sharing the joyous news of forgiveness in Jesus Christ is our chief purpose. To that end, we seek to nurture everyone we meet.

Join Us For Worship

Sunday Worship

10:45 a.m.

10:00 a.m. Summer Services

Starting June 1, 2019, we will begin our summer schedule with Sunday service beginning at 10:00 a.m. 

Note from the Pastor About Pinewood:

People often say: “The devil is in the details.”  We at Pinewood like to say: “God is in the details!”  It’s true!  God cares about our lives down to the smallest of details.  He never overlooks any of us.  He shows kindness, compassion, forgiveness and love to all from the smallest infant to the most seasoned member.  And along the way He breeds happiness, joy, and inner peace among all His children.  That’s why we’re a contented congregation.  He gives such blessings to each of us—and we share them.  We laugh together, we cry together, we praise God together, and we give thanks together.  We invite you to be  part of such togetherness.   Pastor Thomas H. Fox

June 4, 2023: Trinity Sunday

Let us pray: O blessed Trinity,  how awesome You are!  You dwell in total oneness, yet each of Your three Persons is distinct and each of You has special abilities and tasks when it comes to upholding the universe and saving little people like us.  We cannot imagine You.  We cannot grasp Your depth.  But, by Your grace and mercy, we can worship You!  Today we do just that with our voices, our hearts, and our souls.  Amen


TEXT:  2 Cor. 13: 11-14

Dearly Beloved By The Entire Godhead: 

         What are words?  They are a means of making concepts, ideas and brain impulses real and understandable both to us and other human beings.  They are a form of communication between people.  And depending upon the background and nationality of the communicator, the same word may sound different and may even have a slightly different shade of meaning, yet the truth behind such a word remains the same.  Thus, the word: “good-bye” in English; “auf wiedersehn” in German, or “arrivadercci” in Italian. 

         Originally human language came from God.  And no, we don’t know what His language sounds like to the human ear—but I imagine it is quite beautiful.  Then, at the time of the Tower of Babel, God confused human language to thwart man’s arrogant hubris.  So, today we have literally hundreds, even thousands of languages around the world—all seeking to describe the same thoughts, ideas, emotions, and things to one another. 

         In our lesson, which was originally written by Paul in Greek, the apostle says: “Good-bye” to that perennially troubled congregation that he had founded.  Most of the time we skip over such perfunctory good-byes.  My friends, that’s a huge mistake.  Because if we take the time to examine these final words, we see that:



         There is a huge, fundamental difference between human language and God’s Word.  Do you know what that difference is?  Well human language is merely informational.  It shares thoughts, ideas, and emotional depth with others.  Whereas, God’s Word is both informational and transportational.  It has the added power to work and convey those thoughts into human hearts and change those hearts in the process.  It’s as if God channels the power of the Trinity into the format of human language to make happen exactly what the words mean.  This is especially the Spirit’s doing, but the entire Trinity is operational throughout the process.  So, in Genesis when God said: “Let there be light” it immediately appeared.  When He created the planets and stars, they suddenly were.  Likewise, when we hear the message that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners like you and me by giving His life up for ours on a cross thereby making us right with God; well, as Paul writes in Romans: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.” 

         This same power is exhibited in our midst each Sunday.  Through the lessons and readings God tells us right from wrong and also works at convicting us of our sins.  Through the words, His words of the baptismal rite, we are washed clean and our hearts are converted and changed for the better.  Through His words of pardon in the absolution, God works peace of soul.  Through His words of institution in the Holy Supper, Christ, God’s Son, joins Himself supranaturally to simple bread and wine so that it becomes His very self—again, for the forgiveness of your sins.  Yes, when God speaks things really do happen.


         In our lesson God speaks through St. Paul vital words to the Corinthians and to us.  “Finally, brothers, good-by.  Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.  Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints send their greetings.” 

         Good-by basically means farewell.  It means fare-thee-well.  Have a wonderful, blessed life in my absence.  How can we achieve that and what does such a life consist of?  Is it merely this: I hope you all get wealthy, have rewarding careers, and your children don’t disappoint you?  No, Paul has higher goals in mind, eternal goals, as he writes these words.  “Aim for perfection.”  Perfection is found only in Christ.  No human can measure up to God’s standards: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  We can try on our own, but we fail daily.  However, by putting on Christ through faith, His perfection is given to you.  So, aim at His standards and not just your own.  Paul’s appeal is for them to be of one mind and to live in peace.  He’s not talking about fake worldly peace based on human niceities.   He’s talking about having and cultivating the same values, morals, and truths.  He’s talking about basing your lives on Christ alone.  He’s talking about being responsible as Christ was for you, being kind as Christ was to you, being hard-working as Christ did for you.  He’s talking about being forgiving above all else, as Christ is towards you.  If you model your life after Jesus, you will live in eternal peace with God.  But, Pastor, how is that possible since we’re sinners, children of Babel who always talk past ourselves and even talk past God?  Well, you already know the answer.  By clinging to Jesus in humble, Spirit-wrought faith, all Jesus has becomes your own possession.  His rightness becomes your rightness.  That’s why when we strive to live our faith and build it up daily: “the God of love and peace will be with you.”  In fact, since He empowers love and peace to come upon us via faith, those very words give what they describe.


         Finally, we come to a very familiar greeting, here used as part of Paul’s farewell.  It’s as if Paul’s good-by is actually a huge hello!  “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

         “Grace, love, and fellowship.”  Paul wants the mercy of Christ and His huge heart that gave birth to it to be yours and my possession.  He wants the profound eternal love of God which underlies all creation to fill our souls.  He wants oneness with each other and especially oneness with the Holy Spirit to overarch our lives. Because if we have these spiritual blessings from the Holy Trinity, peace of soul, peace of conscience, peace of everything will reign within us and the perfection of creation will once more dwell upon planet earth. 

         Recall that God’s Word is not just informational, but also transportational.  So, by writing this blessing, Paul isn’t just telling us about some hoped for, vague ideal, he’s actually conveying it directly to the Corinthians and to us.   This is God’s gift to you.  It’s from the Father Who authored our salvation, from the Son Who accomplished our salvation, and from the Spirit Who worked the faith within our heart to possess this salvation.  Since these truths place you and me into heaven and join us with all the saints of old, in this case A GODLY GOOD-BYE IS REALLY AN ETERNAL HELLO!  Isn’t the Trinity amazing?  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

May 28, 2023: Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, today as we celebrate Your sending of the Holy Spirit, the Eternal Comforter, open our ears to His guidance and counsel.  Enable us to really listen when He comes with eternal Truth and then to act on that truth so that we may be saved, others uplifted, and You glorified.  Amen


TEXT:  Acts 2: 1-4

Dearly Beloved By Christ Who Has Sent Us The Eternal Power of The Holy Spirit: 

         The Holy Spirit is not a rabbit’s foot.  He is not a Christian “good luck” charm.  He is God Almighty, the 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity, Who is in charge of personalizing Christ’s forgiveness and comforting our souls with the eternal peace and love that Jesus won for us on the cross.  I fear that many Christians ignore the urgings of the Spirit until something rather dire occurs in their lives.  Suddenly we’re overwhelmed by the untimely death of a loved one, or by a marriage gone sour, by a job upheaval, or by illness or disease.  Suddenly our comfort zone is invaded, we feel like we’ve been kicked in the stomach, and we don’t know where to turn for help.  At such moments, what do you do?  You pray.  You pray hard.  You pour out your heart to God and tell Him exactly how He should fix your problems.  And then we expect an immediate response—in exactly the form we’ve outlined to Him, don’t we?  However, usually God’s timetable is different than our own.  Usually He handles our problems far differently than we expected or asked.   And as we engage in this “waiting game” with the Spirit we’re confused, upset, and sometimes angry with Him.  “Lord, why aren’t You answering me?” is our constant question.  Eventually as our haste subsides, blinders seem to be lifted from our eyes and then we begin to see the Spirit’s subtle hand of guidance.  All our worry was for nothing.  All of our sleeplessness was a waste.  For God truly does take care of His children!

         I mention this because it dovetails rather nicely with today’s theme which is:



         Certainly God wants to hear our prayers.  He commands us: “Ask!” and then He adds: “It will be given to you.”  “Seek!—And you will find.”  “Knock, and it will be opened to you.”  But, when does our asking cross over the line to dictating to God?  Are we sometimes so busy pushing our own agenda down God’s throat that we fail to listen and thus bring a plague of worry down upon our heads?  In last week’s lesson on Christ’s ascension into heaven, as found in Acts chapter 1, we run across a prime example of this “dictating to God” and missing the point in the process.  Right before His ascension into glory Jesus is with the disciples and he gave them the command not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for Pentecost.  To “wait for the gift my Father promised.”  Immediately after Christ said those words, what did the disciples do?  They asked that silly question: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  Obviously they missed the point.  Obviously they weren’t really listening to Him.  Here He was promising them God’s eternal power, the gift of the Spirit to change the world by changing hearts.  But all they could think about was “is He going to create heaven on earth and turn us into political big-shots?” 

         Another example of dictating to God instead of listening to His voice of comfort is found in the Old Testament.  It is the story of the prophet Elijah.  For three years Elijah was a hunted man.  He had proclaimed God’s Word against the evil King Ahab and announced a three year drought to back it up.  At the end of this time span Elijah had a show-down with those godless prophets of the idol Baal upon Mt. Carmel.  God performed a miracle through Elijah and those godless prophets were slaughtered.  Elijah is at his zenith.  Then he gets word that the vile Queen Jezebel wants his head.  What does Elijah do?  He runs away in fear.  He runs away into the southern desert and mopes under a broom tree telling God how worthless he feels.  We’re told “he prayed that he might die.”  After letting him vent his frustrations, God eventually comes to Him.  He sends the Spirit to comfort him.  But the Spirit doesn’t come in the great wind that tore the mountains apart. Nor in the earthquake that followed.  Nor in the fire that God sent.  No, the Spirit finally comes in the sound of the gentle breeze.  Yes, when Elijah is through dictating to God, the Spirit comes  in a gentleness that could easily be missed unless and until the prophet was ready to listen.


         Did you ever wonder why Christ didn’t send the Spirit to the disciples the day after His ascension?  Why did He make them wait for 10 long days?  Well, I guess someday we can ask Him, but I believe the answer is: they weren’t ready yet because they were too busy dictating their ideas to God instead of listening.    It was only when they got their dictatorialness out of their system that they were ready to listen.  And that’s when the Spirit came.  And in this case, He came with a violent wind that didn’t blow anyone over and with tongues of fire that  didn’t burn the body but inflamed the heart.  And the fact that we’re here today shows that that fire is still burning and that wind is still blowing, doesn’t it?

         Like the disciples and just like Elijah, the Spirit comes into our lives when we quit dictating and embrace humility.  Such Christian humility is nothing more than following Peter’s advice: “Cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you.”  It is the heart singing the song: “Lord, I am but clay, You are the potter, make of me what You will.”  It is the acceptance, the total acceptance, of that age-old Christian phrase: “What God ordains is always good.”

         Pentecost is about making head knowledge into heart knowledge.  We all know with our heads that Jesus is God’s Son, that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, that Jesus promises never to leave nor forsake us.  We all know with our heads that Jesus sends His strength and love upon us through baptism, the Holy Supper, and His Word of truth in absolution.  But unless and until those “head truths” become “heart truths” worry, anxiety, fear, anger, and frustration will dominate our lives.  Unless and until those “head truths” become “heart truths”  we are going to be dictatorial towards our God instead of accepting. 

         My friends, God gave you one mouth to praise Him and two ears to listen to Him.  The Spirit comes simply yet powerfully through God’s Word of truth.  When the Bible says: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”  the Spirit is trying to break into your heart and comfort you.  So, listen to His voice.  Put your worries aside.  Trust in Him to guide you always.  Yes, humble yourselves before the Lord and then “He will lift you up on eagle’s wings!”  To be sure, this is not easy for any of us to do.  So let’s thank God every day that “God the Spirit’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.”  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

May 21, 2023: Ascension Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Savior, a few days before Your blessed ascension into glory You promised to remain with Your people always—to the very end of the age.  As we sit in a world drenched by human violence, arrogance, and pain those words are very comforting.  Today we ask that You remind us exactly how You are with us and exactly where we can find You and the comfort of Your love.  Yes, teach us to remain in You as You remain with us.  Amen


Text: Matthew 28: 20: “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Fellow Redeemed Who Sit In The Comforting Presence of Christ: 

         New England was the home of the transcendentalists—Emerson and Thoreau.  Neither was a Christian.  Both taught that God is found in nature—in the sky, trees, and rocky hills that surrounded Concord and the rest of terra firma.  Because of this they “communed with nature” instead of attending a Christian church service and communing via the Lord’s Supper.  Both had no time for baptism—they’d rather wander along the banks of the Concord River and get wet by wadding in the shallows.  And both had little or no time for the Bible as they’d rather read cloud formations and the tree leaves. 

         I fear many Christians have been unduly influenced by this idea of a transcendent god who surrounds us in nature.  That is, people have latched unto God’s omnipresence (the Scriptural teaching that God fills all things) and somehow tried to find comfort in that concept.  However, nature teaches us nothing about God’s love and goodness.  It teaches us nothing about His forgiveness and compassion for lost sinners.  Only the Gospel and the sacraments do that.  I fear this misunderstanding of where and how to find Christ and bask in His presence  can be traced back to a misreading of our text.  So, today let us learn anew the real meaning of those blessed words:



         What did Jesus do during those 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension into heaven?  If you take all the various Bible accounts together you discover some interesting things.  1. Jesus told the disciples to “wait for Him in Galilee.”  They did, too.  And He meets them there at the shore of the lake while they are fishing.  Remember how Peter leaped out of the boat and swam to shore to be with his Lord?  2. In another instance Jesus appeared to the 11 and also over 500 other believers—probably at the same place–where He  preached His sermon on the mount.  St. Paul reports this event.  Jesus comforted all of them, even those who hadn’t yet seen Him and doubted His resurrection.  He comforted them with His visible presence and with His Word of truth. Jesus also gave them the “Great Commission” at that time.  That commission to His whole Church to “go and make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and to teach them to obey everything He commanded throughout His life.”   And then comes the words of our text: “And surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age.”  3. He also singled out the apostle James, Jesus’ cousin, and appeared to him and the other apostles at a special moment. 

What happened after that?  Well, we’re told that Jesus directed them to “go to Jerusalem” and await Him and later the Holy Spirit—Pentecost—there at the holy city.  On Ascension, which some scholars say took place on Thursday May 18, 30 AD Jesus appeared to them.  One last time He comforted them and instructed them about the work they would do.     And then He led them out to the back side of the Mount of Olives, the place of His agony in Gethsemane, and from that small mountain visibly ascended into glory.  Yes, He went to heaven to exercise control over all things for the good of His people.  He went to heaven to prepare a place just for us.  He went to heaven to directly intercede for us by offering up prayers to His Father on our behalf.


So, now comes this question: “What does it mean when He promises to be with us always?”  Where are we to find Him?  How is He with us?”  He gave this promise in order to comfort His children in His absence.  So, are we to find Christian comfort, hope, and confidence about our future by star gazing or nature worship?  Were Thoreau and Emerson correct?  No!

Christ is the “Word Who was made flesh and blood.”  That truth of Christmas hasn’t changed and never will.  At His incarnation Jesus forever joined His humanity which is our humanity, to the Gospel and to the sacraments—His visible Word.  So, Jesus is truly with us when we read the Bible, hear sermons, bask in our baptism, commune, receive absolution, and whenever else we come in contact with His Word of truth.  My friends, that’s why worship is important.  That’s why His avenues of grace are comforting.  For they are the one and only way that Jesus keeps His promise and remains with us always!

I recall traveling 1200 miles to meet my sisters in MN and to work together cleaning out my mother’s home.  It was a lot of work yet a joy to be together.  We found comfort in our togetherness.  I have a question for you:  how far would you travel to meet Christ?  What would you put on the back burner, how would you juggle your schedule in order to meet Christ?  For us it is actually very simple.  We dig out our Bibles and read of His work of saving us on the cross.  We make use of our devotionals and are thereby reminded of how God is involved in every aspect of our lives.  We go to church and commune, are absolved, and talk to Him in prayer.  In the early church they called the preaching of the Word and the sacraments “holy things.”  They are holy because that’s where and how the holy Christ remains with us and transfers His holiness to us!

Christ died on the cross to set you free.  Free from self-doubt because God loves you and He’ll “never leave nor forsake you.”  Free from human arrogance because since He was humble for us “he who humbles himself with also be exalted.”  Free from death because He arose from our graves.  

Spring is a glorious time of the year!  I think of flying by air, looking out the window, watching the billowing clouds and marveling at it all.  Certainly the “heavens declare His handiwork” as the Bible says.  But we can never find eternal life and our soul’s salvation in nature.  No, nature teaches us about change, about death, about decay.  The smells of Spring prove that fact.  But God’s Word teaches us about joy, love, forgiveness, and eternal life!  Christ is eternal life.  He lives in heaven to welcome you.  And by surrounding yourself with His means of grace and immersing yourself in His Word, “the Word made flesh” will remain with you always—to the very end of the age.  That’s our comfort and joy not just today, but forever.  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox                    

May 14, 2023: 6th Sunday after Easter

Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this Mother’s day we thank You for providing us with Christian mothers who mentor us and comfort us and love us in spite of our failings.  We thank You for etching their love so firmly in our hearts that we joyfully and willingly remember to give our love back to them on days such as this.  Today we ask that You also etch Your love so firmly in our hearts that we never fail to return a portion of Your love for us back to You, either.  Amen


TEXT:  Acts 1: 1-14

Fellow Redeemed Sinners: 

         Have you ever forgotten your Mother’s birthday?  Have you ever forgotten to send a card to her or call her on Mother’s Day?  Ooops!  No doubt she forgave you.  Mother’s always seem to.  But, I’ll bet you felt  like a bit of a heel and resolved never to forget it again.

         Because we’re human and get caught up in our own lives, often we forget some very important things.  Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, your kid’s special school program are a few occasions that come to mind.  But once you realized your oversight and the inadvertent  hurt that it caused those who love you, I’ll bet that special date became firmly fixed in your mind. 

         Not only do we overlook important dates when it comes to our loved ones.  Sometimes we forget occasions  that are important to our God.  Ascension is a prime example.  Next Sunday we will celebrate Ascension service here at church.  The vast majority of people forget Ascension.  But, did any of you forget Christmas?  Did any of you forget Easter?  No!  I suppose that’s because our culture makes a big deal of that dates, but neglects Ascension.  And that’s too bad.  For Ascension in its own way is just as vital and important to our faith as either Christmas or Easter.  In fact, Ascension could be termed an even more joyous day than either of those other two.  For those holidays are about the joy that we receive from the hand of our gracious God.  They are all about us receiving and Him giving.  Whereas Ascension is about the joy that Christ received and experienced when He got to go back home to heaven.  Yes, Ascension also reminds us that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us in glory, that He now can instantaneously hear and answer our prayers without us waiting in line to get to Him as happened when He walked this earth, and that He now is using His divine power to be with His people everywhere, all the time.  But, really, the joy of the day is about Jesus going home to His victory party in heaven. 

         Mother’s day isn’t about you; it’s about your mother.  Your attendance at your father’s 75th birthday party isn’t about you; it’s about him receiving your honor and you sharing his joy.  Each of you instinctively knows that.  And you would not dream of subtracting from such joy by turning the day’s focus unto yourself.  But, when we forget about or neglect our Lord’s ascension, that’s exactly what we’re doing. 

         Well, I didn’t come here today to scold you or to make you feel bad.  What I did come here for was to etch upon your soul this important truth, namely:



         Imagine where you and I would be if Christ had forgotten to be born?  No Savior means no salvation.  No Savior means no eternal life.  Imagine where we would be if Jesus had forgotten to willingly die on the cross for us?  No death means no forgiveness for sins and no peace with God.  Imagine if Christ has forgotten to rise from the dead?  No resurrection would mean no heaven.  It would mean no freedom from fear and the darkness of the grave.  But, Jesus didn’t forget to do any of those things God had promised.  For God never forgets any of His promises to us hurting sinners. 

         In our lesson Jesus makes a few more promises that He didn’t forget to keep, either.  During those 40 days before His ascension He reminded His followers of the promised  gift of the Spirit.  And He also promised that they would be baptized  “with the Holy Spirit.”  This, of course, is the promise of Pentecost which we celebrate in two weeks.  Then, when they ask about the growth of His kingdom on this earth, He promised them special power to spread His message of love and forgiveness.  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  St. Matthew records another promise Jesus made right before His ascension, too.  Recall Jesus giving His Church His great commission to: “Go and make disciples.”  And at the end of that command, He adds: “Lo, I am with you always to the very end of the age.”  Everything God says is important.  Everything He promises He does.  He never forgets or overlooks anything or anyone.  And what a comfort that is when we’re feeling forlorn and forgotten.


         I know that Ascension is on an odd-ball night.  I know the news doesn’t report it or make a big deal about it.  But, that’s exactly why I’m doing so today and also next Sunday!  I want to make it unforgettable to you!  I want you to have the honor and joy of sharing in Christ’s joy over going home! 

         As Jesus arose toward heaven, eventually a cloud hid Him from the disciples’ sight.  (And by the way, if we piece together all the various accounts of this event as found in the Bible, it was not just the 11 who saw this, no, over 500 followers witnessed this glorious event!)  Well, after the cloud hid Him, those people were simply staring up to the sky when suddenly two angels appeared in their midst.  “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Obviously this was a watershed event in the life of the early church—hence the appearance of angels.  And obviously God wanted to comfort them with the reminder that some day Jesus would return to take His people home with Him.

         When they get back to Jerusalem and assemble in the Upper Room, we find it filled with those closest to Christ.  The apostles are there along with various women close to Him, His mother Mary, and even His brothers who had earlier in His ministry rejected Him.  But now they don’t reject anymore, they believe.  They have seen the miracles, heard the sermons, seen His death and resurrection.  It caused them to believe because it was all so unforgettable. 

         I hope after today Jesus’ Ascension will remain unforgettable to you, as well.  So mark your calendars.  And take this comfort home today and remember it throughout the coming year.  Namely, Christ has not and will never forget about you….Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox