Messages from Pastor Raddatz

April 24, 2022, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX, Other Texts for the Day: Revelation 1:4-18 and John 20:19-31


Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Photograph (A shadow cast by the image) of the Early Church

            Today, we see a picture of the Early Church.  We also see that through the power of the risen Christ: all our sins are forgiven, and we are given courage.  We also receive a calling to “…speak to the people all the words of life” v. 20.

            I do not know about you, but I have bins and bins of pictures.  Most of those pictures are in an envelope that says “Polaroid.”  It seemed that every photo developer back in the 60’s was associated with “Polaroid”.   The interesting thing about polaroid as a company is that it went bankrupt a number of times in the last early in this century. Now, I have a decision to make about my pictures.  Do I convert them.  To do that I have to put them in a different format for today’s technology.  I don’t have the machinery it takes to do that, but I know a few shops that do.  So for a price, I can be brought into this day and age.

            Both pictures and words said through those images, show us the past, but not necessarily the future.  You can’t go back or if you go back you can’t stay there, because time marches on.   Some of the pictures can bring sadness and some can bring joy, what is the phrase?  A picture is worth a thousand words!

What is the Church?

            The church is both local and universal.  The local church is seen wherever the word of God is proclaimed, and the sacraments are administered…  The universal church is the church of all believers throughout the world wherever two or more are gathered around the word.

If we were to look closer at the disciples, the identified subject in the picture of Acts 5, we see a follower of God who through God’s power works miracles and is commanded to, “speak the words of life.” 


            If God chooses to do a miracle it can increase faith.  Whether we keep following Jesus depends on if we let our faith die or if we follow the word of life = Jesus.

            God was working miracles through all the Apostles,’ not just Peter. These miracles were to increase faith.  The greater miracle was the unity that the church had.  They were in step.  They were walking together.  They had one mind and one purpose.  The Lord added to that number daily.

Acts five tells us about the Early church, but this was not the church as we know it, or was it?  It is both.  Some met in buildings, and some met on porches and at work.  The Church really is made of people who are called to follow Jesus Christ.  You and I can be hot and cold in following Jesus, but God still calls us imperfect and sinful people to follow Him.  THE CHURCH, YOU AND I ARE THE IMAGE OF GOD, made perfect through Jesus Christ.  

We are the image of Christ! 

The Value Comes from the Image - The value of a US hundred-dollar bill is not based on where it has been or how it has been used. Its value is not determined by its shape, size, or color. A one-dollar bill in American currency has the same shape, size, and color as a hundred-dollar bill. If you want to know what the bill is worth, what matters is whose image is on it. George Washington’s image tells us that it is a one-dollar bill we are holding. If we have a bill with the image of Benjamin Franklin, then we know we are holding a hundred-dollar bill. How do you determine what you are worth? You need to know whose image you bear.

…How much is a crisp, clean hundred-dollar bill worth? A hundred dollars. How much is a dirty, crumpled, hidden hundred-dollar bill worth? A hundred dollars. Why? The image might be needing restoration and cleansing, but it is still there. Tom Hughes, Down to Earth: How Jesus’ Stories Can Change Your Everyday Life, NavPress, 2019, p.5, 10.


When you and I were baptized we were imprinted with Jesus Christ.  He is the sinless one.  He is the perfect one and he is the one who judges us perfect in his sight.  All of this has nothing to do with what we have done, but everything to do with what God has done for us in Jesus.  He is the first and last and the one who gives us a new heart, a courageous heart.

            How can an individual’s lose his faith?  It can happen slowly, or it can happen quickly.   It will happen if someone no longer feeds on the word of life, the word of God in the Bible.

God didn’t set them free primarily for their safety or comfort. They were set free for a reason; and after this they were not always delivered.

The later history of these apostles – and others associated with them in the early church – shows that sometimes God delivers by a miracle, sometimes He does not. According to fairly reliable church history and tradition, miraculous angels did not always deliver them.

· Matthew was beheaded with a sword.

· Mark died in Alexandria after being dragged through the streets of the city.

· Luke was hanged on an olive tree in Greece.

· John died a natural death, but they unsuccessfully tried to boil him in oil.

· Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome.

· James was beheaded in Jerusalem.

· James the Less was thrown from a height then beaten with clubs.

· Philip was hanged.

· Bartholomew was whipped and beaten until death.

· Andrew was crucified and preached at the top of his voice to his persecutors until he died.

· Thomas was run through with a spear.

· Jude was killed with the arrows of an executioner.

· Matthias was stoned and then beheaded – as was Barnabas.

· Paul was beheaded in Rome.

This reminds us that we should trust God for miraculous things and wish to see them more and more; but knowing that He also has a purpose when He does not deliver with a miraculous hand. We also see that we, like the apostles, are set free for a purpose – not merely to live for ourselves. -David Guzik  

We are called to “speak the message of this new life.  Polaroid found a way to survive: With these three traits in mind: visualization, sharing and affordability, Polaroid went out on a venture to find new product categories that would embody the essence of the brand. “We apply those filters to specific categories of products when we make a decision to enter into an adjacent category and building around our core,” says Hardy. While the company’s core business was instant photography, Polaroid has expanded beyond photography; into tablets, televisions and other digital media. - From Fast CO, How polaroid saved itself BY LISA EVANS

            Thanks be to God for putting us in the picture of his one true church that holds fast to this word of life, Amen.

Your Fellow Servant,

John Raddatz, Pastor

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