Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Trinity 2 / "The Feast"

Trinity 2
June 12 – 13, 2010
Luke 14:15-24
The Feast

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

All things are now ready. Nothing is lacking. It is finished. Creation is restored. God has made peace with man. He has given His Son to us. He has ushered in the age of life by His resurrection. And still He gives. He gives His Body and His Blood, broken and shed on the cross, for you to eat and drink here in time for the forgiveness of sins. All things are ready. There is nothing to add. God has made a Sacrifice. The Temple is torn down. It is no longer needed. There is nothing to wail about at those ruins. God has removed His wrath.

Still we make excuses. Poor babies: this is their only day to sleep in; golf and fishing is really important; Church is boring and they don't like to be bored. They'll make extreme efforts to get to the doctor or to a family wedding because those things are important. They'll wait in line for hours of boredom to see “Robin Hood” at the end. But don't ask too much effort of them to come and be fed by God. That is pretty shallow. Their excuses are things. But which of us has not sat in this very room and wished it were over already? Which of us has not been bored in church and daydreamed not just of lunch and appointments for the week, not just of fame and fortune and dreams come true, but sat in these very pews and dreamed of evil? Even plotted to sin? We've lusted and coveted, lied and blasphemed within sight of the altar while the Word of God was read and His great love proclaimed. It is not just those who are missing who are guilty. Excuses are cheap and plentiful. For this we must repent.

Proud and arrogant people think that they can prey upon the generosity and patience of God. Like the wife of Hosea they seek to take advantage of and abuse His grace and good will. Who hasn't wanted the best of both worlds – the pleasures of the flesh, honor among men, luxuries, freedom, and constant amusement AND the joys and peace of heaven? Who is ready to lose his job, his family, his reputation, and his wealth for the Kingdom of God? We promised that at confirmation. Did we really mean it? Our debts are evidence that we do not like to wait. Do not think that you can enjoy the forbidden fruit now and grasp heaven for cheap when it is more convenient. Do not be like a crazed day traders living by the world's wisdom: “Buy low and sell high. Maximize profits. Seize the day.’ The irony is that such vanity blinds people so they never realize how cheaply they're selling their souls.”

Repent. Hear the warning. God says: “None of those who were invited shall taste of My Supper.” He will not be mocked. Now is the hour of salvation. Tomorrow may never come. No one buys a piece of land without seeing it first. No one buys oxen without first testing them. God is not fooled by superficial acts and lip-service, by going through the motions. He is not appeased by excuses. He desires mercy not sacrifice. He desires the circumcision of the heart. Stop playing games with your fate, planning to sin now and repent later. Stop posturing before  others and spitting forth lies like David pretending to be a noble hero for bringing the war-widow Bathsheba into his house. Stop thinking that your sins are reasonable and bring no guilt or that you have some special relationship to God where He indulges your sins. Repent. Repent now. There is but one case of death-bed repentance in all of the Scriptures, so that while no man should despair and think it is too late, neither should any one presume. The invitation is not for tomorrow. It is for today. It is right now. All things are ready.

God has done all things for you. He has taken up your flesh, lived and suffered, died and rose for you. He has endured Hell's fury and fire. He has left the enemy spent and dead on his own sword. He has crushed the serpent's head and dissolved the chains of guilt and shame that held you. He has flung open wide the gates of heaven and removed the guards. The flaming sword of Eden has been quenched in the Blood of the Lamb. The angel of death passes over. You are safe. There is no one to accuse you, no one to keep you out, nothing to stop you from this victory and joy given for free from on high. God Himself, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit loves you and beckons you to come to the feast. He wants you.

Do not be afraid. Do not be sad. Do not think yourself unworthy or dwell upon your past sins. They are gone. They are forgiven. Come: weak and weary, heartbroken and lonely, trembling sinners wracked with guilt and uncertainty. All things are ready. Come to the feast. It has been made ready for you. The youngest and the most elderly, greatest and the least, the outcasts and losers, the popular athletes and scholars, the druggies and rehab cases, the divorced and the wed, financial failures and the wealthy execs, come. One and all, come to the Feast! Leave behind these temporary things. Get lost in the love of Christ that has loved you beyond all telling, that has forgiven every single flaw and sin and makes you new in Him. Lose yourself and find your life. Eat and drink without money or cost. Be satisfied to the very depths of your soul and never thirst again. You belong to God. His Name is upon you. You are Baptized and He abides in you. You are His Temple. These highways and hedges are not your home. He brought you here this day to His House and to His Feast. Come. Be wrapped in perfect, selfless love. Eat His Body. Drink His Blood.

All things are ready. Nothing is lacking. He desires that you call upon Him and rest in Him. He wants you here. Whatever you've done, whatever evil things you've dreamed and thought, whatever lies you've told and slander in which you've engaged, no matter what, God has paid for it all in His Son. You are clean and worthy of the Bridegroom. He wants you to feast, to be washed clean and reunited again with Him, to be full and satisfied, to be again at peace. He wants reconciliation and justification for you. And thus does the Spirit declare that what is Father's and the Son's is yours. Come. All things are ready. He is waiting.

In + Jesus' Name. Amen.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Daily Bible Readings for June 13-19, 2010

Daily Bible Readings
June 13             Proverbs 13:1–25; John 14:18–31
June 14             Proverbs 14:1–27; John 15:1–11
June 15             Proverbs 15:1–29; John 15:12–27
June 16             Proverbs 16:1–24; John 16:1–16
June 17             Proverbs 17:1–28; John 16:17–33; Proverbs 18:1—20:4
June 18             Proverbs 20:5–25; John 17:1–26; Proverbs 21:1–31
June 19             Proverbs 22:1–21; John 18:1–14

Looking Forward to Next Sunday: The Third Sunday after trinity

“This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1–10). This statement of judgment against Jesus by the Pharisees is in fact a proclamation of Gospel truth. For our God is one who delights in mercy, who casts all our sins into the depths of the sea through the cross (Micah 7:18–20). “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:12–17). Those who refuse to be counted as sinners also refuse Jesus who came only for sinners. Those like the older son (Luke 15:11–32) who think they are righteous of themselves will not join in the heavenly celebration over the sinner who repents and so remain outside of the Father’s house. Let us therefore be on guard against self–righteously trusting in our own merits. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6–11). Rejoice that Jesus receives sinners like us and that He still sits at table with us in the Holy Supper, bestowing His forgiveness and life.

O God, the Protector of all that trust in You, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, increase and multiply upon us Your mercy that, You being our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we finally lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord . Amen.

Old Testament: Micah 7:18–20
Epistle: 1 Peter 5:6–11
Holy Gospel: Luke 15:11–32

Daily Readingd for June 6-12, 2010

Daily Bible Readings

June 6      Proverbs 3:5–24; John 11:38–57
June 7      Proverbs 4:1–27; John 12:1–19
June 8      Proverbs 5:1–23; John 12:20–36a; Proverbs 6:1—7:27
June 9      Proverbs 8:1–21; John 12:36b–50
June 10    Proverbs 8:22–36; John 13:1–20
June 11 (St Barnabas)    Proverbs 9:1–18; John 13:21–38
June 12     Proverbs 10:1–23; John 14:1–17; Proverbs 11:1—12:28

Looking forward to next Sunday: the second sunday after trinity

Wisdom has issued an invitation to the divine feast: “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake foolishness and live” (Proverbs 9:1–10). This is the call of the Spirit of Christ to believe the Gospel and to receive His saving gifts in the Holy Supper. Many make excuses and reject this invitation, even as the Jews did in the days of Jesus, yet the Master’s house will be filled. The Gospel call therefore goes out to the lowly and despised, into the highways, even to all the Gentiles (Luke 14:15–24). For “you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13–22). In Christ, believing Jews and Gentiles are no longer strangers but fellow members of the household of God. The enmity of class and race is put to death through the cross. Having been reconciled in the one body of Christ, we are enabled to love one another (1 John 3:13–18) as we await the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which will have no end.

O Lord, who never fails to help and govern those whom You bring up in Your steadfast fear and love, make us to have a perpetual fear and love of Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament: Proverbs 9:1–10
Epistle: 1 John 3:13–18 (historic)
Holy Gospel: Luke 14:15–24

Sermon for Trinity 1

June 6, 2010
Trinity 1
Luke 16:19-31
“Vindication or Equalization”

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

At first glance the account of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man might seem to be a tale of vindication or equalization. All things even out in the end. The rich become poor and the poor become rich. But that is not true. It doesn't always happen that way. Nor does suffering earn favor with God. The difference between Lazarus and the rich man is not found in their wallets, nor in their deeds, but in their hearts. For while it seems as though hungry Lazarus has nothing besides the mercy of canines, in truth, he has riches the world can scarcely imagine. He has Moses and the prophets.

The rich man rejected Moses and the prophets. Even in Hell's fire, from no less of an authority than Abraham himself, the rich man refuses to believe that Moses and the prophets can save his brothers. The hard-heartedness of the goats perseveres into eternity. They want to be judged by their works. They want a god of their own design, one who looks like them. They get what they want. Thus did Our Lord calmly hand over the Pharisees and priests to their self-chosen fate with one of the saddest sentences in all of the Scriptures, “They have their reward.”

Longing for crumbs from the table, while dogs licked his wounds, miserable Lazarus found no mercy from the rich man, no crumb to abate his hunger, no balm for his wounds, no camaraderie for his ego. The kingdom of men rejected him. But in the end, Lazarus found what he sought. He found mercy that endures forever. He found Living Water and Bread from Heaven. He found satisfaction and health. He found it in Moses and the prophets. For he found there a Man in worse shape than himself, a Man who was no man but a worm, condemned for sins He did not commit, in whom their was no beauty, no comeliness, surrounded by dogs. That Man bore the iniquity of all the evil fallen men have done, so that fallen men like Lazarus and the rich man and all of who ever lived might go free.

In His mercy God lowered Lazarus to the point where he was not too proud to beg. For He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. . . As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. He gives to His children harvest where they did not sow, win where they did not tend, grace they have not earned. The God of Abraham and Baby of Mary, the Messiah foreseen and prophesied by Moses, found Lazarus through His Word. So that Lazarus, for all his trouble in this sad life, now knows perfect joy and peace. His chastisement is heavy, but ever placed in perfect love. Soon it is taken away and the angels bear you home.

O that God in His abundant grace and wisdom would make us like that holy beggar, helpless, weak, and dependent, trusting in no one but Him, satisfied with no other food, drinking no other wine! That we would be dogs eating undeserved crumbs from His table, licking His wounds unto salvation, and basking forever in His love! For of such, dogs and children, drunks and outcasts, beggars and sinners all, is the Kingdom of God.

In + Jesus' Name. Amen.