Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sermon for Trinity 15 October 2, 2011

October 1-2, 2011
Trinity 15
Matthew 6:24-34
Death Does Not Reign

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

If death was really reigning, there would be no lilies. But God did not abandon us. Even though Adam and Eve had betrayed Him, He still loved them. He walked in the garden after their sin, despite their hatred and fear. He came to earth, in bodily form, pointing to the fact that He would take our form and pay our price, die our death. He would stand between us and the devil and perform the duty in which Adam had failed.

Consider the lilies. They do not live in paradise, in the garden of Eden, but in our broken world. They live alongside thorns and thistles that seek to choke them out, with insects, molds, and various diseases, trampled by children and dogs and eaten by deer and rabbits. Consider the fragility of lilies in this violent world. And consider also their beauty.

Though it is fleeting, the lilies do have a glory. They adorn the earth. Not everything in this fallen place is red in tooth and claw. Consider the lilies.

So also consider chocolate, laughter, music, books.

Death does not reign. God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He came where He was needed.  He was betrayed again, of course. Before they came with clubs and knives to take Him away, He walked in the garden of Gethsemane. They had their way with Him outside the city, in the place of the skull. He gave Himself over to their evil desires. Then it was finished. He was laid to rest, like a kernel of wheat, a sleeping lily, in the garden of the dead. And He rose on Easter morning, the Victor over death, back out of the grace, undoing what sin had done. He gave Joseph his tomb back, as good as new.

Death does not reign. Death is dead. Jesus lives. The lilies come forth each Spring in glory.

Now, then: do not be anxious. Jesus lives. Jesus loves you. You are now suffering many things. The devil tempts you to waste your energy and effort, to compound your sorrow, with worry about various things. The devil would have you worry about money. He would turn you to inward thoughts of how you will pay your bills, how you can get the stuff you want, how you can be popular or successful or just plain survive. If he cannot get you to fret over your own desires and imagined needs, he will turn you to fear for others. He will tempt you to be consumed and troubled about your children or your country or for the poor who are with us always. He will fill the broadcast news with tragedies and crimes and disasters. He will fill the bookstores with lies and propaganda and useless information. He will try to wear you down, to overwhelm you with sadness, to bury you with the impossibility of it all. Do not be anxious. It is useless, unnecessary.  You only hurt yourself and those you love. Jesus lives. He will provide. The lilies do not toil or spin. The birds do not sow, reap, or gather. Your Father takes care of them. Your Father takes care of you. He always has taken care of you. He always will – whether you are good or bad, content or anxious.

Today has its troubles. There is no doubt of that. The call to not be anxious is not a denial of the troubles in our bloody world. These troubles need attention and action. Your children need their lessons and their teeth brushed, your mother needs a phone call, your husband needs a pat on the back, your dog needs a treat. Even your country needs you. She needs your prayers and your involvement, your support. She needs you to pick up the trash and put it in the can, to vote for the best candidates, to watch out for your neighborhood. But those needs are small, nothing to be anxious about. They are well within your talents and gifts.

You have been placed by the Lord precisely. He has made you who you are. He has given you this spouse, these duties, these children, these co-workers and bosses and friends and even, like it or not, this government. These are the troubles for today. They are sufficient. Nothing is gained by adding to them with a fallen imagination inciting on by Hell's mindless followers. Nothing is added to them but sorrow if you turn into bitterness, envy, or fear. You are who God has made you to be, where He has placed you, like a Lille in a field.  You simply respond in your place, to your community, your family, as you are able. Do not be anxious about today's troubles, whether the government is doing a good enough job or not, whether your children are meeting all your dreams, whether the climate is growing warmer or colder. Do what you have been given to do, and ask for forgiveness for your failings. The Lord will provide. He has put you in place on purpose, deliberately, even if you yourself feel unworthy to the task or cannot understand all of His purposes. Focus on today, not yesterday and not tomorrow. Rest in the certainty that Jesus lives, that Jesus is providing, and will always provide. The lilies don't know what they are doing either. They are just being lilies. That is sufficient.

Death does not reign. The lilies prove it. Not war, famine, or plagues, not Republicans or Democrats, not the Missouri Synod or the ELCA, can stop the lilies. They are not moved by crime sprees, negligent governments, incompetent bosses, or cheating spouses. They belong to the Lord. He provides according to His promise. He takes cares of them. And you are worth more to Him than they are. You are worth more than lilies.  He takes care of them. He will take care of you. Rest. Let go of your anxiety. The Lord has claimed you in the waters of Holy Baptism. He has sent His Son to die for you. He is not going to quit on you. He will provide. You do not need to look like a supermodel to please Him. You do not need to keep an immaculate house or yard or have your car free of empty cups. You do not need to always get straight “A's”, to never get grumpy, or to be perfect in everyway. Death does not reign. Jesus lives. Your Father loves you. He will take care of it as surely as He takes care of the lilies.

And out of the oven, by the violence of reaping and thrashing, after the mixing and kneading and resting, and finally, the refinery of fire, out of the oven comes bread for the day, food for the eater. The Lord provides. He walked in the garden. He went where He was needed. He stopped death before it began. Out of the oven comes bread that men might eat His Body and be one with Him. He is needed here, by us, for us, for today. So this Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, is the Bread of Life, and comes hidden in bread this day to be food for you.

Death does not reign. Jesus lives.

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

Daily Readings for October 2-8, 2011

Saturday       October 1           5:30 pm                            Divine Service
Sunday         October 2           9:00 am                                  Bible Class
                                             10:00 am                            Divine Service
                                               3:00 pm             Adult Information Class
                                               5:30 pm          Midstate LWML Fall Rally
Monday-Tuesday October 3-4                         SID Pastoral Conference
Wednesday  October 5          5:00 pm                     Confirmation Class
                                               7:30 pm                                              AA
Thursday      October 6                                             LWML Bible Study
Friday           October 7                                            Pastor’s Family Day
Saturday       October 8           5:30 pm                            Divine Service

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity
A large funeral procession carrying the only son of a widow is confronted by another large procession, Jesus and His followers. Death and Life meet face to face at the gate of the city (Luke 7:11–17). Filled with compassion, Jesus comes into direct contact with our mortality in order to overcome it. He touches the coffin and speaks His creative words of life, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Jesus does what is neither expected nor requested. For through Christ, God the Father “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:14–21). Jesus bore our death in His body that we may share in His resurrection. Even as Elijah stretched himself out three times over the Zarephath woman’s son (2 Kings 17:17–24), God stretched Himself out over us in the threefold application of His name in the baptismal water, breathing new and everlasting life into us. “To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.”

Collect: O Lord, we pray that Your grace may always go before and follow after us, that we may be continually given to all good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord . Amen.

Old Testament: 1 Kings 17:17–24
Epistle: Ephesians 3:13–21
Holy Gospel: Luke 7:11–17

Readings for the Week of 15th Sunday after Trinity
October 2                           Cain Murders His Brother Abel—Genesis 4:1-1-15
                                                               Titus 3:8-15, Philippians 1:21–2:11
October 3                                God’s Covenant with David—2 Samuel 7:1-17
                                                               Philemon 1-25, Philippians 2:12-30
October 4                            David’s Thanksgiving to God—2 Samuel 7:18-29
                                                               Hebrews 1:1-14, Philippians 3:1-21
October 5             David Shows Kindness to Mephibosheeth—2 Samuel 9:1-13
                                                              Hebrews 2:5–3:6, Philippians 4:1-23
October 6                              David and Bathsheba— 2 Samuel 11:1-17, 22-25
                                                           Hebrews 4:14–5:14, Colossians 1:1-23
October7             The Prophet Nathan Confronts David - 2 Samuel 11:26-12:15
                                                             Hebrews 6:1-20, Colossians 1:24–2:7
October 8                                            Looking Forward to Sundays Lessons:
                                      1 Kings 17:17–24, Ephesians 3:13–21, Luke 7:11–17