Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sermon for Trinity 2 June 17, 2012

Maintenance Pastor
(Maintaining the Gospel and the Sacraments)
Luke 14:15-24
Trinity Evangelical-Lutheran Church Girard, IL
June 16-17, 2012

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

The parable of the Great Banquet is a summary of Jesus Christ’s mission and ministry in the flesh. Three different groups of people will hear our Lord’s message. The differing reactions remain unchanged through time.

What great mercy our heavenly Father has for His children! He prepares a great banquet and invites many to dine with Him. When all things were ready, He sends His servant to call those invited to the banquet.

When the Father calls His invited guests to the banquet, they all begin to beg off. One says he bought land and needs to see it. Consider the foolishness of someone buying land sight unseen. It’s mind-boggling that someone would place viewing newly bought land over a great banquet, especially a banquet that he was specifically invited to attend.

Another bought five yoke of oxen and needs to examine them. Consider the foolishness of someone spending perhaps $10,000 on ten oxen sight unseen. One would want to make sure the oxen would do the work expected of them before one buys them. Yet he needs an excuse to get out of a banquet he was invited to attend.

The other is a newlywed and needs to spend some quality time with his wife. He was given an invitation to attend but doesn’t want to go without his wife. This is in accord with Deuteronomy 24:5, allowing a man recently married to be free of business for one year. However this is a political law, not a moral one. This is no excuse for not attending the banquet.

Aren’t you glad you don’t have a foolish excuse to attend this Great Banquet? Or do you? The world’s foolishness is creeping into Sunday morning more and more. There once was a time when it was wise planning not to schedule anything on Sunday morning. That way, no one would have an excuse not to go to church. Times change and so do schedules. The five-day workweek is now a six-day workweek, or even seven days. Come Sunday morning, you have to go to work, make time for family, make time for self, or make time for anything and anyone except God. Church no longer fits into the tight schedules of the 21st century.

What about you? How often have you placed what you see as important things over the food and drink of the Word and Sacraments in this Great Banquet hall? What was once a good habit of attending the Great Banquet frequently quickly becomes an afterthought when the world barges into Sunday morning. All that the Church gives you, the fullness of salvation, the Means of Grace, the Holy Sacraments, the whole kingdom of God, is a Great Banquet? What is your response? What will happen to you if you think it’s okay to skip the Great Banquet this week because it will be there when you need it and the Lord Christ returns before that next time?

Repent. Stop the bad habit of neglecting the Means of Grace before it turns into a cancer that spreads beyond your house into the houses of your family, your friends, and your neighbor. Stop placing God behind self, work, play, or anything else. It’s not too late. Even now He calls you from your hiding place in the world.

You are the one found in the highways and in the hedges. Out of darkness you are called into the marvelous light of Christ to commune at the banquet table of the Church. Never consider it a matter of course that you have been baptized a Christian. The kingdom of God welcomes strangers like you and me to dine with the Father through His Son’s saving death upon the cross. Jesus Christ’s cross and passion wasn’t for the Jewish people alone. Jesus died for all mankind to pay for all sin.

The Lord found you hiding with Adam, Moses, David, Elijah, Jonah, Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul. The smart money was not on these guys. All of them ran from their place at the Great Banquet. Still they forsake foolishness and lived, going in the way of understanding.

Lame excuses are buried in water. Sin is drowned that God’s grace may cover you. Holy Baptism cleanses your soul and prepares you for more of the Great Banquet that is Jesus Christ. The washing of regeneration and renewal prepares you for receiving the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.

But the Great Banquet isn’t just the Lord’s Supper. The Great Banquet is that call and response dance we call the Divine Service. God speaks to you. You listen to God speaking to you and respond back to Him. Even then He gives you the words to talk back to Him. He brings you in front of His holy altar to confess your sin and receive His forgiveness through His called and ordained servant. He teaches you to praise Him for all His goodness in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. He opens your ears and mind and heart to hear and meditate on His Word proclaimed in both the Old and New Testament. He hears you confess the faith into which you were baptized. He applies His timeless Word to timely application through preaching. He receives our sacrifice of time, treasure, and talent. He feeds us with His Body and gives us to drink of His Blood. He pronounces His blessing over you through His name.

This time together every Weekend is the Great Banquet. Still there is room. Still His house is not yet filled. Still He sends men to forgive sins. Still the Great Banquet is served even when men try to distort, change, and defy His Word of forgiveness. Still He goes into the highways and hedges. Still He invites the poor, maimed, lame, and blind. Still He waits for His beloved Jewish children to repent of their foolish idolatry and return to Him through His Son, Jesus the promised Messiah. Still He keeps you under His umbrella of grace that the rain of curses may never soak you to the bone.

Blessed indeed are you who eat bread, the Bread of Life, in the kingdom of God at His Great Banquet in this place called Trinity.

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

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