Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sermon for February 11-12, 2012 The Sower

February 11-12, 2012
Luke 8:4-15
The Sower

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

Our Lord explains how things work in His Kingdom: The Sower sows His reckless love. With seeming abandon, with carelessness, with utter disregard for the fertility of the soil, He sows. The Seed goes forth to the most unlikely of places - to the wayside, to the rocky soil, to thorn infested ground. It seems as though this Seed has no chance of bearing fruit. This Sower does not act like any sower we’ve ever known. In fact, it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for this Seed to come to fruition. But all things are possible with God, and by His intervening Grace, some does. And while most of it seems to be wasted, gone to the birds, dead of dehydration, trampled under foot, or choked out by weeds, that which is brought, against all odds, to maturity bears a hundredfold.

Our Lord tells us that the Seed in this parable represents the Word of God. This Word is that which will not return empty. It is this Word that called all things to be. He said, “Let there be light” and there was. God speaks, and it is. This is the Word of the prophets and apostles. It is the power of salvation. It bespeaks us righteous, declares us innocent. It delivers unto us the benefits of the cross and empty tomb. What it says, is. What it says is: “Peace on earth, goodwill to men. Do not be afraid. I love you.” For this is the Word that became Flesh and dwelt among us. He rules in our hearts not by power or might, but by His Grace. And since it is not by power or might, for the most part this Word is rejected out of hand, like seed that is cast onto the pavement, for fallen men do not respect Grace as they respect power. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, but the world did not know Him. He came unto His own, but His own received Him not.

In other cases, it will be received with joy for a short time, but then given up in time of temptation, like seed in rocky places without deep roots. Or it will be tossed aside when the world calls with its fleshly pleasures, like seed choked out by thorns. In these ejections lies damnation. There is no other salvation, no other path to God, no other Name or revelation. This is condemnation: the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil. Oh, but what of that? This is no surprise. It is only natural. It is to be expected. But still, despite that, despite the interference of the snatching demons, the weakness of our flesh, the allure of the world’s many sirens, still this Word will not return empty. What the Father has revealed by the working of His Spirit in His life-giving Word sent from on high, against this, the gates of Hell shall not prevail!

And look at this - some bears fruit! And that a hundredfold! On this barren plain, this rocky, trodden, unlikely path, on you, God has sowed His good seed. His Word, to you, He has preached. It is not a word of death, the devil’s destroying lies. It is not a word of superstition or a deceiving false-comfort word, saying “peace, peace” when there is no peace. But it is the Word of Life, the Word of God for man. It breaks the hearts of men, empties them of their petty lusts and greed, that it might build them up again. It hearkens men from the grave, out of death to life, from bondage to liberty and that through repentance. It cleanses and forgives. It is this Word that changes bread to Flesh for you to eat and drink at a banquet table hidden in humility. That is why this Word makes our hearts burn within you and your mortal souls quake in fear. But by His grace, in His love, this Word makes you new. It makes you His! Some is snatched. Some is scorched. Some is mocked. But still, He preaches on. He will not stop. He would have all men to be free, all men to know the joy of Life in Him. For He knows what all men need. He is excessive with this Grace, abundant with His love. He pours it out with abandon. He knows full well the cost. And He knows, too, how little it will be welcomed, but still, He carries on for you. He sows. He scatters the goodly seed abroad. And where it takes root, where it turns the hearts of men, it yields a hundredfold in joy and peace immeasurable! What of that! Power beyond the comprehension of mortal man lies in this Word, power enough to call light from darkness and repentance and faith from unbelief! Inexpressible joy is bestowed upon those unworthy hearts that receive it. The barren plains, the wasteland that once was, now echoes with the laughter of that plentiful and joyful grain.

And so, whether men like it or like it not, whether we be thought foolish or even outlawed, whether it is successful in ways that we can see or not, still, we will carry on as the Lord has given us to do - preaching. Preaching Christ crucified, and there upon that Tree of shame, glorified! For there He is seen as He wants to be seen: the Redeemer, the Savior, the Shepherd providing for His wandering sheep. We shall preach the Word, in season and out of season, today, tomorrow, and forever, in peace or war, in poverty or prosperity. It matters not. The Word is what matters. For the He has brought us to life for free. He, the Word made Flesh, forgives, renews, and restores.

And that is really all we have, just preaching. just the Word. We have no tricks, no gimmicks, nothing to add. We just preach. In good times and bad come what may. For we care not for the great many times when the Word is rejected and mocked. We do not count. We just sow. We just preach. And we trust in the One who gives bread to the eater and seed to the sower. He will plant it home and make it grow. And so we rejoice in Him and in those moments of miraculous intervention when He sends us still His Word. He makes alive a baby who was dead in the living waters at the font. He rides into Our Sanctuary in the Flesh borne of Mary, crucified and raised from the dead, in lowly bread and wine. His Word goes out. It strikes our ears. It breaks our hearts. And of its own accord, by its own power and strength, it creates and sustains faith, bestows peace and joy, forgives sins and delivers life in His elect, in you. Stones are made the living, rightful children of Abraham, dogs no more, but eating at the Master’s table as the Master’s children. And so you sing out for the joy that is now yours in this living Life, your childish songs of the Temple transformed into the songs of the mighty, six-winged Seraphim.
This is how the Word works in His Kingdom: The Sower sows his reckless love in the most unlikely of places. It is good. It does what it is supposed to do. It creates it is own good soil. He causes it to take root and to grow where no gardener could succeed. And to keep it growing, to make it strong, those hearts that now love Him suffer His often painful pruning. In suffering they bear the fruit of patience in confession and give glory and praise to Him. This Word is for them.

And so it is, that without the world even noticing, the Word, that foolish Seed, has been cast and it has - by the Grace of God, by its own power and goodness - made a home for itself in your unlikely heart. It has made a kingdom for your King. It has borne the fruit of faith. The Lord of the Harvest has caused faith and trust in Him to grow in you. His Word has not failed.

In + Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Daily Lectionary
February 12 The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life—Genesis 2:4-17, Mark 10:1-31
February 13 Man Eats the Forbidden Fruit—Genesis 3:1-24; Mark 10:32-52
February 14                  The Passover—Exodus 12:1-14, 17; Mark 11:1-33
February 15 The Wedding in Cana of Galilee—John 2:1-11; Mark 12:13-44
February 16 The Bread from Heaven—Exodus 16:1-15, 31; Luke 4:14-44
February 17                                                                           Luke 5:12-39
February 18    Quinquagesima     Isaiah 35:3–7, 1 Corinthians 13:1—13, Luke 18:31–43

Look forward to Quinquagesima Sunday February 19, 2012
Isaiah 35:3-7: "Our God will come and save you." With these words the prophet announces both the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but also the proclamation of His Gospel which alone has the power to save and deliver us from all the afflictions of sin.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13: The love of Christ that moved Him to suffer and die for the sins of the whole world is described by St Paul. It is called the greatest of faith, hope, and love, because without Christ's love for us we would have nothing in which to believe and hope.
Luke 18:31-43: Jesus spoke clearly about His passion, death, and resurrection, yet "these things were hidden" from the disciples, so that they did not understand His words. It was necessary that the Son of Man suffer and die alone, for salvation from sin, death, and hell is entirely the work of our Lord. It must be received by us as a gift alone or it cannot be received at all. For their benefit the disciples were prevented from knowing these words, lest anyone of them boast in his superior knowledge or understanding. The mysteries of the faith are revealed to the blind by the Spirit of God, and so, Jesus has mercy upon blind Bartemaeus opening his eyes, in token that the mysteries of salvation are revealed to us so that we might believe in the Lord and give all praise and glory to God.

Saturday   February 11                 5:30 pm                            Divine Service
Sunday     February 12                 9:00 am       Bible Class / Sunday School
                                                   10:00 am                            Divine Service
Monday    February 13                 6:30 pm                                        Elder’s
Wednesday February 15                1:00 pm                         Ministerial Study
                                                     5:00 pm                              Confirmation
                                                     7:30 pm                                              AA
Thursday - Saturday  February 16 - 18                                 SID Convention
Saturday   February 18                 5:30 pm                            Divine Service

Ash Wednesday and the Beginning of Lent—February 22
The beginning of Lent is right around the corner. Ash Wednesday will be a very unique and special service, including the Imposition of Ashes, the Lenten Litany, corporate confession and individual absolutions. From ancient times the season of Lent has been kept as a time of special devotion, self-denial, and humble repentance born of a faithful heart that dwells confidently on His Word and draws from it life and hope. Let us pray that our dear Father in heaven, for the sake of His beloved Son and in the power of His Holy Spirit, might richly bless this Lententide for us that we may come to Easter with glad hearts and keep the feast in sincerity and truth. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday Divine Services at 7:00 p.m. We will have a light luncheon before each of the midweek services. Watch for more details to come.