Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pentecost Sermon

Making a Name, or Receiving One?”
John 14:23-31, Genesis 11:1-9, Acts 2:1-21
May 26-27, 2012

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

Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’

Keep my word, Jesus says. Notice the singular. There are not many ‘words’ of Jesus, from which we can pick and choose, keeping some and not others. The Word of God is a singular whole, which we are to keep – a word which means to guard this word that has been given to us. To treasure it above all others. Some translations of the Bible mistranslate that phrase ‘keep my word’ as ‘obey my teaching.’ But while ‘keeping my word’ certainly includes obedience, it is much more than that.

More, for at the heart of the Word of God is the name of God, for all things start and end with Him. In the beginning, before there was anything, there was God and His name. The name of God is the Word from which all the Word of God flows. The Word which tells us who God is and all that He has done, and is still doing, for us. And so to know God is to know His name, and to know His name is to know who He is. And as we heard in the Epistle, in His name is life and salvation, for as Peter preached to the people in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost: everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

And so we call upon that name, because our Lord has given us that name – not only making it known to us, but actually giving His name to us in Holy Baptism. There, in those waters, was our Pentecost – when the Holy Spirit was ‘poured out’ upon you and me. And we became children of God, adopted into His family, and given the family name. And so when Jesus says ‘keep my word,’ He means not only knowledge and obedience, but to keep and treasure this name that has been given to us! To live in this name, and know that this is our true identity. We are not who the world says we are – we are who God says we are. His children. Dearly loved. Creatures to whom He has given His name and made His own.

But do we do this? Do we treasure the name of God that has been placed upon us, or instead – like the folks we heard about in the Old Testament reading, in Shinar – do we try to make a name for ourselves, through our own accomplishments, deeds, actions, and status? Are we dissatisfied with being God’s children, we want everyone to know our name? And if so, not treasuring God’s name then leads to not keeping His Word in all the other parts of our lives, as all my thoughts, words, deeds, and desires do not what He wants, but what I want; my will, not His; my kingdom, not His; not because of His name, given to me . . . but for mine.

But once we start down that path – of self-definition and letting the world define who we are – you are inevitably led to the conclusion that you must not only make a name for yourself before the world, but also before God. Not treasuring the name of God that He has given to us means that we therefore have to get God to notice us through our good works, our achievements, our progress in the Christian life, so that He knows my name and will take me to Heaven. . . . But while you may be able to make a name for yourself in this world, can you do that with God? And could you ever be sure that you did enough? That you are good enough? That God knows your name? . . . And then the devil is more than eager to deeper your doubt, whispering in your ear: you are nothing. No, you’re worse than nothing – you’re a sinner. A dirty, rotten, miserable, no good, ungrateful, rebellious, sinner. You think God will notice you? Oh, actually, He does, and you know what He will do to sinners like you, don’t you . . . ?

So what good news for us today, on this day of Pentecost! For the Holy Spirit – who Jesus says the Father will send in my name – comes as our Helper and Teacher. Pointing us away from ourselves and to Christ. And making His name known. That we depend on His name, not ours; and His work, not ours. For when the devil comes accusing, pointing out our sin and rebellion and the filthy name we have made for ourselves before God (which we cannot deny!) – the Holy Spirit comforts us by pointing us to Christ and His cross. To teach us that, yes, God sees what you’ve done! That’s why He’s there. To do something about it. Not to accuse you, but to save you from your sin. To take it away from you, put it all upon Himself and die in our place. That all of us dirty, rotten, miserable, no good, ungrateful, rebellious, “make-a-name-for-ourselves-because-we-do-not-treasure-God’s-name” sinners be not condemned, but forgiven! And that the claim of sin, death, and the devil upon us be cancelled by Jesus’ blood.

And so when Jesus says that the ruler of this world has no claim on me (which He proved in His resurrection!), that word is intended for us as well! For if he has no claim on Jesus, then he also has no claim on all who bear Jesus’ name.

And so the Holy Spirit came upon the Church at Pentecost. And Peter then preaches, so that through the Word of God the Holy Spirit might come to all the people, convicting them of their sin and pointing them to Christ and His cross. And that’s exactly what happened, for as we read a little later, some 3,000 people believed and were baptized. And it wasn’t because Peter was such a gifted preacher, or such a charismatic orator, or such a great leader of men. It was the work of the Holy Spirit, through the Word, making known the name of God through the person and work of Jesus, the Christ.

And just as through Jesus God came and made His home among us, so through the Holy Spirit He continues to do so today. But even more, He promises that our home will be with Him. Forever. That is why it is good news for us that Jesus goes to the Father. For He goes to prepare a place for us. An eternal place, in perfection and glory.

But until that day when Jesus comes again to take us to His kingdom of glory, He leaves us with His peace. Peace I leave with you, He says. The peace of faith and confidence through His Word and Spirit. Knowing know that our name and who we are is not up to us, but given to us. And so we have peace, for we know that God is at home with us here, and that we will be at home with God, in eternal life. We have peace, not as the world gives it – a peace which comes and goes and is dependent on so many things! But true peace. Peace even in the midst of the turmoil, strife, and uncertainty of this world. The peace of God’s name upon us. That He has made us His own. And that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

So dear Christian, keep that word – that name. Keep it in your hearts and minds. Guard and treasure it like no other word on the earth. For you are His treasure! And then you will also live it, for once the Holy Spirit kindles the fire of His love in your heart, you won’t be able not to!

But if you want to keep your own name, you may. Make it as great as you can and take your chances in the end. But if you despair of your own name and accomplishments . . . repent, come, and receive the body and blood of the One who gave His life for you, forgives you, and gives His name to you. His name that is above every name. His name by which you are saved.

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

Daily Readings May 27 - June 2, 2012

Daily Lectionary
May 27                                            Numbers 21:10-35; Luke 21:20-38
May 28                                                Numbers 22:1-20; Luke 22:1-23
May 29                                         Numbers 22:21-23:3; Luke 22:24-46
May 30                                              Numbers 23:4-28; Luke 22:47-71
May 31                                                Numbers 24:1-25; Luke 23:1-25
June 1                                              Numbers 27:12-23; Luke 23:26-56
June 2                                             Looking Ahead to Trinity Sunday
                          Isaiah 6:1–7; Romans 11:33–36; John 3:1–15 (16–17)

Next Weeks Lessons: THE FEAST OF the holy trinity
When Isaiah beheld the glory of the Lord, he cried out “Woe is me!” For the sinner cannot stand in the presence of a holy God and live (Isaiah 6:1–7). But God the Father lifted up His Son Jesus for us on the cross, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:1–15). This eternal life of Christ is given us according to the Holy Spirit’s good pleasure in Baptism. “Unless one is born (again) of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” To sinners in fear of death, the messengers of God place on our lips the living body and blood of Christ and speak His words of absolution, “Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Having received forgiveness and life from the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit, we join with the angels in praising the blessed Trinity, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!” “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33–36).

Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, who has given to us, Your servants, grace, by the confession of a truth faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity, we implore You that You would keep us steadfast in this faith and evermore defend us from all adversities; who lives and reigns, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Old Testament: Isaiah 6:1–7
Epistle: Romans 11:33–36
Holy Gospel: John 3:1–15 (16–17)

Happy Birthday This Week:  Dorothy Schroll, Kirk Howarth
Happy Anniversary:  None

Jesus words in today’s Gospel come at the conclusion of “the Feast of Tabernacles” or “the feast of Booths” which commemorated the long period of time in which the children of Israel lived in tents in their wilderness wandering. This feast came at the end of the harvest and celebrated the ingathering of grain and the fellowship they shared together in the faith. During their wilderness wandering the Lord gave them to drink from the Rock that followed them. St. Paul says, “that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). At the conclusion of this great feast, Jesus declares, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John tells us that when Jesus spoke these words, He was speaking about the gift of the Holy Spirit who would be poured out on the day of Pentecost and in the age to follow wherever His Gospel was preached. “To come to Jesus” involves chiefly the hearing of His Word through which the Spirit is given and by which we are restored from the ravages of sin and made alive.

Daily readings June 3-9, 2012

In the last verses of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gives His final command to the disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” It is in this command to baptize the nations that we have the clearest expression of the Holy Trinity in all of Scripture. We are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In our Baptism the triune God of love is revealed to us. Through catechesis, “teaching them to observe all things,” the mystery of the Holy Trinity is revealed to us. The God of the first commandment is the Triune God: “You shall have no other gods.” The unique work of the three persons and their relationship to each other and to us is revealed in the Apostles’ Creed. We approach God the Father, through the Son, by the faith given by the Holy Spirit in the Lord’s Prayer, etc., etc., etc., Each chief part of the Catechism reveals “all things” we need to know and believe about the Holy Trinity for our salvation.

Please Pray For: Dan Worth, Dorothy Robison, Juanita Rankin, George Van Huss, Crystal Ray, Ruth Hedrick, Walt Hedrick, Erna Van Winkle, Mary Kay Schmidt, Kathy Schmidt, John Haynes, Margaret Branham, Katie Ketchum, Colin Starks, George Shepherd, Donna Smith and Bill Hoff.
Military: Please keep in your prayers all Military persons, especially Brittany Worth who is deployed to Afghanistan.
Hospitalizations: Please notify Pastor GeRue about any sickness or hospitalizations.

LUTHERAN HOUR June 3  From "Woe Is Me" to "Here I Am" Lutheran Hour Speaker: Rev. Gregory Seltz Jesus is God in action for you, transforming your "Woe is me" situation into the joyful "Here I am" place of victory by grace. (Isaiah 6:1-8)
WLUJ              Springfield, IL    89.7 FM                  Sunday 3:00 pm
WLLM             Lincoln, IL          1370 AM Sunday 7:00 am & 7:00 pm
WSMI              Litchfield            1540 AM                Sunday 9:30 pm

Next Weeks Lessons: The First Sunday after trinity
When the beggar Lazarus died, he was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. For he was truly Abraham’s seed. He believed in the Lord, and the Lord “accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:1–6). The name Lazarus means “God is my help.” The unnamed rich man, on the other hand, did not love and trust in God. For he evidently cared little for the beggar at his gate. And “he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:16–21). He who loved and trusted in possessions and prestige died and was in torments in Hades (Luke 16:19–31). Repentance and faith are worked only through Moses and the prophets—that is, the Word of God, for it points us to Christ. Through His death and resurrection, we are brought to the comfort of life everlasting.

Old Testament: Genesis 15:1–6
Epistle: 1 John 4:16–21
Holy Gospel: Luke 16:19–31
Daily Lectionary For June 3–9, 2012
June 3                                                 Proverbs 22:1–21; John 18:1–14
June 4                                          Proverbs 22:22-23:12; John 18:15-40
June 5                                                   Proverbs 24:1-22; John 19:1-22
June 6                    Proverbs 25:1-22; John 19:23-42; Proverbs 26:1-28
June 7                 Proverbs 27:1-24; John 20:1-18; Proverbs 28:1-29:27
June 8                                       Proverbs 30:1-9, 18-33; John 20:19-31
June 9 Trinity 1         Genesis 15:1–6; 1 John 4:16–21; Luke 16:19–31

Lutherans for Life –
Life Thought: God the Father’s love compels Him to give His only begotten Son. Through the water of holy Baptism, His Spirit calls us and gives us new life. What value the Holy Trinity bestows upon human life!
Life Quote: “The life issues present us with opportunities to point people in the right way, the way of Jesus and the truth of His Word. The life issues present us with opportunities to bring Jesus and His compassion to people who are hurting and struggling. The life issues present us with opportunities to bring people to Jesus and the healing and restoring message of His salvation.” Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb, executive director of Lutherans For Life


Saturday            June 2           5:30 pm                         Worship Service
Sunday              June 3            9:00am                                 Bible Study
                                             10:00 am                         Worship Service
Wednesday        June 6           7:30 pm                                              AA
Thursday           June 7           9:00 am                     LWML Bible Study
Friday                June 8                                            Pastor’s Family Day
Saturday            June 9           5:30 pm                         Worship Service