Friday, September 10, 2010

Sermon for 9/12/10--Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity (LSB 1-year)

Christ will be making Brynnley Grider a child of the heavenly Father this morning through Holy Baptism. Thanks be to God for this wonderful blessing!

One True Master
Matthew 6:24-34

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

In his Large Catechism explanation of the First Commandment, Martin Luther wrote, “What is it to have a god? Or, what is one’s god? Answer: To whatever we look for any good thing and for refuge in every need, that is what is meant by ‘god’. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in him from the heart. . . . To whatever you give your heart and entrust your being, that, I say, is really your God.” In this way, Father Luther beautifully explained the heart of our text. In saying so, he brought to the forefront the question which we must ask ourselves when we hear this text: “Who—or what—is your god?” This question is so vital because, as Jesus says, you can truly honor only one.

God help us, for we know what the answer to that question should be. Again, Luther answers the question beautifully for us: “We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.” The answer is profound in its simplicity. But we know very well that we do not fear, love and trust in God as we should. The questions Jesus asks are foremost in our minds: What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear? We can’t deny that we worry about these things. Ask almost any high school student the kind of pressure they’re under to wear the right clothes. Ask almost any farmer what it’s like to worry if the rain is going to come at the right time. Are you making enough money to support your family? Is your house in good enough shape to survive a brutal winter? How much longer will the tractor hold out, and can you afford a new one when this one gives up the ghost? How can you afford to feed and clothe these kids who are growing so fast? We know what the answer is; but God help us, because if we truly feared, loved and trusted in God above all things, we wouldn’t worry about where we’d get our food or drink or clothes or house or home or wife or children or land or animals or anything we need to support this body and life.

Why do you set your hearts on the things of the world? Jesus makes it very plain in his examples just how little worry accomplishes. Lilies are beautiful without any work or worry on their part. Grass gets mowed frequently, and yet it is beautiful. Birds don’t plant or harvest, gather or hoard, yet they eat. God provides the beauty of the lilies and grass; the heavenly Father provides the food which sustains the birds. You are the crown of the Father’s creation. If God sustains the lowliest of His creation, why would you ever doubt that He will provide all the more for you?

It is not inherently sinful to seek after and tend to these things which we need to live. After all, it is God who has given you your job, your land, your school, your wife, your children or parents, and whatever else it is that we truly need. But worrying about these is sinful, for this worry reveals a lack of trust in the One who has promised to deliver these things to us. And to be honest, it’s ridiculous to worry about the necessities of life when God could strip away most of our earthly possessions and we could still thank God for His generosity in providing for all our needs. If only we could say with Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Worry will not increase your life by one minute. Nothing we can do can add one more minute to our life than has already been set apart for us. This is why the psalmist prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” When we are content with what we have, when we trust that our heavenly Father has provided and will provide all that we need, when we place these needs into His gracious hands, when we acknowledge that God is good no matter how much or how little we have, it is then that we live by faith. It is then that we truly seek after the kingdom and the righteousness of God.

No one can serve two masters. No one can faithfully seek after righteousness while clinging to the things of this world. Life is more than the sum of your junk. It is more, even, than the sum of your earthly, bodily needs. And so our heavenly Father provides for your greatest need. He has made you His servant, His slave. He has chosen between the two for you. He has made you His own in the waters of Holy Baptism, marking you as His. He has brought you to this place, where you lay your needs and concerns at His feet. He has given you faith to trust in Him, faith to cling to His promises, faith to receive what He gives you freely and fully.

So what does it mean to seek after the kingdom and His righteousness? It means to cling to those rich gifts which God has already given you. If your clothing concerns you, then by all means, cling to the white robe of righteousness which Christ has placed upon you in Holy Baptism, that robe which fully covers your sinfulness, that beautiful garment of righteousness which God has placed upon His beloved child Brynnley this morning. Are you concerned about what you will eat or what you will drink? Then by all means, cling to the rich feast with which the Father will feed you this morning: the very body and blood of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, which is given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. The heavenly Father will not abandon His children.

When Jesus calls us “you of little faith”, it is not an accusation. Rather, it is an acknowledgement that even those who have the smallest amount of faith should have no anxieties about worldly needs. There is no doubt that we will face need, for God does not promise prosperity or a lack of hardship. Yet in our sermon hymn this morning we sang:
What God ordains is always good;
This truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need or death be mine,
I will not be forsaken.
I fear no harm, for with His arm
He shall embrace and shield me;
So to my God I yield me.

Whatever our needs, our Father in heaven is with us, and He will provide. He has even given us faith in Holy Baptism to cling to that promise. Whatever happens to us, whatever needs we have, whatever trials we face, whatever it is that grieves us, we have a gracious heavenly Father who provides all that we need—for today, for tomorrow, for all of eternity. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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