Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Love and Saying No

I made the mistake of reading an opinion piece from the New York Times . I usually don't read from the Times, whether it's what they call news or what appears on the op/ed page, as I wouldn't even trust it as fish wrapping for fear of food poisoning. Anyway, in this piece, the writer attacks a political figure for things she said based on the Christian Faith which is formed by the Word of God.

The source isn't important, really, since the Times is by no means the only rag that considers it their "journalistic" (and I use that word loosely) and editorial duty to attack the Christian Faith and those who cling to it. And the target isn't all that important, either, as the world is fond of calling the Church a collection of hypocrites and vilifying Christians because we do not blindly accept every travesty of humanity--things like the GLBT agenda, abortion (in the name of the feminine agenda), et cetera and ad nauseam--in the name of "love." After all, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." "Love your neighbor." "Love bears all things...

In the end, sometimes the Church has to love someone so much that it says, "No." No, we cannot abide what the Word of God calls sin. No, we cannot look the other way. That doesn't make us homophobes. That doesn't mean we hate women. Rather, it means we love them so much that we do not desire to see them abide in sin. Jesus said, "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. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me" (John 14:23-24). That means that Christians do not--or should not, rather, though it happens--choose indiscriminately what teachings of the Word of God that we keep and which ones we discard. If you consider yourself a Christian but don't take seriously what the Word of God says, maybe you shouldn't call yourself a Christian. "Be thou faithful unto death" doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room.

Do you love your child enough to say "no" when he reaches for a knife or a pill bottle? Do you love your friends so enough to keep them from climbing in a car when they're drunk? How can you then love someone so little that you'll let them live in a way that leads to their eternal death?

The world can keep what it calls love. I'd rather have the real thing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sermon for 7/13/12--Funeral of Dave Young

Depart in Peace
Luke 2:25-31

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

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord works in mysterious ways.  Given the opportunity, each of us could tell of a time when the Lord worked in some strange, unexpected way in our lives.  Simeon in our text was no exception.  We don’t know a lot about Simeon.  All our text says is that Simeon was “just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel.”  The same could be said of many people throughout the Old Testament, those who waited for the Messiah promised to Adam and Eve, to Abraham and to his children.

But then our text tells us of the extraordinary work of God in Simeon’s life.  Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the anointed one of God.  And suddenly, that promise was fulfilled.  Mary and Joseph enter the Temple with the Christ Child, and Simeon is actually given the wonderful privilege of holding in his arms the Savior of the world.  What the universe cannot contain, one man held in His arms. Who in the world, looking at an infant, would consider the possibility that the child could be the Salvation of the world?  But Simeon knew.  Even as he held the Child in his arms, Simeon knew that the Holy Spirit’s promise to him had been fulfilled. The Lord does not work this way anymore, does He?

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I tell you the truth, David, our dearly departed brother in faith, received the same promise from the Holy Spirit.  Do you find that hard to believe?  If so, then what I say to you now will be even harder to believe: you have received that same promise from the Holy Spirit, as well.  This is a strange and wonderful idea, but it’s hard to believe.  Let me explain. The Lord looked down from above, and He knew that David would not die until he had seen the Christ.  And David did see Him.  I can tell you this for a fact.  Do you need evidence?  One: Dave was a Baptized child of God.  In Baptism, Dave beheld his Savior.  Once he had received that washing of regeneration, David could have departed in peace as a baby.  But that was not God’s will.

Two: David frequently confessed his faith in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Having seen the Lord for himself in the Word, in the preaching of his pastor, and in the words of the worship service, David was able, with his family and his congregation, to confess his faith in his God.  Having seen his God in all of those things, he could have departed in peace.  But again, this was not God’s will.

And Three: Two days before he died, David took part in the very mystery in which Simeon was blessed to take part.  We knelt at this rail and before this altar, and through the wonder and mystery of the Word of God, we actually held in our hands and tasted the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. David knew very well what he received that day. He had confessed it all his life, and when his life was nearing its end, he continued to confess it. And having seen his Lord once again, he was again ready to depart in peace.

So when would it be?  When would the promise to David be fulfilled?  None of us knew until Tuesday, when the Lord finally took Dave from this world of pain and sin, taking him to Himself for rest.  Of course, God knew all along when David’s time would be.  He had promised David that he would not die before he saw His Lord.  And sure enough, when the time was right, the Lord kept His promise.

This is not meant to be an account of how good and just and righteous a man was David Young.  Like the rest of us, David was a sinner.  Even until his dying breath, David was a sinner.  But the Lord forgave him those sins.

So what about you?  Do you still find it hard to believe?  Believe it or not, the promise is for you and for your children.  Whether you believe it or not, Jesus died for you.  If you have been baptized, you have seen your Savior.  Like God brought Simeon to the Temple, God calls you to be where He is, even today in your grief.  Even in grief, ours is a life of faith.  Living by faith means believing in the Word even when we feel cold and dead inside, when our minds have gone numb with grief.  Even then, we live by faith, and we trust the Word of God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, time is not without an end, and neither is your sorrow or your pain without end.  Jesus lives.  He is coming back.  For now, while we wait, He is here for you in the places where He promises to be.  And even as you mourn, you see your Savior Jesus Christ: even as He promised you; even as He promised Simeon; even as He promised David.  And so with Simeon, and with Dave, we can rejoice: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”  In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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

Sermon for 7/15/12--Trinity 6

Shallow Righteousness 

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

When you walked into church this morning, were you carrying a grudge? Did you bring with you some anger against someone that has hurt you? Did you come to the Lord's house this day seeking His forgiveness while having secretly tucked away anger toward someone in your life? What grudge against another person or disagreement is clinging to you as you come here today? What proof might be laid against you that you killed someone this week—if not with a gun or knife, then with your angry words and vicious looks?

The Lord has given us His holy Law, the Ten Commandments. They're summarized by saying "Love God and love your neighbor." The words of Jesus expose and lay bare our self righteousness. We who walk with our heads held high while casting a nasty glare at those we don't like—we are robbed of any excuses before God for our murderous behavior. Jesus illustrates this by showing us what the Fifth Commandment really means. The Lord tells His hearers: "Until heaven and earth pass away, not one little bit of the Law will pass away.  Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there's no way you're getting into the kingdom of heaven." The scribes and Pharisees have an outward self righteousness. Look at the example Jesus gives of the Fifth Commandment: “You shall not kill.” The religious and holy people of Jesus' day figured they kept that commandment as long as they didn't cause the physical death of their neighbors. If you don't take a life, then you haven't killed and thus have kept the Fifth Commandment. One down; only nine to go to be holy!

But Jesus won't stand for shallow righteousness. If you're going to keep the Fifth Commandment, then keep it all the way: have no hatred or anger and bear no grudges against your neighbor. You break the commandment when you are angry and hateful towards others. You murder when you speak words that pierce and wound. So look at your life again. Have you murdered your husband or wife this week? How about you kids? Have you murder your brothers or sisters this week? Parents, have you been killing your children? If that is the kind of righteousness without which we won’t get into heaven, we're all doomed. We're all murderers and deserve the death penalty ourselves—not just for now but for all eternity.

So what hope is there for murderers? There is only one hope: the One who comes to keep the Law and fulfill it. Jesus, the Son of God who came not only to keep the Fifth Commandment but the other nine as well; Jesus, whose perfect life is demonstrated in His perfect fear, love and trust of God the Father and His unwavering and pure love for His neighbor. He knows you cannot keep the Law. He gave these commandments to bury you under the judgment of sin. But then He came Himself to keep them in your place. And He even overcomes death by rising the third day.

What wonderful news! You are forgiven because Jesus died on the cross! Now you can treat each other like dirt; you can hate and despise and speak badly toward others and it's all forgiven. You can go on sinning, knowing that it's all been taken care of, right? Not so fast! St. Paul asked that question of the Romans: "Should we go on sinning so grace will abound? Certainly not!" Rather, Paul explains that by baptism into Jesus, you have died to sin. Because you are baptized into Christ, His death and His resurrection are your death and resurrection. Sin has no power over Jesus; and because you belong to Jesus, sin has no power over you.

My brothers and sisters, the salvation Jesus accomplishes for murderers is delivered to you at the font in Holy Baptism. It's also given in Absolution and the Supper. But in Baptism you are united to the death and resurrection of Jesus in such a way that His death is now yours. You are dead to sin because you have died in the water and the Word with Jesus. You have risen from the dead because at the font, Christ's Word and promises have given you new life. Sin simply has no power over you. It no longer owns you. It can't accuse you. It can't convict you. Jesus, who has lived perfectly and died under God's judgment has given Himself to you at the font and therefore you have been justified, redeemed, rescued from sin.

You know that you cannot perfectly keep the Law. You fail miserably! So confess it! Acknowledge it! Plead for God's mercy to such a murderer as you! And then get to the altar, where the verdict of "not guilty" is declared to you once again. Come to the Lord's house where you will hear over and over that your innocent Savior Jesus has taken your guilty place. Live daily in your Baptism which declares that you are dead to sin and alive with God. Rejoice that Jesus has kept the Law for you. Rejoice that His righteousness is far beyond that of the scribes and Pharisees. And rejoice that His death is yours, His life is yours, and His righteousness is yours in the waters of the font. Rejoice in that good news which for you. And now, when you leave church today, the forgiveness of Jesus means all that you'll leave with today is what you can carry in your hand.  In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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

Sermon for 7/8/12--Trinity 5

At Christ’s Word
Luke 5:1-11

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

The first time you look at it, fishing and preaching don’t seem to have a lot to do with each other, do they?  One involves praying, writing and speaking God’s Word; the other involves bait and tackle, and nets.  In our Gospel, though, our Lord Jesus proclaims to Peter that he will become a fisher of men.  He won’t fish for men with nets and fishing rods and the like, but Peter would become a fisher of men by casting out the Word of Christ through preaching, and then waiting to see what the catch would be.  This is a picture of how God works in the world through the Church, and it is also a picture of how to hear the Word of God.

The crowd pressed in on Jesus, listening to Him as He was standing by the lake.  He stepped onto Simon’s boat, asked him to push off from the shore, and sat down to preach.  Peter’s boat became the first Christian pulpit.  After He finished preaching He decided to give Simon a visible demonstration of the power of His Word.  He told Simon to put out into the deep and lower the nets for a catch.  Any self-respecting fisherman of that day would know it was crazy!  You catch fish at night, and along the shore—not out in the deep. Peter covers himself by saying, “Master, working hard through the whole night, we took nothing; but at your word I will lower the nets.”

Imagine Peter’s surprise when they caught so many fish that they had to signal their partners in the other boat to come and help them with the catch!  The Lord who spoke the world into being had spoken a word and they had more fish than they could handle.  It is no wonder that Simon and the others were amazed at this.  What was Simon’s response?  He fell to his knees and said, “Depart from me, because I am a sinner, Lord.”  In the sight of God’s holiness and power, Peter falls to his knees and cries out that he is not worthy to be in the presence of God.

The Word of God has great power.  By the Word God created the heavens and the earth. By His Word all the earth was filled, and Adam and Eve were made.  By His Word the flood came over the earth, and afterwards the rainbow.  By His Word the Son of God was prophesied to come into human flesh.  By His Word He crushes and kills with the Law, as we see with Peter here.  Peter has caught but a glimpse of the awesome power of God, and it terrifies Him that He can do nothing to save Himself.  He realizes that his entire life is in the hand of God. What a frightening thought that could be.

It is a strange thing, isn’t it?  On the one hand, Christ commands you to work, and on the other hand shows that your work accomplishes nothing.  If the work of the disciples had accomplished anything, it would have happened during the night, when the fishing was good.  Christ commanded them to let out the nets in broad daylight, to show them that all of their so-called work was useless without the grace and presence of God.

So what is the purpose of the work that you do, day in and day out?  Jobs, home life, school, whatever it may be: the temptation is always there to put your trust in what you’ve done.  “I take care of my family, so I’m a good Christian.”  “I do well in school, and I don’t get into trouble, so I must be good.”  Or whatever.  Add to that is the fact that the world would have you believe that all life is really about is making choices, good or bad.  If you make better choices, then your life will be better.  But you know that’s not true!  Peter and the disciples made all the right choices.  They had done everything right to catch the fish; but it amounted to nothing without Christ and His Word.

Christ here shows you that all works are as nothing without Him, and so it is no wonder that Peter was terrified.  It’s terrifying!  And it should be.  The Law crushes and kills. It forces the pitiful sinner to see himself as he truly is: nothing without Christ.

But thanks be to God that the Lord does not leave it there.  After Peter’s cry of despair, Christ says to him, “Do not fear; from now on you will be catching men.”  Christ absolves Peter, and gives him an amazing promise: not only is Peter forgiven, but also Christ will use Peter to forgive the sins of others.  This is really a foretaste of Christ’s commission to the apostles in John chapter twenty: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

And so you see the perfect picture of what Christian preaching is all about.  Preaching is about delivering Christ and the forgiveness of sins.  The purpose of preaching is to catch men, to get them caught up in the net of the Gospel and into the boat.  It is no accident that the portion of the church where you are sitting is called the nave, because nave is the Latin word for boat.  The boat is where Peter and the others come into the forgiving presence of Jesus…and so it is with you.  Just like Noah and his family in the ark, so also you are kept safe in this place.

It is so easy to get caught up in the ebb and flow of the waters of the world.  Apart from Christ, your life has no purpose; you drift and go back and forth without knowing finally where you are.  The preaching of the Gospel is the net that brings you into the boat where Christ is with His people.  Just as the Word performs for the sake of the disciple, so the preaching of the Gospel will bring many people into the Church, but not all.  Like Peter, the pastor can only let out the net and see what catch the Lord will give that day.

The office of preaching is the net that draws you into the boat where Christ is to be found.  We are all the fish who are caught in this net of Christ’s forgiveness.  You are caught, not to be food like the fish in the text, but to be fed at His Table.  Here Christ gives Himself to you for food.  What a glorious mystery and blessing God has given to you, that you should be caught in the net of the Gospel!  In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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

Sunday, July 08, 2012

HYMN: Holy! Holy! Holy Lord!

After my liturgical nap after the Divine Service this morning, I opened my Bible to a random spot. Perhaps it's because I've read from this particular chapter quite often, but what turned up was Isaiah 6:1-13. It's one of my favorite portions of Scripture for a couple reasons. First, it shows a beautiful picture of heaven: the holy Lord on His throne being praised by the hosts of heaven. Second, it shows the dichotomy between the holy Lord and the sinful Isaiah--and yet the Lord chooses sinful Isaiah as His prophet to preach to a sinful nation. "Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips."

Having just come from receiving and distributing the Lord's Supper to His people this morning, and having sung the Sanctus, these things were fresh in my mind. I was pointedly reminded that I am a sinner, and I was reminded that the body and blood of Jesus are the coal which purifies my lips to preach the Word, to speak Holy Absolution, and to sing His praise.

With all this in mind, I sat down with my handy-dandy notebook (thank you, Steve and Blue's Clues!) to work on a hymn for the first time in months. (I've written two novels since I wrote my last hymn!) It's not a long hymn, but it doesn't have to be. I envision this as a Sanctus substitution a la Divine Service Four in Lutheran Service Book or as a Communion hymn. Feedback is appreciated.

Holy! Holy! Holy Lord!

1. Holy! Holy! Holy Lord!
Lord of hosts in glory shining,
Be by heav'n and earth adored
On Your mighty throne reclining.
Bless-ed be the One who came
In the Lord's most holy name.

2. Hail! Hosanna, David's Son!
Save this lost and sinful creature.
Woe is me! I am undone:
Fouled, my lips, and fouled, my nature.
Wash my soul of ev'ry sin.
Touch my lips and make me clean.

(c) Alan Kornacki, Jr.
78 78 77

Monday, July 02, 2012

Sermon for 7/1/12--Trinity 4


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

Would you dare to have mercy upon someone who doesn't deserve it? Would you do good to someone who couldn't pay you back? Jesus tells us today, "Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful." Jesus teaches us what it means that God the Father has mercy on us sinners and He calls us as His disciples to learn that mercy for our neighbor, for the people who are in our lives.

Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful." And how is our Father merciful? Our heavenly Father is merciful in this way: Rather than giving us what we deserve for our sins, He sends His Son to take our sins away. Rather than punishing us, He sends the Son to take the punishment for us. Rather than give us what we've got coming, He sends Jesus to arrange eternal life and salvation for us. God's mercy is that He saves us from our sins when he doesn't have to. God is under no obligation to forgive us or save us. He doesn't owe us anything. But He is merciful. That means we don’t get what we have coming. It means we get Jesus instead, who obeys the Father and accomplishes our salvation by dying for sinners.

"Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful." How do you do that? Jesus tells us: Don't judge. Forgive others and don't complain about your neighbor's speck while you've got a plank sticking out of your own eye. When Jesus says not to judge, we need to listen closely. This doesn't mean that parents don't judge their children and pastors don't judge doctrine and call people to repent when they're doing wrong or that actual judges don't condemn and sentence prisoners. No, when Jesus tells us not to judge, He's telling us not to treat others as if their sins are greater than ours. As if we are holier than they are. As if they deserve what they've got coming and we don't. Are you merciful? Or do you deny mercy to your neighbor and those around you? We love to come and receive forgiveness for our sins, but we just as easily turn around and withhold that same forgiveness from others. Brothers and sisters in Christ, this must not be! With all of His words, Jesus calls us to repentance for wanting forgiveness for ourselves but not passing it on to others. You should know this: If you want forgiveness but you refuse to forgive, if you want God to turn away from judging you while you judge someone else, then don't claim that you are a Christian. Repent of that hypocrisy and cry out to the Lord that He will be merciful and take the plank out of your eye.

To have your plank removed is to be baptized and washed clean of all your sins. To remove the plank is to confess your sins and receive Holy Absolution by which those sins are declared no longer held against you. To remove the plank is to kneel at the Lord's altar and receive the body and blood of Jesus through which God is merciful and forgives your sins. That is how our Lord takes the plank out of our eye. He continually pours out His mercy upon us, continually showers His mercy upon us in Jesus Christ.

"Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful." That means now you are clear of the plank in your eye to deal with the speck in your brother's eye. How do you do that? You deal with them as God has dealt with you: with mercy—mercy like the Father's mercy. My brothers and sisters in Christ, mercy means that, just as you have been forgiven and God does not hold even one sin against you in Jesus Christ, by the same Lord Jesus Christ you don't hold anything against anyone else. Don't hang on to their sins. Let them go. Treat them as they do not deserve, just as your Father in heaven deals with you in Jesus Christ. But what if they sin? Gently, with love and patience, correct and teach as you need to.

"Be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful." With those words, Jesus destroys our self righteousness and delivers what we don't deserve: mercy and forgiveness. With those words, "Be merciful," we learn what sort of mercy our heavenly Father has for us in Jesus Christ. And with those Words, Christ calls you to exercise that same mercy toward others, to forgive as you have been forgiven. How else does someone live who has Christ dwelling in them? And when we fail at mercy, as we surely will? Come back to the Lord's mercy poured out from font, pulpit, and altar. It is mercy that pours into you, forgiving you all your sins, and then spills out of you onto your neighbor. That's the kind of mercy that God the Father gives you in Jesus Christ. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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

Sermon for 6/24/12--Trinity 3

Joy in Heaven

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

It must have been strange for the scribes and Pharisees, watching Jesus. Eating with sinners and tax collectors? Hanging out with them? What does He think He's doing? Maybe Jesus doesn't know they're sinners. The scribes and Pharisees certainly know. Maybe Jesus should hang out with the righteous so He can learn who the right people are. Jesus is causing a scandal!

The sad thing is, sometimes we think the Pharisees and scribes are right. Jesus shouldn't be with those people. He should be teaching why those people shouldn't get to eat dinner with everyone. We think that way because that's how we treat sinners. You know who the sinners are. They are the people who do you wrong, who hurt you. You have no time for those who sin against you. They had their chance and they blew it. More than that, they probably keep doing it. No sitting down to dinner with them. Instead, shun them. Give them the silent treatment. If it were a sheep, we'd go find it. If it were a coin, we'd sweep in every corner. That's because we treat our stuff better than we treat our people. We take better care of our things than we do our neighbor. We get along well enough until someone does or says something we don't like, and then we're done with them. We label them as sinners and have nothing to do with them anymore.

So why are you here today? You are here today because Jesus receives and eats with sinners. You are here today because Jesus seeks lost sheep and searches for that lost coin. You are here because you wandered off like a sheep or rolled into the corner like a lost coin and the Lord spared no effort in finding you. He became man to go after you. He was baptized and took your sins to the cross to bring you back. He gave His life to bring you back. That's why you're here today: because Jesus comes to find and save sinners. That's what He does. Jesus leaves the righteous to themselves. Those who think they are good enough for God are no concern of Jesus. He comes for sinners, for those who can't save themselves. That's you and me.

And why is there joy in heaven? Why do the angels rejoice? They rejoice when a sinner repents. And that's not about you. They don't rejoice because you did something. They rejoice because the Lord did something. He searched and He found you and saved you. They don't look at you and say, “Wow, you repented and really turned your life around. Let's party!” No, they rejoice because the Lord whom they serve day and night became man and went to find and bring back sinners. That's what repentance is: Jesus finds you. Have you repented? That’s a hard question, because you can never be sure that you’ve fully turned away from your sin. But has Jesus found you? Yes. You were found by Him the day you were baptized and brought into His kingdom. Jesus receives you when your pastor absolves your sins. And then the Lord brings you home to His church and eats with you. And He's not just here as the guest with us; He's the food, too! Why would He do that? The scribes and Pharisees say, “Jesus receives sinners and eats with them!” What does it mean? It means that the One who is worthy also makes you worthy to sit with Him.

Jesus came for all people, but those who are sinners are the ones He receives and eats with. Tax collectors. Sinners. You. So what does Jesus think He's doing eating with tax collectors and sinners? He's saving them. So what are you doing here today? The Lord has come to save you. He has saved you. He brings you to His feast. Are you a sinner? If so, then you are the one Jesus receives and eats with. His meal is the meal of salvation. Jesus has come to save sinners: to find lost sheep and coins. He has found you. He has saved you. The scribes and Pharisees don't like it, but that's what Jesus does: He saves sinners and eats with them. And He does it again here today.  In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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

Sermon for 6/17/12--Trinity 2

The Feast of Love
Luke 14:15-24

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

Have you ever given someone a gift, and they didn’t want it? It hurts when you put a lot of thought into what to get, only to have that effort rejected. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Lord who has prepared the great wedding feast is angry with those who reject it. Parents, you know the feeling when you do something for your kids and they don't even care that you did. Imagine how much more terrifying the wrath of God will be against those who tell Him, “Sorry, I have other plans. I can't make it.”

So what's your excuse? What is it that keeps you from constantly demanding to receive the Lord's gifts? What keeps you from rejoicing in His feast of salvation? Is it that you bought some new property you've got get it ready for a crop? Have you found that spot where the fish bite at 9am on Sunday morning and you can’t miss it? Have you gotten to the point where you no longer need it? You’re probably thinking, “Pastor, I’m here. You’re preaching to the choir.” But the Word of God has become something that only matters on Sunday morning—and then only for an hour. And that’s if something better hasn’t come along, or if no one from the church has caused you offense. The excuses are endless as to why we don't crave Christ and His Word more than we do. This Gospel lesson causes us to pause and ask ourselves what excuses we have for not more highly treasuring God's Word.
The master in our text told his servants to go out into the highways and byways and bring in the crippled and lame and blind and whoever else—to drag them in! That's you: lame, blind, poor. The Lord drags you in to be a part of His church. You are not here because the Lord said, “Come” and you replied, “Well sure I'll be there. It'd be an honor.” You are here because the Lord has sent His servants to bring you in: to baptize you and make you a part of His church and kingdom. You are here to enjoy His feast not because you've earned a place. No. You are here by grace. The Lord has brought you to the feast.
And what a feast! It's not just Holy Communion. It's everything the Lord has prepared for you to enjoy. It is the Lord's salvation by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. It is the forgiveness of sins that He won by His perfect life, suffering and death. This feast is the washing of water and the Spirit in baptism; it is the declaration of the forgiveness of your sins; it is the preaching of the Word which teaches you repentance and faith. And of course, the feast is also the Body and Blood of Jesus which we eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. All of Jesus and His gifts—this is the feast prepared for you.
The feast of salvation that Jesus is speaking about is more than just the Divine Service on Sunday morning. It's all of the Word and faith to which the Lord has brought you. But that feast is celebrated here in Christ's church, here at His font, altar and pulpit. Here is where these gifts are given out as we look forward to the great eternal feast that we shall have on the Last Day. Brothers and sisters in Christ, you have been brought in! You don’t belong here; you didn’t earn a place here. Yet the Lord has gone out by coming into this world Himself and sending His preachers out to bring you into His heavenly feast. The celebration is for you. Your heavenly Father endless blessings He wants you to enjoy, and it is His delight to see you enjoy His feast of forgiveness, life and salvation. We receive a foretaste of that great feast in the Supper of Christ’s body and blood. The Lord has spared no expense to give all this to you. Come, for all things are now ready. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.