Monday, July 02, 2012

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.  

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