Friday, March 29, 2013

Sermon for 3/29/13--Good Friday (Catechism Series)

Let Your Holy Angel Be with Me (Daily Prayers)

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

Children are often afraid of the things that go bump in the night. They fear the monsters they think hide under their beds and in their closets, dangers that only become real to them when the lights are extinguished. Most adults have shaken that fear, yet adults, too, fear the unknown, the uncertain. We, too, fear the darkness of life: not the fantastical monsters of imagination, but the monsters that can be all too real—the thugs that beat down our doors and attack our families, the animals that run in front of our spouse’s car as they travel home in the night, the illnesses and diseases that strike without warning. And the day is not without its terrors, either. The light is no defense against bullies that attack us and our children at school and at work. Identity theft, careless or inattentive drivers, a misstep in the wrong place at the wrong time—all it takes to drown is a spoonful of water; all it takes it a single missed stair to result in a fall which can cause injury or even death. Sometimes we make fun of our fear. We watch horror movies, go to haunted houses, ride roller coasters, and do other similar things which raise our adrenaline and leave us breathless. Despite this attempt to mock the things we fear, we cannot deny that Satan has the power to play on these fears.

Jesus knows all this. He knows the frailty and fears of humanity. He knows the dangers of night and day. Consider this: Judas the betrayer was on his way with the soldiers of the chief priest. The perversion of justice in the trials before the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pilate; the mockery, spitting and scourging; the weight of the cross on the road to Golgotha; the nails and spear—a twenty-four hour period of brutal agony was about to begin. Knowing that the next day would see the completion of His work of paying the debt for the sin of the world, knowing that He was the Lamb of price, Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives to pray. He was in agony. He perfectly knew the will of His Father. He knew He was the Father’s answer to the sin which marred creation. Even so He prayed, “Not my will, but Yours, be done.” And in response, as Luke tells us, “An angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

Our Lord does not leave us alone in our fear. He knows the things which strike terror into our souls, for He experienced them Himself. He knows the ravages of hunger. He knows the pain of the death of loved ones. He knows all the trials and temptations. The sin which caused our first parents to hide from God in the Garden of Eden in their nakedness and shame is the sin which causes us to rightly fear those things which bring terror to our hearts. And yet, that sin is precisely what our Lord Jesus Christ overcomes on the cross. He died bearing that sin—the sin that causes our shame, our fear, our separation from God.

While we await the great and glorious day of the return of Jesus in glory, we still live as sinners. Yet that is not the end of it. We are not sinners only, but sinners who bear the mark of the Lamb who was slain, the mark of the name of God upon us in the waters of Holy Baptism. We are sinners who are at the same time saints. Our Lord promises to be with us always, to the very end of the age. He sends His holy angels to guard and watch over us as we walk by day and as we lie abed at night. With His presence and His command that the holy angels watch over us, we may pray with confidence, “Into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul and all things.” For just as the Jesus commended His spirit into the Father’s hands and was raised on the third day, we commend our body and soul into His hands, knowing that it will be raised on the last day to eternal life. No cross, no trial, no demon horde, no sin or evil can overcome the Lord and His holy angels—not by night, not by day, not ever. 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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