Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sermon for 9/15/13--Trinity 16




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

You're going to die. You can’t avoid it. Someday this life is going to end. As you get older, perhaps you sense it more acutely. Of course, being young doesn’t really keep young people from worrying about death. No one here today has escaped the effects of death. The world spends a lot of time trying to avoid the inevitable. Most preachers out there spend their time trying to avoid it, too, getting people wrapped up in the finer points of daily life so that death is a mere distraction. Then someone dies, and they deliver a eulogy about the good life of the deceased. But the truth is, the Church, the body of Christ on earth, even this congregation, is hospice care. You are here because you are dying. Death is the enemy who stalks you as prey.

Have you ever noticed that death seems to be a mere inconvenience for our Lord? It never seems to slow him down very much. He got dragged to help the daughter of Jairus when she died. He was very deliberate when He stalled and then went to the tomb of Lazarus. But today He just runs into it. He's going one way, and a funeral procession is coming the other way, and they bump head on. That's how Jesus handles death: head on. He walks up to the woman, a widow who's already lost her husband and now her son to death. "Stop crying," He says, as if she can help it. Death brings tears. It's that simple. Jesus is about to fix that. Without another word, without even any pleading from Mom, He strolls up to the coffin and tells the kid to get up. And the kid sits up. Death has received another slap.

Death seeks its revenge on the Son of God Himself! Jesus is brutally beaten and nailed to that cross. He bleeds and dies. But even then, death can only have Jesus when Jesus allows it, when Jesus gives up His spirit. Only then can death have Him…but only for three days. On the third day, The Lord is alive. “Death, where is your victory? Grave, where is your sting?” Death is powerless before our Lord, for He has conquered sin; the wages of sin is removed.

The times when Jesus raised someone from the dead remind us that He is Lord over death. That's a great consolation to the widows who got their sons back. Then why won't the Lord raise the dead today? But He does! He does it in Baptism where His death becomes your death, where His resurrection becomes your resurrection. You have already died by water, Word, and Spirit at the font. Your Old Adam has been drowned in that water, and the New Man has risen from the dead as a new creation. Yes, the death of the body is a cause of grief for those who are left behind. But we do not grieve like those who have no hope. Consider this: In Holy Baptism, you have been inoculated against death. When you die, having already been raised in the waters of Baptism, that death will be nothing more than a rest on the way to eternal life. Jesus has turned it into a minor annoyance. The same Jesus who raised that boy and handed him to His mother has raised you up at the font and given you to your mother, the Church. And here in Christ's church, the One who died and rose—He promises and guarantees that He will raise you from the dead on the Last Day.

You can’t avoid it: you're going to die. But the bigger fact is that Jesus has made that no big deal. He has overcome death. He has overcome your death. Now there is nothing but life in Christ forever. May this be your comfort as you face off against death in this life: death has no power over you because of Jesus. 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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