Thursday, February 06, 2014

Sermon for 2/2/14--Epiphany 4



Raging Storms

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

Jesus can sleep through anything. He has no fears, no guilt, no worries. Sometimes it seems as though He sleeps through our prayers. In any case, He rarely behaves the way we think He should. Why was He sleeping while the storm raged? Why was He not with His disciples? Why was He not teaching or praying or comforting them? Why wasn't He helping? And why, when they came to Him looking for salvation, did He rebuke them when He had praised Gentiles for the same request?

God is not like us. He does not submit to our ideas. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. We live by faith, not by knowledge or understanding. Unlike every other man, Jesus never considers appearances. He really doesn't care what people think. He is His own man in a way no one else can be. He is not concerned with doing the proper thing. Whatever He does, whether we understand it or not, is right. Accepting that idea requires faith, because He doesn't seem to us to be doing the right thing. He seems to be sleeping, ignoring us when we are plagued with wars and disease, hatred and greed, crime and poverty, abortion, the crumbling of families, government lies, betrayal from friends, false doctrine from trusted preachers, and even nature attacks with hurricanes and tsunamis, killing frigid temperatures, ice and snow. We are powerless before these afflictions.

Our vain efforts against such woe would pull us to Jonah's oblivious sleep. Your answer doesn't lie in gadgets or flower bouquets, in a beautiful home or a beautiful meal, even in happy, healthy, well-adjusted children. And there is no such thing as Harlequin's soul-mate either. You won't find salvation in human love. Spouses and children, parents and siblings disappoint as surely as we disappoint ourselves. Repent. Stick to your prayers. Submit in faith to the goodness of God and wait for the Lord. It will be revealed in time. The storms will cease. Jesus is with you.

And what if He rebukes you for your panic, for your desire for safety, for your desperate little faith that thinks it is perishing? Thanks be to God! Thanks be to God that you still have a smoldering wick of faith and that it knows where to go, that it still prays, that it seeks salvation in Jesus' Name. Thank God you are weak, for it is in that very weakness that you are strongest in your baptism. Our Lord will not let you depend on yourself or your works. He will purify you with holy chastisement. He will not let you ride out the storm in false confidence. He will keep you dependent on Him.

And what if your conscience is plagued by guilt and regret, by doubt and fear? What if you are weary? Thank God for that as well. For it is faith, a living and vibrant faith, that stirs your heart. Faith causes you to feel sorrow and shame. The pain is proof that your faith is alive. Pray that you never lose that feeling until God relieves you of it on the last day. Pray that you are never comfortable in your sins, that you never think you've got Him figured out, that you can handle the storms on your own. Be rebuked again and again. Be broken by His Law. In this way He empties you of yourself to fill you with His love. He breaks you to mend you. He kills you to revive you. For His sake we are killed all day long. We are counted as sheep for the slaughter. His thoughts are not our thoughts. If we stop feeling the Law, we lose the Gospel. First comes the rebuke, and only then comes the calming of the storm. First comes the cross, then comes the glory.

Are we also disciples of little faith? Indeed. We are unworthy in every way. But God has made His promise. He is our God. His Name is upon us. When we cry out, “Save us, O Lord,” we know He will. He will be our God, our Savior. He will deliver us from these present evils and from the Evil One. We have no claim upon His mercy, but we have His Word and Promise. That is enough. He will calm the sea with His sacrifice. He has gone into the belly of the earth and come forth again on the third day. When the waves crash over the sides of the boat and we are desperate and full of fear, He gives us peace according to His Word, gives us the faith we lack, sends to us His Holy Spirit to bring us home. The Lord remembers His Word and promises even while we wait for the Resurrection to come and the consummation of all our hope. Save us, O Lord. 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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