Monday, March 24, 2014

Sermon for 3/23/14--Lent III



The Demons Want You

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

The charge made by the Pharisees against Jesus wasn't quite as far off base as it sounds. At least they recognized the supernatural. In that regard, they were mostly ahead of us. Too often we have played the mild-mannered, mellow Christian, more distressed about recycling than abortion, more worried about the honor of the Cardinals than of our God. We've preferred the good opinion of our pagan neighbors over their salvation. But here is the truth: there is no neutral territory. You either belong to God or you belong to Satan. Those who think they sit on the fence, who choose the calm, middle way of moderation, are delusional. Christianity is a radical and extreme religion. It is not nice. Fence-riders belong to Satan. Jesus spits them out of His mouth. Repent.

You are not a fence-rider, though you have been tempted that way. You belong to God. You are baptized. That is no small thing. Baptism casts out demons. Our Lord suffered demonic attacks in the desert and throughout His Ministry. Christians also suffer demonic attacks. Unlike Christ, we have invited them in. The demons come with all manner of sin, not merely with Ouija boards and horoscopes, but also with gossip, vanity, drunkenness, and lies. What you do affects yourself, your family, and all those you encounter in your life. Demons need to be driven away. Let us not forget that Satan entered one of the Twelve who then betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Be aware. Be careful. Repent.

Repent…but do not despair. Do not be afraid. Weak as we are, Jesus was weaker. He made Himself a perfect target for all of Hell's fury. He drew all their hatred, all their violence, all God's wrath into Himself. The devil has no strength left. He is spent. He used everything he had to kill Jesus on the cross. He has no more accusations. The demons are mute in heaven's courtroom. And you, the defendant, are declared innocent and holy. You are pardoned. You do not have to face the charges. There are no witnesses against you. God does not even remember your sins. You are forgiven and welcomed as the rightful heir and beloved of the Father.

The devil is still roaming about this earth seeking someone to devour. He is real and he is dangerous, but you are safe. You belong to God. His Name is upon you. His promise will not fail. You hear the Word of God. You eat the Body of Jesus. You drink His Blood. This miraculous eating and drinking do not consume Jesus, for He is risen from the dead. This eating and this drinking proclaims the glorious, life-giving death of Jesus. It proclaims the kind of death He died: a death to end death, a death that stands in our stead, a death that draws men unto Him, a death that destroys the gates of Hell and shuts the devil's mouth. This death means He will come again. Christ gives Himself as food and drink for your body and soul to make you whole—to make you His. You eat and you drink and you are consumed. He joins you to Himself. It is a sign of His love for you and a foretaste of things to come.

Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts which gave you suck; but more than that, blessed are those who brought you to the font to offer you to God and placed your soul into the care of your Savior. Satan and his demons cannot have you. You belong to your heavenly Father forever. 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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