Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sermon for 3/30/14--Lent IV

Apologies if the audio isn't available right away. I'm almost out of bandwidth for the month with all these midweek services!




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

You toil for that which does not satisfy. You seek love and acceptance from demons, food from garbage collectors, loyalty from traitors. You want fame, honor, riches, and luxury. You want prestige and devotion but engage in debauchery and perversion! You waste away dreaming of and scheming for these forbidden things, forgetting those who love you, who raised you, who have sacrificed themselves for you. You push away even your Savior for pleasures of the flesh. You are obsessed with yourself! And there is never enough. It never works. It never satisfies. It leaves you tired, frustrated, sad, angry, lonely, and afraid. It is no wonder you are hungry and weary in your sin. You are like that crowd on a mountainside who came seeking earthly things and forgot to plan ahead. They were so far gone that they could not return home without food or else they’d faint along the way. And so, as He always does, God provides.

He is faithful and kind. He is not holding out on you. He loves you. Sit down. Quit scrambling around and trying to get your piece of the pie by violence or deception. Sit down in the green pastures to which He leads you. Eat bread and fish without money. Drink wine and milk without price. Eat that which is good. Let your soul delight. Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the Mouth of God. Give up the things of the past. Turn from your unrighteous thoughts. Forsake your wickedness. Return to the Lord who called you by name out of the deep and made you His. He will have mercy upon you. He will be your God. He will abundantly pardon you and give you peace. He will give your rest. He will satisfy.

Five barley loaves and two small fish are nothing. But out of nothing God makes something: a ram caught in the thicket; a goat sent off into the wilderness with the sins of the people pressed into his head; a carcass consumed in flame while its blood drips down the doorposts and the angel of death passes over; an overflowing cup pressed without labor or toil; a Man hanging on the cross for crimes He did not commit. Five thousand men plus women and children are nothing. But out of nothing God makes something: a people who were no people are now a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a chaste and immaculate Bride redeemed from slavery and death.

The endless, selfish hunger of man judges that five barley loaves and two small fish will never be enough, but God’s Word does not fail. Whoever believes in Him, even if he die, will live. Twelve baskets of fragments cannot quite contain the bounty after all have been fed and satisfied. Five barley loaves and two small fish, one Righteous Man who dies for the nation—this is more than sufficient. Your Redeemer lives. The endless, selfish hunger of man is false, for the heart is exceedingly wicked. But the grace and mercy of God are never lacking. He does not lie. He provides.

Bread and wine are nothing. Water is nothing. But out of nothing, God makes something! He provides in this wild place. He gives sanctuary. He restores joy. He binds wounds, relieves your broken hearts, consoles and soothes your jaded minds. Sit down in the green pastures of His Holy Word. Eat His Body. Drink His Blood. Hear the Word of Holy Absolution. Enjoy the sure mercies of David, whose Son has given His life for you, rescued you from Hell, and re-opened paradise through His resurrection. God’s Name has been placed upon you. God’s Son has died and risen for you. God’s Spirit has made you His temple. No one can take you from Him. Rest here, weary souls. At this table your cup runneth over, and the blood of Christ stains you as clean and pure as new fallen snow. 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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