Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sermon for 5/11/14--Easter IV

There's no audio, as we forgot to turn on the sound system. Sorry!

Tribulation and Joy

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jesus tells us that we will suffer tribulations which will cause us to sorrow. But He promises that there will come a time when this suffering will end. Think about the example our Lord gives, ones which moms certainly understand. When the time comes to give birth, it hurts! There is pain and agony and suffering, but then it’s suddenly over. The baby is born and the mother holds in her arms that little bundle of joy. Where did the pain go? It is overcome through joy and happiness. Our problem, though, is that when it comes to the serious sufferings in our lives, instead of awaiting the joy, we wallow in the misery of our circumstances. And the world laughs and rejoices! "Look at those stupid Christians! They think if they pray to their invisible God they'll stop hurting. Why don't they just give up on God and enjoy life!" And what the world says sounds pretty good! Who wouldn't want to be happy instead of miserable? But such talk is selfish. If the purpose of our having any religion is just to get rid of our own problems and suffering, then we won’t weep and mourn only in this life!

"A little while and you will see me no more. Then a little while and you will see Me." It would not be long before Jesus would be taken from the disciples, and they would be scattered. During that time Jesus would suffer for the sins of the world; He would suffer alone. Forsaken by His followers, mocked and tortured by his accusers, and finally even forsaken by the Father as He hung on the cross, Jesus would suffer. He weeps and mourns as He carries the sins of the world to His death. But then comes the victory! He is risen! The mourning and sadness of the disciples is turned into joy on that third day. The suffering that Jesus undergoes is painful for the disciples for a time, but that sorrow and suffering of Jesus is our salvation.

"A little while and you will see me no more. Then a little while and you will see Me." These words come true again, for again Jesus is not seen. He ascends to the Father and is hidden from the sight of our eyes. Yet the church sees Him again by faith in the divine and holy gifts. Surrounded by sorrow and weeping and mourning, we rejoice in the gifts Christ gives us and the joy they bring. We weep when we behold the world into which we bring children. But weeping is turned to joy at the font when water and the word make us children of the Father. We weep over our sins and iniquities and the things we have done wrong to offend God. Yet weeping is turned to joy by the holy and certain words of absolution, declaring our sins forgiven. We weep that Jesus is not with us as He was with the disciples, yet weeping is turned to joy as we behold our Lord upon His altar in His holy supper of forgiveness, life and salvation. Every day of our lives is an opportunity for sorrows and heartaches. Yet here in Christ's holy church we receive the gifts in which by faith you see Jesus, and the sorrow that comes upon you daily is turned to joy.

"A little while and you will see Me no more. Then a little while and you will see Me." There is yet one more time that Jesus words will come true. On the Last Day when He comes again, we who have not seen Him with our eyes will see Him face to face. All of our sorrows, sufferings, pain and sadness will be turned to joy, as if they never took place. This is the Christian life, dear brothers and sisters. As Christians, we suffer because Christ suffers, knowing that we will share in the glory He has received. That Day will come when Jesus returns. Pain will be just a memory; your weeping and mourning will be turned into joy. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! 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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