Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sermon for 6/8/14--Pentecost



Means for Peace

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

God always works through means. He never just does stuff. He always deals with us and comes to us and blesses us through earthly things that have His Word and promises and gifts attached. Jesus tells His disciples that He has been commanded by the Father to save the world…and He does it. When the Father rescues us from sin and death, again, it's not some thunderous proclamation from heaven that we can't be sure we heard correctly. He sends His Son into this world, born of a woman, born to preach and heal. The sins of the world—our sins—get laid upon Him at His baptism, and He carries them to the cross. By His death on the cross, the sins of the world are wiped out. By His resurrection, the power of death is defeated. By His ascension, our salvation really is wrapped up in Jesus in the heavenly places. By His real, actual, physical existence in this world, the Son of God does the work of saving sinners. God works through means. He doesn't just magically make our sins go away. Through the means of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Father no longer counts our sins against us. You see? God works through means, through the real flesh and blood of His Son, to accomplish our salvation.

But the means don't stop there. Jesus tells His disciples that the Comforter will come and will remind them of all things that He said to them. This is fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit it poured out on those Apostles. And then the Apostles become the means. Sent by Christ, filled with the Spirit, they preach Jesus. They speak God's Word. Again, rushing wind and tongues of fire are all neat and exciting, but what is the end result? Through the voice of His chosen men, the Spirit speaks Christ's Word of salvation and forgiveness to sinners. This is the Christian Church, in which the Spirit is at work through means, preaching the Gospel and giving new birth to sinners.

This is Pentecost, when the Spirit comes upon Christ's church and gives us life! God works through means continually in His church, giving us Jesus by water, word, body and blood. But world doesn't want God and His gifts. The world wants to make its own way and do its own thing. And so it despises Christ and His Word. Just as some people laughed at the apostles on Pentecost, so now the world laughs at the Church and the preaching of Christ. It mocks the Good News that we don't have to try to save ourselves because we have a Savior in Jesus Christ. The world jokes and makes fun of those who believe their only hope and confidence is Christ and what He has done for us and gives us. And we’re all too happy to laugh along with them, lest we be thought of as foolish. But the joke is on us. The world runs from the gifts God gives through His church, and it starves to death apart from God's grace.

God works through means. He doesn't just do things out of the blue. He saves us by the blood of His Son. He delivers that forgiveness by the gifts we receive in the Church. By water, word, and body and blood, the Lord comes to us, blesses us, forgives us, and does what nothing else in the world can do: He gives us peace. Our Lord Jesus promises us: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled. Neither let them be afraid." Do not be afraid, for Christ has won all salvation for us. The Spirit has come preaching and washing and feeding the Church. And these are gifts, given from our heavenly Father for our good. 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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