Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sermon for 8/17/14--Trinity IX

Sorry, no audio this week.

Forgiving Debts

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

Our Lord commends the sons of this world for their single-mindedness and zeal. They are shrewd. They know what they want and they focus upon it. They guard and protect their treasures. On the other hand, even though the sons of light have a far greater gift, they guard it with less zeal than criminals guard their loot. The loot and plunder of this world will not last. Its value is temporary. And yet, without a second thought, you can rattle off the price of what you covet, whether it’s a new car, a new house, a video game, whatever it might be. We all spend a great deal of time counting our money and adding up our debts and the cost of what we wish we had. Why then are you so tongue-tied and confused when asked about the hope that is in you?

The master of the unjust steward commends the steward for his shrewdness. He commends the man for giving away his master’s goods and canceling debt. This is not a master like the masters of men. By this parable Jesus would show you how the Kingdom of God works: where goods are given away for free, debts are canceled, and sinners—liars, cheats, thieves, the unjust—are praised and loved. The Father has given all He has, right down to the life of His Son, to have you. He is like the shepherd who leaves the rest of the flock behind to secure the safety of one sheep. He does not calculate or analyze the cost. The Church is not a business. God is one of us in Christ, but He is not like us. He is holy. He bestows His holiness on you through holy things—Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, Holy Absolution, Holy Word. He gives you faith. Even so, because of the old man still with you, His ways baffle you and mock your wisdom. They are not your ways. But by the faith that He has planted, you know that His ways are good.

So…what goods of the Lord's have you wasted or stolen? How have you been negligent or miserly with God's love? Are you holding grudges? Do you secretly desire vengeance? Are you willing to lie and cheat to gain honor with men? What have you done? How have you violated God's law and spurned His gifts? It doesn't matter how long your list of sins is. It doesn’t matter how you have squandered His gifts. He still wants you back. The debt is canceled. You are free. After all, He is not a master like the masters of men. He loves to forgive. He is gracious. He is holy.

This is a Love so consuming that it would sacrifice a Son. This is a Love so bent on giving that it suffers constant abuse and betrayal. This is a Love so pure that it cannot be spent or end or ever taken away, a Love that cancels debts, ends death, and adopts rebels as sons. Such love seems foolish to the sons of this world. It even seems foolish to many who consider themselves sons of light. This is the incomprehensible Love of God in Christ Jesus. This is the work of the Father in the Spirit of Christ. God has loved you by sending His Son. In His suffering, death, and resurrection He has canceled your debts. He has bathed you in this Love by His Name and water, fed you in this Love with His risen Body and Blood, encouraged and taught you in this Love by His holy Word. These are treasures that moth and rust cannot destroy, that thieves cannot break in and steal. These are the treasures of heaven—even Christ Himself—and it is He who guards, protects, and preserves them for you, who continues to give them to you. He is the steward of the Father who gives away the Father's kingdom and cancels debts. The Master loves to cancels debts, and His love cannot be contained in the vessels of men. With God, there is always more. 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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