Monday, September 28, 2015

Sermon for 9/27/15: Trinity XVII


Go Up Higher
Luke 14:1-11

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

The Virgin Mary knew the kind of God her Son was, even before He was born. She sang: “He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.” She was right. Our Lord is not interested in those who are only interested in themselves. He came to put the self-important in their place and to seek the lost and humble, those who claim to have nothing but sin and wretchedness. Jesus shows us this by who He is and what He does. He is Son of the Most High. He is exalted above heaven and earth. He is the Ruler of all things. But He humbles Himself. He takes on flesh and comes to us. He through whom all things were made takes on a human nature. He who stands above the Law subjects Himself to its judgment and condemnation. He who is Life itself gives Himself into death on the cross, pouring forth His blood in a humiliating spectacle of shame and sin. He who is God Himself dies as a miserable man on Calvary. He does this so that, by conquering sin, He would be lifted up on the Third Day. He does this so that we who are made low in our sins may be lifted up by His salvation and forgiveness. Jesus is humbled so that you are exalted. Jesus is then exalted so that you may be lifted even into the heavenly places, seated with Him at the right hand of the Father!

It is Jesus who lifts you up; repent of lifting yourself up! Repent of exalting yourself in front of God and showing off in front of your neighbor, thinking God must be pleased with you because you go to church and volunteer your time here. Isn't this how we live? Don’t we try to get ahead of others? Don’t we try to get the last word in? Don’t we try to keep up with others and even pass them? Over and over, just as the Pharisees did, we exalt ourselves. We think we sparkle in God's sight because of how good we are, how holy. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let yourself be humbled. Let us who have exalted ourselves be brought low in the dust and ashes of repentance! Let us fall down before the Lord and plead guilty of all sins and put all of our hope and trust not in our own works, but the works and merits and wounds of Jesus. Fall down in repentance. Cling to Jesus who raises you up.

For indeed, the Lord exalts the lowly. He raises you up! He lifts you on high with Himself. He who was humbled by the cross and exalted on Easter now raises you up from the ashes and pit of death. Jesus, humbled and exalted for you, now humbles you in repentance and exalts and raises you up. He who healed on the Sabbath Day now comes to heal you in His gifts. At that font, you are raised up from death with water and the Word. In Holy Absolution, you are exalted and stand before the Lord as one whose sins are covered. At the altar, though you kneel in humility, you are raised up by the body and blood of Jesus that was raised up from the dead. In all of these holy gifts, Jesus is exalting you, raising you to God's right hand. By the forgiveness of sins, the Lord strips away your guilt and shame and gives you in their place His glory and righteousness. This, by the way, is why we practice Closed Communion: to teach us this very repentance and trust as Christ lifts us up. Many would presume to walk in the door and walk to the altar and take the high place at the Lord's altar. Don't do that! Let the Lord call you forward in repentance and faith to take your place—not because you choose it, but because He invites you. The Lord teaches you to sit at the lowly spot and be invited up to the place reserved for the guest of honor through His Word. And He never fails to invite you, to welcome you to this highest of places: into His presence. The Feast of Christ’s body and blood is ready. Friends, “go up higher.” 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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