Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sermon for 5/15/16: The Feast of Pentecost

This morning we were blessed to witness the baptism of Torin River Weakley as we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost! By the way, this is how St. Peter Lutheran Church in Campbell Hill looks on the Feast of Pentecost when we have a Baptism.

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True Love

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

Sunday after Sunday, the faithful throughout the world confess their love for the Lord by sacrificing their time to attend the Divine Service. They also sacrifice some of what they have and some of who they are for the sake of their parish. With that in mind, in the weeks and months ahead, as we consider what the future of this congregation will look like, we also should ponder the question, “What does it mean to love the Lord God?”

Jesus says, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. To love the Lord God means to take Him at His Word, to rely on Him, and to expect every good thing from Him. It also means that you can say, “Whatever I go through, whatever good or ill comes my way, whatever joy or sadness I experience, whatever direction my life takes—our heavenly Father, through His Son, by His Spirit, is beside me and remains with me. No matter what happens—in good times or bad—He blesses me, comforts me, endures with me and helps me.”

But from where does this love for God come? Is it blind allegiance? Do you love the Father only because you’ve been convinced that you should? Is your love merely a hope that things go well and a vague faith in the goodness of God or man? For many, that is all loving God is—just the way they express their faith that things will be okay and get better. Is your love for Jesus a love and trust in the Man who was born of Mary? Or is it loving and trusting the idea of a Savior? When your love for Jesus depends on your own notions of what a Savior should be, your love for Him grows cold, and you do not let His love have its way with you. That Christ you love looks an awful lot like what you see in the mirror.

Today our Lord says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” With those words, our Lord Jesus urges you to remember that He is not an idea or an invisible childhood friend. Loving Him means holding to His Word and holding Him to His Word. And that gives you courage to live not for ideas or justice, but to live confident that your Jesus comes through, that He never lets you down, and that even in the darkest days your Jesus does the best for you.

Remember what St. John has said: God is love.” So love is more than a feeling; Love is God Himself. Yet you cannot see God or put your arms around Him. And so, that Love which God is, the Holy Spirit implanted that love in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There, God became man. There, God became someone you could hear, someone you can see with your eyes and touch with your hands. There, from the flesh of Mary, came Love in the flesh. All of this is because of the Holy Spirit. That Love of God born of the Virgin Mary lived the love that He is. While we were still sinners, He died for us. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” All of this is because of the Holy Spirit. Yet the Spirit doesn’t stop there. After the Love of God is killed and sacrificed and raised from the dead, then the Holy Spirit comes again to unite Jesus to your flesh and blood. When does the Holy Spirit do this? He does it first when you are baptized. In the waters of Holy Baptism, the Spirit buries you deeply within the flesh and blood of Jesus. And so you come alive—truly alive—in Him, even as young Torin was made truly alive this day. And then, when you receive the Holy Sacrament, the Spirit implants Jesus Himself into your flesh in His body and blood. And so now you really live. And no longer do you live to yourself. Now, by the Spirit, in Christ you live and move and have your being.

With the Lord God, who is Love, at home in you, what can anyone do to you? This is the same God who raised Jesus from the dead, the same God who has promised that He will not let His saints see destruction, the same God whose gracious good will is always done and whom death and the devil cannot stop. He is trustworthy, and whoever trusts in God has the love of God abiding in Him. 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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