Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sermon for 5/22/16: Feast of the Holy Trinity

A blessed Feast of the Holy Trinity to you and yours.

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Good News for You

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

Jesus said, “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus couldn’t quite get the idea of being born again. Perhaps he would have been better off if he understood Jesus as saying, “Unless one is born from above.” For it is only from above that you can even begin to understand the Trinity. There is more than enough evidence in the Scripture of the existence of the three Persons of the Godhead. It starts in Genesis with creation: the Father creating the world through His Son, with the Spirit of God hovering over the deep. We see it when Jesus was baptized: our Lord in the Jordan River, the Father's voice from above, the Spirit descending as a dove. And we see it plainly when St. Matthew records our Lord’s imperative to make disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And it continues throughout Scripture.
No one is born dry. No matter how you emerge from the womb of your mother, you are born wet. And no one enters the Kingdom of heaven dry either. “You must be born of Water and the Spirit,” Jesus says, and that is Holy Baptism. At the Font you were named with the Triune God. He called you His. He gave you the Name which is above every name, the Name of Jesus, which is His alone to give out as He pleases. That's being born from above.
It's easy for those who think that they are something in God's eyes to dry faith off, to pull it away from God's saving work in Holy Baptism, or His saving Gifts at the Table of Christ. People don't need their ears wet with God's promises or their lips wet with Christ's Blood, when they think that they have some standing, some deserved place before God. But when Jesus says, “God so loved the world,” He isn't saying that God was just so head-over-heels in love with sinful man, but that God loved the world in this way. He loved the world in this profound way: that He gave His only-begotten Son, Who died for you and rose again so that you would have eternal life.
You are born into God's Kingdom wet with the Water and Word, and thereby drowned and raised again. St. Paul says, “We were buried with Christ through Baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.” You are washed in Jesus, clothed in Jesus; His life, death and resurrection are poured out and laid upon you. It is His work, not yours. This is His gift to you, just as life and love and your parents' name were all given you freely on the day that you were born from below.
Being “born from above” in Holy Baptism enables you to see the work of this Triune God in your own life. You have a Triune God who lavishes you with the gift of His creation. You have a Triune God who shows you the manner of His love in a once-for-all sacrifice that would make peace between you and the Father. You have a Triune God “who calls you by His Gospel, enlightens you with His gifts, sanctifies and keeps you in the true faith.” And all of this goes back before the world was created!
You'll never get old enough to find an end to learning what that means. Your guilt is atoned for. Your sin is covered. This birth from above takes your sin away. Though you are unworthy and unclean, the God Who made you, also makes you right in God the Son, Who sends His Holy Spirit to comfort you, to give you faith to confess your sins and receive forgiveness and give that forgiveness to your neighbor. See what kind of love the Father has given to you, that you may be called a child of God, baptized into His holy name: 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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