Monday, October 17, 2016

Sermon for 10/16/16: Twenty-First Sunday After Trinity

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Your Son Lives

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

“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” Why should we believe without signs and wonders? What good is faith if it does not deliver? The nobleman had left his dying boy to bring home a miracle worker. That took some small, burning ember of belief that Jesus could help. But the miracle worker who turned water into wine would not go with him. He would not leave Cana. It must have seemed as though the faith and hope, the desperate prayers from Capernaum to Cana, had all been in vain.
Jesus would have surely failed at the seminary. In the face of such desperation, He dares to preach the Law. He sees that faith is still lacking, still imperfect, and He will not pretend that it is good enough. He will not be winsome or polite. He will not be patient or seemingly even kind. He will not meet felt needs. He sees into the man's heart by the man's words. He rebukes. He brings faith to its knees. He makes the father come to full desperation and forget his nobility. Then He commands: “Go your way,” and all he adds is, “Your son lives.” But what does that mean to a father full of fear? Does it mean that his son lives in heaven? Does it mean he lives right now but will die within the hour? Or does it mean—dare he hope?—that the fever has left him? The nobleman is not told. Nothing is explained. No promise is made. It is a simple declaration in the present tense: “Your son lives.” That is it. Nothing more. Take that and go on your way.
Miracle of miracles: that mysterious sentence changed the nobleman. He had tried to command Jesus. He did not ask. He commanded: “Come down before my child dies.” But Jesus said: “Your son lives,” and everything changed. It was not the nobleman who believed. It was the man, the father of the son. His nobility was stripped away. The Word of Jesus changed him. He went on his way. He obeyed and believed as a simple man, stripped of pretensions, no longer glorying in his faith, no longer making demands of God, but resting in the Word of Jesus. He still doesn't know just what it means, but Jesus said it, and that is good enough. This is how faith lives between Cana and Capernaum without signs or wonders.
He was not the first parent to get a son back from the dead. The widows in Nain and Zarephath had experienced this miracle as well. The Syro-Phonecian woman got her daughter back from demons. Abraham got Isaac back from the mountain, and Issac got Joseph back from brotherly murder. God provides. He always does. But most significantly Our Father in heaven got His Son back from the dead. When it was finished, He gave up His spirit. That Son didn't have to die. He didn't have to be forsaken by the Father and feel the hatred of the mob burning in His hands and feet. He didn't have to… except that His love demanded it. Love drove Him to the cross. Love desired to drive off the fever in Capernaum and change water into wine in Cana. Love demanded death to put death to rest, so that Jesus could stand in the upper room and pronounce peace upon the Church and establish the Ministry of reconciliation. The Father lost the Son on the cross. He went to heaven and told Our Father what He told the nobleman: Your Son lives. The Sacrifice is complete. The Father's wrath has been appeased. Hell has lost its claim. God's good will has been restored.
Jesus lives. Go on your way this dying, autumn day. Take this with you: Your Son lives: not the one that has come from your our union with your spouse, but a different Son, a Son more fully yours than those temporarily placed into your care. Your Son lives—even if you are yet a child or never had a child. For this Son is your Son, but you are not His father or mother. He is the Son given to you in the waters of Holy Baptism. He is placed upon your tongue in the Holy Communion. You are His and He is yours. He is your Son, even as His Father and His Spirit are your Father and your Spirit. He has caused Himself to become your Lamb, slain for your transgressions and raised for your justification. You've come this day to modern day Cana, not where water is turned into wine, but where wine carries the Blood of Christ and makes glad the hearts of men. You've got your miracle and sign. It is the Body and Blood Jesus. Be strengthened and encouraged as you go on your way. Go back to your daily life. Your Son lives. So will your children. So will you. Jesus lives. This is enough for faith. It will see you through. 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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