Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sermon for 2/19/17: Sexagesima

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Ears to Hear

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

            “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” What an odd thing to say. After all, most people have ears, and most people who have ears are able to hear. But “ears to hear” aren’t made of cartilage and skin. “Ears to hear” only hear when they have been stopped to the babbling of the world. In the Kingdom of God, only the deaf can hear. In the Kingdom of God, only the blind can see. In the Kingdom of God, only the fool will believe.
            God hides Himself in parables. Simple words conceal God’s message from men too proud to see that He doesn’t work the way they work. But that is precisely the point: God is not like us. This is baffling to the worldly wise. He sows His seed in foolish, impossible places, with no thought of gain or loss, only conscious that the seed is good and men are in need. He sows on the trodden path, the rocky patch, the thorny ground, into the deaf ear, the blind eye, and the hard heart. He sows where no drunken farmer in his darkest hour ever sowed. 
            Most is lost. Most is trampled, snatched, withered, or choked. Most is wasted. This Sower is more inefficient than the government! But still the Sower sows. It’s His seed to sow as He sees fit. He never counts the cost. He does not sow for profit. He does not sow for fame, honor, or prestige. He sows because men are in need. He sows because He is love. He sows in ways that men think foolish, for He provides, gives, and loves for free.
            The seed finds the earth—miserable, scorched, dry, rocky ground though it be. Miraculously some grows! Some transforms that trodden, rocky, thorny place into soil rich enough to bear a crop a hundredfold! It grew to life in dark corners where men had given up and moved on. It bestowed wisdom in the midst of foolishness. Always it bears a crop—just not where men think it ought. For this Kingdom is not ruled in the ways of men. It is a Kingdom of grace, bestowed without thought to cost or fear of failure, motivated by perfect love. The Seed, the Holy Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, never returns to the Father void. He completes the good work that He was sent to do: He saves the world. He forgives sins. He loves men. He sows. And what He sows is the power of God for salvation. And though it seems wasted, what He sows changes lives. He never leaves things just as He found them. It is the Word, the creative force of God Himself.
            This same Word called forth a Messiah into Mary’s womb through her ear. This same Word called forth a water of renewal and regeneration in John’s timid washing of the Christ. All who are joined to Him in those burial waters are His sons in whom He is well-pleased. Their sins wash off of them and onto Him, and He raises them up again to life. This same Word calls forth His true body and blood out of ordinary bread and wine. His people eat and drink and proclaim His death until He comes again. This same Word calls forth a holy nation from sinful people. You worship one Lord, and you know that, whatever the future brings, this is not your home.
            You are the hundredfold harvest of grace. He transformed you by His Word, watered you with His Blood, sheltered you in His love so that you grow and live. By the power of His unfailing Word, you are His own, His beloved, His precious, spotless Bride. He has placed His Word into you. And by that Word you live. Soon He will return to bring the harvest home, to complete what He has begun in you. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 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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