Monday, September 12, 2016

Sermon for 9/11/16: Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity

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He Sees You

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

What a strange day it must have been for the widow. She had already lost her husband, and now she’s in mourning as she goes on her way to bury her son. His body is being carried to its tomb, and she’s steeling her heart to leave him there. Parents are never really prepared to bury their own children, but she somehow had to let him go and go on with her own life. And then Jesus intervenes. He sees the woman and has compassion. He stops the funeral procession of her son. He touches the coffin. He tells the young man, “Arise!” And suddenly life emerges from death. The young man sits up, very much alive, and Jesus leaves him in his mother’s care. Nothing would ever be the same again for the widow or her son, and it all started because Jesus saw this widow. She was no longer in this alone; Jesus was with her.
It’s been fifteen years today since the terrorist attacks in New York City and the Pentagon as well as the crash from the thwarted attack in Pennsylvania. In the years before and since, we have seen our own share of death right where we are. We have buried parents and grandparents, spouses, children, and friends. It’s been a month since we buried Ruth Bunton at Bethel; yesterday we had the funeral at St. Peter for Lyle Wydeck. Death has been a savage enemy. No one who died on 9/11 has risen from their grave. None of those who have gone before us into death have walked away from their funeral procession. Does Jesus not see us as we mourn them? “Yoo-hoo! Jesus! I’m right here! Don’t you see me mourning? Where’s my resurrection story? Where’s my compassion?” 
Luke does not record this account to tell you that Jesus will bring your loved ones back from the grave to resume their sinful and suffering existence. What a horrible God He would be if that was all He could do for you. Yes, He raised this young man. Yes, He raised the daughter of Jairus. Yes, He even raised Lazarus. All of them would die again. But He has bigger plans for you. He has something better in mind for you. Never doubt that He has compassion for you. 
You see, he raised this young man and Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus to point forward to His own resurrection. He didn’t die and rise again for His own sake. He went to the grave for you. He rose for you. After three days, during which the disciples mourned the death of the One who loved them most of all, Christ rose victorious from the grave. He stilled their grief in the resurrection. Remember how the women came weeping to the tomb; they left with joy. He stills your grief too. Christ is risen! Sin is put to death.  Death has been overthrown; its teeth have been pulled. Death is powerless before our Lord. Satan kneels before Him, the last conquered enemy. Our Lord has won the ultimate victory. And He has done all of that because He has compassion for you. He puts sin to death for you. He overthrows death for you. He conquers Satan for you. He sees you. He knows your grief. And He takes it away. In its place he gives you the sure and certain hope in the resurrection of the dead unto eternal life. It points you to Jerusalem the Golden where God will wipe every tear from your eyes, where there will be no more sorrow, no more hunger or thirst, and no more death.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, you have already been put to death. You have been drowned in the waters of Holy Baptism. You have been crucified and raised with Jesus. I tell you, it is okay for you to weep and to mourn the loss of those you love. You are not a stone. But do not weep and lament like those who have no hope. The Lord sees you. He sees your grief. But as you weep, remember to fix your eyes on Jesus, the One who died and rose from the dead. Lift up your heads. The Day of your redemption draws near. The day of weeping will soon be over. Christ our Lord sees you. He has compassion on you. He draws near to you to still your tears and give you joy. Hear His voice as He comforts you with the forgiveness of your sins and all the heavenly gifts and blessings that come with it. 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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