Thursday, November 22, 2018

Sermon for 11/22/18: Day of National Thanksgiving

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Wealth in Christ

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

It is clear that a man’s life does not consist in his possessions, but it’s difficult to believe. After all, what do you daydream about? What would it take to make you happy? Are not your thoughts and desires focused mostly on possessions? Do you not daydream of cars and houses, vacations and boats? Or do they run with more with the body? Do you daydream of not being sick or old, of not getting or staying fat, of being beautiful? But a man’s life does not consist in his health or attractiveness any more than in his possessions. And, saddest of all, sinners want honor and fame. You want to be recognized and loved.
Take heed. Beware of covetousness. There is no appeasing sin. If you get what you think you want, you will only want more. The richest men on earth are not satisfied. They all want to be richer. Those who are not the richest want to be. The poor give more to the poor than the rich do. The statistics are clear. The widow’s mite is not that unusual. Poor people are generous. Rich people are stingy. So also the poor almost never commit suicide. The rich do. That is not to say that poverty is a virtue. It is simply that being poor gives life a sense of meaning. The prisoners who survived the concentration camps of World War II were not the healthiest or strongest, but those who had something to live for. Some had pious motives such as the desire to see loved ones or finish great work. Others just lived for revenge. Poverty gives purpose to life; the rich are more likely to see the futility of human achievement and effort, to despair because possessions and opportunity, luxury and fame have all failed to bring them happiness or satisfaction. Here is wisdom: a man’s life does not consist in his possessions.
In what, then, does life consist? A man’s life consists in God. “Store up for yourself treasures in heaven.” This does not merely expose our fallen flesh and selfish desires. It also shows us the way of Christ, the way of life. Our Lord did not seek the middle way. He served God, not mammon. He loves His Father without limit. He does not question His Father’s will, but submits. He drains the cup of the Father’s wrath. He believes that His Father is good and loves Him, even when His Father condemns Him as sin. Out of love for the Father, He loves the world and lays down His life without regret. He loves those whom He created and He would have them all back again. He reconciles all humanity to His Father. He pays the ransom.
You cannot love God too much, and love covers a multitude of sins. You cannot hope or believe in Christ too much. We do not count the martyrs as fools who sold their lives too cheaply, but as heroes who loved God more than they loved themselves. We were created to believe in, hope for, and love the God who loves us. This is where our life abides.
So thank God that He has provided for our physical needs, that He sends the rain and crops and all pleasant things, though we do not deserve them. We are fed; we are dry; we are warm. But we should also thank God that His mercy has spared us the afflictions of excess. Most of all, let us thank God that He has revealed Himself to us in His Word; that Christ is known to us in His faith, hope, and love; that we are His and He is ours.
Our thanks this day is not found mainly in food, drink, and family—though we do thank God for these gifts. Our thanks is truly found in the gift of salvation. Let us give us thank to the Lord by rejoicing in our baptism; by yearning for and partaking of the body and blood of Christ; by having His forgiveness and love poured into us. Thanks be to God, for our life is provided by and consists in Christ, who loves us and gave Himself for us. 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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