Monday, March 23, 2020

Sermon for 3/22/2020: Fourth Sunday in Lent

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Life from Bread and a Tree

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

In the beginning “the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,” and Godbreathed into his nostrils the spirit of life; and the man became a living being.” After that, “the Lord God planted a garden.” In the midst of that garden He put the tree of Life. Immediately after the breath of life comes the tree of life, the tree whose fruit sustains and nourishes, grows and matures, increases and strengthens the life God chooses to live in all mankind. This should tell you something: All you have; all the blessings the Lord God has generously given you; all the good that you don’t deserve; all the mercies our Father chooses to bestow—His Tree of Life is in the midst of it all. His Tree, the tasty fruit it bears, and the Life it is and promises and delivers—that Tree is the heart and center of all He has made for you and made you for.
Our Lord Jesus drives it home in today’s Gospel when He feeds the five thousand. There He is, in the midst of this crowd. He is the whole reason they are there. This great multitude comes from all over “because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.” So there He is, sitting on the mountain with His disciples, ready to preside over this meal, ready to give them bread—but not just any bread. This is the bread of life, the bread that is His life.
Here’s what you need to understand: This bread of life, it is just like that tree of life. One may eat of it and live. And whoever eats of this bread shall never die. This bread that the Lord Jesus gives is just like the fruit from the tree that the Lord God gave: it sustains and nourishes, increases and strengthens the life God gives to all mankind. That is what Our Lord is teaching—not just that He is kind and compassionate, but that His kindness and compassion, His mercy and love, are kneaded into and inseparable from the bread of life. And this bread of life is the fruit of the tree of life.
And there is yet another tree of life that bears fruit. It is the tree of the cross, where Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us so that we may eat of Him and not die; so that we may eat of Him, and in eating, have our communion and intimacy in God restored, refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated. For the bread that Our Lord God gives—the fruit from the Tree of the Cross, the new Tree of Life—this is the Lamb of God who not only takes away the sin of the world, who not only also gives His life for the world, but who also gives us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink so that we might live and abide and dwell in Him. For whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life, and He will raise him up at the last day.
Beloved in Christ, even as we are separated because of the wages of sin, you are not alone. In your midst is Jesus, the Bread of Life, the One who abundantly provides for all your wants of body and soul. Here is the bread so abundant that it never runs out. He is the food that is so strengthening, so fulfilling, that you may eat and be satisfied.
As we eat, as we partake of the Word of God by which we live, let us not be anxious or afraid. Let us not worry about today or tomorrow—what we shall eat, what we shall wear, how we will pay our bills, how life will go in the midst of illness and panic. Let us instead rejoice and be glad. With Jesus in our midst, the Tree and Bread of Life Himself, we have life—true, abundant, eternal life. Come to the altar, all you who have no worth before God on your own. Come, and eat the bread of life from the tree of life. Come and eat the fruit of the Christ which is given without money and without price. Come and partake of the Word of God. Come, eat of it, and live. 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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