Good Friday 2014
The Forsaken King
Veritas et aquitas. Truth and justice. Two terms that go hand in hand. If you have not justice you have no truth, every king knows that. Veritas et aquitas is a Latin term that the Royal Roman law was based on. Truth and justice could be called universal law. Tonight Jesus stands before the accusations of the law. Will truth and justice stand or is Christ the King of the Jews forsaken? My God, My God why have you forsaken me?
This one question is one aspect of chrisitanity that causes many people to stumble. Why would God’s only Son be forsaken? If Jesus was perfect and never sinned, why would his father forsake him? It seems that there is neither justice nor truth in the action of God. The reason this aspect of the Christian faith is a stumbling block is because the it defines the mystery of the gospel. The reason this question, My God my God…is a stumbling block is because they lack faith.
St Paul said," we preach Christ jcrucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ kthe power of God and lthe wisdom of God. Jesus was forsaken precisely because he was perfect and sinless. This is the reason the Gospel doesn’t make sense, Jesus doesn’t deserve what he gets and in turn because of that we do not get what we deserve. Jesus is our God forsaken king so that we would not be forsaken by God because of our sins.
We have broken God's law and therefore just punishment must be given out. There must be atonement made for our breaking God's law. Justice must take place. We take our sin too lightly. A violation against God's holy and perfect law has taken place and God is just. See tonight the result of your sin. See with your ears what your thoughts words and deeds bring to our most holy and blessed Savior. Do you think your sins of no consequence? Do you not ever pause and consider the depth to which Christ must sink to for your sin? Something must be done to fix our deepest most grotesque sickness, sin. God is just, sin against him must be dealt with. Sin cannot go unpunished.
Moses says in Deut 32, "all his ways are justice… A God of faithfulness and swithout iniquity, just and upright is he." JOhn tells us in Revelation the angels in heaven sing this song of Moses, "just and true are your ways O king of the nations." If God is indeed just, your sin must be dealt with. Justice must take place so that truth is upheld. Pilate in seeing the lies of the Jewish authorities realizes something has gone terribly wrong. Pilate who's very job is to uphold truth and justice realizes the stakes are very high in this trial of Jesus. The very foundations of the world are built upon truth and justice and now the foundations will be shaken.
We heard Pilate ask, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Pilate sees what the Jews are doing to their king! Never in all history has a king been treated in this unjust way. Not even rotten kings received this treatment. King Saul a king who rebelled against God. He forsook God's word and became evil. This king surely deserves death for his sin, yet when one of King David's soldiers killed Saul, David executed the assassin. "You dare lay a hand on God's anointed one." You do not lay a hand on a king, even when he is evil. For the king is God's anointed. Pilate may not have known the story of Saul and David, but he does understand justice.
Pilate may not have known truth but he knew justice. " Veritas et Aeuqtias" truth and justice. THe two go hand in hand it would seem except when it comes to God's justice. This Pilate could not wrap his head around…Pilate could see justice was not happening, an innocent man was about to be executed, that is not justice. If that is just then "what is truth?" Pilate asks. Pilate knows that if there is no justice then there is no truth. 5 ch earlier Jesus made the great statement, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Justice and truth stand before Pilate, yet he does not believe. He is blind. Not to justice but to the truth. The truth of God's mercy.
At the time of the Passover Pilate would release a prisoner for the crowd a gesture of goodwill of the Roman Govt to the Jews. A law breaker is released. Justice is not carried out. Truth is put on hold. The guilty declared innocent. A pardon. Little does Pilate know he is reflecting God's will for sinners. Pilate desires to let Jesus go. He is one with authority. He holds truth and justice in his hands. The Roman Govt is more powerful than all the gods…or so they believe. But now Pilate comes upon truth and justice that he cannot wrap his head around. Let this man go free! But God will not allow it. Imagine Pilate's dismay at this lack of justice! So sick of it he washes his hands. This king is being foraken by the very people he desires to serve.
"I find no guilt in him." PIlate speaks the truth. But then Pilate recognizes that the crowd will come to rioting if he frees Jesus. Pilate will look week, unable to control the masses. Pilate sees he is powerless. To save his own skin Pilate washes his hands Jesus is crucified.
We ask, "If Jesus was perfect and never sinned, yet was forsaken by God then we are all hopeless. Who can be saved? That is neither just nor true."
The problem with this question of justice and truth is that forgiveness of sins is not earned by being perfect. Forgiveness is given for you. Given out in baptism. Given out in the Lord's Supper. Given out in hearing absolution. Just as Pilate had been given the authority by God to free Barabbas so too by the authority given by Christ, I forgive you all your sins.
Tonight a just man, the truth himself, dies for you. The king is forsaken. Now because of this death for your sins, you go free. It is not just according to the way of man. It is against all truth of this world. Christ is forsaken so that you sinner would go free and be declared just before GOd. A trial has taken place before all the cosmos. Justice given out. Truth upheld. God is faithful. God has declared you righteous for Jesus sake. Amen.
Christmas Eve 2013
Throughout Advent we have been hearing about the Fathers of Advent. Adam, Abraham, Zachariah and Joseph. Each father we heard from taught us something about our heavenly father. Even though these Fathers of Advent teach us about our father who art in heaven, they are only an example of God's love. Tonight the God who has been hidden in the Advent Fathers fully reveals himself. The hidden God, our Advent father is revealed in Jesus. Tonight God is no longer a hidden father in heaven, but God becomes man.
Well if it wasn't Christmas Eve today would be a rather depressing day. Luke tells us as much in the reading, v.1-5…
If the child that Mary is carrying isn't true God then today would be a rather unfortunate day. You see Mary and Joseph are in Bethlehem and while they are surrounded by sand and palm trees they aren't in bethlehem for vacation.
Mary and Joseph are in Bethlehem because Cearsar Augustus, Caesar the Exaulted One, Caesar who believes himself to be a god has required all his subjects to be registered.
Registered means counted or a census.
Caesar Augustus wanted to know who was living in his territories. Not only that, but Caesar wanted to know every detail. How many children do you have. Where do you live. Who are your parents. What did you do for a living. How much did you make. Do you have any distinguishing physical characteristics. Yes the NSA was at work long before the War on Terror came along.
This was not the only time Augustus had issued a census, he had 3 total. Caesar Augustus considered his censuses a truly remarkable advancement in his day. In fact in the official Roman historical records Augustus himself ranked these censuses as the 8th most important things he did as a ruler. I guess you could say his census was his legacy. They were his Obamacare. His War on Terror. His war on Drugs. His New Deal. Yes, Caesar Augustus was proud of his census. He has reason to.
Counting and knowing who lives in your territories is very handy information. It tells you how your empire is growing. It tells you how many roads you need. How many Starbucks will need to be built in Judea. More importantly though how much money you will bring in in taxes. Ah yes, there it is the almighty dollar. Follow the money. The census will give Caesar an idea of how much money he will have at his disposal. Mary and Joseph travelled 80miles to Bethlehem because it was their April 15. Tax day!
As if that weren't enough Mary was pregnant. It doesn't matter how pregnant Mary was, travel with a pregnant wife at any stage is difficult. Difficult for the husband as he tries to please his beloved bride, but especially for the mother. Add to that the always ever present threat of theives and robbers ready to take advantage of a traveling couple, Mary was probably feeling anything but highly favored. But you see Mary isn't highly favored because she was a perfect woman. No Mary is favored because of who is dwelling in her womb.
Yes today would have been a rather disastrous day for our young couple if the child in Mary's womb was not God himself. All the struggles people go through, add to that pregnancy, traveling and increased taxes. We can relate to their troubles.
We too know this troubled road that Joseph, Mary and Jesus traveled down. Cost of living going up. Family values going down. Work load increasing, time with family decreasing. Yes sometimes we know that when Isaiah mentions those living in darkness he is speaking about us. With all those troubling things though there was something far worse than tax day going on. There was something far worse than an oppressive Caesar Augustus staking his claim.
You see while we can relate with Mary and Joseph on a worldly level anguishing over things like tax day or difficult family situations, we struggle with the holy family on a much deeper level. We lament with Mary and Joseph in a much more intimate way, our sin. Your sin. My sin.
For while we can be mistreated and stripped of all our possesions by those who hold power over us, what about all times you have mistreated others in like manner? When we have not forgiven our enemies as we should. When instead of thoughts of love we think evil against those who have wronged us. It's easy to see our enemies in the world, it's much harder to look in the mirror and see the sin in our own life, but you know it is there.
Mary and Joseph knew doubt and sin, both of themselves and the suffering brought upon them by others. However they believed God to be merciful and forgiving and he would take care of them no matter what. Mary and Joseph knew they were helpless to help themselves so they believed this child was the answer to all their problems and sin. While they were following God's word by taking care of this child they knew that in this child God was taking care of them.
For even though the path to Bethlehem to bring about the birth of this child was seemingly being orchestrated by a money and power hungry ruler, it was really our hidden Advent Father who was bringing all things to pass. For this is just how the hidden God works. He even uses the powers of this world to bring about his will. We could say that this long hard journey to Bethlehem is giving us a preview of how God would use another ruler, Pontius Pilate to bring about his will.
When we consider the cross of Christ we see how this was a most horrendous occasion, an innocent man was murdered. However we also know that through faith, this Christ was working to win for us the forgiveness of sins. That he was taking your place. Yes Christmas is a preview of the cross when Christ offers himself to God on your behalf for your sins where the sinless one would become your sins. All the times you've messed up. All the mistakes you've made. All the times you wish you could've done things another way Christ joyfully went to the cross because he knows there is no other way for you to be given eternal forgiveness and eternal life. Your sins are forgiven.
Although God is hidden as he works through Caesar Augustus, Pontius Pilate and all the troubles in your life, he is fully revealed on the cross where he is stripped of all covering and there you see God as he came into this world naked and covered in blood living and dying for you.
And while we hope for all sorts of things this Christmas, certain problems to go away. We hope certain sins won't be committed again. We pray we don't make this mistake or that. We wish we didn't need an elf on the shelf to motivate us to do good. We just wish we weren't such bad sinners. I have good news for you, Christ came to save sinners. This is why he was born, to die for every one of your sins. For the angels proclaim, "Unto you is born this day a Savior…" The identity of this child is what brought Mary and Joseph comfort when their lives seemed upside down and the identity of this child is what will comfort you as well.
As Mary carried the Christ child in her womb to Bethlehem we remember Christ carried the sins of the whole world on his way to the cross. For while we know the road to Bethlehem was hard this was just the beginning of Christ's road to the cross. This was just a continuation of God continually coming to his creation to bring forgiveness. And now he still comes to wash you clean in his blood. He still comes to you through his word to enliven your trust in the baptismal promise he made to you, "I have called you by name, you are mine." This is where we look when our roads in this life become rough. When it seems like life is out of control when it seems rulers, kings and our enemies have the upper hand and you can't even believe the word of God without suffering, know that Christ has come to be born and die for your sinful doubt that he is truly working for you. Don't look to the hidden God, but look to God revealed in Christ.
Gen. 28:10-22; Matthew 21:10-14
Surely This Is The Gate to Heaven.
Brick and mortar. A term that we have only been hearing for about 15yrs. Brick and mortar is a term used to describe a business that has an actual physical place. Brick and mortar is an alternative to a business that only maintains an internet presence. A few years ago there was no need to distinguish the two because there were only brick and mortar stores. But with the internet, thanks to Al Gore, we have businesses with just an internet address instead of a showroom or sales floor.
I bring this up because in an internet age, today we celebrate that you Immanuel LCMS have brick and mortared…again. You have renovated because you desire to be a place where Christ gives out his promises. And while businesses come and go, our Lord’s word and his gifts endure forever.
God came and met Jacob. God spoke his word to Jacob. God came to Jacob and gave him a promise and that is what persevered in Jacob. It wasn’t that Jacob was perfect, but God was. Jacob believed God’s promise to bless all families through his offspring. This offspring is ofcourse Christ as Paul tells us in Gal. 3:16. Jacob believed .
But now God doesn’t promise us he will come to us in dreams. He doesn’t promise us that he will come to us when we are in the woods even though he is there. The question is why would Jacob build a pillar and call this specific place the house of God? Because God came and spoke his promise to Jacob and Jacob believed that God was present in his word. Jacob said it was God’s house.
In our reading from Matt. Jesus says his house will be a house of prayer. Later Christ will say, “Where two or three are gathered in my name I am there.” Jacob distinguished between the presence of God in all space and the place where God is giving to him. Jesus says the same in that he is present in a specific place even though he is God. There is a difference between God’s presence and God’s presence for the forgiveness of sins delivering to us the forgiveness of sins.
So we must believe that God can be present to do something for us. That God can indeed be everywhere, but be present in a special way in a specific place.
Today we hear about Jacob. There was also Moses and the burning bush. God came in the burning bush to Moses and said, “Take off your sandals for the ground you are standing on is holy.” Then God also met Joshua as the commander of his army. He told Joshua the same thing, “take off your sandals, the place where you are standing is holy.” There wasn’t anything special about this soil. Not until God’s presence comes does something become holy. Not until God calls it holy is it holy. Not until God attaches his word to something is it holy.
So we have today the church. Jesus says wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them. So this place is holy because as you heard the name of the Lord was spoken, “Father Son and Holy Spirit.” God’s presence is here. He is outside our doors, but he is here for a special reason, to give you a promise. Just like Jacob. Jacob received a promise. He believed. God spoke to Jacob in a dream. The dream was God’s vehicle of the promise. God doesn’t promise to come to us in dreams, but he promises to use his word. He attaches his promise to preaching, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We also hear Jesus say his house will be a house of prayer.
His house is his because he is there! Jesus doesn’t call the church his house and then leave. No Christ dwells with us in a place. Just like you have your house for a reason. You feed your family there. You teach there. You protect there. Same with Christ’s house a house of prayer. Jesus doesn’t tell us it’s a house of prayer so we pray here and then hope our prayers are answered. No. Our prayers are heard and answered.
What do we pray for here? We ask for forgiveness. We pray for forgiveness. THis is a house of prayer. Jesus will give us whatever we ask, and we pray that Jesus’ forgiveness is the only thing we desire. We don’t desire the treasures of the world. We don’t place our hope in a government, a president, a king, or anything of this world, but only in the promises of Christ. That is what is given out here, promise of forgiveness. That God was in Christ jesus reconciling the world to himself not counting men’s sins against them.”
And so the mysteries of God are holy and we dare not use them how we like. We use these gifts according to God’s word. Because when we don’t believe God’s word, his presence is then not for forgiveness but for judgment.
Radio Shack, Nate's Seafood, etc. etc….all businesses that have closed these last few years in our area.
This small church has withstood challenge after challenge. Despite being managed by flawed people for thousands of years, the church , the body of Christ itself has continued. From the very beginning when God came and met Adam and Eve in the Garden, our Lord has desired to have a place for his people to gather and receive from him. But we need to be careful when talking about a business and church. There is a difference between a successful church and a successful business. What keeps a business open…good management.
What keeps our Lord's house open, him. What keeps the Lord's house functioning, Him. If this were a business our CEO should've pulled up the stakes and let the doors close. It began w/Adam and Eve. The Israelites. The apostles. Us. Our Lord if he did things according to the way the world works, should've filed bankruptcy and changed names. Under new management, but he doesn't. He doesn't change names, but he changes your name in baptism. He doesn't fire you, but He sends his Son to be mistreated and even killed in order that he could restore us. To die for our sins of loving the things of this world more than his gifts. More than forgiveness of sins. And here is where he gives that forgiveness out. Here he gives to us, not according to what we can buy, but according to his great mercy. He promises us, "the gates of hell won't even close his church." His house. How would you like that investment?
But our Lord doesn't want money as an investment, he wants your repentant heart. He wants to break your hard heart and give you a new heart. Our Lord desires to give you this forgiveness as often as you feel your sin and he gives you a renewed spirit as David says. Cast me not away from thy presence but restore unto me the joy of thy salvation. What a deal! God's richest at Christ's expense.
Now we have many businesses around. Just in the few short years I've been here, I've seen Stacy Rd. explode! Not to mention Top Golf, and my personal favorite Cabela's. And no those buisnesses did not pay for that advertising..a few bucks never hurts though.
But these businesses come and go. Do you think the businesses here in Fairview are any different than businesses of the past who have closed? Think of the stores in the run down part of major cities. The Woolworths, the Five and Dime stores. Even giant car dealerships that have closed their doors and now there sits an empty lot. How many years ago was it that the outlet mall in Allen was north of here on 75 and now there isn't even a parking lot there! One would be afraid and almost down right foolish to want to build a building for a church in these days. But you have not only purchased a building, but you have renovated.
You have strengthened. You have butressed. You have painted. You have cemeted. You have even beautified an old building. You have said to this community, "WE are here to stay. We are here to stay and serve. WE are here to stay because our Lord is Here." In a time where it is thought foolish to build a building. In a time where it is trendy to not have a brick and mortar church, you have said "Rubbish!" You have said, “Surely the Lord is in this place. This is none other than the gate of heaven.”
You are not happy with temporary buildings. In a throw away society you Immanuel Luth. church have said we will not be thrown away, but as long as our Lord gives us the means, we will put our money where our mouth is. Or better, you have put your money where our Lord's mouth is, where our Lord speaks to you.
And he is here speaking to you his promises, forgiving your sins and feeding your body and soul. Why does our Lord desire to have a place to come to us? To forgive you your sins. God was everywhere in the OT, but Jacob built “God’s house” a holy place because God was present there.
This place is temprorary. It could burn down tomorrow, just like Jacob’s church of stone was forgotten. But the Lord's word will still be preached. Forgiveness will still be given out to hungry souls.
When all the financial gurus and church assessment professions, you know, the experts, when they say, "The world doesn't want church buildings anymore." what better way to go against the flow of the world and say NO. Our Lord is here for this community and He isn't going away!
Like the new hospital on 380 we will build and be a place for those who are weary and heavy laden to find rest. Like the new Fairview Fire Station we will build and be a place where we go out from to serve our neighbors in whatever life emergency they face. Like the new Allen high school buildings we are a place of learning and teaching the faith. Teaching not lofty language or impressive business skills, but we like Paul confess Christ and him crucified. For that is the only thing that will help you when you are weary and heavy laden with sin, and who of us isn't? But that’s why Christ is here! Your sins my friends are forgiven!
The forgiveness of sins won for you on the cross by Jesus Christ is the only thing that will persevere when all other buildings crumble, when your life seems to crumble. When all those things you thought were strong, including yourself, become weak and tired, Jesus says "Let not your hearts be troubled for I have overcome the world."
Brick and mortar, yeah you bet. The brick is Jesus Christ the chief connerstone and the mortar is his forgiveness given out to you in word and sacrament keeping you in the one true faith to life everlasting. Amen.
Luke 17:11-19 - The Healing of the Ten Lepers -
True thanksgiving to God is in receiving from Christ mercy, being healed from our sins. The true meaning of thanksgiving is receiving from Christ forgiveness.
When I was a FedEx driver, one of the perks of the job was that when you delivered packages to people, they were glad to see you. People would come out of their houses, meeting me on the sidewalk, anxious for their package. Running from the back offices in their place of buisness, smiles on their faces, "Oh Thank-you FedEx man!" It was nice to be thanked. Even though it really wasn't me they were thankful for, it felt nice to be thanked. Today we do give thanks for the gifts that Christ delivers to us. We are healed from all sin every time we return to him. We are delivered from sin and death by the very gifts of God, packaged in the means of grace. The means through which God forgives us our sins are concrete. They are gifts, like a FedEx package. Water and word in baptism. Word and word in absolution. Word and bread and wine the Lord's Supper. Forgiveness is why we run to Christ, like the Leper in our reading today, we return to Christ over and over and over again. And he is no far away god stuck in heaven, Christ is present for you here. And me…well I'm just the FedEx man, delivering Christ to you, receiving him as well.
The gospel reading from Luke 17 is for Thanksgiving Eve because of the wonderful example the Samaritan leper gives us. This reading is the pattern for the Christian life as we fight against our sinful leperous flesh, returning to Christ's presence to be made clean, over and over and over again. However the leper's thanksgiving isn't the point, but Christ is the focus. The leper would think us foolish if we taught that the main point of this story was his giving thanks, the main point is Christ Jesus. For the leper isn't our Savior, but Jesus is.
The one thing we are most thankful for is Christ Jesus. When we are thankful for a person's life and love to us we attend to them at their death giving thanks for their life. But even then, we give thanks to Christ Jesus that he has healed us and our brother or sister through the waters of baptism. Every time we see this baptismal font it is a reminder, give thanks. Every time we see a cross it is a reminder, give thanks. Every time you hear a pastor preach God's word, we give thanks.
When we want to give thanks for the blessings of the outdoors, we go outside and experience the cool breeze on our face. We run in the plush open green grass fields reminding us of how Adam and Eve felt in the freedom of the garden. We observe nature and marvel at the work of God's hands knowing that his ultimate work was dying for our sin. WE give thanks. Yet even an unbeliever loves the outdoors, they go outside to appreciate, but then they think that is where God is found. He is there in the outdoors, but God is not there forgiving you sins.
When we want to give thanks to the doctor for saving our life maybe we send him a card, or we say thank you in our follow up appointments. Pagans even do this. In their fallen state, God still places a fear of death in them.
When humans want to give thanks they go. We go to where our thanks is received. WE go to where our thanksgiving is directed. We direct our words, our minds, our eyes toward that which we have received from. Unbelievers do this too.
So what is the difference? What is the difference between pagans giving thanks for something and us giving thanks on the eve of this national holiday? Receiving.
Even though giving thanks is seen as us doing something for or to God, the difference is all in what we have been given, what we have received through faith, by grace alone. In all things we give thanks because we have been given all things in Christ Jesus through the forgiveness of sins. This is a great gift because your sins are of great magnitude and destructive aren't they?
In reading today's gospel reading I found myself oddly jealous of the Lepers. "And as Jesus entered a village, he was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance…" I found myself jealous of the lepers because their life destroying disease was obvious. They had the constant reminder that they were unclean. All they had to do was look down at their hands and flesh and their self righteousness falls like a ton of bricks. No hope of cleansing themselves there is the constant reminder, "you are unclean." The Lepers were considered unclean. They were separated from all the common things everyone else did. They were quarantined. They didn't know life, only solitary confinement because of the contagiousness of their disease.
Don't you wish you would know when you were about to pass on the contagiousness of sin? Then you wouldn't do it right? But you and I sin, and God hates your sin. Repent. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful.
Don't you wish sometimes you could be quarantined like lepers when you see the results of your sin? You lose patience with your kids. Our tempers flare and we say things we wish we could take back. Don't you wish you could just cover yourself up and disappear so as not to cause more sin in our world? To run away and be like a leper, far away, safe from causing anyone any more pain than they already know in this fallen world?
Don't quarentine yourself, for Christ was considered the most unclean for you. Christ was forsaken by the father, quarantined on the cross because he became your sin. Don't flee from Christ for then you cannot be his hands showing mercy to those around you. For Christ uses you to bring mercy to others.
This running away from Christ is a false modesty that leads to unbelief. That's exactly what Satan wants you to do. Look to yourself for the solution to your sin, run away from Christ's mercy. Well that's a fine way to give thanks to God, look to yourself for the answer. The chief worship of God is to receive from him! To give thanks by receiving his wonderful goodness. Because when we come into his presence to receive forgiveness of our leperous sins we recognize that he will not turn us away, but will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Return to the Lord Your God for he is merciful.
This is why we gather as one body, to be in unity here communion and community restored, not only on a day of thanksgiving, but every time the Lord offers us healing mercy through the means of Grace. We gather to return to Christ to receive mercy. We aren't here to perform for God like we have something he needs.
Jesus came near the Lepers and they called to him and asked to be given mercy they knew their condition was hopeless. Jesus did hear. Jesus did answer. Not in a grand show. Not with fireworks or fanfare, but just with his words. The Ten Lepers were healed! Including a Samaritan, who was an outcast, not only because of his leprosy, but also because of who he was an outcast. That is something that would never change. Being a Samaritan would never change until God became what that Samaritan was, what we are, sinners who should be left out of the kingdom of God.
These men were not left by Christ to remain in their infected condition. Christ came to them and made them clean. Then the Samaritan returned to Jesus while the other nine went about their life, they were bored with Christ. They were too busy. They found other things that were more pressing than being in the presence of Christ.
Note that the one who came back to Christ was definitely in the minority. The Samaritan was not part of the crowd, being led astray away from the Shepherd Are you one with Christ, or one with the crowd?
Give thanks to God that in Christ Jesus you are one with Christ through your baptism where the healing waters didn't just heal you to die another day, but you have been crucified with Christ and have been given eternal life. The holiness of Jesus has been deliverd to you. Christ has crossed the boundary from clean to unclean, that we would be brought out of our un-cleanliness into his perfect righteousness. "He made him who knew no sin to become sin that we would be the righteousness of God."
You have been pulled out of the crowd, because let's face it, we would rather be with the crowd. We find ourselves turning from carrying our crosses to be with the world too much, look like the world, sound like the world, and doing that just once is deserving of hell. James tells us friendship with the world is enmity with God. Christ however didn't turn from loving neighbor when his journey led to the cross. This is what we give thanks for, not an example, but a Savior who delivers us. We give thanks that for Christ's sake we are considered clean, never having sinned. Christ's cross was for you. We give thanks not only now, but your voices will praise God for eternity. When Christ returns we won't have to return to him because we will never be quarantined from him because of our sin.
The faces you miss this year at the Thanksgiving table, whether it be because of death or distance, rejoice! For this separation is but temporary sadness, for in Christ you will be at his table for eternity. Christ has healed you. Come eat at his life giving, life sustaining, sickness and death healing table. For living in unbelief away from Christ, you dirty yourself, separating yourself from God and those around you. But in the words of mercy poured out on you in baptism, the words of mercy poured in your ears in absolution and the merciful body and blood of the word made flesh placed on your tongue heal you for eternity again and again and again. He is a gracious God giving thanks for you, receiving your praises! For there is nothing a father loves more than children that trust his promises by returning to the presence of Christ to be healed. You are his children signed, sealed and delivered from your sin for all eternity.
Christmas Eve 2012
Tonight our "not agains" are Never again in our Savior Christ.
Tonight one of the most profound nights in all history. Tonight, the announcement we've all been waiting months to hear... we won't be going over the fiscal cliff!
Tonight the announcement, there will be no more innocent lives taken in our nation at the hands of evil.
Tonight the announcement, you will have the Christmas spirit, whatever that is, all year.
Tonight the announcement, you bought all the right gifts for everyone.
Tonight the announcement, you will get everything you wanted for Christmas.
Tonight the announcement, this year you won't look down on a casket of a loved one.
Tonight the announcement, you will be dressed for a successful life, you will be the envy of everyone around you.
Tonight the announcement,
Tonight the announcement Christ has been dressed in your flesh, not for success, but for death and is born of Mary.
Tonight the announcement, all of those disappointments cannot separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Tonight the announcement, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Fear not, you will hear or know those jolly Christmas announcements I mentioned at the beginnng of the sermon again. We will hear terrible news. All of us who were alive for Columbine when we heard about the CT tradedy said, "Not again."
Each one of us has our own, not again in our personal lives.
Not again, the addiction.
Not again, the dissappointment.
Not again the anger.
Not again, the boring church service.
Not again, my child won't listen. Not again, I can't get ahead.
Not again, I thought this time would be different.
Tonight the new Adam, Christ, is born and God says, "Not again."
But you see, God doesn't say, "Not again" in the same sense we do, in disappointment. Tonight even the angels rejoice, "Not ever again will sin be victorious! A Savior is born." Tonight God says, "Not again will you be cast out from my presence for your sins. I will cast out my Son in death for you. Not again will Satan claim a victory as he did in the Garden of Eden when sin entered the world through one man Adam. Sin still enters the world through our hearts, but tonight the announcement, Fear not, unto you is born a Savior.
No matter what sin you have thought in your heart. No matter what anger you have released with your mouth. No matter who you have killed with your thoughts, words or deeds, tonight the announcement, "Fear not, Unto you is born a Savior." A real flesh and blood Savior for real flesh and blood sinners.
No matter who you have slept with. Fear not, for tonight a Savior sleeps on hay so he can sleep in death fo you. Unto you is born a Savior.
No matter what drug you've put in your veins or lungs. Fear not, for the veins of this Savior carry eternal life. Unto you is born a Savior.
Your sin has seperated you from God, but now Christ is born for those who hate their sin. This Savior is dressed in flesh in blood to die for the sins of the world, for your sins. Tonight the announcement your sins are not held against you. You are free in Christ from the not agains. This is why Christ is born.
God's word becomes flesh so that we would not be cast out from God for our sin. Never again will sin have the upper hand for those who have been crucified with Christ in baptism.
You see all these poinsettias around me. Pointsett-ia. Pointsetta. Tomatto Tomato. I never know how to pronounce it, whatever. But see the red leaves. At Christmas these red leaves preach, one thing to us, the blood of Christ. Look here even on the altar, the announcemtn of a babe in swaddling clothes points us to the swaddling clothes that will hold this child in his grave. Swaddling clothes stained with blood at his birth, at his death swaddling clothes stained with blood. At his death on the cross, when his blood is shed for your not agains, Christ says, "Never again will sin be victorious. Father forgive them." And look at the white poinsetta at the baptismal font. There is one white one there for you. For through the waters of baptism your not agains are washed away and you are now white in Christ you are clothed in Christ's perfect righteousness. His deeds yours. Your not agains his. Never again my friends. For unto this day is born a Savior who is Christ.
Enjoy your family. Love your enemies. Sing the carols of your Savior too loudly, not just tonight, but every time the announcements in life are bad news. Sing out of key with joy, for your not agains are never again in Christ. For unto you this day is born a Savior who is Christ the Lord. Amen.