Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pentecost 7

Matthew 11:25-30 - Pentecost 7 - July 31, 2011 
God Elects Us in Christ's Suffering

What is God’s plan for my life?  What does the Maker of heaven and earth want for me – today, tomorrow, forever?  What does God have in store for you, your children, for all of us beyond this short life of ours on earth?  Many people exert a lot of energy and spend lifetimes trying to figure out the answer to such questions.  And we can hardly blame them?  These are really deep questions.  It’s not easy to just stumble upon the right answer (though many believe they have).  But who is to say when you think you’ve figured it out, that you haven’t just been deluded and deceived – especially considering that greater and wiser men than we have spent their entire lives seeking such understanding without any success?  Who’s to say that what we have figured out, on one hand, and what God has chosen, on the other hand, are not totally different?  It’s a hard question, and it’s even harder to answer it.  And so people often give up and pretend like it isn’t even an all that important question anyway.  But it is.  Our life depends on it.  And we here at Trinity Lutheran Church know the answer to it.  We learn of God’s will for our eternal welfare when we learn what His will for each one of us is right here today: GOD’S GOOD WILL IS FOR CHRIST TO BEAR OUR BURDENS.  

“Jesus said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.’”   God the Father hides from some that which He reveals to others.  Wow!  This presents one of the most difficult teachings of Holy Scripture: God’s eternal election, or what is called the doctrine of predestination.  But what exactly does God hide?  And what exactly does He reveal?  How do we find out what God’s eternal choice is for us, and whether He is holding something back by hiding something from us?  Since these questions are so pressing and fundamental to a true knowledge of our God, many theologians have attempted in different ways to provide definitive answers.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pentecost 6

Matthew 10:34-42 - Pentecost 6 - July 24, 2011
The Divisiveness of the Gospel

It is fitting for me as your pastor to speak such words to you.  Grace, mercy and peace.  With these and similar words the apostles frequently addressed the letters they wrote to various people and congregations.  And God has sent me to this congregation through your call to be your pastor.  My job as your pastor is to preach to you the exact same grace, mercy and peace that Jesus once sent His disciples to preach.  Jesus said to them, and so also to me and to everyone who speaks the word of God to another, “He who receives you, receives Me.”   

We need to hear what Jesus has to say; that’s how we receive Him; that’s how we receive what He has to give.  And so that is what Christians do.  We gather together regularly, as often as we can, to hear Jesus – to receive from Him the peace that He has established between God and sinners.  This peace consists of the knowledge that all our sins have been taken away and paid for by His atoning death on the cross.  This peace is grounded in the certainty that God our Father no longer sees or considers any of our sins – but for Jesus’ sake, He sees only the righteous obedience of His Son our Savior.  We are reconciled to God.  God is reconciled to man.  This, and this alone, is true peace – because this peace was purchased by the blood of Christ, and it means that God our Maker will never again be angry with us, but has in store for us only the most indescribable kindness and mercy.  Just as God once sent angels to fill the night sky in order to preach to just a few lowly shepherds in a field, so for the same reason has God sent me to echo for you that angelic sermon that forever binds God’s greatest glory with the peace on earth that Jesus was sent to bring: “Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”  The Father sent the Son to bring peace on earth.  Have no doubt about that.  And GOD’S PEACE GIVES US LIFE.