Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lent 2

Matthew 15:21-28 - Reminiscere, Lent II - February 24, 2013 
Wrestling with God

Our Introit this morning comes from Psalm 25 and begins by asking God to remember His tender mercies and lovingkindnesses, for they are from of old.  That is to say that they are from a long time ago.  That’s why, I suppose, the Psalmist, who is King David here, asks God to remember them.  It’s not like God forgets.  He doesn’t.  We do.  We take them for granted.  We take advantage of our freedom under God’s grace.  We cave into fleshly lusts of various stripes, and so we forget who we are as children of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ.  We ignore God’s word to our peril, and so forget who God is as our merciful Father, reconciled by the propitiating sacrifice of His Son.  And as often as we in our sinful weakness forget, we ask God to remember.  We cry to God for mercy.  And this is what it means to be saved by grace through faith.  It means that God continue to recall and apply His promises of old.  And we continue to ask Him to.  We don’t ask for something new when we cry for mercy.  We ask for something old.  We ask for the same thing.  We ask that God once again, as He has already done so many countless times, open up and reveal His heart to us sinners, so that we might again know and believe His love for us.  And God remembers. 
I remember learning the German word for “remember.”  I’ll spare you the pronunciation of the word with its guttural R’s, but it’s a really neat word.  It literally means to bring something deep within yourself so as to be able to retrieve it at will.   It’s a helpful picture of what it means to remember. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lent 1

Matthew 4:1-11- Invocavit, Lent I - February 17, 2013
To Keep You in All Your Ways

The eternal Son of God became Man and placed Himself under the law to redeem humanity whom the law condemned. 
Jesus did not pretend to humble Himself.  He didn’t pretend to be an ordinary man in order to put on some sort of show of heroism and holiness.  No, He was truly humbled.  In His mercy and wisdom, He declined to make full use of His divine prerogatives as the eternal Son of God in order that He might, as a man, fulfill what we could not.  This is a mystery.  And it means not only that, although He was God, Jesus hungered and thirsted as a man—and that He got tired and slept.  It means also that, as a man, He trusted the word of God.  He trusted the word of God as one who needed the word of God, as one who had no strength apart from it.  He relied on it completely.  Jesus did not claim a relationship with the Father other than the relationship that the Father revealed by speaking His word.  Think of that! When Jesus prayed, He didn’t take a break from His state of humiliation in order to tap into some spiritual connection unavailable to you and me.  No.  He prayed as one who believed God’s promise to hear Him.  “Call upon Me in the day of trouble.  I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15).  Jesus believed this.  That’s why He prayed so much. 
And talk about the day of trouble.  Our Gospel lesson this morning sums up for us what trouble does—what trouble looks like when the devil’s wiles and cunning afflict the weakness of human flesh.   It wasn’t just a generic trouble that Jesus faced, like some obstacle course.  It was an attack specifically designed against the Son of God.  The attacks of the devil that Jesus faced are not the attacks that the unbelieving world experiences.  They are the attacks that only he experiences who can rightly call himself a child of God.  They are the temptations of a Christian.  The devil attacks those whom God has claimed. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Luke 18:31-43 - Quinquagesima - February 10, 2013 
Faith Knows What It Wants

I remember when I was a kid, my parents chose the music in the car and so my siblings and I had no choice but to grow up on Oldies – you know, the music from the 50s and 60s.  I remember feeling like I was cut off from current pop-culture even as a young boy, because all my friends knew the bands and groups that were popular throughout the 90s, and like my parents, I was totally out of touch.  Now I suppose I never felt too deprived.  I still think that the music from my parents’ generation is about as good as it gets.  But I remember thinking that these old songs that I had grown up on were overly obsessed with singing about love.  And I remember being kind of embarrassed about it, like maybe my friends’ music was “cooler” than that.  But I eventually learned that it wasn’t just a 1960s thing.  Even the music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the music that my friends were listening to, the music that your kids and grandkids are listening to today, is just as obsessed with the topic.  Love.  The problem is – and the more music you listen to the more you realize this: how little the world knows about love. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Luke 8:4-15 - Sexagesima - February 3, 2013 
What Do You Want to Hear?

God’s word is powerful.  The reason it is powerful is because it is God’s word.  He speaks it.  It goes forth from His mouth to accomplish what He pleases.  It isn’t powerful because of what we see it do.  No.  Rather, it has the power to save because of who says it.  It is God’s word.  God says it.  God saves.  He is almighty, and so His word accomplishes what He purposes to accomplish, and it succeeds in the thing for which He sends it … because it is His word.  And He is God.  We should listen to God’s word – not insofar as it saves us, or insofar as it otherwise appears to benefit us, but because God says it.  That settles it.
By God’s word the heavens and the earth were made.  This is the written record of Genesis 1.  As Psalm 33 attests: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”   Think of all that stuff described by evolutionists on the Discovery Channel.  They display in such marvelous detail the amazing and beautiful wonders of creation.  And of course they give all the credit to random chance just to avoid reckoning with God … but still! — You can really learn a lot about the created world by listening to them, can’t you?  And yet, it wasn’t made by them.  Their scientific descriptions didn’t cause anything to be.  It was all made and it is all upheld still by the power of God’s almighty word alone.  I think this helps put things into perspective.  When you look at the natural world, it isn’t just God who made it; it is God who made it by speaking.  And He speaks to us.  Here; this morning.  God’s word is powerful. 
Our word, on the other hand, is not.  It is weak.  It is often false.  We say things and nothing happens.  We exaggerate things, but reality doesn’t change.  We promise things and vow to do things, and then we fail.  And so our words fail with us.