Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reformation Sermon

We make a mistake when we look back at the Reformation and make a judgment on how people were stupid because they believed they could buy their way out of purgatory, bought indulgences, prayed to the saints, and struggled trying desperate to find a way to be saved.  

But these were not stupid people.  In the 16th century people wrestled with big questions – adult questions about their salvation.  How will I be saved from sin, death, and hell.  They wrestled with serious, adult questions such as: “How can I ever meet God’s expectations of me?” “What do I do about God’s anger that I feel deep down in my bones?” “How can my family and my children avoid eternal death and damnation?”

In our foolishness we might look back and say how they could be so stupid.  But we are the stupid ones.  We don’t have adult questions but childish ones.  Why is my cable and internet bill so high?  We spend more time concerned about the packers injury report than the injuries we inflict on others because of our own sins.      

Our modern generation is a childish and fickle one.  In many ways we are much worse than Luther’s day.  We’re not concerned about our salvation at all.  Like our Gospel text, we arrogantly presume like the Jews that we have Abraham as our father because we were confirmed once upon a time and our grandfather helped build the church.

We let our children and grandchildren fornicate like rabbits and don’t have the common decency to loving rebuke them when they fall into sin.  Whatever happened to bringing our children up in the fear and instruction of the Lord.  In our vanity we prefer just getting along rather than being faithful to God’s Word.      

Repent.  We need a reformation.  We don’t need praise bands, stewardship campaigns, nicer pastors and flashy buildings.  We need repentance.  We need to change.  We need to pray.  We need to reform our families.  And most importantly we need to reform ourselves.  When it comes to Reformation Day and Luther’s call to repentance we need to go to the very source of the problem.  Our own sinful hearts.   

We need to learn to be more offended and scandalized by our own sins rather than the sins of others.  We need to contemplate the carnage we have caused with our own mouths which have destroyed the reputations of others and mutilated the very people whom God has called us to love the most.  We should busy ourselves with the questions of Luther’s day.  How can I be saved?  Is God pleased with me?  How can my family and I be spared from eternal death?  How can I escape the wrath to come?      

But tonight we can do one better than remembering Luther nailing his 95 theses to the wooden doors in Wittenberg.  Let us remember Christ who was nailed to the wood of the cross for sinners like us.  Nailed to a cross for grumpy and complacent backbiting lcms Lutherans like us.      

The greatest words in the Gospels is when the Pharisees cry out in anger that Jesus sits and eats with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes.  To be saved by faith alone.  To be a Lutheran is actually to  recognize that we are the seedy and shady characters with whom God chooses to eat.  The best thing we can bring to God is our sin, our broken marriages, the spiritual neglect of our children.

Let us bring to God our backbiting attitudes and complaints about our churches.  Hand that over to God and lay it all upon his back.  Because Jesus had to be lacerated, whipped, and beaten like an animal for such sins as these.    

God dies for sinners, complacent lcms sinners.  And this is good news.  Death could not hold Christ in the grave.   The father raised him from the dead – he ascended into heaven precisely so that he could come and be with you tonight.  Tonight God sets a table with a meal much better than brats and kraut.

He sets before you Himself.  His innocence – His righteousness – His holiness.  It is free for the taking with no strings attached.  And oh boy do you need it.  His body which is the bread from heaven.  To fill hungry sinners with the righteousness of Christ.  And his blood is painted upon your hearts and souls and death itself passes over.  He exchanges his life for your death.  He exchanges your hell for his heaven.  He sets you free.

What does this mean?  It means God loves you.  He’s not in any way embarrassed to call you his child.  The Father beams with pride over his Son – and therefore God delights over you.

Come one and all – sinner pastors and church leaders.  Gossiping lay folks and backsliding Christians.  Your life has been redeemed and you have been bought with a price – a heavy price – the suffering, crucifixion, and death of God himself.  The Father’s expectations of you have all been satisfied.  Your Father is just as satisfied with you and he is satisfied with his Son. 

The same blood that covers St. Paul, St. Peter, and the blessed Dr. Martin Luther covers you and your children.  And God is pleased with you.  Therefore let us come gladly to the altar and receive rest for weary hearts.   And heavenly drink for thirsty souls.  In Jesus name.  Amen.  

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