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The Truth Seen in Lent

Devotional Thought fo the Day:

“Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 GNT

But Peter answered, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about!”
At once, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned around and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered that the Lord had said to him, “Before the rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me.” 62 Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:60-62 GNT.

Even as the adorer enters into the ‘ascending’ reparation made by the Lamb of God to the Father, he opens himself to the ‘descending’ reparation by which the Lamb of God restores likeness to the image of God in souls disfigured by sin. Christ presents Himself in the Most Holy Eucharist as the spotless Victim come to repair sinners, restoring wholeness and beauty to souls. At the same time He is the Priest who offers perfect reparation to the Father by restoring all things to Him ‘whether in heaven or on earth, making peace by the Blood of His cross’ (Col. 1:20).

The apostle Paul one said that he was the chief of sinners, and that was good news, because it showed us that if God could save even him, we are a piece of cake.

Peter is the same kind of confidence builder. After all, the first of the apostles is a man who is as broken as any of us. He puts his foot in his mouth, he is rash, he thinks of himself. He is a great symbol of humanity.

And in today’s gospel reading, he gives us a great example to understand who we are in Christ. There we see his sincerity, he wants to stand by Jesus, even to the point of death. He will vow, he will promise, and I don’t think it is from pride alone. He is devoted to Jesus. He’s left everything to follow him, and even as the storm clouds gather this night before the cross, Peter has bought in fully with his heart.

In the early morning, just a few hours later, he would fail. He would sin as grievously as any person could in life. He would directly deny God. Not once, but three times.

His sincerity went out the window, as his courage failed him. Broken, he weeps even as Jesus looks upon him, with compassion.

Just as you and I do…

We sin, we deny God, our sincerity fails, it is simply not enough to overcome the temptations our desires, our lust, our anger, our idolatry place before us.

We fail as Peter did…and Jesus still looks upon us with compassion, desiring that we would run to Him for refuge, wanting us to come and be cleansed. ANd if we take the time to consider our brokenness and the depth of our sin, we like Peter would weep bitterly.

That is why Jesus promises that when Peter fails when Peter falls into sin, his faith, his dependence on Jesus will not fail. The very thing Peter couldn’t do, Jesus did.

That is why the Eucharist is so needed in our lives. It reminds us of the sacrifice of Christ, the sacrifice that provides not only the payment for our sin but the repair of our lives. In the Lord’s Supper, this Communion with Jesus, we find the Spirit at work, restoring us, transforming us even as the New Covenant promises, for that is why His body was broken, and His blood shed.

for us.

To renew, restore, repair us into the image of Christ, and then bring us into the relationship we were meant to have with the entire Trinity.

It is never easy to admit we sin, that despite our best attempts not to, despite our most sincere desires to overcome it, we will sin. Perhaps less and less as we mature, but the unthinkable will happen.

And when it does, hearing this exchange between Peter and Jesus will hopefully come to mind, and we ill realize Christ’s compassion and the fact that we can depend upon Him.

Look to him, remember his compassion, and let the Spirit comfort and transform you.

This is the lesson of lent…. I pray we all learn it well!

AMEN!


Kirby, D. M. D. (2012). A Mystagogical Catechesis of Eucharistic Adoration. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (p. 35). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

Don’t Worry, be catching

Concordia Lutheran Church
February 10, 2019

Don’t Worry, Be Catching
Luke 5:1-11

Jesus, Son and Savior

May the grace, the mercy and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ so comfort you, so put to rest your worries, that you can go fishing with Jesus!

If you teach a man to fish…

Every once in a while, you hear a saying that someone says comes from scripture, but when you start to think about it, it is actually quite contrary to scripture.  This one came to mind in regard to this sermon.

If you give a man a fish, you fed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish….

he has to buy rods, graphite reels, lines, boxes, boats, trailers, coolers, sonar fish finders and a whole catalog of other things!

I suppose there is a corollary, if you teach a man to fish for men, you have to build a church, call a pastor, pass budgets, elect board members, hire musicians, plan woman’s teas, family fun nights etc..

But not let’s get ahead of ourselves!

In our gospel today, Jesus is going to do some pretty incredible things.  He’s going to teach the massive crowd, he’s going to cause a miraculous catch, but there is something much greater that will happen, so incredible that Peter and his partners will leave a once in a lifetime catch to rot on the beach.

And God will do to you the same thing today….

But first, we have to witness Peter freak out…

What caused Peter to stress out?

I must wonder about Peter, who spent his life working as a fisherman, as he first dropped the nets as this silly rabbi instructed.

I get the feeling he did it with a little sarcasm and even more disbelief.  Yeah, you want me to go right back to where we dragged our nets, all night long,  as if all of a sudden, during the hottest part of the day a thousand fish…

Uhmmm… HELP!!!!!

Got love Peter, because every once in a while he gets it. 

I mean, I don’t think he listened to the Rabbi teach all that much, he may have even fallen asleep in the boat. The load of fish in the nets convinced him something was up. Because he goes from struggling with the catch to having a full blown anxiety attack, right there on the boat.

Hear it again, “When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.”

Peter collapses in fear, he begs Jesus to leave.  In Greek, the phrasing pictures fear picking up Peter, it seizes him, and he can’t stand against it, so he collapses into the bottom of the boat.

Get out of here, don’t you know what a sinner I am?  If you don’t leave, I am a goner!

It is a common story in scripture, whether it is Isaiah in our Old Testament reading, or Moses, or Elijah, whether it is David or Paul on the road to Damascus or John as God gives him the vision of Jesus in Revelation.   Even those who encounter angels panicked, stressed out, and realized how ill-prepared we are to be in the presence of God

We are sinners, we don’t belong in Almighty, most Holy, most pure God’s presence.

And Peter realized it, and begged God to leave him.

Would we do the same, if we realized the depth of our sin, or the heartache it caused God?

Or do we take our sin to casually, just as if we think God will forgive this one again, that the damage we do will be taken care of?

What does Jesus offer us?

And as Peter collapses in the boat, Jesus says something quite amazing,

Fear not. Let’s go and catch something that really matters.

You see, unlike the times I go fishing, the word in Greek isn’t about sitting there with a rod in one hand and a drink in the other.  It wasn’t like that for Peter and friends there.  The words for fishing were “catch” and “harvest”

Jesus, knowing the cross is in the future, knowing that everyone one of Peter’s sins will be atoned for, knowing the forgiveness, even when Jesus would betray Jesus as Peter would tell people, “I never knew the man,” will be forgiven; says to Peter,

Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, don’t let being in my presence cause you anxiety. 

Let’s go catch some people and bring them into the Kingdom of God.

What an invitation, to be partners with God!  To engage in His greatest project, to redeem the world, to catch people and watch, as God begins to heal their broken and often tortured souls.   To see the promises of God poured out on people you love, or will come to love, as they are united with Jesus in baptism. Ask Susan what it was like to help baptize one of her students, or ask Chuck why he demands to be the deacon on duty when we baptize someone.

Or ask the elders what it is like to help feed people the Body and Blood of Christ here at the altar.

There is something incredible about helping someone come to know God’s love.  It drives Bernie to the Sudan and even more… to places like Texas and Minnesota.  Or Pastor Davies to the mountain jungles of Papua Guinea, or even my friend Matt to a university in Nebraska where he works with students from around the world.

You and I are called to walk with God, fishing… no.. catching men and women, and seeing them find healing for their souls, and hope for all eternity.

That is the greatest thing in this passage, the invitation to help others know Jesus, to draw them in, as a fisher draws in his nets.

I tell you something, there is no greater way to know the blessed, unexplainable peace of God, than to draw someone else into it, and watch the difference it makes in their life… and yours.

Lutherans don’t give “normal invitations” at the end of a sermon.

But I will give you one today, and invitation I pray you can’t refuse…

Don’t worry, be catching….with Jesus

AMEN! 

Let’s pray!

True Confessions… A Sermon Based on Matt 16 (text only)

True Confessions

Matthew 16 13-19

In Jesus Name

May you see revealed to you, the grace, mercy and peace of God the Father, that comes from knowing Jesus, and knowing He is the Anointed One, the Son of God sent to save us!

 The Confession of Peter

The Supreme Court decision on Friday will not change the bottom line of this sermon, it won’t change the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  As the Christ, He  the one chosen and put in place to deliver us from sin.

But the decision on Friday did impact this sermon and what I am going to say.  It did help clarify and focus the message on Peter’s confession, and what it means for us, and to us.

It will help us to know where we stand, what is our confession, what we can rely on, what we can base our life upon.

On Friday and Saturday, I heard over and over a part of our gospel reading quoted over and over.  It was used with the intent to rally the church, to comfort those plagued by anxiety and fear, those feeling hurt and betrayed. It was to rally them, to give them some hope that despite an attack to what they know of life and religion, that God was still in charge.

I also hear it used triumphantly, as some Christians saw the decision as proof that God was blessing their position.

Either way, the confession that everyone pointed to as their hope was this,

upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

or to hear it the old way,

upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it!  (KJV)
That the gates of hell can’t stand against the church, is true but it is not why we have hope, they are not the good confession.

This is the conversation that gives us hope

“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

and knowing that, trusting in that, making that your rock, your foundation in life, is what matters.

The “other confessions”
The Prophets of Law….
It’s not that they aren’t needed…

When the people of God in Jesus day looked at Jesus, they struggled to figure out who He was.  That is the first question Jesus asks, as he uses the word from which we get logic.  Who do they reason I am?  Not just say as in passing, but when they really think about it.

The answer the apostles gave was John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah.  Three prophets, three men, it can be said, brought an uncomfortable message of hope in a time where people didn’t want to hear it, yet held out for the hope it offered.

What the people saw in Jesus, based on their answers, is someone who could be with them in the present, but also looked with great hope for the future.

Let me say that again,

What the people saw in Jesus, based on their answers, is someone who could be with them in the present, but also looked with great hope for the future.

They were hoping for a prophet that would call those sinners back to God.  They were hoping for a change in their society, in their life, and those prophets promised that it was coming…

And just a promise would have been such a great thing, to hope for the fulfillment of the promise was more than they could imagine. Never mind how the fulfillment of the promise would change everything.

Even Peter and the apostles, who had revealed to them by God the Father that Jesus was the Christ, the chosen One, couldn’t understand.

That the gates of hell cannot withstand the church is something really great, really encouraging.

But it is nothing compared to the fulfilled promise, the rock on which we base everything, the true confession we need to understand.
The Confession… the Christ!

Would it have been bad if Jesus was another Jeremiah?  Another Ezekiel? A second John the Baptist?  Perhaps not, and we constantly need people who call us on our own sin.

But even more we need the Christ, the one chosen and anointed to deliver us into the presence of God our Father.

I guess I can put it this way.  Nancy and Bob yesterday celebrated their 50 year reunion.  When they got engaged, it was a good thing.  But imagine if they had remained engaged for the fifty years, never getting married.

That is the difference between being those promised the Christ, somewhere in the future, to those who have a relationship with God the Father, because Jesus came to us.

He came to us, the Anointed, chosen One of God came to us.  Then the Father revealed to us, as Jesus taught, as He healed, as He did miracles, that Jesus was more than just a prophet.  God came to live among us, to give us life, to make us His.  He came to prove to us His love, His commitment to a relationship that would survive our sin.

That is or hope, that is why we have confidence in God.

He is the Christ, the one chosen to deliver us from sin, and into the presence of the Father.  He is our Savior, our Redeemer, the One who Reconciles us to the Father, our Life, the Lord who calls us His beloved, who tells us we are no longer without a home, no longer without a family.

Because of Jesus, we know our Father in Heaven, the Creator of the Universe listens when we talk to Him, when we pray.

He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

And it is as we know this, as we begin to understand the love this takes, the love He has for us, that we see the church being drawn together.  God begins to build His home in us.  His love is so strong, that it can’t stop us from raiding hell, to bring back those who sin has damaged, whom it is broken.

Because He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

That is our confession, that is why we have hope, that is why we plead with people to be reconciled to God.  We want them to know that love, that brings a peace that passes understanding, that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

AMEN!

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