Trinity 15 2015
September 13, 2015
Scripture: Matthew 6:24–6:34
Dear children of God, bought and paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, claimed in the waters of Holy baptism; Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Does life not consist of more than these temporal things? Is not the care of your soul and your eternal well being more important than full bellies, clothes on your back and shoes on your feet?
You are here today, not to hear of promises for prosperity, riches, health and wellness; you are here this day because you have been pulled from the depths of sin, death and hell, claimed back from the clutches of the Devil in order that you might live, now and forever. You’re here today to hear the sweet word of your Savior that reminds you that you are worth more than the birds and the grass of the field indeed you are of more value than the angels in heaven for your Lord has been pleased to die and rise again for you. So why then are you anxious?
Why do you ask “what shall we eat, what shall we drink or what shall we wear?” Has someone else told you that these things are of more value than the life and riches that have been bestowed to you by your king? Do you believe the world around you, filled with men and princes who instill fear, trepidation and a false sense of competition amongst you? Do not believe the world filled with sin and fear that has told you that that which you can see, and touch is of more value than the gifts of God given in the forgiveness of sins which bestows life eternal. Dearly beloved, repent; for the world that has convinced your weakened flesh that God cannot be trusted, that waiting for the Lord to hear your prayer just won’t cut it. It is the world, the schemes of the Evil One and your own sinful and frail flesh that have produced all sorts of lies and unbelief that causes you such anxiousness. Dear children of the King remember again this day that your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
You know this, for this is what you have been taught but yet you have believed others who have brought questions before you that have caused you to doubt others have asked you; what can God do to remedy the dark past that you have witnessed? What can God do to remedy the pain and suffering of the lives you live today? What proof do you have to trust that the Lord of Heaven and Earth takes heed of you and your prayers and still takes care of you? After all, is not God the very God who provides so richly but yet seems to leave the possibility, nay, allows suffering to continue? How then can He be trusted? So are the temptations of the Evil One.
How weak and frail we truly are to think “hey, maybe those little whisperings are right” maybe God really has forgotten, maybe He doesn’t have the time to devote to me in all my needs, or perhaps it’s just simply that we do not believe that He can or will do as He has promised to do. But you dear children, are the heirs of a most gracious King, a king who sent his very Son precisely because we are weak in order to accomplish for us what we could not. So can God do all the things this world, our flesh and the devil wish for us to disbelieve? Does He really know who we are, does He know our every need, does He know us by name, and does He promise to take care of the very creation that He spoke into existence? The answer is most assuredly yes, amen yes yes it is so; you are of exceeding value to your King; How valuable? Look to the cross to see the price He paid that you might be His own. Look to the cross to see all things fulfilled for you that you might not be filled with fear or anxiousness but rather that you might see, hear and believe that by His death and resurrection that He has made all things new, you have been claimed back from sin death and the Devil.
But yet among the blessings, care, forgiveness and mercy there is still the here and now that is fraught with so many needs, so many questions and deep suffering and pain. It is true what is said of our God and King, and yet so often it seems untrue. We believe, yet so often we cannot. We hope and then our hope is dashed by circumstances that are often beyond our control.
Yet even today these things are true as St. Paul says: Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. Now and not yet and this is the issue! And it is here, in the end times, that the presence of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary! For in our weakness, in our sin we turn in on ourselves; we trust not the timeless truths of our King but the opinions and teachings of men, princes and the mammon of this world. The temptations of the Evil One seek to snatch you away from the truth of your baptism, the truth of your salvation and the truth of your gracious kings kindness and mercy. Now, we believe but yet now in our sin we disbelieve, and it is in our disbelief that anxiousness takes hold for we begin to trust the things of the creation over and above the Creator. We seek the consolation of mammon; health, wellness, prosperity, money, experts in various fields of study and the opinions of men and when those fail, as they always do, we despair and are turned further in on ourselves. Mammon fails, and yet when all the world has to offer has failed we turn finally into the idolatry of trusting ourselves; our own smarts, our own resourcefulness and thoughts. You cannot serve God and Mammon and the stark reality is that Mammon has done nothing to procure the forgiveness of sins for you. Mammon, men, princes, money and the like have not died for you; you know this, and when that false god Mammon fails Anxiousness and fear sets in.
Anxiousness is the opposite of true faith. For anxiousness trusts in the things of the creation and we are left speaking the timeless questions of the fallen and faithless: What then am I to eat? What am I to wear? What am I to do? Anxiousness holds fast to the fact that we are sheep to be slaughtered and is filled with fear; and yet it is true faith bestowed to you already by the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism which knows that in all these things, in suffering, in trial and tribulations that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. The True faith given to you in baptism is sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. And it is precisely this that the Evil one does not wish for you to know.
Perhaps you underestimate the Devil; have you forgotten that He prowls around upon the earth looking for souls to devour, or perhaps like St. Peter maybe you think that you have what it takes to fight him yourself. Hear the words of St. Luke chapter 22: 31“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,d that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33Petere said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34Jesusf said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” The Evil One is real, and as Peter believed he had what it took to avoid the sifting of the devil so to you have falsely believed that you yourself can overcome him. Peter denied Christ and so do you. You deny Him by your fearfulness and your anxiousness. Your anxiousness shows that you have not trusted the words of your King but rather the things of this world including your own shrewdness to overcome the One who wishes to steal your soul.
And yet hear again the words of the collect of the day: Let your continual pity cleanse and defend your church and because she cannot continue in safety without your aid preserve her evermore by your help and goodness. The devil loves the self-reliant one! The Devil sifts you away from the safety of the innumerable numbers of the Church of God, He is the one that isolates you if only in the end to point out to you how alone you are. This is the truth of anxiousness, and the curving in on oneself that cuts us off from God and our neighbor and prevents that which Paul speaks of in our epistle.
Dearly beloved, we live by the Spirit of God, who points us time and again to the scriptures, to the church wherein we are kept safe and sheltered from the storms of this life, the spirit of God that was given to you in the waters of baptism that allows and encourages us to restore to the one who sins qa spirit of gentleness. The Spirit has been given that you might Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted and so it is the spirit that allows us to rBear one another's burdens, and sso fulfill the law of Christ. The spirit of God points us to our Lord and Savior, the one Who has redeemed you, restored you, made you truly alive now and forever in order that you might see that true life consists of more than food and drink and clothing and shelter. It is Jesus your Lord that reminds you again today that you are of more value than the birds and the lilies of the field. It is because of Jesus and His perpetual care for you, shown right here in His church that takes us out of our anxiousness and restores us to a life of faith in Him. He has not promised that life this side of heaven will be without suffering and temptation. But He has promised that in all things He will be with you that you might see His grace bestowed to you without any merit or worthiness on your part because He loves you and takes care of you still. He frees you from anxiousness, worry that you might receive all good things and in turn freely bestow them to others.
Your Lord commands you to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. And the beauty of what your Lord commands is that this seeking is simple. For what He commands you to seek is that which He has already provided and that which He continues to reveal to you. Seek the word of God that sets you free: Behold you are hearing that word right now! Seek that which sets you free from sin: Behold you have been given the forgiveness of sins already and in mere moments will receive His true Body and blood in with and under bread and wine for the forgiveness of your sins. Seek peace: behold you have the greatest peace even this day dear children of God for God is at peace with you because of the precious blood and innocent suffering and death of Christ your Lord. Seek what might be found and know that the search is short lived here in the Church of God. Your Lord knows that you have need and so He has provided for both this life and the next. Your Lord knows your every pain and suffering for He is a high priest that has suffered in every way that we have yet without sin. No one can serve two masters; it is true, and it is all thanks to Jesus Christ who has become your Lord Who has redeemed you, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won [delivered] you from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that you may be [wholly] His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.