Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sermon: Trinity 15 - 2010

12 September 2010 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: Matt 6:24-34

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

There are many things we can, and do, worry about. We’re in a very uncertain economy. We live in a politically unstable world. Our children need proper education. It’s still hurricane season. And how about all those ungodly influences children (and adults!) are exposed to on a daily basis. What about our elderly family members? How am I ever going to get this project done on time? Will someone find out that dark secret from the past that I am harboring? What if I get sick? And where am I going to find the money I need for food and drink, clothing, medicine, house and home, leisure, proper amenities for my family?

And what if this, what if that?

It’s a wonder any of us can sleep at night.

Our Lord Jesus understands this. He gets it. He hears our prayers. He knows our needs. And He does even more – He takes care of us. Our Lord uses nature to make His point. “Look at the birds of the air” He says. Too often, we’re too busy hustling here and bustling there to take a moment to look at the birds. Try to catch a glimpse of one today, and have a look at that simple, little winged creature. As our Lord, our God and Creator, teaches us: “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Our Lord also tells us that not one of them falls to the earth apart from the Lord’s good and merciful will. “Are you not,” He asks, “of more value than they?”

He also teaches us from the plants of the field. Who, even the snazziest and nattiest dressers among us, can compare to a simple lily. And lilies do not have what we have in terms of resources: work, technology, textiles, stores – even charity to provide when we are in want. And if the Lord is so kind to weeds and flowers, if He watches over nature and keeps and preserves the lives of even blades of grass according to His divine plan – how much more should we rest assured that He is taking care of us, dear friends, His beloved children made in His image?

Admittedly, this is easier said than done. We live under tremendous pressures and burdens. It might seem that the easy answer to all of our problems is money. If I could only land that plum promotion or hit that massive power ball jackpot. If only a producer or a director would discover me, if only I could get that degree, if only my family were wealthy, and on and on.

Dear Christians, we don’t have to deal in “ifs,” for we have the promises of God: “And all these things will be added to you.” For we have something going for us far greater than a better job, a winning ticket, or a wealthy family. We have our calling and promise of God in our Baptism and in the assurances of God’s Word. We have victory over death and the grave by virtue of our Lord’s victory at the cross. We have a family of brothers and sisters in Christ that spans time and space, and even the grave itself. We have God as our brother, one of us in human flesh, and we have God as our Father – the King of the universe, the one who has made all things, who has forgiven us all things, so that He can share with us, His beloved and forgiven sons and daughters – all things.

Our worrying is a sign of our little faith. And yet, the Lord has promised us that even a little faith, even faith as tiny as a mustard seed, will bear fruit. Our faith is not in vain, dear friends. For our faith, even if it is weak and feeble, is a gift from God. And like a spark in stubble, our seemingly inconsequential faith can be stoked into a roaring fire. The Lord has given us His Spirit and His Word, and that spark, that faith, that tiny hope, that still, small part of us that clings to God’s Word and God’s promise – can and does burn away our doubts and fears, purifying our hearts and desires by His grace and His mercy, leading us to “fear, love, and trust in Him above all things” instead of relying on ourselves and our money.

For we all know that money cannot buy happiness. Money cannot buy contentment. Money cannot buy communion with God and peace with men. Money cannot buy the forgiveness of sins, salvation, nor everlasting life.

And yet, dear friends, all of these things not only can, but have been bought: “Not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” Jesus has purchased and won us “from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.” And this atoning sacrifice, this redemption, this ransom that not even all the money in all the world could satisfy – is handed over to us poor miserable sinners, presented to us like a gleaming and glorious diamond ring to an impoverished bride. It is ours because He, our Bridegroom who is rich beyond measure – has said that it is so. His Word is truth.

“It is finished!” said our Lord as He claimed His victory on the cross. “Do not be anxious” He invites us, having destroyed the enemy that so vexes us. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” He beckons us, He who has given that kingdom to us without any merit or worthiness in ourselves.

“And all these things will be added to you,” He promises.

And this, dear Christians, is why we can sleep at night. For what keeps us awake is our own senseless worry. Worry doesn’t add to our lives, worry doesn’t pay our bills, worry doesn’t make the world safer. Worry doesn’t give us any of these things that we worry about.

Instead, dear brothers and sisters, we have been given the gift of faith through the Word, seeking first the Lord’s kingdom, and we have the promise that not only abolishes worry, but destroys death and banishes hell. For when it comes to the things the Lord knows we need, dear Christians, remember the Lord’s glorious promise: “All these things will be added to you.”

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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