Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sermon: Sts. Cyril and Methodius – 2011

11 May 2011 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: Ps 119:89-105

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


The word stirs up romantic notions of far off lands, of adventure, of heroically converting cannibals into Christians and living among exotic plants and animals that one typically only finds in zoos.

Sometimes the mission field is a far away land, but what makes a mission a mission is that one is sent to a place and to a people that are in need of Jesus.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius were two brothers – both priests and preachers, both evangelists and missionaries. In order to preach the Gospel to the Slavic peoples to whom they were sent, they had to invent a new alphabet.

The Slavs were in need of an alphabet, but what they really needed was Jesus. The system of writing simply facilitated communication. What the Slavs of Eastern Europe really needed to have communicated to them was Jesus.

For Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, the whole world, even the world of the non-Roman peoples of Eastern Europe – often considered Barbarians by those who had already been enlightened by the Gospel. For “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

The Lord called these two faithful brothers, men of skill and talent, men under holy orders, men with a zeal to preach the Gospel of our Lord and of His cross to peoples still stuck in the darkness of Paganism and superstition. Cyril and Methodius invented the alphabet used to this very day by our Russian brothers and sisters in Christ in their continued use of the Holy Scriptures of the Word of God and the Holy Liturgy of the Church of God.

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”

And not even the brutality and totalitarianism of Communism could turn those ancient letters completely away from Christ and the Gospel. For today, Christians again confess the truth of God’s Word using the Cyrillic alphabet invented in the ninth century by these brothers to each other and fathers to the Slavic Christians.

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.”

Dear friends, you may never be called upon to invent an alphabet. You may never receive holy orders to serve in the ministry and preach the Gospel. You may never be called upon to leave your home to proclaim Christ to people of another language and climate. But you are missionaries of a sort.

For a missionary is one who goes out. And every Christian exits the sacred portals of the Church and goes out into the fallen world – bearing Christ in His baptized body, in his catechized mind, in his very soul imbued with the true body and blood of Jesus, given to strengthen us for those times when we must give a witness to the hope that is within us.

Not every Christian is called to preach, but all are called to confess. Not every Christian is called to teach, but all are called to believe. Not every Christian is called to proclaim Christ in a foreign land, but all are called to be Christs to one’s neighbor – whether that neighbor lives in Marrero or Moscow, Lafitte or Liberia.

“Forever, O LORD, Your Word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You have established the earth, and it stands fast.”


The word is not so much about where one is sent, but what one is sent with. And whether we are preachers or hearers of the Word, we are all called upon to be confessors and doers of the Word. We Christians have been sent into the world, to bear Christ with us according to our individual callings and to bring the love of God to our neighbors by loving our neighbors as ourselves.

For people around the globe still need Jesus. They still crave the forgiveness of sins and the glorious proclamation of the truth that God has been reconciled to us by Christ’s ministry of the cross, and we have been given this ministry of reconciliation even as ministers of Word and Sacrament, like the sainted Cyril and Methodius, have been sent with a mission to “make disciples of all nations.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that missionary work continues! It began with the apostles and with Sts. Stephen and Paul. It continued with St. Gregory the Great, with Sts. Cyril and Methodius, and with St. Boniface whose missionary preaching brought Christ to the German people, the ancestors of the Lutheran reformation itself.

And it continues with us, with every prayer for our brethren around the world, with every hymnal donated to Africa and every dollar given to Siberia. It continues with every child taught the catechism and every cup of cool water given to one of the least of the Lord’s brethren in need of a drink. It continues with baptism and forgiveness, with the Holy Eucharist and with preaching, with Bibles translated and the Scriptures read and taken to heart. And it begins in our own homes, dear friends.


The greatest missionaries of all are godly parents who read the Bible to their children, bring them to the services of the Lord’s House, carry them to the life-giving waters of baptism, who pray at home, forgive at home, sing at home, and constantly invoke the sacred name of Jesus at home. We continue to teach the children for the same reason and with the same zeal as Sts. Cyril and Methodius bringing Christ to the Slavs – because they need Jesus!

And we join anew with the Psalmist: “If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life. I am Yours; save me, for I have sought Your precepts.”

Thanks be to God for Sts. Cyril and Methodius and all missionaries who bring Christ to the world, now and until the Lord returns! Amen.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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

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