17 June 2012 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA
Text: Luke 14:15-24 (Prov 9:1-10, 1 John 3:13-18)
In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
Our spiritual father St. John the Apostle says to us: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
For he knows how we are.
We are talkers, not doers. We are like the man who says: “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Rather than being rewarded by Jesus for saying something profound and pious, our Lord Jesus tells a parable to convict him of his sins and call him to repentance. For in this story, everyone has an excuse.
This is because we are talkers and not doers.
We are like St. Peter who swears that even if everyone else falls away, he won’t. Instead, he denied the Lord three times. It’s easier to make promises than to keep them. It’s easier to talk about Christianity than to be a Christian. It’s easier to pay lip service to “spirituality” than to abide by the teachings of Christ’s holy religion.
In other words, we talk the talk, but do not walk the walk.
But, dear friends, the Lord is calling on us to be honest with ourselves. He invites us: “Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” For “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
The first thing every Lutheran child memorizes from the catechism is the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” But who wants a God that is feared?
And yet, the Word of the Lord is clear: “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
But do we really fear the Lord? Are we any different than the characters of our Lord’s parable? “Come, for everything is now ready,” He invites us. The bread and wine are on the altar. Everything is now ready. “The feast is ready, come to the feast.” Sins are forgiven in this place. The Word of God is proclaimed in this place. The Lord is miraculously present in the Holy Sacrament in this place. “Come, for everything is now ready,” He says to us with great joy and excitement.
But where is everyone?
Jesus is here. What could be more important than that?
“The first says to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it.” Someone else says: “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go to examine them.” Still another says: “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”
There is always an excuse. There is always something more important. There is always a good reason to do something else, go somewhere else, pay attention to someone else. There is TV to be watched, parties to attend, chores to be done, places to go, things to do, people to see. There are shows and sports and things to do at work. And even when there isn’t, there is the morning paper and the chance to sleep in.
“So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry.” He uninvited those with excuses, he sought others who would recognize and appreciate the invitation. “Bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame,” he orders. And he adds: “None of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.”
This is a hard word the Lord gives us today, dear friends. But thanks be to God our Father that He loves us enough to warn us, to call us to repent, to draw us into Himself, to His Son who did walk the walk of the road to Calvary, who made no excuses, but who loves us in deed and in truth. Thanks be to God that He sends us His Spirit, to convict us, call us, and draw us to Himself.
The Lord calls us to put away our excuses! The Lord calls us to fear, love, and trust in Him above all things! The Lord calls us to “eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.” The Lord calls us to walk the walk and to truly know love. For “by this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
He issues the invitation anew: “Come, for everything is now ready!” He has gone out into the “highways and hedges” and He compels us – not with force, but with love. He draws us in by grace! He beckons us with His Word: the Word of forgiveness, life, and salvation. He desires that His house should be filled, filled with the “poor and crippled and blind and lame.” Filled with “poor miserable sinners.” Filled with people who stop making excuses because there is no excuse for our sinfulness. Filled with forgiven sinners who accept reproof in love and who respond to the call to repent with thanksgiving and not with scoffing.
Let us turn aside from our excuses and let us confess our lukewarm hearts and repent of our fair-weather faith. Let us joyfully partake of the feast. Let us hear the Word of the Lord and not allow it to become just one more text or e-mail in the clutter. Let us pray to the Lord and not just go through the motions. Let us partake of the Most Holy Sacrament, knowing and confessing that the Lord is physically and miraculously present with us, for us, even as He has died in our place and leads us into perfect love. Let us receive the free and full gift of forgiveness, offered in love, and received in love – the pure love of God that abides in us though we most certainly do not deserve it.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” Amen!
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In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.