Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sermon: Rogate (Easter 6) – 2015

10 May 2015

Text: John 16:23-33

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

In our Gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, makes reference seven times to the Father.  It just so happens that today is a secular holiday in which we honor our mothers.  There doesn’t have to be a conflict between the two.  For motherhood and fatherhood are closely related.  You can’t have one without the other. 

The church father Cyprian said that you can’t have God as your Father without having the church as your mother.  Martin Luther similarly said, “The Christian church is your mother, who gives birth to you and bears you through the Word.  And this is done by the Holy Spirit who bears witness concerning Christ.”  

So just as every Christian has a heavenly Father, every Christian likewise has a heavenly mother, the church.  Our Lord Jesus told us that we must be born again, and just as our earthly mothers birthed us from their very bodies, amid blood and water and pain and joy, so too are we given new life from the Body of Christ, amid the blood of the Lord’s sacrifice given to us in the chalice, amid the water from the Lord’s side given to us at the font, in the pain of the Lord’s passion and death and burial, and the joy of the Lord’s resurrection – each one of us, dear friends, has found the new birth, being born again, having a Father in heaven and a mother who continues to nurture us all our lives in Word and Sacrament, in the Gospel, and in the forgiveness of sins in Christ, given to each one of us, even as parents provide for us in this body and life.

And so it is fitting, dear friends, that we have yet again borne witness to the miracle of Holy Baptism, even as our newest member, little Ethan, has been made an adopted son of the Father and an adopted son of the Church.  He has today joined the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, and has been given a promise that the Lord will never forsake Him, has named him as his very own child, has marked him with the sign of the holy cross, and will love him unconditionally even unto eternal life.

The seed has been planted, it has been watered, and now it will grow according to the Lord’s providence.  Each member of Ethan’s family has been called by God to bear witness of the Lord Jesus to him, our dear brother in Christ: to pray for him, to teach him the Word of God, to faithfully bring him to the Lord’s house, for worship, for instruction, and so that he may be loved and nurtured by his brothers and sisters in Christ, his church family.

And as Ethan grows up in this faith, he himself may be called to become a father himself to his own children, to bring them to the holy font to receive adoption as children: of God our Father and the church our mother.  For one of the benefits children have is to petition their fathers for what they need.  The Lord’s prayer is the prayer of a Son to a loving Father, with seven remarkable requests to our Father who art in Heaven: 1) For His name to be kept holy among us, 2) that His kingdom may come to us, 3) that His will be done among us, 4) that we thankfully receive our daily bread, 5) that our Father forgive us our sins, even as we forgive the sins of others, 6) that the Father will help lead us through dark times in our lives, times of temptation to “false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice,” and 7) for rescue from the evil one.

Today, this prayer has become Ethan’s prayer, even as it is our prayer, dear friends.  

And our Lord Jesus further promises: “Whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you.”  Our Lord spoke in figures of speech, but says, “the hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech, but will tell you plainly about the Father.”  Jesus tells us: “The Father Himself loves you.”

For even in the corrupted and sinful human relationship of parents and children, we imperfect parents and imperfect children catch a glimpse of what the love of God truly is.  And it is in our heavenly Father that we see perfect love – even when we earthly mothers, earthly fathers, and earthly children fall short of the ideal.

Ethan is beginning his Christian life in perilous times.  For the first time in hundreds of years, Christians in western society face hatred, discrimination, and persecution.  We are treated with scorn and contempt for believing in the Bible.  We are punished for our refusal to allow the world to define our beliefs for us.  Our Lord Jesus calls us to follow Him through it all, by taking up our crosses, by laying down our lives if we are called to do so, even as the Son laid down His life in obedience to the Father, and in love for us, so that we could be redeemed from death and brought into that perfect communion with our Father who art in heaven, even unto eternity.

Our Lord says: “In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Jesus came to bring us at last to our Father, to make us His children.  Jesus has come to bring us to our mother the church, a mother that loves us by raising us in godly fear and love of the Father.  In the nurture of the church, we are not only birthed, but fed, comforted, loved, and given all that we need to grow.  

It is not so politically correct these days to honor motherhood.  The world treats mothers as second class citizens.  The world treats motherhood as a necessary evil and as an impediment to chosen gender roles.  Natural biology still mandates that there are mothers and fathers, men and women, boys and girls.  And we Christians still delight and glory in the reality that the Lord has created us in His own image, male and female, and that in this glorious created order, life goes on by means of parental love, even as eternal life comes to us from our heavenly Father and churchly mother.  

For we are not alone.  We have our heavenly Father even amid the world’s tribulation and the assaults of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature.  We have our baptism, which can never be taken away from us.  We have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world, united in the Father’s love, the Son’s passion, death, and resurrection, and the Spirit’s renewal.  And in baptism, all that the Son has is given to us as a free gift, including His very righteousness.  

Let us thank God for our earthly parents, and especially on this day for the mothers who gave us life by giving birth to us.  And let us especially thank God for our new birth by water and the Spirit, for our mother who gives eternal life to us by giving birth to us as Christians, for she “gives birth to you and bears you through the Word,” bringing us to the Son who has saved us by His blood and mercy.  And let us thank God and rejoice with all the saints and angels in heaven for today’s heavenly adoption of Ethan.  

“With a voice of singing, declare, proclaim this, utter it to the ends of the earth.  Alleluia.  The Lord has redeemed His servant.  Alleluia!”  Amen.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Hison the sickness of sinto the next - and d w liars and sons of the devil, tament, a bloodye people on In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

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