Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sermon: Wednesday of Trinity 19 - 2018

10 October 2018

Text: Matt 9:1-8 (Gen 28:10-17, Eph 4:22-28)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

When Galileo was put on trial by the Inquisition of the corrupt church of his day for saying that the earth moves around the sun, he was forced to recant.  And by doing so, he saved himself from the death penalty.  Supposedly, he muttered under his breath in Italian: “e pur si muove,” (“and yet it moves”).  

The ancient Greeks referred to God the Creator as  “ὃ οὐ κινούμενον κινεῖ” (“the Unmoved Mover”).  

God’s entire creation is in motion: the galaxies, the solar systems, the planets, the molecules, the atoms – and even light waves: the first thing God set in motion at the creation.

Life moves, as even grass and trees grow and lunge toward the heavens, while shooting roots into the earth.  Animals move: they walk, they swim, and they fly.  And when God breathed His Spirit into the dust of the earth, mankind was animated with life, and he was able to move.

In time, man would also learn to use technology to routinely travel along roads at 70 miles per hour, fly through the air and even blast into space.  God made us to move!

Our worst move, however, was in the Garden of Eden, rebelling against God, taking hold of forbidden knowledge of good and evil before we were ready and authorized by God to do so.  The result is that movement in our universe is no longer orderly and harmonious, but now is chaotic and destructive: hurricanes and collisions between stars and planets, animals eating each other, friction between man and nature, and hostility between man and God.  Also, our bodies slow down due to disease and wear.  We age.  And we die, becoming again dust of the earth, paralyzed and unable to move.  

This is why paralysis is so horrible.  Being immobile is not what God had in mind when He created us.  And so the paralytic in our Gospel account is seeking a restoration to wholeness.  He came to the right place.  For Jesus does what no doctor could do.  He not only cures the disease, He takes away the cause of the disease.  “Take heart, My Son; your sins are forgiven.”  And to the consternation of His critics, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator, the Unmoved Mover, orders the once-crippled man whose sins have been forgiven to move: “Rise and walk” He is able to command, and the man’s body obeys and moves.

This movement is authorized by God, for “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”  In fact, our Lord Jesus Christ moved from the realms of eternity into our broken, chaotic, paralyzed world to free it from its impediments by removing the cause of all of our problems: sin.  Jesus came to destroy the unholy trinity of sin, death, and the devil, and the paralysis of fear and helplessness that follow in their wake.

The earthward movement of the Unmoved Mover was prefigured as a vision by our Lord’s ancestor Jacob.  While he was camping out near what is today Jerusalem, Jacob dreamed a vision from God: “a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.”  This ladder became a torrent of movement: of angels ascending and descending, preparing the place where heaven would intersect with earth, where eternity would meet time.  The Temple would be built here, and the Eternal Presence of God would be present there, as sacrifices would be tokens of the forgiveness of sin.  And in the fullness of time, the Lord Jesus Christ would be born not far from there.  And He would eventually make His way to the cross, the true ladder to heaven upon which we ascend, through Christ in whom we live and move and have our being.  He would fulfill the Temple sacrifices.  He would allow Himself to be paralyzed by death, but the Unmoved Mover would rouse Himself into motion yet again.  He would send His church into motion around the globe, baptizing and teaching, preaching and celebrating the Lord’s Supper, forgiving sins, and establishing churches through which sinners are moved to forgiveness and eternal life.

That movement continues to this very day.

Our Christian life is a moving away from death toward the new life that is ours in Christ Jesus through the very same forgiveness offered to the paralytic.  For in your baptism, the Unmoved Mover said to you: “Take heart, My Son, take heart My daughter, your sins are forgiven.”  And you will indeed rise from that narrow chamber of the tomb.  And then from death our Lord Jesus Christ will awaken you.  Your eyes will joyfully see the Son of God.  You will move.  You will rise.  You will pick up the bed of your grave, and you will go home: home to a new heaven and a new earth, one in which the galaxies, the solar systems, the planets, the molecules, the atoms – and even light waves – will move in perfect harmony, just the way the Unmoved Mover designed them and commanded them to move in the first place by His Word!

It is this motion away from sin, death, and the devil and toward the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that St. Paul refers to when he says: “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

This renewal of the mind will be brought to completion in the renewal of the body: the resurrection, the movement from paralysis to vigor, from despair to hope, from shackles to freedom, from sin to forgiveness, life, and salvation by the grace of the Unmoved Mover.

For even when the world doubts God’s existence, when our culture mocks and denigrates the Unmoved Mover Jesus Christ, even as people all around us, unknowingly paralyzed by sin, death, and the devil tell us that there is no resurrection, there is no restoration to movement again, there is no new heaven and new earth to look forward to – they are playing the role of the backward church of the middle ages and the renaissance, that resisted the truth and oppressed those who told the truth.  

Modern skeptics are cut of the same cloth as the Inquisition that put Galileo on trial, wanting to dictate to all of us what to believe, how to think, and whom to serve.  They want us to think that they have all the answers, and that their distortion of science is the truth.  They want us to believe that dissent is deadly, and that they have ultimate power over us.

We are Galileo (who was also a faithful Christian).  We are those who look at God’s creation and see the handiwork of the Unmoved Mover.  We know Jesus Christ, have read and heard His Word, and we participate in His life-giving sacraments.  We are moved by His cross and blood shed for us.  We are moved by Holy Baptism which washes away the paralysis of sin and death.  We partake in the Holy Supper that moves us to eternal life.

And like Galileo, we dissent from the oppressors who would have us accept a lie.  We hear yet again the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Your sins are forgiven.”  We look forward to the resurrection when our Lord, the Unmoved Mover, will say to us: “Rise and walk.”

And here in time, like the crowds who witnessed this miracle, we glorify God “who had given such authority to men.”  And when we are told to shut up and obey, we are not afraid to offer our own resistance to the devil’s tyranny, saying: “E pur si muove!”


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

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