Second Sunday in Advent Trinity Lutheran Church
4 December 2016 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
St. Matthew 3:1-12
Baptism of Kennon Ryan Roeber
My, my, my! Are your ears are burning? Eyelids shut tight? Fists clenched? Ready to walk out? Why? Well, another extremely, audaciously daring preacher shows up today! Many, including you, would say insubordinate and defiant. Must have slipped through the cracks. Surely, no seminary in the universe would certify a preacher like this. After all, he boldly preaches what churchly authorities and the university-preaching know-it-alls forbid. Obviously John the Baptist didn’t get the memo. No, he just ignores the memo and all the supposed experts and lets the “R” word rip! “Repent!”
Did you hear that? Of course you did. It is one of the most important words in the Bible. “Repent.” This is the biblical word that God Himself uses through the mouth of the preacher to turn sinners from their sin – to die to their sin – but more importantly — to turn the sinner to Jesus the crucified One for a sinner’s forgiveness, life and salvation. God’s cup of tea is repenting sinners – leading them to confess their sin and then to believe that Jesus died for them.
It’s really no surprise that you hear the “R” word from John the Baptist. He didn’t slip through the cracks. God sent him to preach this way. Jesus says that John is the last and the greatest of the prophets (Matthew 11:9-11). As such he renews the cry of all Old Testament prophecy — and that is REPENTANCE! All the Old Testament prophets spoke of sin as a personal and total turning away from God. When they preached repentance they called for a personal and total turn to God in faith for salvation.
“Repent.” Why? Well, John the Baptist tells you why. “For the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repent – turn to Jesus not to make Him turn to you — BUT BECAUSE HE – HE –IN HIS CHRISTMAS INCARNATION AND GOOD FRIDAY MERCY AND FORGIVENESS HAS TURNED TO YOU!
Yes, the kingdom of heaven is at hand! Jesus, the promised Messiah has come! He is the kingdom of heaven on the earth. God HAS COME and He reigns FOR YOU and FOR YOUR SALVATION IN JESUS! The Jesus that sits in Mary’s lap and nurses from her breast. The Jesus that tires, thirsts, suffers and even DIES – ON THE CROSS. Behold, all the fullness of the deity dwells in bodily form hanging on the tree! Behold, the kingdom of heaven is revealed! It is at hand FOR YOU and FOR YOUR SALVATION in the born-of-the-Virgin-Mary-and-crucified Jesus. So, be turned – be repented from your selfish self and sin and turn to Good Friday Jesus for salvation.
Now, Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He rose from the dead on the third day – the day we call Easter. Risen and reigning as the Savior of sinners He mandates that disciples – disciples for Him – be made. How? By baptizing all nations in the Triune Name and teaching everything He has commanded. That’s Matthew 28. Levi and Darcy have heard the Lord’s teaching. Matthew 28 as well as this dominical teaching: “let the little children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God … whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it,” (Mark 10:14-15).
Consequently, Levi and Darcy brought their son to Jesus. To be given the kingdom of heaven in holy baptism! God extended His saving reign over Kennon Ryan in the giving of His Triune Name with the water. His saving name! The Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! When God gives you His Name in Baptism, He gives all the benefits of what He did FOR YOU, for all, and for Kennon Ryan on Good Friday. All heaven broke loose today at the baptismal font for Kennon Ryan. Consequently, Kennon Ryan and all of you who are baptized into Christ are new creations, new creatures in Christ, a believer. Spelled:
Because the kingdom of heaven has come to you in Good Friday Jesus and in your baptism, your life, Kennon Ryan’s life is now one of … REPENTANCE! It is the daily search and destroy mission of putting your old sinful natures to death. Dying to your sin. Dying to your self-seeking desires. And daily the new creation, the believer, emerging and arising to live before Jesus and clinging to His forgiveness and promise of salvation. Living off of His Good Friday death FOR YOU!
Let me wrap up this sermon. The Lord Jesus Christ Jesus sent me, like he sent John the Baptist, to call you to “REPENT.” You are not exempted from repentance. You too are to repent. Why? Because the kingdom of heaven has come to you too! “Repent!” Because Jesus died FOR YOU! “Repent!” Because you are baptized! It’s what the baptized do!
When the Lord “R”-words you, when He repents you through His Word (and again that happens daily) you’re living in and from your baptism. Or, your baptism is bearing fruit in your life. Or, you’re making progress in your Christian life. Seriously! I mean that. The repentant Christian is the mature Christian. The repentant Christian daily battles his sin and trusts all the more in Jesus. This will be the fruit of Kennon Ryan’s baptism today. It is the fruit of your baptism dear members of Trinity. So that you have ears to hear. Eyes and hands that are wide open. Feet that stay put. Always ready to receive more from the “R” word preachers the Lord sends to you.
Kennon Ryan, happy living in and from your baptism. Dittos to the rest of you. It is the daily life of repentance. It is the genuine Christian life!
In the Name of Jesus.
Wednesday of Advent 1 Trinity Lutheran Church
30 November 2016 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38
Conceived by the Holy Spirit
Matthew and Luke agree. They teach the same thing. And this is the theme of tonight’s sermon. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Listen again. “She [Mary] was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. … Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit,” (Mt. 1:18, 20). “‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’”
Jesus: conceived by the Holy Spirit. This is God’s almighty action! God’s doing. God’s giving. He donates Himself to His fallen creation and rebellious sinful creatures in order to redeem them. Atone for their sin. Forgive them. Restore them for life in creation. All God’s work. In the reading from St. Luke tonight that was made very clear: “God’s messenger, God’s favor, God’s Word, God’s Spirit, the power of God,” etc.
Bottom line when the Bible teaches that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit it is all God’s doing. All His giving. FOR YOU! To save you from the eternal damnation of sin and to give you eternal salvation.
Consequently, the Holy Spirit is all about Jesus. He’s JESUS CENTERED! CHRISTO-CENTRIC! I repeat. The Holy Spirit wants you to pay attention to Jesus. All glory to Jesus. After all, it’s Jesus who will suffer, die Good Friday-ly and rise Easter-ly from the grave in the body! Therefore, the Holy Spirit bullishly sees to it that Jesus will do just that. And that is precisely why Jesus the-begotten-of-the-Father-from-eternity-second-Person-of-the-Trinity takes on flesh BY THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. When the archangel Gabriel preaches the sermon in Mary’s ears the Holy Spirit overshadows her and Jesus is conceived.
Conceived by the Holy Spirit. Why? Again, it is this: so that Jesus takes on a human body and soul to redeem you in both body and soul. To take all your sin in His body on the cross and endure its hellacious damnation. To give you His holiness. His righteousness. Forgiveness. Heaven.
It’s all about Jesus. He’s the Savior. He is conceived by the Holy Spirit to give you salvation. And the Holy Spirit is most pleased. That’s very good!
First Sunday in Advent Trinity Lutheran Church
27 November 2016 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
Well, it’s Advent. The beginning of the church year. The church is all decorated. Big time. Why? Well, because there is an urgency. No, not a pressingness to get your hunting, partying, shopping, and cooking done. And, good grief, it’s not the “Urgent” of your favorite 80s rock band Foreignor! It is an urgency of a totally different sort. An urgency of what is most important. Salvationly significant. Salvationly central.
The text says: “You know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand.” What day? The Last Day. Judgment Day. All of Advent preaches that Jesus will reveal Himself in glory for everyone to see and He will judge the living and the dead.
So what? How do you live as you wait for the Last Day that in very near? Wait! Don’t answer. Let the text, God’s Word, give you the answer. It’s how you’re awakened from slumber – roused from the sleep of sin and sin’s eternal damnation. I’ll summarize it with one word. Yes, I can do that. But I warn you. The word that I’ll use has been banned from your vocabulary – from the church’s pulpits – from the lips of her pastors. I’m not joking. This is true. But I will tell the truth. It will come from my lips and all heaven will break out among us. The word is spelled R-E-P-E-N-T!
Yes, that’s right, repentance is the life of the Christian in this world since “salvation [the Last Day] is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Repentance is living in and from your baptism into Christ!
According to the text what does your repentance look like? It is a twofold shape. First, “let us cast off the works of darkness … orgies and drunkenness, sexual immorality, sensuality, quarreling and jealousy … making no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.” Quite simply, you who are baptized are to turn away from sin that squanders life in frivolity and self-indulgence. Turn your back on sin that dulls the mind and impairs the body that God has crafted to be temple of the Holy Spirit. Die to lewdness and lust that casts a dirty shadow over the Creator’s design and purpose for sexuality, for your being a male and female. Die to always living in lethal contention with those you love. Die to all the jealousy and envy and that keeps you from living in peace with your neighbor, family members, church members, your pastor and with God.
All these things the apostle catalogues as “works of darkness.” They are not character flaws or bad habits. Not just bad behavior patterns. They are manifestations of your sinful nature, your old Adam, your flesh, that desires to live in the death of darkness apart from God’s saving light. The “works of darkness” are symptoms of a life lived in captivity – under the domain of the prince of darkness – Satan himself!
Well, Advent spells death to the deeds of darkness. Death to the attitudes and actions that creep out of your soul’s cellar! Orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, lewdness, quarreling and jealousy that come from your sinful nature CANNOT BE DOMESTICATED. They are wild, wooly and ferocious beasts! They cannot be house broken or tamed. They cannot be transformed into nice little pets that you can keep on a leash. There is no such thing as an old Adam or sinful flesh whisperer! There is only one thing that must be done to the works of darkness. It is this: PUT THEM TO DEATH. They must be stripped off like infected and contaminated clothes. Repentance is not renovation. It is death. Death to sin. Daily. This is what Paul means when he says, “cast of the works of darkness,” or “make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.”
But that’s not all. There’s more to repentance. And it is the most important part. It’s this: “put on the armor of light … walking properly as in the daytime … put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, repentance is also a turning in faith to Jesus who has Good Friday-ed you and by His blood has forgiven you. He is the Savior of sinners. Savior of you. Winning your salvation on the cross. Delivering it in your baptism. So, when St. Paul says to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” he is exhorting you to live in and from your baptism where “you have been clothed with Christ,” (Galatians 3:27).
Yes, repentance is living in and from holy baptism. In your baptism you died and were buried with Christ. Repentance is daily dying to sin. Repentance is daily arising from death to new life through faith in Jesus who died for you. Dying. Rising. That’s the baptismal life Paul described in Romans 6. “We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life.” The daily life of the Christian then is turning from sin and embracing by faith the gift of Good Friday’s forgiveness delivered in holy baptism.
Now, you see just how radical it is to be a Christian is. The Christian repents! The baptized fight against sin. And it is a deadly battle. Daily turning from sin. Daily dying to it. “Casting off the works of darkness.” “Making no provision for the flesh.” Not gratifying your sinful desires. Daily turning to Jesus who died for you. Believing that His Good Friday death counts for you. Trusting that He’s given you all of His righteousness in your baptism. “Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ” who is the armor of light.
This is what is means to “walk properly as in the daytime.” Repentance is what it means to be a Christian.
The season of Advent prepares you for such a life. After all, “You know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand.”
In the Name of Jesus.