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Ordination of David Doellinger

July 17, 2006

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost                       Immanuel Lutheran Church
16 July 2006                                                   Terril, Iowa
Ordination of David Doellinger

+ Jesu Juva +

St. John 20:19-23
Holy Ministry!  Holy Gift! 

Is anything holy anymore?  This is how we used to speak.  Holy Scripture.  The Holy Trinity.  Holy Spirit.  Holy Church.  Holy Marriage.  Holy Baptism.  Holy Communion.  The most holy Body and Blood of our Lord.  Holy Absolution. Holy Liturgy.  Holy and royal priesthood.  The Office of the Holy Ministry.  Listen to how we talk today.  All the “holies” have dropped off our vocabulary for the most part.

Watch how we act.  How we treat all these “holies.”  For example, the Divine Service in too many of our congregations resembles Hollywood’s entertainment or a Las Vegas night club act.  The pastors have traded in their vestments for Ralph Lauren polo shirts or Veggie Tale ties.  Sermons are now pep talks.  A Tony Robbins follow-my-six-easy-steps-to-success seminar.  No killing Law.  No life instilling Gospel.  Just self-help story after self-help story. Illustration after illustration.  The pastor frets all week until he can find some gimmick to hold everyone’s attention.

For profaning such holy things we must repent.  Confess our sins and trust that Jesus has dumped them all into the black hole of His death.  That His bloody wounds from Calvary’s sacrifice cleanse us from all sin.  That we’re now dead to sin and alive to God through Him.

In addition, it is a good time to recover and reclaim one of the “holies.”  Today we rejoice that the Lord will put David into the office He instituted.  That the Lord will use David as His instrument.  With great joy we extol what the Lord gives and provides for His Church:  The Office of the HOLY Ministry.

“As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”   Here the crucified and risen Lord Jesus mandates and institutes an office.  An office that belongs to Him.  What belongs to Jesus is holy.  Thus, the office of the Holy Ministry.

The holy office doesn’t belong to David.  He’s not the boss.  He’s not the Lord.  He’s not the Savior.  You know David has it wrong when he starts answering the phone this way:  “Good Morning.  David Doellinger Ministries.  Are you lost?  Good.  I’m here to save you.”  When he talks like that then the man acts like a little god.  And the Lord Jesus and His Good Friday death are treated as nothings.

In addition, the congregation or voters’ meeting of Immanuel doesn’t own the office.  Evidence of this is when the congregation votes to fire a faithful pastor.  One error is that the Pastor believes he’s the end game and the big cheese.  The opposite error is to say “No!  The people are in charge.”  Both are wrong.   What’s holy is the Lord’s.  The Holy Office belongs to Him.

Dr. Luther gently reminds us of this.  He writes:  “For we must believe and be sure of this, that Baptism does not belong to us but to Christ, that the Gospel does not belong to us, but to Christ, that the Office of Preaching does not belong to us, but to Christ, that the Lord’s Supper does not belong to us, but to Christ, that the Keys, or forgiveness and retention of sins, do not belong to us but to Christ.”  What belongs to Jesus is certain and sure.  What’s the Lord’s is His Holy Office of the Ministry.  And He puts men into the office as gift.

But what kind of gift is David to be?  The Lord says:  “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.  If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The pastor as the Lord’s instrument is to be the Lord’s mouth.  To speak the Lord’s Spirit-filled word of forgiveness.  To speak the Lord’s Spirit-filled word which retains.

Jesus is the Savior.  The only one.  The one true God.  His death answers for all sin.  A whole world full.  Jesus Himself said:  “When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to myself.” Lifted up on the Cross Jesus said:  “It is finished.”

What does this mean?  The blessed apostle Paul says:  “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”  That when Jesus died all died.  That while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

What sins do you have?  Do you believe that there’s some sin of yours Jesus hasn’t died for?  Like divorce, immorality, adultery or suicide?  Do you think that you need to get your act together before God will like you?  Like quitting smoking, giving up the boozing or stop playing Texas Hold’em? That you have to STOP doing something or START doing something to obtain God’s love?  Like curbing the cursing and increasing the praying?  If so, what will you say David?  Immanuel congregation, what do you expect David to tell you?

The only answer that holds is what the Lord says: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.”  By the command of the Lord the Pastor declares that:  Your sins are forgiven in Christ.  Always have been.  Are now.  And continually will be.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Such forgiveness is full and free.  And David has been put here by the Lord to proclaim such Lamb-of-God-forgiveness to you.

And so, another “holy”:  Holy Absolution.  It’s what the Lord’s given him to speak.  That you’re forgiven for Jesus’ sake.  Always welcome home.  And that you never have to do anything to earn forgiveness.  You are to receive it, enjoy it, and breathe it in.  That’s faith.

Jesus even tells a story to illustrate this truth:  the parable of the Forgiving Father.  The prodigal son is not forgiven because of anything he did.  Of course, he thinks that’s the way it works. So he composes a terrific confession full of self-deprecating malarkey about not being worthy to be his father’s son anymore.  And then he believes that he can call the shots in the reconciliation with the old man:  “Make me one of your hired servants.”

But when he’s a long way off, his father saw him.  His father had compassion, ran, fell on his neck, and kissed him.  Notice who’s doing the verbs now.  The boy didn’t earn forgiveness by coming home and saying he’s sorry.  He just walks in and finds that he had forgiveness all along.  Even while he was wasting everything in wild living.  The father doesn’t forgive him because he confessed privately or publicly.  The father forgives just because he’s his
forevermore loving father.  And that forgiveness is his cup of tea.  Forgiveness that raises the dead and finds the lost.

Some however, just don’t get it.  They refuse
to believe that’s really the way it works.  They’d rather live outside the Father’s forgiveness.  Try to earn it by keeping score or calling the shots themselves.  Just like the elder brother in the parable of the Forgiving Father.

You remember the older brother.  He’s a dyed-in-the-wool score keeper.  He shows up with his book full of self-righteous green stamps and complains that his father never gave him any premiums.  The father, with great compassion, goes out and explains that he doesn’t accept trading stamps.  “Look.  He’s my son.  You’re my son.  Neither of you has to earn any of this stuff.  You both already own everything I’ve got.  So why are you standing out here complaining?  Wipe that look off your face, enjoy the party, and fix yourself a drink!”

But he won’t.  He’s decided to just sit outside and pout.  A big party pooper.  Locked in unforgiveness by his own bookkeeping.  Bound in his sin.  Lost.  Dead.  Refusing to trust his father’s forgiveness that he’s always had.  Stubbornly resisting the best deal he’s always been offered.

The younger boy is free. Found. Rejoicing in the party of his father’s absolution that revolves around a slaughtered calf.  The forgiveness celebration in the father’s house is for you too.  All because Lamb of God Jesus was slaughtered and offered up on the altar of the Cross for your prodigal and not so prodigal sin and sinning.

David, soon you’ll be put into the Holy Office of the Ministry.  Receive it as the gift that it is.  And see to it that you proclaim and bestow what’s the Lord’s. 

Immanuel congregation, it’s good that you’ve called David to fill the holy office.   Help him.  Pray for him.  He’s only the Lord’s instrument.  And when He speaks the Lord’s Words receive them as from the Lord Himself.  One of these words is the Absolution. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.” 

The Small Catechism sums it up this way.  We receive the absolution from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.  It is a forgiveness that is as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us himself.

Happy Ordination Day David.

In the Name of Jesus. 

From → Sermons

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