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Installation of Jon Sollberger

November 23, 2008

Last Sunday / Proper 29                                  Immanuel Lutheran Church
23 November 2008                                           Louisville, NE
Installation of Rev. Jon Sollberger

                                               + Jesu Juva +

St. John 20:19-23

We are control freaks.  From individuals to congregations.  Can’t help ourselves.  Addicted to control.  Determine outcomes the way we want.  And if anyone asks what we want, we tell them.  “Here’s what we want.  And we want it now!  And if you can’t or won’t be controlled then we’ll just   . . . , well, you know!”  Some people even enable us in our control freak ways.  Take a survey.  Assess what you want.  And then go out and get it.

A dead Jesus was the last thing in the world the disciples wanted.  A suffering Jesus was bad enough.  But a dead and buried One?  Unthinkable.  Inconceivable. Peter categorically scolded Jesus when He preached that suffering and dying sermon.  “Been listening to your sermons Reverend,” Peter said.  “There will be no more of that!  Do you understand me?  Let me spell it out to you Reverend Jesus since you seem to be one of those they all warn us about: Christs don’t die!  As the future bishop of Rome and as long as I’m in charge there will be no more sermons like that!”  Thanks to Peter Malchus got his ear sliced off to keep Jesus from being arrested.  And then Peter went full denial mode once he realized he had absolutely no control of this Jesus. 

But Jesus had to be betrayed, suffer, and do the Good Friday job.  There was nothing the disciples could do to stop it.  The salvation job was out of their control.

Thank God!  Let you or any of the disciples run the salvation show and it wouldn’t have happened.   You would have kept Jesus off the cross.  And then the salvation job would be up to you.  And what a disaster that would be!  A hellacious catastrophe!  It’s a fearful thing to try to control Jesus and not get your way.  Didn’t want a dead Jesus?  Well, He died.  And there was nothing you, Peter, or anyone else could do to keep Him from laying down His life to justify the ungodly.

And now, the freshly risen from the grave Jesus comes into the fear-filled room.  Who let Him in?  Did He knock?  He sure didn’t.  Just came right in.  He’s in control.  Remember? 
The salvation job was done only by Him.  Now He bestows the benefits of His dying.  To the disciples He says:  “Peace be with you.  You’re forgiven.  Of everything.  And here’s proof.  Look at my hands and my side.  My Good Friday wounds.  All for you.  That’s where the forgiveness comes from.”  

It all comes as gift.  Outside themselves.  Originates with Him.  His words of peace give what they say.  The disciples are forgiven.  And all their fear turns to joy.

They’re only beggars.  At the receiving end of His words, wounds, and peace.  All out of their control.  Thank God!

Then another word of “Peace.”  And with that more giving with His words: “As the Father has sent Me so now I send you.”  Sent ones.  Apostles.  Apostolic ministry. 

With the Holy Spirit. He breathes.  “Receive the Holy Spirit.” A Holy Spirit filled office bestowed to speak Holy Spirit Lord and Giver of life words.  Peter, James, John.  Gottberg. DeLoach.  Walz.  Werling.  Porath.  And now for you here at Immauel:  Sollberger.  

Voices like John the Baptist.  Crying out Christ’s Holy Spirit filled word of forgiveness according to His mandate and institution in this desert of a world.  “If you forgive any one’s sins, they are forgiven.” 

What are your sins?  Got a few do you?  Oh, more than meets the eye?  Some you’d rather not mention?  Many you’ve forgotten?  Some you know very well?  Sins that you feel in your heart?  Ones that keep you up at night?  The ones you love to do?  And every one of them, you can’t control, domesticate, or answer for yourself.   

And so for you, Sollberger’s been put here to proclaim Christ’s word of forgiveness.  In fact, He’s commanded by Christ to speak Christ’s word of forgiveness. “If you forgive any one’s sins, they are forgiven.”  And the sinner who hears Christ’s word hears Christ Himself.  “He who hears you, hears me,” is what Jesus promises (Luke 10:16).   

Christ’s words.  Christ’s breath.  Christ’s Spirit.  His breath and His Spirit are in the words:  “I forgive you all your sins.”   Sollberger will so gladly declare them to you.  He’s been sent by the Lord to do just that.  And when He speaks them to you, firmly believe that you are forgiven before God in heaven.  For in the words “I forgive you all your sins,” Christ Jesus is dealing with you Himself in all His Good Friday way.  Christ’s words are Spirit and life.  Alive with His Spirit to deliver what His words say:  absolution.

There you learn that you’re not in control.  Simply beggars who say:  “Amen.  Thanks so much.”  And that’s the strength of faith.  For then, you are nothing and Jesus is everything.

Salvation’s achievement.  Salvation’s bestowal in the forgiveness of sins in the Spirited Word of Jesus.  All gift from Him.  Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, Holy Communion.  Coming from outside yourselves.  And for these gifts coming to you from Him Jesus instituted the Holy Office.  And that’s going on when the Lord puts a man into it.  To speaks Christ’s words in the church. 

The church.  Pastor and people.  Shepherd and flock.  Not one without the other.  The old Roman error of Trent is that the clergy run the show.  The counterpart error is to say, “No the people run it.”  Both are wrong.  It’s not Sollberger’s church any more than it’s Walz’s or Werling’s.  Nor is it the laity’s church.  We don’t run the church.  It’s the Lord’s church.

Thanks be to God it’s not up to us.  Instead, it’s all gift.  That’s how the Lord controls His church.  He gives gifts.    Pastors come and pastors go.  What’s certain and sure is the Lord and what He gives. 

That’s Good Friday.  That’s Easter Sunday.  All for you.  And now He uses another pastor to dish out the holy gifts that bestow what He won for you.  The Lord answered your prayers for another pastor.  And so today we pray large prayers of thanksgiving for the Lord providing us Pastor Sollberger.  To speak the Lord’s words of forgiveness: “If you forgive any one’s sins, they are forgiven.”

And to that we beggars confidently say:  “Gift given.  Gift received.  Amen.”  What could be more happy and joyful than this?  In the Name of Jesus.     

From → "A" Sermons

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