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High Pastoral Care: Blessing!

December 17, 2017

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Third Sunday in Advent                           Trinity Lutheran Church

17 December 2017                                     Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +


1 Thessalonians 5:16-24


Listen to the high season-of-Advent-pastoral-care of St. Paul from the text. Then I want to push it for all its worth this morning with and FOR YOU. Here is Pastor Paul’s pastoral care: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”


What did Pastor Paul just do? What did he just give? Hmm? He blessed the congregation! He gave the congregation a benediction! This is absolutely magnificent! What high pastoral care!


In the decades that I have served as a pastor many people have told me repeatedly why they consistently attend the divine service here at Trinity. Many reasons are given. Good ones. Faithful ones. However, one of the reasons might surprise you. Shock you. Most pastors, sadly, are clueless about it. Because they won’t or don’t do it either from ignorance or from denial. So, they’ve never preached or taught about it. Enough of that! Here is what some people have told me. They attend church because they eagerly desire to RECEIVE A BLESSING from the Lord! A BENEDICTION FROM GOD!


Yes, that’s right! Years ago a gentleman told me that he couldn’t get through his chaotic and troubled life except for the weekly BLESSING from Jesus in the Benediction at the end of the service. He would stay until the end. No matter what. He would allow nothing on the daily schedule or no one to take that away from him. Doesn’t that just blow your minds? It should!


Or better put: this should lead all of us to repentance. We need to tell the truth and confess that RECEIVING or BEING GIVEN TO by the Lord isn’t even on our theological radar screens. Generally speaking, if and when we infrequently go to church it is because we mistakenly believe that we have to do something for God. Do our duty. Put in our time. Offer up some kind of sacrificial deed that will put Him into a headlock so that He’ll owe us. Putting forth some kind of eucharisting or praise-band-praising so that God is under obligation to us. We don’t expect or want God to bless us because we incorrectly believe that we can handle everything on our own. That we are in charge of our lives and that we can make something of ourselves with the Lord.


In other words, we’re not willing to be PASSIVELY GIVEN TO by the Lord through His Word of BLESSING.  We’re too busy thinking we have to talk up a storm or do some extravagant activity. And that blocks us from hearing and receiving all the blessings the Lord’s speaks and gives to us throughout the entire service.


The Lord speaks numerous blessings in the service. Chock full of His giving through His words. There is His blessing that we call the Benediction at the end of the service. There is the dominical greeting at the beginning of the service called the Salutation: “The Lord be with you.” There is the apostolic greeting that I give to you before I preach: “Grace, peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord gives you another blessing at the end of the sermon: “the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Then there is the blessing that comes right before the Lord’s Supper and right after the Words of Institution: “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” One more for good measure. It comes after you’ve eaten and drunk the Lord’s Good Friday body and blood with the bread and wine: “Now may this true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and preserve you in body and soul until life everlasting.”


The blessings are like a flood! They just keep coming and coming. What joy then! The Lord does and gives what He says and promises in each blessing. Did you hear what I just said? I said the Lord does and gives what He says and promises in each blessing.


Now, I want to push this further. In the blessings done in God’s holy name God not only gives you good gifts. He also gives you the blessings in order to have good use of you. He speaks. We listen. He gives. We receive. His blessings have their way with us. They enliven us. Energize us. With His blessings He produces in us what is pleasing in His sight. In other words, His blessings empower us to do what is God-pleasing!


That’s why God expects His pastors to bless. So Paul blesses you today in the text. Listen to it again. “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”


That divine blessing given in God’s name empowers and enables you to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances.” His blessing enlivens you to do God’s will by abstaining from sin such as idolatry, abuse of God’s name, despising God’s Word, rebellion against parental and civil authority, sexual immorality, greed, robbery, coveting etc. Such sin would “quench the Spirit.” You don’t want to do that do you? I didn’t think so. So, you’re all about receiving the Lord’s blessings or benedictions so that you can “test everything, hold fast to what is good and abstain from every form of evil.” This is “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  


Right? Of course! You want to do God’s will. I know you do. For that you need to be blessed. To be given to. By the Lord. And that’s exactly why He sent me to serve you here at Trinity. I’m always here to bless. To give you the Lord’s blessings whether it’s here on Sundays in the divine service or whether it is at your baptism, confirmation, wedding, funeral, when you ask me for holy absolution individually, when you ask me to come over and bless your new house or to bless an important decision that you need to make in your life. The Christian life is all about being blessed –BY THE LORD! What Christian would refuse such divine gifts?


Happy receiving the Lord’s blessing! It is the life of faith in Jesus! Always being His hanger on! Totally dependent on Him!  This too is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ!


In the Name of Jesus.

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