Sunday, June 1, 2008

This morning's sermon

Trinity 2 – June 1st, 2008 – Luke 14:15-24

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
When wisdom puts forth her call, will you come and learn? When wisdom cries out, will you be instructed and learn? When wisdom ask you to come and join with the company of the wise, will you instead demand to remain on your own, doing things your way, isolated and foolish? These are the implications from the book of Proverbs which we heard read this morning, implications which the Pharisees with whom Jesus Christ is dining are familiar with. Jesus and the Pharisees have been gathered together, and He has already been teaching, and in response one person says, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God!” Well, this is true. Those who are at, who participate in the heavenly feast, well blessed are they! And yet, Christ decides there is more to point out. He shows forth wisdom again – so let us not be accounted among the foolish, but give heed to our Lord’s Words today about what true blessing, true wisdom is.

But [Jesus] said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ So behold the set up. There are plans for a banquet, for a great and wonderful feast. Everything is prepared, everything is ready, it is time to feast, it is time to celebrate, it is time simply to rejoice in this wonderful blessing. How kind this man who hosts this banquet is. He makes no demands of those he invites. This is not BYOB, he doesn’t say, “You bring desert if you want it, cause I’m not making any.” No, all is ready, all is provided by this man. It is not merely a free lunch, but a free feast, one long expected, given simply out of the generosity and love of the host.

And yet – something horrible happens. But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.” And another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.” And another said, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” All these people who were invited, all these people who had nothing asked of them, who had nothing demanded of them, they decline. They won’t make it. They have excuses – and weak ones at that. I bought a field – well, will not the field be there tomorrow? Come and feast today, and we will rejoice over your field together! I bought 5 oxen – put them in the pasture, let them rest, and you yourself, rest and rejoice at the feast. I have a wife – well, bring her along, there is food enough aplenty! All weak excuses. This is not a matter of “my wife is sick and I must show love to tend to her.” This is not “my ox has fallen into a well, and I must rescue it.” No, all of these excuses that are given, they are things that could have been done later.

The master’s reaction is understandable. So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry. Understandable that. You’ve prepared a feast. You have gone to great expense, you have labored and worked – and then, you are blown off. For no good reason. In fact, out of simple disdain. It is understandable that this master would be a bit miffed, a bit put out. But this master does not pout, he does not whine – he rather does something creative. And [he] said to his servant, “Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” And the servant said, “Sir, what you commanded has already been done, and still there is room.” And the master said to the servant, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filed. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.” Alright, if that’s how you people want to be – fine, we’ll feast and celebrate without you. You want to be cold and alone – I’ll feast with others. You know what, it doesn’t have to be the hoity-toity that I feast with – in fact, I’m sick of you and your proud ilk. No, let the poor and the blind come, the weak and the lame – the people you snubbers probably snub all the time. In fact, let the strangers, those weary from travel, those who are foreigners and passer-bys, wanderers and vagabonds – let them come, they will rejoice and eat, and we are going to have one fantastic bash. And in your stubbornness, in your folly, you will miss it.

So, this is what Jesus teaches – and we know that there is more to it than this. Jesus did not just suddenly turn into Better Homes and Gardens or the Food Network – this is more than advice for throwing the perfect party, even when things don’t work right to begin with. No, we know what this means. The master is God Almighty, who has invited us into His House, His Church, invited us to the great and heavenly feast that shall last all eternity. And this is all His doing. What must you bring with you to heaven, what must you do to earn an invite? Nothing. All has been prepared. The great servant Christ Jesus has done all the work that is required, indeed, He Himself invites you to come, join in the joys of heaven.

And people don’t come. People hear of the free gift and don’t come. Life and forgiveness and salvation are yours! Eh, why bother? We can be shocked at this – at this disdain for the Gospel – and note, that is what it is, a disdain for the Gospel. The people here aren’t rejecting the “Law” – this isn’t about Law, what must any of these people who are invited do? What work is left for them? Nothing, it has all been done – it’s all Gospel. And we can think and wonder, how can people ignore this – how can they just blow it off?

Easy enough. Now, let me read from Proverbs again for a moment. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. How can people reject the Gospel, how can they just blow it off? We do it, do we not? Is not today the day where we gather and eat the bread of Heaven, Christ Jesus our Lord, in His own supper? How many aren’t here today? And lest we become smug because we are here and someone else isn’t, how many of us blew of one of the Sunday’s last month, or in April? How many of us always take advantage of times to gather together in worship even on Sunday, to say nothing of daily devotions at home, daily matins here? How many of us take advantage of times of teaching? I’ve never taught a class here that couldn’t fit in that little room back there. Do we, who have the invitation of the Lord to come to His House – to learn His Word, to receive His forgiveness – do we ourselves value it or treasure it like we ought?

This is the thing. Jesus speaks here this word of warning to Pharisees, to educated, wise men who knew their scripture. They knew the promises of the Messiah. Some would hearken to them, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, others. Many would scoff, would ignore, would have better things to do than to follow this Jesus – in fact, many would not only reject our Lord’s invitation, but instead demand His death. They were the people who should have known better.

We dear friends, we are the people of today who should know better. Have you not been taught and trained? Did you not learn the 3rd commandment and it’s meaning – or is that all forgotten? Does your catechism lie ignored in a box or dusty on a shelf? What is the 3rd commandment? Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy? What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching or His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. Hold the Word sacred. Learn it, be in it, study it, grow in it. Remember that the depths of the wisdom of God are deep, and that there is much to learn there, always more to study and learn there, always more to understand.

And not because God is mean and petty. Not because God wants you to jump through hoops, do little dances to entertain Him. No. Because God loves you, because the Father has sent Christ into the World to go to the Cross and die for your sins, to rise to give you new life. This is what Christ brings in His Word. And God never wants your separated from that, never wants you to fall away – and God knows how Satan works, how he stalks and preys upon Christians – destroying so many not with loud and brash sins, but with the simple sin of indifference to the Word. Satan wants you to think that you have better things, more important things than to study the Word, than to join together with your fellow Christians in the reception of God’s Word of Forgiveness and His Holy Supper. But God wants to shower His forgiveness upon you. There are many chances you have not to simply study on your own – but to join with others, to have that 2 or 3 or many more gathered in Christ’s name where you will be built up. Sundays – bible study and church. Monday through Thursday there is Matins in the morning, and if we need a different time than 8, so be it. Monday I send out an e-mail devotional. Tuesday nights you may come and study what the Early Church Fathers teach us about Christ. Wednesday mornings we are reviewing the Catechism. This Thursday, ladies, there is our monthly study, this time over Amos. Thursday night we are hearing the words of Luther’s teaching. And then, any other time with a question, call, ask, we can chat and discuss and study and rejoice in the Word together.

Because, dear friends, this is the thing. God invites us to His house, calls to us in His Word, so that we might be prepared for the eternal feast in heaven. This Supper today, which we will receive – what is it for? Now may this true Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, strengthen and preserve you in the One True Faith. Strengthen, preserve – go now and face the trials of life ready for heaven, ready to spit in Satan’s eye when temptation comes, ready to go gladly when the Angels come to gather you to Abraham’s bosom – Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace!

God wants you to be strong and prepared. God wants you to have peace. God wants you to rest secure in the His love for you, to dwell in His forgiveness, to know the wisdom of God – that is, to know that God has mercy and love for you and sees to your salvation, does all that is required. Know this, be in it, live it in – so that you may have for all eternity the free life given you in Christ. Amen.

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