Wednesday, June 8, 2011

easter 7 at Alva - unedited

I don't have my tinkerings, but here is the paper draft of my sermon for last Sunday at Alva on John 17:1-11

Christ is Risen (He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia) Amen
After three chapters of preaching, of teaching, our Lord concludes His evening in the Upper Room with the disciples by praying. These verses today are the beginning of what is known as Christ Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” – the prayer that He prays for His disciples, that He prays for us. And this prayer is wonderful as it encapsulates everything that is part of being in the Church Militant – the Church awaiting the return of her Lord, Christ Jesus.

“Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You.” The hour has come. When Christ leaves the Upper Room upon the completion of this prayer – it’s His passion. It’s the sweat and agony in Gethsemane, the mocking trial, and the Crucifixion. It’s all on after this. And yet, what does Christ say? Glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You. We don’t generally think of the Crucifixion as glorifying Christ, we don’t think of it as glorifying the Father. What is Jesus driving at, what point is He making? Namely this – I believe in One God, the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. The very first thing that we state about God is that He is our Creator – that God Almighty made the heavens and earth – that the Father spoke and the Word called into being all things, and the Spirit hovered over the face of the deep. Creation is a wondrous thing – the Heavens declare the glory of the Lord. And of all this creation, of all the vast heavens and the plants and the creatures – there at the pinnacle stood man. Man was the crowning glory of God’s creation. When you wanted to know how awesome, how wonderful God was – you beheld Adam, made in the image and likeness of God Himself. There, that is God’s Handiwork at its finest, His masterpiece.

And Adam falls. Sins. And creation groans in pain as it is trashed and tarnished and ruined. Adam, meant to be a living being… dies. As do all his children, his descendents. You and I. That glory is tarnished by sin and death. And so the Word of God comes down from heaven, and He becomes Man. He becomes Man in order to save and restore man. “Glorify Your Son that He may Glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.” And thus, to give eternal life, to restore God’s glory as shown in His creation – Christ Jesus goes to the Cross, He suffers, He dies, He rises again. All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. This is what Paul tells us – we have sinned and fall short of what we were made to be – and so Christ Jesus comes, He suffers in our plan, takes up our shame – and then He rises, and on Easter Sunday, there you see Him – Man alive, Man never to die again. Man restored. And what does this Risen Christ do? He gives eternal life to the Children of God, those whom God has given faith and life through the proclamation of the Word of God, through the proclamation of Christ Jesus that we ever more cling to and trust. And God is Glorified as His creation, as you and I are restored to life everlasting because of the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. This is where our Lord’s focus is here.

“And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Again – note the focus here on faith, not works. How do we have eternal life? Is it because of the mighty works we do, is it because we jump through a bunch of hoops. Nope. As John says in chapter 20 – “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” The Word is proclaimed from generation to generation, all so that we might be given faith, that we might know who God is, know who Christ Jesus is – that we might know the 1 True God who created and redeems the world.

I hate to sound like a broken record. I hate to keep harping on things week in and week out – but with these texts, with this section of John – we really need to. Our Lord continually sets up a contrast between the Church and the world. You have those who are Christ’s own and tend to the Word, hold it always before their eyes, and the world out there, the unbelievers who ignore the Word of God, who abuse the Word, and who end up ignoring Christ. Do not follow the ways of the world – do not give into seductive false preaching and promises. Rather, be focused upon Christ and Him alone. “I have manifested your Name to the people whom you gave Me out of the world. Yours they were, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word.” Do you hear that contrast – we are called out of the world, to be separate and distinct from it. The world out there cares for money, wealth, power, privilege, fame, respect. The world out there cares for the self, always asks the question, “what am I going to get out of it, what’s in it for me. How do I make things be the way I want them to be?” That is not who you are. Christ Jesus has manifest the Name of God to His people – He has put His name upon you in the waters of Holy Baptism, called out of darkness into the His marvelous light. He has put His Word upon you, and He has kept His Word before your eyes, so that you might recognize sinful temptations in your own life and beat them down, that you might struggle against temptation. He has kept His Word before your eyes so that when you do sin, you don’t try to justify and explain it away, you don’t try to make excuses – you confess it, you say that you are by nature sinful and unclean, and that you have sinned in thought, word, and deed. And that same Christ Jesus in His Word shows you Himself, Manifests Himself – comes to you, even gives you His Body and Blood in His Supper, all so that you receive from Him the life and salvation which He has won for you. You belong to God, and your life revolves around the things of God. The world would wrest your eyes off of Christ – but Christ has pulled out away from the things of this fallen, temporary life, and He gives you the things of life everlasting in His Word.

“All Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.” You are connected to Christ Jesus by the power of the Word, you share in all that is His, and as such, you are connected to God. And what does this do? It glorifies God. Do you want to give glory to God, do you want God to be glorified in your life? Do you know how that is done? By receiving the forgiveness of your sins. By living as one who is forgiven. That is how Christ Jesus is glorified in you – when you bear witness to His forgiveness and life and love. When you confess your sins, when you reject the self-aggrandizing attitudes of the world and instead rely solely and simply upon Christ Jesus for forgiveness, for life, for strength – then Christ is glorified in you.

“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You.” Christ’s days, His time of toil in the fallen world are fulfilled. He has gone to the Cross, He has risen, He has ascended – and He will come again. But until then you and I, for the days of our lives, are left here to struggle in the world, to be here in this fallen place. And what you must remember is that the world will always try to pull your eyes off of Christ Jesus and His cross. That false teachers will cry out Lord, Lord, but then not proclaim Christ Jesus and Him crucified… and to them the Lord will say, “Depart from Me, I do not know you.” The world and false preachers and Satan and sin and death will do all they can to make you forget who you are – You are a child of God, forgiven and won by Christ Jesus, and kept in the faith by the working of the Holy Spirit through the Word and through the Sacraments. The world will always fight against this – the world will send mock the Word, the false preachers will deny that Baptism really does anything, say that the Lord’s Supper is just bread and wine and ignore our Lord’s own Words in which He says, “This is My Body, This cup is the New Testament in My Blood.” All to rest you away from God.

Christ Jesus does not want this, and so He prays for you. “Holy Father, keep them in Your Name, which you have given Me, that they may be one, even as we are One.” Christ Jesus prays for you, that you be kept in your baptismal grace and faith, that you might be kept in this simple truth that He has done all things for you, so that you, even though you are a poor miserable sinner and so shall remain all the days of your life here on earth, you are forgiven for the sake of the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus your Lord, and that He gives you this forgiveness and life in His Word. God is active in His Word – the Father brings you to Himself whenever the Spirit uses the Word of God to focus you upon Christ, whenever the sacraments which Christ Himself instituted and gave to us are done in His Name. This is how you are kept in God’s Name, the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, even unto life everlasting. Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word. Amen. Christ is Risen (He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia).

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