Trinity 3 – Luke 15:11-32 – July 6th and 7th, 2019
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
Oh, you missed it – you picked the wrong day to be out of town on business. So, you know Ben, right? Oh, what a Maroon, what an imbecile. Yeah, Ben who lives on the south side of town, has that big farm just south. Yeah, loaded Ben. Two kids – older one seems alright, hard working. The younger one - meh. Yeah, that Ben – yeah, that was his kid last year, you remember that – walking on up to his dad - “Give me the share of the property that is coming to me.” Oh no, I couldn't believe either – I mean, the gall. I can't wait for you to die to inherit my share of stuff, so why don't you just either hurry up and die or give it to me now! Oh, if that were one of my kids, I'd have given it to him alright – I'd have given him the back of my hand and told him that was all he ever was going to get from me. I tell you what, you can't tolerate that sort of behavior.
Well, Ben, that sap, did. Last summer, gave the kid a fortune and off he went down the road – and Ben actually seemed sad about it. I think his life was better for the brat being gone – I mean, I would just kicked him out with nothing, but hey, oh well. Well, yesterday, I'm just minding my own business, sitting in the gate, chatting – and Ben goes streaking by. Yes, I mean streaking – tunic hiked up over the hips, barreling down the road for all the world to see. Oh, it was a sight – so I look on down the road, and what do I see? Way on down there, there's that no good brat come crawling back home – and let me tell you, he looked all the worse for the wear. I mean, not just some hard living worse for the wear – I'm guessing there was some of that – but down in the gutter, just crawled out of the pig sty hard living. Oh, gross – I wouldn't have touched him with a ten foot pole, I'd not want to catch anything from the boy.
But not Ben – oh no, he runs on up, big giant bear hug, kissing the brat. You would have thought a war hero came home or something. And at least the kid had the decency to look embarrassed, but Ben is just whooping and hollering – it was really embarassing. Has servants running around, has them bring robes, big old ring – then Ben parades his son through town – “We are going to celebrate, my son was dead and now he is alive. Come and celebrate with me.” Well, frankly I'm surprised he didn't die, but yep, the brat is back home.
Well, yeah, of course I went to the party – Ben might be a bit crazy, but he knows how to set up a table. And yeah, let me tell you, he knows how to fatten a calf. That was some good eating. Oh, but I'm not done. Ben wasn't done yet acting the fool. I don't know how many people saw it, because, with the music and the wine and the meat, it was a good party, and people were enjoying themselves, but I'd been sort of hanging out by Ben – I wanted to hear how he was going introduce this lout back to his neighbors – and Ben is just laughing, celebrating – when a servant comes up, whispers something in his ear. And Ben gets all concerned. Yeah, yeah – that look, you know it, that deep, pensive look – I can't even do it. So he excuses himself and slips on out. Yeah, from his own party. Up and left. Didn't even take a glass of wine with him. And of course, the servants start chit chattering – must have be something serious.
You know what it was? The old boy, yeah, him, good worker. Well, apparently he's out in the back 40 pitching an utter fit. So I move on down to the edge of the pavilion, and out there in the field is the older boy, just pacing around, arms crossed... and there goes Ben just walking on out to him Yeah, I know – I certainly wouldn't be doing that – when I need to have a talking with one of my boys I say, “Come here,” and they had better come. Oh, but it doesn't stop there – I couldn't hear it, but when Ben gets out there, his older boy starts yelling and screaming, full on pitching a fit and cussin' him out. And you know what Ben does? He stretches out his hand, and puts it gently on that boy's shoulder and leans on in and starts placating him. I would have put two hands on any of my boys who talked to me that way, and probably around their neck. I just shook my head and went back on in. Don't remember much after that – like I said, it was a GOOD party. But that Ben, making a fool of himself over his kids. Well, at least he knows how to throw a party.
Of course, there's another way to tell the same story.
So, uh, you've heard about what's gone on, right? Yeah, it literally all has gone to hell in a handbasket. Everything in the LORD's good creation is messed up now. Why? Those numbnutzes Adam and Eve. Here the LORD puts them as the pinnacle of His creation, and they blow it. How? They ate it. Yeah, the one thing the LORD told them not to do, and they did it. And you know what's worse? Creation is falling apart, Death is unleashed, that blow hard Satan is cackling, and what does the LORD do? He goes to check up on Adam and Eve. Oh, no, He didn't just blot them out and call a do over. It was ridiculous – they were hiding behind the bushes – oh, brilliant job there caretaker of the planet, go hide behind some bushes, surely the Almighty God will get fooled by that. No, He doesn't even yell – the LORD is patient with them. Talks them through it, and the kicker? He promises to defeat Satan for them, promises that He Himself will become man and do it Himself. Yeah, you heard that right, LORD, the Creator, would become man. Yeah, talk about humiliating.
You'd have thought that they would have minded their Ps & Qs after that, wouldn't you have? They don't. It just gets worse and worse. Cain kills his brother Abel, and instead of smiting Cain, the LORD puts a mark on him warning everyone away from killing Cain. It gets worse and worse – sends a flood but rescues Noah and his family, and you know what the first thing Noah does? Plants a vineyard and gets utter toasted. I know, these humans have no a lick of decency or common sense. On and on – The LORD will visit these people, bless them, make promises to them – and they just keep on being some sort of pieces of work. And still the LORD keeps being patient with them, still keeps His promises to them.
Until you get the Big One. He actually becomes man. And He doesn't just snap His fingers and show up as a mighty king. No, He's born. And to a poor family. Born in a barn – and there He is – the LORD, the Creator of all things, just laying there, waiting on His mom to change Him after He messed Himself. Yeah, that's what He meant when He said He'd be one of them and fix the problem. And He grows up, and He is fantastic. Teaches wisdom, love, mercy, starts healing people, fulfilling every promise – it should be clear as day that this is the LORD – and you know what they do? They complain. They grumble. They yell at Him. Oh, no He didn't smack them down – He lets it go on and on. And they arrest Him, and mock Him, and beat Him, and they kill Him. And He rises, and He blesses them again, says, “Peace” - says that He Himself destroyed death and bore the weight of sin for them. Utterly astonishing.
Of course, there's yet another way to tell the story.
So there you were. Conceived in iniquity as the Scriptures say. Born sinful, at emnity, at war with God. Hell bent, literally, hell bent on trashing creation and as many of the people around you as you could until you die. And yet, even before you were born, while you were still along way off, indeed, before the creation of the world, God planned out your salvation. The LORD would become man, and suffer, and die – and though it was all before you were born, it was done for you. For you good.
And then, He came to you with His Word and Spirit, and He washed you clean in Holy Baptism, declared you not merely a servant, not merely a laborer or slave, but His child. Once again an heir of all of His House, one who is to be a master of all of His good gifts, who will be a lord and master of the new creation, set above even the angels. And what happens? You still sin. Over and over and over. And sometimes it's brazen and bold and ends up with you in a gutter, and sometimes it ends up with you grouchy and pouty and condescending towards your neighbor. Either way, it's embarrassing. Our sin always is, even though we so often try to justify it. We so often try to work our way out of it – oh, I'll make it up to you God, treat me like a servant. We so often blame God - Oh, you lousy God, see all that I've done for you, why don't I have a pony, blah blah blah blah blah.
And yet, what does the LORD do? He keeps on coming to you, over and over again. Here – receive a Word of forgiveness. Here, take and eat, take and drink – be strengthened against that sin and temptation. And over and over He comes, He offers Himself to you and for you. And He keeps on doing this – no matter now long you were off blowing the gifts He gave you or pouting in wretched jerkitude. I'm sure somewhere there's a Church today where someone has walked back on in after 20, 30, 50 years of being away – and there's the Word and Spirit, doing their thing, bringing forgiveness and life and salvation.
Because that's who your God is. That's who Jesus is – pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression, showing steadfast love even at cost to Himself. And sometimes we take this for granted, we forget just how utterly insane this love looks to the world, how utterly astonishing it actually it. Doesn't bother God at all. For you, his child, were dead in sin and tresspasses, and now you are alive in Christ. And indeed, because Christ died and rose, you will rise to new and everlasting life, life once again sinless as God intended you to be. His party will go on for all eternity, and it will be for you. Amen. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +