July 7, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Verse: Luke 10:1–10:20
Christ Lutheran Church
July 7, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
When God sent his Son into the world history’s greatest crisis commenced!
By the cross God confronts all the inhabitants of earth. Every man, woman and child; people of every nation, tribe and tongue to accept, or to reject, the Reign of God which is now come near in Christ!
Christ in the manger. Christ on the cross. Christ in the Bread and Christ in the Wine. Christ before us, Christ behind us. Christ before whom every knee in heaven and on earth and below the earth must finally bow, and every tongue finally confess – with either joy or regret – that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:5ff)
This is not a drill!
The kingdom of God is placed before you today, and what a kingdom it is!
A kingdom of universal peace and rest. Of deliverance from the wicked spirits that drive men to make war with Heaven. To ravage the world, and to visit unspeakable misery on one another – only to end up destroying themselves for time and eternity. There is nothing worse than that.
But with the advent of the Kingdom of God “the strife is over”! Jesus is that kingdom and today you have come near to it, even as it has come near to you in this golden hour.
In this kingdom amnesty is the rule of the day. Sins are remembered no more, and the past, however checkered, “is no longer in service.”
It is a kingdom where people eat and drink together in peace, with Christ and with one another at his holy altar. It is, in short, the realization of what poets have dreamed, and kings have promised from the dawn of time, but cannot deliver. But Jesus can. Jesus has. Jesus does.
When our Lord was born into the world the crisis began! But God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved (Jn 3:17) and saved we are.
This is what we find in all three of the lessons given to us today by the apostles and prophets – none of whom seemed to suffer from the epidemic of the day: Denial. And Magical Thinking.
These are the marks of a people who have lost the hope of salvation that once settled over our land like gentle dew – but who now break their necks to create an utopia of their own imagining. And how could it be otherwise because, truth be told, no one can live today without the hope of salvation tomorrow!
And so we must not judge them for their desperation. For striving to turn stones into bread only to break their teeth. But be sure to have nothing to do with THAT religion, Beloved, for we were once darkness, but now we are light in the Lord. (Eph. 5:8)
But we did not become light because we are brighter than anyone else. Or more kindly disposed towards God than other people. But because God graciously drew us into his kingdom by the blessing of parents who baptized us – and now we enjoy all the benefits! But do not forget what you were? And what you could become again should you forsake the “the church of the Living God.” (1 Tim. 3:15)
Because of THAT ever present temptation St. Paul admonishes the Galatian church that: If anyone is overtaken by a transgression you who are “spiritual” should restore such a person. But in a spirit of humility, while watching yourselves, lest you should also fall. (Gal. 6:1)
May God keep us safe! And may he show us the way to restore the fallen: because we hardly know where to begin.
But take heart O Israel of God (Gal. 6:16) because the Kingdom of God is near and answers all questions! Hear the promise given us today by the Prophet Isaiah:
“For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried on her hip, and dandled upon her knees.
“As one whom his mother comforts so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; And the hand of the LORD shall be known to his servants, and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.” (Is 66:12-14)
Today’s epistle and gospel move the ball further forward.
In the epistle we learn that Holy Communion is the sum and substance of the Kingdom of God. That it is the “mark” of the cross of Christ in which we glory, and the “stigma” of the glorified Lord Christ that we carry in our not-yet-glorified bodies even as St. Paul did.
You can be no closer to Christ than you are at this altar! For here the Kingdom of God is not only “near you” but “in you” so that wherever you go, it goes too.
King David understood this when he prayed, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Ps. 138:7-10)
And in today’s gospel we hear again that our kingdom is a “kingdom of power and glory” that is invested by Jesus with the “authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and upon every stronghold of the enemy.”
We are doing that now!
By divine liturgy we dismantle every stronghold of the Enemy. Those faux lights that are actually darkness, and that deceive the whole world – they are falling from heaven even now, and the Spirit of God is renewing the face of the earth.
Said another way – the church accomplishes more good for the world in an hour than the United Nations does in a year. But as wonderful as this fact is, it is not our final reason for rejoicing. The Lord says in today’s gospel, “However, do not rejoice in this: that the spirits are subject to you. But rejoice that your names are inscribed in heaven.”
Your names are written in heaven, Beloved.
It is a promise that is certified by your baptismal certificate, and demonstrated by your worship at God’s altar today.
But also further endorsed by the renewed life that you live as you walk by the power of the Spirit each day; because Holy Communion is not over when you leave the altar, but only beginning. St. Martin of Wittenberg says it like this:
“When you have partaken of this sacrament … you must in turn share the misfortunes of the fellowship … Here your heart must go out in love and learn that this is a sacrament of love. As love and support are given you, you in turn must render love and support to Christ in his needy ones.
“You must feel with sorrow all the dishonor done to Christ in his holy Word, all the misery of Christendom, all the unjust suffering of the innocent with which the world is everywhere filled to overflowing. You must fight, work, pray and … have heartfelt sympathy … Here the saying of Paul is fulfilled, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). (Luther and the Hungry Poor, 94-95)
May we so fulfill that holy Law today!