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All Services are suspended at Christ Lutheran Church beginning on April 5, 2020 until further notice. This intolerable situation is monitored daily and by God's mercy we will resume at the earliest possible date. Please see this link to learn more. Also Services will be posted under Sermons for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday that can be prayed at home by families or individuals. If you are ill and need a pastoral visit please contact Pastor Kavouras. 

The Science Of Happiness

February 16, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Matthew 5:1

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
February 16, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Epiphany 6
The Science Of Happiness

“Now seeing the crowd Jesus ascended the mountain, sat down, and his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and began to teach them.” Matt 5:1-2

The Sermon on the Mount, a portion of which we heard in today’s gospel, is like the ocean!

A tiny child can giggle with delight as she frolics in its gentle waves as they lick the shore. Or you could explore it with submarines and the latest oceanographic instruments, but never plumb its depths.

That is how it is with this remarkable sermon!

There is the content itself. The towering teachings! So lofty that all other religions and philosophies are left in the dust. So high that anyone who strives to attain its heights, even if he fails, has climbed higher, and lived better! than all who scale the mountain tops in the pits of despair.

This is the sermon that in the words of the hymn: “exalts our low desires and extinguishes passion's fires”

Think about it!

People spend their lives in the pursuit of happiness without ever comprehending that: morality is the science of happiness. Hear that well: morality is the science of happiness – and this sermon is the gold standard!

The amount of happiness that any person can attain in this world is limited; but what happiness can be found, is found here. What peace of mind can be attained, is attained here in Jesus’ boundless sermon.

It is from this “Sermon On The Mount” that we get the Lord’s Prayer which has been the mainstay of God’s people for 2,000 years. The most important, pure and true prayer that a person can ever pray. Like the sermon itself, this prayer is also as deep as the ocean. An ocean within the ocean. Whether you pray it 5 times a day as Luther suggests in his catechism (morning, evening and at each meal); or make it the study of a life time, you will never want for more.

But this sermon yields up even more. It is from these blessed chapters 5, 6 and 7 that we get many famous sayings:

“judge not and you shall not be judged”
“turn the other cheek”
“go the extra mile”
“wolves in sheep’s clothing”
“the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.”

From this Sermon we learn the 10 Commandments in a whole different way than they are given in Exodus chapter 20. Here the Lord teaches his church that it is not enough to avoid sin, but we must become mature as Christians and advance in righteousness. Luther teaches this in the catechism when he gives the Christian explanation of the commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by his name BUT call upon it in every trouble, pray praise and give thanks.”

“You shall not murder. What does this mean? “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body BUT help and defend him in every bodily need.”

This is what both Moses and St. Paul are on about in today’s Old Testament and Epistle lessons. That we should not remain children in the faith, but become mature and strong. Such growth comes form the food we eat here – the Word and the Sacrament. But also by our growth in Christian knowledge that pastors are always on about when they urge you to change your ways, repent of your sins, put other pursuits away, and come to church to study the deep things of God.

These are your Shield and Buckler against the “fiery darts” that the Evil One shoots at the baptized all day and all night without rest.

But while learning the content of the sermon is good; we are not done until we understand who the Preacher is!

In our text St. Matthew says: “Now seeing the crowd Jesus ascended the mountain, sat down, and his disciples came to him, and he opened his mouth and began to teach them.…”

First note that Jesus sees the hungry crowd.

You are that crowd!

Starving for nourishment to sustain your strength in this evil world. But where are you finding it? If not here then you will find it not at all. You will eat every kind of junk food there is, but you will shrivel up and die.

Only this food is potent enough to make you live well, and live forever. Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53)

Next “Jesus sat down and his disciples came to him.” We still do the same thing today – we are doing it now!

Because though you see God’s minister up front, you must learn to look through him and to see Jesus himself saying and doing everything that his pastor is saying and doing.

And so we, too, are gathered today on the highest mountain of all. “The city of the Great King” where we commune with the Lord of Glory himself; and are made glorious in the process!

Lastly notice that Jesus “opened his mouth to speak” and O Dear God! what came out! … The river of life! An endless fountain of beauty, of goodness, of truth, of light, of life, of victory, of rest and of peace.

And then SIX SEPARATE TIMES throughout the sermon the Lord says: You have heard it said to those of old: but I say to you; but I say to you; but I say to you; but I say to you; but I say to you; but I say to you!

What does the Lord mean by this?

Just this! That he himself is Immanuel.

God with us.

God for us.

“Now in flesh appearing.”

O come let us adore him. O come let us hear him! This is Christ the Lord!