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The Lord's Liturgy

January 9, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Psalm 29

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
January 10, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

The Baptism Of Our Lord
The Lord’s Liturgy

Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of God,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.

The voice of the LORD is powerful;
  the voice of the LORD is full of majesty …
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare,
  and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
  the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

May the LORD give strength to his people!

May the LORD bless his people with peace!
                  (Psalm 29 selected verses)

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The Lord’s life as Man in this world is not simply a series of random events, one following the other. We may be tempted to think that way; to chop up the sacred gospels into a number of free-standing pieces; but if we do we will understand neither the gospels, nor the Incarnate Lord whom the gospels reveal to us.

But, we do well instead to understand the Lord’s life as one, seamless Liturgy that he offers to our True Father; in our place; for us men and for our salvation. But one that by virtue of our baptism we, too, offer along with him.

As the church’s Liturgy consists of a number of elements such as Gloria, Sanctus, Creed and so on but is still One Liturgy … the same can be said of the Perfect Liturgy that Jesus lives; and of the 4 gospels which tell the sacred story.

Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his Beloved Son to do what rebellious creation is both unwilling and unable to do because of the sin of Adam that lives is us. What is that chief duty that all of mankind owes to their God? It is in the words of today’s Gradual it is to:

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; to bring an offering, and come into his courts.

But sin prevents us from ever doing that because it has corrupted us through and through. This is what St. Paul is getting at when he writes in Romans 8:7 that, “The carnal mind is enmity against God, is not subject to God’s Law, nor can it be”.

And so the Eternal, Incarnate and Beloved Son of God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He offers the Father seamless love and obedience, but he does more as well.

He transfigures us by Blessed Baptism into sons of God. He gives us Light and makes us New. He baptizes our unclean lips with his blood so that we, too, may join the the myriad hosts of heaven, and “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name.” And because we are New Creations; born from above by his Baptism and by ours we are gathered today in the Great Assembly to gladly and willingly:

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.

When our Lord was circumcised, a Feast the church marks on January 1st, two things happened. First, his circumcision validated every previous circumcision ever performed by the Hebrew knife. Secondly it brought the Old Testament sacramental system to an End and rendered it no longer operational. 

In the same way our Lord’s Baptism, the Feast we celebrate today, was the First of many and gives validity to every baptism to ever to follow. To be specific his baptism makes YOURS POWERFUL AND ABLE To deliver you from death and the devil, and to bring you in his eternal life.

His baptism, further, blesses all baptismal waters wherever they may be found, or however they are applied; be it immersion or sprinkling it makes no difference. What counts is: the LORD’S COMMAND; the LORD’S WORD; and the LORD’S INSTITUTION OF THIS SACRAMENT ... by which he puts the Old Man to death; remits our guilt and grants life and salvation to all who believe. And so the Lord’s baptism is of central interest to us and most definitely worth glorifying and celebrating!

As the Holy Trinity was the Master of Ceremonies at the first Creation; the same Trinity is present at the Lord’s Baptism which is the New Creation. In it the the heavens are torn open and the Voice of God that strips bare the cedars of Lebanon, and causes the deer of the forest to give birth, that voice thunders out for all the world to know:

“You are my Beloved Son,
    in you I am well pleased.”

And so today’s gospel reveals a New Creation to us with Jesus, rather than Adam, as the First Man and Father of the Race … for which reason Isaiah rightly calls Jesus the “Everlasting Father”.

Beloved, our baptism into Christ is everything! It moves us from us from the kingdom of unbelief, into the kingdom of faith, faith anchored in the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ. He must always be the content of our faith, and if he is not then there is no point in believing at all.

Remember that faith in and of itself is no virtue. Indeed, if you put your faith in the wrong thing it can be harmful and even deadly. But when our Lord’s Perfect Liturgy: his birth, baptism, spotless life, innocent death, glorious resurrection and session at God’s Right Hand as our own High Priest … When THAT is the content of your faith, then you possess the Kingdom and will never want for anything again! 

And so let us be clear that when Scripture asserts that we are justified by faith it means that WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY CHRIST. By him we, too, are made God’s Beloved Son in whom he is well pleased; because we are baptized into the One who is baptized in the Jordan.

But let us also be certain as we mark today’s Feast that our Lord was not baptized for the same reason we are. We are baptized to wash away our sins; to give us a good conscience before God; and to kill the Old Man in us so that a New Man might arise: to serve God in righteousness and purity forever. 

But our Savior has no sin! He never did and never will! He is the “Lamb of God Pure and Holy.” And in Blessed Baptism he dresses us with his Purity and Holiness; with his Native Divinity and Perfect manhood.

And so let us Liturgize our God in, with and through his Son! Let us “Offer to our LORD the glory due his name,” who: sits enthroned as King forever. Amen.