July 3, 2022 Pastor: Rev. Peter Mills
Proper 9/C [Pent. 4] (July 03, 2022) Ps. 66:1-7 (ant. vv. 8 & 9); Isaiah 66:10-14; Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18; Luke 10:1-20.
[T]hus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to [Jerusalem] like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, and you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you …” vv. 12, 13a.
God’s peace is a mother’s comfort through his church. Jesus comforts his disciples in the midst of world-wide spiritual and man generated warfare. Jesus came for division and judgment (Lk. 12:51, 52); yet in the separation he provides a secure place from warfare’s terrors.
Civil War Gen. Wm. Tecumseh Sherman opined, “war is hell”. To date the world experienced only one World War. From the U.S. involvement on Dec. 1941 to Aug. 1945 the entire globe devoted its every energy to inflict man’s version of hell. Strong men in the throes of the carnage cried their last for the comfort of “Mama”.
As terrible as that hell, the hell of spiritual warfare and its resolve by Jesus on the cross is beyond frightful for those with ears to hear and eyes to see. The vision is so horrific that Jesus extensively speaks of hell’s inexorable coming, eventually a bodily resurrection consigned to a “lake of fire” (Rev. 19:20; 20:14); still, many turn a blind eye, rejecting the peace and comfort of Jesus’ kingdom.
On his missionaries return, Jesus declared, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven” (Lk. 10:18), cosmically describing the warfare; Satan wrenched-out of heaven by the power of the preached gospel present in the person of Jesus.
To those rejecting safe harbor of Christ present, Jesus warned, “Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! ... And you, Capernaum … You shall be brought down to Hades” (vv. 13, 15). On final judgment it will be too late cry “Mother”.
Mother is here and now, the place where God establishes our peace in the midst of shot, shell, and “fiery-darts” (Eph 6:16). Let me refine; Cyprian, 3rd century Carthage bishop said, “One cannot have God as Father who does not have the Church as mother”, the singular place of God extending His “peace like a river” (Isa. 66:12a)
Jesus’ disciples had recently returned from proclaiming the Kingdom come in his person (Lk. 10:9; cp. 9:1-6). They Jesus were in hostile territory, exhibited when a Samaritan village rejected his visitation. Jesus’ responded by increasing evangelistic efforts, sending 72 witnesses two by two ahead, inviting into the kingdom.
The power of God’s word conveyed into and from houses, we would call congregations, receiving his “peace” was manifest to the “72”. These witnesses joyously returned, reporting healings and exorcisms, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name” (10:17). At his ministry’s start Jesus blessed his nascent church, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt. 5:9).
Fatuously politicians, lay claim to being “blest ones”. The “peace” of which Jesus spoke is not absence of worldly conflict; rather, the locus of his blessing is in the Church’s victory shared with her Lord, wielding the Sword of the Spirit proclaiming and teaching God’s word of comfort for sons and daughters in Christ.
“Freedom in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:13, 18) has naught to do with self-directed decisions; rather release from bondage, allows binding ourselves to Jesus on the battlefield of his cross, the place between heaven and earth of cosmic victory over Satan, sin, and death.
By Baptism and faithful witness to word and Sacrament, we join God’s ultimate expression of power in Christ — His love for the new creation coming into being through the Mother he elected, the Church.
Our peace, Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, is in being conformed to God’s will through the atoning death of his Son for our sin. From Jesus’ Life, flowing from the cross, the church receives a “river of peace” emanating from God’s throne (Rev. 22:1) in the midst of Satan’s lost, but on-going war against “the Lord and his Anointed” (Ps. 2:2) and his elect.
God self-describes as “comforting mother of men” in seeming contrast to his blood-soaked warrior, battle-Lord, Christus Victor. This is nothing other than to say, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).
Today’s Lessons confluently express our peace by anatomical images that speak of God’s union with his Church. Of that union God says, “you shall nurse [and be satisfied from her comforting breast … Just as a man whom his mother comforts, so I myself will comfort you …] (Dr. Reed Lessing translation)” (Isa. 66:12a, 13a).
The church locates her peace amid cosmic warfare upon God’s bosom (Lk. 16:22), where Christ’s ear attends His heart. At the Lord’s Eucharist disciples recline with St. John, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved” (Jn. 13:23) from whose breast would flow the Spirit, the water, and the blood (1 Jn. 5:8) of our peace. Amen.