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Archive for November 1st, 2018

Sermon Text:  The Beatitudes, St. Matthew 5: 1-12Image result for Beatitudes crossIt is a high praise when of someone it is said, He’s a man of his word.  It is even better to say, he’s a man of God’s Word.  The saints are not worldly people.  They are wordly people living in the world. The saints know they become men and women of God’s Word when we were baptized into God’s Word, and the greatest of God’s words: His Name, the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  In faith, a sinner clings to Christ for his very eternal life. A printer was making leaflets for a 
local church, and the church wanted 
a logo designed with Earth being shielded by the hand of God. The printer sent the client a proof. Shortly thereafter, the printer got a call from the church: “The hand looks too human. Please use a hand that looks more like God’s”. What do God’s hands look like? The picture of God’s hands has already been portrayed to us in the Bible:  the print of the nails in the hands of the Lord Jesus. God’s work, Christ’s hands. Saints are baptized because of the hands of God by which we are formed and then reformed in Baptism.

A koan for the internet age:  To see a man’s true face, look to the 
photos he hasn’t posted. I would be aghast to have most of the photos of this mug posted for the world to see!  This fear comes from pride.  God loves the world. It is not an ideal man that He loves, but man as he is; not an ideal world, but the real world. He sees us and shows us we are sinners. He shows us more:  By His wounds we are healed, forgiven and sealed with the Holy Spirit.  He changes us, day by day, sanctifying us in prayer, Holy Communion, reading and digesting His Word. The Lord’s hands protects His saints through trial and tempest by His blessings of His grace of His Word of the Gospel.

A reporter interviewed a comedian and asked the comedian:  “Are you believer?  After all aren’t you a Roman Catholic?” “Yeah, I believe and I’m a Roman Catholic but with what’s been happening recently, I believe the book but not the cast.”  I guess the “cast” being the priests, bishops etc. and I took the book to be the Bible, the Word of God. If that was his meaning, (even if not, it will be for this sermon!), not a bad answer.   I believe the book, the Word of God and more than that:  because of His Word toward us in Jesus Christ for me a lost and condemned sinner.  As Christ Jesus is  the guiding star of the Bible is why I believe His book, His Word and how I need His Word!  It is quite a cast for which the Writer and the Director came amongst us to prompt us with His lines, that is, the Word. What is His Word toward us and all mankind?  It’s not a principle, a program, a holy political platform, an ideal that the Lord presents and proclaims to us but he comes to us in a very concrete person:  Jesus Christ.

An actor who has tried out for a part can not wait for the call back for another try or the part itself. Jesus casts the worse actors you can imagine, tax collectors, the poor in spirit, the lowly and the like. The comedian had forgotten he’s part of the cast.  At first they think they know their lines, but they do not. I came across the reasons that an actor is not given a call back:

1. You aren’t the right match. 

2. The roles changed. 

3. Your skill level isn’t where we need it to be. 

4. There was a lack of consistency in your auditions.

I won’t get a call back!  Those ARE the reasons the Lord called the disciples to the Mount and the crowds came along. Saints need the Lord’s call back day by day.

Saints are those who flubbed their lines and their lives.  The Lord Jesus casts sinners to be part of His life forever changing them by His grace, mercy and peace.   The saints in Christ, you and I, are people of the Book.  Muslims are not because Mohammed wrote his own false script and scripture to get into heaven by keeping a man’s, Mohammed’s, made up rules and regs. 

We are entering ever darkening days when the Lord’s little flock will be persecuted…but that’s how it’s been in times past.  The saints confessed Jesus Christ.  This is our calling from the Lord to His Church this day and every day, for every day in Christ is All Saints Day. The saints are kept steadfast in the Word, and prays, Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word, curb those who deceit or sword would wrest the kingdom from Your Son and bring to naught all he has done. When called to do so, confess Jesus is Lord.

God loves the world. It is not an ideal man that He loves, but man as he is; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find abominable in man’s opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility, the real man, the real world, this is for God the ground for unfathomable love, and it is with this that He unites Himself utterly. God becomes man, a real man without sin.  Sin is what makes and made us:  distorted to the point that sin seems normal and that false normalcy is on parade more than ever.   Christ Jesus came with blessings flowing from His heart, soul and mind on the Mount of His Sermon. He was on that Mount already bearing the sin of the world.  He preaches the Word of the Gospel.  

Beatitudes are the blessing of Jesus Christ toward real men and real women.  If the Lord wanted to bless ideal men and women, he would have said, Blessed are the rich in spirit, Blessed are those who are positive. Blessed are the warriors, Blessed are the powerful…and those ‘ideal’ men are less than ‘ideal’ in the Lord’s sight and maybe that is an insight we can draw from the Beatitudes. In old Adam’s corrupted vision, spiritually and physically rich and famous, look great, wanting to be like God.  We see the debasement of ideal men and women every week from sexual abuse of women to assassinations of character to everyday adultery, so-called, every day.  This dark world, bent in upon itself, needs the light of Jesus Christ.

God became a real man so we can be real men and women. This cast I trust because they were (and are!) so very real and loved and called by the real Lord to be his real people, really knowing they are sinners at the same time made right, justified in Christ alone and His work, as worked out in our lives by the Holy Spirit.

The saints are baptized into God’s Word, His Name.

The saints are men and women of God’s Word.

The saints of Christ confess the good Word:  Jesus is Lord.

The Saints are people of the Book as the Scripture is the Church’s script.

The saints are not loners but are made in Christ to be part of the communion of the saints. “The fellowship of the Beatitudes is the fellowship of the Crucified.” (Bonhoeffer) We have brothers and sisters who have been there, done that, and very necessarily,  confessed sin and then forgiven by Jesus. The saints are baptized into a communion.  There is a recent understanding that the Reformation was reforming movement within the catholic Church.  Pr. Lou Smith said to me one day, I was not baptized into a movement, but the holy, catholic Church. The communion of saints serve their neighbors in Christ’s love as need arises.  Bear each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

Let us keep the Faith of the saints!  The doors of Christ’s Church are open to keep the Faith for the Lord to keep us steadfast in His Word with All the Saints, in their labors and who from their labors rest!

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