Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.
"Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen" (Gal. 1:3-5).
TEXT: Luke 8:26-39
We have three great examples of the faith laid before us today.
First, the day itself, the 24th of June, is the day the church celebrates the Nativity of St. John the Baptist-the prophet who made way for the coming of our Lord.
Second, in the Hymn of the Day, we have the Magnificat, the Song of Mary the Mother of our Lord.
Third, in the Gospel lesson, we have the man possessed by a legion of demons.
And what do they have in common?
They all tell their world what great things God has done for them.
John preached repentance and baptized for the forgiveness of sins, announcing the coming of the Lord and His kingdom.
Mary rejoices that the very one she carried in her womb was her Savior and goes on to tell how He is also the one who saved the people of Israel and spoke to Abraham to deliver him in days gone by.
The formerly demon-possessed man shows himself and proclaims to the whole city the great miracle that Jesus worked in his life.
The formerly demon-possessed man, John the Baptizer, and Mary - all tell what great things God has done for them.
And here is one more thing, as Mary proclaims in her song, all generations since have called her blessed. And the same is true also of John the Baptizer and even the formerly demon-possessed man as all three are remembered in the preaching, the hymns, and the liturgy of the church - i.e. the gathering of God's people in the kingdom of heaven on earth.
This is obvious in the cases of Mary and John, but if you recall the post-communion canticle of DSII we sang during the season of Easter -- "tell everyone what He has done," as well as a portion of Mary's song, the Magnificat of Vespers -- "the mighty One has done great things to me," and another church hymn or two, you will recognize the words of Jesus to the man whom He had freed from demon possession from our Gospel lesson today,- "tell what great things God has done to you."
And therein is the very definition of praise- "tell what great things God has done to you."
In explaining the The Second Commandment: [LSB p. 321 ], Luther notes that Scripture tells us not only that we should "not misuse the name of the Lord our God," but even more, to "call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks."
Further, what the Commandment requires of us, the Creed delivers.
The Creed is not satisfied to declare, I believe, or even I believe in God, but it specifically sings the praise of what God has done and continues to do as the baptized confess, I believe in . . .
● God the Father almighty who created heaven and earth
● His only Son, our Lord, who took on flesh, suffered, died, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven
● The Holy Spirit, who through the Holy Christian Church communes with the saints to forgive their sins and raise them with Christ to everlasting life
This praising of God, telling what great things He has done, is normally a pretty low profile, relatively unspectacular thing in the life of a Christian. That which the believer hears and receives in the weekly Divine Service, he then repeats in word and deed during the course of his/her every day life.
Not all, in fact very few of the priesthood of all believers, are called to be apostles, prophets, or pastors. If you think about it, of today's three great examples of the faith only John the Baptizer fit in one of those categories. He was a high profile, even rather spectacular, prophet indeed. However, Mary, even though she is the blessed mother of our Lord, simply told what He had done in a rather normal, every day way, as did the man relieved of the legion of demons. Mary sang the song to her cousin, Elizabeth on a family visit in the private setting of her life as a young expectant mother. And, of course, the man healed of demons went back to his own town, among the people with whom he lived to tell them of God's wonderful work.
What does that tell you?
Unless you have been called and ordained by God through His church into the public office of the ministry, you can be confident and comfortable with confessing the great things God has done in Christ to those with whom you live -- your neighbors at home, work, school and play.
You don't even have to use your own words to tell what He has done. That is why we have the Scriptures, the Liturgy and the hymns - not just for the strengthening of your own faith, though that is reason enough, but also in order that you can be ready to give a bold confession of the saving work of God in Christ - without fear of error, and with full confidence in its truth and power. As the disciple whom Jesus called a rock for his confession tells us: ". . . in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15
You might say you don't have much in the way of wealth; that your life is not so great right now due to sickness, unemployment, or estrangement from loved ones. And that might lead you to conclude you don't have much of a song to sing in terms of what great things God has done for you. But the fact is, that whatever you DO have -
● that you even have the ability and strength to make such a statement or form such a thought is a gift from God the Father.
● That you have a place in His kingdom, forgiven and loved by Him, is a gift from Jesus, His Son.
● And that you have faith to believe this and confess/proclaim that Jesus is the Christ and your Savior is a gift from the Holy Spirit.
Are these not great things, even the greatest things?
God grant you the faith of John the Baptizer, Mary the Mother of our Lord, and the nameless man released of his demons -- to tell your world, both by the Word of God you have heard and the good works He has given for you to do, what great things God has done for you - in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.
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