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.
Dear fellow beggars,
Yes, like the Canaanite woman of Matthew, we are all beggars before the Lord our God who welcomes our begging and answers with amost blessed feast of crumbs.
To hear more about our Feasting on Crumbs, listen to the sermon preached for Reminiscere, the Second Sunday in Lent at Trinity Lutheran Church of Layton, Utah, click on the MP3 link provided above.
The audio includes the Sermon Hymn, "When in the Hour of Deepest Need," LSB #615. The sermon begins at the 3:14 mark.
Have a blessed week feasting on the blessed crumbs of our Lord that give you eternal life.
Rev. Kurt Hering, Pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church
Here is the preaching manuscript.
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
My dear fellow beggars,
Yes, that is what we are, beggars. Like the Canaanite woman of our Gospel lesson today, our faith looks, even yearns for a bread crumb from the table of our Lord. It is why the Holy Spirit has gathered us here today, isn't it? That tiny bit of bread and little sip of wine we will receive today, and every Lord's Day, give us a foretaste of the Feast to Come because the words of eternal life that accompany it at the command of the One who has promised to be, and is indeed here in flesh and blood with every crumb of bread and drop of wine, those always powerful words from our ever present Savior make it so.
That is what we learn from the Canaanite woman and her faith.
TEXT: But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." And he answered, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:25-28
Now the question we must address here is what exactly is the essence of this blessed woman's faith? Of what does her faith consist? What is the substance of it? From where does it come?
And the answer is . . . .
Jesus, the Son of the living God.
The Canaanite woman's faith, like the faith of all the patriarchs, like the apostles, like Luther, like everybody who truly believes--and I hope and pray like your faith—looks to Jesus, "the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2
Because He is the only begotten Son who sits at the right hand of His Father—then, and now, and forever—Jesus is the very essence by which faith exists; He is the very substance of which faith consists; the very source from whom it is established.
Faith is nothing more nor less than looking to God for what you cannot hope to do for yourself, for what no other person or thing can do, Faith does not say, "I think I can," or "I know I can," or "my believing hard enough will make it so." Faith knows that in Christ, and only in Christ "all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our(B) Amen to God for his glory."Let not your hearts be troubled.(B) 2 Corinthians 1:20
Jesus did not say, "Believe in yourself." He did not say, "Any old faith will do." He said, "Believe in God; believe also in me." John 14:1
And, as the Apostle Paul writes, "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." Hebrews 11:1-3
And that is what we learn from this Canaanite woman in her time of great trouble, need, emptiness, and helplessness. By these our Lord is testing, stretching, exercising, and indeed strengthening her faith and ours rather like mighty oak trees become hardened in response to stormy winds and weight training builds muscle by first tearing it down.
The first test and exercise for the Canaanite woman is the tribulation of her demon oppressed daughter. It is what drives her to Jesus in the first place. Without tribulation, who would ever look to God in Christ in the first place?
The second test is God's initial silence and postponement of help. This Canaanite woman had heard great things about his Jesus and believe He could help her. So she came begging, crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word. Here, in God's initial silence, we begin to find out if it is really faith in Him or if it is merely just covering another base to see what will work?
The Canaanite woman does not move on to cover other bases and try other religions or philosophies just in case. What about you?
The third test is to see if the promises of God and this Christ who is set before us are really for us too, even though they have not been given directly to us by revelation or verifiable personal contact. Jesus, not even responding to the woman but to the disciples says, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
In the same way, Jesus does not speak to us directly, but only through the Word and Sacraments He gave to the apostles to pass along to us. We are very much like the Canaanite woman, aren't we. If we are to believe it is only through the Word of promise first spoken to others and handed down to us. But who likes hand me downs? And worse, who likes to beg for them. It's bad enough to beg for anything, but to beg for something that has already been used and discarded?
And yet that is the fourth test we see the Canaanite woman subjected to—the test of whether or not we are willing to acknowledge and admit that we are indeed are not worthy of God's attention, let alone His blessings. Having not even been acknowledged by Jesus, yet she prevails upon Him, "Lord, help me." And he answered, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
Every one of us, every believer in Christ, any person who has the hope of life everlasting in heaven begins from this point of admitting his unworthiness before God and being willing to accept whatever little scrap or crumb He condescends to give as better than the most expensive and precious earthly possession we may own or covet.
Yes, dear baptized, that is what we are--beggars. And let us give thanks to the Lord that He brings, even drives us to realize and rejoice in those trials and tribulations without which we would never really call on the Lord at all, or come to any kind of meaningful faith, or beg for whatever He deems fit and best to give us. Let us pray for that daily bread and receive the heavenly crumbs of our Lord often together here.
Like the Canaanite woman, as we pass through this vale of tears and walk through the Valley of the Shadow of death, we exist from day to day on the crumbs that fall from [our] masters' table. But what crumbs they are! What a feast it is! A crumb from our Lord and Master's table is infinitely better than any Golden Coral all-you-can eat buffet; two for twenty deal at Chili's; or even a thousand five-star, seven course banquets. Because a crumb from our Lord, even a little rather tasteless wafer from the table and hand of our Lord is a piece of the Bread of the Life that makes you a part of the whole loaf Himself, forgives you all of your sins, and gives you a never ending life of all-you-can eat banquets with God -- 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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