Those who persist in despising the Sacrament throughout this mortal life shall finally receive their heart's desire, that is, the complete and eternal separation of their body and their soul from the body and blood of Christ Jesus, otherwise known as eternal death and damnation.
Those who hunger and thirst for the Sacrament through faith in the Word of Christ, even until death, shall also receive their heart's desire, which is the complete and eternal communion of their body and soul with the body and blood of Christ Jesus, otherwise known as eternal life and salvation.
Our risen and ascended Lord, our great High Priest, Christ Jesus, gathers and governs His Church in love by the Word of His Apostles, and by the Ministry of that apostolic Word. That is why He provides pastors for His Church on earth, and prays for His pastors and His people at all times.
The unity of His Church, therefore, is the unity of His Word, and of the Holy Spirit, who speaks and gives life to the Church of all times and places through the Word of Christ Jesus. Because His Word does not change, nor does it contradict itself, but by His Word He creates and sustains all things in harmony and peace, so is the unity of His Church preserved by His good Word and Spirit.
This unity of which the Lord Jesus speaks on this day, and for which He prays to His Father, is not something else in addition to, or besides, the Church’s faith and life in Him. It is, in fact, that very unity of faith and life in His one Body, which is solely by His Word of the Gospel. It is not something that you, or we, or any of us are able to achieve, but the true unity of the Church is a gift of His grace, which we can only receive from the Father. Not simply because we are sinful and mortal, and it would be too hard for us to pull it together and maintain it. But, much more to the point, it is the unity of Christ Himself, of His two natures in His one Person; and it is the unity of three divine Persons in the one true God, the Holy Trinity — in which we live only by His grace.
The fact that we receive and share this unity of God Himself is astonishing and remarkable, but such is the Father’s Love for His Son; and that is the same Love that He extends to His Creation in Christ, and to His Church, in particular. In love for His Son, the Father sends Him to redeem the world and save us; and by this great Salvation, the beloved Son makes known the Father to us.
This Love of God — the Love of the Father for His Son, and the Love of the Son for His Father, in the personal and perfect Unity of the Holy Spirit — this divine Love is the grace and glory of the Holy Triune God, which He reveals and bestows upon His Church by the Gospel of Christ. Which means that the Gospel is not simply news or information about God, but is reconciliation with God in Christ, and true righteousness before Him, and a real relationship with Him, whereby you live in His Love: you actually abide in the very nature of God and partake of His divine Life.
Such great things are so, and they are freely given to you by grace in the Ministry of the Gospel, because everything that Christ accomplished and established in Himself, in His own human flesh and blood, He has done for you, as your merciful and great High Priest: from His Baptism, through His Cross and Resurrection, into His Ascension to the Father. Everything is now yours in Him.
You are named with the Name of God, and anointed by the Spirit of God, and adopted as a son of God in Christ Jesus, by your own Holy Baptism. Thus are you crucified and raised with Christ, sanctified by His precious Blood, and a member of His Church, with access to His Tree of Life.
The unity of the Church with God, as one Body in Christ, is freely given and firmly grounded in this Sacrament of Holy Baptism: precisely because Christ our Lord is One, who was baptized for us, and sacrificed once for all, and, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again.
And now this unity of the Christian Church is expressed, and exercised, extended and increased, in the apostolic doctrine and fellowship, in the Breaking of the Bread, and in the Prayers of the Church for herself and all her members, for the world and all its nations. That is to speak of the Divine Service, which is the teaching and preaching of the Apostles’ Word, the Holy Communion of Christ’s Body and Blood, and the Church’s confession, intercession, praise and thanksgiving.
In sum, the Church, which is the Body of Christ, lives in the Liturgy of His Word and Sacrament, and to and from His Liturgy in a fraternal fellowship of mutual love.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, you all eat the Fruits of His one Tree, and you are all healed by its leaves, which are the several gifts of the Spirit in the Gospel of forgiveness. Thus, you all partake of one and the same Spiritual Food and Drink. That is to say, you all eat the one Bread, which is the Body of Christ; and you all drink from His one Cup, which is the New Testament in His Blood. This Holy Communion is the unity of the Church in the flesh, as Christ Himself is God in the flesh.
Beloved of the Lord, do not make a farce or a fiction of that holy fraternity and blessed fellowship. Do not despise this sacred Supper, nor those who feast upon it with you. To do so is to sin against the Body of Christ, against the Lord Himself. It is also to lie, to deceive both yourself and others, and to make a false confession concerning God — to deny that Jesus Christ is sent by the Father.
Repent of all frictions and factions among you, and love one another in deed and truth. Confess the Word of Christ that is preached to you, with both your lips and your life. Love and serve your neighbor in his or her body and life, with your own labors of love in thought, word, and deed.
That means thinking of your neighbor, and listening to your neighbor; caring for your neighbor, as you take care of yourself, and in the same way that you would have your neighbor care for you; and sacrificing yourself and your will for your neighbor’s sake.
It also means and requires repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Which means what? That you humble yourself, confess your faults and failings, seek out your neighbor to apologize and make amends, as you are able; and, that you are always eager to forgive and gladly to do good to those who trespass and sin against you — as God Himself does not count or consider your sins.
Therefore, be patient, as you yourself require patience. And be at peace with all people.
As all of this comes only from God (and it is not able to come from anywhere else than Him), the true unity of the Church both requires and results in prayer, the very voice of faith, which cries out to the Lord your God, and calls upon His Holy Name, and looks to Him for all that you need.
In such faith, pray with and for the Church, and for the world. Pray for your neighbor, and pray for yourself, for the mercies of God, and for His gracious presence. Pray for the forgiveness of all your sins, and that Christ would strengthen and sustain your faith in His Gospel of forgiveness; for you are not worthy of any of those things for which you pray, but He cares for you by grace.
Pray that God would glorify Himself in you. And realize that, in so praying, you ask that He would bring you to repentance through the Cross and Resurrection of Christ Jesus; that He would save you from your sin, and give you a new heart, a new mind and spirit, and manifest His own divine Love in your body and your soul, to the glory of His Holy Name, unto the Life everlasting in Him.
You can be sure and certain of such prayer, and therefore pray with boldness and confidence in Christ Jesus; first of all, because He has taught you and commanded you to pray in this way, by His Word and Holy Spirit, and He has promised to hear you. Not only that, but He has named you with His own Name, and He has made you a beloved child of His own God and Father in heaven; so that you now pray to God in much the same way that a little toddler beseeches her dear Daddy.
Your prayer is joined to that of Christ Jesus Himself, your merciful and great High Priest, who ever lives to make intercession for you. Therefore, you have not only His example in this Holy Gospel, but also His ongoing and constant petition for you, and for His whole Church.
What is more, Christ Himself is not only your Priest, but He is your Prayer. He is the Sacrifice that is offered up to God, and the Incense that ascends and is received as a pleasing aroma before Him. His Resurrection is the Father’s resounding “Yes!” and “Amen!” to all your prayers and to all your needs. And His Ascension to the Right Hand of God is the final Answer to each and every request, whereby you also are positively heard and graciously received into the presence of His Father.
Dear Christian, as the Lord Jesus Christ has called you to Himself by the Word of His Apostles, so does He bring you to His God and Father in His own Body and Blood. This blest Communion, Fellowship divine, is not simply a means to some other end, but this Feast is already the divine Life, which is yours, even now, by grace through faith in Christ; and so shall it be yours forever.
Indeed, the eating and drinking of His Body and Blood, by which you are united with Him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and with His whole Christian Church in heaven and on earth, is the surety, the down-payment, and the guarantee of the resurrection of your own body.
This Holy Supper is given and poured out for the forgiveness of all your sins; it bestows the life and salvation of Christ Jesus to your body and your soul; it likewise mends and heals whatever is broken or amiss within the fellowship of the Body, by the Word and Spirit of the Gospel. Thus, it nourishes and substantiates the unity of the Church, and so makes known the Father in His Son.
For here the Lord Jesus abides in you, as the Father abides in Him; so that you, also, abide with one another in the Body of the Son, and in the Spirit of His God and Father.
In this the Father answers the prayer and petitions of His Son, your merciful and great High Priest; and He Himself, the Liturgist of the Divine Service, provides the answer to His own intercession for His Church: Right here He does so, in the “Upper Room,” as it were, no less so than on that night when He was handed over to His voluntary suffering and death. Right here He does and gives everything, in the midst of His true Jerusalem, on earth even now, as it is in heaven forever.
Here is the Center, where God and Man, the Church, and all of creation come together and are perfected in the Unity of Christ Jesus:
“Come,” says the Spirit to the Bride. “Come,” says the Bride to her members and her friends.
“Come,” says the one who hears and receives the invitation to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
“Come,” you who are thirsty, and drink freely without cost from this fountain of Life. “Come,” you poor and hungry children; be filled and satisfied with these good things, by the grace of God.
For the Lord Himself testifies and says, “Surely I am coming quickly!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
Lord God, heavenly Father, we praise You and give thanks for Your gifts and blessings of marriage and family, and for giving and sustaining life through our mothers. Support them in their callings, and strengthen them in all adversity, that they might glorify Your Holy Name; and grant that we might rightly honor our mothers according to Your Word. Draw near to those who long for children, and hear their prayers; comfort those who mourn the loss of their children; and pour out Your gracious providence upon all widows and orphans in their loneliness and distress; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Beloved of God, the Lord Jesus has not gone away. He has not left you alone, but He Himself is with you, and He has poured out the promised Spirit of His Father upon you. The same Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead, is, even now, and shall be evermore, your merciful and great High Priest. He lives before God in righteousness and purity forever, on your behalf; in order to establish a place for you with God. And He reigns over you in love with His Gospel.
As He has stretched out His arms for you upon the Cross, in offering up Himself to the Father as the Sacrifice of Atonement for all your sins, so does He lift His hands in blessing upon you, to justify you with His own righteousness, to raise you up from death to life with Himself, and to anoint you with His Spirit by His Word.
Thus, He gives Himself to God as the true Man, and He gives Himself to you as the one true God; and, in Him, both God and Man, and heaven and earth, are bound together in perfect harmony.
Righteousness and peace kiss each other in Him, so that you are now reconciled to God the Father in His beloved and well-pleasing Son. Indeed, your flesh and blood, your body and soul, your whole life, and all of creation, are sanctified with God eternally, in the Body of Christ Jesus: in His own Person, first of all, but also in His Body, the Church, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
It is in Him that you know and love God rightly, and that you live the true life. Not by escaping from your body of flesh and blood, nor from your place in life, wherever it might be, but precisely in that place where God has put you, in your own skin, in your life and occupations on earth.
Remain there, where He has stationed you, and be gathered here within His Church on earth, and wait upon the promise of your Father in Christ. Already you are being clothed with His power from on high, with His Spirit and His righteousness. Already you are God’s own child, and a citizen of His heavenly Kingdom; although for now it is by faith in His Word, and not by sight. For as the Christ entered into His Glory through His suffering and death upon the Cross, so do you enter the Kingdom of God through repentance, by faith in His forgiveness of sins.
Therefore, do not be afraid, and do not despair of His presence and His peace. For His blessing is upon you in the lifting up of His wounded hands, and the Gospel of His Cross and Resurrection is preached to you in His Name; even as He lives and reigns forever at the Father’s Right Hand, and intercedes for you as your Royal High Priest. God the Father has established Him there by an unbreakable oath, by raising Him from the dead, crowning Him with Glory and honor, giving Him all authority in heaven and on earth, and putting sin, death, the devil, and hell beneath His feet.
Now, I know — and He knows it even better than you and I do — that you don’t yet see or feel or experience the Glory of His Resurrection and Ascension. You don’t yet see all things beneath His beautiful feet. You don’t yet experience the fact that His enemies and yours have been defeated. You don’t yet feel His Victory and your Redemption, except by way of His Cross and suffering, which still seems like exactly the opposite: a contradiction of what it really is.
It has crossed my mind, these past few days, that if you were kidnapped and held captive for a decade, bound in ropes and chains, used and abused by some stranger, you would be sorely tempted to hopelessness and despair, and could easily suppose that you had been abandoned and left utterly alone in your misery. How often would you cry out, frantic for someone to help you, but seemingly not heard, and not helped? Would you conclude that your family, friends, and loved ones had forgotten you and given up on you? And what about Jesus? Where would He be then?
I pray to God that none of you are ever in such dire straits and terrible circumstances as we have all been hearing about this week. But you are likely tempted and tried in many of the same ways, even so. Perhaps you feel trapped, or imprisoned, not by some stranger, but within your own home and family, by your job, or by your debts and obligations. Perhaps you are tied up and chained by doubts and fears, by guilt and shame, or by envy and jealousy. Perhaps it is the devil who is using and abusing you with his lying and murdering, day and night, within and without.
Or, whatever the particulars of your own case may be, you have heard the Word of the Lord, that in the world you have tribulation. That’s not the exception, but the rule in this mortal life. What you see and feel and experience is not the Resurrection, but the Cross, and it would seem as though the Ascension were hardly a case for celebration, but nothing so much as a sad goodbye.
And yet, the Lord is with you. He has not gone away and left you. He’s not some pie in the sky, but He has entered the presence of His God and Father in your own skin, as it were; in the same flesh and blood and bones that He shares with you and all people. The Cloud that received Him is the grace and glory of God, by which He also comes to you and abides with you in the Gospel.
It is not by accident or coincidence that two men in white stand before you and proclaim the Word of the Lord Jesus to you; for thus it was necessary, that, not only must He suffer, die, and rise again on the third day, but also that repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached in His Name to the ends of the earth. By this means, He fills all things, and the Kingdom of God comes to man.
It’s like the difference between a single radio, which can only fill a limited space with its sound, depending on its wattage and speakers and volume, and, by contrast, a radio broadcast tower, which can blanket a huge area with its signal, and be heard wherever its signal is received.
So does the Word of the Lord go forth, beginning from Jerusalem, to all of Judea, to Samaria, to Rome, to the New World, the Third World, to Africa and Asia, and to the whole planet. And as the Word goes out, so does it gather disciples of Jesus together into one Body, one Church, into the Holy City of God, the New Jerusalem, where the Lamb upon His Throne is not only the Priest and King, but He is the Temple of God among men, the Lamp and the Light which illuminate the New Creation, and both the Bridegroom and the Wedding Feast of finest Wine and richest Meat.
That is your home, your place of peace and Sabbath rest. That is where you live, because that is where Christ is, both with you and for you, forever. Because He really does unite and hold all things together in Himself, as He serves you, and worships the Father, and pours out the Spirit by the Gospel, and prays and intercedes for you at all times.
It is not only that He is everywhere at once, filling all things with Himself; nor only that He is with you here, and with the Father in heaven — although that much is true, to begin with. But He also brings God to you, the Father and the Holy Spirit, in and with Himself, in all that He continues to teach and to do, and in His own Body of flesh and blood. And in Him, at the same time, you are with God; for He brings you to the Father, and He seats you with Himself in the heavenly places.
Beloved, you are baptized into Christ, and that means, not only that His Cross and Resurrection are yours, but also His Ascension, too, His Spirit and His Father, and His place within the Holy of Holies. So, too, when you eat His Body and drink His Blood here, within His Church on earth, you live and abide with Him in the Bosom of the Father in heaven. This, indeed, is already to be living the true divine life for which you have been created by the Holy Triune God.
Not as though your life on earth, now, under the Cross, were always pleasant or easy. We all know better than that! With the rest of creation, we are longing for the consummation of all things: for the resurrection of the body, the revealing of the sons of God, and the life everlasting in Paradise. We long for that, and pray for that! And rightly so, as Christ our Lord has taught us to pray to our Father in heaven for the coming of His Kingdom. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
But let us do so — let us pray for the coming of Christ and His Kingdom — precisely in the bold confidence that Christ our Lord has borne the Cross for us and conquered in the fight, and that His resurrected and glorified Body is already the Firstfruits of our own sure and certain resurrection.
In Him, it is already finished: a done deal. And it is for us. It is for you, as the Sacrament declares.
This is what His Ascension means and signifies and does for you. He fills all things in heaven and on earth, in order to be actively present and at work in and with His Church; and in order to bring His Church and all her members, including you, to His God and Father within His own Body.
The fact that He ascends as the Crucified One, and that He serves you by the ways and means of His Cross, means that all the hurt and heartache and hard things shall not be able to destroy you, nor to separate you from Him, His Life and His Love; but, by His grace, they actually help to heal you and save you and bring you to heaven. For He works repentance in you, and disciplines your mortal flesh, in order to bring you through suffering and death into faith and life with God.
There simply is no pain, no persecution, no place nor pit nor hell hole, where He is not with you in peace. And so, you are with Him, who lives and reigns forever at the Right Hand of the Father.
He doesn’t make you come to Him, nor even to meet Him halfway. And He doesn’t simply come to keep you company in misery. But He gathers you fully to Himself, and He embraces you with Himself, and He abides with you, as true God and true Man, as your Savior and your Salvation. Thus, as you know from the testimony of St. Paul, your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Mortal life in this fallen world is one of constant separations, which cut you off and distance you from family, friends, and loved ones, and even from your nearest and dearest kin. Whether by death or disease, by accidents or atrocities, by adventures or adversities, by ailments or age, your relationships and your connections are constantly being changed, and eventually they are ended.
But the Ascension of your crucified and risen Lord Jesus proclaims a permanent place for you, and perfect peace with God. It does not change, and it cannot be taken away from you. Nor is it far away from you now, but up close and personal, a very present help at all times, in every trouble, and a source of genuine great joy in the face of everything that confronts you.
It is here for you in the Temple of God, given and poured out for you to eat and drink. It is here for you in the hands of Christ Jesus, with which He blesses you, and feeds you, and absolves you; with which He signs and seals you as a Christian, a child of God; and by which He raises you up.
As all of this is here for you in Him, in His Body and His Blood, so shall He be with you always, wherever you may be; and so shall you be with Him, and with the Father and the Holy Spirit — at home and at peace with the Blessed Holy Trinity, forever and ever, world without end. Amen.
When God the Father opens His mouth to speak to you by His Son, His Word is not impotent or empty, nor does it return to Him fruitless and void, but His Word is the Seed, the Sunshine and Rain, by which He brings forth an abundant harvest to the glory of His Holy Name.
It is by His Word to you that He bears you up and brings you to Himself in peace and love, in order that you may live and have true joy, in and with Him, both now and forever.
And this, in fact, is the true spiritual worship of God, that you come to the Father in Christ Jesus; because He has come to you. The one true God has come to you in Christ, that is, by the Father’s speaking of His Son, Who is the divine, eternal Word: Who was made Flesh and suffered death.
This Word of God, the only-begotten Son, has come from the Father to you, to live and abide with you, and to be with you in this world of tribulation. And to be sure, His life and experience here, in the flesh, have been no sham nor clever charade, but He has truly suffered your tribulation, and He has died your death upon the Cross. Not only that, but, in doing so, He has been abandoned by His “friends,” and He has borne His Father’s righteous wrath and judgment against every sin.
And yet, even then, in His death upon the Cross, in His suffering the curse and consequence of sin, He is not alone, because the Father is with Him. He experiences the fierce forsakenness of God, as He prays from the Psalter in His Passion, because He bears the full condemnation of the Law. But that is not all! His Father is with Him, not only with the Law, to crush Him and put Him to grief for the sins of the world, but also with the promise of redemption, of rescue from death.
The Lord Jesus knows from the Scriptures, from the oath that God swore to Abraham, from the Covenant that He made with Israel, from the preaching of the Prophets and the Psalms of David, that His God and Father will not abandon His soul to Hades, nor allow His flesh to suffer decay, but will raise Him up in righteousness and holiness, in innocence and blessedness. Therefore, He trusts and believes and relies upon His Father. He calls upon His Name, in the confidence that He will hear and answer. In such holy faith, He worships the Father with His whole Body and Life, by His sacrificial death, and by the pouring out of His own Blood upon the Altar of His Cross.
It is by this death of His, that He, the Word-made-Flesh, tells you plainly of the Father. For it is in the loving Self-Sacrifice of His Body and Blood upon the Cross that the very heart of God has been fully opened to you and made known to you. And it is precisely in this way, as the Lamb who is slain, that Christ Jesus, the beloved Son in the Flesh, is the Temple and the Lamp of the City of God. It is in His Body of flesh and blood, given and poured out for you, that God draws near and dwells with you, and also draws you to Himself, and actually reveals and gives Himself to you.
So it is that God Himself, the Lord, is with you in the great tribulation in this world: by and with the Cross of Christ, and by and with the fruits of His Cross, that is, by the Word of His Cross, and with the Sacraments of His Cross. And so it is, too, by these same means of grace, that you come to God the Father: in, with, and through Christ the Crucified.
The fact is that grace and every blessing, the Life of God, the Lord Himself, and the fullness of joy are all found in Christ Jesus, and only in Him. For He is “God-with-us,” Immanuel, as you know. But, at the same time, as the true Man, it is also the case that He is Man-with-God, and that God is with Him. Which is really to say that the right relationship with God is in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to know how to “get right with God,” it is in Christ that you are.
It is in your love for Christ Jesus that you find the God and Father, and that you are found in Him; that you are with Him, and “at home” with Him, as a beloved child. Whereas, to be scattered from Christ Jesus is to go your own way, to go to your own home, wherever you may roam; wherever you have made your own bed, and you lie in it; instead of going to the Father in and with Christ.
There is frequently such failure in yourself, such retreating in fear, such scattering from Jesus; as also in the case of the disciples then. But, take courage! Not that you should somehow overcome by your own strength and willpower, but because He has prevailed for you, and He has overcome the world with all its toil and troubles, the devil with all of his temptations and torment, and the frailties of your own flesh with all its sin and death. The Lord Jesus Christ has done it for you.
For Christ was not alone in His suffering and death, but with the Father in faith, and the Father with Him in love. Even in His forsakenness, bearing the sins of the world and suffering for them, God is still His Father — and the Father is His true and only God — who will deliver Him from out of death and the grave, and bring Him safely back from the battle waged against Him.
So does He indeed return to the Father by the way of His Cross: first of all as the Sacrifice of Atonement, offered up to the Father for the sins of the world; and then, by the completion of that Sacrifice, in His Resurrection from the dead and His Ascension to the Father’s Right Hand.
And you also are drawn to Him, and to the Father in Him, by the Holy Spirit, through His Cross. For He has engaged the battle, and conquered in the fight, in order to become your Champion, to save you from your enemies, to snatch you out of the jaws of defeat into His own great Victory.
As He has been crucified, dead, and buried — planted into the ground as the Seed — so has He emerged and arisen from the ground, and now His Cross has become the new and better Tree of Life, bearing good fruits after His own kind. By the Word and Spirit of His Cross, you are planted with Him, and grafted into Him, to grow and live in Him: watered from His side, warmed by the sunshine of His Gospel, and well nourished by His holy flesh and precious blood.
You love Him, thus, because He first loves you; and He, now and always, continues to love you. And with such tender affection for you, He woos you to Himself, and He draws you to Himself, so that you find your life and your self in Him.
It is in Him — in Jesus Christ the Crucified — in His flesh and blood, and in His Name, therefore, that you also go to the Father and are gladly received by Him; that you are lifted up from death to life in the glory of His Gospel, to the glory of His Holy Name. For as the Father is glorified in Christ Jesus, so is Christ glorified in you; and the Father glorifies Himself in you through Christ.
In this way, like Christ Jesus, you worship God the Father in Spirit and in Truth; which is to say, that you worship the Father by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of Christ, the Son.
You worship the one true God in Christ, as Lydia did, first of all by listening to His Word and the preaching of it; not as a good work of your own, but as a gift of His grace, as the Holy Spirit lays Christ upon your heart, and calls you to the Father in Him, by the preaching of the Gospel.
It is the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, which puts you to death and raises you to newness of life; which causes the Light of Christ to shine within your heart, so that, not you, but the darkness is scattered before Him. The same preaching brings you to the washing of the water with the Word in Holy Baptism; as it did for Lydia and her household in Philippi, way back when, and as it did for my grandson Jude one year ago, and for Cecilia Osbun this past Sunday.
As the Lord continues to baptize disciples into the Cross and Resurrection of Christ Jesus, you are not re-baptized, but you do remember your Holy Baptism and return to it each day: in which your name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and His Name has been written upon you, inscribed upon your forehead and your heart, upon your body and soul, by the stylus of His Cross.
Signed and sealed by the Spirit of Christ Jesus, as a Christian disciple, baptized and catechized in His Name, you worship God the Father in Spirit and in Truth by eating and drinking the Body and Blood of His Son, our dear Lord Jesus Christ: in repentant faith, and with thanksgiving to God.
In this faith and love, by this Word and Spirit, you belong to Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son, and you belong to God the Father in Him. You bear His Name as a beloved and well-pleasing child. And so it is that you worship Him, also, by praying to Him as your own dear God and Father.
Such prayer is the very voice of faith in Christ, in whom you cast yourself and your burdens upon the Father in heaven. For by your Baptism into Christ, and by your eating and drinking of His Body and His Blood, you have entered the Holy of Holies; you stand in the presence of God in Christ; so that you are bold to pray before that Throne of Grace with the Word of the Lord on your lips.
As He has opened your ears and your heart to hear and believe His Word, so has He opened your lips and your mouth to pray; and He Himself opens His ears and His heart to hear and answer your prayer in love. Do not doubt that He is your true Father, and that you are His own dear child. He delights to receive your petitions and requests, and He will surely give you all good things — He will give you nothing less than Himself and His Spirit — through Jesus Christ, His Son, who was crucified for your sins and raised for your justification. Therefore, you too shall be raised.
Beloved, that is the bottom line: The Lord your God will rescue and vindicate you from all harm and danger; He will deliver you from death and the grave. He will raise you up from death to life, because He has laid all your sins on Christ, and He has forgiven them all; He has set things right between Himself and you in raising that same Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.
By this Holy Gospel — by this powerful and living Word of forgiveness; by this sure and certain promise of the Resurrection and the Life everlasting; by this incarnate Word who tabernacles with you in the wilderness of sin and death — by this Gospel, the Father fills you with His Holy Spirit and sustains you in the midst of the great tribulation; and so shall He raise you up in Life.
He will never let the righteous fall. And hear this: Dear child of God, you are righteous in Christ Jesus. Your Father will not let you fall. That is your peace and joy, even now, and your courage in Christ, even as you are confronted by the frailties and failures of your mortal flesh and blood. Your Father will not let you fall, but will daily raise you up through His forgiveness of all sins.
To be raised up by Him is also to worship Him in your pilgrimage of faith, here and now on earth. Until, finally, and forever, your worship of the Lord your God, of the Father in His Son, by His Holy Spirit, shall culminate and continue in the Resurrection of your body to the Life everlasting of your body and soul in Paradise. For the Father glorifies His Name in you by raising you up.
Already the down payment is being given to you in the Divine Service, from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, week after week throughout the year, and also here and now on this new day of His grace and salvation: In the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, which is the Lamp by which you “see” and know the one true God and believe in Him. And in the Holy Communion of Christ’s true Body and true Blood; for He is the Temple of God, also here on earth in His Holy Christian Church, as He is in heaven. Here on His Altar is the Lamb upon His Throne, given and poured out for you.
As you feast upon Him here, so shall you enter the Holy City, New Jerusalem, which has come down from heaven to you in Christ Jesus, in which there will no longer be any trouble or fear, nor any night, nor desert heat, nor winter cold, but everlasting perfect Day, and peace and joy forever.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Someone who is full of himself needs, not only to be emptied of himself, but to be filled up with Christ; lest seven other demons worse than the first come and set up house in him.
Judas got over himself, alright; yes, he saw to that himself, when he ended his own life in despair. Not the solution. Simon Peter, on the other hand, was first of all emptied, and then he was filled up, when he was both humbled and exalted by the Lord. For the Lord lifts up the lowly and fills the empty with good things, by the preaching of the Gospel to the poor, by proclaiming the Year of Jubilee to those who are under the thumb, and by giving the Kingdom of God to those who have become like little children.
The real problem with being full of yourself, is not that it is tacky, rude, or boorish, but that it is deadly idolatry. It is a kind of self-cannibalism, really, for your own insatiable appetite for yourself will simply consume you from the inside-out, piece by piece. The god of yourself can never fill you up; you cannot add an inch or an hour to yourself or your life; you cannot bestow more than you already have, but, instead, you are emptied of everything you were given, by devouring yourself, one bite and one breath at a time.
When the Lord demolishes the idol of yourself, He does so not to shame, embarrass, or humiliate you, but rather to be your God and give you life. He tears down, in order to build up. He wounds, in order to heal. He kills, in order to make alive. His goal is not to get even or get revenge, nor to teach you a lesson, nor to punish you, but to save you from yourself, for life with Himself. He is not jealous of you, but for you.
So He does not simply crush your ego, but He recreates you in His Image. And when He knocks you off your pedestal, He does so in order to bring you into His Kingdom. For He would not have you make a name for yourself, which could not last, but He names you with His own Name. He makes you His own child, and gives you what is His. Thus, He restores you, He makes you brand new, and He brings you to perfection.
The Lord does not "put you in your place," as you deserve for your hubris, but He has taken your place in humility, and emptied Himself, and made Himself nothing, in order to raise you up, to fill you with Himself and His good Spirit, and to give you His own glorious place with the Father.
A sword in the hat is better than a foot in your mouth. All the better if it is that double-bladed sword that slices and dices between bone and marrow. But I have always liked to sort things out by thinking out loud with friends and colleagues. And since my opportunities to do so are limited, I figure I can multiply my thinking and sorting here.
Married 27 years, my wife and I have had ten children born to us (six boys, four girls); we have another son and daughter by marriage, a son who went ahead of us to heaven from the womb, four grandchildren and counting. I was ordained in 1996, and have been the pastor of Emmaus since then. I have a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame (2003), and an S.T.M. from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana