26 December 2008

On the Feast of Stephen

Do what you have been given to do, to the best of your ability, as opportunity permits. Do not compete, compare and contrast your vocations, offices, abilities and accomplishments with those of others, but serve faithfully, as before God.

Where you have been unfaithful, negligent or lazy, and where you have done wrong, repent. Do not harden your heart in bitterness. Do not close your ears to the Word of the Lord. Confess your sins, cling to the forgiveness of Christ Jesus, and henceforth live unto righteousness. Cease to do evil, and do good.

Where you suffer for doing good, and especially for the sake of Christ, consider yourself blessed and rejoice even in the Cross. Do not despair, nor give up hope, but entrust yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, and for His sake forgive those who trespass against you.

Do not fear those who hurt and harm you, whether in your body and life, your home and family, your possessions and income, or your good name and reputation. Do not fear them, but do forgive them, and commend them to the judgment of God. They cannot hurt your soul, nor rob you of eternal life, because you are forgiven all your sins by Christ.

He has redeemed you with His precious blood. He has reconciled you to God by His Cross and in His Resurrection from the dead. He has covered you with His righteousness, so that you stand with Him, justified, in the presence of God. You are safe and sound in Him, your Savior, Christ Jesus.

Do what you are given to do in that confidence. He is the One who has made you and given you life. He is the One who has called you; and He is faithful. He has put you in your place of service.

What you do in His Name, that is to say, as a Christian, in faith, is not pointless or meaningless or in vain. However much or little you may seem to accomplish, and whether you receive thanks or suffer persecution, your life is a witness of Christ the Crucified.

He has not abolished the Law, but He has fulfilled it for you.

He has not destroyed the Temple of God, but He has become the Temple of God in His own Body of flesh and blood: conceived and born of Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, risen from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father, given and poured out for you at His Altar.

Here at His Altar you are at home with God. Because the One who here feeds you in this holy place with His own flesh and blood has entered into the holy of holies made without hands, into the inner sanctum of heaven, the bosom of the Father. And, as He is with you here, so are you with Him there, by faith.

Lift up your heart, therefore, unto the Lord.

Lift up your head in hope, for your Redemption is at hand.

Lift up your eyes and see what His Word declares. For the Glory of the Lord has risen upon you. He does not hold any of your sins against you. His Spirit helps you in your weakness, and He graciously receives you to Himself in love, unto the life everlasting.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


organistsandra said...

Oh good. I was hoping you would post this. Those who weren't able to slip slide their way to church this morning missed your wonderful (as usual) preaching. Thank you for the comfort and peace and confidence this sermon brings.

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Well done. It is finely homiletical and clear. Thanks be to God.

Untamed Shrew said...

This is apropos for stay-at-home moms like myself, who frequently feel incompetent and unimportant. The world devalues my vocation more and more, and it becomes increasingly difficult to hold my head up against the comments of why I "don't work" (are you kidding me?!) and why we continue to trust the Lord's judgment with my uterus. Thanks. :-)