I know that you are in church for the Divine Service because you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified, dead and buried, but who has risen from the dead, just as He said; who now lives and reigns to all eternity.
Have no fear! You are in the right place, where the Word of Christ has directed you to meet Him. The Divine Service is the Galilee to which He sends you. Here He meets you with the proclamation of His Gospel, the forgiveness of sins; and here, by faith, you behold Him.
If you are perplexed and confused by a mixture of both faith and fear, both joy and sadness, both confidence and doubt, take heart. Everything is shaken up and turned inside-out by the Cross and Resurrection of Christ Jesus. And you, also, are called to die and rise with Him, to be crucified and born again: as in your Holy Baptism, so by daily contrition and repentance and confession of your sins throughout your life on earth.
Here on earth there is the paradox of the now-and-not-yet. By the grace of God, through faith in the Word of Christ, you have entered His Sabbath rest, and you are at peace with God; but for now you continue to work out your salvation in fear and trembling.
What are your particular fears and uncertainties, which attack you and assail your faith and joy?
Are you afraid of getting into trouble with your boss or supervisor, or perhaps even losing your job? And if so, what are you willing to do or say, or what will you swallow, for the sake of money?
Or do you worry that you will be found out for a fraud, or for your past sins and failings, and so lose face with your friends, your peers and colleagues?
Is it death that ultimately scares you the most? The precariousness of life in general, and the frailty of your own health and mortal flesh in particular.
What are you willing to barter for life and health, for safety and security? What would you give simply to be liked?
The life that you are looking for is one of two things: It is either the idolatry of a false god (yourself!), which will fail you. Or it is that Life with God which is in Christ Jesus, your Savior.
Though you struggle with the sins and weaknesses, the doubts and fears, the frailties and failures of your fallen nature, I know that you are in church looking for Jesus; and rightly so. He is here! You are here because you are His disciple, and you are His disciple because He has called you and catechized you by and with His Word and Holy Spirit.
Do not be afraid.
He has given you the new birth of Holy Baptism, and He Himself has risen in you to will and to do what is pleasing to His God and Father, who is now also your God and Father. So do you live by faith in His Gospel!
It is by and with that Holy Gospel that Christ Jesus meets you here with forgiveness of all your sins; with life instead of death, with comfort for your doubts and fears, and with the safety and security of His salvation.
Though He has risen from the dead, from the dust of the earth, He yet plants His feet upon the earth, here at His Altar. Lay hold of Him here, at His Word, in His Body and His Blood. Lay hold of Him here, where He plants His feet upon the earth, and worship Him without fear.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Homily at Evening Prayer (last night)
6 hours ago