23 May 2010

The Fiftieth Day of Easter

If anyone loves the Lord Jesus, he will keep His Word.

His Word speaks Love to you, and Peace, and comfort, and forgiveness of sins. And with His Word He draws near to you; and the Father in Him draws near to you; and through His Word He pours out His Spirit upon you. So does the Holy Triune God make His abode with you.

Therefore, keep His Word. be gathered together in the House where His disciples are, in the City of God, His holy mountain. Listen to what He says, and remember what He has spoken. Call upon His Name, pray and confess His Word. And speak peace to one another: in love for one another, forgive those who trespass against you, and comfort those who are troubled.

That is the language of the one true God, which sanctifies all the tongues of man, and establishes the City of God on earth to the Glory of His holy Name. That is the Word that breathes the Spirit of God and gives life to you and all, to all creation.

It is not your native tongue. It is a divine language taught by the Spirit of Christ. It is the language of your new Father, who has spoken to you by His Son in the flesh, and who has granted you His Spirit by adoption.

But you have known a different language heretofore, a tongue that is native to all men, because all men sin; one common way of speaking that knows no borders or boundaries. You have known the language of selfish pride, of covetous lust, of towering ego, of envy and jealousy, of gossip and greed. You have known the language and law of the jungle.

That is the language that all men share in common, and yet it separates and scatters them. It is the kill-or-be-killed language of the city of man, by which you strive to name yourself. You contend and compete. You speak with cunning self-interest. Nothing bridles your tongue, nor stays your hand.

There is no love in that language of man, except the love of self. There is no peace, but constant war and strife. There is no comfort, but grief and trouble. There is no forgiveness, but debts that can't be paid, grudges never let go, bitter resentment, hateful and hurtful revenge. And you are poisoned by your own venemous tongue.

You know how the words of others sting and hurt, but do not consider that your words also sting and hurt others, and they rebound in consequences upon yourself. You know how powerful ways of speaking are, to calm things down or stir things up, and still you speak in ways that tear your brother down and tear the whole house down.

When all the world speaks this language of sin, then all efforts fail, towers crumble and cities fall; nations are divided, and families are scattered. There is no house or home of safety. There is no dwelling place of peace.

But now the Lord has come down to see this travesty which the sons of man have spoken and have made. He punishes their sin with their own sin. He scatters them to the four winds, dividing them by their own common language of selfish pride.

He does so in mercy, above all else, in order to gather them together to Himself by His divine language of the Gospel. In all the tongues of all the nations — in Hebrew and Greek, Latin and German, Russian and Slavonic, French and Italian, Spanish, English, Swedish and Swahili, Chinese and Japanese — He speaks the one Word of His Son, and through that Word He breathes His Spirit.

Consider how near this Word is to you: in your ears, and in your heart, and in your mouth.

For this Word that God the Father speaks — His own dearly-beloved Son — has become Flesh and dwells among you. The Lord your God has made His abode with you, sharing flesh and blood with you. Not only that, but He has also taken sin and death upon Himself. He has borne the crushing curse of the Law for you, the righteous wrath and judgment of God, the assaults and accusations of men.

But He has not blasphemed or cursed God. He has not reviled in return, nor shouted in anger. He has not grown surly or silent, nor has He spit venemous ire. But in prayer and confession He has remained faithful. He has spoken the Word of His Father, and called upon the Name of the Lord.

And to you He speaks forgiveness and peace. He comforts you in His compassion for you. He loves you with His language of the Gospel, and He has mercy for you on His lips.

This is the language of love which you learn from your new Father in Christ Jesus, His beloved Son, who is your Brother in the Flesh and in the Spirit. For this language is spoken to you in bodily form, but it is alive and life-giving with the Holy Spirit. The Word of Holy Absolution, that is the Word of forgiveness — like the water and the Word of Holy Baptism and the Word-made-Flesh in the Holy Communion — breathes the Spirit of God into your body, so that you are filled with the very Life and Light and Love of God.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit come to make Their abode with you.

This is the Peace of which Christ speaks, which He grants to you by His speaking. It is real Peace, which the world neither knows nor is able to give. It is the Peace of reconciliation with God through the free and full forgiveness of all your sins of thought, word and deed. It is the Peace of harmony and unity of love within God Himself.

Speak that language of love to your neighbor. Forgive those who trespass against you. Comfort those who are troubled and afraid. Be reconciled with those who have been at odds with you. Speak with gentle kindess and tender compassion. Speak peace to your neighbor, as Christ speaks peace to you. And teach your children so to speak, to confess and to pray, to sing and give thanks, as your God and Father speaks Christ Jesus to you.

With that Word of Christ, which is the language of God, you bestow the Holy Spirit upon your neighbor. You build a house and city of love. You raise the tower of the Cross, by which all men are drawn to Christ. You confess the Name of the Lord, by which you and your neighbor are saved.

For not only does the Holy Triune God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, draw near to you by the Word of Christ. But as the Spirit speaks Christ to you, and Christ breathes His Spirit upon you, so does the same Lord Jesus Christ bring you in and with Himself to the Father in heaven. It isn't a matter of traversing some distance; it isn't a matter of geography, aeronautics or space travel, but of true spiritual ife with God in the flesh and blood Body of Christ.

As you abide in Him, and as His Spirit abides in you, so do you abide in and with the Father. You and your life are hidden with Christ in God. You are seated with Him in heavenly places, even while you sojourn here below under the sign of the Cross.

It is for that life with God the Father, for the sake of His own divine love and mercy, that Christ Jesus keeps on speaking Peace to you, forgiving you all your sins and granting you His Spirit.

Do not be afraid. This Word is not mine, but His who sent me.

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

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