In the beginning was the Word, by whom and for whom all things exist, and without whom there is nothing. He alone is your Light, your Life and your Salvation.
This same divine and living Word has become flesh and dwells with you in love.
He has become flesh to bear your sins in His own Body to the Cross, and to shed His holy, precious Blood for you, in order to atone for your sins and redeem you, to justify you with His righteousness and reconcile you unto God the Father, to sanctify you with His own Spirit, and to share His own divine life with you in peace.
He is the true Passover Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world — who takes upon Himself and takes away your sin — who covers you with His Blood and feeds you with His flesh.
In order that you may behold Him, and recognize Him, and receive Him as the Christ, your Savior and your God, the Lord has sent the Forerunner to preach repentance, to make a disciple of you by baptizing and catechizing you.
Apart from this Word and Sacrament (the Ministry of repentance for the forgiveness of sins) you cannot even see the Lord Jesus, much less believe in Him or follow Him.
It is by the Word and Spirit of Christ, by the preaching of Christ Jesus, that you are pointed to Him and brought to Him in faith. Whereas, without His Word, you remain utterly in the dark, subject to death and damnation. Thus, not only all of creation, but everything pertaining to faith and life and godliness, depends upon the preaching of the Word of Christ. Otherwise, you have nothing.
It is for your sake, for your life and salvation, that the one true God has opened His mouth in love and spoken His Word to you, and thereby breathed His Spirit into your body and soul. And with this divine and holy preaching of God Himself, He has established for you, and for His whole Christian Church on earth, a most sacred tradition of the Word: a handing over of the Son of God (from heaven to earth, from then till now, from the Father unto you).
The Father speaks forth His Son to make the heavens and the earth, and to create man in His Image. The Father speaks forth the same only-begotten Son in the flesh, to bear your sin and be your Savior. And as the Father has thus spoken, so does the Son speak His Word to you, which is Spirit and Life: He speaks to you by the ministers of His Word, called and sent in His Name.
And by that Word that is preached to you, far more than simple information is conveyed: indeed, the very Lamb of God is manifested to you, and you are called to repentance, to faith and life in Him, through the forgiveness of all your sins.
That is what this Word does: It forgives you. And by this Word of forgiveness, this Holy Abso-lution, you know the one true God as your own dear Father; you live and abide with Him in peace.
This God and Father still speaks His Son to you. He sends His man, John, to go before His face to prepare His way — to prepare you for His Advent (His coming) — and to point Him out to you: the Lamb of God, who saves you. And He sends His servants, Andrew and Simon Peter, His James and John and Paul, His Richard and Gifford, to preach the Christ to you — to bring you to Christ Jesus in faith, and to Himself in Christ.
Now, therefore, what is it that you seek? Is it not life, and a place to live, a place to call home?
That life and home are in Christ; and Christ is here for you in His Word of the Gospel: He is near to you, in your ears, in your heart, and even in your mouth. First of all as He speaks His forgiveness of your sins, and bestows His peace upon you, and feeds you, both body and soul, with His holy body and precious blood. And as He thus gives you life, by grace through faith in Him, so does He open your lips to declare His praise; and He opens your mouth to confess His Name.
You, then, carry on this sacred tradition of the Word: Speak as you are spoken to. As you have heard, so believe, and call upon the Name of the Lord. Pray and confess His Word. Speak Christ Jesus to your neighbors, beginning first of all with your own family, your spouse, your parents and your children, your brothers and sisters. And speak to the members of your true and permanent family, that is, to your brothers and sisters in Christ (as Brother Andrew spoke to Brother Simon). For you belong to them, and they to you, as belonging together to the one Body of Christ, His holy Church. Therefore, speak in holy love and with free and full forgiveness.
Do you find yourself speaking otherwise, and not with such grace and evangelical eloquence?
Hear and heed the Word of Christ to you: Repent of your sin, and follow Him. Come, hear and see where He lives, and how He lives. Receive His hospitality, and abide with Him. He is your Teacher, and He catechizes you unto life. He has died for you and shed His blood for you, but see, He has risen from the dead and lives for you, as well. The very blood that He has shed for you now anoints you with His Spirit and fills you with His righteousness and peace.
Taste and see that He is good — in Him is Life, and that Life is your Light and your Salvation. Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away your sins. You are forgiven. You are His own.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen