Though it looks like you’re all alone, left to wander on your own in the darkness, sometimes afraid, and often confused as to which way you should turn, where you ought to be, and how to get there; though your provisions are sparse, your clothing thin, your bread too little, and your water bitter — Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; which is to say, believe and trust in Christ Jesus, the Crucified One, who is risen from the dead, and who lives and reigns for you forever.
There is one true God, the Father of our dear Lord Jesus Christ; and, though it is a great Mystery, He is manifest and known in the Person of the incarnate Son, who is one and the same true God. It is this true God and Father, in the flesh and blood of Christ, the Son, who pours out the Holy Spirit upon you, the Lord and Giver of Life, who is Himself the one true God, in order to save you.
See what Love He has for you! Not a passing fancy, nor a fair weather friendship, but the Love that comprises the very Being of God, the Bond of Love between the Father and His Son. Not with mere emotion or affection, but with the Gift of Himself, given and poured out for you and for all, and given into your ears, into your hands, into your mouth and body, unto the life everlasting.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid; but now, be comforted and brave. For in your Father’s House are many dwelling places. Do you hear? He is your Father. You are not a stranger, nor simply a guest, but a child in His home: His Castle is your castle. For His own dear Son, Christ Jesus, by the way and means of His Cross, has prepared a place for you with Himself. So, too, all the saints and the holy Apostles are your family, because you are of God’s household.
It is by His Cross and Passion that Christ Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you. But you have also heard and received the testimony of Easter, this Queen of Seasons bright, that He has returned from death and the grave. He has come to you, in order to receive you to Himself — to gather you into the embrace of His wounded hands, to graft you into His side — so that you are, and ever shall be, with Him where He is. He Himself, in His own crucified and risen Body, is now and forever your permanent Place in the House of the Father.
You know the Way to that Place, and even now, by faith, you live and abide in Him by the divine grace of the Holy Trinity. For Christ Jesus, who is sent by the Father and laid upon your heart by the Holy Spirit, is the Way: The Path of Life, the Highway to Zion, the Road to God. He is your Way to the God and Father in heaven.
Not just directions for you to follow and navigate. He’s far more than a spiritual GPS. He not only gets you where you’re going, but He is the Route, and He is your Destination. In and with Him, you are in and with the Father; and so do you live and abide, you rest and reside, in the Holy Spirit.
It’s not a matter of getting from Point A to Point Z, but of being adopted as a son of God in Christ. For the Place that Christ Jesus has prepared for you is not so much a new location as it is a new relationship with God, who is your true Father in Him. It is in His own divine Sonship that you now live and move and have your being, your identity, your future and your hope. Your Place.
He is and remains your Place, no matter where you may roam. You not only have it waiting for you, but you are living in that Place of Christ, even now, wherever you are in this body and life. So shall it be all the more so in the resurrection of your body to the life everlasting of Paradise.
As the Lord your God is your true Father, and you are His true child, you are always before Him, always in His sight and in His presence. For discipline, yes, but not for condemnation. He leads and guides you by His Word, by which He also teaches you to pray at all times and in all places. He longs to be gracious to you, because He loves you. At the sound of your cry, He will surely have compassion. Do not doubt that He will, but, as you long for Him, so call upon His Name.
From within your own flesh-and-blood life in this world, even from out of the depths of your sin and death, you are free and able to pray to your Father in Christ Jesus, to ask Him as dear children ask their dear father. And His answer to your every prayer, His resounding “Yes” and “Amen,” is already sure and certain in the crucified and risen flesh and blood of Christ Himself.
You pray in the Name of Christ Jesus, as you are baptized in His Name, because it is in and with His Name that God the Father answers your prayer and bestows the Holy Spirit upon you.
Listen. Your Teacher does not hide Himself from you. It is true that, for now, He does hide Himself under the Cross, but He does so in order to reveal Himself to you in the grace, mercy, and peace of His Atonement. By the Word of His Cross, He opens your ears to hear His Voice, and He opens your eyes to see Him, even in the midst of sin and death, in the hope of the resurrection.
This is the Truth of God Himself: The Truth of His Incarnation, the Truth of His own Cross and Resurrection, and the Truth of His Word and Spirit in the preaching of His Holy Gospel to you.
In the Person of Christ Jesus, the beloved Son, in His true Body of flesh and blood, you see and know His God and Father as your very own God and Father; and you are known and loved by Him.
You know the Father in Christ Jesus, and you know and love Christ Jesus by the gracious gift and blessed work of the Holy Spirit. It is more than enough; it is your full sufficiency and salvation. Not a “consolation prize,” but simply genuine consolation.
You might be tempted to think or say, that, if only you could actually see Jesus with your own two eyes, in the way the Holy Apostles were granted to see Him in their day, then you would be more content and at ease. As the Holy Apostles were tempted to say, that, if only they could actually see the Father, that would be enough for them. But the Father is in the Son, the Son in the Father. And as the Father has sent Him, so has He sent the ministers of His Word to preach in His Name. Whoever hears that apostolic preaching of Christ, hears Christ; and whoever receives the means of grace in the apostolic Ministry of the Gospel, receives the same Lord Jesus Christ.
There is nothing lacking here in the Liturgy of His Gospel, in His Divine Service. Here He shows Himself to you, and gives Himself to you, and the Father and the Holy Spirit in and with Himself.
Indeed, the Holy Apostles, St. Philip and St. James among them, despite the fact that we know so little about them, performed even greater works than Christ Himself had previously done among them; and yet, not they, but Christ worked in them. The works are “greater” because, by His Cross and in His Resurrection, everything is accomplished and perfected in His own Body “for us men and our salvation.” All things are made new. Creation is completed, and Paradise established.
The same is therefore true, also now for you, in the preaching and ministry of your pastors, who follow in the footsteps and stand upon the foundation of St. Philip and St. James and the other Apostles. As Christ Himself is the Cornerstone, who gives shape and stability to the foundation, and upon whom the entire Church is firmly built and rests secure, so all the members of His Body, all who believe and are baptized into Him, are joined together into one Holy Temple of God.
Therefore, not only is it most certainly true, that, in the word and works of your pastors, you hear and receive the greater works of Christ Himself; it is also the case that, in your own vocation, as a beloved child of God in Christ Jesus, by faith in Him, you also do the “greater works” of God, and the Father is glorified in you.
Though you may be less than others, and little known on earth — though you may be forgotten in the world within a mere generation or less of your passing from this vale of tears — the Truth remains, that Christ the Son of God abides in you, as the Father always abides in Him; and He is surely accomplishing His purposes in you. You are not forgotten by God, your Father in Christ, but you live and abide in His House and Home forever, as a beloved members of His dear family.
Do not measure your life and your works by what you see in this old world, but consider your calling in the newness of the New Creation in the Resurrection of the Body of Christ Jesus. For you belong to His Body, and you are on the Way that He has gone, through death and the grave into Life with God. He has gone before you, and has already accomplished the outcome, even the salvation of your body and your soul in Himself; but He also goes with you every step of the Way.
You have heard His Word and promise: He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And He is yours. He is your Way to the Father. He is your Journey and your Destination. Even now, He is your Place, in which you abide in Hope and rest in Peace. He is here with you, and so are you with Him.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.