15 March 2017

The Lord Who Loves You Gives You Life in Himself

Out of His great heart of love, God the Lord, the one true God, has acted to give you life.

Know this, therefore, that everything He does, He does it for you.  He does it in love.

And everything He does, all that He creates, all that He gives, all that He provides, He does all of it with His Word.  He speaks, and it is so.

And this Word that He speaks to you is no mere empty sound.  It is rather the Person of the only-begotten Son, the only-begotten God, who has now also become flesh of your flesh and blood of your blood for your Salvation.  He is true Man, your elder Brother, your dear Lord Jesus Christ.

And with this Word, His own Son, the Father breathes His Holy Spirit upon you; He breathes His Spirit into you, the very Breath of Life, so that you become a living creature in the Lord.

This Word of Christ, the Voice of the Spirit, forgives all of your sins and saves you from death.  It gives you life.  Divine Life with God.

It is by His Word and Holy Spirit that God the Father has created you, that you should have life with Him forever.  And all of creation, the heavens and the earth and everything in them, He uses it all to serve you for the sake of His own Love, that of the Father for His Son in the Spirit.  For the sake of this divine, eternal Love, He gives you Himself, He gives you His own Life.  So does He feed you, and clothe you, and shelter you, and protect you, every day of your life, waking and sleeping.  He lavishes good things upon you, and He delights to do so, because He loves you.

Now, on account of your sin and its curse, its consequences of death and suffering, it may seem to you as though God the Creator and His entire creation were actually set against you, at odds with you, and out to destroy you.  After all, even your own body rebels against you.  And the fact of the matter is, it is true that the Lord, your God and Father, disciplines you as a father disciplines the son that he loves.  He disciplines you, His rebellious creature, and with His Law He has actually become your enemy for a little while, because of your sin.

But the same true God who created you for life, who created you in love, has also dealt with your sin, so as to deal with you in mercy, with forgiveness, in order to give you rest from all of your enemies.  In order to give you peace: Peace in your heart, and, best of all, true peace with Him.

In Christ Jesus, the beloved Son — in His Incarnation, in His flesh and blood, and especially in His Cross and Crucifixion — you see that God’s great heart of love is still opened to you.  That God still loves you with His entire Being, with Himself.

So has He willingly, even gladly, taken your sins upon Himself, and your death upon Himself, and your damnation upon Himself, and borne them all in His own body on the Cross.  For you see, He has a body like yours.  He has become part of His own creation.  And He has given Himself entirely and completely for you.  For your rescue and salvation.

Thus, death itself is made to serve you.  Death has to give you up to life.  And in the Resurrection of this God-Man, Jesus Christ — who is the very Son of God, your Savior, your Brother, and your Friend — in Him, and in His Resurrection from the dead, all of creation is made brand new, and it is made to serve you again and forever.

Thus, by the water, with the Word and Spirit of God, you also have been born again, raised from the dead as a new creation, for new life.  For divine, eternal life with God in Christ.

And He takes simple bread and wine, made from things of His Creation — from grain, and from grapes — He takes these up with His Word and makes them to be His own Body, Food for you, and His own Blood, Drink for you, so that both your body and your soul are fed by Christ for life.

God the Lord has done all this for you in love, and He still does.  By His own arm He has done it.  With His own hand He has done it.  He alone has done it.  Not because of any merit in you, but because of His mercy, because of His Love.

And this same God, this one true God who has done all of this for you, remember that He is the Creator and Preserver of all thing.  He is your Creator and Preserver.  You and all that you need for this body and life, and for the life everlasting, it is all His own to do with as He so chooses.  And He chooses in love to use this Creation for your good.

Do not doubt that He is for you, and that He will indeed move heaven and earth to bring you, once and for all, out of sin and death into life with Himself and eternal salvation.

Even now, He serves you and protects you by His grace and mercy.

Receive His gifts with thanksgiving: Clothing and shoes. Food and drink. House and home. Fields and cattle. Spouse and children. All that you need.  Receive what He gives with thanksgiving, whether it be much or little.  And use whatever He gives according to His Word.  Yes, even enjoy what He gives, for that is what He intends.  And so also serve your neighbor with whatever God gives into your hands, as the Lord so desires and allows you the means and opportunity to do.

Receive His gifts with faith in Him, and with love for Him above everything else, and with love for your neighbor in Christ Jesus, for His sake, for He is the Savior of all people.

Receive His gifts, and use them, and give thanks for them.  But do not worship them.  Do not put your trust in those things that God gives, but in God who gives them.  Do not live for those things, nor suppose that life is found in them, but live unto the Lord your God, who is alone the Author and Giver of Life.  Worship Him with all that you are and have, in all that you do and say.

Worship the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Holy Triune God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Fear, love, and trust in Him.  He gives, and He takes away; but He does so according to His good and gracious will, and it is always in love for you.  He disciplines, and He forgives.

He alone gives life and health and every blessing.  And all of this He gives by the ways and means of His Cross.  That’s why it’s often so confusing to you.  For you receive the things of His Cross by faith, and not by sight.  That’s what faith is: the assurance of those things that you cannot see, but which God has spoken to you in love — in Christ.  Trust that.

Put away your false gods, whatever they may be, and fear the Lord your God.  Serve Him alone.

You have life, in both body and soul, both now and forever, only as you are in Christ Jesus, the Lord, the Crucified One.  And you have Christ the Crucified only by His Word and Holy Spirit, as you live within (and to and from) His Church.  His one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

Here He speaks His Word of forgiveness to you.  Here He preaches His Gospel, with which He gives you His own Life and Health and Strength in place of your mortality, death, and damnation.

Here He calls you back to the waters of your Holy Baptism, through which He brought you out of Egypt into His Church, and through which He will, at the last, bring you into the resurrection of your body and the life everlasting of your body and soul with Himself in the Promised Land.

Here in His Church He gives you refuge from all of your enemies round about, and peace and rest within the House that He has built — and He has built it well upon the Rock of His Gospel.  Here is the City of God, the City made without hands, eternal in the heavens, but established here on earth for you in the Church and Ministry of His Word and Sacrament.

Here He feeds you with real and true Food, which you did not plant, which you did not tend, which you did not harvest or prepare.  He gives it to you all by grace.  It is His utter Charity.  His Body given for you to eat, His Blood poured out for you to drink, for the forgiveness of all your sins.  All for the sake of His love.  All for the sake of your life with Him.

All of this He gives to you and does for you with His life-giving Word.  And with His Word, He gives to you His Holy Spirit, who lays Christ upon your heart, and binds you to Him in body and soul, and preserves your faith and life in Him, within His Holy Church, unto the life everlasting.

As He speaks, so do you hear; so do you believe; and so do you confess.

You speak what God has spoken to you by His Son, which is to say, forgiveness and love.

You speak, not only with your lips and with your mouth, but also with your hands, and with good works of mercy, in order to share the life that God has given to you by His grace in Christ Jesus.

You put to work your body with all its members, your eyes and ears, your mind and mouth, your reason and all your senses, to serve your neighbor, as God serves you, with His good creation.

And as you receive and breathe in His life-giving Holy Spirit in His Word of Absolution, His free and full forgiveness of all your many sins, so do you also exhale that same Holy Spirit in speaking and showing forgiveness to your neighbor who trespasses against you.

The Lord who created all things out of nothing; who created you and still takes cares of you, despite your sins; who loves you and takes care of you by and with His Word — He shall also sustain you in this faith and life, especially by His Word of the Gospel.

Let everything else be taken from you, if it comes to that, so long as you still hear and have that Word.  For God the Father preaches His Gospel to you in love, and by that Word everything in heaven and on earth is yours in Jesus Christ, His Son, crucified and risen from the dead.

He stands fast, and He shall not fail you.  Where you fail and fall, as often as you fail and fall, He forgives you, and He raises you back up again.

For you are His own, His dear one, His beloved.  Even when Satan, sin, and death have done their worst, the Lord your God will raise up you from the dust of the earth to live with Him forever in the good Land that He has promised, flowing with milk and honey and every good thing.

As sure as Christ is risen from the dead and lives and reigns forever, this is most certainly true.

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

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