30 March 2016

Set Your Heart and Mind on the Risen Christ

Christ has died, and Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

And as a Christian, you have also died with Him by your Baptism into His death, and so it is that you are raised up with Him to a new and different life.  Indeed, He is your Life and your Salvation, and in Him you already live with God in heaven, even while you live and work here on earth.

Set your heart and mind on Christ, therefore, by hearing and heeding His Word.

To clarify, it is no sin to live in your body here on earth where the Lord your God has called you and positioned you.  There is no sin in going to work and doing your job, nor in going fishing for the fun of it, or whatever your own hobbies and pastimes may be.  Do not repent for work or play.  But do consider where your heart and mind are set as you go about doing whatever it is you do.

All your labors will accomplish nothing apart from the Word of Christ.  But at His Word, great good things happen in abundance.  And by faith in His Word, although you may be stretched and strained, you are neither broken nor torn.  For His Word is fruitful, and His Word sustains you.

But what should you do if you have fallen into the trap of working to make a life for yourself apart from faith in Christ’s Word?  What if you have lost sight of Him and no longer know the Man?  And what about your doubts and denials, your uncertainty and fears, and your cynical skepticism?

Whether you have already fallen a great distance or have only begun to wander away from Christ Jesus, return now to the Lord who gently beckons you to Himself and makes Himself known to you again and again.  Or, if you have never yet been able to walk in His way of life, be raised up by His Word of the Gospel.  For He has fixed His gaze upon you, and He calls you to Himself in love.

Come, return to the cleansing significance of your Baptism, to the washing of the water with His Word.  Not to be re-baptized, for there is nothing lacking in that Word and work of God.  But in contrition and repentance, and by confession of your sins, be drowned and die with all your sinful lusts and desires, and be raised up to life through the forgiveness of all your sins in Jesus’ name.

Do not dress yourself with your own works, which, like the emperor’s new clothes, leave you naked in your sin.  Rather, be clothed by Christ with His Righteousness and Holiness through His forgiveness of your sins, and so live by His grace alone.  Not in guilt and shame, nor in fear, but in peace.  Rest yourself in Him by faith, whether you are working hard or having a good time.

Set your heart and mind on the priority of His Word and the preaching of it, on His means of grace and all the things of Christ.  Do not allow your job or your pastimes to take precedence over Him, but rather live in the world in the way that God intends by making His House into your home.

If you have drifted away in the past, or even if you never have before, either way, do not abandon the Boat of the Church, the Holy Ark of Christendom.  Instead, draw near to Christ aboard that great vessel, even though she appears to be a little boat and of no great consequence.

By His death at the ninth hour of the day, and by your Baptism into His death — a beautiful gate indeed! — you have entered upon that boat, the Temple of His Church, which is His own Body.  So does He keep you safe and sustain you in Himself, and so does He preserve your life in God.

And what is more, in His Resurrection from the dead and His Ascension to the Right Hand of the Father, your prayer now ascends like incense before the throne of God at every hour, at all times and in all places.  And His tender mercy descends upon you, that is, not perishable silver and gold, but the holy, precious blood of the spotless Lamb, and His sacred flesh, which is your meat indeed.

Here at His Table is the Meal He has prepared for you with His own hand, by His own hard labor and the sweat of His brow.  Here is the Supper to break your fast, since you have had nothing with which to feed yourself, despite your best efforts and your long hard toils by night as by day.

Come, therefore, dear child of God.  Eat and drink this Food that Christ provides for you according to His grace and love, and learn to know your crucified and risen Lord in His gracious hospitality.

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

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