06 January 2017

Seek the Lord Where He May Be Found

Jesus is born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread, in the house and lineage of David, to be the King of the Jews.  Which is to say that He is the Ruler who will shepherd His people Israel.  For He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed of God.  Indeed, He is God in the flesh.  He is your Savior.

Understand that He is not simply a means to some other end.  But He Himself is your Life, your Light, and your Salvation.  Get up and go to Him, therefore, to be with Him where He is; that He alone would be your heart’s delight and your most precious Treasure.

Worship Him in the beauty of His holiness and His righteousness.  Worship Him both for the sake of all that He does for you and gives to you, and simply for His own sake, because of who He is: your God, the Lord.  It is truly meet, right, and salutary so to do.

Do not let any distance be too far.  Let no obstacle or cost be considered too great.  Do not cling to your own power, position, or prestige in this world, none of which will last; none of which can save you; none of which is God, though too easily you make such things into false gods and idols.  But, no, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.

The coming of the Lord Jesus, the very Son of God in the Flesh, does not permit you to remain in your “comfort zone.”  His coming and His presence change everything.  And they challenge you to relinquish and let go your false gods and your false worship for this one true God, Christ Jesus.

Examine your heart and life.  Examine your words and your actions.  Do not presume to remain in your castle, supposing yourself to be the king, as though you were the master of your own domain and of all that you survey.  But get yourself to Bethlehem.  Search diligently for the Child.  Worship Him who is your true and rightful King.

Worship Him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  Worship Him with your body and your life, your time, your treasures, and your talents.  Invest all that you are and all that you have in serving Him.  Honor Him with all that you say and do.

Or do you still imagine that all of these things are yours?  As though they belong to you; as though you had a right to them.  And do you still pretend that any of these things will give you life?

No, they belong to the Lord, who is your King.  And you also belong to Him by right.

Repent of the idolatry in your heart and in your life.  And heed the Word of the Lord, which directs you to Him, that you should find your life and spend your life entirely in Him.

Why are you so troubled?  What is your excuse?  What are you afraid of?

Do you think it a waste of time to seek the Lord while He may be found?  Do you consider it a pointless endeavor to worship the Lord?  Will you proceed as though His Word were not being preached to you, or as though it made no difference?

Repent, and heed His Word.  And humble yourself before Him always, because He is your King.

Fear, love, and trust in Him, who has not come to rob your life, but rather has come to give you Himself and His Life, His grace and every blessing

Look, His holy Word has told you precisely where He is for you.  Do not scan the skies or search the stars.  But search the Scriptures.  And better yet, hear the Word of the Lord that is preached to you and for you: His Word of the Gospel, which is for you on this day and throughout the year.

He is in Bethlehem.  He is in the House with His Mother.  He is in the bosom of His Church, the House of the Lord on earth.  He is on the corner of Milton and Dale in South Bend, in His Divine Service.  That is where He is for you.  That is where you may find Him.

Do not underestimate the importance, the significance, yes, even the necessity of the Church and the Ministry of the Gospel, the preaching of forgiveness and the administration of the means of grace.  For here in the Church on earth, the Mystery of the Lord your God, that is to say, God Himself with His Light and Life and Salvation, He is here for you.  He is manifested and revealed for you in the flesh and blood of Christ Jesus, though yet hidden under the humility of the Cross.

You will find Him nowhere else than here in His Church of the Gospel, His Church of the Word and Sacraments.  You will not find Him anywhere else, and you will not live without Him; not out East, nor back home in Jerusalem, but only here in His House of Bread on the lap of His Mama.

Of course it is true that you live your entire life in His presence, righteous and holy before Him at all times and in all places, that is, by His grace through faith in His Gospel.  But that is only because He has first of all come to you here, and He has manifested Himself to you here, and He still does.  He has given Himself to you here, and He still does.  Here in His House.

That is how and why you proceed from this place homeward by another way, that is, in newness of life, having become other than you were.  You go home in faith and love, in the worship of Christ Jesus, instead of going back to the fear and anger, to the hatred and lustful murder of your former king, the “Herod” who has reigned in your heart and life through sin and unbelief.

Your true life is found here.  It is hidden in humility and weakness.  It is hidden under the Cross and suffering, under poverty and hardship.  But your life is here, nevertheless, because Christ your true King is here.  He is here for you in love with His forgiveness of sins and His gift of life.

Entrust yourself to Him.  Bow your heart and mind before Him.  And bow your body, too, as you are able.  Confess with your flesh that which you profess with your lips.

The magi traveled great distance at great cost to worship the Lord.  They were not content with the knowledge they had, having seen the star and reading the Scriptures, but they went to Him.  And having found Him, in great joy they threw themselves at His feet and prostrated themselves before Him, this little Baby, this Toddler, who is the Lord, the Word-made-Flesh.  They were not ashamed to humble themselves before Him and to honor Him with their bodies and their gifts.

You also, reverence Him.  Reverence Him with your words, with tangible action and sacrificial giving to the glory of His Name, and so also with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength

Present Him with your gifts and treasures, with the best of all that you have.  Not because He needs anything from you, but because you need everything from Him, and He alone is your priceless Treasure.  Everything else is dispensable.  Everything.  None of the rest of it can save you; but it can become a temptation and a false god to damn you, when you worship that which is not God.

Present the Lord Jesus with your best and your finest gifts.  Not your leftovers and your castoffs, but your first fruits in thanksgiving for His grace.  Do so in the faith that every good and perfect gift is from Him; and that He will not neglect to provide you with all that you need for your body and life, both now and forever; and that, whatever you may lack, or seem to lack, having the Lord Jesus, you have everything that matters.  He is your God.  He is your Savior.  He is your King.

Honor Him.  Confess Him.  Glorify Him, and give thanks to Him, by serving and supporting His holy House and His holy Family, the Church and the congregation of His people.

Would you leave Joseph and Mary and the little Lord Jesus to languish in poverty and want?  To starve and to die on their flight into Egypt?  Do not imagine all of the ways that you would lavish your love upon them, “if only,” while you neglect to do all that you can to love and serve the Lord Jesus in this place here and now, where He is found in the Ministry of His Gospel.

Balance the budget.  Help to take care of the building and property.  Look to the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ.  And support your neighbor with your presence at the Liturgy.

Do all of this in love for God and for your neighbor.  But above all else, live by faith in Christ, that is, by hearing the Word that He preaches to you here and receiving the gifts that He freely gives to you here.  Do it gladly and with thanksgiving to the Father in His Son and by His Holy Spirit.

Where your heart is, that is where your treasure will be.  So, what is your treasure?  Where is your heart invested, along with your body and life, your time and energy and money?

The world may hold her wealth and gold, but thou, my friend, keep Christ as thy true Treasure.  He is here with you.  He is here for you.  Bend your knee before Him.  He is your gracious King.  And so receive the Gifts that He bestows upon you.  For He withholds no good thing from you.  He feeds you with Himself, your God in the flesh, with His holy Body and His precious Blood.

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

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