Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (C)
The Baptism of Wyatt James Harmsen
August 12, 2007
Text: Luke 12:22-40

Anxiety is epidemic in this fallen world. We are an anxious people. We are anxious and worried over many things. What causes your anxiety? Perhaps it is a health problem. Perhaps it is a conflict with a loved one. Perhaps it is your job or your marriage or your children. Perhaps it is money or possessions. We are all anxious. Many of us suffer with chronic anxiety and depression. Some even suffer from panic attacks. It seems that wherever we look for relief, we are disappointed. Even when we are in good health, we still worry over our bodies. The more faith we put in our human relationships, the more others let us down and cause even more conflict. The more money and possessions we hold, the more anxiety these things cause, because we have to keep up with them, and it is never enough. We always “need” more, we think. And this is cause for great anxiety.

What we need, in truth, is really quite simple. We need a healing word from Jesus. And He speaks that healing word to us this morning. “Do not be anxious.” Jesus “said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Luke 12:22-23; ESV). Food and clothing are good gifts of God. And that’s just it: they are gifts. From God. They are given freely by our heavenly Father who already knows that we need these things. We belong to the Father. He who gives food to the sparrow and dresses the lilies of the field, how will He not also feed and clothe us, who have been purchased by the blood of His beloved Son, Jesus?

Yes, how will our good and gracious Father not also feed and clothe you, o you of little faith (v. 28)? Here’s the thing: anxiety is sin. Anxiety is sin in that it is lack of faith. It is lack of faith in our giving God. It is lack of faith in His providence and love. It is lack of faith in His promise to give us hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). It is lack of faith in the One who did not spare His own Son, but gladly gave Him up for us all. But all the evidence points to the fact that God is ever faithful. He will not let you down. He has never yet failed to make good on His promises. So Jesus says to you what He said to His first band of anxious disciples: Do not be anxious. “And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you” (Luke 12:29-31).

“Fear not, little flock,” for you are baptized. And “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (v. 32). All things are yours in Christ, the whole Kingdom. You are kings and queens of creation on account of Christ. So what can harm you? Why be anxious? You are baptized. God has made you His own child in Holy Baptism, just as you saw Him make Wyatt James His own child this morning. You are baptized into Christ. Your sins have been washed away. You have received His righteousness. His death and resurrection have become your own. Satan can no longer accuse. Sin cannot harm you. Even death cannot take away your gladness. You are baptized into the One who can calm stormy seas with a word. Surely He can calm your troubled breast with the same word: “quiet, be still, do not be anxious.” You lack nothing in Christ Jesus. The Father’s good pleasure is to freely give the whole Kingdom to those who are in Christ by virtue of Baptism. Therefore you have no reason to fear.

In fact, you are released from your bondage to fear. You are released from your bondage to anxiety. Your lack of faith, your worry, your inability to place yourself under God’s total care, have been forgiven and wiped away. They have been nailed to Jesus’ cross. He has paid the price for them. So now you are free. You are free to live confidently and boldly in Christ as a baptized Christian. Now you can give freely, as God has freely given to you. That’s what Jesus is indicating when He says, “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (vv. 33-34). You have been given all things. You know that you will always have what you need. God has promised that it is so. In fact, you have so much more than you need. So now you have the joy of giving it away. You have the joy of providing for the needs of your neighbor, for having mercy. Do you have more than you know what to do with? Give it away. Give it to one who has need. Or do you still doubt that God will provide? If so, repent. And remember the promise. Your heavenly Father knows that you need food and drink and shelter and clothing. Seek His Kingdom, and the rest will be added to you. Do not doubt, but believe.

Abraham serves as a perfect example from the Old Testament. Abraham was an anxious man. We read about this in our Old Testament lesson this morning (Gen. 15:1-6). He was anxious because he had no heir. His wife, Sarah, was barren. A servant would receive all his possessions. But God came to Abraham with a healing word: “Fear not” (v. 1). Abraham’s offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. God promised. And Abraham believed. “(H)e believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (v. 6). Abraham was justified by faith. The cure for anxiety is trust in the promises of God.

God made good on His promise to Abraham, and He makes good on His promises to you. In fact, all who believe are counted as Abraham’s descendants, for “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). Like Abraham, you believe God, and it is counted to you as righteousness. It is not some righteousness that you come up with on your own. It is the righteousness that belongs to Christ, earned by Him, and given to you freely. You are justified by grace through faith, and this not of yourselves. It is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Eph. 2:8). You believe the promises of God. You trust in Him for salvation and every blessing. That’s what it means to have faith. “So then,” says Paul, “those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal. 3:9).

Do not be anxious. You don’t have to be. You are free of all anxiety and worry. Do not be anxious, but be prepared. The Master is returning. He will not leave you alone. His coming will be a time of great joy for you if you remain in His Word and faith. So keep hearing the Word. Keep living in your Baptism. Keep receiving the gifts He gives in His Holy Supper. “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes” (Luke 12:35-37). A remarkable thing happens when the master finds His servants awake when He comes. It is against all reason. It is even an offense to those outside the faith. When the Master, Jesus, comes to His servants, He has them recline at table and He serves them (v. 37). And we don’t have to wait until the Last Day for that reward. He will do it again here this morning in the Sacrament.

You come to the Table this morning in faith, as Abraham did. You come as those baptized into Christ, as Wyatt James was this morning. You come and leave your anxieties at Jesus’ feet. He takes care of them. He forgives your sin and doubt. He gives you His righteousness. He gives you faith to believe. And the gifts He gives will never be taken away from you. Blessed are you, for the Father’s good pleasure is to give you the Kingdom. He gives it to you this morning in the body and blood of Jesus, His dear Son. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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