Cruce Tectum

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

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Third Sunday after Pentecost (B)
June 21, 2009
Text: Mark 4:35-41

Beloved in the Lord, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40; ESV). Jesus posed this question to His disciples in the storm-tossed boat, and He addresses the question to us this morning in the storm-tossed ark of the holy Church. Why are you so afraid? Our lives are marked by fear, are they not? Particularly in these times, the economy is on the minds of many. Some of our own number are unemployed, or underemployed, or always working under the threat of the next big layoff. There is a great deal of fear in this. There are many unknowns. How will I put food on the table? How will I pay my mortgage and the utilities? How will I keep up with the ever-rising gas prices? Will my retirement savings dwindle away to nothing, and will Social Security survive as long as I do? National security is another source of great fear. This is an age of terrorism. Terrorism has reared its ugly head even among the members of our own congregation. Some have lost their lives as a direct result of terrorism. Others have lost their lives in defense of their country. Will I be next? The moral chaos of our society and culture is yet another source of great fear. There is no such thing as sexual scruples in our society as a whole, and life itself enjoys precious little respect as God’s gift, our babies, elderly, and terminally ill being sacrificed to the gods of personal preference, comfort, and affluence; in other words, the god of self. And there is an ever-increasing effort to silence the Church as she calls society to repentance. How long will the one true God allow this to continue? We fear for the future of our nation, our families, our Church.

We all have some degree of anxiety. In fact, anxiety disorders are among the most common of afflictions. Who of us does not know anxiety? We worry about our children. We worry about our parents. We worry about our spouses. We worry about our health. We worry about death. And there simply is nothing on earth, nothing within us, nothing within those we love, nothing and no one on the political spectrum to permanently and thoroughly calm our fears. There must be something outside of us, something true, something pure, something real, something eternal, something all-powerful, something absolutely trustworthy. There must be something, or Someone, greater than the sum of all our fears. Of course, we’re describing God. We’re describing Jesus Christ. “Peace! Be still!” (v. 39), speaks Jesus to your troubled heart. His is the greatest and only consolation upon which you rely. Because He does not speak the peace that the world gives. He gives His own peace, peace with God, the peace of sins forgiven, the peace of God’s love, the peace purchased at the price of God’s blood and God’s death on the cross in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the peace of one who has been swallowed up by death and ripped its belly open wide.

Why are you so afraid? Christ is risen! Jesus lives! The victory’s won! If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, gave Him into death on the cross for our forgiveness, life, and salvation, how will He not, along with Him, graciously give us all things (Rom. 8:31-32)? Do you not possess, and are you not possessed by, the very Spirit of God, proceeding from the Father and the Son? Are you not baptized? Has God not claimed you as His own child? Is His Name not written upon you? Have not all your sins been washed away? Have you not been absolved and fed by the Word of God? Have not our Lord Christ’s crucified and risen body and blood touched your lips and nourished your body and soul? Why are you so afraid?

There is much to fear in this world and in this earthly life, and the devil will always try to capitalize on that fear. He will assault you continuously with reminders of your sin, of the precarious nature of this life, this body, this world. He will introduce all sorts of scenarios into our culture: global warming, global cooling, global pandemics, global depression, the earth being swallowed up by the sun. You name it, if it is a fear, the devil will use it to direct our trust away from Jesus Christ and to anything and everything else, even good things, even our loved ones, our president and government, science, education, whatever he can use to claim our loyalty and trust. Because even these good things become idols to us when they take our trust away from Jesus Christ. And ultimately, these things cannot assuage our fear. The devil has us right where he wants us when he has pealed our eyes off of Jesus and directed them in another direction.

There is much to fear in this world and in this earthly life, but be not deceived! These things are no match for Jesus! The worst that can happen to your body is that you die, that your soul and body be temporarily rent assunder. But in Jesus Christ you have eternal life. That means that when you die, your soul goes to be with Jesus in heaven to await the resurrection, and your body is temporarily buried under the ground. But on the Last Day, Jesus will raise your body from the grave and reunite it with your soul, and you will live, body and soul, in a new heavens and a new earth. So the worst that can happen to your body, death (and it is bad, by the way… death is always an enemy), is nothing compared with the glory that will be revealed in you in Jesus Christ, particularly when He raises you from the dead. Why are you so afraid? If that is the worst that can happen, and Jesus has dealt with the worst in His own death and in His resurrection, Jesus is certainly able to carry you through every other trial and tribulation.

While the disciples were out on the lake, their boat tossed to and fro by the wind and the waves, Jesus slept peacefully in the stern. He appeared to have no concern for His storm-tossed little flock. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38). Sometimes it appears as though Jesus has no concern for us in our trials, tribulations, and temptations. Sometimes He appears to be sleeping. The truth is, though, that He does care. Of course He cares! He loves you! He wouldn’t have died for you if He didn’t care. Jesus allows us to go through trials, through storms, so that we will be driven to trust in Him alone. He uses these storms to mold us into the shape of the holy cross, to conform us to His own suffering image. He uses these storms to drive us to prayer and to realize that there is nothing within us that can preserve us. He must preserve us. But know this for certain, He has the power to calm every storm. He who calmed the tumultuous Sea of Galilee can do so because He created that Sea. And He created you. He created all that is, visible and invisible. All must submit to His command. He will grant you His peace. “Peace! Be still!” “The Peace of the Lord be with you always.” “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?” (v. 41). It is Jesus Christ, Son of God, the Word made flesh, who has authority over the wind and the waves, the sun and moon and stars, the earth beneath and the sky above, the angels and the demons, all people, and all things. And He loves you. Indeed, if this Jesus, this God, is for us, who can be against us?

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37-39). “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 124:8). “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed” (Ps. 107:28-29). Beloved in the Lord, you don’t have to fear. Trust Jesus. He is faithful. He will not fail you. “Peace! Be still!” The Word of the Lord accomplishes what it says. Just as surely as Jesus spoke and the wind and the waves obeyed Him, so Jesus speaks to you, and you have His Peace. It is the Peace that passes all human understanding. It is the Peace with God that comes as part and parcel of our justification, that God has declared us righteous in Christ Jesus. It is the Peace of sins forgiven and the assurance of eternal life and the resurrection of the dead. It is the Peace of knowing that God is for you in Christ Jesus. Therefore whatever is against you, you need not fear. Be still, and know that you are safe in the nail pierced hands of God. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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