A myHT Fortress

Monday, October 19, 2009

Peace Be To This House: A Homily on Luke 10:1-9

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

“Peace be to this house.” Jesus sends 72 missionaries to go before Him and proclaim that He was coming; “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” Jesus has come near to you! The Peace of God – in the flesh – has come near to you! The heart of their message is the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus has come and restores us, making us right with God and placing us in a renewed peace with our Father in heaven.

These men were ambassadors for Christ, going into the surrounding towns where He was about to go. They were going in His stead and by His command, carrying the peace of God with them – a gift from Jesus, delivered through the mouths of His ministers.

This is the task of the pastor, placing God’s peace on His people. When Christ’s servants speak His peace, it is not merely a prayer. It is not simply wishful thinking. Jesus says: “The one who hears you hears Me” (Luke 10:16.) These men are carrying Christ’s authority. And the Word of the Lord does what it says. So when He bids Christ’s peace, it is given!

God’s peace comes with His help, His healing, and His mercy. Jesus Christ sends the 72 as His voice and hands, bringing His healing presence by speaking His peace and preaching His Gospel to these people. These messengers are acting as Jesus’ first missionaries, beyond the 12 apostles.

Today we celebrate St. Luke, giving thanks to God for the beloved physician who was one of the four evangelists. One tradition says that St. Luke was one of these 72 missionaries. Whether he was or not, our Lord definitely used him to declare His peace, and make known that, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”

Today we also celebrate the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. The LWML has spent decades behind the scenes, doing what they can to assist missionaries like the 72. Coins have been collected, resulting in millions of dollars to fund the travels and supplies for those proclaiming, “Peace be to this house.” “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”

The LWML also knows that not every missionary or mission is far away. We have a harvest field that is ready for laborers right here. A field in which the Lord is welcoming your labor. You see, you have neighbors. You have family. You have co-workers or fellow students. You have a person or family that used to sit in the pew next to you, or in front of you, or behind you. Where are they? Do you know? Have you tried to call them and let them know they are missed?

Ladies, whether you come to their meetings or not, you are a Lutheran Woman in Mission. And gentlemen, just because you are not a member of this group does not excuse you from sharing the invitation to others that they may come and hear the Word of the Lord, receiving this Gift of God. And kids, you can be missionaries too, simply by telling friends that they can come to hear Jesus in church!

You don’t have to be directly called and ordained by Jesus like these 72, or like a modern pastor, in order to extend invitations and show care. The Lord will gladly use you to be His mouthpiece and show compassion to those around you. Sure, it is not your place to preach, or to baptize or consecrate the Lord’s Supper, but it is for you to be a friendly voice of welcome and an encourager for others to gather with us to receive Christ’s Gifts!

We constantly fail at this, however. We neglect to invite others to the Divine Service. We are too self-conscious, shy, or embarrassed to encourage others to receive Jesus in His proclaimed Gospel. And so we fail to support His message: “Peace be to this house.” If we shy away from His Word, we back off from the kingdom of God that was coming near.

When that is the case, we are refusing God’s peace, and maintaining a broken relationship that is at odds with the Lord. How awful that we are rejecting His peace! We are saying, “No!” to Jesus.

Yet Jesus does not give up on us. He continues to reach out and draw us to Himself. He has suffered the pain and death of the cross in order to purchase and win peace for us. In His blessed sacrifice, He made us right with God, and changed us from enemies of our Creator to dear children of our dear Father. What joy that He has pulled us out of our sinful extremes of introversion and exclusion that keep the Gospel to ourselves! Instead, He blesses us to exclaim, “O Lord, open my lips.” And He gives us the words to invite others to come and hear Him and receive the salvation He gives.

He continues to use you, even now. Our Lord smiles upon this parish, as He provides great opportunities to be instruments of His peace. He graciously bestows His favor, as He grants us moments to be His living invitations to all. He blesses us, that we may deliver a witness in our actions, so others may be inclined to come and see and hear the Lord.

And gathered in this place, our Savior brings that peace to you. The peace He won on the cross He now places into your mouths. The Body and Blood that were slaughtered for your pardon are now risen and glorified, and delivered to you to eat and drink for your salvation.

When your pastor holds up the Body and Blood of Christ after the Words of Our Lord, he says, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” Again, this is not wishful thinking. It is not simply a prayer. It is Christ declaring and giving His peace through His called and ordained servant.

The Prince of Peace brings Himself to restore and renew you, making you His beloved child and faithful witness as you invite others and encourage them to come to church, where the kingdom of God near! Our Lord Jesus bids you today to keep coming, as often as you can, to receive Him in His Sacrament, that you may be at peace with God and dwell secure in His kingdom, here in time, and there in eternity.

Dear friends in Christ, peace be to this house. Amen!

No comments: