A myHT Fortress

Monday, July 26, 2010

Teach Us to Pray: A Homily on Luke 11:1-13

Luke 11:1-13

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

Remember us in your kingdom, and teach us to pray. We join the disciples in asking Jesus to teach us to pray, as well.

Sure, we ask Jesus to teach us to pray, but then we have our own ideas. I want this. And I need that. And if He’s really listening, He will give me this item that I keep asking for. It is easy to get sidetracked and end up not praying for the true needs in life, but end up spending our conversation with God like a child on Santa’s lap.

Or maybe you are like Aladdin, carefully plotting out your wishes, to get the most out of Genie. Your Father in heaven has far more infinite cosmic power than that magical cartoon, and He desires what is sure and lasting for you in His kingdom.

You are not stuck with magical wishes to change the present. Instead, you age given answers from God that affect your eternity. He may not give you the answers you desire, or make everything easy, but the pain and suffering you endure in this life are given to you as a gift, with Jesus supporting and keeping and preserving you through it all.

So do you want Jesus to teach you to pray? Or don’t you? Today you hear our Lord Jesus give us His prayer. And what an amazing gift it is!

Fear not! You don’t need to be worried that you are saying the right words or might be forgetting something important. Our Savior hands you the very words and places them into your minds and hearts and mouths, that you may speak them back to the Lord!

The Lord’s Prayer is a most wondrous gift. Jesus Himself gives you the words to pray. So as you are speaking to God, He is speaking to you! Our Lord Jesus takes away all fear and concern that you may be praying selfishly, or incompletely. He has it all covered. He gives you perfect prayer.

Jesus comes to you today and keeps God’s name hallowed. In your own words and actions, you fail to perfectly and constantly keep God’s name holy. But our loving Lord removes that guilt and preserves God’s holy name among you.

Our Savior comes to you and He brings His kingdom with Him. As He showers His Baptism on you, fills your ears with His Word and places His Body and Blood in your mouths, He brings His kingdom.

We also pray about daily bread. Not just the “bread” of our day to day needs. Our Father provides that and much, much more. He has sent Jesus to be the Bread from heaven. The Lord comes in His Holy Supper and brings His Body to you in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. He is the ultimate Bread that feeds you – body and soul – that you may be completely nourished and prepared for life everlasting with Him.

In that gift of Holy Communion, Christ gives you forgiveness, life, and salvation. He forgives you, and leads you to share that forgiveness. It simply flows out of your cleansed and forgiven hearts.

And as His forgiven children, our Father in heaven leads you from temptation. Yes, sinful desires and invitations of iniquity are still around you. But our Father in heaven carries you through them. He delivers you from evil and provides that you are not surrounded and stuck in sin and its temptations.

Like people in other religions, or even the disciples, you may come to Christ with completely wrong ideas about prayer; ideas of arm-twisting and forcing God to do what you want, as if praying is like a magic spell. Or you may even feel funny about the Lord’s Prayer since you feel distracted every single time you pray it.

But our Father reminds you today not to worry, that this prayer is not all about you. It’s all about the Lord. He is the source and the focus of the prayer. He is the Giver of the Words as well as the Receiver!

This weekend we receive new members here at St. John’s. We thank the Lord for the gift of each other as we are gathered by Him and receive His gifts. And now as He hears the words He gives us to pray.

Now He welcomes you to come and receive the Daily Bread that He fills you with. Thanks be to God who gives you the precious gift of the ability to call on “Our Father!” Amen.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Peace Be With You: A Homily on Luke 10:1-20

Luke 10:1-20

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.

“Peace be to this house.” These missionary-pastors have a wondrous task, delivering the restored and renewed relationship with God. As they preach Christ, and declare the coming of His kingdom, sins are forgiven and people are saved!

Is there peace in your house? How about in the house of this nation? No, I am not talking about international relations. We call that peace, but that it simply being good neighbors on this earth. Peace is about that relationship with the Triune God. If that’s the case, does our country really have peace? Even 234 years ago – don’t get carried away with the romanticized notions of our founding fathers – there was more than enough wishy-washy generic-God believing people that were ignoring salvation through Christ. It has simply become more blatant. Our nation needs our prayers for forgiveness and living in true peace.

But have you been buying into it? Do you fall into the trap of “Oh, we all believe in God and will end up in the same place, right?” Yes, Christians have been given faith and life in Christ, but many are outside the Church and ignore the message that “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” Are you slipping into that complacency and joining that mantra? Don’t let the generic God swallow you; stand up for Jesus and be an instrument of His peace.

Is there peace in your house? Or are you one to provoke your children? Or ignore your mother and neglect to show her honor? Are you sometimes even enjoying the fact that your neighbor and you irritate each other?

Christ today tells you through these 72 and all the pastors who have ever followed them: “Stop! Repent of the sinful attitude – the Old Adam – the strife with others and with the Lord!” Stop refusing the peace of Christ.

Jesus comes to you once again. He rescued you from the chaos of the devil and the world at Baptism, where the Holy Spirit washed you into the peace of the Lord. And He keeps you in that peace.

This peace cannot be bought. It has never been earned. It is simply given. Jesus Christ gives His peace which He won on the cross, and now hands out through the preaching of His Gospel and the administering of His Sacraments.

Seven young people and their chaperones will venture to Nashville tomorrow, spending the week hearing and celebrating the Gifts that Jesus has Given. The peace of this morning’s Gospel is a nice summary of these given Gifts.

Dear baptized children of God, “Peace be with you.” I have told you before, this is a wonder and a miracle. It is not some wish or hopeful thought. It is reality! Your ordained pastors for 135 years have been bringing the peace of Christ here, simply by the words they preach. Teachers have spent decades serving the Lord too – teaching the Word of God, they have delivered His peace to His children. And you have spent your lives receiving that peace.

And now that you have received that peace, you can’t help but radiate it. Christ keeps giving His peace, and others see it in your lives, and experience it from your words and actions. As you are filled with His peace, you become peace-in-the-flesh for those around you.

In moments, you will hear and see Christ bringing His peace in and through His Body and Blood. You will hear the absolving words, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” And Jesus will enter you with His Flesh and Blood and once again restore your relationship with the Lord God.

You can celebrate that God’s Word does what it says! And when Jesus declares “Peace be with you,” there are no “if’s, and’s, or but’s” about it; you are receiving His peace. You are made right with God. You are once again restored as His true child.

Rejoice, dear friends in Christ! Jesus comes to you again today in His Gospel and in His Holy Supper, and He tells you, “Peace be with you.” And it is! The absolving peace of Christ is with you. You are forgiven. You are right with God. You have His true peace. Amen.