Sermon for Cantate Sunday

Here is yesterday’s sermon, for those who could not attend church in person.

Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will “Take what is mine and declare it to you.” And adds “All that the Father has is mine.” So the Holy Spirit will take what is the Father’s, and he will declare those things.

The work of the Spirit is not tied up in a lot of miraculous earthly signs – there are some. But generally the work of the Spirit is tied to teaching, to the word of Jesus – which is really the Word of the Father. The work of the Spirit is to bring us into the life of our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, by the Word given in His Holy Church. Not as some sort of earthly victory with earthly rewards, but with eyes beyond this world and into the next. We want to see results now. But the work of the Spirit is tied to patient instruction, to fruit that will be harvested later. The church is not for the impatient. We may not even get to see the results of our work. It’s one thing to plant and think “It will be months or a couple of years before I see fruit and a harvest.” It’s quite another to plant and say “I will not see fruit for decades or perhaps generations, and I may not even see it in this world. But it is fruit that will last, fruit that is worth the time and effort put into it. “That is the church. We measure time not in years or even generations. We don’t even measure time. Oh, the statistical reports are due each year – how many baptisms, how many confirmations, how many transfers, how many funerals. But those numbers are a time slice of the whole picture. Like a pulling a single thread from a giant tapestry. Oh, this thread is red, or yellow. But it gives no indication of what the image is on that tapestry. You just can’t see enough. You need a wider view. For the church, we need to step back beyond just this year, just this decade, or even century. We need to step back from just this congregation, just our district, or synod. The entire scope of history from the beginning of time is the history of God saving His people. The entire scope of all human activity is God coming to earth to save sinners. Even today. We are looking at eternal truths – things that can not be changed. That are hard-wired into the nature of the universe by its creator.

There’s been a lot of talk about science lately. We will be guided by Science. We will look to the scientific experts. But science is just one way of examining the creation. It looks at how things work. Nothing more. It can offer us nothing about the meaning of those things. Science can tell nothing about why we are here. To understand that, we must look to the creator – he must instruct us. And he has: He gives us his Holy Word so that we might hear and understand why in love he created us as male and female, how he placed us into families, and how those families are built into communities, how it is that we are called out of this world and away from earthly things to worship the creator, the one who made us, to give him praise and honor for his mighty deeds – not only in creating, but in redeeming us from our sins, and in calling us to be his own holy people.

Having been called out of the world and the vain pursuits of this age, we are now freed to show love to our neighbor, and give praise to God as his dearly beloved children. This is proclaimed by the Spirit in the church, and it is revealed to us through the preaching of the Word when the Spirit breaks through our dead hearts of stone and gives to us living hearts of flesh.

The way of the world is the way of unbelief. Rejection of all that God has said to us. And as people born into this world according to the flesh, as sinners descended from our first parents, unbelief is also our default position. We reject all that our Father speaks to us through his Holy Word, and through His Church. The world seeks riches and power and influence and pleasures. The world can not see beyond the world. Having been called out of the world, we seek eternal things: The kingdom of God and his righteousness. God promises to take care of the worldly things. We need not worry about them. We work at our jobs and raise our families in this world – and we do it in the fear and admonition of the Lord. But we do not worry about things that pass away. And this world is passing away.

Jesus says so. He tells us that the Spirit will convict – judge – the world. The world will be judged for its unbelief, and the world will melt away. Everything that we spend so much time building in this world will be gone. All that will be left are eternal things – the word and instruction of our Lord Jesus. The communion of Saints in the church. The Holy Communion which our Lord Jesus gives us in His Holy Supper. These things will endure. Our lives in this world will pass away. These bodies will decay and disappear. But in Christ Jesus, they will be raised. That is the eternal thing – the bodies of the saints – which will decay according to the pattern of this world, but which will be raised by the glory of Jesus Christ, given new life in his life, and given eternity in his resurrection.

The world is judged because it rejects the forgiveness life and salvation which our Lord Jesus gives in His Holy Supper. And our sinful flesh is tempted every day to say “I don’t need to eat of that food that remains to eternal life. I am fine on my own without it. I don’t need Jesus today.” Because That is what we are given in the holy supper. Jesus himself. The Spirit gives us eyes to see this, hearts to receive the truth. To look beyond the things of this world, the things that pass away, and to look to what our Lord Jesus promises to all those who believe in His name.

The world will be judged and pass away because Jesus has been raised from the dead – he paid the penalty for sin, and so those who reject his word are still in their sins. They are still living in death right now, heading for eternal death. That is why we pray that the Spirit would convert all who are still in their sin, who live their lives in the way of death. We pray they would repent and turn away from their sin and turn to the Lord. The ruler of this world – Satan has already been judged. He has been cast out of heaven, and now he prowls about like a ravening lion, seeking whom he will devour. But his reign is ended. The cross marked the undoing of what he did in the garden of Eden. He was overcome by the cross of Jesus, those of us called out of this world, have been called out of Satan’s realm of power. We are no longer his. We belong the Father who created us.

The Holy Spirit is not idle in the church. Even in these dark days when it seems the whole world abandons the church of Christ and does not seek heavenly things. Even now, the Spirit continues his work of converting those who do hear and receive. He makes willing hearts out of unwilling ones. Breaking through the heart of stone and giving hearts of flesh to all those who believe. And we who were dead in our sins have been made alive in Christ Jesus.

That is why we do not need to worry about what the world is up to. We don’t need to worry about trivial things like sickness or disease or death, or wealth or power. All of that ends for us when we are taken out of this world. Then the sickness is taken away. Through death we are joined to Jesus Christ and the life he earned on the cross. A life that can not be taken away. When we die we leave behind the things of this world – the sin that so easily entangles, and we are given the crown of life.

That is what the Spirit gives to us as we hear and learn the Word of God. As we rejoice in the gifts which are given here in the church. That is why we train up our children, and bring them to the holy altar of God to take eat and take drink as he has promised.

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