15 Pentecost Sermon 2019

Grace and peace to you…

Our text this morning is Psalm 143, verses 7&8: “Do not hide Your face from me, or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You.” This is God’s Word.

Where should a person look for God? How can a person find God? 

Our search for God will be successful only if we look for God where He has promised to be. God has promised to be in His Word, God has promised to be in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, and God has promised to be present in the water of Holy Baptism. Clearly God is here with us this morning in many and powerful ways.

As Lutherans, we have a clear and concise theology on the ‘Presence of God’ thanks to a young monk named Martin Luther. He asked the same questions we asked this morning: ”Where should I look for God?” and, “How can I find a loving God?”

These questions drove the young Martin Luther as he searched for a ‘loving God.’ He looked for God everywhere he knew to look, yet God remained elusive. 

All that remained was for Luther to flee to the monastery and clothe himself in the holiness of a monk’s perfection. Yet even there, a ‘loving God’ seemed unattainable. Luther desperately wanted to be accepted by God as a worthy servant, but he could not escape from the Law and his own conscience.

How did Luther finally find peace? Where did Luther finally find God? He didn’t, God found Him. God confronted Luther, not by lifting him up to the heights, but by taking him into the depths. God allowed Luther to fear that he was forsaken and condemned by God, so that Luther would experience a greater and more perfect grace from God. That made Luther a truly Christ-formed man.

Luther tried his best to grow in his own righteousness. He performed all of his spiritual exercises and duties faithfully, returning to the law again and again to measure his progress. But the law had no praise or reward for him. Instead, the law criticized, accused, and condemned him. Luther finally concluded, “The law brings the wrath of God upon everything that is not in Christ.”

The something totally unexpected happened – God found Luther. There, in the muck and mire of human failure, God found Luther. He had been there all the time. Luther had sought God in all the places sinful human beings think God should be.  But God was found where He said He would be all along: in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, in the water of Holy Baptism, and in His Word.

God came to Luther, seized him by his lapels, and shook him until all of his thoughts of self-worth and self-justification fell to the ground. There Luther realized what God was really like: God is the essence of love out-poured, bearing other’s burdens, full of life as He gives life to others. Christ became the victim of all of the evil that has ever afflicted us, so that He might triumph over all of that evil and lead us to ultimate and eternal victory. 

Luther rejoiced that God had sent His own Son to defeat sin, death, and the devil. Christ liberated us by slaying sin and death for us.  And He continues to love and care for us every hour of every day. “The blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.”

Because of God’s amazing love for us, we are now free to reach-out to the people in our lives. From His manger in Bethlehem and from His cross and empty tomb, Christ will meet you where you are in this sinful, fallen world. He will come to take your burden and problems upon Himself, and share with you His forgiveness, mercy, and love. 

With Luther, we rejoice that God has indeed found us. Our loving and merciful God came to us and made us His own forgiven and redeemed people, and filled with life. Thanks be to God! Amen!