Rocklin, California

Tag: Series B

Abide (Sermon for August 16, 2015, Proper 15b)

Proper 15b, (August 16, 2015)

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn

(john 6:51-69)

TITLE: “Abide”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter six.

I don’t think we fully appreciate the depths to which our Lord, Jesus Christ, gives us Himself. His love for you is not a passing shower, which comes once in a blue moon, a divine El Nino that we hope will land just right. His love for you isn’t an inconvenience to Him. He isn’t one who only comes to you when things get really, really bad. Nor is His love for you, His participation in your life, just a matter of showing up for the big game, while all the mundane work, the practice and drudgery of everyday life, well, with that you’re left on your own. No, when you eat His flesh and drink His blood, as Jesus Himself says, He abides or remains in you and you abide in Him.

We live in a time and an age all about choice. I choose what to eat and where to live. I choose who to marry and whether to carry my child to life outside the womb. I choose how to look, what to wear, where to go to school. I can choose whether to be black or white, male or female, who or what to love, and I can make myself into anything and anyone I want to. For many, it seems as though I can choose whether to live or die, whether to murder to keep life. Everything is a choice, every decision is mine and mine alone.

The problem, of course, is that it’s all a lie from Satan, who wants nothing more that to get you and me to believe that this so-called freedom he offers means to be free from God and from anyone and anything else. The freedom that Satan would have you believe is nothing more than velvet shackles, a bondage as strong as death itself, that has no more freedom than the narrow walls of a coffin. This freedom means you are separated from life, from the family of God, and you are joined together with death itself. Satan’s goal is to cut you away from God and from the eternal life in Him which is yours by grace alone. Don’t believe him. Repent.

So what does it mean, then, for Jesus to say that He abides in you and you in Him? What it means is this. Jesus Christ, who is the very image of God the Father from eternity, He gives Himself to you completely, utterly, without question and knowing full well the consequences of His action. This is not just a choice that He makes. Far from it. His nature, His very character as God-in-flesh is that He gives Himself wholly to you, that He remains in you and you in Him. You have always been in His mind and heart, from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1). And that love, that enduring loyalty and faithfulness to you, that is what shows you how God our Father really looks at you, His beloved.

Now this has some very real, earthy consequences for you and me today. It means that as you sit in fear of the future, He sits with you. It means that as you fret and worry about how to pay the bills or what to tell your children, He feels that worry as His own. It means that the regret you have of sins past are His, and it means that whatever has come or whatever will come, it means that He is there, not just as an observer, but that He takes your life into Himself, and that there is nothing, nothing you will face that He will shy or run away from.

What’s more, this also means that His indestructible life is now yours. You now have life in you, real, abudant life that will reach its fullness in the resurrection of the body. You have the seed of eternity in you, and that we cannot even know how wonderful and amazing that seed will be as it sprouts and grows up into Him who is our head.

All this is yours by water and Word, preaching and Eucharist. There is no place else to go that can compare to He who is your life and your hope. When Jesus said those words to the Jews and the crowds, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven,” (John 6:51 ESV) there were many that turned away. God cannot give Himself to man like that. Bread and wine, His body and blood? Surely not. God doesn’t work that way. God must be away, apart from us, He is too far above us to come down as real meat and drink indeed.

But He does. He comes now to you, “This is my body, this is my blood,” and in that Word-made-flesh comes life, a life in Him which means a life in each other. Do not be afraid of the past or the future. It is all secure in Him. Jesus asked the disciples if they would leave now that He has said these words. Peter’s response is the confession of the Church to this day, ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”” (John 6:68–69 ESV)

That Holy One of God is yours now. Come, receive Him who is your life. And this life will never end, for the future is secure in Him, and is now secure in you.

Believe it for Jesus' sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

Two Parades into Jerusalem (Advent 1b, 2014)

Advent 1b, (November 30, 2014)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rocklin, California
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
(Mark 11:1–11)

Sermon 11-30-14.mp3

TITLE: “Two Parades Into Jerusalem”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Mark chapter eleven.

Two parades took place that week, the beginning of what we call Holy Week. The first was a parade from the west, where the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, entered into Jerusalem, the conquered city. He came from Caesarea, the center of the Roman government. He had to be present in Jerusalem for this Jewish feast that everyone was talking about. Passover, it was called. Well, he wasn’t there to worship. As the governor, he was also in charge of crowd control. The Jewish people of his day had a tendency to get testy at Roman rule, and they were known to riot if just the right, or wrong circumstances happened. Now Pilate was a soldier, and so he entered into God’s city with all the pomp and bravado that the military could muster. Rows of infantry and cavalry, and Pilate himself on a large stallion, as befit his rank. But there was no cheering to this crowd. Only silence. Pilate was the representative of Caesar, the one known as the “lord of all” and “savior of the world”, and even “a son of the gods”. He was power and control. Pilate was everything about how to world really worked in his day, and in ours.

Now contrast that with another procession, coming in from the east. A preacher and miracle worker was entering into this thronging city. But his entrance could not be more ironic. One rides a stallion, the other an untamed colt of a donkey. One has soldiers and protectors who will guard him with their lives. The other has a group of disciples who half the time don’t seem to get what he’s doing, and when they do actually get it, they try to stop him from doing it! One has the backing of the greatest power on earth, the might of Rome. The other has the backing of the creator of the universe, but that “backing”, so-called, is hard to see at times. The people hate Pilate and seem to love Jesus. But in a few short days, the crowd of worshippers will turn into a riot and call for Jesus’ crucifixion. It seems that hatred run pretty deep in some places.

So where do you fit in this topsy-turvy world? Do you fit with Pilate, with power and authority? Are you ready to riot when things are unfair or unjust? Or are you ready to sit in judgment of those people, safe behind closed doors and gated communities, glad that you don’t have to associate with such people. The fact is that whether we are silent watching Pilate, or releasing our “hosannas” and “save me now” cries to the preacher/miracle worker, in either case, we sons and daughters of Adam and Eve are fickle. We want to have our own way. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do. Not the government. Not any preacher. And least of all God. We want what we want when we want it, and we will not be denied. While there are riots in St. Louis and around the country of one sort, we also saw the riots of Black Friday as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s justice, or stuff, or my team to win, we are more like lost sheep or stubborn mules than we are anyone else. Repent.

What our Lord does in our text today is invite you to another way. The way that He goes is not the way of the world, it is not the way of Pilate. Remember again the words from our Old Testament reading this morning:

“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.” (Isaiah 64:1–3 ESV)

When God comes down, it is not what the world expects. God enters into our world, which is really His world all along. He enters into this world that is so far gone, and His entry is violent. But it is not violent because He is violent. No, it is violent because the enemies of Christ know that their time is short. Christ our Lord has come down to lead us home to be with Him, and the devil, the world, and our own sinful hearts, well they want nothing to do with a king of peace.

And yet He comes. Remember again those words from the hymn:

“Sin’s dreadful doom upon us lies; Grim death looms fierce before our eyes. O come, lead us with mighty hand From exile to our promised land. (LSB 355:6)

And yet He comes. He in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, as a child small and helpless. He comes as a lowly carpenter-turned-preacher. He comes into His city as the king of irony, the Word of God incarnate, riding atop an untamed colt. He comes to die for you and for me. He comes to life again, for you and for me. He comes through simple water, and calls Gabriel (Mitchell) to be His own. He comes to you now, hidden under bread and wine which is His body and blood. And He will come again in glory, to lead us with a mighty hand to our home with Him, a new heavens and a new earth.

And today He calls you by the Gospel. He calls you out of darkness into His light. He calls you to turn away from the love of self, from the false gods of this world. He calls you to live as a child of God, and heir of the kingdom of heaven. He calls you to live as free men and women, free to love your neighbor as yourself, free to sacrifice because He has made the greatest sacrifice. He calls you to all this and more, and it is a great and mighty calling.

Trust in your King to save you, for He will. Follow Him, for He will lead you through death to everlasting life in Him.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.