Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον [Luke 1. 46b]

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Festival of The REFORMATION: Homily

Saint Matthew 11. 12-15
The Festival of the Reformation: 31 October Anno Domini 2013
Father Jay Watson SSP

In The Name + of Jesus

   “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”  Well, how are you going to use that inspired verse penned by blessed Saint Matthew, quoting the God/Man, to attack Pope Francis or any of the Romanists before him? Well, you can if you’re a bigot or ignorant, but, the violent and rebellious treason committed against the Lord and His Anointed, against the “kingdom of heaven,” predates 1517 by a few years it would appear. The violent perpetrators of violence are not Turks and Papists and Jews so much as they are all sinful men. The violence is the violence of YOUR sin. Ever since the Garden, the enemies and adversaries have been Satan, the world, and your sinful flesh.

   But people do need heroes don’t they, men “larger than life” to look up to and to follow. Young boys aspire to be like their Dads and almost everyone has role models and aspirational guides. The sin is of course to break the 1st Commandment by giving to man what belongs only to God: fear, love, and trust above all things!

   Ah, the Festival of The Reformation…what a conundrum this calendar date—becoming a Church date—creates for a follower of the Augustana and the Book of Concord, QUIA (i.e. “because”) they comport to and are faithful expositions of SCRIPTURE—the very Word of God! It’s a narrow line that a good Lutheran must walk to be a Scriptural disciple of the Nazarene. It’s a fine balance of both pride AND a deep appreciation of Dr. Luther’s awareness of sin and the utter falleness of man. These both need to be remembered on 31 October to keep it from becoming mere triumphalism and vain hypocrisy.  Luther was heroic but he was no “plaster saint.” The Reformers who took up his mission and carried his banner were both brave confessors AND fallible and broken men. Martin sinned daily every bit as much as Pope Leo, Cardinal Cajetan, and Tetzel. Repent Ye!

   We also need not be, and indeed must NOT BE, socialist levelers who delight in attacking heroic men and women by slandering every courageous activity and choice of brave conscience. Sinners, your sinful self, naturally follow Satan’s lead and gleefully pull others down into the sewage of sin so as to diminish their own guilty stink! Repent Ye!

   We celebrate the bold testimony of that Augustinian monk who on the Eve of All Saints Day nailed his theological theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church, not because He was “Lutheran” but because he was Evangelical and Catholic, i.e. he was constrained by the Gospel to preach, teach, and confess Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins and justification by Grace through Faith, in Christ alone, to the entire Catholic Church---Jesus’ own Kingdom of Grace in all the world.

   We should remember, honor, commemorate, and even have statues for the faithful Reformers, Confessors, and Martyrs—ESPECIALLY the Martyrs. Honor and recognition needs to be given for Saints: Jan Hus, Patrick Hamilton, William Tyndale, and legions of others from modern times to centuries past; from 16th century reformers to 4th century reformers; from confessors to Disciples and Apostles. But what did they die for? What did they confess with their blood as well as with their words and writings? They died for what they lived for and for WHO lived in them. For that which sustained proto-martyr Saint Stephen, and Saint James Zebedee, also sustains and animates you: Jesus Christ the crucified and risen God in the flesh AND in your flesh.

    What was the very first of Luther’s propositions that he wanted the Church to consider, to take-to-heart, and to be reformed by? Thesis #1 reads: “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite (Repent Ye), willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance. Repent Ye!

   Luther was simply bowing his knee to Christ and His Word. This is what Saint John Baptizer lived, taught, and died for by the power of the same Holy Ghost which he saw descend upon Messiah. Repent and believe is the real and joyous teaching and confession of the Reformation. We are not here to insult Romanists or Reformed; though we do that (I do that) far too often. Christ came not as a roaring Lion (the Lion of Judah) with a sword to kill and wreak vengeance; He came as the silent Lamb with a sinless Body to keep all the Law that you break and to let that sinless Body be tortured and killed on the Tree. Jesus lived and died to atone for all Leo’s sins, yes; but also for all Martin’s.  Repent Ye!

   And though John Baptizer was the greatest of men, he was the greatest of sinful men. He too had his black foul misdeeds, and crimson crimes washed away in the blood of his kinsman by flesh—the same kinsman King who is your brother by adoption + into His Sacred Body and Precious Blood. John’s message was simply the message of Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel. Repent Ye! The message of Law was preached by all the Law and the Prophets; it was confessed by all the Reformers including the greatest of the Old Testament saints Elias. But it wasn’t the Law and the commands that Elias and Saint Moses discussed with your Savior at Transfiguration; it was Jesus’ upcoming Passion and Death at Calvary—the Gospel of forgiveness by Christ’s crucifixion—Paul’s message—Luther’s message—your message of Mercy for Jesus’ sake by faith in Him alone.

   The Lord of Hosts, Jesus is with you. Jesus is here this evening in His absolution and in His Supper—for you and all of your corruption. He reforms you by giving you Himself. His God Blood is the transfusion you need to be reformed and healed of the blood cancer of sin. His God Body is the food you need to vivify and reform your corpse body and make you glorified in the eyes of His Father. His Words of peace spoken into your ears reforms your nature and makes you part of Him. The God of Jacob—Jesus the Christ—is your refuge—A Mighty Fortress indeed!

   You celebrate the Festival of the Reformation not by bashing the false communions of Trent and Geneva, nor by burning to death Muslims and secular opponents; but rather you are reformed by the Righteous Branch Himself.

   Salute Luther; yes of course. Pray for the conversion of the Mohammedans, such is your love as Christians. Confess truth and be willing to die for orthodoxy when needed and required against the erring and heterodox all the while praying for their enlightenment in He Who is the only Light, such is your privilege as heirs of Martin, Athanasius, Paul of Tarsus and Elias of Mount Carmel.

   But this day, be reformed by The Reforming and Merciful God at His Table with His Body and Blood. Repent Ye! Take eat and drink and believe the Good News!

In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost

Saturday, October 26, 2013

22nd Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 23 Propers/Michaelmas Skip): Homily

Saint Matthew 22. 15-22
22nd Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 23 propers/Michaelmas skip)
27 October Anno Domini 2013
Fr. Jay Watson SSP

In The Name + Jesus

   After telling a crowd, including Pharisees, a condemning parable about the fate of all who reject the free gift of God’s Grace, Jesus is instantly enmeshed in this morning’s Gospel narrative.

   “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangles Him in His talk.” And isn’t this what unbelief always does. The best defense in an offense your Mom used to tell you. It’s just what “old Adam” sinful nature does when it’s caught up in (your) foul putrescence of sin—go on the attack! This self-justification runs from Adam blaming Eve, to Eve blaming the serpent, to you blaming everyone else for your own naked shame whenever you catch a glimpse of your own true terrifying tap-root of unrighteousness.

   When a drowning man is approached by a saving life-guard in the open water many times the rescuer is met by resistance, struggle and even attacking blows; all wrought in panic and loss of control. Many (many) times a sinner caught with his/her hand in the “cookie jar” (adultery, gossip, theft, murderous anger, avoidance of God’s Word, etc.) attacks the messenger.

    The Pharisees along with some of Herod’s followers tried to incriminate the Lord. Like the apocryphal lawyer grilling the hapless court witness: “when did you stop beating your wife,” they too sought to catch, “entangle,” Jesus in a no-win type of answer. “Which are you, Nazarene…a traitor to your own people…or a dangerous political revolutionary?”

   Refusing to play by the rules of sin, the truly Righteous One simply speaks more truth. God knows wickedness. Jesus understood the unbelief and malevolence of their hearts. He knows the daily trespasses and severity of your sinful selves. Trying to hide from Jesus with the fig-leaves of your own justification, works, or panic-attacking, is dangerously damning. Repent and believe. He who has ears to hear…

   Today’s Good News is not some arcane numismatic lesson on Roman coinage and the Empire’s monetary policy. God’s words deal directly with and to YOU on God’s own ownership, election, Law, and rescuing salvation—the free gift of faith through His merciful Grace!

   Caesar’s government, His Empire, seized the gold and thus made the rules. With swords, Legions, cavalry and the “might of man” they owned what they could own by force. They either minted the coins or seized other people’s gold. Caesar vainly put his own image on the currency, marking it like a wolf “marks” its own territory. While you write your school-age children’s names in the back of their jackets so if they lose their property they can identify it later on if it’s found; tyrants mark their filthy lucre so when and wherever it is they can seize it.

   This is not right; this is not true, good or beautiful (much less fair) but it is the way of the sinful world, the kingdom of the left. He who has the gold makes the rules. Jesus is almost saying “so what,” what does this Roman/Palestinian/Empire of Tiberius versus “empire” of Caiaphas & Herod have to do with the important questions of sin and Grace?

   All gold, in truth, belongs to The Truth. All coins, plastic, silver, or gold belong to the God of creation who made all minerals, rocks, and the hands and bodies of sinners who covet mammon while eschewing the family of mercy. Whichever temporary “king of the world” has his “mug” etched on the blood money of Satan is moot. “Render unto God the things that are God’s!” Repent and believe.

   God minted all of you in the forge of His own love before eternity. He made you shiny and absolutely perfect, “mint” in your father Adam. After that fateful marrage, despoiling, and discarding of the “fall,” your luster and sheen were not just lost, your value as precious was rotting away to dust, death and damnation. But the Maker would not let his treasure go because you are not inanimate coins but beloved children and tender lambs to a Good Shepherd.

   The Lord put His image onto the original Adam and engraved His superscription of love onto Adam’s soul. Adam even in the fall, even during the time of Noah, Abraham, Moses and the Exodus, the warfare of the Judges and the Kingdom of David and his descendents; even during the exile in Babylon and the long period of the minor prophets, God’s precious golden coins of His chosen predestinate-- still bore His ownership, His mark, His protecting and redeeming Grace.

   In the fullness of time the Lord sent His only begotten Son, born of woman. The Second Person of the Trinity marked Himself with flesh and blood, true humanity save for sin, to restore the shiny salvific worth and preciousness of His treasure. You are the pearl of great price; you are the golden luster in the Father’s tender eyes! Not because you are golden (righteous) in yourselves but because you are marked in His obedient and commandment—fulfilling flesh and super-scribed in His sin-bearing and trespass atoning blood. You are stamped and engraved in and with the + sign-of-the-crucifix. You wear your ancestral family name, crest, and heraldry “coat-of-arms”—the Crucified God/Man!

   When you daily sin much and forget who you really are, Who made you, Who owns you and provides for all your daily needs; when you run from your family identity like a profligate prodigal…the true owner reclaims you by letting His own precious body work patiently and perfectly for 33 years of Law-keeping. Christ the Second and Better Adam restoring mans dignity, salvation-sparkle and beatific beauty. When you grumble, chafe and even attempt to entangle Jesus in your own hypocritical self-deception, He marks you, marks you some more and re-marks you with the very finger of God, the very Word of God, the very breath, death and re-birth of God. He willingly permitted His innocent, pure, and sinless Body to be captured and entangled in rough cords and ropes; entangled in thorns and spikes; entangled by the suffocating sins of your sin, but rendered in love and joy to the Father on your behalf, and in your place.

   He re-births you in the font, and like a ’49er in a cold California stream panned up pure gold, He resurrects you through the thrice-fold watery streams of His Blood and Water as “gold of God,” a restored Eve, the Bride of Christ and Heir of the Father.

   Hear Jesus and believe: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands…I will not forget thee.” [Is. 49. 16a; 15b] Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is your Lord. Jesus has redeemed you, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won you from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that you may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness… In The Name, Mark, and Inscription of Jesus.

In The Name of the Father and of The Son + and of The Holy Ghost

Sunday, October 20, 2013

21st Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 22 Propers/Michaelmas Skip): Homily

Saint Matthew 18. 23-35
Trinity 22 Propers (Michaelmas Skip)
21st Sunday after Trinity: 20 October Anno Domini 2013
Fr. Jay Watson SSP

In The + Name of Jesus

   “If Thou, Lord shouldest mark iniquities.” If He did who would stand? No one would stand but all would fall into a burning lake to be righteously judged for all their perfidy and evil. That should be your fate.

   The Lord is quite clear both in His words to Adam and Eve, and in His words to the Israelites of old and the New Israel (all of you) through the words of His servant Moses. When you are told to love your neighbor as yourself, He means it. When the Lord tells Peter “I say unto you not seven times but seventy times seven” He means it. If repentance is not met with absolution then there is no Gospel, no Christ, no faith, no salvation, and you go to hell.

   But as clear as His words are, the fog of sin and the broken, infected and turned in senses of all of you needs more. So Christ in His mercy tells a story.

   Being saved, Heaven, is the Kingdom in His parable. Being saved, Heaven, is the King in His parable; the Kingdom/King is God—The Lord Himself.

   Like a good and decent earthly King would take an account, so too, The Lord takes account. God will judge and reckon up accounts; He will settle all according to perfect justice and righteousness. The Good will be saved and taken to be with Him in paradise and the evil will go their own way to hell as they desire. The good are good because they trust in the King. Their trust is a gift given them and worked by the Holy Ghost—Grace through faith. The evil are the ones who don’t trust the King.  Those who believe in their benefactor and forgiving God forgive all who have debts with them. The evil unbelieving ones refuse to forgive others because they don’t believe in their own forgiveness.

   The first servant in the parable who owes the King ten thousand talents is the symbol of all men who owe God perfect and total obedience. Augustine is correct in pointing out the numerology typology: the number 10, of the Commandments, is multiplied by the number for the complete period of time, one thousand. This means his debt is infinite and cannot be repaid by anything he could ever do! This is your debt also for breaking both tables of the Law; for daily transgressing all ten of the Commandments every day of your life.

   It is what it is. Reality is real and must be faced. In the day you eat from the tree of life you will die. He who does the Commandments will live; he who breaks the law must pay—must settle up in full.

   Pay, obey and settle the Law thunders to you from Sinai.

   The key, crux, and joy of this Gospel pericope is contained in verse 27: “…the Lord…was moved with compassion and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.”

   The Lord was moved with compassion for Adam and Eve and promised them a Savior Who would come and forgive them their debt, loose them from the prison house of death and the grave (and the Serpent) and bring them to Heaven and its banquet of Life and Light!

   Repent and believe the Word of The Lord. Let the Law’s death sentence (settle up, pay) drive you to your knees in guilt confessed. Believe the remission of your debt by the Love and Grace of your King.

   The servant in the parable was headed for hell since being sold into prison is Christ’s way to show the end of all indebtedness to the King.

   Was the servant’s worship of the King, his plea for patience and entreaty for mercy genuine and sincere, or was it feigned—produced by terror and natural self-preservation? It did not matter to the King. Ones apology and confession of sin are always, ALWAYS to be taken at face value. If you look behind a man’s words of confession to you, you are of the devil.

   Rather we do well to look at the words of the servant when he says: “I will pay all.” This is a tip, a harbinger of what is to come in the conclusion of the parable. For the debt was metaphysically incapable of being paid off by his own efforts or works.

   The servant asked for time but the King gave infinitely more than earthly time. The King knew the servant could not “work off” the account of failure and treason but simply out of mercy forgave the bill and loosed him from guilt and punishment. Grace—pure Grace. The Gospel produces faith and trust. The servant in his own black heart did not truly repent and believe but rather rejected this mercy and the merciful Lord who granted it.

   Where there is forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation. When an apple tree is planted it produces apples: period!

   Forgiveness produces more forgiveness; freedom produces more freedom; and love produces more love.  Be what you are—a forgiven Saint forgiving others. This parable of the King/Kingdom being heaven is true but it’s also equally true for the Church on earth—the Kingdom of Faith, for Christ the Groom and the Church is Bride is now one flesh by Grace through faith.

   Of course you’re going to sin every day. This too needs to be daily repented of. And guess what? The King will go on and daily remit your sins and cancel the debt!!!  But the sins of lust, thievery, lying, cheating, anger, and others, while showing a lack of perfect love for the neighbor are not the sin of automatic apostasy and rejection of The faith (although un-repented of they will lead to death and hell to be sure). But if you refuse to forgive, if you hold grudges and demand vengeful “come-uppance” and “just deserts” for the   malefactors that you refuse to forgive when they come to you and confess their sins…well, that isn’t just a matter of sin it’s an indication that you are falling, or have fallen, from saving faith.


   “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” May it be ever so.

In The Name of The Father and + of The Son and of The Holy Ghost

Saturday, October 12, 2013

20th Sunday after TRINITY (Trinity 21 Propers/Michaelmas Skip): Homily

Saint John 4. 46-54
20th Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 21 propers: Michaelmas skip)
13 October Anno Domini 2013
Fr. J. Watson SSP

In The + Name of Jesus

   The Good News?  Jesus is always coming to Cana of Galilee. The Lord always reaches out to the towns of the Gentiles, to places like Cana and Shawnee of Kansas, to the “old Adam” and struggling Christian. He comes to make water into wine!  The Law of God kills but the Savior saves. He washes with water and brings you into a family that is awash with the joy of wine—not reds and whites but rest, family, and peace! “The whole world is in Thy power, O Lord,” and how does He use that power? The Lord’s divinity is used by taking into It the humanity of a fallen race. The traveling Rabbi took flesh and blood from a sinful mother, a nature of falleness identical to yours, and purified it in His own Godhood by uniting it to the Son in the “personal union” of His incarnation. His Messiahship is to seek and save, not to destroy and show awesome displays of cosmic grandeur. Although to be sure, turning ritual washing water into fine aged wine is pretty awesome.

   Everywhere the Christ went there were sick people; some had diseases of varying hideousness, some were even more ill with unforgiven sin and weighty consciences. Some had loved ones suffering in places and locations where Jesus wasn’t even standing…like Capernaum.

   The only thing worse than having a horrible disease is being the parent of a child who is suffering, and dying—as in the case of “a certain nobleman.”  It is good that the Christ was no Marxist “leveler” or “death panel” p/c bureaucrat, but desired to help with this man of “means” and obvious wealth. For Christ knows that money can’t buy happiness or health. Blessed are the Lazarus’ of the world who know where their true treasure lies—in the Body and Blood of the God/Man and His words of absolution!

    The man wanted his dying son to be healed, to be saved, and the means he sought was simply Jesus’ bodily presence! The Lord’s seemingly impatient and caustic lament “…except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” are not directed so much at the grieving nobleman-father as at the scoffers and critics surrounding the Lord’s larger entourage of Disciples and Galilean followers. And the Lord’s modern day followers know that even with His mightiest signs and wonders—the raising of Lazarus of Bethany from death itself, the hard-hearted Sanhedrin and its false prophets still would not believe! The only sign said the Lord would be the sign of Jonah—His very own precious blood and sinless Body crucified, dead and buried…and on the third day resurrected! “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” [1 Cor. 1.23]

   No, this nobleman wasn’t some modern day smarmy self-centered “spiritually aware” American  pontificating how he can meet “God” in the cathedral of nature and thus doesn’t need to get his lazy-ass and calcified dead heart to the gathering of Saints on the Lord’s day; no—this Capernaumite wanted the Messiah to lay His Hands of healing on his boy! Be where Jesus is. Either one believes and will be, or one does not and will always be able to manufacture bogus and devilish rationalizations. Kyrie Elieson.

   The real miracle of Godly healing, which only God can do, is not that the sick and dying boy recovers, but that the Nobleman father was given the faith to believe in Christ’s Word alone (by Grace alone through Faith alone…in Jesus alone)!

   Faith is not feeling inner warmth, having an auditory sensation, or an emotional tingle of perceived supernatural origin. Faith is trusting the Word of Christ—whether spoken from the lips of Jesus, read from the Words of Jesus as recorded by Saint John Zebedee, or spoken through the mouths of your pastors in Absolution, + Baptism, Verba, or homily.

   Faith holds on tightly to the objective reality of the Present Christ in His active and present Word. “Go thy way, thy son liveth.” “I wash you clean from all sin (I baptize you) in the Name of the + Father and of The Son and of The Holy Ghost.” “I forgive you all your sins…” and “take eat the Body of Christ for you!”

   “And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.”

   That, dear Saints, is the Grace and Peace of the Crucified and Resurrected One! Without seeing a restored son, the nobleman departs on his own walk in the valley of the shadow of death, life’s trials under the cross, BELIEVING in Jesus Who is THE WAY, the Truth and the Life! “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Heb. 1.1]

   Yes, to be sure, the nobleman’s son was healed at the very moment the God/Man’s Word said He was…and thus the nobleman like Martha of Bethany not only confessed The Faith of Christ before “seeing” a result, but also did in fact receive a temporal and physical gift of a restored loved one; but so do you and all believers in He Who is Life-enfleshed. A Christian knows that as great as physical health is that it is eternal life with the Lord that is a “Peace that passeth all understanding.” Your babes resurrected at the font have an infinitely better gift than mere physical health or longevity—they have eternity. Your reception of the Eucharist is better than any successful medical technology or surgical innovation for in The Lord’s Body and Blood you have true immortality of both body and soul. Your Holy + Absolution of sins takes away real sorrow and real hurt that makes tactile discomfort and mere bodily wasting, insignificant in the infinity of Heavenly communion. And you know all this not by intellect or reason but by faith, by the relationship Jesus has created in you by The Holy Ghost working through the WORD.

   You will lose your health. You will lose to death’s temporary separation, loved ones: sons, daughter, mothers, fathers, wives and husbands…but you will walk the path of Jesus’ Words—THE WORD—“Go thy way; thy son liveth” because THE SON of God died for you and rose for you and lives for you—and in you! “And take they our life, goods, fame, child, and wife, let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won; The Kingdom ours remaineth” [TLH # 262.4]

   Listen now, and hear, receive, hold on tightly to Life—to Jesus Who is right here, present: “Thy son liveth,” you live; come forward and receive forgiveness and peace; for today is another Miracle that Jesus does when He comes out of, not Judea or Galilee, but out of His Word to you.

In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost

Saturday, October 5, 2013

19th Sunday after TRINITY (Trinity 20 Propers/Michaelmas Skip): Homily

Saint Matthew 22.1-14
19th Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 20 Propers/Michaelmas skip)
6 October Anno Domini 2013
Fr. Jay Watson SSP

In The + Name of Jesus

   Heaven is communion and family. Being saved for eternity is a family thing—a being loved and cherished and provided for thing!

   Heaven is a marriage, an intimacy and oneness.

   God is a loving Father (“our Father Who art in heaven” the Christ tells you) Who desires love for His Son and love for His Son’s spotless bride (Ephesians 5.27).  The special relationship between Christ and His Church is on display in this morning’s Gospel parable.

   The wedding and union between you and Jesus, between believers and the object of their belief, is so joyous and satisfying that it calls for a feast—a wedding banquet. It is an arranged marriage for true love is not spontaneous or emotional. Love is, as noted by C.S. Lewis, the ancients, and most especially the Word of the Lord, a commitment, a sacrifice, a giving and bestowing choice & doing of the lover upon the beloved. Rather than being a risqué bit of R-rated poetry, the Song of Solomon is a love letter from the Son of God to the Virgin Bride assembled this morning by the best-man, the Holy Spirit!

   Yes you are the Bride…but you are also all together, collectively, the guests as well. And the only guests at this lavish ceremony (hence the rubrics and the customs and reverence) are the specially INVITED guests!  Only those pre-approved and sent invitations may enter the nuptial hall—NO gate crashers and no sneak-thief interlopers.

   And who is invited? “Many” are invited, but “what does this mean?” Many is a lot, a whole-lot, but it’s a number known only to God, for God’s family has been known IN-LOVE, in the heart of the Blessed Trinity, from before the creation of the world or the establishment of time and place. Let us leave the unfathomable gracious goodness and ineffable mysteries of the Doctrine of Election to another time, and simply rejoice in the Word: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”    Now “that” is a wedding invitation engraved not on rich paper with expensive ink, but upon Immaculate Kingly Flesh in Innocent and Sacred Blood.

   All earthly matrimonial “shin-digs” pale in comparison to this regal sit-down affair. This is no pot-luck, cafeteria, or drive-through lane…no grazing, no eating on the “run.” This is a catered and sumptuous banquet: “my oxen and fatted cattle are killed.”

   As God fed Adam, as God fed Abraham, and especially as God fed the Children of Israel for 40 years in the desert—God provides! “The eyes of all wait upon Thee, O Lord, and Thou givest them their meat in due season.” [Ps. 145.15]  Oxen are beasts of burden.  But it is The Son, Christ Jesus, Who is the true and holy Ox “for you!” Jesus did the work of tilling, cultivating, plowing, and ultimately planting His own body in the ground. He was the Ox killed and laid out on the stone altar of the Law, like Elisha laid out his sacrificial oxen; like Aaron and his sons received every Ox at the entrance of the Tabernacle to be slain. For only in blood is life; only in the Sacrifice is there admittance to the holy of holies. Only by the red marks painted on the doorposts and lintels of + your bodies is their entrance into this safe-house of mirth and mercy and pass-over!

    This wedding, this feast, this food—This Host, is all about love and togetherness: family and peace. Man was not meant to be alone, hence Eve.  Man and woman were not meant to be alone hence “be fruitful and multiply.” The rugged, individual, and solitary anti-hero might work in an Eastwood movie, but in matters eternal, bespeaks only Satan and hell. Man as God created him seeks company, community, communion and the love feast of Marriage. You are not Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe or Matheson’s I Am Legend you are brother and sister of Christ and all of His Saints; you are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” [Heb. 12.1]                 

   Paganism scoffs at this communal clan of Christ. Unbelief, and yes “Old-Adam” natures, make light of the free invitation & delivery of Grace; of the Scandal of Particularity and monergism: “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” [Jn.14.6]   Sin eschews the norms and structures and life-long covenants of marriage and mercy, and goes its own way: Eve’s way, Your way, My way…all the way to the “farm[s] of self and mammon; all the way to the “business[es] of self-righteous disciplines, schemes, programs, and works. And heaven knows (yes It does) that the King’s servants are spitefully treated and killed. Just this week the called & ordained Servant of the Word at Grace Lutheran Church, Larned, Kansas, was wrongly and maliciously thrown out of His call. And other pastors are judged without mercy by self-righteous parishioners who always want the benefit of the doubt and the 8th commandment’s protections for themselves but are unwilling to put the best construction on their own Shepherd’s humanity.

   The King demands settlement and accountability.

As Caesar, a mere trifling, passing, temporary “king” burned apostate Jerusalem to the ground (following in Nebuchadnezzar’s stead) so too the real King, the Holy Trinity, will at the Eschaton send all rejecting non-believers who have purposely walked away and absented themselves from the Wedding Hall into the burning perdition of hell’s destruction. Man’s city will be burned—but NOT YOU!

   Hear the Good News!  Christ the King’s Son, your Groom; Christ the King Enfleshed, was burned in God’s righteous anger and just wrath against sin—your sin—on the Holy Cross of Calvary, in your place and on your behalf.  The Ox, nay, The Paschal Lamb was roasted for you and the meal is ready to be consumed through faith and through the mouth! The wedding banquet is served, the Table awaits, the Groom eager to serve now and in eternity!

   The Jews were not willing; as many, many others are not willing. But His servants have gathered you; plucked you from the highways of the world; young, old, black, white, smart, dim, patient, anxious, SINNERS one-and-all, but hungry for Christ and trusting in Christ!

   You no longer trundle off into the wilderness of Sinai or sin for you are not Cain bearing the mark of death. You are ushered into the hall and to the head-table because you bear the mark of Abel, of Abel the shepherd’s Good Shepherd…not Abel’s blood crying to the heavens for justice, but Christ’s Blood gushing upon you washing you clean; poured into your throats making you Holy and immortal. Your invitation by RIGHT—the Righteous One’s rightness credited to you by faith—is your Baptismal + garment of being washed in Jesus’ Blood and water. Since this is a family meal only those with the robe of Jesus, with the family + crest and the family + seal are admitted.

   You are gently covered in His robe by His hands. He was bound hand and foot for you during His interrogation and torture. He was bound nail and spike to the wood of the cross so that you would swim free and breath peace in the wood of His font and the wood of His Church’s Nave; and that this day you would again eat from the wood of His altar the fruit of the wood of the Crucifix.

   You are chosen---

In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost