“JESUS STANDS AMONGST YOU”
Saint John 1. 19-28
RORATE COELI: 21 December Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
Three weeks ago the Word came: Jesus riding into Jerusalem on an ass. But Christ told you I Am with always unto the end of the age. Your “old Adam” is the ass if you view the triumphal entry as history only. Jesus said I Am in your midst on the beasts of burden—the humble waters in your inexpensive font, and the Body and Blood I shed for you on the Tree, in the likewise inexpensive wine and card-board unleavened wafers of bread.
Two weeks ago the Word came: Jesus predicting the end of the first Jerusalem and also the end of this present age. But He was here in this chancel and nave telling you “The end is nigh but the signs of the new heavens and new earth are for you in forgiveness: I absolve you in the words of the pastor I have placed in My stead.”
Last week the Word came: events of John the Baptist’s incarceration, and his sermon to his last two followers. Inspirational to be sure, but John’s sermon was the pastors sermon: “Christ is here cleansing you lepers, healing you + demon possessed, feeding you hungry, and preaching peace to you who have no peace of yourselves.”
“About” is interesting but ultimately empty. “IS” wipes away tears, binds up wounds, and hugs you with heaven’s God/Man Who is your brother.
Priests and Pharisees wanted to know who John was. What they were really bitching about was where this loser was getting off Baptizing…washing the “good people” and not just the scum of society; washing “babies” and not just those properly instructed in man-made rabbinical minutiae. Nothing has changed. You too don’t think the “good people,” i.e. “you” should have your sins condemned; after all you’re just “telling the truth” “being honest” and sticking up for “this or that” American tradition. And you ask pastors all the time “where in the heck are you getting the idea that you can do this or that?” “Who art thou?” “Who do you think you are… Jesus?” While little children far better understand what a Lutheran priest says when he speaks the page 16 absolution every Mass than adults (“there’s Jesus”) pastors are not Jesus. But all sinners are the pope. All parishioners and pastors are tyrannical little demi-gods strutting around hurting as many people as “old Adam” can get his skeletal hands on. Repent.
I am not ashamed of the Gospel It, He, the Christ, is the power of salvation for He is Savior: The God/Man. I proclaim The Lord Jesus.
Am I John the Baptist? Am I Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist? Am I Elias? No. Am I like them, prophetic and apostolic, as I administer the Office of the Holy Ministry into which Christ has placed me? Yes. For saying yes, and for exercising the Office and administering the sacraments, I, and men just like me, sinful and unclean but also called and ordained, are at times despised by protestant visitors and also long-time “establishmentarian pseudo-Lutherans.” Repent of your old nature’s yearning towards being either.
You are baptized because Jesus did so through a man He sent. Christ crucified is placed in your ears because Jesus speaks through His Word given by His preacher. You eat His Body and drink His Blood administered by His steward of the mysteries. It’s not about your love and honor for John Zebedee or The Baptist himself.
Jesus comes before His prophets and apostles and you. He comes again soon, after all this, to give you everything!
Jesus is here because He loves you and wants you with Him this morning but also every morning. He wants you to hear His voice—this morning in a 60-year old voice of American English with a kind of Kansas patina over a long-lost Minnesota accent.
He knows you are in the wilderness. I am there too. You know it’s not Eden and you languish and yearn for some succor. This heat, hunger, and barren loneliness is a trial indeed. But the Cloud of Christ shades you by day. You are + Baptized. You are in His Word in Scripture, prayer, study, and the daily Offices. The Fiery Pillar of Jesus protects you during your dark nights even while you are surround by demonic lions, jackals, and other beasts from hell—world’s allurements, guilty memories, fleshly and chronic sins of “old Adam.”
“Make straight the way of the Lord.” Repent and believe. You cannot blaze the path to heaven. You cannot walk the walk to paradise. You can’t make the crooked straight, the broken and bowed upright, or plumb the proper course to the harbor of Light. Jesus can. Jesus did. He was made very straight on the straight wood of the tree. In His Body given you have the Way; in His shed Blood you have The Truth and The Life.
Jesus stands amongst you at the Font—your new Name burned and + traced into your regenerated flesh by His Water and Blood. Jesus stands amongst you at this word-house of pulpit—Bread. Jesus will in minutes stand amongst you in Chalice and Host.
These things are done in Beth-Augsburg beyond the Kaw, where Jesus is embracing you.
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost