Trinity XV
2016
September 4, 2016
Rev. Jon C. Olson


Today… this day, Jesus directs our attention away from election issues of emails and walls, job insecurities, even worrying about what the man will be like who will fill the office of pastor here at Luther Memorial in a couple of years from now, to fix our gaze upon the birds of air and the lilies of the field. 


Look at how the birds, who don’t sow, reap, or work; they don’t store up stuff in barns or houses, but yet the Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they?


Of course you are. But, not in the way your sinful flesh thinks. You and I and the world tend to think that there is something valuable inside of us – whether it be what we do, how we feel, what we say, or even the status of our reputation before others—this is how we think God will measure our value. 


We are naturally inclined to find our certainty before God based upon how things look around us. When things are going well, we think that that shows that God loves us. Someone has something go well and we think, “God must love them.”  When things are going poorly…well, God must have thought they had it coming. God does not work through good and bad karma. 


Every human being at some point or another wonders to themselves, does God actually care for just little old me?  And if you look for evidence of God’s love by measuring up all the positive experiences in my life, the best you can expect is a mixed result. And so we think to ourselves, “If He is caring for me, He certainly sometimes doesn’t seem to be caring for me in the way I think I want to be cared for!”

 

It is dangerous to base God’s care for us on how we think it ought to be. In fact, it is this very kind of thinking that leads directly to idol worship. It is a very risky thing when faith focuses solely on our life’s circumstances – our job, our family, our money, our house, and the stuff we have as proof of God’s love for us. Our happiness, certainty and even our identity is then determined by what material stuff – what the KJV Bible calls mammon - is around us. 

 

Trinity XV 
2016
September 4, 2016
Rev. Jon C. Olson


Today… this day, Jesus directs our attention away from election issues of emails and walls, job insecurities, even worrying about what the man will be like who will fill the office of pastor here at Luther Memorial in a couple of years from now, to fix our gaze upon the birds of air and the lilies of the field. 


Look at how the birds, who don’t sow, reap, or work; they don’t store up stuff in barns or houses, but yet the Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they?


Of course you are. But, not in the way your sinful flesh thinks. You and I and the world tend to think that there is something valuable inside of us – whether it be what we do, how we feel, what we say, or even the status of our reputation before others—this is how we think God will measure our value. 


We are naturally inclined to find our certainty before God based upon how things look around us. When things are going well, we think that that shows that God loves us. Someone has something go well and we think, “God must love them.”  When things are going poorly…well, God must have thought they had it coming. God does not work through good and bad karma. 


Every human being at some point or another wonders to themselves, does God actually care for just little old me?  And if you look for evidence of God’s love by measuring up all the positive experiences in my life, the best you can expect is a mixed result. And so we think to ourselves, “If He is caring for me, He certainly sometimes doesn’t seem to be caring for me in the way I think I want to be cared for!”


It is dangerous to base God’s care for us on how we think it ought to be. In fact, it is this very kind of thinking that leads directly to idol worship. It is a very risky thing when faith focuses solely on our life’s circumstances – our job, our family, our money, our house, and the stuff we have as proof of God’s love for us. Our happiness, certainty and even our identity is then determined by what material stuff – what the KJV Bible calls mammon - is around us. 


This is simple idolatry. We look to the materialistic answers our certainty of God’s love. Lots of money; good day. Not enough to pay the bills; well, then we can become uncertain about whether or not God loves us. 


Worry stems from forgetting or rejecting that God has given us all that we have – even heaven itself in Christ. Sadly, we doubt that God’s nature is to give and give and give, just like He did to the widow in our Old Testament lesson. The flour in the bin and joy of oil just kept giving forth more gifts. Sadly, those beautiful words we all learned in Catechism Class—“He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life”--become just a bunch of throw away words, meant to be memorized, not believed and lived by.


Yet, the amazing and wonderful thing is that that is precisely the way that God treats us in Christ Jesus – an eternal fountain that just gushes forth more and more gifts to us! And the Father would have us receive them – good and even the bad – as gifts from His hand. Not just good as a thing in and of itself, but good gifts and even what we think are not good gifts. All remain gifts from the Lord.


Beloved in the Lord, even if you have lost everything in this life, in Christ Jesus you are a child of God, heaven is yours. No matter what else seems true about you; right now, today, this very moment, the kingdom of God belongs to you.


Don’t worry. Don’t agonize. Don’t fear. Don’t worry about what you will eat. Don’t fret about what you will drink. Don’t be concerned about you wear. Don’t be anxious about the future. 


Jesus knows your anxieties. When your eyes are lifted toward the heavens wondering what bad thing might happen next, God directs your attention to His gifts – down to earth and every day common things – look at the birds of the air… consider the lilies of the field.


In the cross of Christ, God the Father loves you that much. Don’t worry, the Father loves you. Don’t be afraid, He has not and will not abandon you. Don’t be troubled or nervous, for the Son of God has taken upon Himself all sin that you have ever done and He died in your place. 


Consider the lilies of the field, they neither toil (work) nor reap (harvest), but Solomon in all his glory isn’t dressed up like one of these. If God the Father so clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the oven, how much more will he tend to you?


Faith believes that Jesus has already tended to you in the past by His blood shed for your sins and His glorious resurrection for your justification. Faith also believes that God continues into the present through a daily remembrance of your Holy Baptism, in receiving His Absolution and the Lord’s Supper. It is no accident that Jesus tells Peter to tend and feed His sheep. You are God’s flock of sheep. The shepherd does not only say think back to the day Jesus died and rose again, He also feeds His sheep with the very Word made flesh. 


No storm occurs, no earthquake, no recession, no sickness, no loss for your favorite football team, no unemployment, happens apart from Your Heavenly Father’s caring for you in Christ Jesus. 


Nothing happens to you apart from your baptism – that is apart from the Father giving up His Son for you. Nothing happens to the grass of the field either apart from God - which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven. 


Jesus experienced this all too – for you and for all. What you have suffered, He suffered more. The pain you feel, He felt all of it and then some. He has taken upon Himself all your bad and your good – your suffering, your pain, even your death—and taken it away, burying it in the tomb where it died with Him.


The absolute worst thing that could happen to you – death – has already happen to you in the waters of your baptism. He drowned you – under the Word and the water. A happy flood which washes over you giving you eternal life! 


The Son of God clothed you with His righteousness in Holy Baptism and gave you new life in Him. You have been raised to newness of life. He will raise you on the Last Day, AND He has raised you even now, today, right this very moment.


And in that raising, there simply is no reason left for you to live in worry anxiousness anymore; for Christ has died for you. No more anxiety because all things are yours in Him. No more fear for the Son of God took on your flesh and died in your place.


Nothing will happen at Luther Memorial Chapel apart from the care of her Heavenly Father, who loved her in the giving up His Son. Nothing will happen to Luther Memorial Chapel that can undo the eternal life that is freely given to those who gather and hear the Word of Christ in this place. Nothing will prevail, not even the gates of hell, against Christ’s Church.


Beloved in the Lord, the strangest thing happens when a Christian congregation celebrates an anniversary—they talk less about themselves and all the plans they have, and instead, they focus on what got them to this point, namely the preaching of Christ crucified for sinners. As you move into the future and look ahead to the next few years, there is much that will change. Members age, children grow up, young and old alike die, pastors grow old, young men and women are blessed to marry and be given beautiful children…but our Lord tells us to not focus so much on these things. He says, Look at the birds of the air. Consider the lilies of the field. Look at how much I care for them, providing all they need.


Oh, how much more does He love you, yes, even little old you. He tends to you individually more than the grass of the field and the birds of the air. He tends with the Word of His Cross, and His holy Body and Blood all the days of your life. In Him, all things truly are yours. May the Lord continue to shower His blessings upon you for another 100 years as the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.


Let us pray: Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a