December 11, 2011
TEXT: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11/1 Thessalonians 5:16-24/John 1:6-8, 19-28
GARMENTS OF SALVATION
Vicar Alex Post

Dear fellow redeemed children of Jesus Christ, who have been clothed with the garments of salvation – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Every single morning, billions of people around the world do the same thing. They wake up, they get out of bed, and they put on clothing. They wouldn’t consider going to work or to school without putting on the proper clothing. This daily ritual of putting on garments can be an excellent reminder to you that in Christ, God clothes you with the garments of salvation.

And who better to preach this message than the strangely clothed John the Baptizer? John was calling people of all ethnicities to the wilderness beyond the Jordan River, in Bethany, over 2,000 years ago, in preparation for the arrival of the Anointed One. This John the Baptizer wore uncomfortable and unexciting clothing, but he was preparing the hearts and minds of all people for a new garment – one that comes from above.

December 11, 2011
TEXT: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11/1 Thessalonians 5:16-24/John 1:6-8, 19-28
GARMENTS OF SALVATION
Vicar Alex Post

Dear fellow redeemed children of Jesus Christ, who have been clothed with the garments of salvation – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Every single morning, billions of people around the world do the same thing. They wake up, they get out of bed, and they put on clothing. They wouldn’t consider going to work or to school without putting on the proper clothing. This daily ritual of putting on garments can be an excellent reminder to you that in Christ, God clothes you with the garments of salvation.

And who better to preach this message than the strangely clothed John the Baptizer? John was calling people of all ethnicities to the wilderness beyond the Jordan River, in Bethany, over 2,000 years ago, in preparation for the arrival of the Anointed One. This John the Baptizer wore uncomfortable and unexciting clothing, but he was preparing the hearts and minds of all people for a new garment – one that comes from above.

John confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” John confessed and acknowledged these things before the leaders of the Jews, the Pharisees, the priests and Levites, who were concerned that John’s message of a pure heart and mind might rival their own legalistic interpretation of the Scriptures. John boldly confessed and did not deny that he was unworthy even to untie the sandal straps of the Coming Anointed One.

When John confessed that he was not Elijah, or the Prophet, or the Christ, the priests and Levites asked, well then, “Who are you?” John could not have made it any clearer: He was not the Anointed One, the Christ. He was not Elijah, and he was not the promised prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15-18). But John was the messenger promised by Malachi (Mal. 3:1), who would prepare the way before the Lord and signal the great and awesome day of the Lord (4:5). John was the voice in the wilderness predicted by Isaiah, preparing the way of the Lord (Is. 40:3).

This question is at the center of our lives. Who are you? Who is the Christ? One professor has proposed these three sentences for an answer: “God is God. You are not. This doesn’t look right.” You see, confessing that God is other, He is beyond, He is greater and above us and perfect in every way, is the first thing of faith.

The second thing is that you are not God, and I am not God. We are sinful, anxious, selfish people who care only about what we will eat and what we will wear and who we will associate with rather than whether we are right with our Creator. You wouldn’t say publicly, “I am the Christ,” but you have silently denied Him when an opportunity arose. You wouldn’t worship yourself, but you would worry about your own schedule and finances instead of confessing your Lord and immersing yourself in His teaching.

And that is the third thing we must confess. “This doesn’t look right.” The people at the time of Jesus knew it didn’t look right, Adam and Eve knew it didn’t look right, and you know that something is not right. It is not right for people to continue with their day-to-day business without confessing their Savior. It is not right for us to remain in our sins.

That is why John came, baptizing in the Jordan River. John washed people with water and told them to repent of their sins in order to prepare for the Coming Anointed One. But the Coming Anointed One was much greater. He Himself was baptized, although He had no sin. Jesus Christ took our place in the Jordan River, clothing His body with all of our sin and anxiety and selfishness, and He carried it all the way to the cross.

John confessed Jesus and was a witness unto death, or a martyr. Jesus Christ was also put to death for confessing the truth. Jesus had no sin to confess, in that sense of the word, but He did confess and preach the truth of God unto the point of death. Unlike John’s death, Jesus’ bloody Baptism (Lk. 12:50) upon the cross means that your sin is taken away, along with the sin of the whole world (Jn. 1:29)! The soldiers divided Jesus’ garments among themselves during the shameful execution, and yet the cross of Jesus means that you and I now receive the garments of salvation.

Jesus’ preaching ministry began with the fulfillment of Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord YAHWEH is upon me, because YAHWEH has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of YAHWEH’S favor…”

Jesus Christ was clothed with power from on high. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit of the Lord YAHWEH. He received the favor of His Father when He was baptized in the Jordan, and He secured favor for you and for me when He was put to death in the Baptism of His crucifixion.

Jesus fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah by giving you a beautiful headdress instead of your sins and ashes! The Anointed One anoints you with the oil of gladness even when you mourn the death of your loved ones! Jesus gives you a garment of praise instead of a faint spirit (Is. 61:1-3)!

This clothing from above is a daily event: morning, noon and evening (Ps. 55:17)! We sing with Isaiah: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Is. 61:10)

This clothing is an act from above, not something that we must do to be right with God. We are like infants who cannot dress themselves. Instead, the infant must be clothed by her parents. Everyone is born of a man and a woman, but God gives us grace upon grace (Jn. 1:16) by the rebirth of water and the Spirit (3:5).

The washing of rebirth from above is shown by white garments. A white garment may be placed upon someone who is baptized to show the purity and washing away of sins that God works through Baptism (Titus 3:4-7). The bride wears a white dress on her wedding day. Christ sanctified His bride, the Church, you and me, by the washing of water with the word (Eph. 5:26).

Baptism is a garment that we wear daily. The washing from above means that our bodies are clothed with the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us (Rm. 8:11, 1 Cor. 3:16). Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19), but be renewed by daily repentance. Baptism is a daily event. Your sinful self is drowned by daily repentance, which is faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your new self is renewed, comforted and clothed by God’s forgiveness: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)

Baptism is something that people can see and hear. You do not wear a nametag with your Baptismal birthday on it, but people can hear your confession. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rm. 10:9) “Jesus is Lord.” This is one of the earliest creeds of the Christian Church (Phil. 2:11). It is a public statement, a confession, and a declaration that “We were therefore buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rm. 6:4)

We confess the creed out loud in unison whenever we come together for worship. Just as it was spoken at our Baptism, so we speak it again during the Divine Service. The creed always has three parts, one for each person of the Holy Trinity, into whose Name we were baptized (Mt. 28:19-20).

This is another prophecy of Isaiah, fulfilled in your Baptism: “The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.” (Is. 62:2) This new name is God’s Name, the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is the Name of the God who washes your sins away with water and His Word so that you can stand before Him with everyone else whose robes have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:9-14).

We lit the pink candle today for the 3rd Sunday of Advent. The pink candle symbolizes joy. The joy of Advent, the joy of the coming of your Savior, Jesus Christ, is yours by the wonderful washing of water and God’s Word that you have received. He has clothed you with the garments of salvation and covered you with the robe of righteousness. Rejoice!

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (1 Thess. 5:23-24, 28) Amen.

THE PRAYERS
Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.
For all the baptized, that they may greatly rejoice in the gifts God has given them through the sacred washing of water and the Spirit, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For all servants of the church for pastors and missionaries, for deaconess and teachers, especially among us for Vicar and Bessie and Rachel and Martha and those with POBLO and for all who volunteer their services here in so many ways, that God would grant His favor in their vocations and grant them energy and zeal to fulfill their responsibilities, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For this congregation, its mission and its people; for the ability to meet the needs that arise as we do the work God has given us to do; and for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For those who mourn the death of loved ones, especially the family and friends of Marlowe and Adeline, that the Lord would comfort them with His victory over death and with the assurance that their loved ones have departed in the faith and join the whole company of heaven in singing praises to the living Lamb, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For those seeking employment and for those seeking to employ that God would grant relief bringing meaningful employment and just reward for work rendered, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the hungry and homeless, that God would provide shelter and sustenance for them. For wisdom in mercy that those in genuine need be assisted and those who show disdain for work not be enabled in dependence. For ourselves that God would use us and that by which he has prospered us to further merciful care and Gospel proclamation, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For those sick and suffering in any way especially Helen and Krisi and Rofael and Zane that in the midst of their treatment or personal struggles God would give them patient trust in His healing hand and loving care, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

In petition for the students as they finish their term of study - for good energy in preparing for exams and final projects, for safety as they travel to families and homes, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

In thanksgiving for God’s good gifts of daily bread – for our families –our freedoms – our vocations – our friends –  for this season of anticipation and waiting and for times of rest and refreshment – especially for the gift of healing from surgery for Wendy and Hannah and Janet – and especially for baby daughter Clara born to the Olson’s and for her washing of rebirth, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For anticipation of Christ’s return with glad and sincere hearts; for hope in the resurrection of the body that is sure and certain, for joyful attention to the things of God in the passing world, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

Into Your hands, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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