Friday, August 21, 2009

Sermon for 16 August 2009, Proper 15B

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
Ephesians 5:6-21
Filled with the Spirit
Proper [15] B, Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, 16 August 2009
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

To the saints who are… faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1b-2) Amen.

The theology of worship is rather simple to understand.
Nagel: Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. Music is drawn into this thankfulness and praise, enlarging and elevating the adoration of our gracious giver God.
Saying back to Him what he has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure. Most true and sure is His name, which he put upon us with the water of our Baptism. We are His. This we acknowledge at the beginning of the Divine Service. Where His name is, there is He. Before Him we acknowledge that we are sinners, and we plead for forgiveness. His forgiveness is given us, and we, freed and forgiven, acclaim Him as our great and gracious God as we apply to ourselves the words He has used to make Himself known to us.
The rhythm of our worship is from Him to us, and then from us back to Him. He gives His gifts, and together we receive and extol them. We build one another up as we speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Our Lord gives us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink. Finally His blessing moves us out into our calling, where His gifts have their fruition.
How best to do this we may learn from His Word and from the way His Word has prompted His worship throughout the centuries. We are heirs of an astonishingly rich tradition. Each generation receives from those who went before and, in making that tradition of the Divine Service its own, adds what best may serve in its own day—the living heritage and something new. (LW, p. 6)

God’s Words are His Words of Service to us. The Holy Spirit works with the Word of God to create, sustain, and nourish faith within us. The Spirit fills us through the Holy Bible. God’s Words are living, active, holy, and true. They prepare us to walk as children of the light. We therefore know for sure what is most true and sure, a good preparation for what St. Paul has in store for you in Ephesians chapter 5: 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not associate with them; 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Darkness. Secret. Dead. In contrast, God’s Word is a word that says: Light. Visible. Awake! Christ shines on us in His holy Word. He forgives you your past sins, calls you to walk in the Holy Spirit now, and promises the eternal light of heaven in the world to come. A Christian has been given to walk carefully. St. Paul warns us of this for our own good because of the fallen world we live in.

15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…
What Paul has just said is said alongside 1 Tim. 5:23. (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) Paul’s teaching in 1 Timothy and here in Ephesians provide bookends for any discussion of alcohol. One could state them both another way: everything in moderation. A little wine, beer, or other alcohol may be helpful—even healthy. For others, even a little is too much. Drinking too much for anyone means that the health risks soon outweigh any potential benefits. We are also careful to avoid harmful substances, like illegal drugs, and never misuse legal substances or prescription medications. St. Paul and your Lord have in mind to protect you from hurt or harm and to help and support you in every physical need. We care for our bodies because as Christians, they are temples of the Holy Spirit.

15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
God’s Word—our sermon text this morning—speaks specifically of how you and I may be filled with the Spirit: Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. That’s the sound of Sunday morning and midweek services, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, the Church Picnic, and gives more than enough motivation for each home—each Christian—to have a copy of a good Lutheran hymnal at home!

LCMS CoW: “Our Lord is the Lord who serves. Jesus Christ came into the flesh not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. On the cross He offered Himself as a spotless sacrifice for the sin of the whole world. Through His perfect life and death, He accomplished forgiveness and salvation for all before the Father in heaven. By His empty tomb and ascension into heaven, He declared His victory over sin and death to all the world. Seated now at the Father’s right hand, He graciously gives His Church with the gifts of salvation. On the Last Day, He will come again to gather His elect from every nation to celebrate the feast that will have no end.
“Our Lord serves us today through His holy Word and Sacraments. Through these means, He comes among us to deliver His forgiveness and salvation, freeing us from our sins and strengthening us for service to one another and to the world. At Holy Baptism, He puts His name upon us, pours His Holy Spirit into our hearts, and rescues us from sin, death, and the devil. Through Holy Absolution, He pronounces His forgiveness again and again. With His Holy Word, written in Scripture and preached into our ears, He daily proclaims His abiding love for us through all the joys and sorrows of life in this world. In His Holy Supper, He gives us His own body and blood to eat and to drink as a priceless gift to nourish and strengthen us in both body and soul.
“The Lord’s service calls forth our service—in sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to Him and in loving service to one another. Having been called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, we receive His gifts with thankfulness and praise. With psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, we joyfully confess all that God has done for us, declaring the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Our song joins with the song of every saint from every age, the new song of Christ’s holy people, declaring: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. (Rev. 5:12)
“Within the Lutheran tradition, the wedding of the Word of God to melody was modeled by the reformer himself. Martin Luther had a high regard for music and urged the Church to use it wisely as a vehicle for proclaiming the Gospel. ‘Next to theology,’ he wrote, ‘I accord to music the highest place and the greatest honor.’ Retaining the best of pre-Reformation hymnody, as well as adding a great number of new hymns to the Church’s song, Luther and succeeding generations of hymnwriters continue to inspire the faithful to lift their voices in praise and thanksgiving to the triune God…” (LSB, p. viii)

God’s Words are His Words of Service to us. The Holy Spirit works with the Word of God to create, sustain, and nourish faith within us. The Spirit fills us through God’s Word: living, active, holy, and true. The Word of God prepares us to walk as children of the light, no matter our place in life, be it a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, or wife. More on those vocations next week. Amen.

Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Ephesians 6:23) Amen.