Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sermon for 03 July 2011, Proper 09A

The Rev. Paul J Cain
Matthew 11:25–30
I Will Give You Rest
Proper [9] (A), 03 July 2011
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It had been a long journey. Frustrating, too. They were exhausted both mentally and physically. They gave it their all. And they were spiritually weary as well. We can identify with disciples like these. We do not regularly face the rigors of a missionary journey, one Jesus sent them on in Matthew 10, but we are certainly weary of health problems, money concerns, family conflict, work frustration, and the problems of the world. Life in a sinful world has prepared you well to need and hear what Jesus gives today: “I will give you rest.”

25At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
One of the great blessings of the sermon texts for the next several weeks is their simplicity. (They would be hard to mess up.) While many topics in Scripture may be complex and complicated, the basic message of the whole Bible is easy to understand, though hard for some to accept. We don’t seek out divine knowledge. God reveals it to us. We don’t work for it and we could never deserve it or earn it. It is given as gift. All are welcome, young and old, male and female, Jew and non-Jew. Language, ethnicity, and national origin do not matter. Jesus calls you to repentance and faith. It’s not about brains. It’s about faith, another gift of God given you by the Holy Spirit.

 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Verse 27 is almost a review of last week. Seventy percent of Americans agreed with the statement that people who hold to a religion other than theirs can find salvation. Seventy percent say that Jesus is wrong, that there is a way of salvation other than Jesus Christ, He who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and The Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” Peter proclaimed that there was “no other name under heaven” other than Jesus “given to men by which we must be saved.” What’s popular is not always right. What’s right is not always popular. I’d rather be in the minority and with Jesus—only 1 out of 4 Americans believe as we do, that Jesus is the only way, like Jesus Himself says.
If we’re honest, Jesus’ words are a scandal. You can see why people want to believe differently, why they want to reject what Jesus says: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Yes, salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life are all limited to those with faith in Christ Jesus as He reveals Himself in the Bible. Salvation is as narrow as the cross of Calvary. Yet, none are excluded merely because of their age, gender, place of birth, or language. Salvation is as wide open as Jesus’ arms nailed to the cross of Calvary in welcome to you. Therefore…
28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
CPR Illustration: “The Necklace, a [French] short story (by Guy de Maupassant), tells of Madame Loisel, a simple woman with no special clothes or jewels who is invited to a fancy engagement. At first, Madame Loisel refused to go, for she didn’t have a proper dress. Then after her husband sacrificed his savings for a dress, she refused to go without proper jewels. Her husband suggested that she borrow jewels from a friend, Madame Forestier, which she did. The day of the party arrived. Madame Loisel was a success. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. Once at home she went to take one final look at herself in her glory, only to find the jeweled necklace was missing, not to be found. The Loisels went into heavy debt to purchase a replacement. Madame Loisel came to know the life of abject poverty. For ten years, she and her husband worked and saved, burdened with paying off the debt. After ten years of hard work, she was weary, aged, and dressed like a pauper. It was then that she happened to run into Madame Forestier. She decided to [finally] tell her friend about the new necklace. In astonishment, her friend revealed to Madam Loisel that the borrowed necklace was an imitation,[costume jewelry] worth no more than five hundred francs.
“Madame Loisel needn’t have been wearied and burdened by the debt. Similarly, some think that they need to work for their salvation. They are wearied and burdened by a debt that they can never repay, when all along Christ has paid the price by his life, suffering, and death on the cross.”
 He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus gives rest beyond a nap or a good night’s sleep, beyond financial security and physical security, beyond what every day off or vacation can provide.
This is a place of rest, a sanctuary, this nave. Here we worship the Lord, and the highest worship of Him is to receive His gifts. Yes, we respond to God’s Gospel Gifts with thanksgiving, offerings, and praise, but the response is not the most important thing. So many Christians have worship backwards. Some think that the most important thing is their response, their giving, their excitement. Others think that the big deal is to change everything to get more people in the door. No, Christian worship has its focus upon Christ and centers around His gifts. That’s why the furniture is set up the way it is.
This is a day of rest. Those who wonder whether it is sinful to work on Sunday miss the point. The priority of a Christian is to receive all that the Lord wants to give. Luther put it this way in LSB 581:4, “‘You shall observe the worship day That peace may fill your home, and pray, And put aside the work you do, So that God may work in you.’ Have mercy, Lord!” If you must, use the afternoon for mowing, cleaning the garage, fishing, napping, or sports. First, rest in Him and in His Word. Find a way to rearrange your work schedule so that Sunday morning is a sanctuary for you and your family with the Lord.

28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Lord is there for you always. Sometimes our frantic, hectic lives frustrate, confuse, and threaten to overwhelm us. The Lord is still there for you. How often we simply forget or ignore Him! As you get up, prepare for the day, eat breakfast, and go to work, why not remember Him and silently pray the Invocation, Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and, if you know it, Luther’s Morning Prayer. Over lunch, ask the Lord to bless His gifts to the good of your body and mind in His service. As you prepare for bed, fall asleep in conversation with the Lord. You may also find it beneficial to tuck in your children or spouse with Luther’s bedtime routine, the Invocation, Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and, if you know it, Luther’s Evening Prayer. For really rough days, a short prayer may be in order, “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”
Jesus gives you rest for your souls. He gives you His promise. Jesus says, “I will give you rest.”  Amen.
In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.