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You Shall Be Called by a New Name

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04.28.2018-625“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. 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. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:1–5).

Sermons, Uncategorized

Rise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come!

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“Adoration of the Magi” by Rembrandt

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Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising  (Isaiah 60:1-3).

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord, the beginning of the church season in which we celebrate the Lord Jesus manifesting Himself to the world as God. “Epiphany” comes from the word “to shine,” and the picture is of that light shining into the darkness and overtaking it.

In the past few weeks, we have been talking and singing about light—about Jesus, the Light of the world. At candlelight services on Christmas Eve, we sang about the “Son of God, love’s pure light.” We sang about how in Bethlehem’s dark streets “shineth the everlasting light.” We hailed the heaven-born Prince of Peace and reveled in the “light and life to all He brings.” Our Old Testament lesson for today proclaims, “Arise, shine, for Your light has come.” The Lord has appeared and the world should see the light of His coming. God in man is made manifest. It’s Epiphany!

Epiphany is a mission festival. The light is moving out into the darkness. And people are being drawn to the light. In our Gospel, we hear about the Magi from the east who follow a star until it casts its beams of light directly upon the house where the young Christ lives. When they find Him they bow down before Him and present Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They are the first Gentiles to worship the King of the Jews.

But Jesus is not just the King of the Jews. In Him, the Light of the world has come for all nations—Jews and Gentiles—to dispel the darkness of sin and death and hell that covers the earth and all its peoples. Therefore the light that we enjoy here, the Light that is Jesus, has to shine forth.

We don’t often think about it, but our building has walls. Walls that divide “us inside” from “those outside.” But the walls aren’t there as a barrier. The walls are there to hold up the roof and keep the rain, wind, and snow off us—not to keep the people out. That’s why the walls also have doors—there, and there, and there. Anyone can come in through the doors; in fact, we want them to come in!

But from the outside, walls can be a very real barrier. People looking at our church wonder if they can come in. And if they do come in, will they be welcome? Will they fit in? Will we give them a chance to be an active part of our congregation? Will we accept them with their own peculiarities and struggles and sins? What if they come inside and find they are still “outsiders”? How long will they stay? We on the inside must realize that the walls can be barriers between us and those outside—even if those outside only think they are barriers. That’s why we must step out from these walls, and let our light shine before others as we have opportunity. So that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven. So that they might be drawn to Jesus who is the Light of the world—both “insiders” and “outsiders.”

This is why Paul wrote the message to the Ephesians that is our Epistle lesson. He tells them about the mystery that was once only known to God, but has now been revealed to the prophets and apostles, and through them is revealed to us. The mystery is that the Gentiles—the outsiders of Paul’s day—are heirs together with the Jews of Christ’s inheritance. “Outsiders” and “insiders” are one body with Christ, are partakers together of His promises. There is no division. The doors are open. Jesus opens the door, and no one can shut it.

For us to get the full impact of Paul’s words, we need to remember that we are the outsiders in this text. I’m guessing that all of us here today were born Gentiles—not Jews, not the descendants of Abraham, not part of the covenant people God set apart for His holy purposes. But thanks be to God! The plan God fulfilled in Jesus Christ gives us also access to His presence—free and confident access to the throne room of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

As far as God’s eternal plan of salvation is concerned, that we Gentiles are on the “inside” is the surprise. It was once a mystery known only to God. It was Paul’s great joy to unveil the mystery to us, the Gentiles: “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesian 3:6). Not just for the Jews, but also for us, Jesus was born, died, and rose again. Also for us, He gives citizenship in heaven and eternal inheritance with the Father forever.

That was Paul’s great message, the message God gave him to bring to people like us. Outsiders like us. Paul was not adding his little Epiphany addition to the Gospel he was given. His work was rather a small reflection of the great Epiphany, the glorious appearance and work of Jesus Christ.

All of us were born children of Adam and Eve, tied to sin in rebellion against God and sentenced to die. We lived in the darkness of sin and the shadow of death. Jesus came as a volunteer, willingly taking on Himself the form of His rebellious creatures, so that He could bring the rebellion to an end.

Next week, we celebrate His Baptism, when Jesus voluntarily, despite John the Baptist’s objections, received a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He had no sin, needed no repentance; but He stood with us, He identified Himself with us who do. In weeks to come, we will hear more about how Jesus lived and taught and touched and healed people. He let His light shine, but He let that light be covered with the darkness of sin and cross and death.

Jesus is the Light of the world, who took on flesh so that He might take you into His arms, heal your hurts, forgive your filth, and destroy your darkness. The Son of God became a human being, not to demonstrate the innocence of infancy, but to live the life we could not and to die our death so we need not.

Yet even on the cross, His light was shining. The darkness did not overcome His light. Jesus did not die for His crimes. He died for the sins of others—for outsiders like you and me. He died for people who would have ended up in hell to be punished eternally for their sins. When He said, “It is finished,” our death and our punishment were finished. The Son of God provided new life and love for us. Here is dazzling light, and eternal light.

And there is more light to come! When Christ returns, He promises to take us to the new Jerusalem, where “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light” (Revelation 22:5). The day is coming when we will fully share in God’s glory. Heaven’s gates are open. God and sinners are reconciled! All are invited to come in. Insiders and outsiders.

Compared to the barrier between the sinless Son of God and us poor, miserable sinners, the barriers between Jew and Gentile pale. The barrier between us and our “unchurched” neighbor is no barrier at all. We are, all of us, sinners who need a Savior. The good news is, we have one! Jesus has appeared. Jesus is here. Let there be light.

Let there be light, first of all, in our lives, where there is still too much darkness. We still try to keep God at a distance. Paul said to the Ephesians: “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light… Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them… When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:8, 11, 13–14).

Let there be light. Let there be light here in the church, where we gather around the Word and message and gifts of Jesus Christ, our Light. We need to guard ourselves so our own habits, activities, attitudes, and expectations don’t block the light. We are here because Jesus Christ is the light of the world—the light no darkness can overcome. If we obscure that light, how can people who don’t know that light, come in to find it here?

Most of all this Epiphany season, let’s dedicate ourselves to the task that was Paul’s joy and make it our own—that light shines into the lives of people who need to see it. For those times we have failed to let that light shine, we repent. We beg God’s forgiveness and ask Him for strength to do better, that we might live as children of the light, whose only message is, “Let me show you the Light of the world, also for you.”

If we are not the best witnesses, we can learn to be better. And even as we are learning to be better witnesses, we can still let the light of Christ shine. We can simply tell what promises we rely on, what God has accomplished for us, and why we boldly and confidently believe that we have access to God even when we don’t always live up to the ideals of the one who is true light. When we talk about those things, we offer light to others—the Light of the world.

Think of it—everyone we know or meet is a fellow heir with us in Christ’s inheritance, a fellow member with us of the body of Christ, and potentially a fellow recipient of His promises. Just like us. Everyone has the invitation to bring joy to the courtyards of heaven by turning from the slavery of sin to the freedom from sin given by our Savior. Just like us. Everywhere we go can bring light.

Arise! Shine! You are light to the world. As you are given new birth in Baptism, as you are kept in the light of the Gospel by the preaching of the Word, as you are sustained by the body and blood of Him who is the light of salvation, so you are also honored. The Lord stands you before the dark, fearing world, as light!

Even as you are in your sinful flesh and the world sees you only in your weakness, the world is given to see your repentance, your hearing of God’s forgiveness, your humble receiving of His Sacrament, and your joyful extolling of His light! In seeing that, the world—every person living under the shroud of darkness—is given to see the light: “Arise, shine, for your light has come… and nations shall come to your light” (Isaiah 60:1,3). Amen.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Sermons, Uncategorized

My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

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“Simeon in the Temple” by Rembrandt

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“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation” (Luke 2:29–30).

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

For many, it’s over for another year—the celebration of Christmas. After the parties, the food, the gifts, and the services, the days after Christmas are characterized by leftovers, crumpled wrapping paper, and a distinct lack of energy. The holidays are winding down; now comes the rest of a long, cold winter.

Where do you go from here? What do you have planned? Plans aside, what will happen to you as 2019 begins and continues? There may be lots of good in store: Grandchildren, a promotion, true love, stability, graduation. There may be unwanted troubles: strife at work or unemployment, family disagreements, a call from the doctor because he wants to run some more tests, a death in the family—maybe even yours.

What will happen to you from here? You have some plans, but you don’t know much for sure. Really, what can you be certain of? So much is out of your hands and beyond your control. So much of life is a mystery.

I guess you could say the same thing about our text. There are a lot of details about which we can only speculate. A man of mystery is walking in the temple. I say this because we don’t know much about him. We know his name is Simeon, but that’s about it. Traditionally, he’s pictured as an elderly man who has led a good life of many years; but we really don’t know. He could be a nineteen-year-old, still working on a full beard. Is he married? Widowed? Healthy? Ailing? Does he have kids? Grandkids? A good life? Bad?

We don’t know. The Bible doesn’t tell us. It does tell us his name is Simeon. The Bible also says that Simeon “was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”  That’s why he’s at the temple—he’s going to see the Messiah.

Suddenly, He appears. The long-awaited Messiah is there; not just a human being, but the Lord has suddenly come to His temple. The Son of God has become flesh to be the Savior of the world, and He is making His first incarnate visit to His Father’s house. The prophecy is fulfilled! The Messiah is on the temple grounds. And nobody notices. Nobody cares.

Except for Simeon. He cares. He knows, because the Holy Spirit has told him. He confidently walks up to the Messiah and His entourage. He boldly takes hold of the Savior. And there, out in the middle of all the temple activity, he sings so that everyone who hears will know: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word; For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” The Lord Himself has come to His temple with salvation. He has come to redeem His people. It is a glorious, divine truth; so Simeon sings the song of praise.

Uninformed by the Holy Spirit, it’s quite likely that others think he’s nuts. Nuts or blasphemous, take your pick. Temple-goers have come here to worship the almighty Lord who made the heavens and the earth. There on the grounds, this Simeon is holding a 40-day-old baby in his arms, guarded by the formidable entourage of, well, a poor-looking husband and wife. But, Simeon isn’t concerned with the Holy of Holies, where the Lord dwells in His glory. He’s peering at the Baby in his arms, and singing the strangest of lullabies: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word; For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” Like the Baby has words. Like the Baby is in a position to send Simeon along with His blessing. As if the Baby is the Lord.

We talked about this at Christmas, too. If you go by your eyes alone, you’re likely to miss the Savior. Go by what the Holy Spirit says into your ears, and there He is. People who are looking for some glorious display of power to prove the presence of God will hustle by the Baby and keep on looking.

But by faith, Simeon knows. The flesh and blood he cradles in his arms is the Son of God incarnate. He is Immanuel, “God with us,” present with His people as God and man. He is with His people to bring peace, salvation, light, revelation, and glory. Don’t let the hairless head and the tiny toes fool you. This is the Lord of heaven and earth. And though that toothless mouth can’t form words yet, He has been speaking from eternity. He is there. By faith, Simeon acknowledges His Savior and rejoices in His salvation. He embraces the Word made flesh, and he is forgiven for all of his sins by the Baby Jesus. That’s why he can depart in peace.

He departs in peace, and what happens to Simeon then? We’re back to, “We don’t know,” for he disappears from Scripture. It’s a mystery.

Traditionally, we assume he’s an old man who dies and is called to glory soon after. On the other hand, he could have forty years of life left before he dies. Maybe a good life, maybe a terrible one by human standards. But Simeon departs in peace because God is faithful. He has kept His promises made through the prophets. The Virgin has conceived and borne a Son, and His name is Immanuel. That Lord has come to His temple, where Simeon has held and beheld Him.

The prophecies will continue to be fulfilled. The Messiah will make the blind see and the deaf hear, the mute sing and the lame leap for joy. He will be stricken, smitten, and afflicted for our iniquities. He will be the cursed man on the tree, betrayed by a friend, His bones out of joint and His robe gambled away. All this will take place so that other promises of God will be kept: Promises of pardon and peace, double helpings of grace for the penitent people of God.

God is faithful, and the promises will be kept. That is why Simeon departs in peace. He doesn’t depart to peace. It is not that he faces a rosy, sublime sort of life because he has held the Savior. Whatever other trials lie ahead, he still faces death. He’s still in this fallen, sinful world. But he departs in peace.

Simeon is at peace because God is faithful. He has sent the Savior. He has not forsaken Simeon, but has come to redeem him. Whatever Simeon faces, he is at peace with God. The Lord has kept His promises, and Simeon knows the end of the story. The end of the story is life everlasting, because the Son has come.

So, taking stock right now, this is what you know about you. You’ve made it this far. And you have no idea what is going to happen to you tomorrow. Even with all the careful planning, January 1st is still up for grabs. You just don’t know.

Not knowing leads to all sorts of temptations. You’re tempted to worry. And while a godly concern is good, worry too often turns into doubt of God’s will and faithfulness. You’re tempted to disappointment when things don’t go as you desire. The greater sin here is that you vastly prefer your will over that of the Lord’s who truly works all things for your good.

We don’t like not knowing, because not knowing means we have to live by trusting. We like to think we’re in control. Faith isn’t natural. In fact, it’s impossible unless it is given by God. But God gives you faith, faith by and in a blessed truth that you do know. Today, you stand with Simeon because you behold your Savior. The Holy Spirit has revealed this to you—not through some mystical vision or writing in the sky, but by His holy, inspired Word.

His Word announces to you that the Baby in Simeon’s arms grows up and bears your sins to the cross. That same body is pierced and that blood is shed before He is placed in the tomb. That same Savior, with the same body and blood, is risen again on the third day. And before Jesus ascends into heaven, He speaks of Word and Sacrament, and promises, “I am with you always to the end of the age.”

He is with you in His Word and Sacraments. It was He who washed you clean of sin in the waters of Holy Baptism. It is He, the Word made flesh, who is present in His Word when it is proclaimed. It is He who says to you, “Take and eat, this is My body…take and drink, this is My blood, for the forgiveness of sins.”  The same body and blood that Simeon held and beheld. And that went to the cross. And rose again. And ascended into heaven.

Like Simeon, you behold your Savior today. No, you don’t see tiny toes and a hairless head; you observe a man preaching and then see bread and wine. But faith tells you this. God keeps His promises. His Son has come, died and risen, as promised. His Son is here, in these means, to forgive, as promised. You know this by faith, not by sight.

It is little wonder, then, that you sing Simeon’s hymn near the end of each communion service. You have heard the Word, and there the Holy Spirit has revealed to you your Savior. You have just received the Lord’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, just like Simeon. And just like Simeon, you sing: “Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word. For Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people. A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.”

You sing with Simeon because the Savior has come to you, too; your eyes of faith have seen your salvation, and thus then you depart in peace. You depart in peace, though not necessarily to peace. You stand to face some ridicule along the way. If Simeon looks strange as he sings to the Baby, you’ll draw some strange looks for looking for Jesus in, with, and under bread and wine, water and Word. Some will tell you that you’ve lost your religious sanity, if not your salvation.

But you know better. Christ is here because He promises, and He always keeps His promises. You have His Word on it, so you depart in peace. Not that life will be peaceful. No, don’t leave here expecting that the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh will go easy on you because you’ve been in the presence of God. This visit of your Savior only enrages them all the more. Don’t hold the Lord to promises He hasn’t made, expecting an easy life in this world as His child. His only-begotten Son suffered.

You can expect your share of trouble, then. This unholy trinity (the devil, world and sinful flesh) will work their hardest to convince you that the Savior’s presence at best does you no good, at worst only leads to trouble for you. They will wield their weapons of worry, guilt, anxiety, sickness, grief, and death. They will do their best to crush you.

But the truth is that they have been crushed already; crushed by the Son of God whom you behold today. They can make you miserable for a bit, but their days are numbered. In Christ, yours are not. No, you don’t know what chapters life still holds; but in Christ, you know the end of the story. And the end of the story is life everlasting. This is why you depart in peace. The One who suffered, died and rose again is with you, to raise you from your sufferings and death to life everlasting.

What does the New Year hold? What does tomorrow hold? You cannot know. We commend tomorrow to the Lord, trusting that He will indeed work all things for our good. He has promised to do so for His servants, even as He promises that His Son has died for you. You don’t know much about what lies ahead, but you do know that you are His—and so you know the end of the story.

Therefore, even now, you depart in peace: For you are forgiven for all your sins.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Sermons, Uncategorized

A Gift for the King ~ Children’s Christmas Eve Service

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

In the popular song, the little drummer boy tags along with the Magi to see Baby Jesus. Arriving at His house in Bethlehem, the Magi fall down in worship, offering Him fine gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. But the little drummer boy is sad because he has no gift to bring that’s fit to give the King.

So here we are this evening—in His house, bringing gifts for the King. So, what sorts of gifts have you brought Him? Did you, perhaps, dress up in your nicest clothes to honor Him? Dressing up for God’s house is a good and worthy practice, to be sure—a way of remembering whose presence you are entering. But I’m sure the shepherds were just as welcome when they arrived to meet Baby Jesus in their everyday work clothes.

How about offerings? Offerings are gifts, too. Offerings of money—that’s what we usually think of, but of course, there are other things. Time is a good gift. Money and time, elements of our very lives, gifts for our dear Lord. Our speaking and singing in the service, too—these are gifts we give to our Lord Jesus.

Most certainly, all these things are good things to do, good gifts for the King. But stop and think about these gifts. The truth is, what we can give the Lord is nothing that isn’t already His. “The cattle on a thousand are Mine,” He says. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” No matter what we give, all we’re doing is “re-gifting” back to the original Giver.

Gifts for the King. What can you bring?

Well, Jesus says, “as you did it to one of the least of these you did it to Me.” That’s something we can do, right? We can give money to charities to help the poor. And we can offer these gifts of mercy as our gifts to Jesus. Surely, He’ll be more pleased with these sorts of everyday “righteousness” sorts of gifts, right?

But if you are doing these things for Jesus, save your energy. Does He need any of this? No! And for that matter, are your righteous acts really all that shiny and special? That’s not to say you shouldn’t do these things. To love your neighbor as yourself and to show mercy for the one who has need—all these things are good and worthwhile, commanded and commended by God. Just remember, Jesus doesn’t need these things; it’s your neighbor who needs them.

Gifts for the King. What can you bring?

By now, it’s obvious that you and I, like the little drummer boy, “have no gift to bring that’s fit to give the King.” Nothing we can offer is anything but stained and corrupted by our own sin, through and through. And the one who tries to offer this King even the smallest act of “righteousness” as though it were righteous in itself, well, that would be like coming before the emperor and flinging garbage and filth on his feet and expecting him to be impressed by such a fine gift.

Gifts for the King. What can you bring?

How about your heart? To be sure, that is the gift you most ought to give to Him. But even here, “I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give the King.” You and I have a bad heart condition. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick,” says Jeremiah (17:9). Jesus goes into greater detail, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19). Merry Christmas, Jesus! Here’s my heart! Some gift, huh?

Nevertheless, that is the gift you must give to Him. Not because it is good, but quite the opposite, because your heart, is bad, filthy with sin to the core.

Still, the very best gift to give to Jesus is your sin. For one thing, it’s the only thing you can give to Him that is truly yours, which was never His gift to you in the first place. And beyond that, this is most definitely “the gift that keeps on giving”—all your sin and sinfulness; all your thoughts, words, and deeds; all your not doing the good that you would do, doing the evil that you’d like not to do.

And along with all that sin and selfishness, and hurt and harm and hate against your neighbor (and his against you, too, for that matter), comes all those effects of sin—like sorrow and decay and pain and misery and failure and then… death. And then, Death again, forever. To be sure, in giving Jesus your sin, you’re not giving Him some prize, but you’re not giving Him some small trifle, either!

But this is precisely the gift that He came to receive from us—or better put, to take from us. Most certainly, Christmas is all about exchanging gifts—the Great Exchange. The gift you must give to Jesus is your sin, selfishness, and all that goes with it—even your death and hell which would separate you from God forever. And in joyful exchange for such a gift, Jesus gives you His righteousness, His perfect love, His eternal life, and His own status of beloved Son of the Father.

But how? How can you bring such a gift for the King? Can you find a box that you can put your sin and death into and gift wrap it? And where do you mail it to? How and where and when do you give Jesus your Christmas gift of sin?

One of the “Christmas specials” I like is a production of Lutheran Hour Ministries called “Red Boots for Christmas.” In the story, an angel comes to Hans the shoemaker, to tell him that he will receive a gift from God that Christmas. Hans, a grumpy guy, is shocked, and then considers what he ought to give God in return. As he wonders, he asks Gretchen, a poor, old lady who lives off the kindling and sticks she can gather, what she would give God for a Christmas gift. She replies, “I would give Him what I give Him every day: My sins for His pardon, my weakness for His strength, and my sorrow for His joy.”

In Baptism, you already gave your gift of sin to Jesus, and received the gift of His righteousness. Daily, through contrition and repentance, you give Jesus your own proper gift—sin, and, in return, receive His gift to you—forgiveness for all your sins. In this Great Exchange, you give Christ all that belongs to you, and come away with everything that belongs to the King.

So. Go ahead and give all those other gifts, according to the wisdom and love that God has given you—sing and dress up and give offerings and pray at church, and work hard to love those neighbors God has given you. But never stop giving Jesus the gift He came to receive from you—your sin, and never stop knowing that He has given you the greatest gift in exchange—His forgiveness, salvation, and life.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

This homily is adapted from a sermon by Rev. David R. Mueller.