01 January 2013

Pr. Ball's Homily

for the Sunday after Christmas. This is a taste of what the members of St. Paul have been royally feasting on this Christmas:

Saint Paul Lutheran Church
The Sunday After Christmas
December 30, 2012 a.d.
St. Luke 2:22-40
The Rev. BT Ball
In the Name of Jesus

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.”

The promises of God are always certain and sure and they always direct you to His Son Jesus Christ.  The Word of God is one great promise after another.  From the first one where the Lord said He would cause the woman’s seed to crush the serpent’s head all the way to the promise of the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come, the Father speaks them through His Son.  God the Father always keeps the promises He makes in His Son Jesus Christ, always.  He never fails.  He promised to send His Son, born of a virgin in Bethlehem to be the Christ.  He would be a shoot from Jesse, from the line of David.  His kingdom would have no end.   When the little baby laid in a manger grew a bit older He would be worshiped by the Gentiles as was promised, be taken to Egypt as was promised and then when He was older still He would be called a Nazarene as was promised.  All so that He would be stricken smitten and afflicted for you.

As your Lord and Christ promised, He would be crucified, men pierced his hands and his feet and then cast lots for His clothing.  And he died, pouring out His life as a ransom for many, because not only does your Father in heaven make promises to you, your Lord Jesus Christ makes promises too, and the Scriptures testify to this.  Our Lord said, “these are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24).  The Holy Spirit has recorded for you the promises of God in the Sacred Scriptures nothing has been left out, or forgotten.  What God has said He would do for you, then or now, he has done and still does .  Nothing forgotten.  Not one thing.  But how difficult, no impossible it is for you do believe these things, when you have to watch and wait.

That is exactly what Simeon had to do, watch and wait.  How long?  Holy Tradition says around 200 years!  You know how the God had spoken to Him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he saw the Lord’s Christ.  How long had he waited?  He had received a promise, but He had not seen it fulfilled.  He was hoping for a consolation, the comfort that God said He would give, not only for himself alone, but to His people Israel, and even light to the Gentiles.  But it was a comfort they had not yet received, because God had not yet sent His Son.  Simeon was told that he would not die until He saw such a promise fulfilled with his own eyes.  But eyes get dim and tired and what you have heard can fade.  That is the way it is with you anyway, watching and watching.

Simeon heard a promise but once, you who have been baptized have heard the promises so many times, but the frailty and weakness of the flesh work against you constantly.  The Old Adam does not wish to hold onto the promises of God rather, the Old Adam rejects them for other things entirely – what the blessed Apostle calls the elementary principles of this world – the created things, things seen, known by experience.  Trading in the promise of God for the pleasure of the flesh, for the security of things seen is exactly what Adam did  - the fruit was pleasing to the eye, and it is what you do too, all the time.  God has granted you every promise in His Son.  In Him Jesus Christ, they are all yes, but in and by the Old Adam, you say no.  I’ll trust in what I can see, what I know -  Myself, my ability, my ideas, my false gods that I hold onto on the side, or along with Jesus so that I’ll have some security in this world.  No you may not do that.  You shall have no other gods, and the folly of your sin is that you don’t see clearly how you have other gods right alongside the true one.

So you came to church on Christmas to worship a baby boy, and then you gave away as stocking stuffers lottery scratch cards.  You received the body and blood of Christ and then lusted after the body of someone who is not your spouse.  You were cleansed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness in your Holy Baptism, and you polluted your mind with the filth that HBO offers as fun and entertainment.  Why?  Because you think you can, you can get away with it and so much more.  Why?  Because you don’t really believe the promise of God that He will send His Son as your judge.  You think that the promise of the Gospel is a big ticket to freedom to sin not freedom from sin.

The promises to you don’t have any real punch when they are needed, because you haven’t seen anyone get up out of the grave, you haven’t seen God come down to deal with what you need dealing with on your time, at your beckoning,  when you say.  But thanks be to God that He deals with you not according to your whims or ways or time or neither does he deal with you according to the way you deserve, but deals with you according to His promise, in His Son.  For as you heard, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”  The promise of God for you this day is that the consolation you need, everything you need was seen by Simeon, for he held every promise of God in His arms.  But it didn’t look like it.  No one could see that, Mary and Joseph marveled at what was said of Him.  He will only be received and seen now through faith in His promises.  To see the baby in the manger, then in the arms of Simeon, then  a man on a cross, would be to see what looked to be like every other baby born, a newborn in the temple, and every other wretched crucified man.  But the promise of God is that He is the Lord’s Christ!  In the fullness of time, when it was just right, according to the Father’s way of working by promise, He sent His dearly beloved Son to be treated not as an heir, or a son, but a sinner.  To be brutally killed for your sins, to be judged in the way you should be, that you would have His place, you are seen by the Father as being in the very place of His Son Jesus Christ, with the status and place as the heir of all things.  Every promise yours, and that is the real promise that the forgiveness of sins gives.  This is the real consolation you have.  That by the forgiveness of your sins, by the redemption of Israel and the light of the Gentiles you stand before God as if you were His Son, and you know – that is what you are,a Son of God through Jesus Christ your Lord and you are an heir of all things according to God’s promise.

And so you find that is no accident or artistic license of the church to sing what Simeon sang when He saw Jesus.  All the promises of God were wrapped up in the seeing by faith the Lord’s Christ, that baby for Simeon.  And for you all the promises God gives to you are wrapped up under bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ for you.  So you depart in peace, you could even die on the way home, for you have every promise given, every Word sure. Here you see the Lord’s Christ wrapped up in promises.  Every Word fulfilled-  Everlasting life, forgiveness of sins.  Consolation in sorry.  A light for the gentiles, the glory of Israel.  Jesus Christ.  The very promise of God.  Yours.  Amen.

In the Name of Jesus


Chris said...

Is this reading already prescribed in the historic lectionary? It seems rather early since the Presentation of the Lord and Purification Mary occur on Feb. 2 when this text would definitely be appropriate.

The Rev. BT Ball said...

It is the Gospel for the the Sunday after Christmas in the LSB 1 year lectionary. Verses 22-32 were optional. It was also the Holy Gospel for that Sunday in The Lutheran Lectionary (TLH).

Forgive the typos and lousy punctuation. Intended for proclamation not publication, but Pr. Weedon asked, and it was delivered.

William Weedon said...


The historic text, as Pr. Ball indicates, is Luke 2:33–40; the LSB permits the addition of 22–32. But its not unusual to find texts repeated. After all, historic text for Advent I is the triumphal entry and that is also processional Gospel on Palmarum. So we have Presentation readings on Christmas I and then also Presentation readings on Presentation and Purification.

Mark Beitz said...

It was a pleasure to visit St. Paul Hamel this past Saturday to hear of Christ's baptism and the assurance of salvation that comes from our baptism.