08 September 2014

Pastor Ball's Homily at the Rededication

Saint Paul Lutheran Church

The Divine Service of Rededication

September 7, 2014

St. Luke 19:1-10


In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


            Jesus, the eternal Son of God comes to dwell with sinners.  He comes to this house, to be present according to the promises of His Word to forgive, bless, relieve, comfort, guide, sustain, redeem, and save His people.  He comes to seek out the lost and save them.  This is what he does always.  He comes to a house made with hands and He makes it a place of salvation by His presence, by His words.  83 years ago our fathers and mothers in the true faith gathered in this Church for the first time and dedicated it as the house and temple of God, invoking the Name of the Blessed Trinity.  They prayed that here He would dwell and be present for them and for us who would come after them.  Today, we rededicate this house, asking the same thing, we wish to see Jesus here, to have Him come to this house and save us, forgive us, be our guest and our host and he does just that.  And for him to do it for those who come after us.  He said, “Today salvation has come to this house…for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”    And he does it.

            Last year on November 10th, it was a Sunday like most, except of course it was the Sausage Supper day.  The Word of God was preached, the Sacrament was administered and right after Church the pastor took a quick nap before heading out to the fry shed.  Then we learned how quickly something that you think you can hold onto can be taken away from you.  Many of you had been coming to this Church your entire life, and very quickly it was taken away.  Well, the building was renovated, restored, but it was gone, for a while.  Buildings burn, they deteriorate, eventually they fall.  They can be built up again, made beautiful again as we see today.  But if Jesus is not here, not present, not preached, not believed then it wasn’t worth restoring.  But Jesus is here, and He comes even without our asking, just like He did with Zacchaeus. 

Zacchaeus was yearning for a vision of the Lord Jesus, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.  Zacchaeus, was a rich man; rich off of the taxes of others.  Why would he need to see Jesus?  Because he was a sinner and he knew it.  And here is where Jesus does what only he can do, something that would seem to be rude, as you shouldn’t invite yourself to someone’s house.  That is just what Jesus does though, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”  Why must Jesus go there to that house, because the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Zacchaeus.  You.  And so He comes here.  To this beautiful place, to this house.  And like Zacchaeus, we receive Jesus joyfully.  For where Jesus is, there is the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Undivided God.  Holy, Holy, Holy, Heilig, Heilig, Heilig, as they used to say here.  Here comes God, to this place, to save and forgive sinners, you. 

But what of the grumbling?  “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who was a sinner”.  Well that is what Jesus has come to do, to be the uninvited guest, to be near sinners, and that is what you have to understand and believe.  He comes to this house as the one who serves sinners, and you need to understand and believe that you need him, not just on Christmas or Easter, or on a day like today.  You need Him always.  If  you were honest with yourself you would understand and believe this.  You simply cannot hide from God the things you have done against Him and His commands.  Those who were grumbling about Jesus going to the house of a sinner, could not imagine that they would need Jesus to seek and save them.  They could not be honest with themselves, examine themselves and see their great need of salvation.  This is what you are to do, examine yourself and see what is in your heart is wretched, and see how you have rejected the true God by your thoughts and deeds, by your words things said, and also things not said that needed to be.  Zacchaeus had no problem understanding and believing he was a sinner, he even told Jesus that He was.  He had stolen.  Jesus sees that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham through faith in Him because what sinners need above all is Him. 

And what you need is Him to offer Himself for you as a sinner.  This is what He did.  He went to the cross, without grumbling, not condemning the world that rejected Him, but saving the world by dying.  Saving you by dying.  This is why He came of course, to die for you.  Salvation comes through His death and his house for but a few days was a tomb.  But He is out of the prison house of death.  It could not hold him, and the prison house of death cannot hold you, it cannot hold those who 83 years ago dedicated this house and now are at rest in the grave.  Someday like the blessed dead who have been buried from here, you will be in your casket right here, and then placed in the cemetery down the road, but you will not be lost in death.   Jesus lives to save.

 He lives to save you, to save you from the prison house of death.  He lives to seek you out in your sins and now he brings you to this house, drawn by His Spirit, to be forgiven here, to be saved here through preaching and His word, saved here by eating His body and drinking His blood. Saved here together with your brothers and sisters in Christ, joined together as one Body with Christ as the head of us all.   Living in a house made with hands, made beautiful again after fire, to live together waiting for the day when we with the blessed dead who lived here once will be joined together again in house not made with hands, in the new heaven and the new earth, the holy city, the new Jerusalem.  For behold the dwelling place of God is with men.  It is now, here.  It will be there, when he wipes away every tear from our eyes and there will be no mourning or crying or pain anymore for the former things will pass away.  There will be a day when this house will no longer stand, fire will come upon the earth, but listen to what Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new”.  This house is new again, but soon, even better, all the people of God in Christ Jesus will be in His Father’s house, prepared by Jesus Himself through His death and resurrection.  And then you will no longer find Him by His Word of promise, then you will no longer be a sinner at all, but resurrected and alive, with Him,  His Father’s house, brought together by the Spirit, to live, not lost, but found and saved with every tear wiped away, with no pain, but alive with Him. And  you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen.


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