09 November 2017

Today’s Homily

At least at LCEF...

Chapel for 11.09.17

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

Psalm 30

Reading: Isaiah 51:9-16

 9  Awake, awake, put on strength, 
O arm of the Lord; 
  awake, as in days of old, 
the generations of long ago. 
  Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, 
who pierced the dragon? 
 10  Was it not you who dried up the sea, 
the waters of the great deep, 
  who made the depths of the sea a way 
for the redeemed to pass over? 
 11  And the ransomed of the Lord shall return 
and come to Zion with singing; 
  everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; 
they shall obtain gladness and joy, 
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 
 12  "I, I am he who comforts you; 
who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, 
of the son of man who is made like grass, 
 13  and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, 
who stretched out the heavens 
and laid the foundations of the earth, 
  and you fear continually all the day 
because of the wrath of the oppressor, 
  when he sets himself to destroy? 
And where is the wrath of the oppressor? 
 14  He who is bowed down shall speedily be released; 
he shall not die and go down to the pit, 
neither shall his bread be lacking. 
 15  I am the Lord your God, 
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— 
the Lord of hosts is his name. 
 16  And I have put my words in your mouth 
and covered you in the shadow of my hand, 
  establishing the heavens 
and laying the foundations of the earth, 
and saying to Zion, 'You are my people.' " 

This is the Word of the Lord. R.


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

What are you afraid of? It is often a difficult question to answer because like little children we tend to pull up the covers over our heads and hope whatever it is that is frightening us will just go away. But if you give a name to the fear, then you have begun to confront it. Failing body? Getting laid off? Spouse walking out on you? Kids getting into the wrong crowd? Grandkids falling away from the faith? Never finding love? Being alone? Being bored to death with your life? Never having time or space to relax and just be? Oh, the things we're afraid of are legion. "Who are you that are you afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the Lord your maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth, and you fear continually all day long, because of the wrath of the oppressor when he sets himself to destroy?" Yahweh asks.

The wrath of the oppressor. In Isaiah's time, it was rising tide of Assyria followed hard by the rising tide of Babylon, one of whom swept away the north and the other the southern kingdom. In our time, click through your Facebook feed and glimpse the news people share and note how often underneath there runs the current of fear: fear of Trump, fear of the liberals, fear of economic collapse, fear of nuclear war, fear of racial tensions, fear, fear, fear. 

And this, beloved, is the truth of this world: it is largely a world of fear and the Oppressor would have it so. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" and he savors our fear, it is to him a sweet elixir, the best cordial. He sips it and smiles his evil smile. He doesn't much care WHAT you fear, so long as your life is miserably eaten up with fear, it's all good with him and he has you where he wants you.

But there is One whom he does NOT want you to fear. The one before whom the demons believe and tremble. For to fear that One is to cease being afraid of anyone and anything else. And the fear that is given Him is wholly different. There is no cringing in it for us, no waiting for the next blow. It is a fear that trembles before a Love so vast and so divine that you do not know how to process it. It is a clean fear, enduring forever. It is light, not darkness. Peace, not anxiety. It is odd even to call it fear, but we have no other word for it. It is the trembling before the One who comforts you. 

And this is His comfort: "He who is bowed down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the pit." This is freedom. When you know that though you are bowed down, you shall be speedily released and death will never be the end of you. Hell, the pit, will not be able to hold you. You have a God who comforts You, who forgives you all your sin, and who will raise You up from the grave. When you know that every sin has been answered for and that your future is secure in the hands of the God who comforts you: you will not be eaten up by the fears that the devil seeks to plant. You will instead have your feet on the road to Zion, ransomed, and singing, with everlasting joy crowning your head and sorrow and sighing turning tail and running away. Behold, His comfort.

God spoke of it through Isaiah's prophesy to a nation about to be destroyed in exile; and He spoke it to fill them with hope and set them free from all their worldly fears. What IS there to fear when Your God is determined to comfort you and bring you to Himself? And the One who spoke through Isaiah is the same One of whom Isaiah spoke and who was born of the Virgin and suffered and died and rose again to open up the way home for you. He said: Do not fear those who can destroy the body and do no more; fear Him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Fear HIM, but also know Him as the One who gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

There is passage in the Apocrypha that runs fear God and you need fear nothing else! That's at the heart of what Isaiah was saying. Fear God, believe Him, trust Him, wait for Him. He says: "You are my people" and to be His people is to be freed from fear of men, for they cannot harm you and all the evil that they may perpetrate against You He will turn into blessing for you. Fear not, He has redeemed you. He has called you by name. You are His. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Hymn: 666 "O little flock"


Collect of the Day:
O Lord, kept Your household the Church in continual godliness that through Your protection she may be free from all adversities and devoutly given to serve You in good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. 

Father of all mercies, God of all comfort, look with compassion on Your servants Roger, Al, Amy, Joseph, Allan, Jan and all who cry to You in their time of need. Give Your holy angels charge over them to defend them against all the assaults of the evil one and grant them patience and faith to await their healing at the hour of Your choosing, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Kind and merciful Father, You would all people to be saved and to come to know the truth. Bless the work of Freeman and Susan Rohlfing, in Czech Republic, and of Lutheran Indian Ministries. Open hearts to hear and believe Your Word and to share with us in the joy of sin's forgiveness and death's defeat in Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Our Father

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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