Home > Uncategorized > Sermon for Sunday Pentecost 9, 21 July

Sermon for Sunday Pentecost 9, 21 July

marymarthaGenesis 18:1-14 and Luke 10:38-42

Heavenly Host, 2013

Note:  Big chunks of this sermon were lifted from  the sermon that was published for the convention delegates this week offered by the folks at LCMS Worship.  My guess is Pastor Weedon wrote it but that’s just a guess.  Parts of it were very good.  You can read the whole thing here.  As usual you can listen to the sermon preached by clicking here on the link 44 Sermon for Pentecost 9.mp3

 

Grace and peace to your from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Martha “welcomed him into her house” (Luke 10:38), just like Abraham in the first reading, who begged the three visitors to turn aside and be refreshed.  And everyone knows that when you welcome a guest, it is the host’s job to be “anxious and troubled about many things” (v. 41) to honor the guest, so that the guest may kick back and relax.  So the busyness of Abraham was running to the tent and telling Sarah to get enough bread ready to feed a small army, then going out to the herd to take the “tender and good” calf to give to his young man to prepare.  (Really, a whole calf for three men?) All so that, at last, as the three visitors sat beneath the oaks of Mamre, Abraham could set before them a rich feast: curds, milk, the calf (and, one assumes, the bread).  And so also the busyness of Martha was rattling around in the kitchen, growing ever more irritated as Mary stayed stubbornly absent, sitting at the guest’s feet and forgetting her duties as hostess.

Jackie, you have been doing quite a bit of the Martha and Sarah kind of work.  Not just getting ready for the new school year to start but preparing for the beginning of a new chapter in the story that is Heavenly Host Church and School.  Now I’m not calling you out and suggesting that you’ve got it all wrong.  The fact is there is serving work, prep work, administrative work to be done.  I know what it’s like to try to hit the ground running.  It’s a skillset that is admired almost universally in our culture.  But the message of the readings today is clear not just for you but for all of us.  When it is the Lord God and two angels dropping in, when it is the Lord Jesus stopping by, the big deal isn’t what you’re rustling up for Him! The big deal is what He’s rustling up for you.  To Abraham and Sarah (laughing behind the tent door), the Lord offers a promise: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son” (Gen. 18:10).  A crazy promise!  No wonder she laughed.  Even Abraham stumbled at what God was suggesting since his wife was so old and, as the sacred writer puts it rather delicately, “the way of women had ceased to be with Sarah” (v. 11).  Yet the promise stood.  And a promise is only as good as the promiser.  In this case, the promiser had almighty power on His side: “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (v. 14).

I said before that the message from the Lord Himself today in both lessons is clear.  We are to live and work in such a way that we actually believe this is the Lord’s work and that He accomplishes it, sometimes through the servants He calls into full-time church work, other times by others whose callings are not so clearly delineated.  And quite frankly, that goes for all of us.  Not just those who serve in the church, on boards and committees and volunteer opportunities, but those who carry on the vital callings given them by the Lord.  It’s His work and He will accomplish it.

The story of Abraham and Sarah might be over three thousand years old, but Abraham acts very much like an American.  Abraham is the kind of man who believes like Benjamin Franklin did that “God helps those who help themselves.”  In our society there is a deep distrust of Mary type folks among us.  We wonder whether if they are so heavenly minded, they are any earthly good.  What good is all that prayin’ and meditatin’ for?  Get up and do somethin’.   But just look what became of Abraham’s attempts to fulfill the Lord’s promise for Him.  Every path that Abraham had taken to help God keep His promise had turned to a dead end.  His descendants would not come through Lot. His son would not be the adopted Eliezer.  It wouldn’t be Ishmael born of Sarah’s handmaid.  Only when, Abraham and Sarah were absolutely helpless to bring about anything on their own, when they could only receive from the Lord’s hand by a miracle, the Lord gave His gift and a child was born, a child through whom the blessing of the world itself would begin.  And they couldn’t take credit for any of it!  There’s a lesson there for us all.  A gentle corrective to trust the giver of promises to make good on them and to learn to wait and understand those promises better so that they are appreciated when they are made good.

Fast forward to one day in Bethany, Mary listened attentively to the promised One who was descended from Abraham, and the one whom Isaac prefigured— Jesus, the true Seed of Abraham, the One who would be the bringer of blessing to every family of the earth.  Far better than the yummy smells wafting from Martha’s kitchen was the sweet news falling from His lips.  Mary listened to them, soaked them up, pondered them and wondered.  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).  And here sat the Lord in the flesh, the eternal Son of the eternal Father, who had assumed the Seed of Abraham through His mother’s flesh that He might set a feast before a hungry world.

Oh, not a feast of worldly food, I’ll grant you that.  World hunger remains a problem today and is far closer than many of us realize.  Jesus solved that problem for a day with the feeding of the five thousand.  But you recall how after that miracle, He spoke of having food to eat that His disciples knew nothing about.  They had wondered who had stashed away the snacks for Him.  But He made it clear: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:34).  That’s what He ate and drank and literally lived from: the will of the Father.

And that will, simply put, was to supply for the world a feast.  He had come to be the bread of life that you may eat of and not die, but live in Him forevermore.  That’s why Mary chose the good portion and why the Lord was not about to let Martha or anyone else take it from her, just as He won’t let anyone take it from you.  He wants you to have a life that doesn’t end, anchored in the forgiveness of your sins, and that’s the gift that listening to His promises and believing them delivers to you.

That’s why you are here this morning, Jackie, and the rest of us too, whether we know it or not.  We are here not to do something for the Lord, like Abraham or Martha were doing.  We are here to let the great Giver of the Feast speak His Words and promises to you.  Be still, then.  Listen.  And Jackie, I know there’s quite a bit left to do, but here’s the truth of the matter: this work this congregation has called you to is the Lord’s work, ministry.  It’s not just school work; it’s the work of the church.  It’s not just your work; it’s ours, too, as the body of Christ.  He will see to it that it gets done.  The most important thing; the one thing needful, the best portion is the Lord Himself.

Dear Christian friends, what Jesus wants to give you in His great feast is nothing less than Himself.  Your faith isn’t about you and your doings, but about the blessed Seed of Abraham, our Lord Jesus, and His doing and giving.  It’s about Him tending to you, not you to Him; Him serving you, not you Him.  He has done everything and even arranged for that feast to be spread before you through His ministers.  The meal, which you couldn’t put on the table to save your soul, He puts into your ears for your heart to believe and into your mouth with the promise that His body and blood are your forgiveness, life and salvation.  From first to last, your salvation remains in Him, His doing, His gift to you.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him! Amen.

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Pastor Andrew,

    I enjoyed listening to last Sunday’s sermon. Thank you for having them available on line.

    “91] For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, yea, the only one which we Christians know and have. For though we had the bones of all the saints or all holy and consecrated garments upon a heap, still that would help us nothing; for all that is a dead thing which can sanctify nobody. But God’s Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour, then, God’s Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. 92] Therefore I constantly say that all our life and work must be ordered according to God’s Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. . .” (Luther’s Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments, pp. 369)

    With Love in Christ,
    Cathy

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