Trinity 14, 2012
Audio
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Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
September 9, 2012
Central Passage
Luke 17:11-19
Description

 

Fr. Lovett, evangelist
Concordia Lutheran Congregation
 
Trinity 14
September 9, 2012
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

 
We learn from our Lord’s healing of the ten lepers that the Lord has mercy on all who call upon Him, even those who will not return to give thanks.
 
What if out of all the people you help out with your time or money – your friends or family – those you pour your heart and soul into and go out of your way to help, what if none of them said thank you? What if they didn’t show you that they appreciated what you’ve done for them? Many of us stop helping when we don’t receive a thank you or some sign that they appreciation us. Many of us resent them for only coming around when they need help. But our Lord teaches us to be merciful even to those who do not say thank you and show appreciation.
 
What if out of the nearly 1,000 people we gave bread to or a can of soda to, only a few returned to say thank you and show appreciation for what we did for them? What if only one or two, or maybe none, came to church? I mean, that’s the point, right? If we’re going to do something for someone then we expect that they will return the favor in some way. We gave them bread and drink this past month, at least a few should come to church?
 
But why do we want them in church? Some of us don’t. We don’t want people coming in and messing our church up. But most of us do want them here. Some of us want them in church because we want to see more people; we want higher attendance. And some of us want them in church because we’re hoping they’ll tithe and volunteer for things. But chiefly we want them here at this gathering because this is heaven on earth. This is where the Lord makes Himself known to us and preaches His salvation and mercy to us. This is where the Lord gives and fulfills His promises. This is where the Lord gathers us to Himself and calls us His people. This is where our Lord has mercy on those who call upon His name because this is where His name is made known on all the earth.
 
Our Lord is merciful on all who call upon His name. He doesn’t turn a deaf ear to those who beg for mercy. He doesn’t turn His back on those who ask for His blessing and help. He helps everybody. He doesn’t qualify them, He shows mercy.
 
That’s what His Body, the congregation of saints, does. It shows mercy. It doesn’t qualify people or judge their condition before showing mercy. We have compassion and are merciful. And very few return and thank the Lord. But we’re not here for our glory. We’re not here to make a name for ourselves or to be solvent or successful. We’re here by the mercy of God, to glorify His name.
 
We are the Body of Christ. We do the works of Christ. Not as individuals, but as members of one body. And through us – through His Body – the Lord continues to heal the sick and cast out demons, to feed the multitudes and to seek and save the lost. But we’re so accustom to individualizing everything that we often don’t see the forest for all the trees. We are the trees, but no single tree makes a forest. Rather it is all the trees that make the forest. So, too, we all make up the Body of Christ; and not only us, but all our brothers and sisters in every congregation gathered around word and sacrament, gathered in Jesus’ name to receive His blessing, mercy, compassion, and salvation.
 
What can you do by yourself to help the poor or feed the hungry? Not much. But the Lord can do all things. So you bring your tithe, your 10%, and the Lord multiplies it and causes it to grow by adding to it the tithes and offerings of your brothers and sisters in Christ. And this tithe is how the Lord cares for the poor. Not that He can’t do other ways. He does. In our country He has had to use the government to care for the poor because His people stopped giving tithes and offerings, or give far less than they are able. But we are afraid. We’re afraid there won’t be enough for us at home and for our lives, so we rob God. That’s what the Bible says. Read Malachi. The Lord says His people rob Him with their tithes and offerings. And remember, St. Paul says that the Old Testament is written for our instruction. And the apostles prove everything they preach and teach – including giving tithes and offerings – from the Old Testament. Our congregation is built on the apostles and prophets, with Christ as the cornerstone. Or else it is built on sand. Heed the instruction of your Father and accept His words that the years of your life may be eternal. He teaches you the way of wisdom and leads you in the path of righteousness so that when we walk we will not stumble. Keep hold of your Father’s instruction; do not let her go; guard her, for she is your life.
Now I know money is a touchy subject. But that’s because it’s so closely associated with success and failure. If you have money and can pay your bills, you’re a success. If you have no money and can barely pay your bills and maybe sometimes can’t pay your bills, you’re a failure. That’s how we think. That’s how our society thinks. But that’s not how our Lord thinks.
 
Our Lord knows that five loaves of bread and few fish is enough. He knows He can give water from rocks and give a never-ending supply of manna and quail. He knows He can pay taxes out of the mouth of a fish or give the best wine where there was once only plain water. But more than that, He knows that death is only an illusion and that sickness and disease have had their day. He knows that demons flee at His name and that the children of men are saved by His blood. His house is not too small for the multitudes and His feast is not unable to feed all men, women, and children in all earth and heaven.
 
The Lord is not a god of want but the God of plenty. He is not a god who needs our time, talent, or treasures. He is the God who gives us time, talent, and treasure; gifts from His fatherly, divine goodness and mercy. For all this it is our duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.
 
And so you are here, returned to the feet of Jesus, the one who has had mercy on you; returned to thank the Lord and sing His praise, telling everyone what He has done. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes in the future. You who seek the Lord rejoice and proudly bear His name. He recalls His promises and leads you, His people, forth in joy with shouts of thanksgiving! Just as the leper returned with loud shouts of thanksgiving.
 
St. Paul teaches us that we are to walk by the Spirit. In walking by the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the flesh, which are unclean. But it’s not simply as individuals that we are to walk by the Spirit, but as the Body of Christ.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Not only as individuals, but as members of one Body. The Body of Christ walks by the Spirit and has love for all people, has joy even in the face of trials, has peace even with her enemies, is patient will all, even those who do not give thanks. The Body of Christ walks by the Spirit and is kind to everyone, she is good to all, she is faithful to her Lord, she is gentle, doing everything for the good of her neighbor, and she has self-control, never indulging in the works of the flesh.
You are not merely an individual in a sea of individuals. You are the Body of Christ. You are people of the Spirit and not of the flesh. For those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires and are alive in the Spirit, walking in the ways of the Lord, just as the leper did.
 
You have returned, o leper, to the Man who has healed you and given you life; who has restored your flesh and cleansed you of all evil. You have come to show yourself to your High Priest. Go your way, the way of the Lord; your faith has made you well. Depart in peace.`
 
In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen +