Trinity 14: The Sunday of the Ten Lepers
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
September 6, 2015
Central Passage
Luke 17:11-19

In the name of the FATHER and of the + SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord. (Ps. 84). That’s part of Psalm 84, and today’s Introit that we sang as we entered the presence of the Lord.

Make no mistake: we are in the dwelling place of the Lord; we are in the courts of the Lord. And we offer right sacrifices. That is, we offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Our hymns and the petitions we will speak in a few minutes, our sermons and responses; all of these are our sacrifice of thanksgiving. These are right sacrifices because they speak rightly about the Lord, saying of Him what He says of Himself, worshiping Him for what He has done and is doing and will do for us. That’s why we have to be as careful about what hymns and liturgical responses we use as much as we are about our sermon content. Not just any hymn will do. Not just any liturgical response will do. Not just any sermon will do. They must say of the Lord what His word says of Him, what the Spirit of the Lord says of Him. Not that they must use the exact same words, phrases, and sentences all the time – though that is certainly meet, right, and salutary; but that the words and sentences of a hymn or of a liturgical response or of a sermon, must be conformed to what the word of the Lord actually says. Then they are right sacrifices of thanksgiving and are as pleasing incense to the Lord.

If they do not say what the word of the Lord says – if our services add things to highlight us or our children, if we substitute the Lord’s Service to us with our talents and tastes – then we are on shifting sand and are offering abominable sacrifices and unauthorized incense before the Lord. This is the dwelling place of the Lord, His courts, so it is His word and His word alone that is heard, preached, and sung.

That’s why churches shouldn’t be treated like businesses. Not only in finances but in the way that some people say of pastors and churches that they’re “in the funeral business” or “in the wedding business”. We’re not in the funeral or wedding business. We’re not in the children entertainment business or the youth activities business. The Church is about the business of our heavenly Father, to give thanks to Him for all His benefits to us and to receive from Him His word, His blessing, and His benediction.

This is the dwelling of the Lord and the courts of the Lord.

But what does that mean, though? That this is the dwelling of the Lord, the courts of the Lord? Isn’t the Lord up in heaven? Didn’t He ascend to the right hand of the Father? Yes and yes. But language is simply shorthand, which is why a thing can be said in more than one way and why a thing can be stated with clarity one day and obscurity the next day. So we can say that the Lord is in heaven and we can say that the Lord is here, that we are in the presence of the Lord. You really shouldn’t be teaching your children or grandchildren that Jesus is up in heaven, as if He were removed from us by some impassable chasm. He is not in heaven like Grandma might be in another state, reachable only by telephone or email or something. Jesus is physically present here as much as He is spiritually. Or is it not His Body that we eat and His Blood that we drink? Are they not His words, His voice, even, that we hear?

The Lord Jesus isn’t off in some magical place of clouds and pearly gates. He is here; here is His dwelling place. Isn’t that what He says? Does He not say that where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is among them? Does He not say that He will be with His

apostolic Church unto the end of the age? Does not St. Paul say that when we are gathered we are gathered in the presence of the Lord? Yes to all these.

When your sons and daughters ask you, “Where is Jesus,” you tell them the truth. Tell them that He is where His Body gathers and where His word is proclaimed and His Sacrament administered. This is where the Lord rules over the nations. This is His throne; His dwelling place; His courts.

Here we find Jesus because this is where Jesus says He if found. This is where we serve the Lord, which is to worship Him, because this is how the Lord Himself says to worship Him. To eat His body and drink His blood in the sure and certain promises of our eternal Father that whoever believes on the Son of Man will never die; and even though He dies, yet shall He live.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever. Amen.

+In Nomine Iesu +