Monday, November 14, 2011

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost (A) 2011

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: Matthew 25:21
Theme: Sharing In The Master’s Joy

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

God is a living being. But He has ordained that in this fallen world we relate to Him by faith, not by sight. To facilitate this He has given us His word. The church exists wherever the Holy Spirit calls it into existence through the Word. Not just any word, the incarnate Second Person of the Trinity. The crucified, risen, and living Christ sustains and nurtures His baptized through His body and blood and the promise of forgiveness.

But this word of gospel and forgiveness is irrelevant to the person content managing his or her own status before God. Thus the first word God must speak to the sinner is His word of law, or conviction. This is not without its dangers. To misunderstand the purpose of the law comes very naturally to us. That is, to view God’s law as the means of recourse to His favour is logical to the human mind, heart, and will. It appears like the avenue to rectify things. It presents itself as the opportunity to do our part to regain God’s blessings. We make some effort, God recognizes it, and our status before Him is amended accordingly.

But this approach involves more than the fallacy of believing God is obligated to assign merit to our efforts. In this view the law becomes the means to salvation. It becomes the basis for a system of works-righteousness which supplants the entire purpose, work and merit of Christ. God’s law always, only, and FINALLY reveals to us our sin and condemns us to punishment for the same. It leaves us with no reason to hope we can salvage the situation. Then we are thrown on the mercy of God. True repentance has no other motivation. This situation is in effect until the whole old order of things passes away and Christ creates things anew.

Following on the heels of the parable of the ten virgins waiting for the Bridegroom comes the parable of the talents. Both are similar in tenor and tone. Both illustrate the grave dangers of being unprepared for Christ’s return in glory. Just as many were oblivious to the pending earthquake and tsunami in Japan great numbers will be oblivious to the return of Christ. People will be absorbed in their worldly pursuits- giving no thought to the immortality of the soul- and His glorious coming will be sprung upon them. Each day then, is a walk of faith.

The daily walk of faith is the issue in today’s parable. Christ said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”1 The parable speaks of large sums of money- perhaps more than the lifetime wages of an average worker. So there was a lot at stake. The stewards of the talents all seemed to understand that the master was coming back. Even the one who simply buried the money seemed to be in no doubt about the master’s return. And yet he was actually unprepared from the very day the master left. His relationship with the master was fundamentally flawed. He accuses the master of being a “hard man” thus casting the blame back on him. He was motivated by a fear that vitally misunderstood the type of man the master was. So, as a result he ventured nothing on the part of his master, not even putting the money on deposit to gain interest.

Daily actions are evidence of faith- or lack thereof. The faithful servants were rewarded with twice their original trust. The unfaithful servant not only had his share taken away; he was shut out of the kingdom. The warning is unmistakable. Dear friends, your faith is never a static reality. It’s not merely a state of mind or an intellectual position. Faith is not an ideology that can be debated, negotiated, or left optional. It’s not a clause in a contractual agreement that can be exercised when deemed necessary. Faith is the living and active trust in the promises of God in Christ. Integrity demands that our deeds match our claims and promises.
The great Christian orator Spurgeon once said, “A man's life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching. “

Part of Christian wisdom and maturity is learning to trust that even in difficult times God will not forsake us. This confidence allows us to press on in the face of resistance knowing God does work good even from the most dire of circumstances. This truth gives us inertia for our Christian pilgrimage. Though we make a fresh start every time we are absolved of our sins in our daily living we build on past experience. Mechanical engineers tell us that it takes six times as much power to start a flywheel from a dead stop as it does to keep it going once in motion. In other words, it takes only one sixth as much effort to keep going once you are on the way as it does to stop a bit, and then start again. When tempted to slacken just because there is some resistance, remember the flywheel. Remember God does not fail you. You are not on a pleasure cruise through life you are in a battle. You have spiritual, mortal enemies. You have a high and holy calling. You are part of the royal priesthood.

You are His precious inheritance, His baptized child. His love for you is so profound it cannot even begin to be measured. His protection of you is so complete no power can mount a threat against the security He promises. The Psalmist proclaims, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way.”2 and the Redeemer Himself says, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.”3 And again the Holy Spirit says, “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with Him.”4

The faithful servants in the parable are entrusted with more responsibility. They are also invited to share in the joy of the master. His victory is theirs too; His achievement, their Sabbath Rest. Believers fully participate in Christ’s triumph over sin, death, and Satan through His crucifixion and resurrection- the eternal celebration, heaven, everlasting life. God grant that even now, by grace, through faith- through the humble means of water, word, bread and wine- we may have a foretaste of what’s to come. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost
13 November 20111
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 Luke 9:23
2 Psalm 46:1-2
3 John 10:27-28
4 1 Thessalonians 5:11