The Glory Has Departed


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Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2015. Matthew 6:24-34.
Worship the Creator or the Creation?


The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2015

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #396                               O For a Faith                                                            
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #657                                 Beautiful Savior                               

Worship the Creator or the Creation?


The Communion Hymn # 305:1-5                       Soul, Adorn Thyself             
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #23                                     Hallelujah! Let Praises Ring                                       

KJV Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.  4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  5 For every man shall bear his own burden.  6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.  7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

KJV Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee for all Thy benefits: that Thou hast given us life and graciously sustained us unto this day: We beseech Thee, take not Thy blessing from us; preserve us from covetousness, that we may serve Thee only, love and abide in Thee, and not defile ourselves by idolatrous love of mammon, but hope and trust only in Thy grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.




Worship the Creator or the Creation?


KJV Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 

The meaning of mammon is important for this passage. We really have nothing quite like it, expressed in one word. Mammon does not mean simply money or material things, but luxurious wealth. The key is not in having abundance, but serving it. Luther wrote in one place of clergy who are exposed to such wealth and want to have the benefits of it, so they subvert their message. Meanwhile the wealthy person uses that wealth to be masters of the congregation or denomination, in effect buying indulgences. They rely on their wealth for the forgiveness of sin, not on the Gospel. And the Lutheran clergy find themselves acting like Roman priests, selling the benefits of the Gospel. They even attach themselves to business, gaining little benefits by promoting one business over another, such as Thrivent insurance or Harley Davidson motorcyles (I Am So Glad Jesus Rode a Hog).

9. The master uses here the Hebrew, which we do not. “Mammon” means goods or riches, and such goods as one does not need, but holds as a treasure, and it is gold and possessions that one deposits as stock and storage provisions. This Christians do not do, they gather no treasures; but they ask God for their daily bread. However, others are not satisfied with this, they gather a great store upon which they may depend, in case our God should die to-day or tomorrow, they might then know a way out.

Therefore St. Paul says, in Ephesians 5: 5 and Colossians 3:5, riches and covetousness are the god of this world and are idolatry, with this Christ here agrees and calls it serving mammon.

The key verb is serve. Are we subordinate to God or mammon? To serve mammon means to distrust God. Mammon will give us security, the fear says in our hearts, but God simply brings us trouble, laying His cross upon our shoulders.

2. Therefore they, who only thus hear the Gospel, so that they may know it and be able to speak about the wisdom of God, are not worthy to be classed among Christians; but they, who do as the Gospel teaches, are true Christians. However, very few of these are found; we see many hearers, but all are not doers of the Gospel. We wish now to examine more closely what kind of doctrine the Lord teaches in this Gospel. First, he begins with a plain, natural example, so that we all must confess it is true; experience also teaches the same to everybody. He says: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other: or else he will hold to one, and despise the other.” [GJ - Note this is a direct reference to James. However, the dabblers would have us believe that Luther hated the Epistle of James. In fact, he referred to James favorably.]

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Here is Jesus' own command - do not be anxious about our life,  food, or clothing. Life is much more than food and clothing. This is especially noteworthy in light of Jesus' saying the hearers were blessed for hearing and seeing what the ancients longed to hear and see. Now we have people surrounded with the trappings of the Gospel but unaware of its riches.

Those who place the Gospel first will find the wealth of God's Word. As someone wrote yesterday, battling for the efficacy of the Word (consecration of the elements by the Word) taught him Lutheran doctrine. He was already a Lutheran pastor and was deposed for teaching what the Scriptures and the Confessions clearly say. But that taught him the truth clearly in making him defend the truth. He can see what the issues about justification by faith are - once again the efficacy of the Word.

To cling to the truth and defend it, one must go back to the Scriptures alone and read the sermons of Luther. There are so many issues that basic courses never address in school, and no one is prepared for the appalling lack of sound doctrine that is promoted and supported by clergy and laity alike. It is this study on the battlefield that opens up the meaning of the unity of God's truth in the Scriptures and sound doctrine.

One by-product is trusting in God, who is our kindly and generous Heavenly Father. Although human fathers have their failings, they want the best for their children and take care to raise them properly while giving them the best education in life. Once again, this shows how wealth deceives, because mammon-fathers neglect their children and say, "But gave them the world" while spoiling them.

As someone who has taught many college undergraduates, I can say that spoiling a child with wealth or sports-stardom is the worst possible abuse of the parental office. In both cases the child grows up in an alternate world while work, dedication, and integrity mean nothing. One father said to me, "I am forcing my son to do his homework because the team needs him." They lost games with and without him, so that was an odd idea, and the son never got his motivation going. He flunked a relatively easy course. And who missed the most classes in a row? The doctor's son did, and he expected to make them up when the class was over. 

One college girl said she could only talk to her father when she was scheduled for a teleconference with him, the top executive at an aircraft company, but she had money to go to Vegas with her friends.

Christian parents have the blessing of seeing their children grow up as responsible adults who care about their children as well. Those are invisible benefits to those who serve mammon.

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

This is the common lesser-to-greater argument used by rabbis. If it is true of a lower order, how much more true is it of a higher order. I feed the birds, but they have an inner voice, in the design of the Creator, that sends them off when bad weather threatens. They are directed to food and shelter for the winter, just as Monarch butterflies are moved to rest in Mexico by the millions.
If God did not feed the birds, they would starve and the insect pests would take over. Then we would starve as the pests multiplied and took over our food crops.
I told our doctor, when you sprayed your roses with oil to kill the pests, you also removed the food needed by the pest eaters. Like most of us, he was vaguely aware of little insects around his roses, but not fully informed of the pest/parisitoid insect cycle.
  • The plant is invaded by a pest, which causes it to send up chemical signals.
  • Parisitoid insects detect the chemical signals and also hear the noise of the brutish pests eating the plants. 
  • These good insects arrive and lay their eggs on, near, or inside the pests. The parents may also eat the pests, but many like nectar and pollen as adults. If I grew up eating raw insects, I would switch too. 
  • The babies hatch and slowly devour the pests, which turns the beneficial baby insects into adults that winter in the leaf mulch.
  • In the spring, the beneficial insects repeat what their parents did.
  • Birds and toads, enjoying an abundance of life in a toxin-free yard, devour many pests as well, the starlings and grackles pecking grubs out of the soil.
As proof you will see that I have many pure white roses on the altar today. They were completely devastated by aphids during their first bloom. I left them alone and let the beneficial insects reduce their numbers. Now almost all the white roses are perfect. A few get hit by pests, but I see those wilted blooms as feeding a new generation of beneficial insects.
If God can design and manage a superabundance of dependencies to keep our natural world so full of healthy life, can He not also take care of us? We are far higher in His esteem than they are, and He cares for them.

8. Now the world cannot conceal its unbelief in its coarse, outward sins, for I see it loves a dollar more than Christ; more than all the Apostles, even if they themselves were present and preached to it. I can hear the Gospel daily, but it does not profit me every day; it may indeed happen, if I have heard it a whole year, the Holy Spirit may have been given to me only one hour. Now when I enjoyed this hour I obtained not only five hundred dollars, but also the riches of the whole world; for what have I not, when I have the Gospel? I received God, who made the silver and the gold, and all that is upon the earth; for I acquired the Spirit by which I know that I will be kept by him forever; that is much more than if I had the church full of money. Examine now and see, if our heart is not a rogue, full of wickedness and unbelief. If I were a true Christian, I would say. The hour the Gospel is received, there comes to me a hundred thousand dollars, and much more. For if I possess this treasure, I have all that is in heaven and upon earth. But one must serve this treasure only, for no man can serve God and mammon. Either you must love God and hate money; or you must hate God and love money; this and nothing more.

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 

We are quite aware of flowers, and everyone is in favor of them. What should astonish us even more is the way the initial cells differentiate and take on specialty roles as the plant matures. We talk about thinking and planning, yet these plants each have a team effort in splitting off cells and forming miniature chemical plants in each cell, to do the work needed. And they reproduce and create more generations of the same, or new versions by cross pollination.

What we love about flowers is the variety of displays they form in their glory, and all of them go well together. 

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 
Luther's sermon on this text borrows from James, the differences between those who only hear, as compared to those who hear and do. The foundational sin is not trusting in God's abundance mercy and grace. From that sin comes the lack of doing. If one only has enough knowledge to repeat the worlds without believing in them, he will be a hearer only (James) and not a doer, as James writes. That is not genuine faith.

10. Now, how does it come that the Gospel and St. Paul call especially covetousness and not other sins idolatry; since uncleanness, fornication, lust, base desires, unchastity and other vices are more opposed to God? It is done to our great shame, because gold is our god, that we serve, in that we trust and rely upon it, and it can neither sustain nor save us, yea, it can neither stand nor walk, it neither hears nor sees, it has no strength nor power, with it there is neither comfort nor help. For if one had the riches of the whole world, he would not be secure for one moment before death.

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Jesus gives us all the proof for a definite and trust-enhancing conclusion. The Savior moves us from the just indictment - o ye of little faith - to another way of thinking and believing. The pagans (Gentiles) worry about these things. God the Father knows about our needs and He will provided in abundance. What is first? Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness - all these material things will be added to that. But those who subordinate themselves to mammon will not seek the Kingdom and find many trials and anxieties attached to that search, that lust, that life of coveting.
28. As if the Lord would say: You have never yet seen a bird with a sickle, with which it harvested and gathered into barns; yea, the birds do not labor like we; and still they are nourished. By this the Lord does not however teach that we are to be idle; but he tries by this example to take all anxiety from us. For a bird cannot do the work of a farmer as we do; yet, it is not free from labor, but it does the work for which it was created, namely, it bears its young, feeds them and sings to our Lord God a little song for the privilege of doing this. Had God imposed more labor upon it, then it would have done more. Early in the morning it rises, sits upon a twig and sings a song it has learned, while it knows not where to obtain its food, and yet it is not worried as to where to get its breakfast. Later, when it is hungry, it flies away and seeks a grain of corn, where God stored one away for it, of which it never thought while singing, when it had cause enough to be anxious about its food. Ay, shame on you now, that the little birds are more pious and believing than you; they are happy and sing with joy and know not whether they have anything to eat.

29. This parable is constantly taught to our great and burning shame, that we cannot do as much as the birds. A Christian should be ashamed before a little bird that knows an art it never acquired from a teacher. When in the spring of the year, while the birds sing the most beautifully, you say to one:

How canst thou sing so joyfully, thou hast not yet any grain in thy barn! It would thus mock you. It is a powerful example and should truly give offense to us and stir us to trust God more than we do. Therefore he concludes with a penetrating passage, and asks: “Are not ye of much more value than they?”