The Glory Has Departed


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Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2016. Matthew 6:24-34.
Jesus Addresses Our Anxieties



The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2016

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                               

Jesus Addresses Our Anxieties


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.


Jesus Addresses Our Anxieties


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.
Luther has two sermons on this text Matthew 6:24-34, so I am using the second sermon for quotations. The first one is excellent about the worship of money, while the second one is about the comfort of the Gospel. I used to link the sermons from the earlier posts I did in Bella Vista, but now I republish one or both sermons each week to make them more prominent and easy to see in light of the service. They are also posted on Facebook each week. Doctrinal posts are extremely popular on this blog.
This is a good example of Jesus' teaching. Instead of giving us abstracts and a long list of details, Jesus makes a simple observation - no one can serve two masters. He will love one and hate the other, or serve one and be lax and careless with the other. Therefore, no one can serve God and riches (mammon).
This is impossible to refute, because we find ourselves following the same pattern. If someone likes Green Bay and the Vikings, or Notre Dame and Southern Cal equally, something is wrong. That person is lukewarm. Neither side will greet that lukewarmness with fondness and cheer. 
1. This Gospel is a part of the long sermon Christ delivered to his disciples on the mount, in which among other things he especially warned and admonished his disciples against the infamous vice of avarice and anxiety for daily bread, the legitimate fruit and proof of our unbelief. This does great harm in Christendom when it takes possession of those in the office of the ministry, who should be occupied by nothing except teaching the Word of God and faith aright, and chastising the error and sin of the world; or when it possesses these it should confess God’s Words before all persons and be prepared to serve everybody for the sake of God, even if they be obliged on that account to lose their riches, honor, body and life.

2. Christ wishes also to teach here how he desires to have his kingdom distinguished from the civil life and government, that he will not govern his Christendom upon earth so that it be conceived and vested as a government where Christians are first of all to be amply provided with temporal goods, riches and power, and who need not fear any need or danger; but he wishes to provide them with spiritual treasures and what their souls need, so that they may have his Word, the consolation of his grace, and the power and strength of the Holy Spirit against sin and death unto everlasting life. Moreover whatever they need of temporal things for this life and the necessaries for present wants they are to expect also from him, and they are not to be terrified if they do not see this before their eyes and have it prepared for the future, and are tempted by want and need. On the other hand they are to know that their God and Father will care for them and will surely give them all if they with firm faith are only anxious about and seek how they may continue faithful to his word and in his kingdom, and serve him there.
The downturn of the economy has shown that whatever we imagined to be bad before, it can be much worse and we can survive. Those who try to scrape every last penny into their pockets will always end up dissatisfied, especially when their plans go against them. I used to wonder why Mob leaders were so grasping about money, no matter how much they took in. Then I realized - it was their only measure of worth. When people reach that level, they are no better. 
As Jesus teaches so clearly here - those who worship mammon - mammon means having far more than enough - are really expressing hatred and distrust toward God. Thus they lose the comfort provided by God and often lose the mammon they covet.
Alternately - if people trust in God and obtain their comfort from the Savior, God will provide rich spiritual treasures in all circumstances and provide enough besides.
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? 
Even today, with so many government and charity programs, there is great anxiety about this very thing. I often get a look into these programs, so there are many safety nets, entirely lacking when Jesus spoke. Is not life worth more than food and clothing?

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? 
I liked the little red jewels of Wild Strawberries, growing here and there in the yard. They bloom and fruit in the shade, early in the spring and much of the summer. "This is great! I will transplant them!" I said. And I did. Soon I learned that birds were planting them for me. They ate the berries and planted the seeds where they roost.


The more I studied Pokeweed, the more I admired the plant, which can grow 20 feet tall. Pokeweed also grows well on its own, first feeding the beneficial insects, then producing berries for birds and mammals who plant them for us. I have one plant near the birdfeeders for obvious reasons, only the Pokeweed is a free feeder while the others require filling. Pokeweed is even more popular with birds, than sunflower seed, about 62 species loving Pokeweed compared to 42 voting for sunflower seeds. Like the squirrels. the food they love is also the food they plant, so God has created and designed them so their hunger feeds their hunger.
Certain animals do store food but few birds do. The Blue Jays actually help build oak forests as much as squirrels do.
Birds begin each day singing Matins in cheerful voices. Everyone admits that birds singing in the morning add to sunrise and change one's sleepy mood to a shared joy. But what do the birds have to be happy about? The nestlings are chirping for food and devour enormous amounts. The smaller the body-weight, the more they seem to need to keep that metabolism going. So the parents go out to gather the bugs hatching, just in time, to feed the best foods to their children. They start the day in the red, without any food stored, hungry and cajoled by their children, but they sing and take off to find food for the day.
Birds do not have our ordinary tools, but they are observant. When someone turns over soil, they are excited about the possibilities for worms and grubs. When someone goes out to fill the feeders or scatter seed, they know their human friends and chatter to their bird relatives. "Food. Food." I have had birds land near me to remind me of my duties. Blue Jays are more likely to scream at me for their snacks. They use all their resources to take care of their families, which grow up and fly away. 
Arguing from the lesser to the greater, Jesus says, The Father feeds them, without barns or harvesting tools. Are you not much more important than they are to Him?
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:
When gardeners get more involved with improving the plants, attention becomes focused on the value of wild flowers and herbs that take care of themselves. We cannot change our height, so why worry about our clothes? The wild flowers do not manufacture clothing - look at how they grow.
If anxiety fed and clothed us, we would have barns built for all the food and clothing in excess. 

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 
Once again, this Sunday, we have an example of the greatest colors and fragrances that anyone might wear, but the clothing is on the roses. The roses were developed for certain characteristics, but everything was already in the DNA library, as much information as all the books at the Yale Library. 
I have no worries about mixing oranges and reds, yellows and other combinations, because they all look good on flowers put together, especially with roses. The roses we share with others make people so happy that we get hand-written thank-you notes from people we do not know and have not met. Some went to the home of a dying woman, who was herself dying. Both of them loved the roses. They sit in doctors' offices and patients love seeing and smelling them. I told someone, "It's a great hobby. I do less than 1% of the work and get all the credit." That is only because Creation principles simply follow what is already in those living creatures. 
The farmer realizes this because he plants in hope and trusts that God will take this seed and turn it into food and clothing for his family.
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? 
Being anxious is a sign of little faith, but - as Luther says - this is a common problem for all of us, because we worry about the future. I read he had a saying about a good sermon leaving the listener either hating the sin or hating the preacher. Jesus is simply telling us to have faith in God, and He is the example, for we are justified by faith of Jesus - Romans, Galatians, and Philippians 3:9
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
So the Lord of Creation is directing our attention to Creation itself, showing that all has been provided for us, not necessarily to live in wealth and ease, but to live and enjoy the spiritual treasures provided.
I have been in all kinds of homes. Some are filled with the characteristics of wealth and power but lack peace and joy. Others have nothing at all, but peace reigns because of the foundation of faith. One person we knew had nothing and a rotten, mean husband besides, but she always had a peaceful smile and never backed down on hearing her Lutheran worship service. She did things at the end of life that defied reason, such as going to see a dying relative when she really should have been in a tent and served day and night. There are many like Lazareth, lying outside the palace, and they wait to be delivered from earthly woes, but they enjoy heavenly treasures in the meantime.
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.
Gentile here really means pagans or unbelievers, not simply non-Jews. The unbelievers and pagans seek the security of having everything and great wealth besides. No matter what the circumstances, people find ways of turning opportunities into money. Which is the priority? Those without faith will always put material things first, but that does not mean God is second. That priority displaces God, perhaps not at first - but eventually, so the nod toward the Faith of Christ becomes a hatred of it. So the wealthy love to make clergy their puppets and almoners, the clergy tongues hanging out for the next grant - all for missions, of course, even when it includes a stop at the French Riviera or the carnal displays at Rio. Nothing shows more the hatred of Mammon for the Gospel than subjugating the Church and making the clergy bow before the Mammon throne. 
J. P. Morgan took his Episcopalian bishops - and his mistress - to the convention in his private railroad car. And they went gladly and kept their silence. Lutheran leaders did the same with Marvin Schwan and hoped the buckets of mammon would fill their empty, bitter, remorseless souls.
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.
All references to righteousness in the Bible - and to saints - is justification by faith - for believers.Seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness is fulfilled by obeying the First Table of the Ten Commandments and gladly hearing the Word of God. That includes hearing sound doctrine and not chasing after fads and heresies however attractive they may be at the time.
Righteousness comes through faith, which is a divine quality created and sustained by the Means of Grace. That is the priority - and "all these things" we worry about are addressed and added. We can suffer privation and tremendous storms of emotional pain, which some are only too happy to inflict. And yet God can turn all those difficulties into strengths. Those who mourn comfort the grieving. Those who have known poverty encourage the poor and help out. A young lady died recently, far too soon, the sister of one of my students. This young lady took her sister and mother into her house when they had nothing and helped them gain financial stability again. She really looked like a young angel. She was not lost to this world but transformed to the place where she was going with faith and resolution.
Luther said no one could help him unless they had suffered spiritual battles (Anfectungen). At times the world seemed to be dissolving and people yelled, "Are you the only one who is right and the rest of the world wrong, you little monk?" That is why Luther wrote sermons that mean so much today. He address the Word to the human situation and never varied from the message of the Word.