Monday, June 2, 2014

Easter 7 Sermon: "Divine Eavesdropping"

+ Easter 7 – June 1st, 2014 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A: Acts 1:12-26; 1 Peter 4:12-19. 5:6-11; John 17:1-11
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

From the time that we’re young our parents and teachers tell us (some of more than others) to mind our own business; don’t be so nosy; stop your eavesdropping. So it seems a bit odd to us that we’re allowed to listen in Jesus’ prayer.
But of course Jesus prays publicly for all to hear – his disciples in that upper room just before his trial, crucifixion, and death; and us, here in this room, who continue to rejoice in Christ’s death and resurrection. John 17 is a delightful case of divine eavesdropping.
And for what and for whom does he pray?
Jesus prays that the Father might glorify him in his death on the cross. All of John’s Gospel has been leading up to this, Jesus’ glory on the cross for you.
Jesus prays in order that you would be given eternal life.
Jesus prays for the Word of God to take root in you and spring to life and faith in the one true God.
Jesus prays for you and for all who believe in him. That’s particularly comforting, especially when you don’t know what to pray, or how to pray for something particularly troubling in your life. Jesus not only prays with you; Jesus prays for you.
And Jesus prays… “I have manifested your name.” This is God’s name of course. We know God’s name by many titles in the Old Testament (many more in the NT as you can see on your bulletin cover). Lord. Adonai. God. Elohim in the Hebrew. Yahweh – God’s personal name given to Israel. But Jesus gives us a new name by which we are to address God.
Sure, we have earthly fathers, spiritual fathers, father figures, and so forth. It’s a common title. But this is no small name. It is a holy privilege, a great joy, and honor to address God and call upon him as Father.
For once we had no right to call him Father. At one time we were all children of darkness, not light. We were children of Adam, not our heavenly Father. We had no inheritance, no right to be called heirs and sons; we were enemies of God. This is what sin does. Sin separates us from our heavenly Father like it did for Adam and Eve, expelled from Eden. Sin turns us against our family members like Cain with murderous thoughts and wicked deeds. Like Jacob, sin warps our minds into thinking we can trick our heavenly Father into blessing us on the basis of our cunning and scheming. Like Absalom against David, each of us have turned aside from our heavenly Father in rebellion.
And yet, Isaac blessed Jacob. David wept and mourned Absalom’s death. Cain was given a mark of mercy. Our heavenly Father is no different. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” he declares. “I do not desire the death of a sinner”, he promises. And so like Adam and Eve, our heavenly Father clothes us. He sends his Son, his only Son, to be our sacrifice. Like Jacob you are clothed in blessing on account of your brother in the flesh, Jesus Christ. Like Cain you receive a mark that covers your murderous heart of darkness, the sign of the cross upon your forehead and heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the Crucified. And like Absalom, you are anointed with water and the Spirit by Jesus, your Greater David, who was enthroned in glory for you on the cross.
This is the kind of heavenly Father you have. The Father who sends his Son to die for the sins of his wayward, wicked children. For your sins. For mine. For the world. The Father sends the Son. And the Son reveals the Father’s name. Jesus reveals the Father’s glory, chiefly in suffering and dying for you.
“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.  And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 
Calling upon God as Father is baptismal language.
We heard this at Jesus’ baptism… “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” The Father is well pleased with his Son who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Father is well pleased by his being your substitute. The Father is well pleased that Jesus stepped into the Jordan to be baptized unto his death. The Father is well pleased that through Jesus’ death you receive a new birth from above, that in Holy Baptism you are born by water and the Spirit. And now the Father is well pleased with you.
Like all fathers, our heavenly Father only wants what’s best for us. And so he gives it to you. He gives you eternal life in Jesus’ dying and rising. He sends pastors to absolve your sins in his name. He feeds you with living bread from heaven.
God even gives you a new name in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Your name is no longer child of Adam and sinner, but now it is saint, God’s own child. Children of the heavenly Father.
Now this may sound like a silly example but I think it makes the point well. In the Disney movie, Toy Story, we learn quickly that Andy, the young boy whom the toys belong to, is very protective of his toys. So much in fact that he takes a nice black sharpie and writes his name on the bottom of each foot of his toy. You see, to be one of Andy’s toys means something: he loves and cherishes you, you’re his treasured possession, and you belong to him; you belong to a family.
What a wonderful illustration of Holy Baptism. In the font our heavenly Father does something far greater and more permanent than even a big black sharpie; he baptizes you into the glory of Jesus’ death and resurrection and signs his Triune Name upon your forehead with the blood of the Lamb. The Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is placed upon you and that means something. He loves and cherishes you. You’re his own treasured possession. You belong to Jesus.  
In Holy Baptism the glory of Christ’s suffering and crucifixion is made yours. A great exchange. You are clothed in Christ for he was clothed in your sin. You are made an heir of Christ’s eternal inheritance because he suffered for all that we had coming to us. Christ’s mercy is poured out upon you because Christ received the flood and torrent of God’s wrath over our sin.
God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Today in this font, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Kim and Carter (8 AM) and Kyliegh (11 AM) are made members of Christ’s family. Welcome to the family, Kim and Carter. Welcome to the family, Kyliegh.

And what he has given them today he has given us all, the right to be called children of God. That’s why we pray, “Our Father”. Jesus prays with us. Jesus elevates us to the status of sons and heirs according to God’s promise. And so we join Jesus in praying: “Our Father”. You’re never alone when you pray that prayer, whether you’re in a room by yourself with others. Holy Father, keep us, your children, in Your name.
We give you thanks, Holy Father,
For your holy name which you have caused to dwell in our hearts,
And for the knowledge and faith and immortality
Which you have made known to us
Through Jesus your servant;
To you be the glory forever….
Remember your church, Lord,
To deliver her from all evil
And to make her perfect in your love;
And gather her, the one that has been sanctified,
From the four winds into your kingdom,
Which you have prepared for her;
For yours is the power and the glory forever.
(Didache, 10)

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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