Monday, March 24, 2014

Lent 3 Sermon: "Living Water"



+ Lent 3 – March 23rd, 2014 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A: Exodus 17:1-7; Romans 5:1-8; John 4:5-26

Note: As I went looking for images to display with this sermon, I stumbled across a number of icons of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. As you look at the iconography posted below here look for the common theme in shape and design of the various wells portrayed. It's no coincidence that they look like baptismal fonts, one even being cruciform in pattern. After all, the waters of the font are teeming and surging for us with the living water of Christ's eternal life poured out on the cross.

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

It was the middle of the day – the 6th hour by Jewish reckoning - yet she walked in darkness. She came for well water; but she found living water. She came to quench her thirst; she found the cleansing of her sin. She came to Jacob’s well; she found one who is greater than Jacob, Jesus, the source of living water.
Give me a drink.

Of course our Lord was thirsty. He was weary. It was high noon. But Jesus was interested in more than a cup of cool water from this Samaritan woman. He was there for her.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”

John’s little parenthetical note reminds us that the Samaritans were outcasts and outsiders. Most Israelites saw them as heretics and half-breeds (Harry Potter fans, think mudbloods or muggles). But again, Jesus wasn’t most Israelites. Jesus talked with Samaritans…just as he shared a table with tax collectors and sinners. 

Jesus came for outcasts and outsiders – like that Samaritan woman…like you and me. Jesus comes for those whose hands and hearts dirty and filthy with sin. Not the righteous, but sinners.
For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.

Christ dwells with sinners. Christ came to find that Samaritan woman, and to take her sin upon himself, to take it all the way to Jerusalem, to the cross. Christ came for you too, to take your sin all the way to his death.

 “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

There are two kinds of water. Well water and living water. Well water takes work. Every day she came to the well. Every day she lowered the rope and hoisted up the water. Every day she carried the water on her head back to town. Work, work, work.

Not so with living water. Living water moves freely from its source to you. You do nothing, the water does everything. It’s pure gift. Faith is like living water - we, like the Samaritan woman, are at the receiving end. And living water always has a source – like Portland and Mt. Hood. Jesus is our Source of living water; the stream was opened at His death when water and blood flowed from His side to supply the Sacraments. And a fountain of forgiveness flows from Calvary to you in Baptism and the Supper. 

“Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? You bet he is! But, like the Jews always claiming Abraham as father, Samaritan pride kicks in. He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

Jesus has something better than well water to give her, living water from a well that goes deeper than Jacob’s well.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again…
That’s how it goes with well water. It’s repetitive. She’d be back again tomorrow at the same well, same time, for the same water.

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Woah! Now that’s some high quality H2O. Never thirst again?! Sir give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water. No more buckets. No more balancing water jugs on the head. No more walking in the hot sun. But of course, that’s not what Jesus has in mind. He’s speaking about heavenly things, eternal things.



So Jesus moves the conversation a little closer to home.

“Go, call your husband, and come here.” Problem is, she has no husband.
“You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

Jesus’ word of Law does its work. She dodges Jesus’ words and tries to change the subject. Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet

We’re no different. The Law exposes, convicts, and kills and we try to avoid, pass blame, and run for our life.

But where you and I see a meaningless question about where to worship - in Samaria or Jerusalem – Jesus directs the conversation back to who he is and what he’s doing in Jerusalem.

The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
This is what sinners do: we worship in ignorance. Our hearts are idol factories. And no amount of well water or work is going to keep us alive. Salvation is not in our hands and neither was it in the Samaritans’ hands. Salvation is from the Jews, says Jesus. So, what does that mean?

 “The hour is coming and now is. Now is. Now in her hearing. Now also in yours. Now with Jesus standing there in front of her. The time now is when true worshippers, including you, will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth.” 

Jesus isn’t speaking of some kind of abstract new-agey spiritual gibberish. Spirit and Truth should be capitalized. Jesus is talking about the Trinity. True worshippers of the Father worship the Father in the Holy Spirit and in the Truth, namely Jesus the Son: the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. No one comes to the Son except by the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus has been leading the Samaritan woman – and us– upstream to this final word.

 “I know that Messiah is coming.” Jesus said to her, “I AM, the one who is speaking.”

Behold, someone greater than Jacob is here. Jesus uses God’s divine Name: I AM…YHWH. Jesus is saying that He is the God of Abraham in human flesh. And He is to be worshipped in Spirit and Truth.
And for the Samaritan woman that’s really the beginning of the story. She leaves her water jug and runs home telling her friends and neighbors about this guy “who told me everything I ever did and might actually be the Messiah.” And the whole town went to meet Jesus and believed Him too, all because of this sassy Samaritan with a messed up life who met Jesus at Jacob’s well one day at high noon and started talking about living water.

But of course this story isn’t just about a Samaritan woman. Jesus is your living water too.

“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.” 

He really knows everything we’ve done? Everything? Yes. Every sin. Every commandment broken. Every spot, blemish, and wrinkle. Admittedly this is terrifying…until you find out that Jesus loves you like he loved the Samaritan woman. For though he knew her sins, every one of them, and though he knows our sins – everything we’ve ever done or failed to do – he loves us anyway. Each one of those sins – the Samaritan woman’s and yours and mine – are paid for on the cross.

Jesus dives head first into the cesspool of our sin and soaks up all our lies, false witness, stealing, lusting, coveting, gossiping, hate, and lovelessness and drowns it all in living waters of Holy Baptism. All because Jesus barged into the sludge of guilt, sin, and death that we’ve dammed up in order to break us free from death and release the living waters of eternal life upon us
Remember that it was at the 6th hour that Jesus hung on the cross for you, enduring the scorching heat of God’s wrath for our sin. And now, at this hour Jesus floods us with forgiveness, a deluge of divine goodness and mercy. Jesus comes today, just as he did for that Samaritan woman, and sits beside us, here at this well, in His word, at His altar with His living water.  

No more well water for you. Jesus has something better: a refreshing stream of life and Spirit from Him to you. Living, Holy Spirit-ed water bringing you the new birth from above, making you a new creation, joining you to Jesus’ death and life. This isn’t water you work for, it’s water that works for you, a washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ living water flows downstream from the cross to you. 

This is why Jesus comes to you as he did the Samaritan woman, to save sinners. Sinners with messed up lives that are beyond cleaning up. Lives like that Samaritan woman who was probably reminded of her messed up life every day on the walk to Jacob’s well, where the men stared at her and the women gossiped behind her back. 

That is, until she meets a Jewish rabbi who dares to ask her for a drink and offers her living water of eternal life, free of charge. For the Son of Man did not come into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world, that this Samaritan woman, that you and me, would be saved through Him.
 “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but god shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for you. 

Are you thirsty? Then come and drink. There is a spring of living water flowing from Jesus’ cross to you. Do you wish to worship God in Spirit and Truth? Then you have come to the right place. For where Baptism, Body, Blood and Word are, there Jesus is, and the Spirit, and the Father, and there His true worshipers are.

“Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for you shall be satisfied.

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


Friday, March 21, 2014

Aslan's Living Water

Two women went looking for water. One was younger and the other was older. One went into the wood and the other to the well. One was from Narnia the other from Samaria.

Yet, these two women, Jill Pole and the Samaritan woman, have more in common than they do in contrast  Both had sinned. Both came face to face with the Lion who could not be tamed. Both were lost, thirsty, and alone. Both could find only one stream that would satisfy. Both received more than they expected. 

"If you're thirsty, you may drink."

...she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man's. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in a rather different sort of way.

"Are you not thirsty? said the Lion.
"I'm dying of thirst," said Jill.
"Then drink," said the Lion.
"May I - could I - would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill. "Will you promise not to - do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill.
"I make no promise," said the Lion.
"Do you eat girls?" she said.
"I've swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion.
"I daren't come and drink," said Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
"Oh dear!" said Jill..."I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream," said the Lion.

It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn't need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once. (C.S. Lewis, Silver Chair, p. 556)

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4.

You also have come to the streams of the great Lion, where living water flows freely from his side to you in the font. There is no other stream. There is no other well. For there is no need of any other. This Lion of the Tribe of Judah gives you true living water. Take and drink and live forever. Water is life. Jesus is your living water, from Samaria to all the ends of the earth, even to eternal life.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lenten Midweek Sermon: "For All the Young Dudes and Gals"



Midweek Sermon - Lent Pulpit Exchange 2014
Small Catechism Table of Duties: Youth
1 Peter 5:1-11

Note: For the sixth year in a row, Redeemer is participating in a Lenten midweek pulpit exchange with fellow LCMS churches in the Southern California area. Each previous year the midweek sermon series has covered each of the six chief parts of Luther's Small Catechism. Having completed the 6th chief part last year, this year we're focusing on the Table of Duties and the doctrine of vocation. All of this culminates in a Catechism Convocation for the people on May 10th, 2014. You can find out more information by going to www.smallcatechism.com. This year's guest speaker list includes Rev. Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, among other notable local pastors in the LCMS. It is a joy to share this pulpit exchange with my brothers in the Office and our sister congregations. This year I was chosen to preach on the section of "youth" from the Table of Duties. Blessed Lent to you all. And stay Lutheran, my friends.

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
In the 60’s the mantra was: Don’t trust anyone over 30. Maybe we could adjust that to 32 in my case. Today the mantra has changed: Don’t trust anyone.
What a contrast to Peter’s words…
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…
At first you might think this text has nothing to do with the youth in particular. It sounds as if Peter is giving the same instructions to youth as he would to any other member of the body of Christ.
And you’d be right. That’s exactly what Peter is doing. Certainly Peter specifically mentions those who are younger in the faith, but the context of 1 Peter 5 is bigger than one age demographic. That’s because the Christian doctrine that Peter is teaching is bigger than one age bracket.
Peter’s word choice clues us in. When Peter uses the word “elder”, he’s using one of several New Testament words for pastor. And when he mentions the flock of God, he’s referring to the Christian Church. Pastor and parishioners, Christ’s shepherds and His flock. That’s the wider context here: the body of Christ and how we relate to one another. We’re all in this text. Whether you are youth, were youth, somewhat (or barely) remember your youth, or will be youth someday soon – we’re all members of the same body. Peter has something to say to all of us no matter what vocation - station in life - we find ourselves in.
To the pastors he writes: Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
Notice that Peter doesn’t treat the youth of the Church any different than the rest of his congregation. And he teaches the pastors and people who read and hear this letter to approach the youth in the same manner.
Peter tells the church that the youth need shepherds. Sadly, American Christianity has spent decades giving the youth of the church everything but shepherds: they’ve been fed a steady diet of emotionally and subjectively manipulative bible studies and worship services; they’ve been offered theological junk food and moralistic animated talking vegetables; they’ve heard plenty of gimmicks but not enough Gospel.
The youth don’t need a salesmen to bait and switch them into believing Christ’s word and sacraments. They need a shepherd who will deliver Christ’s wholesome, life-giving water, word, body and blood to them at the pulpit, font, lectern, and altar, in bible class, youth group, or in casual conversation.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not bad to have fun activities. The youth need that just as much as the rest of us. But that’s not all they need. Pizza is great but it isn’t the Gospel. Fun isn’t going to anchor and sustain their Christian faith when they have a rough day or week at school, or when a friend commits suicide, or a family member is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Peter is teaching pastors and the church to give the youth what they really need: a steady diet of spiritual meat and potatoes, not junk food, even when that may sound more appetizing; the solid food of the Scriptures, the Catechism, the hymnal.
And though we may think they speak a different language (texting and whatnot), we should never dumb-down our teaching or water down worship. Our Lutheran youth are smart and they love Lutheranism; we just need to give it to them, early and often.
The youth I spend time with know that the church should look and sound different than the world they see on Facebook, Netflix, or the their iPhones. They know the difference between Disney Land and the Divine Service. Our youth are smart and they want to be Lutheran, but like us, they need to be fed.
St. Peter wants pastors to shepherd the flock and churches to lead our fellow members of the flock to the still waters of the font and to the table overflowing with Christ’s bodied and blooded promises.
Peter wants the church to give our youth a faith they can grow into, not out of.
Peter’s words also remind me of an episode of the cartoon show King of the Hill
The episode is called Reborn to be Wild. And really the whole thing is a great commentary on the superficiality shallowness of popular trends in American Christianity. But one of the best lines comes at the end of the episode. Hank Hill’s son, Bobby, has just come home with Hank from Messiah Fest – a rather extravagant contemporary Christian concert. Now, this is the culmination of a series of events that has Hank concerned about Bobby’s faith. And here’s why. Hank and Bobby pull back into the driveway. Bobby is upset. And Hank takes him to the garage to show him a box tucked on the top of a shelf. He pulls out a beanie baby, a digital pet, and a picture of Bobby in a Ninja Turtles outfit. “Oh that was lame; I look like such a dork,” exclaims Bobby. And then Hank brilliantly replies…“I know you think the stuff you’re doing now is cool but in a few years you’re gonna think it’s lame; and I don’t want the Lord end up in this box.”
As parents and fellow members of the body of Christ, as a pastor – we want what’s best for our youth. It’s true at home: home: clothing, food (and lots of it if they’re teenagers), water (yea that too), love, and anything they need. And it’s no different at church, although it’s infinitely better. Christ’s Church is a shelter from the storm of sin, death, and the devil that surround our youth daily. They’re washed in holy Baptism, clothed in Christ. They’re fed in the Holy Supper; the one meal where your youth can’t eat you out of house and home. This is their home. Because the best way for our youth to grow up Lutheran, stay Lutheran in high school and college, return to Lutheran churches when they have families and little Lutheran babies of their own – is to give them 200 proof Lutheranism.
Everything our youth need is right here in the Scriptures, right here in our Lutheran confession, right here in the Divine Service, in the hymns, and prayers. These are the best things we can spend our time and energy giving to our youth.
Like Hank Hill taught us, the best way to shepherd our youth is to point them to the God who is bigger than any passing trend, whose promises will outlast today’s fads as sure as they outlasted grunge rock, flannel shirts, and the 90s. We point them to the God who is bigger than their emotions and struggles, whose love goes deeper than their lowest days and higher than their best days ever. We point them to the God who wore diapers like us, crawled like us, and yes, was a youth and a teenager like us. But with one major difference.
Christ had no teenage rebellion. Jesus kept the 4th Commandment, honoring his earthly parents and his Heavenly Father. He listened obediently to the Word of God in the temple at age 12. In all of life’s little things and especially in the big things - the suffering, bleeding, dying, submitting to the Father’s will – He did all of this for you. All so you could be children of the heavenly Father. Jesus was the perfect youth, the perfect Son, the perfect Savior for you.
And this is why he says to the youth in 1 Peter 5: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Youth, I know these aren’t easy words to hear. We don’t like to hear that someone is in authority over us – not at school, not at home, not at church. But let’s be honest. There’s a reason Peter calls us all the flock of God. We’re sheep. And sheep wander; we go astray; we sin. And sheep can be dumb. I know I did a lot of dumb things as a teenager.
We need a shepherd. So, God gave us parents. As much as we might grumble about their rules or groan when they embarrass us, we need them. They’re God’s gifts to us. Their vocation is to love, care, and provide for us.
We also need pastors – no matter how old we are; and no matter how old your pastor is for that matter. It’s easy to wander off into greener spiritual pastures; the devil loves to snatch off the young. So God sends pastors to our youth. It’s your pastor’s vocation to deliver Good Shepherd Jesus to you, his flock in water, word, body, and blood.
We live in humility towards one another because Christ lived in humility on our behalf.
Jesus is the perfect, obedient Son for all of us wayward, rebellious children. And by His death, you are reconciled with your heavenly Father; you are brought back into the family tree. You are adopted by God’s grace in Christ. You are heirs of heaven. God’s own child I gladly say it. I am baptized into Christ.
Therefore, cast your worries, your cares, your sin and your death all on him…for He cares for you. It’s as true for the youth as it is for all of us. After all, we’re all youth under the care of our great and Good Shepherd Jesus.
Let us pray…

Shepherd of tender youth,
Guiding in love and truth
Through devious way;
Christ, our triumphant king,
We come your name to sing
And here our children bring
To join Your praise.

LSB 864:1

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sermon for Lent 2: "A New Birth, A New Home"



+ Lent 2 – March 16th, 2014 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A: Genesis 12:1-9; Romans 4:1-8, 13-17; John 3:1-17

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

Abraham and Nicodemus. Different men. Different time. Different place…but the same Lord who called them. 

The Lord called Abram to a new home, Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

The Lord called Nicodemus to receive new birth from above. Unless you are born from above you cannot see the kingdom of God.

A new birth, a new home – all in Christ.

And although you’re separated by time and space from Abram and Nicodemus, you’ve a lot more in common with these two men than you think.

You have received a new birth that leads to a new home. The Lord calls you out of the land of your father, Adam, and calls you into a new home, the kingdom of our heavenly Father. And you are God’s child precisely because you’ve been given a new birth from above. Holy Baptism, your new birth by water and the Spirit.

In Christ you receive a new birth and a new home. Jesus’ calling us to new birth by Water and Spirit isn’t the only thing with which we can identify with Nicodemus. 

No doubt, we also share his bewilderment. “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”

And if the question is a bit absurd, Jesus’ answer sounds even stranger: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Jesus’ response makes us wonder: “What was wrong with our first birth that a second one is needed?” Though Nicodemus doesn’t ask that question, it’s definitely on his mind. The answer to Jesus’ riddle is simple. You have two birthdays.

“Nicodemus knew only one birth from Adam and Eve. He did not yet know the birth from God and the church. He knew only the parents who beget death. He did not yet know the parents who beget life…Though there are two births, he only knew one. One is from the flesh, the other from the Spirit. One is from mortality, the other from eternity. One of from male and female, the other from God and the church” (Augustine).

Same goes for us…our first birthday is usually in a hospital, where we’re born to our parents. Your second birthday is your baptism in the font. Your first birthday is bodily life. Your second birthday is spiritual life. Your first birthday involves muscular movement and a first breath. Your second birth involves the gift of faith and faith’s breath and movement, love and good works for your neighbor.
But here’s the truth about our first birth, we are born dead, blind, sinful – like Nicodemus. That’s our problem, our first birth brings bodily life. And along with our bodily life comes great affliction: disease, suffering, despair, sorrow, grief, sin, and death.

So, Jesus comes to you as he came to Nicodemus and calls you out of your first birth, out of death and into life. And it is your Baptism, your second birth which bails you out your first birth. In your first birth you are a child of Adam but in your second birth you are God’s own child. Unless anyone is born of water and Spirit…

Water and Spirit. that’s creation language. In the beginning, everything was born of water and Spirit by the Word. The Spirit of God hovered over the chaotic waters of the Deep that covered the earth. This is also baptismal language. Unless one is created anew, born from above by the working of the Holy Spirit with the Word in the water of Baptism, one cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh and blood born of Adam and corrupted by Sin cannot enter the kingdom of God. 

Adam wants nothing to do with the kingdom of God. Adam wants to be god in his own kingdom. This is why we have conflict at home, work, school, church – really wherever 2 or 3 (or more) sinners are gathered. We want to be our own gods – on the playground, around the house, at the office, in our congregation. 

Lent is a seasonal reminder that our sinful flesh doesn’t need a little rehab or some remodeling or remedial sanctification. We simply need to die. Our sin is that bad. Start completely over. Not a second chance. No, death and resurrection. A new birth from above.

Adam must die; Christ must rise. Your sin must be daily drowned and your new man in Christ raised up.
In Christ you receive new birth, and a new home, by his promise…

The same promise he gave to Abram. “…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The word that’s woven throughout this morning’s readings is the word “faith.” Trust in the promise of God. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
 
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

This is what you and I believe and confess as Christians. This is what makes Christianity “Christian.” This is what sets Christianity apart from the world’s religions. But it’s also what many people just don’t get. God justifies the ungodly. God grants this as a gift: unconditional, undeserved, and unearned.

The Lord’s promise came to Abram before he did anything at all. God simply told Abraham how it would be. And here’s the remarkable thing: Abraham believed God. He trusted the Lord’s word. He believed the promise, as crazy and far-fetched as it all sounded for a 75 year-old childless man to be the father of a great nation. Abraham took God at His word, and God counted that trust of Abraham as righteousness.
And so he does for each us too. 

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…”

The Lord gave Abram a new home, a new land, and a new name: Abraham. And that offspring whom the Lord promised Abraham, through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. Well, it was that offspring, that perfect Seed who stood before Nicodemus proclaiming the new birth by water and Spirit.
Jesus does the same for you as well. Jesus was born into our first birth in order to free us from death by his birth and death. Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give us second birth. Your birth certificate in the kingdom of heaven is signed and sealed in the blood of the Lamb. You are born of water and the Spirit. You even have a new name; it is no longer son of Adam and sinner. No, now it is child of God, and saint. 

And with your new birth comes a new home, a new land, like Abraham before you, only better.
For the Son of Man had no place to lay his head, no place that is, except the cross and the grave, so that in his leaving his heavenly home you would find the entrance into his courts through the doorway of his cross. 

And like Nicodemus, Jesus calls you of darkness into His marvelous light. He calls you out of slavery into freedom of sins forgiven. He calls you out of self-love and self-worship to serve and love your neighbor.

Have no fear of provision on this journey on this Lenten journey. Here our Lord feeds you with his own body and blood to sustain yours. Here our Lord gives and sustains faith in his promises, just like he did for Abraham. Here our Lord pours out a new creation and a new birth for you by water and Spirit. Here our Lord justifies the unglodly. For here our Lord takes our old-inward-curved-sinful-flesh and points us outward to see our neighbor in need and respond in mercy. And know that wherever our Lord calls you, he goes with you.

What will you say? What word of comfort will you share? Do not fear. It’s as simple as Jesus’ words:
“For God loved the world in this way, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Rejoice! In Christ you have a new birth from above and a new home in His body, the Church. Happy birthday in your Baptism! And a blessed Lenten journey. 

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