Sermon for Pentecost 3 – 6.18.23

+ 3rd Sunday after Pentecost – 6.18.23 +

Series A: Exodus 19:2-8; Romans 5:6-15; Matthew 9:35-10:8-20

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“The God Who Gathers”

 

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

 

From the very beginning of Scripture, God reveals himself as the God who gathers. God gathered the waters of creation together to form lakes, rivers, and seas. God gathered the dust of the earth as he formed and fashioned it into the first man. God gathered flora and fauna around Adam and creation but it was not good that man was alone. Then God, who is communal in His nature as triune, established the first human community by creating the woman to complement the man.

 

God gathered a rib from Adam’s side and built him a companion, a helpmeet and God placed Adam and Eve together, man and woman, husband and wife. There was perfect communion between God and man, though tragically, this did not last. Sin drove apart what God had gathered together. And ever since humanity has been caught in the hamster wheel of coming together and falling apart.

 

But, remember, God is the God who gathers. And to restore creation, God does exactly that. God gathered. He gathered together Abraham and Sarah and a promised son in their old age and barren womb. Over time, God gathered to them not just one son, Isaac, but many sons. God gathered to himself a people, and gave a promise to bless all nations through his people Israel.

 

This is what the Lord told Moses many years later, in Exodus. you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;  and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

 

God is the God who gathers. He gathered Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and the people of Israel together, so that one day he would keep his promise and continue his gathering work, and perform his greatest work of gathering yet…God the Father would send his own and only-begotten Son to gather, not just one nation, or one man and woman together, but to gather and call all nations to himself by laying down his life on the cross for us and for all.

 

Paul has this in mind in Romans 5. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

 

In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 9 and 10, we see Jesus, God in the flesh, gathering once again. As Jesus teaches and preaches his way through Galilee, he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 

 

They were lost. Helpless. Wandering. Dead in sin. The opposite of being gathered by God. Separated from him. Sin did the same to Adam and Eve long ago. The same is true in our sinfulness. We are lost. Helpless on our own. Wandering in the dark. Dead in sin apart from our Good Shepherd Jesus.

 

So, what did Jesus do for those crowds? He had compassion. He gathered disciples. And then he sent them out to heal the sick. Cleanse lepers. Cast out demons. And raise the dead. To gather lost sinners back to God the Father through God the Son, by the power of God the Holy Spirit.

 

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 

 

Jesus did what he had done throughout the Scripture. God gathered. Just as God gathered Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and later the 12 tribes of Israel, Jesus also gathers. Jesus calls his twelve disciples, teaches them, sends them out as apostles, and builds his church upon the foundation of those gathered apostles, Christ himself the cornerstone.

 

Notice the movement. Jesus loved the crowds. Then He sent His disciples to participate in His work among them. He continues the same movement today. God has compassion. God gathers. God sends.

 

Out of his gracious, divine favor, Jesus came to bring forgiveness, life, and salvation to us, to sinful human beings who would be lost without Him. Jesus’ compassion for the crowds, and his disciples, and you, is why he gathers us as his people.

 

Here in the immediate context of Matthew 9 and 10, Jesus sent his disciples only to the lost sheep of Israel. This changed after His resurrection as Jesus extended their mission to include all nations, but the sending remained the same. His mission, to bring life to all people, would be carried out by those who had already been loved.

 

This is what Jesus does. He gathers. And then he sends. That’s the weekly pattern in our day as well.

Christ our Lord gathers us here, in his house, to hear and receive his word of life. He gathers us as the baptized to confess our sins, receive forgiveness, and rejoice in his mercy. Jesus gathers us to his table where he feeds us grain gathered into a piece of bread where his body is present for you. He takes countless grapes and gathers them into a cup that he pours out, where his blood is shed for you for your forgiveness. And in these gifts he gathers you to himself over and over again.

 

God is the God who gathers. This is what we confess in the communion and fellowship of this congregation. This is also the great and gracious reality of God’s work that we learned and confess in the Small Catechism…

 

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way he calls, gathers and enlightens the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

 

Even though our vocations are different than those first disciples, the pattern of life is the same. Our Lord Jesus calls us. Gathers us by his grace. Teaches and preaches His word to us. Feeds us in his Supper of forgiveness. And then sends us out into our various callings in life.

 

That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. To be gathered by his grace. Loved in his death and resurrection. And sent out again into your daily life filled with his compassion for all those who are like sheep without a shepherd, and in need of being gathered by God’s grace.

 

As our Lord did for his disciples, so he does for you, his beloved, baptized saints. God gathers you by his grace, and sends you out in his love, until he gathers you to himself once and for all on the Last Day.

 

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

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977