Sermon for Epiphany 4 – 1.29.23

+ 4th Sunday after the Epiphany – January 29th, 2023 +

Series A: Micah 6:1-8; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“Comforted in Christ”

 

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

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

 

Scripture is full of people who mourn. Jacob mourned when he thought his son Joseph had been killed. David mourned the death of his firstborn son; he mourned his sin with Bathsheba, and the betrayal of his own son Absalom. Job mourned his suffering. The psalms are full of mourning, lament. “I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Solomon writes, “There is a time to mourn.” Jesus mourned at the death of Lazarus.

 

Anyone who lives in this fallen world will mourn.

 

In the opening to his sermon on the mount, in the beatitudes, Jesus says, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

 

The beatitudes are so familiar that sometimes we forget to take the time to slow down, ponder the meaning and weight of Jesus’ words. When you do that, you begin to see how odd Jesus’ words sound at first, how opposite they are from everything that we think we know.

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

 

“Really?” we think. What is so blessed about mourning? That doesn’t sound like a blessing. This is not the way sinful, fallen man thinks or talks. It’s more like this: “If God really loved me he’d want me to be happy; and if he wanted me to be happy he’d let me do whatever I want, because whatever I want, is what will make me happy.” In the end, what we often call happiness is really just selfishness, pride, and idolatry in disguise.

 

C.S. Lewis was right when he observed that…all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy…God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

 

We fall into this trap as well, don’t we. Especially when we look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word. How tempting it is to believe the lie that Christians must always be happy, and have the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in our hearts. That’s not what our Lord says in Scripture. Yes, there is joy in life and joy in Christ. But don’t mistake the feeling of happiness for the sure foundation of Christ’s promises that endure no matter what our feelings may be. Remember, Jesus promises his disciples, and us, that in this world we will have trouble. We will mourn.

 

What is it that you mourn today?

 

Is it a recent diagnosis or constant disease you are battling in your body, mind, or spirit? Is it wave upon wave of grief for a friend, loved one, or fellow brother or sister in Christ? Is it the empty chair at your dining room table or friendship that used to be? Is it a family relationship that is strained or silent or broken? Is it your own guilt and shame that hounds you like St. Paul so that you lament that “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”

 

For all of this and more, this is why Jesus speaks this beatitude.

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

 

When we look for ourselves, all we find in the long run is only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But when we look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

 

No matter what the world says, or how it rages and seethes with hatred towards you and Christ…no matter what lies the devil whispers in your ears. No matter what your sinful flesh tries to tell you, you are blessed. Not because you are happy all the time or not. It has nothing to do with your feelings and everything to do with Jesus’ promise. You are blessed because he promises. You are blessed in him who mourned and lamented our sinfulness and came to do something about it. He came to give you comfort by taking all that we mourn upon himself.

 

Listen to this beatitude again, only this time with a different translation than we’re used to…”The people who are mourning are blessed, because they will be comforted.”

 

Jesus’ beatitudes are full of good news and promise for you, his people who mourn. Jesus promises that even though you mourn, even though this world is so often full of wickedness, sin and evil, that even in the midst of your mourning, you will be comforted. It’s a sure and certain promise as sure and certain as Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

 

Even though Jesus spoke this beatitude at the beginning of his ministry, you can hear it echo all the way down to his death on Good Friday for you. Blessed are you who mourn – as his disciples and his mother and the women at his cross and tomb did. For you will be comforted. That comfort Jesus promised came three days later on that first Easter Sunday morning. Christ is not here, he is risen, just as he said.

 

You are blessed in his word which brings the comfort we so desperately need. You are blessed in the water of your baptism where you are brought into the comfort giving life and death and resurrection of Jesus. You are blessed in and receive eternal comfort even as you mourn here and now in Jesus’ body and blood for you. You are blessed in the peace of Jesus which declares to you: go in peace, your sins are forgiven.

 

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning. You are blessed in Jesus crucified and risen for you.

 

As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. For “The Last Enemy has been destroyed.” And along with sin, death, and the devil, goes our mourning and all that we lament.

 

Now we see in part, soon we shall see it in full. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again…now and forever you are comforted in Christ.

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for you shall be comforted.

 

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

 

Sermon for Sanctity of Life Sunday – 1.22.23

+ Life Sunday – January 22nd, 2023 +

Series A: Isaiah 9:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-25

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“Light and Life in Christ”

 

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

 

Today we join Lutheran Churches across the country as we observe Sanctity of Life Sunday.

A day where we give thanks to God for the gift and blessing of life from conception to death; a day where we remember that God’s gift of life is precious, valued by our Lord, and worthy of protection and care at every stage of life. And yet it is also a day where we lament the hatred of God’s gift of life we witness around us in this country and across the world; a day where we mourn the wickedness of fallen humanity which sanctions, and even celebrates, murder.

 

In the face of darkness, however, we celebrate life. God’s gift of human life. God’s gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. So today is also a day where we remember that because Jesus died and rose in the flesh, God’s gift of life does not end with death; but death ends with Christ’s death and his glorious resurrection. Life goes on in the resurrection on the Last Day. The body we lay in the tomb will rise again when our Lord returns. You. Your life. You are precious to our Lord Jesus.

 

We know this because when God came down to earth he did not come as a duck or a fir tree; the Lord of Life joined us in our human life, and was made man. Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. Life in her womb. Life in her arms. Life himself who grew, as Luke says, in wisdom and stature with God and man. He did all of this for you. To give his life for your life.

 

It is because he loves you and desired to save you that God became a blastocyst, a zygote, an embryo. God became man to save you. This is what the prophet Isaiah foretold.

 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

 

In the Scriptures, light is life…and darkness is death. And we live in a land of deep darkness. The kind of darkness that says human life is nothing more than meat in motion, a random, evolved collection of cells and brain waves, and not a carefully crafted design of a loving God who forms us and knits us together in our mother’s wombs.

 

The kind of darkness that calls an unborn human life in the womb a fetus, not because it’s a medical term, but because it’s easier to dehumanize a fetus than it is to admit the truth, the willful death of a an unborn child is wrong.

 

The kind of darkness that considers human life something which we give or take whenever someone is seen as having a low quality of life, being an inconvenience, or suffer from illness and disability, rather than confessing that human life itself is precious in the sight of God who created man in his own image.

 

Yes, we live in a land of darkness. But the deep darkness of sin and death lives in each of us as well.

The kind of darkness that fails to keep the fifth commandment, as we confess in the catechism…that we should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need. The kind of darkness that considers some sins – even sins against God’s gift of life – to be unforgiveable. The kind of darkness that causes us despair when we see our own guilt and shame over ways that we have lived our life.

 

For this reason, God sent his prophet Isaiah. For this reason God sent his Son Jesus. To give you life in Him: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

 

In Scripture, darkness is death, but light is life. And Christ is the light and life of the world who gave his life to save you.

 

And that is why our biblical, Christian view of life begins and ends with Christ. We learn to value life from the moment of fertilization, for example, because the Son of God, who was God and is God, took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7), and was in-fleshed in the womb of Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as a real life human when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

 

We learn from Christ to value the human body, for His was fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together (Psalm 139:14) by the Father, and at His baptism was anointed by the Holy Spirit and was, in fact, the temple of God, and therefore, worthy to be honored and treated as holy by His followers even after His death and burial. So, also, are the bodies of all human beings created in the image of God, for they, too, are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Father, as He knits them together in their mothers’ wombs. And more than that, the bodies of the baptized, by having the Holy Spirit indwell them, are also temples of God to be treated as holy in the sight of God and not just shells to be disregarded or discarded.

 

We learn from Christ’s atonement accomplished by His death on the cross that God the Father Almighty loves, human life. He loves all of humanity and desires for all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), which is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2).

 

Rich or poor, young or old, male or female, a child in the womb or a great grandpa whose body has grown weak, we learn a biblical, Christian view of life from Jesus Christ Himself, who, as God and man fulfilled and carried out the words of Psalm 41:1-2, one of the theme passage for this year’s Life Sunday. “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him.”

 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. The light and life of Jesus crucified for you shines into the darkness of this fallen world. When the dark night of guilt and shame descends upon us, the light and life of Jesus’ death and resurrection is yours.

 

When those dark moments of life intrude upon us – when we or our loved ones have been given a terminal diagnosis, who are stricken with poverty, who have suffered the death of a spouse, who are enduring mental disability, or who have endured the hostility of others – Christ who is the Light of the world is with you.

 

In the face of darkness, we celebrate and give thanks for the light and life of Christ our Savior. We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. For you, the Lord declares, Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

 

We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. For you, our Lord says, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

 

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

Funeral Sermon for Cathy Coleman – 1.21.23

+ In Memoriam: Cathy Coleman – January 21st, 2023 +

Psalm 91; Job 19:23-27; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 1:1-18

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“In Christ”

 

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me…writes Paul in Galatians 2. (Gal. 2:20).

 

That’s a perfect way to describe Cathy’s life and faith in Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

 

She was what C.S. Lewis said of Christians, that in Christ, we become “little Christs.” That when we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, as Luther says, we become Christ to one another.”

 

That’s how it was for Cathy. Whether she was spending time with Bob, Sterling, and Robbie; whether she was working in service to others or walking God’s green earth with her golfing friends; whenever she was here at church with Sunday School, bible study, or any other number of moments. Whatever it was she was doing, wherever she was going, with whomever she was talking, one thing was clear,  “It’s all about Christ,” she told me once while we were chatting.

 

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. That is how Cathy lived and died and will live forever in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. So it is for each of you.

 

We live in Christ, as the prayer of St. Patrick so beautifully says…

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

For many years, Cathy taught our Sunday School children a little song they sing every Reformation service here at Beautiful Savior. The song is called “The Reformation Song.” And the refrain goes like this…By faith alone we’re justified, by grace alone we’re saved. We stand upon God’s word alone. To Christ alone give praise!

 

To Christ alone give praise.            It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

 

As Cathy (known as Sunday School Cathy in our house) taught those words to our children, she was teaching them to joyfully and boldly confess Christ their savior. But that wasn’t all she was doing. She was also joyfully and boldly confessing that Christ was her savior. That she was God’s own child. Redeemed. Baptized. Loved. In Christ.

 

You see, Cathy believed and confessed our Lord’s words, that she who is forgiven much, loves much. That our sin and death is great, but Christ’s forgiveness and victory over death is greater.

 

These past few weeks, I’ve heard from family, friends, and church family alike, that Cathy radiated the love of Christ. That she shined the light of Jesus crucified and risen into her conversations, Christmas cards, and phone calls with friends and family. What was her secret? How was she an energizer bunny constantly beating the drum of God’s grace?

 

Cathy would be the first to remind us…It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The words of Christ dwelled richly with Cathy because the Lord dwelled with richly and graciously with her. The psalmist says it this way…

 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

 

This is who God is for Cathy, and for you…the God who is with us. The Word made flesh for you. Who dwells among us. Immanuel. God with us. God with us in our tears. God with us in his word, water, body and blood. God with us in our daily vocations in life. God with us in death. God with us when Christ returns and calls forth our name and declares, “Awake o sleeper, and rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.”

 

For that is what Christ did for Cathy and does for all who are baptized. Christ takes his life, his death, his resurrection, the forgiveness of sins purchased and won by his blood on the cross for you, and he gives that to you as he pours out the water, word, and Holy Spirit upon you. The joy and love and light of Christ that Cathy was so well known for, began, as it begins for us all, by her baptism in Christ. And so it is for all who are baptized. All our sin is dead, drowned, washed away in Christ.

 

And if we are united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. God declares that same promise to us through Job’s sufferings. That in the midst of our own pain, suffering, grief, and even in the face of death, these words remain true… I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.

 

That is why the church hallway is covered with Alleluias today. That was one of Cathy’s favorite things to do. Help the Sunday School kids fill the hallway with Alleluias every Easter. Alleluia Christ is risen! we say. (He is risen indeed, Alleluia).

 

That was Cathy’s confession. And it’s ours as well. Especially on days like today. Today our pain and sorrow is deep. And yet, Christ’s healing love is deeper. Today our hearts are heavy and weighed down. And yet, Christ comes down to lift up; he dies to rise; and he rises to bring you and Cathy and all his saints with him. Today we grieve, but not without hope. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

 

Christian hope is not a fanciful wish. As in, “I hope it rains,” or “I hope it snows.” No. Hope in Christ is sure. Certain. Steadfast. As Cathy wrote back in November’s newsletter, “We do not need to worry about the “ifs” in life. There are no “ifs” with our Lord and Savior! He finished it on the cross!”

 

Amen.

 

And that is why Paul writes…we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d]that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

 

Until that day when our Lord returns, until that day when the dead are raised, and our mortal bodies put on immortality, and the saints in Christ rise from the dead. Until the day of resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Until Christ returns or calls us home, we live as Cathy lived and lives forever…in Christ.

 

Now the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard and keep you in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen.

Sermon for Epiphany 2 – 1.15.23

+ 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany – January 15th, 2023 +

Series A: Isaiah 49:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Can I Get A Witness?”

 

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

 

If you’ve ever seen, or been involved in a traffic accident, a police officer on the scene will ask you to give a statement. You were an eye witness. What did you see, hear, etc.?

 

If you’ve ever sat in a courtroom on jury duty you listen and to a handful of people who are called and take an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They are witnesses. Witness is one who testifies to the truth. Who speaks the truth.

 

This morning’s Scripture readings are full of witnesses. God calls his prophet Isaiah to the stand for Israel; he is a witness to the coming chosen Messiah, the Christ, Jesus. He is the servant Isaiah is foretelling.

 

God calls St. Paul, likewise to be a witness, to the Christians in Corinth in the 1st century, and to us, God’s people in the 21st century. Paul was sent as God’s apostle, his witness, to testify to the truth, to confirm the testimony of God’s Word to his people.

 

God calls his next witness forward; “John the Baptist, take the stand.” John bears witness. John testifies. John speaks the truth. John saw Jesus coming, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

 

John was, and remains, God’s witness. John testifies that this Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, who grew up in and came from Nazareth, who went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John, this Jesus who is fully man and fully God. True God and true Man. He is the servant Isaiah and all the prophets until John bore witness to. He is the Christ, the anointed one, that the Old Testament has been testifying about since Genesis 3:15.

 

John is a witness, so John speaks. After all, what good is a witness who stays silent. A witness must speak the truth. John can’t help but speak. John bears witness to the One who came to bear our sin; behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

So, John did what God sent him to do. John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

John was witness. Not for his sake. Not for gain. Not for fame. Not for power. Hardly. Look at where his preaching eventually got him…in Herod’s prison. Martyred. A word that means witness.

 

John was a witness to the Christ, Jesus, the Lamb of God who had come to take away the sin of the world. And yet John was also a witness for those around him. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Your sin. My sin. John’s sin. His disciples’ sin. All sin will be laid on Jesus the sacrifice, the savior, the servant. That’s John’s witness to you just as it was to his disciples. He pointed them to Jesus. That’s what a Christians do. Point to Jesus.

 

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

 

That’s the whole Christian faith and life in a nutshell right there. John believes in and confesses Christ. We are called to believe in him and confess his name. John points to the cross: Behold the Lamb. The sacrifice. The payment for sin. The death that causes death to pass over us and onto him. We point our family, friends, neighbors, and those we know in our daily life/vocations to the cross. Point them to Jesus, the Lamb of God. And the disciples heard John’s word, which was God’s word in John’s mouth, and they followed Jesus. You also hear God’s word. You are here this morning because you follow Jesus. Because he brought you here, as he always does, by his grace.

 

John was and still is God’s witness. And so are we, the body of Christ here at Beautiful Savior. As our congregation celebrates our 60 year anniversary last year and this year, we remember and give thanks to God for the past 60 years of pointing our members, community, preschool, and neighbors to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

 

As a congregation we are witnesses to each other yes, and to others around us as well.

 

Beautiful Savior’s evangelism committee is gathered right here this morning. Each and every one of you are witnesses too. You may not stand in the Jordan river wearing camel’s clothing and eating locusts and wild honey – thankfully! But you are witnesses all the same. Here our Lord equips and prepares you for service in your daily callings.

 

Here our Lord speaks and you listen and follow. Here is the Lamb of God who takes away your sin as he feeds you his body and blood, as he washes away your sin, as he gives you his word to witness to his grace towards you. Here our Lord Jesus feeds and nourishes you in His Word and Sacraments so that when you go out into your daily vocations, you go as a little “John the Baptist”, serving God in whatever vocation in life he has given you, in the home, at church, in the world. And it is there, in your daily vocations where you are given opportunities to point to Jesus. To be a witness to the truth. To speak. Not for fame. Gain. Power. But so that others may hear the good news: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away your sin. Like John the Baptist, we can’t help but speak this good news.

 

What good is a silent witness. Do not be a witness that is silent. Or silenced by the world that hates you, by the devil who haunts you, and by your sinful flesh that offers you no help. A witness must speak the truth.

 

Do not be afraid. The God who called John to be his witness is with you as you bear the name of Jesus. The Lamb of God who stood in the Jordan as John pointed to him, who hung on the cross, and who stood beside his empty tomb – stands with you as you witness, testify, and speak: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

 

Do not be afraid. Jesus, the God-man who was born for you, crucified for you, and rose for you is, as Paul says, faithful, so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; he will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

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

 

 

Sermon for The Feast of the Name and Circumcision of Jesus – 1.1.23

+ Sunday January 1st, 2023 – The Feast of the Name and Circumcision of Jesus +

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

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

 

I had a different sermon prepared for you today. Today is the day the Church remembers the Feast of the Name and Circumcision of Jesus. But then sometimes you get a phone call, like I did, on Friday night, that our dear sister in Christ, Cathy Coleman, had died suddenly and unexpectedly.

 

Today is eight days from Christmas. Today is a new year. Today is the day we remember the naming of Jesus and his circumcision. We’ll talk about those. We’ll hear our Lord’s Word about those. Though I couldn’t help but thinking last night that we also needed to hear from our Lord’s Word, what he says to us in our grief, what he says to us when we are all thinking much the same thing this morning. How we notice there’s an empty spot in the pew, or someone’s car that wasn’t in the parking lot first thing this morning.

 

On Friday evening our dear sister in Christ, Cathy Coleman, was called home to our Lord on Friday evening. And I’m sure I’m not alone today in thinking that we can’t help but think about that. About grief. About death. And about what our Lord says about that in his Word.

 

We all grieve. If not today, then some point in the past year. And at some point in this new year we will grieve. Some people say that eventually you’ll get over your grief, just give it time. But that’s not true. Grief isn’t something you get over, like a cold or the flu. You walk through it. Like in Psalm 23. Jesus the Good Shepherd leads and guides you through the valley of the shadow of death. He carries you.

 

Grief comes to us all differently at times as well, doesn’t it. Sometimes it feels like a sneaker wave. Hits you out of nowhere. Like the disciples in the storm, our Lord says to them and to you, “Fear not, I am with you.” Jesus says it again after his resurrection. “I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

 

Sometimes grief is like getting the wind knocked out of you. A gut punch. In those moments, remember the words of Isaiah. “By his wounds you are healed.” By the wounds of his hands. His side. His head. By His wounds you are healed.

 

Sometimes grief brings us a weariness. You feel tired even if you’ve done nothing all day. You feel exhausted. In those moments our Lord says to you, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

Sometimes grief stings. Our Lord says something about that for us in 1 Corinthians 15…

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sometimes grief is a burden, a weight that you can’t lift no matter how hard you try. For those moments our Lord says in Isaiah that he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows.

 

Sometimes grief feels like a hole. An emptiness. An empty chair. An empty pew. Empty seat. And our Lord comes and fills that with himself. St. Augustine once said that, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until we find our rest in Thee.” The same can be said of our hope and joy. The things we want to feel when we grieve. We feel restless and in turmoil until our Lord fills that hole with his good news.  It’s an empty hole until our Lord comes and fills it with his life, death, and resurrection. That’s the only thing that’s going to fit, that will fill. That will make us whole again. Although we try and put lots of things in that hole. Our works, deeds, emotions, our thoughts, and so on. But none of that fills the void when a loved one dies.

 

So what do we do? What do we do with our grief? Where do we go with our grief? Where do we go when we grieve? We go to the One who has been born for us, with us. The One who received his name on the 8th day for us. The one who was born to bear our grief, bear our sin, and die in our place. So that all who believe, all who have died before us, will never die, as Jesus says.

 

We go to him who says these words in Revelation 7… After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

 

On days of grieve and death, we go to Him who is named Jesus. Jesus means YHWH saves. He was named for you on this day. He was circumcised for you. It sounds like a strange thing to celebrate on a new year’s day. But we celebrate it all the same. Because Jesus was born under the Law. The same Law that shows us our sin. Jesus comes under that Law to keep it, fulfill it. So even at eight days old he keeps the Law so that as he grows he will continue to keep the Law for us at every stage of life.

 

We go to Him who has words of comfort and peace. We come here to His altar to receive His holy body and blood, where we are gathered together with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. Cathy. And all the saints who have gone before us. We are together in this Holy Communion. When you come here, you are with Christ. And with Christ are all his saints.

 

You see, grief can be many, many things. Painful. Exhausting. A weight. A burden. The one thing it can’t be. The one thing it cannot do…it cannot endure forever. It cannot last. Our Lord will not it. Our Lord will not let grief and death have the last word. Not today. Not ever. For He hung on the cross. Jesus rose again. Jesus gets the last word.

 

Jesus puts himself in that hole left by grief and death. He carries our burdens. He bears the weight of grief and death. He collects all our tears. He carries our sorrows. He fills us with his life, death that conquers death. He fills us with the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. For days like today when grief and death stares us in the face. For times when we look back and think of what we’ve lost in this past year, this past week.

 

We also look forward to what will come. The new creation. The new heavens and the new earth. The day when Christ says, “Behold, I make all things new.” The day when everything sad comes untrue. When grief and death will be no more. This is why Jesus is born. Why he is named Jesus for us. Why he is circumcised on the eighth day for us. This is why he walked into our restlessness and our grief and our hopelessness. To fill us with his life.

 

None of us knows what the new year will bring. The days and the seasons are the Lord’s, and everything we do always has “If the Lord be willing” written across it as James rightly says. But we do know this and have it as our certainty in the midst of uncertainty: We have Jesus’ obedience under the Law, His perfect righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. And we have His Name, the Name by which we are saved, “for He will save His people from their sins.”

 

This new year along with its hopes and expectations will pass. Fade away. And in many ways fail . And yet, in Christ, God’s promises, peace, and grace will never fade away, fail, or falter. In your grief and sorrow, Christ is with you. Never will he leave nor forsake you.

 

 

A blessed 8th day of Christmas and a happy new year to each of you…

 

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, Wednesday, and Friday
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