November 24, 2016
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Giving thanks isn’t the most important part of our Gospel text. It’s more about God’s mercy and grace that we have access to in and through His Son, Jesus. That’s what the lepers were looking for: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” You too! You “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” You’ve been reconciled to God. He reconciled You, “making peace by the blood of [Jesus’] cross.” There is now peace between you and God in and through Jesus Christ, and there is also peace between you and those around you for that exact same reason. For Jesus “is our peace,” and He has “broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” Through His flesh and blood that we receive we are strengthened in “love toward one another.”
Because Jesus has bled and died for our sins, for our guilt and shame over what we’ve done, for our regrets over not doing more or not doing what we should—because He’s done this, and because we trust that He actually did it all for us, we then can seek His mercy. That’s who Jesus, your God, is, that’s your Heavenly Father, that’s your Holy Spirit too! “A God merciful and gracious, patient, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Because of this we can boldly pray, “Lord, have mercy.” In fact, this is why we pray some Sundays, “In peace let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.” We do this in faith and trust because
FAITH RECEIVES AND SEEKS MERCY FROM JESUS.
((I. “For the peace from above and for our salvation…”))
Faith, that has already received mercy because of Jesus, looks for even more mercy from Him. Faith looks for and prays for that mercy to be delivered for all sorts of things. So we look for “the peace from above” and for “our salvation.” Praying to the Lord, “Lord, have mercy.”
This isn’t just peace and salvation won for us. We want it delivered—not just in 10 minutes or less, but now! And so it is! Peace and salvation isn’t up in heaven, but as we sing with the angels: “on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” This is God’s peace delivered. Cross won, and delivered in the here and the now—right now!—in His Jesus-delivering Word, in His heaven-opening Absolution, in His body-and-blood-delivering Supper.
The peace and salvation that He promises to deliver, He delivers. We look for it and desire it, and He gives it to you out of His grace and mercy.
((II. “For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God, and for the unity of all…”))
But our looking for mercy from Jesus isn’t just “me focused.” We look out for others too. We love our neighbor, and so we seek mercy for them too. We look for “the peace of the whole world,” for “the well-being of the Church of God,” and for “the unity of all.”
We pray for there to be worldly peace in the world. We don’t want violence and bloodshed. We don’t want there to be tyrants and terrorists. We don’t want wars and rebellions. So we ask for mercy that the Lord would curb violence, bring about peace.
We pray for divine, heavenly peace in the world too. We want everyone to receive “the peace that passes understanding.” For this reason we pray for “the well-being of the Church of God.” We want there to be the preaching of the Gospel here and in every place. We pray that we might have generous hearts so that Gospel preaching may continue in our congregations, in our School, in our Synod, and around the world. We receive Jesus’ peace when His death and resurrection is preached to us, and when they are delivered to us in the Sacraments. We want that for all. That there would be no let or hindrance, but that the Gospel preached and sacrmaented would have complete freedom here and abroad.
We want everyone to not be at odds with one another—to be at peace and unity. This isn’t just between nations. This is our day to day relationships. Let us be at peace with everyone around us: believer and unbeliever alike.
((III. “For this holy house and for all who offer here their worship and praise…”))
We aren’t just big picture focused either. We pray for all who gather in our congregation too: “for this holy house and for all who offer here their worship and praise.” You don’t just pray for you, but for those around you. Those who gather together to receive from Jesus just like you. So also the Ten Lepers. They didn’t cry out one louder than the next, “Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!” No, they gather to receive together and pray together, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on US!”
So we pray for those in our pew, the pew in front, behind, all those gathered. We want them to receive mercy. That Jesus’ Word and gifts would strengthen each one of us in faith and trust in Him. That the Spirit would work that in us. That our worship and praise might be holy in the Father’s ears. Jesus’ blood and death do this for us, we ask that for all those gathered.
We know Jesus is merciful. He is Mercy. He gives it. It’s His peace. We know He does it. His death and resurrection prove it. His Gifts deliver His mercy and peace. He washes it over us. He makes it ring in our ears. He causes it to be rooted and built up in our hearts and minds. He feeds it to us. We are at peace. We receive mercy and cleansing. Just like the lepers. Of course we do! So we pray in boldness and confidence, “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.” So He does. He does “help, save, comfort, and defend us.” He’s a “gracious” and merciful Lord. Gifts given. There is nothing else to say except, “Amen.” Gift received.
INI + AMEN.