This little child of God is Mine

 This post is something I’ve been thinking about some time, but also spurred on by Pr. Borghardt.

We’ve all been in church surrounded by kids.  We think, "Great, now lets hope they pay attention and don’t bother me."  We all know the kids I’m talking about.  The ones with toys, or those coloring books passed out by the elder, or are just fidgety and full of energy.  You know, just regular kids.  We look down on them – I know I have.  "They should pay attention.  Jesus is here.  Don’t they know that.  They should know that.  We’ll have to teach them…."

Don’t be bashful – you’ve thought it.  Or something close, at least once… I have.  But what of Jesus’ words?  "Of such is the kingdom of heaven."  Jesus says Heaven will be full of those who are like children, and not like crabby adults.  What does that mean?

Well, we think that those kids need to sit up straight, look forward…you know pay attention like we do.  Oh sure we adults pay attention, don’t we?  What was pastor’s sermon about this week?  What was one of the readings?  What hymns did we sing?  We’re just as bad as the kids, but we can hide it.

That’s right.  We’re just as fidgety, and full of energy.  What of the kids?  The sparrow finds a home around the altars of God, can’t the child play in the presence of JEsus?  I mean not even a little?  Or do we think that all the kids Jesus took into his arms were as stoic, well behaved, and well kempt like we do?  I’m sure they were full of energy, playing, and maybe a bit dirty for Jesus, but he loved the kids.  He wanted them.  ALl of them.  I’m sure he even smiled when they came around!!!

We don’t really pay attention all the time, do we?  We can zone, in and out, but at least we look like we’re paying attention…  Such pride.  At least the kids are honest about it.  But look at the children, talk to them.  Do they love Jesus? You bet they do!  Do they ever not trust Jesus?  Nope, they always trust him.  No doubts in their minds…not one.  "That can’t be," we might think; but did you ever think that its true because their baptism works?

We’re the ones who doubt.  Our love fails.  But we look like we’re the best in church when we’re the most stoic, well mannered, and the one who has the best posture in the pew.  The kids?  No doubts, all love for Jesus.  And their joy spills over into playing (dancing?).

Sure our love fails, and we have our doubts, but our Baptism works too!!! It covers us with Jesus, like the blanket the kid might have, and that Jesus covers our failed love and doubts.  What joy!!!  So be like a kid…smile a little.  We might sing in our joy, "This little Gospel light of mine…"  As we should.  But lets not forget that Jesus says, "This little child of God is Mine – in Baptism I made him mine!"  In the name of Jesus.  Amen.


Flimsy fleece

We all want to love God, don’t we?  We all truly fear, love and trust in God above all things, right?  We’ve never doubted that our heavenly Father would, or even could provide what we need, or think we need.  "Surely not I," we might think.


I’m sure Gideon felt the same way.  I’m sure he was a pious Israelite – Went to tabernacle, when it happened to be around.  Yet, when God’s word comes to him from God himself, he doubts.  And what does he doubt?  He doubts the Gospel!  "The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor," is what God speaks to him.  The LORD is with him, because he promised to be with all Israel when they entered the land of Canaan.  He’s also directly in front of him under a terebinth tree.


What does gideon do?  He throws it right back in his face.  "Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has this happened to us?  What happened to all the mighty deeds our fathers said He did?"  God wants him, little Gideon from the little clan in Manasseh to crush the Midianites.  He says, "Do not I send you?"  Gideon doubts.  Wouldn’t we?  Some guy tells us he’s God.  So he asks for a sign.


God grants the sign.  He consumes the food Gideon brought as a burnt offering, and then disappears.  Gideon freaks!  He thinks he’s toast, just like the meal he brought.  God, again, forgives his sin: "Peace be with you!"


Gideon’s asked again to destroy the Midianites, and he begs for another sign?!?  One night he wants a fleece on the ground wet, and the ground around it dry.  Then the next night he wants the ground wet and the fleece dry.  He keeps on testing God!  Didn’t he learn from his forefathers?  "Don’t put the Lord your God to the 



No he didn’t learn.  And we don’t learn from Gideon.  We too want signs and wonders from God.  We too have the things that we think we need.  When we don’t get these signs, wonders, or "demanded gifts" we doubt.  We disbelieve.  We all have our fleeces like Gideon.  "God, if you just make this or that person like me…."  "God, if youjust make me more popular…."  "God, if you get me a car…"  The list can go on!


Repent.  Look to the gifts, signs, and wonders the Lord promises you.  Jesus consumed all the Father’s wrath for all of you sins!  We, little sheep, walk with our fleece wet, and everything around is dripping with blessing from the baptismal font.  No not having this or that sign can take that away.  He promises to always forgive your sins, even all the many, various, great doubts that you have about him.  When we doubt, or fear that God will consume us, then just go to where "The peace of the Lord is with you always" at the Lord’s Supper.  And, hey, THAT’S TOMORROW!


What kind of Jesus?

 What kind of Jesus do we have?  Surely some images come to mind.  Everyone out there has their own version of who they think Jesus is.  Maybe he’s just a really nice guy.  A good role model, a law-giver.  Just a wise teacher like Buddha.  Maybe he’s the type of guy who might give us our best life right now.  Maybe he gives us everything we want now, and if we don’t get it, we have to work to get it.

What of our Jesus?  Maybe we see Jesus like the Bible shows him to be – one who is for us.  Even with us – God in the flesh.  What kind of Jesus was for us this week?  For the woman subject to bleeding from Mark 5.  WE konw the story – a woman was subject to bleeding for 12 years.  She spent all she had on doctors who could do nothing for her.  So she sought Jesus.  "All I have to touch is the hem of his garments, and I will be made well," the woman thought, "Just rest in the shadow of his wings."

So she does that very thing, and we get a different Jesus today.  Sure he is for us and the woman, but Jesus is a little confused.  Sure, some might say that he’s wanting a confession of faith of the woman, but Jesus seems a bit surprised at his power going out.  What does this mean for our Jesus?

It gives a glimpse of his nature, of who he is as God-in-the-flesh.  He gives all the time.  He forgives all the time.  It even surprises him.  All he can do is give, give, give.  Give healing to the woman.  Give himself for our sins on the cross.  Clothe us with himself in baptism.  Give his words to ring in our ears, and give his body and blood to us in communion.  What kind of Jesus do we have?  A giving-all-the-time Jesus.


Where O Death?

Death always seems to be around the corner.  From tornados, to craigslist crazies, and even plane passenger paralysis.  All these are proof that death and the body’s decay are ever drawing near.  And usually it’s quite unexpected.


Still people try to escape.  There are many ways.  Using and killing the unborn just so we can get at least possibly one extra day of breath.  There’s this or that exercise program to help keep us kicking – add a few extra years.  But what of it?  We all eventually will reach our inevitable end – death.


But Christ shows us what our end is supposed to be.  Not death, but life.  Christ can triumphantly proclaim, "Where, O grave, is thy victory?  Where, O death, thy sting?"  He conquered all those things that would take our lives, and even conquered the things that don’t just kill the body, but kill eternally – sin, death, and the power of the devil.


So what of us?  It’s nice and all that Christ rose, but what about me.  I don’t want to die.  But you and I have already died.  We died, maybe for some of us very many years ago, at the font.  There the Word of God in the water killed us, but it also made us alive.  We too can proclaim, "Where, O grave, is thy victory?  Where, O death, thy sting?"  Yes we may die, but what’s the grave’s victory or death’s sting?  They are now a portal to be with Christ.  Cemeteries are no longer fields full of the dead, but for us Christians they are fields waiting to blossom with those departed in Christ who are only planted there for a little while for they will be raised and we all will be with Christ forever.


Jesus Christ is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!


The Old Lenten Cry

 “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice!”

This is the Old Lenten cry. Isn’t it. We all have our problems – lost job, no money, probably a little lonely. We all have our sins – the lies, the gossip, the lust. So we call out to the Lord, don’t we? Or maybe we all take a number from Old Father Adam. Adam had his problem and sin, and what did he do? He looked to himself, saw that he was naked, and hid.

We do the same thing. Our sins shame us, our problems depress us, and so we look at ourselves. We keep looking for our way out. That next step in our endless-step program that will surely alleviate all of our struggles, wants, desires for doing better, our pet sins. But it doesn’t work. So we have to hide, just like father Adam. Maybe we’ll construct are own garments to cover, but we still have to hide because we know it’s not enough.

Then there’s no way out. Lent comes. Time for repentance. Time for our sins to come to light. That scares us. Maybe we can look at the other guy and say he’s worse. Look!, I gave up this or that. SO even then our way become the dead-end way.

Our only hope is the new Adam. We really do need the Lord’s way if there will ever be any hope for us.That Old Lenten cry wouldn’t be ours if it wasn’t Jesus’ first. He cried out in his distress, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” He went down to Sheol, hell for us. He’s the sacrifice that puts new clothing upon us.

The Father heard his voice! Jesus was raised for us too. What joy – in Lent even! All eyes off of us, and all eyes on Jesus. He died for our us so that we can live. All eyes on Jesus – he was at the Font washing you in the depths so that you too can cry the Old Lenten cry. All eyes on Jesus – he’s in the words of the Pastor declaring, “I forgive
all your sins.” All eyes on Jesus – he’s there on the altar with his body and blood for our forgiveness, life, and salvation. All eyes on Jesus, who is the true, life-giving way of salvation.


Conversion of St. Paul

Today we saw Saul.  He was on his way to Damascus.  He had been given authority to persecute Christians there.  This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Saul.  He was at the stoning of Stephen – being kind of a brown-noser; all he did was watch everyone else’s coats.  He wanted to work his way to the top.  He was zealous, and wanted to impress his boss and got the permission – wasn’t given it, but sought it.

He didn’t get what he bargained for.  He met a surprise – he met Jesus.  He was so lost, and so dead set on getting power that he was ignorant to the situation.  "’Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’"  Imagine the terror.  Saul must have thought he was a deadman walking.  Jesus takes a different route though.  "But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."

Saul gets off.  He might live.  He’s struck physically blind to match his former spiritual blindness.  And the Lord sends a pastor, Ananias, to console Saul and minister to him.  Ananias speaks the words, "Receive the Holy Spirit," and the Word does what it says.  Saul is healed of both physical and spiritual blindness.

He arises and goes with Pastor Ananias and is baptized, and there…Saul does die.  We thought he might make it after all.  He was in the midst of God and lived, but he couldn’t escape it – he dies.  But that is not the end for Saul, because when he comes out of the font he’s a live again.  Brought to new life in Jesus, not as persecuting Saul, but as preaching-the-Gospel Paul.

In St. Paul we see a picture of ourselves.  We once were the Saul.  Blind spiritually, on our way to our own Damascus, our own power grab.  We wanted whatever it was that tickled our fancy: prestige among our peers, esteem from your elders, nice computer, ipod, cell-phone…  We may not "overtly" persecute Jesus, but we ignore him, or don’t speak well of him.  We can almost here our own name being called by Jesus, "…why do you persecute me?"

Then Jesus sends you a Pastor, too.  And, through him, Jesus kills you.  He kills the old Saul in you with the waters of Holy Baptism.  You go to the font a Saul, but you leave a Paul.  You leave clothed in Christ.  You leave forgiven.  You leave and the scales fall from your eyes, and you now can see Jesus not as a awful Lord, but as a friend, a brother.  The same is true now.  You come this week full of sins, and you go to your Pastor as a terrified Saul with the only image in your mind is of judging Jesus.  But at Absolution, at the Altar you once again go a Saul, and leave a Paul.  Redeemed, and forgiven.  With a friend and brother Jesus, but also with a loving and caring Heavenly Father.


Sprouting Salvation

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
   my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
   he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
   and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
   and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
   to sprout up before all the nations. (Is. 61:10-11)

Chistmas is over; all the presents are open.  New Years has passed; all the resolutions are made, and will soon be broken.  But today, we are on the second Sunday after Christmas.  About two weeks ago we rejoiced that God’s promise of a Savior had been fulfilled in the Babe of Bethlehem.  In Advent our prayer was that God would rain down righteousness and spring up salvation, and that prayer was answered.

It was answered when a lowly virgin was told that, by the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit, she would bear in her womb the Son of God.  It was answered in an unassuming baby lying in a manger.  Today the Child has grown in strength, and went about His Father’s house, the temple.  Nothing about Him looked wonderful, nothing that we would desire Him, but His wisdom astounds the teachers.

The salvation that God causes to spring up is always springing up, and it springs up in ways we never expect.  From a virgin.  From a manger.  From a 12 year old boy.  From a beaten man on a cross.  From simple water.  From a sinful man who speaks the forgiveness of sins to other sinners.  From lowly bread and wine.

In baptism you have received the robe of righteousness the garments of salvation.  There you received the benefits of when Christ Jesus wore the garment of a purple robe, when he wore the true bridegroom’s diadem – the crown of thorns.  He died, looking like any other criminal, but when he sprung forth from the tomb he had power and might.  Today he sprung into your ears with, "I forgive all of your sins."  He placed into your mouth His body and blood to preserve your body and soul from sin, death, and the devil.  He does it all unassumingly, humbly and it causes our praise to sprout up as a light to the Gentiles and the glory His people Israel.