Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sermon for 11/30/11 "How Will They Hear?"
Sermon “How will they hear?” May we see Jesus, the Lamb of God. Amen. Today is the feast of St. Andrew, the apostle, the first of the apostles Jesus called. Tradition tells us that Andrew was crucified on a Greek cross, in the shape of the letter X, and that he suffered on that cross for over three days. When his followers wanted to take him down by force he told them it was not necessary to revolt against the government, that God would take care of him soon enough. Andrew was a man who left everything to follow Christ. And through his following Jesus, through his proclamation of God’s Word, many others became followers of our Lord as well. The proclamation of the Gospel by his servants is so important, in fact, that our season of Advent, the beginning of the Church year, begins on the Sunday which is closest to St. Andrew’s day. The growth of the Church, after all, depends on the proclamation of the Gospel. How do we believe? Faith comes by hearing. Hearing comes by the Word of God. And how does the Word of God go forth? It goes out through his faithful servants, those who are called by him and appointed to proclaim the good news of Jesus crucified for sinners, died and risen again for your sins and for mine. I think we want to be sure we are aware, though, that the job is not done. Just because we have a pastor in our church, someone to try to proclaim God’s words of Law and Gospel faithfully, day after day, does not mean that everyone has heard. And just because the Word of God is available to people in this country quite freely we cannot assume that it is being applied correctly, that people are hearing, that sins are being forgiven and that they are receiving life and salvation. We can’t assume it. It isn’t happening. Our culture is not by and large Christian in its makeup. Our culture is not eager to hear the Gospel. Even in a part of the country where the majority will claim to believe in God we have no assurance that they believe in the true, triune God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, nor that they understand that Jesus came to live a perfect life, die a perfect death, and rise again from the dead so they can be partakers of that life, death, and resurrection. We have no reason to think that the job is done. The battle is over. Jesus has died for the sin of the world. Yet the battle is not over. The battle against unbelief, the battle against sin does not end until the last day when every eye will see, every knee will bow, every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God. That is when the battle is ended. Until then we have a holy commission. We are called, each and every one of us, to bring the Gospel to all those around us. Some will receive callings as pastors. Some will not. But every believer has a responsibility before God to allow others to hear the Word of God. This can be as easy as bringing ourselves and our families to church regularly. It can be as easy as reading the Scriptures in our homes. It can be as easy as supporting the local church and its missions outreaches. It can be as easy as talking openly and freely about Jesus and his work on our behalf when we visit with our friends and relations. Yes, it may be more difficult as well. It could lead us to long hours, adventures among foreign people, even opportunities to bring the Gospel to people who will kill and eat us. Yes, they still exist in the world. While we don’t know what our Lord will lead us into, we do know this. First, we know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Second, we know that God uses people like you and like me to bring his word to our world. Third, we know that our God will supply all our need. If he wants you to do something in his kingdom, he will make it possible. If he wants me to do something in his kingdom, he will make it possible. And he will never leave us, never forsake us. He is with us, in the power of his resurrection, even to the end of the age. Lord, make us faithful in our hearing of Your Word. Give us a desire to bring your word to our community. Draw people to yourself by the power of your Holy Spirit so they too may hear and believe the Gospel. We pray this in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.