Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sexagesima - Sowing Seed and Sown Perfection

Sexagesima - Scripture (Word) Alone - February 3, Year of Our + Lord 2013
Trinity and St. John Lutheran Churches, Sidney and Fairview, MT
Sowing Seed and Sown Perfection – Luke 8:4-15
Vicar Jason Toombs

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. God’s Word is a creative Word, it does what it is sent out to do.  God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God says, “Let there be,” and there is.  His Word is creative, powerful, and surprising.  His is a creative Word, creating the heavens and the earth.  Powerful enough to stop the roaring of the waves and the blowing of the wind.  And it’s surprising because it saves.  It saves where He sends it forth to save, where He promises that it saves.  It is a saving Word where He combines it with elements, water, bread and wine, and where He has promised to be, in His Word.

God sowed the seed through His Word saying, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.”  And it was so.  And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He put the man whom He had formed.  The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God created man to work in the garden, tending the trees, picking the fruit, and caring for His creation.  God’s Word is a sowing word and He has sown perfection in the garden of Eden.  But in the garden strove the slithering serpent, that crafty creeper, the deceiving devil who put a thought into the ear, “Did God really say?”  Is His Word really true?  Listening.  Eating.  Falling.  Open eyes seeing evil for the first time: nakedness, shame, and sorrow. 

And God calls out to the man and his wife, “Where are you?”  Unhidden.  Regretful.  Blaming.  And God spoke, speaking His Word of compassion, forgiveness, and promise:  To the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring, He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  The promise of God’s Word coming to rescue and redeem man and woman first spoken in the Garden is there in the person of Jesus, broadcasting the Word to the crowd.

“A sower went out to sow His seed.”  The seed is the Word of God.  God sows His seed abundantly, not caring if it falls on hard hearts or is choked out by the cares of this world.  He is constantly letting out His Word, putting it into the ear of sinners who need to hear His Word of comfort, assurance, and salvation.  The Word is a comfort when life seems to get the better of you, struggling to make ends meet, or tempted by the cares of this world with its message of “take the easy way out, nobody needs to know.”  The Word is there to assure you that God is always with you, even to the end of the age, promising to never leave you nor forsake you, and He is your solid foundation when life is rough.  God’s Word is a saving Word: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life; Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; As for the seed in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Jesus, God’s Word, is in their midst, preaching and teaching.  He is preaching God’s Word from the Old Testament.  He is teaching the people, teaching them in parables, so that seeing that may not see, and hearing they may not understand.  But to His apostles He explains what the parables mean, so they will be able to preach and teach the people.  From the apostles we have God’s Word written for us in Holy Scripture so we can know what God has done for us.  As Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  We only know the saving God through His Word written for our learning.  We can look at the beauty of God’s majesty, His wonderful creation.  We know some things about who God is, the Righteous Judge, we know His power and law as it is written on our hearts but we can’t know His mercy.  We can’t know God as a loving God except through His Word.  To know who God is and what He has done for us we have to dig into His Word.  And He has spoken to us through His prophets.

God, speaking through Isaiah the prophet, says, “So shall my Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”  God has promised that His Word does things, the Word of God accomplishes what it is sent out to do.  The Word is sent to breathe life into hard hearts, hearts that have been hardened by years and years of turning away from God at every turn.  In the nursing home, in the hospital, and in the home when the Word of God is being read, people who we know have turned their back to God are hearing to His Word and the promises of God for the first time in years.  His Word is constantly working, digging past all the hurt, all the pain and sorrow, and reaching its target, turning that hard heart to Christ and His saving work. 

God, speaking through the writer to the Hebrews, says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  God’s Word goes forth from His mouth and is sharper than any two-edged sword.  His Word has two main forms: Law and Gospel.  The Law kills, it shows us our sin, and the Gospel makes alive, it shows us our Savior. 

The Law is spoken to those who sin, it is spoken to us, us who are comfortable in our sin, whichever they may be.  You have given into temptation, listened to the world to take the easy way out instead of continuing in the way that leads to salvation.  The cares of the world and its ever incessant cry of bigger, better, faster, these are alluring.  The world tries to get you to focus on your wants, your desires, instead of the things which God has given to you.  Are you more excited about the upcoming game, the commercials, and the halftime show than what God is giving to you at His table today?  He comes to give you life and salvation found only in His beloved Son.  Is your mind running through a checklist of things to do before the game starts?  Maybe it’s not the Super Bowl for you, but do you keep your mind focused on God’s Word during the service?

And the Gospel is spoken to those who grieve over their sin.  That means it is spoken to us who are afflicted by the law, who ask, “Where can I turn?”  The Gospel points you to Him who comes to you to rescue and redeem you.  Rescue you from the world, He calls you out of it, away from its temptation and to Him who is seated on the heavenly throne.  He is there with you throughout your life, forgiving you when you have fallen from the way of salvation, bringing you back to Himself and His Word, giving you life and light that is found only in Him.  Listen to Him, focus your mind on Jesus, the Word of God, and hear the good news.  For Christ’s sake you are forgiven, even for when your mind wanders during the sermon, wandering to the game, the friends, and the party that you will have later.  He comes to you through your excitement and in your sorrow, through joy and tribulation, constantly calling you back to Himself, calling you to His gracious arms.  Our gracious God is the forgiving Father, the saving Son, and the sustaining Spirit.  He is constantly there for you, forgiving you as you repent of your evil words and deeds, saving you from death and hell, and sustaining you throughout the sorrow and pain of life. 

God’s Word lays bear your heart.  He knows your passions, your lusts, your sorrow, and your pain.  Nobody can hide their heart from God, as no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  Before God everyone is naked.  You may try to cover yourself with fig leaves but it is all to no avail.  The only covering that you can trust in is the one who has given you His Word.  And in His Word He has promised to provide a covering that works, a covering in baptism where He washes you clean, and you emerge from the water dripping in His bloody death and are covered in a white robe, His robe of righteousness.  You have been raised from death to life by the water and the Word, raised to live a new life in Him.  You emerge from the baptismal water every day, having been cleansed by God. 

You pass the font, the reminder of your baptism, and come to His table, a table prepared with His meal for you.  The Word has softened your hard heart, even more a new heart is given to you.  A heart that sees Jesus as the crucified Christ, the one who died and rose for you.  As the Word from Hebrews says, you have entered God’s Sabbath rest, resting with Jesus in the tomb, resting as you sit listening to the beloved Son of God.  Resting in His promises and His proclamation for you.

The Word of God is still being proclaimed in our day.  His Word is still being cast without care, cast into every passing ear, and every hard heart.  Sometimes it lands, a little at a time, gradually causing people to question their motives, their past actions, and look for a certain hope.  Other times it lands with a thud waking someone up to their actions, how they have turned away from the faith into which they were baptized and how they must be turned, like a horse by bit and bridle, turned back to the gracious God who called them by name.  Even if we don’t see the work of the Word, it is still working, still doing what God sent it forth to accomplish. 

And we rejoice when the seed of the Word of God falls into good soil and grows to yield a hundredfold.  We know that these have heard the Word, hold it fast in their hearts, and bear fruit.  Whether the Word is working on a little baby, a toddler on the knee of grandma or granddad, or a friend that we talk with, or on you and me.  The sowing Word is constantly on the lips of God and He has sown perfection in His Son and those who are found in Him.  We rejoice that the Word of God is living and active and bringing people to faith.  Amen.

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