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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Oct 15, 2017  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, AMEN

The text for our meditation is the Gospel Lesson for the 19th Sunday After Pentecost, Matthew 22:1-14. There we read these words

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast."’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen."

We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN

If there's one thing that is clear about our day and age, it is that image is important to people. And what is more important for your image than your clothes? How you dress can present a picture of who you are, how you want people to perceive you, and what kind of income you may have.

Of course, people wear different clothes for different occasions. Sometimes you go shopping for a particular event that you know is coming up, and you want to have just the right clothes for the event.

Think of how ridiculous it would be to wear a tuxedo to the beach, or to wear swim trunks to a formal dance! How about a set of camouflage to the divine service? Maybe on opening day of deer season, I mean thats almost like a sacrament, but you wouldn’t do it any other Sunday. You just wouldn't do it. It wouldn't be appropriate. It wouldn't be proper.

The clothes you wear can be an act of either respect or rebellion. If I were to attend a formal wedding wearing cut-offs and an old ratty T-shirt, people would think I was either crazy, had no social skills or that I was trying to offend the wedding party. The clothes make the man.

Stained Glass Baptism Window

And so it is that we have the parable of the wedding banquet. In this parable, Jesus told of a king who throw a wedding and banquet for his son. He sent out his servants to tell the guests to come, but they refused. Not only did they refuse, but they seized, mistreated and even killed the servants. Sounds a little like last weeks parable, doesn't it? Of course, in last weeks parable, the son is killed, and here he is back alive. I wonder what that's about? Christ is Risen.

Anyway, the king then sent his servants out to the street corners to find other guests. And so the wedding hall was filled. But there was one man that the king saw who was not wearing wedding clothes. The king asked the man kindly how he got in without wedding clothes, but the guest was speechless. The king then told his attendants to throw the man outside into the darkness, where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The clothes make the man. At first glance, it seems like the king was a little hard on this guest. I mean, really, he just didn't have the right clothes on. These guests were the scum of the street, why was the king so hard on them for not having proper wedding garments?

Well, at that time when a king invited guests to a banquet, the king also provided the proper wedding garments for the guests. For this guest to not be dressed properly was a sign of contempt for the king and his son.

The king, of course, is God the Father. The Son is Jesus, and the banquet is the eternal banquet in heaven which will be ours at the Last Day, but which we also celebrate each time we come to this altar. The first guests were the Jews who rejected God's message, and the other guests were the Gentiles. And what is the wedding garment? It is the robe of righteousness that is given to you at your Baptism. The clothes make the man.

Just like the man in the parable, your clothes are not appropriate for being in the presence of the King. What you wear naturally is sin, sick, ugly sin. And it doesn't leave you. You can't just cover it up and pretend it isn't there, for it is there, and it won't go away on your own power.

The traditional pre-communion prayer in the Early Church Liturgy put it this way: "Strip off from us the spotted garments of our flesh, and of our own righteousness, and adorn us with the garments of the righteousness that thou hast purchased with Thy blood."

The garments which Christ gave to you to wear were not cheap. In fact, they were purchased with His blood. His life paid for the garments which you wear, so that you, and all the saints of heaven, might enter into the eternal banquet of the King.

In your Baptism everything which our Lord won on the cross was given to you. Saint Paul put it this way in Galatians (3: 26-27): You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

Through the waters of Holy Baptism you are all clothed with Christ. Here in the church it doesn't matter what color your skin is, whether you are a woman or a man, or a child, whether you're a Hoosier or a Cheesehead, pastor or layperson, or whatever.

In the waters of Holy Baptism you were clothed with Christ. This garment of Baptism gives you or works in you, the most incredible of gifts! As Luther put it: Baptism gives . forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. (SC IV, II.)

The waters of Holy Baptism are a covering for the whole Church, so that when God looks at you, He doesn't see your selfishness, your pride at being different, and the egotistical ME FIRST nature that infects everyone of you. No, you are clothed with Christ.

When your heavenly Father looks at you, He sees the spotless raiment of Christ's holy life, His innocent suffering death, and resurrection for your salvation. When God looks at you, he sees Jesus. The clothes make the man.

Yes, the Lord has much in store for you, dear friends. He has so much to give that He can hardly wait to bring you to heaven so that you may be in His presence forever. In fact, He so much wants you at His banquet table that He has given you a foretaste of that eternal banquet here today, in His Holy Supper. For it is here at this table, at that rail that you receive a foretaste of the feast to come.

Did you know that in days gone by in many churches the baptismal font was placed right in the center as one went up to the altar, or even at the very entrance of the church. This was done to show that the only way a person may enter into God's presence and receive His meal was through the waters of Holy Baptism.

A hymn that we will sing on All Saints Sunday expresses it so well: Behold, a host arrayed in white, like thousand snow-clad mountains bright. With palms they stand, who is this band, before the throne of light.

This host is the Holy Christian Church, clothed with Christ's righteousness and standing before God's throne. Yes, the clothes do make the man.

Thank God that He gave you His righteousness as your garment, so that you may enter into His banquet hall and join in the marriage feast of Christ and His bride, the Church.

And that is what St. Paul is talking about when he says, `"Rejoice in the Lord Always," and again I say, "Rejoice."’

Christ is Risen.

Luther Rose

 

Christ Is Risen
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