O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Yearning for Home
Yearning for Home
Based on 1 Peter 1:8-12
Preached on February 18, 2015
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Fellow baptized saints, Lent is about Jesus Christ. Our sermon text is 1 Peter 1:8-12 and it begins this way. "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him." Is that true? Do you love Him? I don't mean do you know about Him in your head. Of course you do. I'm not asking if you know things about His life. Sure you do. No, the question is this, do you love Him?
Years ago I heard a story about a married couple headed home in their car. The husband was driving. At one point, the wife began lamenting that the romance they had shared in earlier years had somehow left the marriage. She recalled that when they were first married they used to sit close together in the front seat of the car, holding hands and cuddling. Upon hearing this, the husband smiled gently and said to his wife, "Honey, I haven't moved away."
Do you love Jesus? I can't answer for you but I can answer for myself. Yes, I love Him but I certainly don't love Him the way I ought. All too often I move away from Him. And you can probably admit that you do too. I need, we all need this penitential season of Lent. Lent gives you and me the opportunity to reflect on our journey, not just our journey from this Ash Wednesday to Easter, but our bigger journey through life to our eternal home with God. If you take this Lent seriously, and I pray you will, you'll see that life is not just "ashes to ashes and dust to dust." Take this Lenten journey seriously and you'll see that it's Lent to Easter; it's ashes to glory and dust to glorified bodies in our heavenly home with Christ. Here's the promise: Take this Lenten journey seriously and you'll love Jesus more and more because you'll be more convinced than ever that Jesus is the way to your true home.
Have you ever yearned for home, yearned to be with the people you love? A young person goes off to college, filled with excitement, but usually around the holidays there is a yearning for home. If you have served in the military, served overseas, or been in combat, you know the yearning for home. When you go on a vacation, as enjoyable as it might be, you eventually say, "It'll be nice to get back home." And that yearning for home is true on a daily basis as well. We go to work and look forward to the end of the day, to going home, to rest. We all know the feeling of yearning for home, the feeling of yearning to be at peace with the people we love. So I'll say it again: Lent reminds us that we're on a journey, a journey to our eternal home with God. We love Jesus because He's our way home.
St. Peter wrote the words of our text to people who yearned for home in a way we can't really appreciate. The recipients of his letter didn't have an earthly home and earthly country the way you and I have our homes and our country. They were exiles. Legal aliens, non-citizens in the part of the world that today we call Turkey. They tended to be poor. They were have-nots who wished they could have more. Some of them were slaves, despised and subject to beatings. They were a minority in society, and they yearned for a home like we can't imagine. St. Peter couldn't change their status but he did invite them to see their lives as a journey to their true home. Peter told them and tells us, how blessed we are that Jesus is leading us on our journey to our true home.
He writes, "Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." Christ has saved your soul. But you can't see what that means yet. This is your journey. You journey to see with your eyes, what you already believe with your mind. You journey through troubles, and ills and crosses, looking forward to the home that has none of those. To the time when the former things have passed away. When the slavery and the exile and the weakness and the poorness and the guilt and the shame and the fear are no more. Who can imagine what our true home will be like? "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." Keep yearning for home!
St. Peter continues, "Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully." This gift God has given you, this grace, is something God's people have been searching for, waiting for - and you have Him. You know Him. He has been revealed to you! No longer must we wonder like God's people of old about the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories! Lent is about Jesus. Your Christian life is about Jesus. And we journey with Him this Lent through all that He suffered to save us from sin. We watch Him blaze our path home - all that it took for Him to pave our way to the Father. Our eyes will see His wounds of grace. Our ears will hear His merciful cries. Our minds will conceive of the punishment that the Father prepared for His Son, that He might save us - whom He loves. God yearns to have us, and we yearn for His home.
Does it seem too good to be true? It should. St. Peter says, "This revelation, these things that have now been preached to you about Christ and His free gifts - these are things into which angels long to look." The holy angels in heaven want to hear this Word of God. The holy angels in heaven think this is an inexpressible joy! They too are gathered around, listening to this preaching, right here, right now. They too join in praising God with us for His gracious gift of Christ. For they cannot fathom the love of God any better than us, that He would send His only Son, so far from home, to bring back those who had wandered away. This grace is incredible. It is hard to understand. But by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, it is easy to confess. It is easy to preach, because it is the only truly good news that mankind has ever heard.
So this Lent, as we walk with our Lord to cross and grave, and witness His resolve and passion for our salvation, let us come clean with Him about our whole lives, knowing, in His mercy, He is leading us home. God didn't want the people in ancient Turkey to settle in too much, and He doesn't want us to settle into our lives too much either. For this is not our home. As the psalmist says, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." We're not there yet, but we are yearning. Jesus, lead us home. Draw us to you. Keep us from moving away. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr