O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Thus it is written
Thus it is written
Based on Luke 24:44-53
Preached on September 21, 2014
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Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, welcome to the Kickoff! Welcome to the Beautiful Savior Mission and Service Kickoff. Church and School, young and old - all of us are huddled in here on this the last day of Summer. But why? Why are we here? Why have we gathered here? I mean, most people are still lying in their beds, or lounging in their jammies. Why are we sitting in hard wooden pews with a bunch of people we scarcely know?
Well, an educated guess may suggest it has something to do with this Beautiful Savior guy, this Jesus - and the answer to this question must be somewhere in the Bible - but the Bible is a big book, especially that Old Testament, and it is unlikely that I am going to decipher its countless words.
Well, thankfully the Lord doesn't leave it up to you or me. Nope. He doesn't even leave it up to His disciples, but on the night of His resurrection when He first appeared to them as a group, Jesus told them in one sentence why a totally different group of people would gather in a building, on St. Mary's Rd - in Winnipeg - nearly two thousand years later.
He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures by saying, "This is what the Old Testament says, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." This is Jesus' own summary of God's Word. His very own interpretation of what the whole Bible says in a nutshell.
You don't need to guess or speculate as to why you are here. You are here because God wants you to benefit from His Son's suffering and death. You are here because Your Father wants to declare you righteous for the sake of His Son. You are here because He wants to promise you forgiveness. To wipe your slate clean. To cancel your debt.
Well, that sounds good. I can think of a few people that could benefit from such a promise, but that's not really why I am here. Ah, old Adam joins the conversation, that old creature that lives in us all, that sinful nature inherited from Adam. I am not here for forgiveness, because I don't need it. I am doing just fine on my own, thank you very much. I am here for a different reason.
Old Adam would like to change what Jesus said in that sentence. Old Adam swears Jesus said "that the Christ should rise on the third day, and that people be taught how to be better Christians when they go to church." Old Adam wishes Jesus said, "that the Christ should rise on the third day, and that people be encouraged in the good job they are doing." Old Adam wants Jesus to have said, "that the Christ should rise on the third day, and that people be told they are safe right where they are."
But Jesus did not say this. And Old Adam is wrong. Christianity is not about turning bad people into good people. It is about saving bad people through Jesus by this proclamation: you are forgiven in Christ. No matter who you are, or what you've done. Jesus died for you. Jesus assures us that this is what He wants preached. Everytime. To all nations. Not just to unbelievers. Not just to children. But to everyone, every week. Thus it is written, He says. This is the mission, and you my apostles, are witnesses of these things - Go - Preach.
Repentance and the forgiveness of sins. This is what Christ mandates for His Church. This is what He sends His apostles to establish. This is what He wants His people to hear - to meditate on - to share - and to serve others in.
And this is why we are here. Because today marks the beginning of a host of classes and groups and programs in which the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed. The beginning of the school year, of chapel service, of Toddler Bible time, Sunday School, Confirmation, Youth Group, Young Adults, three different Bible Classes and the Creation Ministries Presentation next Sunday night. All these things have officially kicked off, and all of them are for you.
But it doesn't stop there. Today we also recognize the many other ways you can get involved in seeing this message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed to all people. The Christmas Hamper Program, Lutheran Women's Missionary League, the Choir and Music Ministry, the Chapel Music Club, the We Care Club and the Parents in Partnership. Your children, your family, your friends are comforted with the truth of what Jesus has done for them because the Lord has established these groups to facilitate the proclamation of His message.
You know, you would've thought the disciples would have been sad when Jesus parted from them and was carried up into heaven, but the text tells us they trusted Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Great joy - because they knew He was with them in this powerful Word of forgiveness. Great joy because their consciences could rest in His eternal promise. Great joy because peace with God was a certainty in Jesus. They would see Him again, they knew it - but first He had sent them to share their joy - to proclaim how He had granted repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all people. And that's certainly a reason to be in the temple blessing God.
Jesus had to make it simple for His disciples. He has to make it simple for us too. My mission and service to mankind is in my suffering, death and resurrection. It is in the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. And you are here to receive it from me. Believe every word of this good news, for it will free you to serve others with gladness. It is your salvation, and your entire life. Jesus has done this for you. In His Holy Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr