My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Friday, July 27, 2007

My Higher Things homily 2007

Higher Things 2007
Matthew 28:1-8 (Eastertide theme)

Your sins tangle you in the web of death. You think you can get away with it, but you cannot. You think no one will know, but God sees everything. You have convinced yourself that it’s not that big a deal to look at pornography. You think it’s OK to mock the weirdoes at school. You love buying clothes at the mall more than you love receiving the Eucharist at church.

Sin is like tar. Once you get a spot on your hands, there is nothing you can do to wipe it off. In fact, the more you try to wipe it off, the more you’re going to just spread it around all over yourself. You cannot justify yourselves before God. All of your acts of piety, your good deeds and your sweetness are not enough to make you right with God. And the more you attempt to please God and hide your sin, the dirtier and filthier you will become.

Sin is like manure on a baloney sandwich. It doesn’t matter if you just have a little teensy piece of dog manure on the bread. The whole thing is ruined. You can’t eat that thing because the whole thing is contaminated.

So often we try to appease our consciences by comparing ourselves to other human beings. Well, my sins are small compared to that guy! The problem is that when judging you, God does not compare you to that guy. He compares you to His Son. And by that standard, we all fall short.

When it come right down to it, you’re a mess. And so am I. But it’s worse that we tend to want to believe. Like the knight in The Quest for the Holy Grail, we are spouting a fountain of blood and try to make light of it saying, “It’s only a flesh wound.”

Your problem is not that you are sick It’s not that you are weak. It’s not that you are out-of-harmony with the universe. It’s not that there’s a tiny speck of manure on your sandwich. The problem is that you are contaminated. The problem is that all of us are out favor with God on account of our sinfulness. All of us are spiritually dead without Jesus Christ.

A really big problem calls for a really big solution. People that fail to understand the seriousness of their sin also fail to realize the seriousness of God’s love. Our savior is not small. He is not weak. He is not trivial. He is not one hour of your week. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. He is the beginner and finisher of our salvation.

The most important thing in life is not your shoes, your hair, your grades, your pimples, your sex appeal or the plastic golden trophies on your shelf. The most important thing is that you, sinner, have been baptized into Jesus Christ. And in that baptism, God Almighty bestowed on you all the blessing and benefits of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the cross, the Father heaped all of the manure of your sin, all of your secrets and all of your hidden faults and piled on the head or His Son, so that on the cross, God looked at Jesus and said, “You disgust me. You repulse me. You nauseate me. I hate you.” And the sky went dark and the earth shook and the curtain in the Temple tore from top to bottom. And the only truly good man who ever lived bowed his head and died.

Probably all of you have been to the funeral of someone you knew, at least once or twice. In most modern cemeteries, people put big heavy granite or marble headstones on top of the graves. They are called headstones. Did you ever wonder why they do that?

We think of these probably as just a way for us to mark the spot or a way to remember the deceased. Some historians think, however, that the practice of placing heavy marble or granite stones over the head of the dead person dates back to pagan origins when people were afraid of ghosts. They thought that placing a big rock at the head of the grave would pin the spirit of the dead person in his grave so he would follow them home and haunt them.

But I am here to tell you today that no one on heaven or earth, no angels or demons, no man or woman, no authority, power or dominion will be able to keep you pinned in your graves at the Day of Lord’s return. There will come a day, sooner or maybe later, but it will come when our dear Lord Jesus Christ will reappear in glory surrounded by angels and He will speak your name. And at that moment, if you are in the grave at the time, your body will be restored to life and you will rise again. Not green and maggot ridden like a Hollywood zombie with bits of flesh hanging down in quivering strips. But fully restored and more than that. You will be glorified.

So, to hell with the devil and his accusations!! He has no claim on you. You have been baptized into Jesus Christ. The very life of God is pulsating in your veins and corpuscles transforming you into the magnificent creature God the Creator intend you to be.

I have no particular wish to die, but I look forward to the day of my resurrection, the day when my baptism will be fulfilled. But until that hour, fix your hopes on Jesus Christ. Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking you are worthless. Because of all that Jesus has accomplished, you are precious in God’s sight. He will not treat you as your sins deserve. Left to yourself, your life is like manure on a baloney sandwich, contaminated through and through. But in Jesus Christ, you are pure gold – no, more than that, you are the sons of God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sphere: Related Content


David said...

Thank you for posting this, Pastor Stiegemeyer. You know what I love especially about this sermon? You call out specific sins, instead of leaving sin a sort of generic condition. (Yes, it *is* a condition, but sometimes I think we soft-pedal our sinfulness by leaving it there.) And I love that you use the second person "you" when discussing the Law. The Gospel is so much sweeter at the end after I've been accused and convicted so directly.

Kelly said...

Thanks for preaching for us-- you did a great job! I'm just sorry I didn't get a chance to track you down in person. It's great fun to meet "internet folk" at conferences like these.

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary