Archive for the ‘Acts 2:14A. 22-36’ Category

What Our Soul Sings

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Pentecost A, June 19, 2011
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Let us begin this and all things, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  “Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee, how great Thou art!  How great Thou art!”  What wonderful words we just finished singing!  It is the very song of our souls, but not because we chose to sing these words, but because we must.  It’s the song that our new “baptismal nature” was created to sing; it’s a song that only a Christian can sing.  It’s the song of our soul!  But it wasn’t always that way.  You see, there’s another song we can easily get caught up in; it’s a song of a sinful nature that sings about itself; “Then sings my soul, I live to satisfy me; how great I am!  How great I am!”

Without the work of God we would be lost in that sinful song that celebrates the desires and accomplishments of self; we would be caught up in the pursuit of knowledge and accomplishments simply to satisfy our own pride and desire to grow greater and stronger!  So, you could say that there is a battle going on within our own souls over which song will be sung loudest and longest.  But that’s why you are here today; you’ve come here to feed your new nature; a nature that was raised in baptism after your old nature was put to death.  It’s why you gather to hear God’s Word proclaimed, remember the gift He gave you in your baptism, and be feed His Holy Supper of forgiveness.  We need these gifts of God because they are the very things that protect and strengthen our new nature.  But this struggle of putting to death one nature and raising up and strengthening another was not always our condition.

In our Old Testament lesson we are reminded that there was a time that we were created in the image of God; after His own likeness.  What must that have been like?  Well let’s look at those Words and see!  “Then God said, “Let “US” make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.””

What we learn from those Words is that God speaks to Himself; not in the way you and I might do, as we are trying to think through a problem; and He isn’t speaking to an audience, because remember as of yet, there was no human kind to speak to.  No God is speaking in a plural tense because God is one being, One God, but three persons.  And here is something else to remember, the very fact that He speaks to Himself amongst the three persons proves that these persons are real within the being of the One True God, and that they are relational.  They relate to one another in truth, power, and love, equally and without division!  They rule all of creation as one God, with one heart and one mind!  But there’s more to learn, because God continues speaking in our Old Testament Lesson; He speaks His intention.  Listen: “And let (the men) have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” [Gen. 1:26]

After God created all things and saw that they were good, He blessed man and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion!”  And for a short while, God our creator walked with man in the cool of the day.  We spoke with our creator as a friend, no more than that, we spoke with Him in love, because we were created to be in a relationship of love and truth with Him, just as His one being of Almighty God relates within the Godhead of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  But something happened; something that certainly was not a shock or surprise to God, but it was to the first men, Adam and Eve; sin happened and it happened quickly with immediate and devastating consequences.  Adam and Eve chose knowledge that God forbid them.  They chose knowledge over an eternal relationship of love and trust with their creator.  And because of that decision, gone forever was the image of God within the only creature that was created to be like God!  And now, forever the song of the souls of all sinful men and women would be about regaining that lost image of God; we can’t help but sing about our former greatness because it exists within our hearts like a giant whole; it’s a void and a vacuum that was once filled by God Himself!

So we try to fill that whole with everything within this created world.  We try to recreate our relationship of intimacy, love and truth with other people, and they fail us.  We try use mind altering substances that lie to our psyches, but those leave us worse than we were without them.  We search and search for meaning within us and our sinful world, but nothing fills the void!  But then we hear the powerful Words of Peter’s sermon in our second reading (Acts 2:14a-22-36) and we see that God has created a way back to a relationship of love and trust with Him; a way that is outside of ourselves.  Listen: “I saw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.  For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.  You have made known to me the paths of life; your will make me full of gladness with your presence.” [vs. 25-28]

In these blessed Words of scripture, we discover that God has not left us alone; He still wants to relate to us as He relates within Himself.  He still desires a relationship of love and trust with us.  He has never left us and He will not abandon us; even the death of our sinful flesh can’t separate us from His love.  But how; how is this to be?  Well, in order to answer this question, we must first understand that while this prophecy speaks to sinful men it is ultimately about God Himself; specifically it is about the Son of God, Jesus Christ who took on our own flesh to be our champion, redeemer and savior.  It is about a God who came to us and took our sins upon Himself so that He could pay the penalty for our sins; so that we will no longer be separated from a God of love and truth; so that the giant whole in our souls can be filled with what they were created to filled with, the presence of God!

This then is God’s way of recovering a relationship of love and trust that both of us lost.  Through His Son, Jesus Christ God entered into our reality and made all things new for all who will receive and believe in His Work.  But believing is impossible for a soul that simply wants to sing about its own greatness.  It’s impossible to believe in a God who we cannot see or walk with in the cool of the day.  It’s impossible unless God makes a way to believe.  And make a way He does.  How does He make this believing possible?  He does it by the power of the Holy Spirit and the means that the Father of all creation choses.  He does it with His Word and Sacraments!

In these means of Word and Sacrament, God the Father brings to us a message from His very heart, the heart of one God in three persons.  The message is the gospel; a gospel that promises you that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”  This message is given by the Father and it is about what His Son did to save you and the world, and it is empowered by His Holy Spirit who opens the eyes of your heart with faith so that you will believe that through His Son He has won you back and brought you once again into a relationship of love and trust.  Through His means of grace, God is daily proving to you the truthfulness of this message, as you continue to hear it, trust it, and seek to know His will!

And now, because you are using these means that God chooses, He is beginning to change you.  Your old identity that seeks to find its own satisfaction and fulfillment is being put to death just as God the Son died for you.  And in its place, God has raised up and is growing your new nature, your baptismal nature that seeks to know more love and truth from its creator; a nature that seeks to gain honor for God and not for itself.  It is this nature alone that believes that all truth originates from God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; one being, One God but three persons!  And as this new nature grows stronger you begin to become humble like the Son of God.  You begin to live to do the will of the Father.  As your new nature grows, you begin to become more like the Holy Spirit, working to honor the Father by pointing to the work and presence of God the Son, Jesus Christ!  But to whom are you pointing out Christ to?  To those who have not yet returned to their Creator God!  You are pointing to those who still have not been recreated!

In our gospel lesson (Matt. 28:16-20) Jesus gave a mandate and the means for each of us to be missionaries.  Each of us are simply to go out into our lives to whoever we encounter and share God’s desire to have them return to Him by faith, through the completed work of Jesus Christ!  Someone once asked me if Jesus is my personal Savior, and the answer I gave him confused him.  I said, “No, I like to share Him!”  You see, God didn’t recreate us in baptism to be a private Christian.  We were created to have a relationship of love and truth with Him and to share that relationship with others.  “We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, god’s own people, that we may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” [1 Pet. 2:9]  In other words, we are members of the body of Jesus Christ, a body that is living, growing, fruitful and always following the model of the Holy Spirit, by pointing to Jesus Christ and proclaiming His work for us and for our neighbors.

Dear friends, as the body of the Son of God, Jesus Christ our blessed heart and head, we are sent out to be His witnesses throughout the world to all people, all ethnic groups, and in all times until He comes again!  We are to simply do what we have been created to do… we are to sing His praises to all who will hear.  And as we sing to Him in our own witness, the Holy Spirit uses God’s means of Word and Sacrament to convert them as well and turn their hearts and minds toward a Triune God who enables them and us together to do good works of love and continue to turn even more people lost in sin towards their loving God!  In this way, God puts us back on track; He returns us to our original mandate to be fruitful and have dominion over the earth.  What is that dominion?  Building the kingdom of God by letting God work through us!  Eden is restored; or relationship of trust and love with our creator is returned to us and we are asked to spread this very thing throughout the face of the earth!  “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art!  How great Thou art!”   In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN!