6th Sunday after Pentecost
St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, Joliet, IL
July 8, 2007
St. Luke 10:1-20
In the Name of Jesus
The text for todayâ€™s sermon is the Gospel, in particular verse 16: The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.
The season of Pentecost (which used to be known as Trinity in the old system of readings we call the lectionary) is the time of the church. All the rest of the church year, the focus is on Christâ€™s earthly ministry, but during the summer months the church year ponders Christâ€™s life in us, His called community of believers, His church. And so the color for Pentecost is green. Why green? Because stuff is growing in Christâ€™s church, and by stuff I donâ€™t mean numbers or money. I mean that there is lifeâ€”true lifeâ€”in Christâ€™s church. The church is a lush garden where Godâ€™s life is found among men, just as it was in the garden of Eden. But outside of the churchâ€”outside of the community of believersâ€”there is no life at all, not even a drop. Thatâ€™s because where Christ is not Lord, the devil is, and the devil chokes out eternal life.
How do you get into the church, Godâ€™s garden? The same way Adam got into the garden of Eden. God took a lump of dirt, formed it into a man, and breathed the Holy Spirit, the breath of life into it, and then He put the man into His garden to take care of it. So to get into the church, God has to recreate you completelyâ€”take your body of sin and death and clothe it with the body of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, in Baptism, and breathe the Holy Spirit into it through His Word of forgiveness and place you into His communityâ€”which is not only the believers here, but the believers throughout all history who are one in Christ. And since Pentecost, God has been doing this. Ever since the mighty rushing wind blew the breath of life through the house where the apostles were staying, the mighty, resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit has filled the church, so that in the churchâ€™s preaching and sacraments is the almighty power of God to cancel sin, create faith, and raise those who are spiritually dead to eternal life.
How does that happen, exactly, that Godâ€™s mighty word raises you to life? Through this simple word, said by a frail, sinful man: â€œIn the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.â€