Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Fifth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 5)

Luke 5:1-11; 1 Peter 3:8-15; 1 Kings 19:11-21

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
To be a Christian is to be a little Christin this world as His disciple, for a disciple is a student of Christ who, through the discipline of study and correction, is being shaped and molded into the image of his teacher. And, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be like your teacher and to take up the cross that the world will place upon you as a little Christ, a cross that God the Father will permit the world to place upon you, so that, in being Jesus’ disciple, you will be a witness and a martyr to Him before the world.
So, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if anyone tells you that being a Christian is easy, he is a liar. If anyone tells you that being a Christian will win you friends and popularity, he is a liar. And if anyone tells you that being a Christian will make you successful and wealthy, or even happy, he is a liar. Indeed, your Lord and teacher Jesus never told you such things as these, and He is not a liar, but He is the Truth incarnate, in your flesh. And, through your Holy Baptism and the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, you are made to be a little Christ, and, through repentance and faith, all that is rightly His is also yours including sinlessness and holiness, righteousness, true and eternal life, and sonship with the Father. However, rightly yours also are meekness and humility, sacrificial service to your brothers and neighbors, and hatred, persecution, and suffering at the hands and words of the world.
Does this shock or surprise you? Do you think of me as a pessimistic preacher of gloom and doom for saying such things to you? I am sorry. I am sorry that so few have been honest with you before. I am sorry that you have been deceived by the world, our culture and media, and even by so-called Christian preachers and teachers to believe that, if only you try your best, God will be pleased with you, that, if only you think positively, then things will go well for you, and that, if only you had greater faith, then you would achieve health and wealth and prosperity. These are all lies! For you can see with your own two eyes, and you can hear with your own two ears that too often the wicked prosper while the humble suffer! And, because you have believed these lies, when trial, tribulation, and suffering come – and they always will – to you, or to those you love, you are tempted to blame God, you are tempted to lash out at Him in anger, or you are tempted to lose your faith altogether believing that there must not be a God, for God would not allow His children to suffer.
When Jesus calls His disciples, He calls them out of the world. They do not come to Him, they will not come to Him, and they cannot come to Him. But, He calls them, He chooses them, and He catches them like fish in a net. Jesus calls His disciples out of their comfort zones, away from their livelihoods and away even from their friends and their families. He calls them to discipleship and a new life, in the world, but not of the world. And, as fish cannot live outside of water, those Jesus calls and captures struggle as they leave behind the things they believed constituted their lives and they learn to breathe and live a new life, true life, life that never ends. When Jesus calls His disciples, He calls them to leave behind their boats and their nets, the tax collector’s booth, the weaver’s loom, the accounting books, the medical kit, etc., and follow Him. But, in following Jesus, His disciples return to their vocations and through them serve their brother and neighbor and glorify God. When Jesus called the fishermen to be His disciples, they died to themselves, they confessed their sins and their unworthiness, and Jesus absolved them and He raised them up to new life saying to them, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will catch men alive.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. 
To be a Christian is not to be perfect, but it is to be humble and repentant and to be made perfect before God in His grace and mercy through faith in Jesus Christ. And, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is not necessarily to live in poverty and celibacy, but it is to live anew in your God-given vocations, your callings, in selfless and sacrificial service to your brother and neighbor to the glory of God. You don’t have to be anyone special to be a Christian. For, the Church is not a memorial for saints, but it is a hospital for sinners. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners, and, you are called to find healing in Christ’s wounds. Jesus is not merely the Great Physician who heals you in your body and soul, but Jesus ishealing, Jesus islife, and in Him alone are you healed.
Jesus doesn’t ask about your faith when He calls you, He just calls you; He catches you, like a fish in a net. He makes you His disciple, and a disciple trusts in and follows Jesus. And He makes of you fishers of men, catching men alive, in the net which is the message of the cross, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has brought you into the boat of His Church, and in your holy vocation He works with you and through you to bring others into the boat of His Church.
Though all around the Church the nets are breaking and many who hear the Word do not believe, we continue to let down the nets into the deep waters of the world and men of all ages, races, languages, nationalities, and economic strata, both notorious sinners and tellers of white lies are caught together in Christ’s net and find themselves saved in the boat of His Church to the glory of God.
And, in the Church, Christ our Servant Captain is present to raise men to new and eternal life through the washing of His Word and Spirit in Holy Baptism. And, our Great Physician is present with His healing Words and Wounds to recreate, restore, and resurrect our weary souls, feeding, nourishing, and strengthening us with His Holy Body and His Precious Blood, the very Medicine of Immortality. And, on the Last Day, when Christ our Captain calls His Church to safe harbor in Heaven, He will crown you with eternal life that will never wane, and the life that we know now but through a mirror dimly, then we shall know face to face.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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