Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Festival of the Reformation (observed)

Matthew 11:12-19; Romans 3:19-28; Revelation 14:6-7

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
In his vision, St. John saw an angel soaring through the heavens proclaiming an eternal Gospel. Think about that for a moment: an eternal Gospel; a Gospel that has no beginning and no end; indeed, a Gospel that exists before, after, and outside of time, creation, and men. It is this Gospel that God proclaimed to Adam and Eve and the serpent moments after their fall from grace, that the Seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. It is this Gospel that God proclaimed to Abraham promising him that he would have a son and an heir through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed. It was this Gospel that was re-confirmed to Isaac and Jacob and Moses, to David and Isaiah. It was this Gospel, proclaimed continually by the Prophets right up until St. John the Baptist, that prepared the way for the revealing of the fulfillment of that Gospel in the death and resurrection of the eternal Gospel made flesh, Jesus Christ – the lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world. An eternal Gospel that is to be proclaimed to all “those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”
The eternal Gospel is the LORD’s work, proclaimed and offered to everyone without exception as a free and perfect gift, pure grace. But, men stubbornly, sinfully, rebelliously refuse and reject it. The Gospel seems foolish to our perverted wisdom, weak and pitiful to our false conception of strength and glory. It can’t be that easy. Surely it can’t be that universal and equitable, after all, some people are better than others, right? And so, we try to change the Gospel to say what we want it to say: You have to make a decision, to accept Jesus into your heart. You have to behave in a certain way, dress in a certain way, pray so many times a day, and never sin. We twist and bend and misconstrue the Gospel. We pile human traditions and commandments upon the Gospel. We obscure it. We cover it up. We bury it. Or we so transform it that it is not the Gospel at all any longer.
That is what had happened leading up to the Reformation. No, it did not happen all of a sudden, culminating in the 16thcentury, but it had been building over hundreds, even thousands of years. There had been many attempts at reform before Martin Luther. Some had been successful to a point, but most had ended in failure and martyrdom. And yet, since the Gospel is eternal, predating creation and humankind, it cannot and will not be buried forever, thanks and glory be to God alone. In His time and in His way, through the preaching and teaching of His Word, inspired and guided by His Holy Spirit, the LORD graciously and mercifully works His will and His way and accomplishes His purposes despite our best and worst efforts to obfuscate it.
The LORD gave His written Law, not that we might do it and live, but rather that our mouths would be stopped – that we would be forced to shut up – that the whole world would be held accountable to God. No one can be justified by obedience and works of the Law – that is not its purpose – but the purpose of he Law is to show our sin that we might despair of our justification and salvation and receive the eternal Gospel by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, whom God has put forward as the propitiation for our sins. Therefore, just as all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, so also are all justified by His grace as a gift through Jesus’ blood. Thus, the LORD is both just and the justifier of all who have faith in Jesus. There can be no boasting of works or merit, inheritance or bloodline, for the Law of the eternal Gospel is God’s work and gift alone, given freely, that can be received by grace through faith, or rejected in unbelief. There is no other option.
But, the flesh hates this and always wants another way. Thus did our Lord compare this generation to fickle children who are never satisfied. Men rejected John the Baptist because he preached the Law, and they rejected Jesus who fulfilled the Law and proclaimed the Gospel. We want things our own way. We want to be our own gods and to justify ourselves.
Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” This ought to be a shocking statement! How can the kingdom of heaven suffer violence? And, how could anyone think that they might take heaven by force? Yet, is that not we attempt to do when refuse God’s gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation in Jesus Christ and attempt to justify ourselves in some other way? No, God, I will not enter through the Way and Door you have provided, but I will enter on my own terms and in my own way. That is what the man found at the King’s wedding banquet not wearing the provided wedding garment sought to do. He was bound hand and foot and cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and the gnashing of teeth. No, you cannot justify yourself, nor can you take or enter the kingdom of heaven in any way. But, you must receive it as a gift, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. This, once again, is the eternal Gospel proclaimed by the angel of Revelation, the same Gospel proclaimed by the prophets and John the Baptist and by the faithful preachers and undershepherds of the Reformation and by the same still today and tomorrow until the Lord returns.
Grace. Amazing grace. The sweetest sound to ring in the ears of those who rightly hear by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. This eternal Gospel, this amazing grace, was what the Reformation dusted off and set free from the chains of manmade traditions, misconstrual, commandments, and obfuscation. And the Reformation must continue ever that the eternal Gospel may continue to be proclaimed “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”
The eternal Gospel is this: “The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the Law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” Lord, keep us steadfast in this, Your Word, for it is life and salvation for all who will believe. My dear Lutheran Christians, you are the heirs of this amazing grace. But, it is not a treasure to keep to yourself, but it is a beacon light of hope to all who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Therefore, you must strive always to hear this Gospel in its truth and purity and, receiving it daily in Word and Sacrament, live, breathe, and share it with all in your lives, words, and deeds to the glory of God. For, you are called to be angels, that is messengers of this amazing grace to all the world. However, you can only give to others of what you first have yourself. Therefore, come and be filled with the LORD’s grace: Word and water, body and blood, for the forgiveness of your sins, for life, and for everlasting salvation. You are blessed to be a blessing to the glory of God’s holy Name.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 22)

Matthew 18:21-35; Philippians 1:3-11; Malachi 6:6-8

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgressions, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” You see, the Prophet Micah gets it. The answer to all his rhetorical questions is an unequivocal “No! Nothing!” All that the LORD requires of you is that you do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. What does this mean?
This means, don’t try to offer the LORD anything. It’s all already His anyway. Truly, it’s not even thanks and praise that pleases Him, but the thing that pleases the LORD is when you sacrifice of yourself and give to others on account of His sacrifice and love for you. Then you confess the LORD to be God and yourself to be the recipient of His gracious gifts. Then you confess that you fear, love, and trust the Giver of the gifts more than the gifts themselves, when you willingly and freely give them away. Likewise, don’t try to offer anything to the LORD for your sin. You don’t have enough to pay, even if you could, not even your body, soul, and life. Rather, let Him forgive you in His love, mercy, and grace, and then live with Him and walk humbly with Him, always aware that you don’t deserve it or merit it, but that you have your life because God is love and He loves you.
You see, it’s impossible for you to be shorted or cheated, particularly with the LORD’s spiritual gifts, but, truly, with anything at all. Everything is His: Your body and soul, eyes, ears, and all your members, your reason and all your senses; clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all that you have; everything that you need to support your body and life. And this is especially true with the LORD’s spiritual gifts: grace, mercy, love, peace, kindness, gentleness, charity, self-control, and forgiveness. These are the selfless gifts given to you by your selfless God for you to selflessly share and give away to others as you selflessly received them. When you give of these gifts you lose nothing at all, for you are giving of the LORD’s gifts that you yourself have freely received. More than that, you show mercy with the LORD’s mercy, grace with the LORD’s grace, love with the LORD’s love, and forgiveness with the LORD’s forgiveness. Moreover still, you have this promise: With the measure you use will it be measured back to you; a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, filled to overflowing will be poured into your lap. It’s grace upon grace without limit.
That’s what the servant in Jesus’ parable received. The master forgave him his enormous debt because he pitied him – period. The master had compassion on his servant and he released him, he forgave him. The servant was a debtor and nothing to offer to the Master, just like you before the LORD, but the master had pity on him and showed him mercy, just as the LORD has done for you, and he forgave his servant who could not pay him back, just as the LORD forgives sinners like you who are indebted to Him with your life and your soul and have nothing with which to pay Him back for your trespasses – the LORD has pity for you, He loves you and He shows you mercy; more than that, He showers you with His grace and forgives you completely, even paying the debt you owe Himself, in the innocent shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
However, the gifts that the LORD gives you are living gifts; they are gifts that literally give life, the LORD’s life. That means, the LORD’s gifts do not remain stagnant and lifeless, but they change you and they make you fruitful. When the LORD blesses you with His gifts of life, love, and forgiveness, you will not remain the same. As our Lord Jesus teaches, “I am the vine and you are the branches; remain in me, and I will remain in you, and you willbear much fruit.” That means that you must give of the LORD’s gifts, love with the LORD’s love, and forgive with the LORD’s forgiveness. Not “must” in the sense of works that merit forgiveness, but of works that are the fruit of forgiveness.
The forgiven servant in Jesus’ parable failed to produce the fruits of forgiveness. He took the gift of his master’s forgiveness, but he refused to forgive another who was indebted to himself. He received the seed, but the seed did not produce fruit. There was nothing wrong with the seed, the problem was the soil. The servant’s heart was hard; the soil of his heart was fruitless. The master was angry and he had his pitiless and merciless servant thrown in jail. Jesus concludes His parable with the warning, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Does that sound harsh? It is harsh. Jesus pulls no punches with the Law of God. He expects there to be fruit: Those who have been loved are expected to love. Those who have been given to are expected to give. Those who have been forgiven are expected to forgive. Remember, Jesus told this parable in response to Peter’s question, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him: As many as seven times?” Jesus means to teach you, “Don’t ask such a question.” You simply forgive because you are forgiven. You simply forgive with Jesus’ forgiveness. You bear the fruit of forgiveness because you are a branch connected to the True Vine, Jesus. Bearing fruit is not an option, neither is it something that has a limit. Moreover, you are never out anything, for the forgiveness you give to others is the LORD’s forgiveness. The same is true with anything that you give or show to another. If you are receiving, then you will be giving. This is what James means when he writes, “Faith without works is dead” and “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” However, the works are always, and only, fruit. An apple tree produces apples because it is an apple tree. A grapevine produces grapes because it is a grapevine.
Still, you must resist the temptation – and that is precisely what it is, a temptation – to attempt to name and quantify your works or the works of another. One of our Synod’s theologians, Norman Nagel, has written: “‘Good works do not have a name,' said Martin Luther. The moment we honor good works with a name, they are no longer good works, that is, they are no longer done in faith. They are no longer within and from the giving hands of the Lord. They are slipping towards becoming a basis for boasting and making demands.” All good works are the LORD’s, thus there is no place for boasting. All good works are the LORD’s, thus He alone, not you, or I, or anyone else, is the measure of the fruitfulness of His branches. “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Nothing. There is nothing additional that the LORD requires of you through faith in Christ Jesus who has done all things well.
Thus, St. Paul exhorts you saying, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” St. Paul’s prayer for you is “that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
The LORD who created you to be fruitful and multiply has redeemed you and forgiven you that you may be fruitful once again, bearing His fruit of love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness, giving His life to others to the glory of His Name. He who has begun this good work in you in Holy Baptism and faith is, even now, bringing it to completion. You are a fruitful branch, and a work in progress. But, the harvest is coming, the day of Jesus Christ, when you will be complete in Him. Until then, you have the fruits of the True Vine Jesus Christ – His Word and Absolution, Baptism, and Supper – through which He fills you to overflowing with His gifts, that you may freely give to others without counting the cost. Go, and be fruitful.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 21)

John 4:46-54; Ephesians 6:10-17; Genesis 1:1 – 2:3

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
There’s a lot of talking going on in that first chapter of Genesis. There’s a lot of talking going on, but, there’s no people, it’s allGod. And, yet, look at all the stuff that happens: The heavens and the earth are created. There is light. There are oceans, seas, and land. There are stars, the moon and the sun, and all the celestial bodies. And, then there are living things, first grass, plants, and trees, but, then, birds and fish, and, finally, land animals of all kinds --- all this from God, and from God alone, talking, speaking His creative and life-giving Word, bringing all things out of nothing. As St. John the Evangelist writes in the Prologue to His Gospel, “All things were made through [the Word], and without [the Word] was not anything made that was made.”All things were made through the Word of God, the Word that was with God in the beginning, the Word that was God and is God still.
It was that Word that became fleshand, in the person of Jesus, made His dwelling amongst us. So, God continued to talk, God continued to speak His creative and life-giving Word, and creation continued to happen, through the Words of Jesus, who is the Word of God become flesh. The people of Israel understood that God created all things out of nothing by His powerful and creative Word, but they did not understand that God’s creative and life-giving Word could possibly stand right there in their very midst to re-create His fallen creation. Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, was able to turn water into wine, to heal the sick, and to raise the dead by His Word alone, still the people demanded signs and wonders in order to believe. Sometimes Jesus granted them signs and wonders, but ultimately He invited them to believe that He was the Word of God incarnate, the glory of God and His Word of creation, present in their very midst. It’s still all God, and it’s still all by God’s Word. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
When Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons it was by the power of the Word of God. In all such cases it was God’s creative Word re-creating His creation ruined by sin and the temptations of the devil. Each and every case was a confrontation between the Word of Life and the powers of darkness. When Jesus Himself was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Jesus drove away the devil by the Word of God alone. In His death on the cross, the Word of God, Jesus, was triumphant over the devil, destroying his power forever.
Your old evil foeis defeated, but still he tempts you, and often convinces you, to believe that this is not so. Each day of your life, therefore, you are under siege from his temptations. Yet, still, for you, now, the Word of God alone can drive away the devil. Thus, Paul instructs you to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”Such armor is defensive, not offensive, for, it is not you who will be doing the fighting. Indeed, the fight is already over and the victory is won for God through Christ’s death and resurrection. But, you need protecting, still, from the temptations of the evil one; you need defensive armor. God supplies you that armor in Jesus Christ: He supplies you with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace as shoes for your feet, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. These are defensive armor; they will protect you from the assaults of the devil if you trust in them. Indeed, the only offensive weapon that is given you is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. It is the Word alone that heals the sick, that raises the dead, that casts away demons, that drives off the devil.
So, it was not necessary that Jesus go to the official’s dying son, but for Him only to speak His Word. The official sought out Jesus because he believed Him to be a healer, otherwise he would not have come to Jesus. The official believed that Jesus couldand wouldheal his dying son, but he wrongly believed that it was necessary for Jesus to be physically present. “Unless you see signs and wonders,”Jesus says to him, “you will not believe.”  Jesus was not sent to receive glory for Himself but to glorify His Father who sent Him by restoring His fallen creation and by redeeming men who He created in His own image.
There is a similar account in St. Matthew’s Gospel of a Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant who was tortured with palsy. In that account, Jesus answers straightway “I will come and heal him.”But, the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but only speak Your Word and my servant will be healed.” Why is it that when the official asks Him to come to his son Jesus refuses to go their bodily, while, though not asked to come to the servant of the centurion, He offers to go there at once? Is it not to rebuke man’s sinful pride? Is it not to show that the ways of men are not the ways of God? Is it not to strengthen men’s faith in the Word of God alone and to demonstrate that the Word of God made flesh in Jesus is everywhere present as He fills all things? Is it not to show that faith that demands signs and wonders to believe is a little faith or no faith at all?The official came to Jesus seeking healing for his son; he went home that day with so much more, true, unshakable, unwavering faith. He who had faith to come needed a greater faith to go away, faith that believes without seeing, faith that finds peace in the Word of God alone.
“All things were made through [the Word], and without [the Word] was not anything made that was made.”Jesus is the Word of God made flesh and dwelling amongst. Forty days after His resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended to the right hand of His Father in Heaven. In Christ’s Ascension, it was not that Jesus was taken away from His disciples and that He was no longer with them, but it was simply that they would no longer see Him in the same way. Indeed, during those forty days after His resurrection, Jesus willfully appeared and disappeared before the presence of His disciples, first at His empty tomb, then in the upper room behind closed doors, with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and with his disciples on the shores of the lake. Though He has now ascended to the right hand of the Father, in so doing He fills all things and is present everywhere as He promised, “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
So, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, is with you, now, to forgive, to nourish and strengthen, and to feed you, His disciples, with His creative and life-giving Word and His precious body and holy blood that you may believe and have peace and live to the glory of His Father in His most Holy Spirit.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 20)

Matthew 22:1-14; Ephesians 5:15-21; Isaiah 55:1-9

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.” Martin Luther penned those words in twenty-eight theses known as the Heidelberg Disputation in April of 1518. In many ways, the Heidelberg theses were more important for the reformation of the Church than were the ninety-five theses Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg five months earlier. For, in the Heidelberg Disputation, Luther drew the Church back to the unchanging Truth of God’s Word, regardless of its making sense to human reason or whether men truly like what it says or not. The theologian of the cross believes and trusts in God’s Word no matter what, acknowledging that God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts and that man’s ways are not God’s ways; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than man’s ways and His thoughts than man’s thoughts. In contrast, the theologian of glory often has great difficulty with God’s thoughts and ways. When God’s thoughts and ways seem foolish, backward, or simply wrong according to man’s reason and wisdom, the theologian of glory bends God’s Word to make it more comfortable, omits part of it to make it more doable, and reinterprets it to make it more acceptable. And, often, God’s Word is denied and rejected altogether in favor of man’s word to the effect that the theologian of glory calls God’s good thoughts, ways, Word, and deeds evil, while calling man’s evil thoughts, ways, Word, and deeds good.
David’s father Jesse considered it foolishness that his young and ruddy shepherd son could be the LORD’s anointed, so he didn’t even bother to bring him before Samuel for consideration. Yet, as strong son, after wise son, after mighty son, was passed over, the Holy Spirit fell upon the LORD’s chosen David, “for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” The Prophet Isaiah prophesied of Jesus’ humble and unexpected appearance saying, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” When Jesus began to preach and teach, the people were amazed saying, “Is this not the carpenter’s son from backwater Nazareth?” Because He did not meet the expectations of what men consider powerful, great, virtuous, and valuable, most rejected Jesus and refused to listen to Him and trust in Him. The Pharisees and scribes and the leaders of Israel even called Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and works blasphemy and the work of Beelzebub, the devil – for, a theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil.
Truly, God has chosen what is foolish in this world to shame the wise; God has chosen what is weak in this world to shame the strong; God has chosen what is low and despised in this world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are. Look at yourselves! Take a look around at your brothers and sisters in Christ sitting next to you and all around you. Any one-percenters out there? Any of you live in a mansion, made the Forbes 500, drive a Maserati, eat steak and lobster and drink the finest wines every night? No, I didn’t think so. Most of you aren’t truly poor, but few of you are truly rich; and, none of you are truly famous, so far as I know. The best of you, by worldly standards, are likely considered quite average and unremarkable to your fellow man. Under the theology of the cross, that’s actually a great blessing. You see, maybe they don’t call you evil, but they certainly don’t think much of you, do they? They look at you and yawn; nothing to see here, move along. In Jesus’ day they would have “wagged their heads.” But, not your God; not your heavenly Father. When He looks at you He beams with joy and godly pride. When God your Father looks at you He sees someone rich in spirit, exalted in their meekness and humility, satisfied in righteousness, rich in mercy, and pure in heart; that is to say, when God your Father looks at you He sees His Son Jesus, into whom you have been baptized, purified, cleansed, forgiven, and restored to a right relationship with your heavenly Father, God, and LORD.
Truly, one of the most difficult things for the theologian of glory to understand – indeed, they cannot understand it, for their eyes and their mind are blinded to this Truth – is that we are all poor and helpless, that we are all dead in our trespasses and sin and cannot believe in Jesus Christ or make any movement towards Him. The theologian of glory cannot, will not believe this Truth. To him it seems supreme foolishness and is a detestable and evil thought. Believing themselves to be rich in knowledge and wisdom and righteousness, the theologian of glory rejects the invitation to come to the waters having no money, to come buy and eat wine and milk without money and without price. “I am not poor!” they insist. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!” “I will not be indebted to anyone.” And so, they reject the free gift of God – which is the only way – and put their trust in their own righteousness, which is no righteousness at all but filthy rags. Like the invitees to the King’s wedding banquet for his son, they refuse to come, they reject the King’s gracious invitation. When the King, in supreme patience and mercy, sends His servants to call them a second time, they react violently in anger, treating the King’s servants badly and murdering some. The theologian of glory, while feigning to praise God, truly despises and hates Him for continually exposing his sins, unrighteousness, and inability to help himself in His unchanging Word proclaimed by His servants whom He has sent to call them to repentance and faith.
Still, the LORD’s kingdom will be full. The invitation goes out to all, both the bad and the good, “Come.” The feast is prepared. Everything is ready. There is nothing to do. It is finished. “Come.” Even the wedding garment is provided, the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covers all your sins. Yes! Even that is provided you! In Jesus’ parable, there is one man in the King’s wedding hall found not wearing the provided wedding garment. Though he responded to the invitation, this theologian of glory refused to put on the provided wedding garment; he refused to be covered in Christ’s righteousness, and so he remained naked and exposed in his sin and guilt before the LORD. Undoubtedly, he did not think of himself as sinful and guilty; indeed, he called his evil sin good and the LORD’s good gift evil. The King had His servants bind him hand and foot and cast him out into the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth: weeping, because of the now undeniable, irrevocable, and eternal judgment; gnashing of teeth because of hatred of God’s righteousness and justice. Lord Jesus, send us Your Holy Spirit and change our hearts and renew our minds that we see with new eyes the truth of our sinful condition and the truth of your gracious forgiveness. Make us to be theologians of the cross who call a thing what it is, what You say it is in Your Word. Amen.
Another attribute of being a theologian of the cross is being prepared for the Lord’s coming in judgment at any time. In this regard St. Paul exhorts you in today’s Epistle to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” You are blessed by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word and Holy Baptism to be able to see things are they truly are, not calling evil good and good evil. Therefore, you do not put your trust in material wealth and possessions and you do not permit yourself to be ruled by your fleshly passions and desires, but you receive all things as gifts from the LORD and use them for His glory. Likewise, your attitude towards your fellow man, particularly those of the family of faith, is one of mutual submission and love out of reverence for Christ, as we address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with our hearts, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And now, everything is ready. The feast is prepared. Come to the wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom that has no end. Come, eat and drink without money and without price. God has chosen these lowly things – Word, water, bread, and wine – to call, clothe, feed, keep, equip, and send you bearing His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness to others to the glory of His Name.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.