Monday, August 12, 2013

Proper 14 of Series C (Luke 12:22-34)

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. The text for our sermon this mission festival comes from the Gospel lesson read a few moments ago from the twelfth chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Luke. Dear friends in Christ, we fear, we worry, we are anxious. We fear the future, what tomorrow might hold, and we are almost afraid to watch the news or read the paper. We worry about the needs of our body, fretting over the budget, the grocery bill, the price of gas. We are anxious for our children and grandchildren, and we wonder what kind of world they are going to inherit. We fear, we worry, we are anxious. We fear the opinions of our peers, we worry about our looks, we are anxious about our clothes. We fear for our checking account, we worry about paychecks, we are anxious about bills. We fear the words of others, we worry what they might say about us, we are anxious for our reputation. We fear, we worry, we are anxious—all the time.

This fear, this worry, this anxiety paralyzes us, it holds us in bondage, wrapped in chains forged in the concerns of this world. Fear keeps us from speaking of Christ to friends and family. We fear for our reputation, we worry about rejection, we are anxious about what they might think of us. Fear makes us live the Christian life quietly or even in silence. We fear being labeled, we worry about being made fun of, we are anxious about not fitting in. Fear makes us compromise with the world, indulging in all of its ungodly behaviors because we’re afraid not to. Fear causes us to follow the advice of others to keep religion to ourselves. We have the only message that this world truly needs to hear; we have the proclamation that gives hope in the midst of suffering, forgiveness in the midst of sin, victory in the midst of death, and through fear we keep it to ourselves. We fear pushing others away, we worry about a changed relationship, we are anxious about losing our children and grandchildren, our siblings and friends. Fear holds us hostage, and the price it demands is silence, a price we are all too willing to pay.

Into this prison of fear, worry, and anxiety comes Christ, declaring with love, with grace, with compassion, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Fear not, little flock, for Christ has come to put an end to all fear. Jesus came to destroy fear at its source, to break its chains by removing its cause: sin, death, and Satan. Fear comes from this unholy trinity, and Christ triumphed over them all with His death and victorious resurrection. Fear not, little flock, Jesus’ suffering paid the price for sin, His death broke the power of death, and when He rose, He displayed His victory throughout the world to destroy all fear. There is nothing left to fear; this world of sin and death has been defeated, it has been conquered, Christ has risen in victory!

Fear not, little flock, God is well-pleased to give to you the kingdom, a heavenly treasure, an inheritance that will never wear out. God is well-pleased with the world because He is well-pleased with Christ, and now it is His pleasure to give to you and to me a heavenly treasure that is more than anything this world can offer. Fear not, little flock, you have the treasures of heaven because you belong to Christ. Fear not, nothing that this world can do to you can take that away. You can lose your money, your clothing, your food, your reputation, and even your life, but the world cannot take away what Christ has won for you. Fear not when you witness, when you serve, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom; man can do nothing to you eternal treasure, and so go forth boldly to proclaim Christ to all around you. Fear not, little flock, for through Christ’s death and His victorious resurrection you are forgiven when you fear, but more than that, Good Friday and Easter have destroyed fear itself. In the Name of Jesus, who conquered all fear by destroying its source, Amen.

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