Sunday, April 13, 2014

Homily for Palmarum (Palm Sunday)

Matthew 26:1 – 27:66; Philippians 2:5-11; Zechariah 9:9-12; Matthew 21:1-9

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Each year on Palm Sunday we remember and we celebrate the coming of the Son of God Jesus Christ to be our King. We remember how the crowds received Him that day waving palm branches and laying down their cloaks before Him crying, “Hosanna,” “God save us!” “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” Indeed, the coming of our King is so momentous an event that we remember and sing those very words, not only on Palm Sunday, but each and every Lord’s Day in the Divine Service as we prepare to receive our King who continues to come to us again and again in the Lord’s Supper.
However, this day we also remember how quickly the fickle crowd turned on their King. When He proceeded, not to Herod’s or Pilate’s palace, but to the temple, where He angrily turned out the money changers and those who traded in sacrificial livestock, they quickly became disillusioned and wondered, “What kind of king is this anyway?” By Friday of that same week, their cries of “Hosanna” and “Blessed” were replaced with shouts, “Crucify Him! Crucify!” Either by acclamation or by silence they all together handed over their King to be crucified. Wittingly or unwittingly, they confessed, “This man is not our King. We have no king but Caesar. Let Him be crucified.” And, He was. King Jesus was crowned with thorns, sentenced as the “King of the Jews,” and was mounted to His wooden throne for all the world to see.
Either way, indeed in both ways, He was their King. And so is He our King. This truth we confess in the Small Catechism, in the explanation of the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come”: “The Kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.” The point is, as we confess each year in Advent with the same Gospel theme as today, our King is coming, ready or not, like it or not, whether you receive Him or not. Therefore, the question is only and always, “How will you meet Him?” Will you meet Him in faith to your temporal and eternal blessing, or will you meet Him in unbelief and rejection to your judgment and condemnation?” The King has come. He comes now. And He is coming again. He comes in blessing to those who receive Him. But, woe to the one who rejects Him, who betrays Him, and will not receive Him as King. In Jesus Christ, God’s Kingdom has come. O, that it would be received by all His creatures. O, that we would receive His Kingdom amongst us and live under His gracious rule in love and obedience.
At the beginning of St. Matthew’s Passion narrative, Jesus said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” The phrase “will be delivered up” in Greek is one word, paradidotai, which literally means “is betrayed.” This word was translated into the Latin as traditur, from which we get our English word traitor and its derivatives to betray, to hand over, and, perhaps surprisingly, tradition. The point that Jesus makes is that, in His Passion, He was being “handed over” by His Father to be the atoning sacrificial Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus is the sacrifice of God’s self-offering, the Lamb that Abraham confessed the LORD would provide for Himself. Jesus is Isaac’s ransom, Israel’s ransom, and the ransom of you and I and all who receive Him as their Savior, Redeemer, Lord, God, and King.
As the Prophet has written, “It was God’s will to crush Him.” Indeed, it was God’s will to hand over His Son to suffer and die for the sins and redemption of men, but still, Jesus says, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is [handed over].” Immediately the Evangelist tells us of the plot that the chief priests and elders of the people were putting together in the palace of Caiaphas the high priest. And then we are told of Judas who went to the chief priests and offered to hand over Jesus for a price, thirty pieces of silver. From that moment Judas sought the right opportunity to hand Jesus over and betray Him. On Thursday evening, when Jesus gathered with His disciples for a final Passover meal, Jesus took this opportunity to teach about His Kingdom and the kind of King He was and would be. Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him.” The LORD’s Messiah and King was prophesied of old from that First Gospel was proclaimed by the LORD in the Garden after the Fall of our First Parents. Since then the LORD renewed His covenant promise with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, and David. The Prophets proclaimed it again and again in Word and Sign. The Son of Man Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all those prophecies, and He was about to pour out a New Covenant in His blood. Truly, this Passover celebration would institute a New Passover. Once again the Angel of Death would pass over those marked by the blood of God’s sacrificial Lamb, Jesus. But, woe to the one who rejects Him and His Kingship in unbelief.
“The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born,” Jesus taught. Greatly distressed, the disciples each began to ask, “Is it I, Lord?” When Judas asked the same, Jesus answered him saying, “You have said so.” Now, Christian theologians and laity alike have debated for centuries the role of Judas and the nature of his betrayal. The questions they ask are typically these: Did Judas truly have a choice? After all, it was necessary that someone betray Jesus, right? Is Judas culpable for his betrayal? Didn’t God use him in this capacity? Wasn’t Judas actually being faithful in furthering Jesus’ mission and purpose? Etc. I say to you, all this is speculation. Truly, God’s will in this matter is a great mystery. We have only what He has revealed to us in His Word, which may not answer all our questions, but provides us what is necessary for faith, life, and salvation. In such cases, let us then consider simply what the Lord has said. When Judas asked, “Is it I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered only, “You have said so.” Should we conclude from this that Judas had no choice? That he was destined to betray Jesus? That he could not have done otherwise? By no means does the Word of God say any such thing! That is a reading that is forced upon the text by human reason and rationalism. What lies behind those words is the wisdom and will of God which is a light too bright for man, His creature, to gaze into. What we have is His Word, and it is sufficient for all our needs.
What is clear, however, is that there is a “handing over” that is holy and good – the Father’s “handing over” of His Son to suffer and die – and there is a “handing over” that is sinful and wicked – the rejection and betrayal of God’s self-offering in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus took the bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, “This is my body.” Then He took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and He gave it to them saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Herein Jesus instituted a new Passover, a New Covenant. He offered to mark all with His atoning blood that the Angel of Death might pass over and spare them from death. This covenant is for all who will receive it in faith, but woe to the one who rejects this covenant of grace.
That night in Gethsemane, Jesus prophesied to His disciples that they would indeed all betray and hand Him over. Though Peter insisted that he would never do such a thing, Jesus prophesied that he would deny Him three times before dawn the next day. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” We are all traitors. But, are you Judas or Peter? Do you believe that Jesus’ sacrifice is for you? Do you believe that it is finished, just as He said? Do you trust in the New Covenant in His blood shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins, the New Passover blood which marks and seals you that the Angel of Death may pass over? Judas did not believe; he fell into despair and hopelessness and took his own life in desperation to be relieved of the agony of his guilt. Peter, though every bit as guilty, trusted in Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness. After His resurrection, Jesus restored Peter, forgiving His sins, much like the Prodigal Father received his wayward son home again and restored him proclaiming, “This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
Thanks be to God that He has handed over His Son as the atoning sacrifice that covers our sin and restores us to sonship with the Father. Glory be to Jesus who willingly handed Himself over as the sacrificial Lamb of God that His blood might mark us prodigal sons and daughters who have strayed far and wandered from the love of our Father that the Angel of Death might pass over us that we may live now and forever in His mercy, grace, and love. Let us not betray Him and hand Him over with sins and unbelief we treat as lightly as a kiss. For such sins and unbelief did Jesus shed great drops of blood in intense prayer in Gethsemane. For such sins and unbelief was Jesus’ soul in anguish and did suffer the separation from His Father’s grace and mercy that we justly deserve. For such sins and unbelief does Jesus hand over His precious body and His holy blood that we might eat God’s Passover Sacrifice and live now and forever.
This is the nature of God’s Kingdom, and this is how God’s King reigns: in selfless, sacrificial love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. “Thy Kingdom come.” Though “the Kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, […] we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.” “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted” in bread and wine which are His body given and His blood of the New Covenant shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. How do you receive Him? Believe and receive; He is for you. He is your King, and He is for you. God has handed Him over for the life of the world. Take. Eat. Believe. Receive. Trust. Keep. Live.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homily for Lenten Vespers - Week of Judica (Lent 5)

Matthew 18:21-35; Isaiah 30:18-26

The Petitions of the Great Litany: “Have mercy”
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Waiting, patience, grace, forgiveness, and mercy – what have these to do with each other? I say to you much, indeed everything! They are nearly synonymous with each other as each has its foundation and origin in love. They are qualities and attributes of our LORD and God who has revealed Himself and defined Himself as love. They are His nature and in accordance with His proper will, which is to say that He is and He desires to be waiting, patient, gracious, forgiving, and merciful to you. Your God desires this because He is love.
Isaiah 30:18 says that “the LORD waits to be gracious to you.” But, why does He wait? What is He waiting for? If He is gracious, and if He desires to be gracious towards you, then why not simply be gracious, now? He waits so that you will receive His grace for the free and perfect gift that it is. This is to say that He waits for His Law to do its work upon your heart and to crush you that He may heal you. By nature, you are inclined to trust in yourself and in your own devices, in material goods and possessions, and in the strength, wisdom, and will of men. But, these gain you nothing spiritually and they cannot give you forgiveness, life, and salvation. Therefore, the LORD sends you “the bread of adversity” and “the water of affliction” that your eyes might be lifted from the earth and from your own flesh and be set to focus upon your “Teacher,” your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that your ears might be opened to hear above and beyond the din of your own thoughts and the counsel of men and listen to His voice.
Then “your Teacher will not hide Himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This the way, walk in it’, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” He was always there, but before your LORD’s gracious intervention you did not see Him. He was always there, but before the LORD’s gracious intervention you did not hear Him. He was always there, and He is always there with you, wherever you go. He is the path you walk upon when you hearken to His voice, His Word, and when you open your eyes to see your Teacher whom your LORD has set before you. He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life apart from whom there is no other way to your Holy Father. It is grace, a pure and holy gift you did not deserve, that He gives you. It is mercy that spares you what you do deserve, what you confess in the Divine Service, “temporal and eternal punishment.”
And yet, still, the LORD gives you – yes, He gives you – “the bread of adversity” and “the water of affliction” – the LORD gives you trial and tribulation. And, this is both gracious and merciful as well a serious application of His Law. Through these, the LORD disciplines you: He breaks up your hardened heart that it may receive the Gospel. He trims, prunes, and purifies your faith so that it trusts in Him and His Word alone. He makes you to be fruitful, bearing good fruit in accordance with His will, serving your neighbor, and glorifying His Name before men and angels. However, the wounds that He inflicts are not delivered in anger and haste, but in love and mercy. It is for your own good. After you have been broken and crushed in spirit, then will He bind up your brokenness and heal the wounds inflicted by His blow.
You see, there is a great deal of love and care involved in the LORD’s mercy. Thus, when you pray, “Have mercy,” you are praying for much more than deliverance from the adversity and affliction the LORD sends upon you. In truth, you are not really praying for that at all, for, the LORD sends adversity and affliction upon you because He loves you and cares about you and does not desire that you should walk upon the broad and easy path that leads you away from Him into death and damnation. He disciplines you in love, the way you discipline your children that they may learn and grow from their mistakes and be safe from harm and danger and mature into adulthood.
Thus, once again, your prayer in the Litany, “Have mercy,” is also a confession. You confess that the LORD is your God and Creator and that He is indeed merciful, that He loves you and will do all that is necessary to care for you and protect you, even discipline you when necessary. When you pray, “Have mercy,” you submit yourself willingly to His Fatherly care, trusting in His love, mercy, and wisdom. When He sends you blessing, you reply, “Thank you Jesus.” And, when He sends you adversity and affliction, you also say, “Thank you Jesus.” Like faithful Job you confess, “The LORD giveth, and the LORD taketh away; Blessed be the Name of the LORD.”
But then, a significant part of the LORD’s blessing upon you is that you also may be a blessing to others. How do you bless others? You bless others in the same ways in which you have been blessed – you show them love, kindness, patience, charity, grace, forgiveness, and mercy. Moreover, you can only show them, you can only give to them, of that which you have already received yourself. Truly, you can only love with His love. You can only give with His gifts. You can only forgive with His forgiveness. Likewise, you show others mercy as you have received abundant and continual mercy from your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thus, there is no limit to the forgiveness you must show a brother, for there is no limit to the forgiveness you yourself receive through faith in Jesus Christ. This is why your Lord exhorts you saying, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” What you receive is the LORD’s; so, likewise, what you give is the LORD’s. The LORD shows you mercy. Be you also, and always, merciful to your brother and neighbor. This is not a work, but it is a fruit – a necessary fruit. For, if the fruit is not present, then neither is the love that produces the fruit. First, you must acknowledge and confess what you have received. Then, you must freely give to others as you have freely received. But, what you give is the LORD’s, and with the LORD there is always and continually more.
“Have mercy,” you pray. “ I AM, and I do,” He replies.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Homily for Lenten Vespers - Week of Laetare (Lent 4)

John 3:13-21; Isaiah 25:6-12

The Petitions of the Great Litany: “Good Lord, deliver us”
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The prayer our Lord Jesus taught us ends with the petition, “Deliver us from evil.” The original Greek actually says, “Deliver us from the evil one,” making it clear who the origin and cause of evil is. It is somewhat a shame that the Church has grown accustomed to concluding the Lord’s Prayer with the Doxology, “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory…,” etc., for the prayer, as the Lord actually gave it, makes it utterly clear that our daily bread, forgiveness, and life come from our holy God and Father in accordance with His holy will, and that what we are in need of continual deliverance from is evil, sin and death, and the evil one, the devil.
“Deliver us from the evil one,” the Lord taught us to pray. “Good Lord, deliver us,” we pray in the Litany. Deliverance is not something that we do, but it is something that is done to us and for us. We are passive when it comes to deliverance, for we are in thrall to the devil, prisoners in his kingdom, until the Lord delivers us in His Son. Through Holy Baptism and Holy Spirit-created faith in Jesus Christ, we are delivered from sin, death, and Satan, reclaimed for the kingdom of God in the blood of the Lamb.
Specifically, we pray in the Litany that the good Lord would deliver us “from all sin, from all error, from all evil; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from sudden and evil death; from pestilence and famine; from war and bloodshed; from sedition and from rebellion; from lightning and tempest; from all calamity by fire and water; and from everlasting death.” Indeed, these are all things that come upon us without our control. There are the obvious spiritual things like sin, evil, and the devil, but then there are also the natural and physical realities of famine, war, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis, mass shootings at schools and theaters, terrorism, violence and crime of all manner, and finally death. “Good Lord, deliver us.”
But, deliverance isn’t escape. We do not pray – or, we should not pray – that God would take us out of this life. No. However, we do pray for deliverance from the evil that has befallen this world, and our own lives, and the lives of those we love. And, that is precisely what our Lord provides. Our Lord delivers us from evil and from the evil one – continually, throughout the time of this world and throughout our lives, and finally, on the Last Day, when Christ returns as King. This does not in any way mean that we will not suffer the effects of sin, death, and Satan and the evil he affects in this world. No, not at all. But, we will not be ultimately overcome by them. We will persevere through them. And, even if we suffer the loss of all things, even our lives, our Lord will deliver us through death to eternal life.
Do you see then why Luther could sing, “And, take they my life, goods, fame, child, and wife; let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won. The kingdom ours remaineth?” And, do you see then why St. Paul could confess, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us?” Our God, who has delivered us in the past, delivers us still, and will deliver us one last time on the Day of the Lord when our “old evil foe” will be vanquished once and for all.
Therefore, we see that our petition in the Litany, “Good Lord, deliver us,” is, once again, a confession of our faith in the Lord: that He is there, that He hears us, that He is good and able to help us, that He keeps His Word and never fails us, and that, no matter what we face in this life in body or in Spirit, we trust in Him for forgiveness, life, and salvation, to see us through the end He has promised and paid for dearly in the precious and holy blood of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. Our prayer in the Litany is not one of groveling and begging in fear, but it is a bold confession of faith; what we ask for we have every reason to expect to receive – not because of our sincerity or faith, but because of God’s Word, the unchanging rock and fortress to which our faith clings.
How does our good Lord deliver us? In many and various ways, to be sure. However, we must first turn to those places and means through which our Lord has promised to be present and active to deliver us: His Word and Sacraments. These external gifts are dependable, certain, and true, for they depend not upon us in any way, but they are established by God for the purpose of delivering the forgiveness of your sins, strengthening your faith, and giving and sealing you in His eternal life. Through these precious means, our gracious Lord draws near to us and delivers us from the evil one again, and again, and again. He delivers us through the Red Sea of Holy Baptism. He delivers us through this wilderness world and feeds us with the Holy Manna of Christ’s body and blood. And He goes with us, His Holy Spirit in His powerful and creative Word, day and night. “Good Lord, deliver us,” we pray. “I AM,” our good Lord replies.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Homily for Laetare - The Fourth Sunday in Lent (Lent 4)

John 6:1-15; Galatians 4:21-31; Exodus 16:2-21

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Just as there are but two ways, a way of life and a way of death, so also are there but two sources of food and nourishment, one that delivers life and one that delivers death. And, these two have been from the beginning, in Paradise, where God planted a tree whose fruit He caused to deliver life and where God also planted a tree whose fruit He caused to deliver death. And, as I have instructed you before, it was not the trees nor their fruit in and of themselves that caused them to deliver life or death, but it was God’s Word which He attached to those trees and their fruit that caused them to deliver life or death.
And so it is also with food, particularly with the symbolic staple that is bread: There is a bread of which a man may eat that always delivers life and there is a bread of which a man may eat that always delivers death. The bread of which a man may eat and live is the Bread of Life, the Word of God, and the Word made flesh Jesus Christ. The bread of which a man may eat and die is any other bread. To be sure, there is the bread made by the hands of men through the toil and sweat of his brow having its origin in grain sown and harvested by the famer, ground into flour by the miller, and baked into bread by the baker of which a man may eat and nourish his body and grow and live for a time, but it cannot deliver life eternal and its end is always and only death. This is the bread by which, alone, man cannot and does not live. Yet, there is a bread of which a man may eat and live and never die. Our Lord God provides us both kinds of bread, feeding us in body and in soul that we may live. However, only one bread delivers life that cannot and does not die. We must seek and find, desire and treasure that bread above all else. That bread is the one thing needful that feeds the soul even when the body hungers and languishes.
In captivity in Egypt, the children of Israel ate bread and meat until their bellies were full. For 430 years they ate and they slaved and they died while their souls longed for, desired, and were fed upon the spiritual bread of God’s Word that sustained them through those dark years. When the LORD delivered them from Pharaoh across the Red Sea, they left behind, along with their slavery and suffering, the pots of meat and baskets of bread, but they were free and they were happy for they had the LORD and His Word. But the desires of the flesh are against those of the Spirit and the people began to grumble that they had no food. They desired to dwell in Egypt in slavery once again where they at least had meat and bread and were not hungry.
They grumbled against the LORD and His servants, and the LORD heard their grumbling and promised to feed them. He caused manna to appear on the ground each morning. The people were instructed to gather only enough for their household each day. This was a test. Would they believe and trust in the Word of the LORD, or would they surrender to the desires of their flesh and gather more than a day’s worth? The manna was nothing to be desired, and intentionally so. They were not to trust in the bread, but in the LORD who provided the bread. He said it would be enough and, for those who trusted, it was. But, for those who did not trust, the extra they had gathered spoiled, stank, and bred worms. The LORD provides daily bread, bread sufficient for the needs of body and life for the day. And, the LORD provides spiritual bread, His Word, sufficient to sustain the soul for the day and for eternal life.
The LORD had lead the children of Israel out of Egypt in the Passover, where a great distinction was made between the way of life and the way of death. A clear distinction was made then between those who trusted in the LORD and His Word and those who did not. The LORD had commanded His people to mark the doorways of their homes with the blood of an unblemished one year old male lamb. The Angel of Death passed over their homes, not merely because of the blood, but because of the LORD’s Word of command attached to the blood. The homes of those who disregarded and did not trust in the Word of the LORD suffered the loss of their firstborn, both man and beast. It was not the blood alone, as it was not the fruit alone, as it was not the bread alone, nor anything else alone, but it is always the Word of the LORD in, with, and under these created things that delivers life or death in accordance with His Word.
And so it was near the celebration of the Passover that a great multitude had followed Jesus into the wilderness because they had seen the miraculous signs He had performed. Jesus took this opportunity to teach about the two ways, the way of life and the way of death, by teaching about the Bread of Life that is the Word of God. “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Jesus asked His disciple Philip. It was a rhetorical question meant to test Philip’s and the other’s faith. “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little,” Philip answered. He was right. “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what they for so many?” said Andrew. He was right as well. There was nothing that man could do or produce to feed the multitude and satisfy them physically and make them live. How much less could man do to feed them with the Bread of Life that they might live spiritually and not die?
Once they had confessed their failure and inability to provide bread and life for themselves, Jesus had them all sit down in the grass. Now that they were done striving and worrying they were prepared to receive what the Lord Jesus would do in His Word. Jesus took man’s meager provisions and gave thanks to God, the giver of bread, life, and all things, and distributed the bread and fish, as much as they wanted, to those who were seated (were some perhaps still standing and missed out?). When the Word of God became flesh and made His dwelling amongst us, then also did the LORD take up man’s meager provision, flesh and blood, and provide of it sufficiency and abundance. Jesus is God’s gift of Bread and Life of which a man may eat and live and never die. Jesus is the spiritual fountain of God’s providence of which a man may drink and never thirst again. For, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh: He is the heavenly manna which continues to feed, nourish, and sustain our lives as we make our pilgrimage through this wilderness world and life to the Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven.
Man knows a good thing when he sees it! The multitude were so amazed and impressed with Jesus’ miraculous feeding that they rushed to make Him their Bread King. He was indeed their King and He would be their King, but not by force, and not the way they understood His Kingship and Kingdom. You see this is the problem with sinful men, this is the problem with us, and this is the problem with the so-called Prosperity Gospel and its proponents, men like Joel Olsteen, Oral Roberts, Ken Hagen, Benny Hinn, and nearly everyone on the Trinity Broadcasting Network: we see Jesus, we see God as a means to an end, a way to get what we want and desire. Jesus is King, not because He gives us what we want, but because He is what we need and He gives Himself freely to us. Jesus is the Bread of Life of which a man may freely eat and live.
Very soon now, in our Lenten pilgrimage, we will hear the voices of those who would make Jesus their King turn against Him and crown Him with thorns as they cry “Crucify! Crucify!” Like the children of Israel before them, they rejected the gift God gave them and hungered and thirsted for the meat pots, bread, and rivers of Egypt and that devil Pharaoh and slavery. Part of the reason that fasting is recommended during Lent – and even throughout the year – is that, by causing the body to experience even a twinge of hunger, fasting can be used as a spiritual discipline to remind ourselves that man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God and that our lives do not consist of the abundance of our possessions, but that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give to us the Kingdom.
The children of the free woman must not submit themselves once again to a yoke of slavery, but live in the freedom of grace and the Gospel. Their bread is not what fills the body but what nourishes the soul. Come, eat this bread that will surely not fill your body or the desires of the flesh, but will nourish your soul and strengthen your faith, for it is the body of Christ given for you. Come, drink this wine that surely will not quench your thirst, but will comfort your soul, for it is the blood of Christ shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus says to you, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.” “I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.