O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Hard to Absorb
Hard to Absorb
Based on Mt. 28:16-20
Preached on June 15, 2014
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Fellow baptized saints, do you like surprise parties? Do you know that moment that is created when the surprised person is actually surprised? When they are caught - stuck - frozen in place not knowing what to do or what to say? Their mouth is sorta open, their eyes look stunned not able to take everything in. Surprises are hard to absorb.
Well, seeing as its Father's Day, you've got to hear the story of the biggest surprise we ever pulled on my dad. It was his fiftieth birthday. And in celebration I offered to take him out for a "young" night on the town. The adventure started at Value Village. There we got dressed for our excursion. Matching red leather jackets, probably from the era my dad was a teenager, carefully pulled over some wide collar 70's dress shirts. Oh, we were ready. He looked like a million bucks. We found the nearest pub for some beer and wings and laughed our way through the night.
But meanwhile, back at the ranch, my mom and sister were receiving the full complement of his family and friends for an enormous surprise welcome. There were people he hadn't seen in nearly a decade, and there was no way he saw this coming.
We rolled into the garage like any other time, continued our banter as we pushed through the entrance, and then quietly I peeled around the corner. My dad followed me with standard stride until it hit him - SURPRISE! The cameras flashed, the lights burst on, the people sprang from their hiding places - and there it was in all its authentic glory - my dad with a huge smile on his face - totally surprised. He didn't know what to do. He didn't know what to say, because surprises are hard to absorb.
Of course, these awkward moments of hesitation can happen outside of the planned party pedantry. In fact, one happened to me this week when I looked at our text. My eyes scanned the words, but I was totally stuck - stunned. I mean seriously - Trinity Sunday - the week after Pentecost!?!? Why do we do this? We've just finished all the major events in Christ's life. We've gone all the way through, and without a break BAM - I'm supposed to summarize the whole thing again - I didn't know what to do or what to say that would be different. I just sat there with my mouth open shaking my head.
But to my great surprise, that wasn't where my surprise ended? Because then I read the text again. Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. When they saw Him they worshipped Him, but some doubted. Some distadzo. They hesitated. Froze. Sat there with their mouths open not knowing what to do or what to say. I guess Jesus just appearing out of nowhere was not something they had gotten used to. Because this word doesn't mean they disbelieved. It means they couldn't take it all in. They just weren't able to compute. His appearance caught them by surprise, and surprises are hard to absorb.
But you know what this is like. We all do. You've heard the Word of God preached countless times in your life, yet you still have those moments when you don't know what to do. When you know what you should do, but you're stuck. Distadzo. Frozen in the moment, only to be ashamed in the next. No, you shouldn't have done that. You should've said something. It should have been different. But it's too late now. It's all over now. It's already happened now. What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?
Beloved, watch your Lord. How He deals with His disciples. And Jesus came, and said to them. He is not offended. He is not angry, but in His compassion comes to speak to them. In His compassion He comes to meet them where they are stuck, that their surprise might be turned to faith. Their hesitation to trust. And this is not with some other kind of miracle, but with the only thing that ever creates faith. His Word. His sure and certain Word. The sight of Him has left them stunned, but the sound of His voice brings them peace and joy.
Do not be afraid. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
I am with you brothers. In the preaching and the teaching. In the baptizing and the feeding. In My Word. Yes, you are going to struggle. You are going to freeze, hesitate, fail and falter, but My Word will sustain you. I will sustain you in it, because I didn't freeze. I didn't hesitate. I didn't fail or falter - I simply absorbed what was hard to absorb. Sin. Your moments of weakness and doubt. Your moments of shame and guilt. They are mine. I took them all in. And it wasn't a surprise. I wasn't shocked or stunned or caught off guard. For this was the plan of your salvation. The salvation I want to speak to you again and again and again.
And so with you. And that's the real surprise, isn't it? That Almighty God - this mysterious Three-in-One - wants you to know Him through such simple means. Words. Water. Bread and Wine. The riches of a crucified King delivered to those in His kingdom. Look how He promises to be with you! It seems too simple for His Divine Majesty.
Because the truth of who God is - is sorta like a surprise, isn't it? It is hard to absorb, this Trinity, because it doesn't matter how long you try to take it all in - you never can - and you never will. Because this is the kind of God you have. This is the kind of God who created you, redeemed you and makes you holy - One who is too big for you to ever understand fully, yet humbler and closer to you than any other human in the person of Jesus Christ. One who is present everywhere in Creation, yet exists in equal fullness outside of it. One who has always been of a single divine essence, yet with a plurality of persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You have been drawn into the life of this God, brought into His kingdom, set apart by His good pleasure - and you will spend all of eternity gazing at His unending majesty. Yet it all starts here in His simple things: Words. Water. Bread and Wine.
Fellow baptized saints, do you like surprise parties? Because your God, the only true Triune God, here feeds you a foretaste of the feast to come. Come forward, and don't hesitate. Because you're all dressed up in the white robe of your Baptism. You look like a million bucks to God. And here the angels and archangels - yes the whole company of heaven - those you haven't seen for decades - wait to welcome you. And when the Last Day comes and it is finally revealed to you and you see it with your own eyes - there He will be in all His glory - your Jesus with a huge smile on His face -and it will totally be worth the surprise. In His Holy Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr