Thirteenth Sunday after Holy Trinity

                                                  Thirteenth Sunday after Holy Trinity

                                                  Thirteenth Sunday after Holy Trinity


The Confession of Sins p. 184
The Absolution

The Psalm 146
The Kyrie p. 186
The Gloria in Excelsis p. 187
The Salutation and Collect of the Day p. 189
The Old Testament  p. 190
The Epistle
The Triple Alleluia
The Gospel
Glory Be To Thee, O Lord!
Praise Be To Thee, O Christ!  p. 191
The Nicene Creed
The Hymn of the Day p. 192
The Sermon
The Offertory
The Offering p. 193
The Prayer of the Church

The Preface p. 194
The Sanctus p. 195
The Lord’s Prayer p.196
The Word’s of Our Lord p. 197
The Pax Domini
The Agnus Dei p. 198
The Distribution of Christ’s Body and Blood
The Nunc Dimittis
The Thanksgiving p. 200
The Salutation and Benedicamus p.201
The Benediction p.202

The man tells Jesus that the Law says to love God with everything you've got and to love your neighbor as yourself. "So do that and you'll live," says Jesus. But he, wanting to justify himself asks who his neighbor is. We know what it means to justify ourselves. We know that word. It means to explain why you should get away with what you did. "Officer, I don't want to get in trouble with my parents so I'm trying to get home before their curfew." "Honey, I know it was expensive but the one I have is too out of date and old so I needed a new one. Gun. Laptop. Car. Whatever." "Mom, I know my grade is bad but you don't understand how unfair the teacher is." And worst of all, "God, I know I'm not perfect but I'm pretty sure I deserve better than that guy over there!" We try to justify ourselves. Explain away what we don't like. Make excuses for what we do. You should never break a promise to me but if I break my promise, I have a good reason.

The thing about Jesus is that He won't let the man justify himself before God. And He won't let you either. That's why He's our Savior. He rescues you from your own sinful way of thinking. And how do sinners think? Well, we say, "Love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor as yourself." Sure. I can do that. Those are good rules. The Law of God is good. Until it gets specific. Until loving God means actually being in church as often as we can and confessing not just a generic God but Jesus who is true God and man. And loving our neighbor is a great idea until loving our neighbor means actually loving and forgiving the people we can't stand. Who hurt us and do us wrong. The people we don't want to have anything to do with. Love your neighbor! "But pastor, if you only knew what they said or did!" Justify yourself much? 

The way Jesus rescues us is the way the Samaritan rescues the guy who is lying half-dead on the side of the road. When we justify ourselves, sin comes along and robs our self-made righteousness and leaves us lying in the ditch. What does the Law do? How do the commandments help? They don't. They just pass by on the other side. We need Jesus to come and pick us up from the muck and mire of our sins, to wash our wounds and take care of us. And He does exactly that, all at His own expense. The expense not of His cash but of His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. That's the price Jesus pays. He spares no expense to rescue us and heal us. Then He brings us to the inn of His church and pours in the oil and wine of Word and Baptism and Supper, the gifts which heal us and restore us to life. Again, all at His expense. 

You see, the Law condemns us because we DON'T love God or our neighbor. Jesus fulfills the Law by being both God and man, God and neighbor. On the cross, Jesus fulfills the Law by trusting in His Father above all things and by loving His neighbor--the world--by dying for our sins. Jesus saves us from our sins by being the One who takes on our sins. That saves us from having to justify ourselves to God on the basis of the Law. Now when we hear the Law say, "Love God! Love your neighbor," we don't have to make excuses. Rather we answer truthfully, "I don't! And I'd be condemned were it not for my Savior Jesus who has kept the Law perfectly and loved God and neighbor for me!" And then now the Law, those commandments become not a way to justify ourselves but to serve our neighbor. To love others. To forgive them. To pull them out of the ditch. And when you fail at that, no excuses, no justifying yourself. Just more Jesus, more forgiveness and get back out there and do whatever your neighbor needs to help and support them.

It's easy to justify ourselves. to make excuses. To explain to God why we should be let off the hook. The Law doesn't give any wiggle room. Love God. Love neighbor. If not, you're doomed. But Jesus did it. He kept it. Perfectly. For you. He's pulled you out of the ditch that sin threw you in. He's bound up the wounds that death and the devil have inflicted on you. He's lived your life and died your death so that you would be free to live your life not to impress God but to be a blessing to those around you. So go and do likewise, not because it gets you to heaven, but because your neighbor needs you to. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.