Monday, October 8, 2012

Sermon -- Octoberfest Vespers (October 6, 2012)

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  (JAMES 4:6)

In the name + of Jesus.

     St. James speaks very strong words.  God opposes the proud.
     Now, chances are, you are not too fond of the proud.  We are generally annoyed by those who are full of themselves.  Very few people find arrogance to be an attractive quality.  But it is not that God is annoyed.  It is not that God is turned off.  God opposes the proud.  He stands against them.  He fights against them.  His wrath burns against them.
     And as long as the proud are referred to as “them,” you smile about it.  You have a streak of vengeance which giggles at the thought of God smiting those too-big-for-their-own-britches kind of people.  And, of course, you assume that those kinds of people are not you and your kind of people. 
     So tell me, isn’t this pride?  Lord, I thank you that I am not like them.  You will not see me be as arrogant, as boastful, as full of myself, as ego-centric as them.  I am better than them. 
     No, you are not.  Repent, for God opposes the proud. 
     Therefore, God is pleased with his Son, Jesus Christ.  He humbled himself to leave his heavenly throne and all its glory.  He humbled himself so that God made himself man, so that the immortal one would let himself be put to death, so that the blessed one would take on a curse, so that righteous one would make himself sin.
     God is pleased with Son, Jesus Christ, who, being in very nature God, being all glorious and all powerful, made himself nothing.  And he did it for you, who are reluctant to admit that you have sinned.  He did it to pay for all of your sin.  He covers over your shame.
     You know that you cannot do the works that Jesus did.  But these are the only works that have ever pleased God.  But now, he gives this all to you.  He gives you the benefits of his death.  He gives you the righteousness of his life.  He gives you these things because you have no other way to obtain them.
     God gives grace to the humble – to you who recognize that you have sinned, to you who know that you cannot meet God even part way, to you who know that the curse, the death, and the sufferings should be yours – after all, you’ve earned them.  God gives grace to the adulterous David, to the blasphemous Paul, to the rebellious Adam, to the belligerent James and John, and even to you.
     But God does not give you what you have earned.  God gives you what you have not earned.  More than quenching the fires of hell, God opens the glories of heaven. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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