Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sermon -- Easter Dawn (March 31, 2013)

NIKA is the Greek word for "victory."


In the name + of Jesus.

     The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)  Though the Lord was patient, he was not negligent of his word.  Judgment would come.  The guilty would be punished.  The wages of sin: death.
     The Lord would destroy the earth with water.  He would scrub the entire earth clean.  He would drown all wickedness out. 
     But the Lord looked with favor on Noah.  Noah was faithful to the Lord and his word.  So the Lord commanded Noah to build an ark to escape the judgment and the destruction that was coming upon the earth.  Note this well: The Lord did not suspend his judgment.  Instead, he provided Noah deliverance from it.  Noah and his family would find safety and salvation in the ark that was built according to God’s gracious instruction.
     The ark was built.  God’s patience reached its end.  Judgment came pouring down in buckets and bursting forth from the depths of the earth.  Cries for mercy were no longer heard.  The day of judgment had come.  Those who had mocked God’s word with defiant attitudes and deviant behavior learned too late that God will not be mocked.
     But the Lord does not treat the righteous and the wicked alike.  Nor would the Lord snuff out his own promise that a Savior would come from Adam’s line.  The very same flood which brought death and destruction to the wicked also lifted up Noah and his family from the death and destruction.  In the ark, they were safe.  By the ark, they were saved.
     Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21)  The Lord has also saved you by water.  This water unites you to Jesus—putting to death in you all that is wicked.  He drowns in you all sin which condemns.  And by the same water which kills the sinner, the Lord scrubs you clean and makes you righteous before him.  The water which destroys all that is wicked also purifies you.  And by that water, you are brought into the ark of the Holy Christian Church.  In this Church, you are saved.  In this Church, you are safe.
     Note this well: The Lord will not suspend his judgment upon the earth.  The world is still evil.  The intention of man’s heart is still sinful.  Sinners are still defiant and deviant.  The world is again marked for death and destruction.  But, in his mercy, the Lord has provided you a refuge.  By your baptism, you are no longer regarded as a sinner, but as a saint.  By returning to your baptism in daily repentance, you put to death your sin and God daily raises you anew by his forgiveness. 
     The Lord does not treat the righteous and the wicked alike.  He has delivered you into the ark of the Church.  You shall be delivered above the destruction of the earth.  You will be rescued from death.  You shall be delivered to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.  In this new home, you will never again face the temptations of sin, the effects of evil, or the thought of death.  Your baptism has made you children of the resurrection.  Your sins are forgiven.  Your death is not to be feared.  For you are safe in Christ’s Church.  And so we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

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