Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sermon -- Easter Dawn (April 20, 2014)

Within the cross, you will notice the
Greek word, NIKA, which means victory.

In the name + of Jesus.

     God is good.   He is also the giver of all that is good.  When God had completed the creation of the world, God assessed all that he had created, and it was very good.
     Even after sin had entered the world through Adam, God was good.  He was still the giver of all that is good.  He had promised the man and the woman that he would send a Savior to save all mankind from death and from the curse of sin.  And if this Savior would take away the curse of sin, he would even restore the goodness back to God’s good creation.  God would make a new creation, and once again, everything would be very good.
     But man loved his sins too much.  Sin had taken hold of the hearts of all mankind, and man no longer was interested in fighting against his sinful inclinations.  The intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)  Man could not obey God, but neither did he want to.  So the Lord was grieved that he had made man.  The Lord determined to destroy the world.  He would send a flood which would scrub the entire world clean.  He would wipe out all the wicked from the face of the earth. 
     But the Lord had made a promise.  His Savior would still come to make all things right, to remove the curse of sin, and to conquer death so that death would no longer reign.  Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.  The Lord commanded Noah to build an ark.  The ark would hold Noah, his family, and pairs of each kind of animal to repopulate the earth when the flood was over.  It would be a new creation, of sorts.
     Unlike much of mankind in those days, Noah listened to the word of the Lord.  Noah believed God and built the ark.  Then Noah and his family, with all the animals which God had sent, entered the ark.  And the flood waters came.
     The entire earth was re-formed, scrubbed clean.  All mankind and all animals—everything that had the breath of life in it—perished in the flood.  Only Noah and his family and the animals with him—only those which were in the ark—were delivered from death and destruction.
     St. Peter wrote, “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 Christ Jesus…” (1 Peter 3:21)  It is baptism which unites you to the death and resurrection of Jesus so that you are saved.  He united you to the crucifixion of Jesus and put you to death.  For, in baptism, the Lord wiped out the sin which condemns you.  Your sin was killed off so that it no longer claims you, condemns you, or controls you.  Rather, your Lord has made you a new creation with a clean heart and a right spirit.  You have been set apart as God’s chosen one to live as God’s beloved child, now and forever.
     The Flood waters which destroyed what was wicked also saved.  Those waters lifted up the ark above all the death and destruction so that those who were in it were saved.  In the same way, you have been delivered into the ark of the Holy Church where you are now safe.  You are lifted above the death, destruction, and judgment that is due to fall upon this world for its continued wickedness—for man has not learned his lesson and still will not repent.  But you have been rescued, saved by your baptism.  You have been crucified with Christ and put to death in the water of baptism, and you have been raised up a new and righteous person just as Jesus was raised up from the dead.  And daily, the Lord continues the cycle in you.  The Lord daily works repentance in your heart so that you continue to drown your sins in your baptismal waters.  And daily the Lord raises you up, as if back from the dead, to renew you in your status as saint and in your life as saintly people.  And so you are God’s people, now and forever.
     God is good.  God is the giver of all that is good.  He was faithful in sending the Savior who was crucified and has risen to bring you forgiveness for your sins and deliverance from death and destruction.  He was gracious in uniting you with Jesus so that you are a new creation.  He blessed you by bringing you in the ark of the Holy Church where you will be saved from all death and destruction.  Baptism saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He is risen indeed, and so you are saved indeed.  Alleluia!

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

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