Home > Baptism, catechetical, Lent, The Office of the Keys and Confession > “Whoever Does Not Receive the Kingdom of God Like a Child Will Never Enter it”. Sermon on Infant Baptism, Wed. after Judica 2013

“Whoever Does Not Receive the Kingdom of God Like a Child Will Never Enter it”. Sermon on Infant Baptism, Wed. after Judica 2013


 

cranach let the little children 1Wednesday after Judica (Vespers)

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Luke 18:9-17/ Passion History/ Small Catechism: What does such baptizing with water indicate?

March 20, 2013

“Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child shall never enter it”

Jesu juva!

INI

 

Jesus died for you.  You are saved.  That is a short and sweet rendition of the article of justification.  Lutherans have always said that the Christian Church stands or falls on the article of justification.  If you keep that front and center, it will save people; God will build His church on it.  When it is kept straight the conscience is comforted, and all the other articles of the Christian faith will be preserved.  But without it all of the teaching of the Church is corrupted.  Without it there will not be harmony in the Church.

 

That sounds good.  But in practice it doesn’t look true.  Jesus died for you, you are saved.  That’s enough for salvation?  That’s enough to keep the Churchpastor with black eye alive and together?  Have we found that to be true?  No, it looks to us like either the Lutheran reformers were wrong or it hasn’t been taught clearly here lately.  Because the churches that have other things to boast about besides the article of justification do well and we feel like, to quote the Psalms, “A sparrow alone on a housetop, like an owl in the ruins.”

 

Once a catechumen told me, respectfully and honestly, “That seems too easy.”  He had a lot of Roman Catholic family, so it was understandable.  But it’s not just the pope’s church.  If a Baptist asks you, “Are you saved,” tell them yes, and then if they say, “How do you know,” say, “Because Jesus died for me on the cross.”  What will many of them say?  “Yes, that’s true, but did you accept him into your heart, really and truly?  Do you have a relationship with Him?”

 

And it’s not just them either.  A lot of times it seems too easy to Lutherans, to Lutheran pastors.  Jesus died for me, so I’m saved.  But I’d like to see some evidence.  Holiness, victory over sin, any kind of victory.  What good is it if I preach Jesus died for us, and then everyone is just as angry and anxious as they were before?  Sometimes I ask that of myself, and sometimes you do too.

 

But there are some Lutherans, and not just little kids, either, who know in the time of trial, that the article of justification is their refuge.  Jesus died for me, so I’m saved.  It’s not easy to comfort yourself with that when the mountains are removed and tumble into the heart of the sea, when it looks like you are going to die or maybe your congregation is, and maybe it’s your fault, at least partly.  Can I get an Amen?

 

But there are some Lutherans who God has enabled to do it.  That’s the difficult art that Christians are taught by the Holy Spirit—to say, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but Jesus’ word will never pass away, and His Word says that He saved me from my sins by His death on the cross.”

 

crucifixion thief on the crossBut there are even fewer who know how to comfort themselves with their Baptism, who can sing the hymn we just sang tonight and find comfort in it when Satan attacks or when death is near:

I am baptized in Jesus’ blood;

this is my pearl, my highest good,

which calms my soul in all distress

against the devil, hell, and death. 

 

Or as the old hymn in the Lutheran Service Book teaches us to sing:

Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ!

 I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice. 

Should a guilty conscience seize me, since my baptism did release me

in a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?

 

If saying “Jesus died for me on the cross, so I’m saved” seems too easy to us, saying “I am baptized” seems even worse.  Especially if you were baptized as a baby.  A man who plays the piano at one of the nursing home services was raised at Messiah Luth. Church.  But now he’s a Baptist or a Nazarene.  He always really likes my preaching, except when I talk about Baptism.  One time he said, again, honestly and respectfully—“If all you have to do is be baptized as an infant to be saved, why don’t Lutherans just baptize babies as often as possible, even when their parents aren’t looking?”

 

But the baptism of infants is possibly the clearest picture we have of what it means when we say that salvation is by grace alone.  That is what Jesus is getting at when He says “let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it (St. Luke 18:16-17).”

 

We don’t realize that adults have no ability to enter the Kingdom of God.  The Scripture says it (Eph. 2:1).  But we don’t see that adults are just as helpless as infants.  With infants it’s easy to see.  We can’t see that they are conceived and born utterly sinful and enemies of God.  But we can see that they can’t walk or talk or understand sermons.  They are helpless physically.  Everything must be done for them if they are to live physically.

 

And the same thing is true for all human beings if they are to live spiritually.  God must give us life.  He must give birth to us spiritually, or we remain spiritually dead.  He must nourish us spiritually—feed us, bathe us, clothe us.  We have no ability to do any of those things for ourselves by nature, just like infants can neither give themselves life nor keep themselves alive.

 

But that isn’t what we think.  We think we can help God save us, and if we don’t help Him, if we don’t do our part, we won’t be saved.  That’s just our problem.  We keep trying to participate in saving ourselves, not realizing that that very self-sufficiency is what it means to be an enemy of God.  In the flesh, the sinful nature, we want to do something so that God won’t judge the flesh and put it to death.  So our very attempts to do good are sin.  We do them to avoid the judgment of God which says, The wages of sin is death (Rom 6) and Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8).

 

The only thing that can save us from this is for God to forgive us and also free us from the power of the flesh and the devil, which keep us on the treadmill of trying to justify ourselves and keep God from condemning, killing, and damning us.

 

Instead we submit to God’s judgment.  We submit to the law’s condemnation and to death, because we believe that God has justified us instead of us justifying ourselves.  Our flesh dies, but He will raise us from the dead.  He has already done so, as St. Paul says repeatedly.

 

We become passive, like a little baby receiving everything from his parents.  They clean up the stinking filthy diapers.  They bear with them when they cry.  The parents feed the baby, hold the baby, do everything for him or her.  Except our passivity is not just in allowing ourselves to be clothed and fed.  We are passive while God puts us to death and raises us from the dead.

 

That is why we baptize babies.  An adult can no more stop rebelling against God and believe in Christ than a baby.  In fact, the baby has an easier time than the adult.

 

This is seen clearly in the reading from Luke as well as in the Passion reading.  First Luke has the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, then the account of the babies being brought to Jesus.  That’s because they are connected.

 

Is it bad that the Pharisee tithes and fasts?  No.  Should we stop coming to church and giving offerings and trying to do works of piety?  No.  It’s just that the Pharisee thinks that his fasting and tithing makes him somehow less miserable, wretched, and condemned than the tax collector.  He thinks that it gives him something to bring before God and does not appear as an empty-handed beggar.  He doesn’t realize that even in his fasting and tithing he requires mercy from God.  Even his religious deeds are stained with sin.  And we are often just like this; not realizing that no matter how many good works we have done, when it comes to God we are sinners who require mercy.  We can only depend on God’s mercy and God’s righteousness, not our good works—even if we have faith that can move mountains, give all that we have to the poor, and give our body to be burned (1 Cor. 13).

 

Look at the passion narrative.   [Here I preached from an outline.  This was written later, trying to put on paper the train of thought of the outline, but this is way longer than it actually was.  I probably will raid some of it for passion sermons in Holy Week.]

 

Which of the people did Jesus not have to die for?  Which did not need Jesus to pray for them at His crucifixion, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

 

The priests and Pharisees wanted Jesus to die (although, not for their sins).  They were trying to save God’s temple and His nation (at least, that’s what they told themselves).  It just so happened that their work on God’s behalf—as they told themselves– also served what they saw as their own interests.  They could keep their prestige, power, honor, and wealth and at the same time honor God.

 

It’s funny how often it seems to us that those who threaten our interests are opposing God.

 

The priests didn’t realize that despite their holy office and authority and their familiarity with the Scriptures and the things of God, they desperately needed Jesus’ prayers, His suffering, the shedding of His blood, His humiliating death on the cross.  In the midst of carrying out the holy office God gave them and claiming to serve Him and be His representatives, they silenced and killed His Son.  They called Him a blasphemer so that they could carry on their blasphemy in God’s name.  How badly they needed Jesus’ suffering for them, and the intercession of His blood which speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:24).

 

What about Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea?  They did better than the chief priests and the Sanhedrin.  They were members of the ruling council, the Sanhedrin, but did not join in with it in sentencing Jesus to death.  Then after Jesus had died, they came out in the open and risked being associated with Him by giving Him an honorable burial.

 

But they became courageous enough to do this only after Jesus died, didn’t they?  Before that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus because he feared the others, who were excommunicating those who publicly confessed Jesus as the Christ.  And Nicodemus had tried to mediate between Jesus and those who opposed Him; He came and told Jesus one night: We know you are a teacher sent from God, because no one could do the miraculous signs you do unless God was with him (John 3:2).  But Jesus rejected Nicodemus’ olive branch and told him that it was impossible for him to recognize the kingdom of God until he was born again of water and the Spirit.  And this Nicodemus and Joseph were afraid to do, because it would have meant the end of their position as leaders.  It would have meant excommunication by the ones who held the God-ordained positions of authority among the people of God.  They would have been marked out as the followers of the Nazarene prophet; they would have been ostracized, despised like Jesus’ little flock.  They were not willing to pay this price because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43).  They seem almost to fulfill Jesus’ words of woe to the teachers of the law when they come to bury Him: Woe to you lawyers also! …For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed.  So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs (Luke 11: 46-48).

 

They needed Jesus to die for them and to pray for their forgiveness also, because although they didn’t hammer the nails or vote to condemn Him, they did not stand with Him and confess Him—not before His crucifixion and not during it.  The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus and the Jewish leaders who plotted it were only instruments for those who didn’t actively participate, but it was the sins of Nicodemus and Joseph for which Jesus had to suffer.  They were only willing to honor Jesus when He was dead and it seemed that there was no danger that He would call them away from their places of honor into the path of poverty and rejection that His open disciples walked.

 

What about Peter and the other disciples?  Hadn’t they left everything and followed the Son of Man, even though He had no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20)?  Yes, but why?  Peter could not accept that Jesus the Messiah would have a kingdom that meant rejection by the authorities in Israel and finally crucifixion.  They bickered about which of them would be the greatest even as they were on the road to Jerusalem.  They were planning to divide the spoil of Jesus’ Messianic kingdom.  Like hyenas around a carcass, they were fighting for position, each trying to make sure that they got the best part.  What was the difference between the disciples on the way to Jerusalem, fighting over the best seats in Jesus’ kingdom, and the Roman soldiers beneath the cross, dividing up Jesus’ clothes?  Only that the Roman soldiers were not deluded as to the worth of Jesus’ kingdom in terms of wealth and worldly power.  That’s probably why the Romans didn’t behave so childishly.  Why fight over a few bloody rags?  That was all the earthly treasure of Jesus’ kingdom.  And when Peter and the other disciples finished sleeping through Jesus’ agony in the garden and realized that the only glory and wealth of Jesus’ kingdom on earth was mockery and an accursed death on a gallows tree, they abandoned Him.  The disciples left everything and followed Jesus, but even in that they were still sinners seeking their own happiness instead of the glory of God.  They also needed Jesus’ death and dishonor; they needed the priests to condemn Him, Pilate to wash his hands, and the soldiers to flog him, crown Him with thorns, pierce His hands and feet with spikes.

 

Even Mary and John who stayed with Jesus needed Jesus to suffer.  Even though they stood watching and weeping with Jesus, that work was not pure.  If they could have prevented Jesus’ crucifixion, they would have.  Wasn’t that sinful, even though they couldn’t help it?   It was not human planning and counsel that brought Jesus to be crucified.  It was not human will that brought Jesus to cry out His broken cry: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”  It was the will and counsel of God from eternity.  “It was the will of the Lord to crush Him” and to make “His soul an offering for sin”, as Is. 53 says.  Wasn’t there sin in their opposition to what God had planned before the foundation of the world?  Even if it was unexpressed?  Lack of love for Jesus and lack of trust in God’s wisdom was in that.  Hadn’t Jesus told them repeatedly that this would happen?  But they did not believe Him, so that He gently reproved them a few hours before His death: You heard me say, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’  If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, and the Father is greater than I (John 14: 28).  Even as they stood with Jesus by the cross, their hands had also held the hammer and the nails together with the soldiers.

 

And so with us.  We also, no matter who we are, needed Jesus to die for us and for all that we are—even the moral deeds we do, because all of them apart from Jesus are filthy rags, opposition.  We crucified Jesus, crowned Him with thorns, mocked Him, pierced Him, abandoned Him, denied Him, attacked Him.  Whether we were religious in doing so, like the chief priests, or even in our works as believers in Christ, like the disciples, we required God’s pardon, grace, covering over of our faults, forgiveness.  That means that even as Christians doing good works in the Holy Spirit we still need to be cleansed with Jesus’ blood; we require Jesus to die for us.  The soldier hammering spikes into the hands of the Son of God was acting in our place.  God used the soldiers’ hands in order to put His Son to death.  But it was not merely because the soldier was a sinner, or the priests and Pilate were sinners.  God used the Romans to crush His Son on account of your sins.

 

Is it too easy to say, “Jesus died for us?”

 

No.  It is the only gospel that can save sinners who have no power at all to save themselves—sinners like us.

 

While we were still sinners, says St. Paul, Christ died for us (Romans 5).  He didn’t die for us while we were planning to obey God.  He died for us when we were completely lost and had no interest in Him at all.  Jesus came in faith and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us when we were helpless (Romans 5).

 

There was no spiritual life in the repentant thief when they were led out to the cross or even at the beginning of their ordeal.  He joined in with the other in reviling Jesus as they together hung there.  But later the criminal who before had had no spiritual life in him believed in Christ and became alive.  It was no decision of his.  His blind eyes were opened.  “We are getting what we deserve on this cross, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Instead of screaming and mocking at Jesus for not taking Himself off the cross, instead of jeering at Him as a failed Messiah, he believed that Jesus had not failed or lied but was coming into His kingdom.

 

The man had no spiritual life, but Jesus used His life to win it for him.  By the suffering of His soul Jesus was reconciling the Father to all men, putting out of the way the handwriting or the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands…nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2: 14).  But by His preaching and His faithful endurance of suffering and death Jesus also was bringing the repentant criminal, the centurion and others to faith so that they would be reconciled to God in Him and through faith in Him.

 

What Jesus did in His passion for the repentant criminal He has done throughout the ages.  We are born enemies of God, not looking for Him but running from Him and fighting Him.  Before we were born He suffered for us to reconcile the Father to us.  And while we are still in darkness and spiritual death, He brings life and light to us through His Word and Sacraments.  He carried us before the Father in His suffering and in His prayers.  Through the preaching of His cross and passion He sends His Holy Spirit, who draws us out of spiritual death to faith in Christ, and in Him we come to the Father.

 

Infant Baptism is the same.  It is not salvation by dead human works.  Instead, Jesus takes believing Christian parents or relatives who bring their wholly sinful and unclean infants to Him, together with the whole church.  The parents and the whole church bring the helpless child to Jesus as He has commanded: “Let the little children come to me.”  These believers in Christ use their spiritual life, their faith in Christ, to bring those who are helpless and without spiritual life to Jesus, so that they may receive spiritual life from Him.  Jesus healed the paralytic and forgave his sins (Matthew 9)—not because of his own faith, but because of the faith of the friends who brought him.  So we bring helpless infants to Jesus.  The church prays:

 

“ …We pray that You would behold N. according to Your boundless mercy and bless him with true faith by the Holy Spirit that through this saving flood all sin in him which has been inherited from Adam and which he himself has committed since would be drowned and die. Grant that he be kept safe and secure in the holy ark of the Christian Church, being separated from the multitude of unbelievers and serving Your name at all times with a fervent spirit and a joyful hope, so that, with all believers in Your promise, he would be declared worthy of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

 

Then, having brought the helpless babies to Jesus in prayer, we baptize them, confident that because Jesus promises “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” and tells us to bring them to Him, that He will ensure that they receive Baptism worthily, in faith.

 

Like Jesus’ disciples, none of us wants to die with Jesus.  There is constantly in us the bitter root of Adam’s sin, which is always self-seeking and wanting to be God, to be glorified, even in following a Savior who was crucified.

 

Only babies and those like them enter the kingdom of heaven, not because babies have no sin, but because they are passive.  The thief on the cross realized he deserved nothing other than crucifixion and damnation.  He was on the brink of the cliff, about to fall over into the lake of fire, and there was nothing in him that would prevent it.  The same was true of the tax collector, and of Peter, after he had denied Jesus.  They knew that they were nothing but condemned, no matter what good works they thought they had done.  Their only hope was God’s mercy.

 

Imagine how it must have been for Peter.  What a painful way to learn that there was nothing good in him at all.  He couldn’t count on anything within himself to be faithful to Jesus, much less to take away his sins.

 

That is how we are by nature, whether as babies or as adults.  We are unable to even want to die with Jesus—just like Peter.  That means we are by nature unwilling and unable to believe in Him, because to believe in Jesus and be baptized into Jesus is to be crucified and buried with Him (Galatians 2, Romans 6).  Even as Christians our flesh remains unwilling and unable to die with Jesus, to believe in Him.  If we believe in Him, we can’t count on ourselves not to deny Him or oppose Him.  Just like Peter, we most certainly will, unless He daily kills our flesh.  We will seek our own glory and oppose the glory of God.

 

We are helpless to enter the kingdom or to stay in it.  Only one human being can enter God’s kingdom and remain in it—He who was not born with Adam’s sin.  Jesus won the kingdom of heaven, patiently submitting to the Father like a perfectly obedient child.

 

But we cannot receive the kingdom of heaven as obedient, grown children who obey their father.  We receive it like a little child—we are passive while everything is done for us.  That is why these sinful men who were on the edge of the cliff of hell, about to fall in, received the kingdom of heaven—received justification.  They were without hope unless salvation came completely from outside of them as a gracious gift of God.

 

That is what you and I really are, every day.  When you think about it, it’s utterly terrifying.  Your flesh is so great an enemy that it will without doubt deceive you and cast you into hell in a minute if it is allowed to.  And you can’t get rid of it completely until you die.  Until that day it remains with you as a cancer that waits for an opportunity to break out and kill you not only once but twice—first when your body dies, second when you are cast into the lake of burning sulfur with the devil and his angels.

 

How wonderful it will be when the sinful flesh is finally dead and buried, never more to rise!  And how truly awful is the sin that arises from the flesh!  The ongoing sin of our flesh is not counted to us as long as we remain in faith in Christ.  But every sin is worthy of eternal death, and every sin that we don’t mourn and hate threatens to become the sin that gets dominion over us, so that the flesh is no longer crucified with Jesus, but we abandon Christ and our baptism.

 

That is what happens to many who are baptized as infants.  It is not that baptism is a false hope.  It’s that many—most—who are baptized as infants decide that they no longer want to be like a child.  They come down off the cross and go back to serving the sinful nature.  They reject baptism, where through daily contrition and repentance the old Adam is drowned and dies with all sin and evil desire and a new man daily emerges and arises to live before God.

 

They reject Christ crucified.  They no longer believe that the crucified one is the life and the truth and the way to the Father.  If they believed that they would want Him and His cross; they would bear the cross instead of trying to find pleasure in serving themselves.

 

So the life of the baptized Christian is daily repentance—daily drowning.  Daily, like the repentant thief and the tax collector, to confess that you are helpless, and to look to Christ crucified and risen alone, with whom you were put to death and raised in Baptism.

 

We recited today the fifth part of the Small Catechism on “Confession.”  But we had no sermon on it.  But in the Large Catechism Luther says that what the pope’s church called “the Sacrament of Penance” (which they now call “The Sacrament of Reconciliation”) is really nothing other than Baptism.  Baptism means daily sorrow and hatred of sin and daily faith in the forgiveness of sins for Jesus’ sake.

 

That is why elsewhere Luther says:

When I therefore urge you to go to confession, I am doing nothing else than urging you to be a Christian. If I have brought you to the point of being a Christian, I have thereby also brought you to confession. For those who really desire to be true Christians, to be rid of their sins, and to have a cheerful conscience already possess the true hunger and thirst. They reach for the bread, just as Psalm 42:1 says of a hunted hart, burning in the heat with thirst, “As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for Thee, O God.” In other words, as a hart with anxious and trembling eagerness strains toward a fresh, flowing stream, so I yearn anxiously and tremblingly for God’s Word, absolution, the Sacrament, etc.

 

Like the thief on the cross, a Christian is one who has nothing except eternal death apart from Christ’s promise.  If you were the thief on the cross, nothing would be sweeter than to hear Jesus say, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  You wouldn’t say, “Do I really have to confess my sins in front of a human being to be assured of paradise?  Can’t I get by on preaching, baptism, the Lord’s Supper?”  No, if you were the thief on the cross, you’d take that word “Today you will be with me in paradise” even if you had to be on the cross 20 years.  You’d take it anyway Jesus wanted to give it to you, because you would be about to die and face judgment, and the thief on the cross knew what kind of judgment he would certainly receive from God, since he had already been rightly condemned by men.

 

Well, we are on the same footing as the thief.  We are as damnable as he was.  We are doomed to die and face judgment just as he was—if not today or tomorrow, it is just as certain for us as it was for him.

 

Now in Baptism, God has promised you that you were buried with Jesus and raised from the dead, and that as long as you live he will not count your sins against you, so long as you daily return to your baptism, seeking death for your old nature, looking for it to be killed and for God to say “You are forgiven.”

 

It’s not that we don’t need to go to confession.  If we recognized how grave our sins were we would long for the consolation.  Of course, we receive forgiveness in many other ways.  But can you imagine the thief on the cross or the tax collector passing on forgiveness from God and saying, “Nah, that’s alright.  I already know I have forgiveness.”  As Luther says “those who desire to be rid of their sins and to have a cheerful conscience…possess the true hunger and thirst…As a hart with anxious and trembling eagerness strains toward a fresh, flowing stream, so [they yearn] anxiously and tremblingly for God’s Word, absolution, the Sacrament, etc.”

 

In private confession you speak out loud the ugliness of your sin.  You condemn yourself just as God in the law speaks condemnation on you because of your sins.

 

But God does not condemn you.  The pastor does not condemn you.  You are simply naming the ways by which you have turned aside from God and done the works of the flesh, which we should hate because the works of the flesh are opposed to the Holy Spirit.  If we were to grieve the Holy Spirit by constant, willful rebellion, and He were to depart from us, we would be lost.  We should hate our sins much more than we hate to be ashamed in front of the pastor or any other fellow sinner.

 

But when you speak the truth about yourself and condemn yourself in confession, the final authority does not judge you or cast you out.

 

You confess ugly realities about yourself, and pastor uses the key to the kingdom of heaven which Christ entrusted to His church to set you free from the guilt of your sin.  He says, “I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Which means that it is the Holy Trinity actually forgiving you—the same God who baptized you.

 

In confession He returns us to Baptism where we received the kingdom of God.

 

Daily return in repentance and faith to Baptism is not limited to private confession and absolution.  Wherever there is sincere repentance and faith in Christ there is the return to Baptism.  Yet how unspeakable a blessing it is that the Lord Jesus not only baptizes us and promises us that we have died and risen with him for the rest of our lives, but also makes available to us His voice speaking pardon to us in the midst of our guilt, our struggle to see the old Adam drowned forever!

 

Churches that have some other treasure to bring to people than Christ crucified, His Holy Baptism, His Holy Absolution, His Body and Blood may always attract more people.  Churches that have Christ’s pure Gospel and Sacraments will certainly also have Christ’s cross as well.

 

Yet baptism and the preaching of Christ not only build the church, gather it and preserve it; we are not only given a peaceful conscience through them and saved.  But because they are treasures more valuable than anything on earth they also bring honor and glory to a congregation that has them and nothing else to glory in.  That is to say, they bring the honor and glory of suffering with Jesus, the royal holy throne of the cross.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  (Matthew 5)

 

The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

SDG

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