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Lindemann on Trinity 18

by revalkorn ~ September 26th, 2010

THE EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

The Church has now brought before us the chief internal graces of the Christian character, purity, singleness of heart, patience, and humility. But we are not to be satisfied with passive graces and must rise from these to the practical, active, and useful. The believer’s life must be a life not only of holy emotions but of holy activities. On this and the following Sundays we arc instructed in Christian duty and how it is to be done in the right spirit and to the best advantage. The present Sunday gives a summary of all Christian duty.

The Introit. “Reward them that wait for Thee, O Lord, and let Thy prophets be found faithful. Hear the prayer of Thy servants and of Thy people Israel. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

The Antiphon is from the apocryphal Ecclesiasticus, whose thirty-sixth chapter contains a prayer for the Church against her enemies. The Psalm Verse is the first verse of Psalm 122. God’s house today represents the heavenly Jerusalem; therefore the verse from the Song of Zion. We leave the world of strife, unrest, and persecution, and enter into the peace of the holy place. God’s “servants” and “people,” the new “Israel,” looking forward with fervent hope to something yet to come, sing of the home of the soul, the place of communion and loving worship: “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord!” Here is the song of the Father’s family on this earth, longing to be found faithful for the glories to be revealed. Give us eternal salvation, so that the prophets who pictured Thy return in such glowing colors may be found faithful.

The Collect. “O God, forasmuch as without Thee we are not able to please Thee, mercifully grant that Thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts.”

This very ancient little Collect must be prayed in the light of the Epistle. Conscious of our natural condition of impotence, we pray for divine mercy. We anticipate the tender assurance of the Epistle that the grace of God was given us in Christ Jesus; that in every way we were enriched by Him; that God is faithful, by whom we were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. We pray that the Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule, guide and give, tell us how and inspire us to do.

The Epistle, 1 Corinthians 1:4-9. As the Church Year nears its end, we look back and thank God for the manifold graces given us. The Epistle briefly covers the story of the family’s founding, its nurturing, its maintenance, its purpose, its hope, and its goal. Here is a great commentary on the niches of Holy Baptism, through which God has opened this wondrous relationship to us. We thank for the grace of God given us in Christ Jesus, that we were enriched with all speech and all knowledge, that the testimony to Christ was confirmed among us, that we lack not in any spiritual gift. The purpose of all this is that God’s family be sustained to the end, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to be found guiltless in that Day. How rich are God’s children! Not a single grace is lacking. Also today God will sustain us to the end in the Holy Communion. Presupposed is that we wait for the coming of our Lord and that our chief concern is to be guiltless in the day of His return. We look backward and forward, back with thanks and peace of conscience, forward to the Great Day.

The Gradual. “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Peace be within Thy walls, and prosperity within Thy palaces. Alleluia! Alleluia! Oh, praise the Lord, all ye nations! Praise Him, all ye people. Alleluia!”

Both the Common Service Book and The Lutheran Hymnal capitalize the pronoun before “walls” and “palaces.” The words seem to be addressed to Jerusalem. The thought of Christ’s coming prompts us to go again to the house of God, where peace and security reign. The waiting, faithful servants of the Lord, the spiritual Israel, call upon all nations and peoples to praise and extol Him.

The Proper Sentence. “Alleluia! O Lord, deal with Thy servant according unto Thy mercy, and teach me Thy statutes. I am Thy servant, give me understanding, that I may know Thy testimonies. Alleluia!”

Or: “Alleluia! Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers; praise Him and highly exalt Him forever. Alleluia!”

The Gospel, St. Matthew 22:34-46. The Great Commandment appears again, not as inspiration for practical application in the form of teaching a specific mark of the believer. We have prayed in the Collect that the Holy Spirit direct our hearts in all things. This is done when in the holy Gospel our Lord answers the question: “Which is the great commandment in the Law?” It is the great commandment of love to God and love to our fellow man. In answer to our prayer that the Holy Spirit in all things rule, the Church directs our attention to our Lord’s question: “What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is He?” No one was able to answer Him a word. He is David’s Son and God’s Son, and the Holy Spirit rules us in all things if we truly believe this. It is the rule of faith. There can be no life of duty, no life of faith without the life of love; there can be no life of love without the life of faith. There must be the simple answer of the surrendered heart: “My Lord and my God!” This is to wait in faith, to be guiltless. To recall what love is and what fellowship really is, we must read 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:7-12.

The Proper Preface. “Who with Thine only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God, one Lord. And in the confession of the only true God we worship the Trinity in Person and the Unity in Substance, of Majesty coequal.”

OUTLINE FOR SERMON ON THE EPISTLE

It is impossible for the intelligent and attentive worshiper not to be struck with the wisdom that so carefully arranged the orderly sequence of the Church Year’s lessons. In the eucharistic Propers we have a guide to be closely followed, both in private meditation and in public teaching and preaching, as to the whole inward and outward Christian life. This Sunday gives us a summary of all Christian duty. The short Epistle deals exhaustively with the doctrine of grace. All of us have work to do for God and man, and all have received grace to do it. The same grace that filled the infant church of Corinth is at the disposal of every Christian and congregation.

The Equipment of Grace

A. The Channel of Grace. Grace is given us not merely by Jesus Christ, but “in Christ Jesus.” All our enrichment as Christians comes not only from the Lord Jesus as its one and only source but from continual union with Him as members of His Church. We are not to seek the grace of God in isolation but as members of a body and by means of the Word and Sacraments. These Sacraments are social ordinances, as though to teach us that we are to be made perfect through fellowship with others in Christ. In the Church no man is to live for himself, but has a work provided for him to do and a power provided for him with which to do it. So will the Church prosper, the world be influenced, and every Christian be enriched in character and ability.

B. The Variety of Grace. The church of Corinth had not one gift but many. They were enriched with everything needed for the Christian life, in knowledge of the truth of God, in faith to realize it, and in speech to proclaim it. The perfection of the Church is to be the aim of the individual Christian. Christ is to be manifested in the visible body of His Church, but this can be only in sundry parts and divers manners. The riches of Christ cannot be fully seen in any one Christian but only in all Christians.

C. Growth in Grace. Perfection could not be all at once, and so the Corinthians were ever to be looking forward and waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not said that perfection will be reached before death, for death is not even mentioned, but only “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have to begin by grace and to be confirmed by grace and by union with Christ cultivated and sanctified in every appointed way, and then Christ will complete our completeness that we may be “guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God grant in His mercy that we know what it is to be guiltless at the end and, in order to know this, that we may be guiltless all the way.

OUTLINE FOR SERMON ON THE HOLY GOSPEL

A. The Two Essentials. (1) Love to God. This is the first essential of perfection, namely, the desire of perfect service. This is to be the main and chief article of our lives. When we cease to live with this aim, we live below our nature; and instead of being able to plead our infirmities, we stand chargeable with negligence. He who does not desire perfection cannot plead imperfection, for if he had any object at all, his object was to be imperfect and not to love God with all his heart, soul, and mind. (2) Love to man. This is the second essential, but it is not second in importance, for it “is like it,” like the first essential. It stands on the same level and is enforced by the same reasons. I am to love my neighbor as I love myself, because God loves him as He loves me. I am to love him for God’s sake, if not for his own.

B. The Third Essential. It might have been expected that the holy Gospel would have ended with “on these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” The Church has thought otherwise and has added faith in Christ in His humanity as the son of David and in His divinity as David’s Lord. This does not mean that this is a third essential and that man has three. Faith in Christ is the one power that makes man able to do his two natural duties. We may say: (1) Faith in Christ has made easy the love of God, for to see God in Christ is to love Him. By the sacrifice of Himself, Christ has also removed the barrier of guilt which caused God to be an object of dread. Fear casts out love, but Christ has cast out fear. (2) Faith in Christ makes easier the love of man. Christ has taught us to love men as He loved them, and for His sake. If, then, faith in Christ is a third essential of duty, it is that which makes easy the other two great duties. The love of God and man is made possible for all who believe in Christ, who is God and man in one.

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