Pastor’s February 2018 message
We Like to Talk
Talking—it’s being human. Even if someone loses his voice, we find ways to help him talk, such as sign language. To not talk, to not be in conversation, is to be isolated, by yourself, not in friendship.
There was a time when man was by himself, alone. That was Adam before the Lord gave woman. But with Adam standing alone, the Lord said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Then the Lord created the woman, and they started talking.
But even before that, it was part of being human to talk. Before Adam had another set of ears to speak to, another mouth from which to hear words, the Lord came into the Garden and he talked with Adam. And before he had another human to converse with, Adam was naming the animals, just as the Lord had spoken to him.
Without this gift of words, are we even human? To be human means to talk. Our Lord created us that way.
He spoke with Adam. Adam spoke with Eve. Then Eve spoke with Satan. Now the talk is over. Satan taught us to use words to speak not the truth, but the lie; to speak not reality, but evil fantasy; to speak not to give gifts, but to manipulate and coerce.
Satan spoke with Eve, Eve spoke with Adam, and the talk with God is then over. God’s word is holy, and Adam and Eve and their children are not.
But our Lord created us to talk. So he reestablishes the conversation. He came to Adam and Eve and spoke to them the promise of a redeemer. And he comes to us, drawing us into his holy conversation. Psalm 22:22:
I will tell of your name [O Lord,] to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the LORD, praise him…
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
and he has not hid his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation.
The Lord’s Conversation with Us
Our Lord brings us into his conversation. He calls us into his congregation. He sees us standing alone with our guilt, isolated in shame, out by ourselves trying to establish our worth, and he gathers us to his Name, into his congregation and enlightens us with his gifts.
The Lord will not be without his people. He desires never to be isolated from those whom he created and whom he loves. So he gathers us into his congregation, and then the talking begins.
In the midst of the congregation, he speaks to his people the words by which he is forgiving sin and cleansing from shame. He’s building us up as his people.
As we are hearing those words, we then speak back to him the words to confess our sins, to proclaim his Name and his salvation, and to give thanks for his grace. And it all takes place in the midst of the congregation:
I will tell of your name [O Lord,] to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.
[PSALM 22:22, OF THE PSALM OF LENT 2]
If someone were to ask us why we go to church, they might expect an answer such as, I go because I feel so uplifted, or because it strengthens me spiritually. They might even expect an answer such as, I go to find out methods of how to live a more Christian life.
But all those answers start with us, with our feelings, our desires and passions. They are answers of law.
What if the question were recast for the Gospel? Instead of asking, Why do you go to church? The question could be, Why is the Lord there, in the midst of the congregation? Why is he gathering his people to himself? What business is he about, that he gathers these people to his Name in order for them to hear his Words?
Now we get an answer showing us our Lord. No longer an answer focused on our own feelings or desires or passions, but now originating with the Lord and his Name and with what he wants to have proclaimed into our ears and what he delights in hearing from our voices.
What Is Our Lord Doing in The Church?
It shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation,
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
In the midst of his congregation, to young and old, the Lord gives his righteousness to be proclaimed. This is a righteousness not belonging to us except by his gift. It’s the righteousness we could not possibly know, but that he has it preached.
It’s the Gospel. He gathers his people to his Name; they hear who he is and what he accomplishes. Mark 8:27:
[Jesus] he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”… And [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
[MARK 8:27ff., OF THE GOSPEL FOR LENT 2]
The proclamation of the Gospel is made in the midst of the congregation. By that proclamation the Lord puts his Name on his people, making them his Israel, his Church. His people now know, they are those justified by faith:
Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
So we come to the Lord’s Service. Why? Because the Lord places himself there in the midst of his congregation to give us his gifts, to make us his people, and to give us something to talk about with each other. For we all belong to him. This is his conversation.
In the Name of Jesus,
Rev. Warren W. Graff
May 08, 2018
March 29, 2018