Sermon for Sunday October 25, 2020 by Pastor Chris Boyd
"A Foretaste Of The Feast To Come"
Grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Every year my family gathers for thanksgiving, not the Boyd
Family but the extended Hileman Family. Because of the sheer
size of the family, for the last decade we have been hosting this
dinner at the church I grew up in. Each family would bring a dish,
each usually the same dish; for example, my mother would bring
sweet potato casserole, my brother rolls, one aunt the mash
potatoes, etc. They would bring their dishes, reheat them or bring
them early enough for them to make said dish at the church. After
a while, most of the family is at the church, the kitchen is bustling
with primarily my mom and her sisters, and the food that is ready
is set on a long table in a separate room. The aroma from the
dishes spreads throughout the whole first floor of the church,
gathering mostly in the Kitchen, the side room where the food is
prepared, and the dining hall where most of the family is
gathered, usually playing card games. I can smell the turkey
juices, the cranberries, the gravy; and worse, the room where the
food is prepared can be seen by all in the dining room. So as we
smell the food, we are also being tempted by the image of the
feast that is being prepared before us. But no touching. Wait, for
Grandpa to give his speech and bless the food. Only until after
such are we allowed to touch the food. But sadly, that doesn’t
stop us. The aroma is too enticing, so instead of obeying our own
house rules, everyone, here and there would grab a small
foretaste of the feast to come. Maybe a small sliver of the turkey,
or a cookie from the desserts, anything to momentarily satisfy our
watering mouths as we torturously await the feast.
The image I just prepared for you is a classic image of a
feast that is to come and the foretaste of said feast. But why talk
about feasts? Throughout the Bible, there are many images of
Heaven, but one of the most common images used in the Old and
New Testament is that of a feast. Heaven is like a feast were all
are welcomed, a feast that is rich and filling, a feast that would
never allow you to go hungry, a feast that would surpass all other
feasts. Today we may not see this feast, but at least we can get a
foretaste of it. And this foretaste comes in the form of our Daily
Bread, Communion. When we eat Communion, which is the Body
and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are taking Him within us,
we are consuming a portion of His amazing Grace, and we are
receiving forgivingness. But this amazing gift that we receive from
Christ, is only a foretaste of the amazingly vast feast that is
Heaven. Whereas through this foretaste we are forgiven of our
sins, in Heaven we don’t sin. Whereas through this foretaste we
receive the sustenance necessary to hold on to our faith, in
Heaven we become a cup overflowing and we no longer thirst or
hunger. Through Communion there is hope, for though it is
amazing, it is only a foretaste of the even more amazing gift,
entrance into Heaven.
Now it would be amiss of me if I didn’t also, within my
sermon, mention something about the Reformation, as it is
Reformation Sunday. Let me begin with this, what was the core of
the Reformation, why did it all happen, what was the core of
Luther’s intent? I’m not talking about the theology that was at the
core of the Reformation, I’m talking about the core reasons for
even the theology. What was at the very center of the whole
Reformation?
Hope.
Hope was the core. Let me explain. When Luther was a
young monk, new to his fervor towards the Lord, he was the top of
his class, an amazing scholar, a brilliant debater, the Church’s
perfect choir boy, and in love with Catholicism. He obeyed all the
teachings of the Church, observed all the practices, poured
himself over scripture, but was not satisfied. He did everything the
church instructed him to do in order to satisfy his troubled mind,
for he truly believed he was doomed to Hell. Nothing he did
satisfied him, no amount of giving his time and service, no amount
of studying, no amount of physically brutalizing himself gave him
the peace of mind to believe he was saved. And it wasn’t like he
was wrong in the head. He was in his right mind; it’s just that
through his learning, under the pope’s doctrine, he rightly believed
he would not go to Heaven. For only the righteous can enter
Heaven and in God there can be no sin. Luther was a poor
wicked sinner, like all other humans; therefore he was not
righteous, at least righteous in the eyes of God. There was no
hope.
Funny thing, when Luther was young, he absolutely hated
Romans. But, through the help of the Augustinian Order and the
writings of St. Augustine, he had a revelation. It wasn’t
instantaneous. But over time, he learned to love Romans, learned
to have hope in his salvation, and learned that nothing he did
would grant him more merit but faith alone.
Whereas Faith alone is the central theology of the
Reformation, the absolute core issue which fueled even faith
alone was hope. If we rely on works to save us then we would
surely fail. And even though we are saved through our faith, if we
believe that we must do something to obtain access into Heaven
then we will either become like the Pharisees or fall into despair. If
you wish to be saved you must give up your life for the Crusader’s
cause. If you wish to be saved you must wipe yourself for all your
sins. If your wish to be saved you must pay indulgence, or hope
that a family member of yours pay indulgence after your death.
You must do this, you must do that. Where is the hope? There is
none. So after the Augustinian Order helped put Luther on the
right path he started teaching and preaching about faith and hope.
He eventually tackled the issue on Indulgence, which at that time
was the act of giving the church money so as to magically send a
spirit in purgatory into heaven. The abuse of the Church over
those whose hope was being swallowed up by the greed of
several high ranking clergymen was awful. And because Luther
pointed this out, the high officials of the Church and several
political figures placed their ire on him. Thus the Reformation
begun. And why? Because the Roman Catholic Church had
ceased to be the Catholic Church, and Luther wanted the Church
to become Catholic once again, to follow the teachings of St.
Augustine, and to instill hope in the Church instead of abusing the
fears of the common folk.
Luther began with the thought, “Am I saved?”, but soon
realized the truth, “I am saved.” Luther began with believing
salvation through works, but soon realized he is saved through
faith alone. Luther began with despair, but soon had hope, hope
in the salvation he has received not because of anything he has
done but because of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of our
Lord and in all the promises that Christ gave us.
Luther had hope, and that hope filled his ministry. Are we the
Church of the dead? No! because of Christ, we are most certainly
the Church of the Living! And what’s one way to personify this
better than music itself. Boy did Luther loved music, and in order
harp in on this message of hope, during the Reformation he
helped revitalize the whole church become more musical. He
wrote many hymns, one of which I believe you all know, [sing “A
Mighty Fortress”, verse 1].
He wrote this and many other hymns, and because of his
insistence to sing in Church, we have much to thank him. Our
church today, here at Resurrection, is truly a living Church, and
the music and chanting and singing is proof of that. I would like to
thank our Praise Band, for through them we have even more
music within the walls of this Church, all music that glorifies the
Lord; music that serves as a testimony of the very fact that this is
indeed a Living Church.
And because of this hope that we have in our Lord, we
rejoice. We rejoice like Paul who said to the Philippians in our
second reading, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice.”
But we rejoice not only through speaking, we rejoice also through
singing, [sing, “Rejoice in the Lord always”]
Yes there is much to thank Luther for. If it wasn’t for him we
may still be wallowing in fear and worrying over whether or not we
are saved. If it wasn’t for him there may not be any cause to sing.
But because of his insistence on ready the truth revealed in
Scripture, that you are saved through faith alone, there is much
cause for hope and mirth. For He is Risen, He is Risen indeed.
And through Him, we are saved, we are saved indeed.
And thus, we go back to the feast. For we know we are
saved, and we know that Christ has prepared for us a wedding
feast, with Christ as the head and the Church His wife. And we
are not like the ones who fought against the invitation to the
wedding feast, and if I may be so bold, I have another song [sing,
“I Cannot Come to the Banquet”].
No we are not like the ones who did not welcome the
invitation, but we are like the ones who did receive and attended
the banquet. And we are not like the one who shows up without a
garment, only there for the food, for this person represents those
who wish for the promised Kingdom but does not have faith. We
are those who do have faith and thus are welcomed with open
arms by Our King who organized the feast. There is much hope.
For the feast is already prepared, we are invited, and through
Christ, we are saved.
Let us pray,
Dear Lord, we thank you for the heavenly feast that you
have prepared for us, and the hope that we are indeed invited to
eat at the same table with you. Continue to provide for us the
ability to never forget your promises but instead always remember
this hope we have in you, our Savior and Lord, in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

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