Our church celebrated Sanctity of Life Sunday. After making a no-holds- barred attack on the pro-death mentality, our pastor made a turn that we don’t always hear when Christians talk about this topic:
And especially on this Sanctity of Life Sunday we recognize how powerful is the mute idol of death. Which is so sadly ironic, that more and more people look for life and hope in death. What a grand deception and illusion this monstrous mute idol is! This slavery which masks itself as freedom; this evil which masks itself as good. . . .
But – be clear about what this means! (This is important. Make sure you’re paying attention here! Don’t zone out now.) The nations, all nations, need to see the righteousness of God first and foremost not because it tells us what to do and because we then do such righteous things. No! That would be the righteousness of God that drove Luther to despair; that demands from us a righteousness we could never do, a righteousness we could never achieve, a righteousness we could never fulfill. No, first and foremost, the nations, all nations, need to see the righteousness of God in the person of Jesus Christ – the good news of what our God, our Lord of life, has done for us. He is the righteousness of God that gives life and joy and hope to a world and to people lost in confusion and despair.
And again, especially on this Sanctity of Life Sunday, this is the Word that needs to be proclaimed. Yes, the Law must do its work and lead to repentance. But there are so many – so many – caught in guilt and fear and condemnation. Thinking their sin too great. Even Christians. Yes, maybe even some of you, or some who may listen to this sermon later on the internet.
And so especially on this Sanctity of Life Sunday it must be proclaimed loudly and clearly that – as Isaiah put it – that as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. So shall God rejoice over you! Yes you, whoever “you” are and whatever “you” have done. Jesus traded His life for yours. He died that you be forgiven, that you may live. Yes, for those who have had abortions, or even more than one. For those who have murdered in their hearts, in their words, or even in cold blood. For those who thought they were being merciful in ending the life of one suffering. For those who have inflicted suffering on others. For those who dealt in death and even encouraged others to do so. For those who care for no one but themselves, those who are so caught up in the depravity of sexual sins, those who have neglected or abandoned children or parents or others in need, those who have trafficked in human lives, those whose lives are filled with nothing but anger, hatred, and bitterness. Whoever you are and whatever you have done, there is forgiveness and life here for you. And know that the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and all the angels of God rejoice over each and every sinner who repents. Over you.
And so today, do whatever he tells you means first and foremost, to come and receive His forgiveness. For this He has told you to do! To come and be baptized. To come and hear His I forgive you all your sins in response to your confession. To come and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. To come and receive His gifts, for that is the highest worship of God. For what God wants most is not for you to give to Him, but for you to receive from Him what He wants to give to you. The life He wants to give you in His Son.
Pastor Douthwaite is drawing on one of the readings for today, Isaiah 62:1-5, as well as the epiphany being observed that Sunday, Jesus turning the water into wine.
This, my friends, is preaching Law and Gospel.