. . . Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
—2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV)
You are exalted because Christ became what you are to make you what He is. You are exalted with the work of Christ for you. You are emptied of your sin to be filled with the righteousness of Christ. You are emptied of your own merits and your worthiness, which is death and hell, and filled with the merits and worthiness of Christ, which is life and eternal salvation. You are emptied of your own status as a sinner and given His status as Sons of God the Father.
Two great processions meet at the gate of Nain: one of death and one of life. Which of them will prevail: The boy by sin’s wages slain or the Prince of Life Himself?
Death does not reign. Jesus lives. Your Father loves you. He will take care of it as surely as He takes care of the lilies. Death does not reign. Jesus lives.
His Word made you what it said, but, His call does not coerce. You do now have a choice. You have, in fact, daily choices. And those choices matter.
In the midst of a broken world, which we created, God has grown a little patch of the new Eden here in the Divine Service. He has planted a new tree of life, the Holy Cross, and a new river flows from it, the waters of Holy Baptism, and a new fruit is eaten, a fruit that brings life, the body and blood of the one who is crucified. The sons of Adam once more hear the voice of God and come into his presence through the Divine Liturgy.
And He does all things well. But that is the most difficult part, isn’t it? To believe. To trust that whatever you may be going through, whatever you may endure, whatever may befall you, God in Christ does all things well and for your good.
For Christ is the one son of light who is the most zealous, the most single-minded. He gives out the possessions of His Father with wanton abandon, not in wastefulness, but for your benefit. For these can’t be wasted. They never run out. And so He lavishes the grace and mercy of God upon you without price, without charging you a cent, without keeping any books, without demanding any accounting of you. Christ takes all that belongs to the Father and gives it to you in abundance. And the treasures He gives never run out, never fade away, but are stored where moth and rust cannot destroy. They are eternal. They never end.
Don’t take candy from strangers. Don’t be fooled by cutesy or convenient slogans. It is a dangerous world, filled with those all too willing to scratch the itchy ears of men. For the devil will offer what you want to steal your soul. Don’t take candy from strangers, for some have been bewitched by the offer of Turkish Delight from a witch dressed as a beautiful white queen.
God’s gifts to us for our bodily and spiritual needs both flow from the cross. From the cross, we see Christ with the ultimate expression of compassion for you. Christ takes upon himself our concerns and needs and provides us in exchange the bodily and spiritual gifts, in the Great Exchange.
And then come to the altar together not to give a gift but to receive the gift your Father has prepared for you, that you both may be cleansed by the body and blood of Christ and live in and under the righteousness that exceeds the scribes and the Pharisees unto eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.