Sunday, November 20, 2011

Here Is the Bridegroom!

If you would like to hear the sermon preached at Trinity Lutheran Church in Layton, Utah for the Last Sunday of the Church Year, "Here Is the Bridegroom!"--click on this MP3 audio link. The audio includes the Hymn of the Day, "Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying," LSB #597. The sermon begins at the 2:25 mark.

Here is the Bridegroom! Rejoice and spread the Word. He has come to meet us.

A rough preaching manuscript follows below if you prefer to read along or read instead.

SERMON for the LAST SUNDAY of the CHURCH YEAR: November 20, 2011

"Here Is the Bridegroom!"

TEXT: 1[Jesus said:] "The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Matthew 25:1-6

Dear Baptized,

"Here is the bridegroom!" Yes, He is here and each of you baptized is a member of His beloved and holy bride.

If this sounds at least vaguely familiar, and maybe even redundantly repetitive to you—well, then, Sweet! That means the Lord has kept me faithful in my call to give you "nothing but Christ and Him crucified," as our dear Lord's apostle, Paul, puts it.

This really is the same message I preached here to you last week, as I reminded you that "You are a sheep and the Holy Spirit has called and is gathering you at the right hand of the King." And this really is the same message I ought to be preaching to you every week in some way, shape, or form. "Here is the bridegroom!"

This is what every called and ordained servant of the Word since the Lord breathed the Holy Spirit upon His disciples has been placed into the office of the ministry and sent out to proclaim: "Here is the bridegroom!" This is the good news of the Gospel and the New Testament of our Lord in Word and Sacrament--in water, blood, and Spirit crying.

As we learn from the Gospel of Matthew account of John the Baptizer (which we will hear more about three weeks down the road in Advent), this is the Good News of the New Testament for which every OT prophet was sent to prepare God's chosen people. As the last and greatest of the prophets, "John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah."

IOW, John was crying out to those wandering in the desert of sin, "Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him."

This really is the preaching of Jesus Christ Himself, that He has handed down to His servants of the Word and poured His Spirit out in abundance to proclaim to a world lost in sin and blinded to His presence among them ever since Adam and Eve first went their own way and tried to hide from God. "After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'" "Here is the bridegroom!"

This is also what Baptism itself is all about. In baptizing little Talbot here today, we welcomed him into the kingdom of heaven and introduced him to the bridegroom and made him a member of Christ's holy and beloved bride, the Church. We gave him the lamp of faith—the same lamp each of you was given when you were baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. These lamps of faith, filled with the Holy Spirit lighten the darkness of this sinful world and open your blinded hearts to see "Here is the bridegroom!--standing before, behind, among, along side, above, and below you.

If you think about it, this also means that a whole lot of people are wandering around out there with empty lamps and smoldering wicks. Like the five foolish virgins, though their lives may appear to be as pure, or purer, than anybody else, when the Lord reveals Himself on the Last Day the baptized whose lamps are not filled with the Holy Spirit will be caught on the wrong side of the door that has safely locked behind Christ and His elect, His holy and beloved bride,

This Holy Spirit who fills the lamps of faith gifted to each of the Baptized comes only and always in, with, and through the Word of God in the preaching, teaching, and Sacraments of His bride, the Church.

Don't be caught with an empty lamp. Don't risk being one of those wandering around in the dark when our Lord reveals Himself in all His glory—the glory that you can know, believe, and participate even now as a member of His holy and beloved Bride. Come to the Lord's house and table often to hear His Word and receive His very body and blood from which the Holy Spirit proceeds to keep your lamp of faith filled. And go forth with your lamp lit so that your neighbors, the family and friends with whom live and work and play every day, may also know where to get their lamps filled to see, Here is [their] bridegroom!—Christ, the Son of the Living God—that they too may "Come out to meet him." Now while and where He may be found.

The Church is where "the dealers" of oil for your lamps of faith are located. Of course that oil, the Holy Spirit is not for sale. But is only delivered and dispensed where "Water, blood, and Spirit crying, By their witness testifying To the One whose death defying Life has come, with life for all."

Dear Baptized, Life has come with life for you. "Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him." For He has come here to meet you--forgiving you all of your sin and giving you life now and forever--in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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