S-1204 13SAP/3C 8/22/10 Hymns (O) #14; S #609; L.S. #469; 308; 457; (C) #244
Texts: Isaiah 66:18-23; Hebrews 12:4-24; Luke 13:22-30
Theme: “A glory that gathers!” (Isaiah 66:19)
Question: “Have you gathered around with someone lately?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for The 13th Sunday After Pentecost is from the O. T. lesson: “And I [God] will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard My fame or seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the nations” (Isaiah 66:19).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved, throughout all of man’s history, people have loved gathering with other people. The reason, God made us this way. After all, it is God who desired to be with His created being. We see Him in the Garden of Eden walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. The Apostle Paul puts God’s desire this way: “I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Corinthians 6:16). God Himself is the author of all our gatherings in any place.
Today, we thank God the Holy Spirit who gathered us in this place to strengthen our faith and continue to bless us as His 21st century disciples.
On the Mt. of Olives, our crucified and Resurrected Lord, Jesus, gathered the 11 disciples to Himself just as He was about to return to the Father and spoke these very family Words that are known to us as the “Great Commission”: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I Am with you always, to the end of the age.” These words are in fact nothing other than the divinely appointed task of the Church—to to make disciples!
By the grace of God alone, you and I have been given the task to make disciples. We have been tasked by the Lord of the Church to take the very Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations. It is this Gospel of Jesus who is Emmanuel, God with us, who comes to live a sinless life in our place and go to a cross for us and die only to rise victoriously three days later that compels us to go on this disciple making journey. You have received this message from the generation before you and now you and I together are called to proclaim the same glory of God revealed in the crucified and resurrected Christ. It is the glory that gathers us here. It is this glory that leads us to be instruments in the employ of the Holy Spirit to gather others.
But this is not a new process. This mission did not start with Jesus’ announcement in the last moments before He ascended. No this glory that gathers was spoken of some 700 years earlier. The text before us from the prophet Isaiah speaks of this glory that gathers. These are remarkable words delivered from Yahweh to His people. While Isaiah is not short on words of judgment on those who would not listen to Him, He ends the message through Isaiah with words of promise.
These words speak of a day that is coming. Israel was indeed looking forward to a day. They were facing impending exile. Babylon was growing. It would not be long until God’s people would lose their independence, their land, Temple, hope and life itself. However, it was not coming because God had forgotten them. No, this was coming because they as a people had forgotten and forsaken the gracious Word and Will of Yahweh. The very God who had delivered them with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; the God who led them in the wilderness to a land flowing with milk and honey; the God who had delivered that land into their hands even when they were fearful instead of faithful; this God is the One that they had forsaken.
And this forsaken Yahweh is a jealous God. He refuses to share His glory and place with another. His bride Israel, if she will not be faithful, will be cut off. She will pay the price for her infidelity. But that price will not be permanent. A day is coming, Yahweh tells Isaiah. But the day of which Yahweh speaks in this text is not one of judgment. The coming day is a day of glory. It is a day of Glory that Gathers. For not only will a day come when Judah will come back from exile, and even more glorious day will come when ALL NATIONS will be gathered.
This gathering is brought about by the One who loves to be gathered with His people. Yahweh tells us that I will set a sign among them. What is interesting here is that the word for sign in the Hebrew is the exact same word that is used in Is. 7:14 where we read Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel. The sign that Yahweh will set among the nations is none other than God With Us—Immanuel—JESUS! He is the sign that will display the glory that gathers all men to Himself. And what did that glory gather? The first to be gathered were not kings and nobles. No the first gathered were plain shepherds—common people like you and me. PAUSE.
This glory continued to gather in the years that followed. The nobles were eventually gathered to this glory by the brilliance of a star from afar. The nobles gathered by this glory were nobles from the very same land in which Isaiah made clear that the people of Judah would spend 70 years in exile. GENTILE kings brought their treasures. This is a glory that gathers.
Some 30 years later the glory of this Sign that Yahweh placed among the people of this earth would bring another gathering. BUT they were not gathered to worship. This Immanuel, this God With US, gathered a crowd around Him that would be screaming at the top of their lungs “Crucify Him!” In their bloodlust they would cry out “Let His blood be on us and upon our children!” Yet this final and greatest glory didn’t look very glorious. For there on the cross of Calvary, this sign, this God With Us, was showing the full glory of God as He hangs there bruised and battered, beaten and bloodied by soldiers; and pierced by nails and spear. But this was the glory that Jesus had come to reveal. For there on the cross the sins of the entire crowd, the sins of the whole the world, the sins of every human being of all time including you and me, were hanging on Jesus. In exchange for our sin, His blood falls on the crowd, the world and us. It is that blood that sets us free; cleanses and purifies. We see the true glory of God in the Jesus who would willingly suffer and die for sinners like us!
Like moth to the flame, this beaten and bloodied, crucified and crypted, real and resurrected Jesus—God WITH US still draws people to God’s Holy Mountain. He brings us here as dead and dying and we leave filled with the glory of the forgiveness of sins. And this gathering continues to this day. The same sign, the same Jesus gathers His people to His Holy Mountain that we call in this place Redeemer. Here the glory of the Lord is given to us week in and week out. But this glory is not glittering with gold and precious jewels. This glory still comes to God’s people in the simplest of forms. It comes in the Word that is spoken. This is not just any word though. It is a Word that speaks of our movement from death to life. This Word is none other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And this Word comes in other simple forms to. It comes in the splash of water at the baptismal font that gathers another lost and dying soul into the family of God. This glory gathers sinners to bring the baggage of sin and lay it yet again at the foot of the cross because they know Jesus’ very Words from that cross, “Father forgive them…” This glory gathers us to a feast that centers on the very body and very blood of this Immanuel that is continually given and shed for YOU. And in this feast you receive all you need for this life and the next: Faith, forgiveness and an eternal future!
And especially this week we see this glory gathering us yet again, as we begin our S.S. Kick off and sending our college bound students on their way to be men and women who will gather others to the Lord of the Church Jesus Christ. The Lord takes the skills, the prayer and the effort of those who know and love Him to be used as instruments that will gather even more of the nations as this Word of the Lord through Isaiah is fulfilled.
We need people like you because there are still those who will not be gathered by this glory that is the Lord Jesus Christ. They are distracted as they seek after the fool’s gold of glory that this world offers. They would rather be gathered to the glitter of wealth, the glamour of prestige, the glitz of entertainment or the glory of the self rather than the true glory that gathers all humanity to God. And all the while they chase not a glory that gathers, but a glory that kills. For those who will not heed the sign that Yahweh has placed among His creation will have that same glory consume them in the judgment.
In the face of this, the work of the Church continues. It continues because this glory is not done gathering. For as you read the Words of Isaiah written some 700 years before the birth of Jesus we can see the images of another gathering of the glory of God. This one has NOT YET taken place . For as we hear Isaiah speak the Words of Yahweh we can see the gathering of which St. John writes in Revelation 7. After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen."
This is the ultimate end of the glory. It is one that is eternal. It is one that has been promised from the foundation of the world. And that glory includes YOU! AMEN.
Now the peace of God…