The 5th Sunday after Trinity is coming up and we´ve got all reason to rejoice, lift up our faces to the Lord and God of our salvation. It is He, who calls us from the ends of the world to partake in His grace and favor, which is new every morning.
Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household
to the land that I will show you.
Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you,
and I will make your name great,
so that you will exemplify divine blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
but the one who treats you lightly I must curse,
so that all the families of the earth may receive blessing through you.”
So Abram left, just as the Lord had told him to do, and Lot went with himGenesis 12:1-4a: Old Testament lesson for this 5th Sunday after Trinity
Like He called our father Abraham and brought him into the promised land leading him for many years all over the fertile crescent there in the very epicenter of His miracles and wonders from of old. It never was a straightforward journey, but a life-long travail, sojourn and Ilyas. Many temptations, failures, mishaps, troubles, calamities and sins, but still, he trusted God and that God reckoned as righteousness of faith, granting him gracious favor in forgiveness and justifying the sinner be grace through faith. So that it holds true for him also, what the apostle St. Paul writes to the Ephesians:
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.Eph.2,8-9 Watchword for this 5th Sunday after Trinity.
We answer to this wonderful story from ages past with the beautiful words:
The God of Abraham praise, Who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days, And God of Love;
Jehovah, great I AM! By earth and Heav’n confessed;
I bow and bless the sacred name Forever blessed.
The God of Abraham praise, At whose supreme command
From earth I rise—and seek the joys At His right hand;
I all on earth forsake, Its wisdom, fame, and power;
And Him my only portion make, My shield and tower.
The God of Abraham praise, Whose all sufficient grace
Shall guide me all my happy days, In all my ways.
He calls a worm His friend, He calls Himself my God!
And He shall save me to the end, Thro’ Jesus’ blood.
He by Himself has sworn; I on His oath depend,
I shall, on eagle wings upborne, To Heav’n ascend.
I shall behold His face; I shall His power adore,
And sing the wonders of His grace Forevermore.
Tho’ nature’s strength decay, And earth and hell withstand,
To Canaan’s bounds I urge my way, At His command.
The watery deep I pass, With Jesus in my view;
And thro’ the howling wilderness My way pursue.
The goodly land I see, With peace and plenty blessed;
A land of sacred liberty, And endless rest.
There milk and honey flow, And oil and wine abound,
And trees of life forever grow With mercy crowned.
There dwells the Lord our king, The Lord our righteousness,Thomas Olivers 1725-1799
Triumphant o’er the world and sin The Prince of peace;
On Sion’s sacred height His kingdom still maintains,
And glorious with His saints in light Forever reigns.
The Introit puts such trials and afflictions of the faithful into godly words too:
But as for me, my feet almost slipped;Psalm 73:2-3
my feet almost slid out from under me.
For I envied those who are proud,
as I observed the prosperity of the wicked.
This Psalm however, closes off with the amazing confession, which is ours too:
I was ignorant and lacked insight;Psalm 73:22-26
I was as senseless as an animal before you.
But I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me by your wise advice,
and then you will lead me to a position of honor.
Whom do I have in heaven but you?
On earth there is no one I desire but you.
My flesh and my heart may grow weak,
but God always protects my heart and gives me stability.
The Sermon has the following theme: God´s call – our salvation!
God´s wish, good will and holy desire from the start was our good life and eternal salvation. That´s why He calls Abraham out of Haran and puts him on the road to the promised land. That´s why He calls St. Peter and the rest of the apostles, so that they would not just catch fish, but people – drawing them from the depths of hopeless despair and sinful misery to life with Him in eternal righteousness and everlasting blessedness and holiness. That´s why He continues calling people from the ends of the world, out of darkness to His light and out of the very shadows of death to His new life and salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. He issues various calls like “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch” or “Come to me – all You, who are tired and heavily burdened – I will give You rest!” or “Let´s go up to Jerusalem to suffer many things – and die.” Thereby He wants to open up the way to life and salvation. He means well, because His intentions are good, meet and salutary. That´s why His wish should be our command. We should gladly, willingly and most trustingly follow Him and do as He says. However, due to sinfuldoubts, objections and straight forward bad inclination and sore disobedience and rebellion, sinners tend to oppose God´s mandates, laws, rules and declarations, institutions and creative postulates. Due to sinful pride, they think again and again, they know better than the omniscient God: “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing!” Due to sinful despair they oppose His salutary ways and flee His gracious presence of the ever-merciful God and Savior: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Due to sinful fear, ignorance, shame and all sorts of other errant vice they come up with alternatives, alterations and other wicked addendums to the clear and salutary mandates of our God: “No, all other – but not this and that!”
Yet, the triune God in his unfathomable love and gracious favor overcomes even the worst of our terrible doubts and grants us undeserving creatures saving faith and living hope. He goes far more than the extra mile – sheer endless meanderings with Abraham, forty years through the desert with Moses and many lifetimes with the faithful saints of old Israel and the many countless saints of the holy Christians Church ever since. He does many, many miracles and wonders calling the unwilling and undesiring and lost to Himself and building up their faith, trust and hope daily afresh – without any worthiness or merit in me – just out of sheer bottomless fatherly goodness and mercy. And He gets great results – even with chronic doubters like St. Peter: “But at your word I will lower the nets… and they caught many fish!” So many, that the nets tore and they needed even more boats to cope with the magnitude of the many, many fish! Yes, He overcomes fear and trepidation by His wonderful words of comfort and encouragement: “Do not be afraid, from now on You will be catching people!” And these doubters and long-settled-into-life-fishers-of-fish left everything (!) and followed him: “Take they our life, good, fame, child and wife – though these all be gone – our victory has been won – the kingdom ours remaineth.” (ML LSB 656) Well, that happened with Abraham and all those archfathers, judges, prophets and kings. It occurred with the holy St Peter and all the fellow apostles, brothers and sisters from Jews and gentiles right to the very ends of the world. Yes, not many high & mighty (1.Cor.1,18-25), but for us it´s proven power to conversion, salvation and eternal life. Thanks be to God – now and always.
The God who reigns on high The great archangels sing,
AndHoly, holy, holy!cry,Almighty King!
Who was, and is, the same, And evermore shall be:
Jehovah—Father—great I AM, We worship Thee!
The whole triumphant host Give thanks to God on high;Thomas Olivers 1725-1799Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,They ever cry.
Hail, Abraham’s God, and mine! I join the heav’nly lays:
All might and majesty are Thine, And endless praise.