Reformation (Year C - Lutheran Service Book readings)
Sunday, October 31, 2010
This is an outline and rough draft of the sermon.
• Today is the result of the angel’s message
o The angel had the eternal gospel to proclaim
o Gospeling the eternal Gospel
• Today,Reformation Day, is the result of the angel’s msg
o Chosen b/c some thought Luther was the angel
o I don’t think. . .
o Angel, though, working overtime in Luther’s day
o Gospeling the eternal Gospel
o Today is celebration of angel’s message
• Today, me being here, is result of angel’s msg
o I’m here in a Lutheran church b/c Grandma went to a Lutheran church
o Gospeling the eternal Gospel at H.E.
o Not about Grandma, not about being Lutheran
o It’s about the angel’s message
• Today is the result of the angel’s message in your life
o Consecrated Stewards process asked to think about this also
o But important to think about it again
o Who did God use for the angel’s msg in your life?
o Who gospeled the eternal Gospel?
o Celebration of the angel’s message
• Today is the result of the angel’s message
o Fear God, glorify Him & worship Him
o Fear God – Law
o Glorify Him – Gospel, salvation
o Worship Him – response
In today’s reading from Revelation chapter 14, we hear about an angel who proclaims the eternal Gospel. Another way of translating that passage would be to make Gospel into a verb, so then the angel is gospeling the eternal gospel. The action is the message, the message is the action, the Gospel goes out in a Gospel sort of way, the gospeling delivers the Gospel, the Good News.
Today is the result of the angel’s message.
Today, Reformation Day, is the result of the angel’s message.
Now some people used to say that this angel in the 14th chapter of Revelation was Martin Luther. They said that this was a prophecy of Luther, pointing to how Luther gospeled the eternal Gospel.
I don’t really think that Revelation chapter 14 is a specific prophecy about Martin Luther. I think when it says that an angel is gospeling the eternal Gospel that it means an angel, one of those special creatures of the Lord, one of His heavenly beings who go forth into all the Earth as His messengers.
But there is a way in which to still say that today, Reformation Day, is the result of this angel’s message, a result of the angel mentioned in Revelation 14:6-7. It’s a result of this angel, because this angel is a servant of the Lord who works in the world to make sure that the eternal Gospel is proclaimed.
So when Martin Luther in 1517 nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, when Luther started a discussion about whether the Church was teaching the true Gospel according to the Scriptures, when Luther pointed back to the fact that the Bible teaches that we’re saved through faith alone, when that all began on October 31, 1517, well, that was the result of the angel’s message, the result of the angel working overtime in Luther’s world, the result of the angel gospeling the eternal Gospel in ways that Luther could hear.
So today, celebrating 493 years since the Reformation began, celebrating today is about the angel’s message, celebrating the ways in which the angel has been gospeling the eternal Gospel throughout the generations, gospeling the message so that God’s people can hear it and repeat it, gospeling so that the truth can be heard.
If you think about it this way, if you think of the angel being active in every generation, if you don’t try to match up the angel with one person but rather see how God keeps sending this angel to each generation in many and various ways, well, then it’s no surprise to say that today is the result of the angel’s message. Today, not just Reformation Day, but today, you and me being here to hear God’s Word. We’re here because the angel has worked in our lives. The angel has been gospeling that eternal Gospel, and somehow that Gospel has come down to you, to your heart, to bring you to today when you’re hearing the Gospel once again.
For me, it starts with this pulpit. I know it doesn’t look like much of a pulpit, but the top here is the top of the pulpit from home congregation’s old church in Minneapolis. And before they moved to the suburbs, Joe Hibben’s family made sure to keep this top of the pulpit, kept it for years until the day I was ordained and they gave it to me, to help me remember where I came from, to help me remember the people who had gone before me, the people who had passed on the faith to me.
And when I looked at that pulpit this week, I thought about the ways in which that angel was gospeling the eternal Gospel in my church years and years before I was born. And one of the people that heard the message in that church was my Grandma. The angels were working in that place, the preachers were gospeling the eternal Gospel, and my Grandma received that message, received it by faith through the Holy Spirit, received it and kept it through the years.
My Grandma kept the faith and together with my Grandpa passed on that faith to my mother. And my mother, together with my father, passed on the faith to me. My Grandma, my Grandpa, my Mom, my Dad, they all in their own ways gospeled the eternal Gospel, so that I, too, came to believe.
Now I don’t think that Revelation chapter 14 is a prophecy about my Grandma, but she’s one person I can point to as someone who was used by the angel to make sure that the message came to me. The angel gospeled the eternal Gospel through my Grandma, so that the faith could come to me. Today, me being here, me believing in Jesus, today is the result of the angel’s message.
Today is the result of the angel’s message, and hear the angel’s message: “Fear God, give Him glory, and worship Him.”
This message in Revelation chapter 14 is a great summary of the message of God, the message of Christ, the message of the angel, and now the message of the Church.
It begins with “fear God.” Fear, not in the sense of being afraid of God, but fear in the sense of awe, reverence, of seeing Him as completely holy—which leads to us confessing our own sinfulness, the ways in which we fall well short of the idea of holy. So the message begins with the Law, pointing our sin, helping us to see that we need a Savior.
But the angel’s message doesn’t stop there. The angel continues: “Give Him glory.” Give God glory—not just because He’s holy, but we give Him glory because He saved us, He sent His Son, Jesus, to live, die, and rise again for us, He saved us from the Law that condemns us, saved us from death which is our punishment. We give Him glory for His plan to save us.
And then the angel’s message continues: “Worship Him.” Worshipping God is our response to what God has done. Worshipping is the response to the angel’s message of Law and Gospel. Worshipping is the response to knowing that we have been saved and have the promise of eternal life.
So then, today is the result of the angel’s message: “Fear God, glorify Him, and worship Him.” We have heard this message, and the Spirit has worked that message in our hearts. We have heard that we are sinful and need a Savior. We have glorified God, praised Him for how He has saved us through Jesus. And we worship Him today in response to this great message, in response to this great news.
But now I want you to go back with me to the pulpit from my home congregation, I want you to go back with me to thinking about my Grandma, and I want you to think about who God has used in your life to make sure you heard the message, where has the angel been gospeling the eternal Gospel in your life, where have you heard the message: Fear God, glorify Him, and worship Him?
We asked similar questions during the Consecrated Stewards process, but I wanted to ask again today, because I want to make sure you realize that today’s celebration of the Reformation isn’t about Luther. It’s about the angel. It’s about God making sure His message got out into the world. It’s about the angel gospeling the eternal Gospel through many people, many ways, and Luther has been just one of those messengers. There is an angel proclaiming the Gospel, and every time we hear the Gospel, that’s the result of the work of the angel, the result of the work of the Holy Spirit, the result of the work of God to make sure His message goes out to all people for all time in all places.
Today, Reformation Day, isn’t about just celebrating Luther. It’s about celebrating the Gospel message. It’s about celebrating how that message comes down to us. It’s about recognizing the people who have gospeled the eternal Gospel in our lives.