This is a tough passage to preach on. In part because Jesus just repeats himself. He knows he has things to say, but it is like the only language he has is modern English. Until Pentecost, or until after the little while, none of it will really make sense to Aramaic Peter. For me it forces a meditation on sorrow and joy and the appropriate time we can expect them. When Jesus uses ‘a little while’ the immediate meaning is clear to us – after the Supper until Easter Morning. But Jesus connects ‘a little while’ to the eschatological – the time between the advents. For a little while we lament, and that little while is now. But we also have the same joy that cannot be taken away as those disciples – He’s risen. What we do not yet have is our completion, our final sanctification.
So, now, we share in the cross, or we share in nothing. We also share in the resurrection, while we groan for our new birth as true humans.
Recording notes: 1. The recording chip fell out of my suit pocket, so this is a re-recording. 2. The hymn references in the sermon is LSB 756 Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me. I’m sorry I lost the recording because this is one of those deep hymns. Gerhardt does a better job of the sermon than I do. The tune it is paired with I find touching as well. Here is another recording of it.
We had a little malfunction with our audio equipment this week, so the recording portion of the sermon is a recreated reading. The hymn and lessons of the day are from Sunday. It is interesting, just one of those coincidences, that the sound system chose this week to “pop”. I say that because with most of my sermons, later in the day or on Monday when I write this posting, I have the general feeling of: this phrase would have worked better, I missed that fertile preaching ground completely, nobody got that allusion, and the list goes on. This sermon, after struggling with the text most of the week, in between trying to put the right words together for a funeral I dearly wanted to honor, didn’t have many of those criticisms. If you were asking me to pick out pieces for the portfolio, this one would go in there. And the system just fails. One of those thin spaces where you might actually believe we are not fighting flesh and blood, but something darker.
The wordle picture above is all scrambled this way and that. I thought that is highly representative of how the Holy Spirit is taught. We are big on the Spirit blowing when and where he wills. There is definitely a mystery in how the Spirit acts, but there is an underlying solidity as part of the promise of Christ. And that is what I think this sermon presents solidly. The Spirit has a role and typical means. In Luther’s words the Spirit, “calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies”. The Spirit prepares us to bear the Word. The Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ. And until we are ready, when we can’t bear it, Christ does. It is not that the Spirit says something new, but that the Spirit enables us to hear the old old story where we are. And the Spirit acts through the same old old ways – Word, Sacrament (baptism), Repentance and Holy Living. Those are the means of the work of the Spirit. Not sexy, just true. When the Spirit comes, He will lead you into all truth.