This sermon is a reworking of one given by Luther in 1523. I took from that one its main points and the general outline. But the flesh of it I had to rework for 2022. I did this because I felt the main point was both one that we rarely hear in churches today and that it needs to be heard. That main point is the reality of testing in the life of the believer and why God brings that into our lives. The biblical basis is Mary’s losing the young Jesus. The second point is where our consolation is found in the midst of testing. Mary searches for Jesus: in the group, among relatives and acquaintances, around Jerusalem before finally coming to the temple. They say that Luther was against allegory, but he could use it well while preaching. This sermon updates his examples for all the places we look for God before going to where he has promised to be.
Recording note: I’m not sure of the complete quality. You might occasionally hear a dropped first syllable, especially after a pause. I think it’s time to replace the mic batteries. That is what tends to happen when they are starting to go. It takes a syllable to recognize line volume again. I only heard a couple, so it doesn’t ruin the recording.
This sermon is some ways continues the contemplation between fortune and blessing started last Sunday, but it stands by itself, that continuation is just the pattern of the Chistian life. One person’s praise becomes the next person’s blessing and promise. This sermon focuses on the characters of Simeon and Anna, and specifically how they receive the blessings of God. There are three different ways we might respond. The pattern of Simeon is for us. He is “righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel.” If we receive the blessing, this is the pattern. (I’ve also left in a couple verses of a couple of the hymns sung. You forget how good “See Amid the Winter’s Snow” is.)
I am always surprised at how multivalent (fancy word for many valid levels) the scriptures are. A Protestant temptation, and a temptation of “smart” people, is to think that there is only one interpretation or reading that is best. For this text, Jesus in the temple, that “best” reading usually focuses on the distinction between the boy Jesus and the “teachers of the law”. And that is not an invalid way of thinking about the text. But I owe a big debt to Luther for this view, and I think it is a perfect example of the pastoral Luther. Luther put aside the immediately obvious Law and Gospel distinction, to focus on the situation of Mary. Mary who for three days has lost God. The core question is where do we find consolation, where do we find God?
This sermon ponders a bit why God would put his “most highly favored” in such suffering situations. And it then puts forward how we find consolation in such times, and how we should prepare for the crosses of life.
This sermon in the third in a week, and the last, so instead of the polish of a story, it is more intensely on the text itself. The good thing, I think, is that the text lends itself to such a homiletic study. I would be helpful to have the text in front of you while listening. You can double check my referents that way and see how the text is constructed. I’m not going to tell you the main purpose right here, because I think that would betray the purpose of the text and sermon which is understanding. And understanding takes some marveling.