Mountains!

by The Rev. George F. Borghardt III

St. Matthew 28:19-20

Mountain sunriseIn the name of Jesus. Amen. Mountains. Mountains. Mountains. On all sides of us. It gives both the feeling of safety and the feeling of awe. It's like the mountains have us surrounded, like they have us where they want us...

They don't. Jesus does. We are gathered by Him. Passive. Jesus provides the time and place. He's tending us – providing for the delivery of His Calvary-won gifts. That's the Gospel.

Good thing He provides the place. A year ago, when we were working out the sites for Higher Things. Had we been in MN this week rather than last week, we'd have heard the bridge fall. Wow. God forbid if we'd been crossing that bridge!

We didn't know. He knew. Now, we simply watch on the few televisions in this place praying for our loved ones and our new friends in Minneapolis.

And we thank God too, don't we? That He does the appointing. He always does - He gave the disciples the place where they would see Him. There on the mountain, the eleven worship Him and the eleven doubted.

Not some “worshiped” and some “doubted.” The Scriptures say that the disciples did both – they worshiped Him and they doubted.

You do both too. Gathered this week surrounded by these mountains to hear the Word of God. Everything is just right. Singing hymns, confessing your sins, hearing the Gospel, you feel safe. Couldn't possibly get any closer to God, could you?

Then things don't go the way you thought – she breaks up with you, your grades aren't what they should be, you get sick.

Or worse, what if you'd been there. Been on that bridge. What happens when the bridges in your life can't be trusted. What happens then? Would that mean that He loved you less?

Dear children of God, the word for “doubt” used in this evening's reading means “wavering, double minded.” That's you.

And to such double minded people - to you - Jesus gives His salvation! Salvation won on the Cross. His faithfulness for your waiving. His single mindedness for your double mindedness. His death in the place of your death.

He rose. You rose with Him in Holy Baptism. That's why He sent the Eleven – make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teach them to hold dear everything that I have commanded. I am with y'all always even until the consummation of all things.

What confidence! What certainly! In your Baptism, you are disciples. In your Baptism, you are saved. As certain as the name put on you – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are a child of God.

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

So the Father says you are saved. The Son says you are in. The Spirit fills your ears with the Word and faith says, “Amen, I'm God's own child."

One God, three persons, all three confessing that in Baptism and in the hearing of His Word you are His disciples.

And that's true no matter what's going on in your life – when we are safely tucked away in the mountains or if we are right there when the bridge falls.

My problem is that I don't believe that. I think that He only loves me when He makes things turn out the way I want them to. I think that He is being good to me only when I escape harm.

CrucifixDo you think that way too? Repent of all that double-minded doubt.

The Gospel – the FOR YOU – is so much bigger than our doubts. Yes, God is for you when you are far away from calamity.

But, Christ is so for you, so on your side, so has your back, that He is MOST for you at the moment when you have nothing to cling to - when you think that things can't get any worse and then they find away to do just that.

When things hurt so much you can't breathe, when you can't take another step, when you are just worn out by what has gone wrong in your world. When the bridge falls under your feet, when you breathe your last breath - At that moment, with nothing left, you have Christ.

Or better, He has you. For what happens to you, happens to one who is baptized, one who bears the name of God, who is a child of God.

Don't believe that? That's ok. God's testimony is greater than yours. His certainty more sure than your certainty.

For this is the testimony of God: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

You see, the glory of the Holy Trinity is not that God is big and powerful. It's not that He can surround us and tuck us away in the mountains. That's cool, but it doesn't save you when things come tumbling down around you.

Glory of the Holy Trinity is that the Father gives His Son and the Spirit marks you – even marks me - with His Name and you are a child of God. Me too.

A child of God if things go well and especially a child of God when they don't.

This is the glory of God.... Christ crucified for you.

All glory to our Lord and God For love so deep, so high, so broad; The Trinity whom we adore Forever and forevermore.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

The Rev. George F. Borghardt III is the assistant/youth pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church, Conroe, Texas.  Pastor Borghardt is the recently retired (?) Internet Services Executive for Higher Things, and has now assumed the office of Conferences Executive.

 

Created: August 15th, 2007