Heaven on Earth: Invocation
First in a series of six
Acts 2:37-41 // Romans 6:4-8
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We are beginning our sermon series today on the Liturgy. This is the stage-two ouf our annual theme for the year, HEROES, HEaven Reaching Out through Every Saint, and for the last few weeks, we have been walking through parts of the book of Daniel to see how Heaven has been reaching out through Daniel and his friends, in their exile, in a time and a place when their faith looks very different from the culture around them.
And today, we turn to stage two. Stage one we asked, How is heaven reaching out through every saint? Stage two we ask, “How does heaven reach out to us? How does heaven break in tour lives? And the answer is that it breaks into our lives in the Divine Service, in this pattern and order of liturgy that we do week after week, year after year. The words we say and the actions we take here are important; the are supposed to order our actions on every other day.
And so, with that, today we begin at the beginning, with the Invocation. Please direct your eyes up to the video screen for a brief time of teaching.
One question that I put before you today, based on the Invocation and upon our readings, two answers that I would submit to you today.
The question is this: How does the Invocation form us?
Answer number one is that in the Invocation, in the name of God, God names us. Answer number two is that in the invocation, God orients us.
How does the Invocation form us? In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In it, God names us. I think back to the day when my firstborn son was born, September 30th, 2015. You see, we chose not to know the sex of our baby in the ultrasounds leading up to that day, and so we had two girl names picked out, and two boy names picked out, and we thought we would make a decision the day of. And I remember, at 3:12pm in the afternoon, the doctor gathered this little baby up into her arms, she said, “He’s a boy!” I looked at him, and I thought, “He’s a Benjamin.” Laura looked at him and said, “He’s a Benjamin.” It just fit. We looked at him and, here’s the point, there was no other name that we could give to him.
We go to our readings. Look at Acts 2. Remember, this is Peter’s Pentecost sermon, the first sermon of the Christian church, and Peter’s giving it in Jerusalem 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead. Our reading picks up where Peter ends the sermon. But look back a few verses – he says, “this Jesus, whom YOU crucified, God has raised and made both Lord and Christ.” And its very likely that there were people there that day that had been in the crowd before Pontius Pilate, crying “Crucify him, crucify him!” And do you see what this does to the people? Cut to the heart, they say, “Brothers, what are we going to do?” And do you see what Peter tells them? Repent and be baptized. Every one of you.
That is to say, in Baptism, they enter into the Christian life. In baptism, they are covered in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In baptism, all of the sin and stain that they have done, however great it may be, even to the point of killing the author of life, all of that sin and stain is wiped away, and they by the name of Jesus their names are written in the book of life.
God’s name brings you into his family. He calls you: renewed, reborn, redeemed, holy.
How does the Invocation form us? Answer number one is that in the Invocation God names us. Answer number two is that in the Invocation, God orients us.
I can tell you now that in my house, I have two little sermon illustrations running around, and the younger one is named Amos. Amos is now a little over a year old and he has started to walk. But you see, when he sees his dad or his mom, what he does is he will crawl over all the way to you, He’ll climb up your pant leg, and then cling on to you as he takes a step. And as long as you stay there, he’s fine. He’ll take a step, then another step, then another, as long as you’re still there. But if you move – if you try to start cutting potatoes again to make fries, or if you try to sneak downstairs to change the laundry like you should’ve done hours before, then he knows. You see, and here’s the point, ,he orients himself toward you. He looks back to you, and as long as he knows that what’s important is still there, he rests secure.
We go to our text in Romans 6. Here we see the inner workings of baptism, that in Baptism, we die Christ’s death so that we live his life. We are buried with him so that we can be raised from the dead from him, and as the video relayed, this changes our orientation.
For the Christian, you see, the first day of our life becomes not so much the day of our birth but the day of our baptism. The last day of our life becomes not so much the day of our death but the return of Christ when he comes again to give us eternal life. We are oriented toward something entirely different, something entirely other-worldly.
And so, the entire Christian life is a journey between these two bright points, between these two promises. It is a journey that looks backward to baptism and knows that your God has spent all that only God can spend on your behalf to wash you clean of far more than you could know about. It looks forward to Christ’s resurrection and knows that neither death nor life, nor anything in this world and the next can separate me from the love that I find in Christ Jesus my Lord.
It is a journey that orients our weekly worship. It is a journey that forms us into the people of God, caring about the things of Christ, living under the name of Christ. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther