Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sermon 7: Love and love alone

I know now
Only one thing
Really matters in these days
One thing
True love
Love and love alone
True love

- "Jump Up Behind Me," by James Taylor

Castle Church, Wittenberg

"Love, I say, is a fruit of this sacrament. But this I do not yet perceive among you here in Wittenberg, even though you have had much preaching and, after all, you ought to have carried this out in practice. This is the chief thing, which is the only business of a Christian man. But nobody wants to be in this, though you want to practice all sorts of unnecessary things, which are of no account. If you do not want to show yourselves Christians by your love, then leave the other things undone too..." 
- Seventh Invocavit Sermon

Short and sweet -- that's Martin Luther's seventh Invocavit sermon.
I told you yesterday that we must come to the Lord's Table by faith. 
Today we speak of how we must leave the table -- with love. 
Love is the fruit of the Sacrament. Love is the business of a Christian.
But you have not done this. 
You have instead focused on all sorts of unnecessary things. 
All I care about, all I speak about, all I write about urges you to have faith and practice love. 
However, you haven't been listening. 
I pray to God you will begin.

  • Keep it simple. Profound theological truth doesn't need to be communicated with complicated arguments and big words. Take the Gospel of John, or for that matter, Luther's seventh Invocavit sermon. Pastor, stick with gospel preaching: Trust Christ. Love one another. It really, really is as simple as that.
  • Rebuke briefly. If you have hard things to say, say them and then let the matter go. Pastor Luther does not go on and on, railing endlessly against their sins and shortcomings. He makes his point, commends them to God, and that's it. 
  • Recognize your listener's limits. This is the penultimate sermon in a series of eight. Day after day, for seven days the people have been coming to the sanctuary to hear Pastor Luther preach. It has been a long week. The congregation has been given a lot to think about. They are tired and saturated with teaching. An entire week of messages! Luther's wisdom in making this sermon concise, simple, and pointed should be evident.

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