More / Book of the Month / Gaudete Always! / 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday December 13th 2020 / Advent 3 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Gaudete Always! / 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday December 13th 2020 / Advent 3 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Posted in Advent / 2020 / Audio Sermons / Sermons / Pastor Ted Giese / Suffering / Hope



Gaudete Always! / 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday December 13th 2020 / Advent 3 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday December 13th 2020: Season of Advent / 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 "Gaudete Always!"

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends.

           Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus

           Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!

          Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born

          Of the Virgin Mary – Rejoice!

 

          Tempus adest gratiæ Hoc quod optabamus,

          Carmina lætitiæ Devote reddamus. ….

          The time of grace has come— What we have wished for;

          Songs of joy Let us give back faithfully.

These are words from a Latin Hymn first published in 1581. The tune is older yet stretching back to earlier times in the Church. The word Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice!” And from a time before this hymn, before this tune we have St. Paul who by the working of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes the words, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Our culture in North America is soft so the troubles we have are hard, not just in North America but in many other affluent and decadent places in the world – it makes me think of this quote “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.” It’s a rather recent quote from G. Michael Hopf a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran. With this in mind then as Christians we need to remember what St. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians as we face the times we are in: Whether the times are hard or good we need to rejoice always.

Sometimes this is obvious: It’s easy to rejoice at a baptism, like we recently had for Breanna Kenny, or a wedding, like we had yesterday for Chris and Sandra Hildebrant, but to rejoice always means we need to rejoice even while we burry our dear brother Kim Kreis this Wednesday, all the while remembering the word of the LORD from the Psalm 116, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”[1]

Think on what St. Paul says in his letter to the Christians in Rome when he says, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”[2] So however unpleasant, however dark, however full of fear and trepidation the times might be however pleasant, however bright, however full of courage and confidence the times might be we as Christians are to rejoice always … but why? St. Paul teaches us that “the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. [so it will be that ] while people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.[3] We live in a world that is wearing out like a garment so whether times are good or hard either way the whole thing is passing away. Gain wisdom, gain perspective: however vital the things of this world are to you, however vital the nature of the times might be there is something of greater vitality, greater value, greater importance than all the world and it’s the long expected birth of Christ, the very thing that the hymn sings of “What we have wished for” the birth that ushered in for us, “The time of grace” that is what the birth of Christ Jesus ushers in and that is why we can rejoice always even when times are hard and men are weak.  

“For while we were still weak,” St Paul continues in his letter to the Romans, “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[4] In the fullness of time Jesus was born and in the fullness of time upon the cross of his crucifixion He shed His blood for you and died, because He knows the weakness of your character, the failures you stack up like cords of wood to be burnt in a blaze of pride and stubbornness, because He knows this Jesus shed His blood in your place. He does this because He knows the darkness of your sin and as the writer of the book of Hebrews says, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”[5] [5] Not so with Christ, in His struggles with your sin and the sins of the whole world He shed His blood to the sharp point of death, even death on a cross and in victory over it He died. So it is that the writer of Hebrews continues saying, “have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? [For that is what you now are in Christ Jesus, children of the heavenly Father]

          “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

                   nor be weary when reproved by Him.

          For the Lord disciplines the one He loves,

                   and chastises every son whom He receives.”

          [Yes] It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”[6]

“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.” God makes us strong and our weaknesses are our own. Struggle against you weaknesses, against your sin, receive the strengthening that the Lord gives you at this time. And remember, “He who has a wound needs a medicine. The wound is that we are under sin; the medicine is the heavenly and venerable Sacrament.[7] The very Body of Blood of Christ Jesus who gives it to you for the forgiveness of your sin and for your strengthening and preservation.

I had very little time to prepare for you this morning, and yet all these days leading to this one have been a preparation. Look upon this time as an opportunity to grow in strength, to be made resilient by the discipline of the LORD who loves you as a child and wants to see you strong. When the world is weak it needs the strong. When those around you are weak they need you to be strong. When you are weak, which we all are where do we find our strength? St. Paul says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”[8] We walk ahead in the light of Christ amidst a dark world having joy because what was long expected has come to pass “Christ is born of the Virgin,” He shed His blood for us all and takes away our sin, the time of grace has been ushered in and we live in that grace every day. Our brothers and sisters in centuries long past knew this and trusted it they sang rejoicing in it, passing their songs down to us for encouragement. Therefore, Songs of joy let us give back faithfully. Remembering and rejoicing always that it is God who makes you holy and keeps you blameless at the Second Advent of His Son Jesus, this God of peace is faithful: He will surely do it.    

          Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus

          Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!

          Tempus adest gratiæ Hoc quod optabamus,

          Carmina lætitiæ Devote reddamus. ….

 

          Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born

          Of the Virgin Mary – Rejoice!

          The time of grace has come— What we have wished for;

          Songs of joy Let us give back faithfully.

So, be strong and courageous, the LORD your God goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.[9] Amen.    

Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] Psalm 116:15
[2] Romans 5:3-5
[3] 1 Thessalonians 5:2–3
[4] Romans 5:3–8
[5] Hebrews 12:4
[6] Hebrews 12:4–7
[7] Saint Ambrose, De Sacramentis, IV, THE TREATISE 126, 25.
[8] 2 Corinthians 12:10
[9] Deuteronomy 31:6


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