June 9, 2019 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We call it Noah’s ark, but it wasn’t his building project. It was God’s from start to finish. God was the architect and Noah was His laborer. God gave the blueprint, supplied the gopherwood, and even close the door before the flood.
The ark wasn’t sleek or snazzy. By no means would you call it “beautiful.” It was basically a giant floating box. But it was brilliantly conceived to give God all the glory. It had no oars, no sails, and no steering wheel. It was driven by the wind and waves as God sent them.
This that Noah and family would trust God and be dependent upon Him. The glory of the ark is God’s glory alone.
How completely different was Nimrod’s famous building: the Tower
of Babel. This was man’s idea from start to finish. Man was the architect and
the builder. Man sketched the blueprint and baked the bricks and lined up the slaves. The tower was not some boxy building, purely utilitarian, but was a high tower that pierced the sky and proclaimed the glory and ability of man.
“Come, let us build,” they said in their one language. “Come let us build,” they said in order to take away their guilt. We will take our guilt to heaven itself and leave it there. We’ll go up and demand a place, force God to pay attention to us, show Him that we’re worth it.
But God isn’t found in the sky. The True God is the God who loves to come down. He comes down in mercy. He comes down for the humble and trusting, down to inspect and scatter and
confuse the untrusting and the rebellious. He isn’t stuck in heaven, keeping His dainties out our dirty little hands, but is present in His creation and approachable in Word and Sacrament, which, if rejected, turn to their alien work and condemn.
So what does Gold in the building project of your life? Are you building like Noah or Nimrod? Is it about God’s glory or yours? Do you trust His Word even when it is mocked by the world or do you seek the approval of men? He sees your priorities, how much you spend on entertainment and nice cars and vacations and how much you give to the poor. He sees what you do in the dark and how you keep silent at the watercooler for fear of what your co-workers will think of you.
Will He come down then upon your life the way he came down when He saw the Israelites dancing around a golden calf, and killed 3,000 of them? Will He dome down the way He did at the Tower of Babel and scatter you out of His presence forever and sever you from your family and friends?
No. He could and He will on the Last Day. But you belong to Him. You are baptized. You are here in humility and repentance, to hear His Word, to eat His Body, to ask His forgiveness. He is the God who covers Noah’s nakedness. He loves to come down to you right amongst your golden calves, your doubts and fears, not to scatter and confuse you, but to cover and protect you, to restore you to His blueprint, to preach to you in plain, understandable English about how His Son came down bear your idolatry and save you. He sent His Son down to a manger, down to a cross, down to a tomb, that He might raise Him up from the dead, raise Him up into heaven to do what we remember this day: His marvelous work of sending down the Holy Spirit.
“Come, let us go down,” the Father said. “Come, let us go down and pour out our Spirit through Water and the Word, that they might share in our glory.” “Son, you go down first, take on flesh and carry their idolatry and mistrust, and answer for it with your blood.” “Then Holy Spirit, you go down, comfort them, preach to them that they might have access to my mercy down there.”
“Come, let us go down and build” your God said on Pentecost as he began his newest and best building project. On this day God came down, but 3,000 were not killed, but baptized. There was not a scattering and confusion of tongues, but the clear preaching of the cross. What a building project His Church is, built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone, with you being the bricks. It’s God’s marvelous work from start to finish, one where God is the architect, where God calls the workers, and where God is the builder and
His Building project called the church doesn’t look very impressive to the world. Outwardly it is not an assembly of sleek, glorious, impressive people, but rather ugly sinners who don’t look like they are moving up the ladder to glory. They aren’t perfect, but like Noah struggle with the flesh but belong to God and cling to Him by faith. And where Jesus is proclaimed and believed, there is the Holy Spirit is doing His building work, glorifying the unworthy, lifting them above the chaos and death by an Ark He Himself designed and protected.
There are lives being built on the firm foundation of faith in Christ’s saving work. There God is tearing down your old mistrusting life and building up a new one full of faith and confidence in Jesus. Here is freedom to cast away your idols. Here is freedom to be generous, freedom not to worry, to find comfort even in trials, freedom to live for Jesus’ purposes and not your own.
Your Strong Tower, your Heavenly Gate, your Ladder to Heaven is not one
made of brick, to take you up to heaven. Rather it is our Lord Jesus Christ wearing your flesh to be lifted up on your cross for your sins. We don’t go up. He comes down, to us, for us, in His risen Body and Blood, in His Word, in His promises., Whoever trusts in Him, will never be put to shame. Blest is the House and Boat, Church and Family, Man and Woman that God builds.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Based on a Pentecost 2010 Sermon by Rev. Ralph Tausz of Apostles’ Lutheran Church in Melrose Park, IL http://apostlesmelrosepark.org/index.php?page=Sermons&sid=49