Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow Sunday January 5th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “They Found Him In The Temple” (Luke 2:41-52)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I’m excited for this first Sunday in 2014! Our sermon tomorrow is based on a wonderful text from Luke chapter 2 about Jesus when he was a boy, only 12 years old. Fascinatingly, here we have the earliest words Jesus spoke recorded in Scripture. Jesus said at age 12: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
These words signaled our Lord’s destiny. He had to be in the Father’s house, He had to be in the Temple of God. It was in that Temple where the people found salvation: their sins covered through the blood of the lamb. Christ came to be our new Temple and our new Lamb…this was the Father’s will and our Lord had to be about this will…this is what defined His life’s course, His life’s path, and His destiny to save us from sin and death.
I will take this opportunity to teach about “destiny”. I will warn against the popular non-Christian version of this concept and then teach a Christian perspective of destiny. Our destiny as the people of God is defined in Christ and it is exciting and exhilarating!
Let us rejoice as we receive Word and Sacrament for this first Sunday of 2014, the Second Sunday of Christmas, and the 12th Day of Christmas. We will also make the most of this last day of the Christmas season with one more opportunity to sing beautiful Christmas hymns. 
Your Christmas gift is a blessed destiny in Christ!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow’s sermon:

And while living in this purpose – enabled by God’s grace – you and I know a formal freedom in which we are not coerced by pre-determinism. God allows you to freely make choices regarding your life and experiences. I’m not here denying the bondage of the will when it comes to conversion, but the inability of the human will to save itself from sin does not mean we are trapped in fatalism.


Much to the contrary God desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1st Timothy 2:4) and then to know as a new creation in the Lord a living will that drowns the old man and rises in accord with the new man…that is, we are permitted to experience a daily choosing (by God’s grace) to live in our baptism. And if God is at work in your life, then you do choose just as you have chosen to come to Church today; just as you are choosing to receive this proclamation, and just as you will choose to receive the Holy Sacrament, choosing to believe the words of Christ: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Such choosing is consistent with the testimony of God’s Word:


Joshua said to the Israelites: “choose this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15)


And the author of Hebrews wrote to Christians then and to Christians now: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:7 & Hebrews 3:15 & Hebrews 4:7)


None of this is said to pat you on the back. We say, “to God alone be all the glory,” because if we so choose these good things, it is only by the enabling work of God…still, the point is that fatalism does not have a leg to stand on.


And now for the rest of our version of destiny: yes your destiny includes the formal freedom of making real choices along your journey of faith, but the Lord is more involved than we realize. Every hair on your head is numbered and known by God (Matthew 10:30 & Luke 12:7). Should it surprise us that He also provides for us a destiny in and through which He works in our lives through all things? Philosophers describe this balance through the word “compatibilism” and theologians speak of “concurrence”…yes, we use our wills and the Lord is always – at the same time – guiding us and this translates into a destiny that is led and empowered by the grace of God. This is a deep mystery and it’s all good (Romans 8:28).


So in Acts 17 we learn that the Lord has determined allotted periods and the boundaries of our dwelling places (verse 26). We know that Sampson was appointed to be dedicated to the Lord as a Nazirite before he was born (Judges 13); and we know that Jeremiah was consecrated and appointed to be a prophet before he was born (Jeremiah 1). The Lord leads us more than we realize.


Oftentimes, however, we see signs of our destiny. When my eldest son was a young boy he was drawn to sacred theology in an inexplicable way. It is one thing to be a “P.K.” (a “pastor’s kid” who of course is around the faith and around the church all of the time), but it is another thing to gravitate towards the discussion of the sacred things. I remember taking him to lunch and spending the whole time talking with him about the faith. He never ran out of questions. This coming Thursday, this son who is now a 25-year old man will be preaching in chapel at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. It is not unreasonable to say that one could see what was coming long before it happened. The point here though is that there were signs of his destiny if you will. I am sure that many of us have similar stories about people we know.


But there is only one destiny dear Christian that makes the rest of our destinies good and that is and was the destiny of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a sheer wonder beyond words that this destiny – Jesus’ destiny – means that our salvation rests secure since we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Jesus’ destiny was clear even when He was a 12-year old boy. How do we know? Because after he was lost to His family for three days (Luke 2:46), he was finally found in the temple in Jerusalem. Talk about signs pointing to one’s destiny! The Scriptures say, “they found him in the temple…” (Luke 2:46).

I hope to see you in God’s house tomorrow morning!
In Jesus’ Love,


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