Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow Sunday February 9th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Salt and Light” (Matthew 5:13-16)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The depth and riches of the Word of Christ never cease to amaze me.

Epiphany is about the light of Christ, Christ showing His light; showing His true identity; showing that He has come to save us poor sinners.

But tomorrow the Gospel seemingly switches gears. Jesus says to you and me, “You are the light of the world.”!!!

So which is it? Is Jesus the light or are we the light? YES!!!

Jesus’ light and Jesus the Light shines through you.

How are we to understand this? How are we to live this out? To get this message is to gain invaluable insight into the Christian life. It makes all the difference in the world, because for one, you are not left in the darkness of sin; and secondly, the world — through you — is significantly helped and given hope, and we all know that our world today needs light.

Come and be fed and nourished through Word and Sacrament. Invite a friend.

Finally, let me echo again the email I sent out last night: Rev. Dr. Steven P. Mueller has accepted our call to him to be our Assistant Pastor (part-time).

We will celebrate his installation NEXT Sunday (February 16th) during the regular service time at 9:30 and follow this up with a reception in the cafe. Please plan on coming to this momentous event. The Lord is blessing our congregation!

Here is an excerpt from tomorrow’s sermon:

“Salt and Light”
(Matthew 5:13-16)
Pastor Espinosa

Introduction: Epiphany is about the light of Christ…and how His light demonstrates the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation! This light shows how we are saved and freed from sin and death!

A. But today’s Gospel seems to switch gears in that Jesus is talking about Christians, you and me!
B. What’s up with that?
C. St. Matthew was being quite intentional and here’s how:
1. Jesus is indeed “….the light of the world” (John 8:12)…think of the imagery: light casts out darkness; Jesus casts out darkness!
2. These metaphors are rich in meaning. “Darkness” represents evil, danger, being lost and being unable to find one’s way. “Light” represents wiping these terrible things away and bringing God’s saving rescue, protection, wisdom, solution, and all of the good things associated with light.
3. And you have been incorporated into Jesus. In Holy Baptism you’ve been joined to Christ. And where Jesus is, there is His light, so since you are “in Christ” you are also “in His light;” and since Christ is “in you” (both directions are biblical – you in Christ and Christ in you), then His light is also in you. Where Jesus is, there is His saving light; Jesus is with you and there with you and in you is His saving light!
4. This touches on another theme in St. Matthew:

Matthew 6:22f: “The eye is the lamp of the body…” and Jesus goes on to teach that if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be healthy and QUOTE “full of light.”

5. How does this work? Jesus comes to you through His Word and Sacrament; which is another way of saying that Jesus shines His light upon you. Notice the wording St. Paul uses in Ephesians:

Ephesians 6:14: “…Christ will shine on you.”

Jesus is the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and in this same verse in Hebrews…we are to be “looking to Jesus”…in so doing you are looking upon the Light of the world…He who is the “radiance of the glory of God” (Hebrews 1:3)…and to look on Him is to look on light; and to look on light is to have that light reflect upon your eyes and if upon your eyes, then into your mind, your heart, your soul, your life!

Picture seeing a person’s eye that is staring at a light or a fire…look closely and you will see the reflection of that light or fire “in their eye” and what is there permeates the mind, the heart, and the soul…we think about what we look at; we desire the things we look at; we strive for the things we look at…His light becomes your light.

Jesus shines upon you and then in you…you who have received Christ’s baptism receive His light; you who have received Christ’s forgiveness in absolution receive His light; you who receive Christ’s body and blood, receive His light…you are now – truly and in the most powerful way in accord with the Word of God – are truly an extension of the Light of the World, Jesus Christ!

This is why St. Matthew wrote this way: “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)
6. This is why St. Matthew is seemingly switching gears, but he’s not really switching gears, but is still describing Christ, but simply you in Christ and Christ in you.

D. And this is a wonderfully high calling: this means that all Christians, like you and me, are called to help the world to see this light that God is the loving and merciful Heavenly Father and that His only-son Jesus is the Savior of the world.

Part I: The problem is that we deal with a gigantic “self-esteem problem” called “sin” (which is far worse than a mere poor self-esteem)!

A. Every, single day the evil one and our own sinful flesh calls our calling and our identity into question (Gibbs puts “calling” and “identity” side-by-side through our Gospel this morning, Concordia Commentary: Matthew 1:1-11:1, St. Louis: CPH, 259).
B. We are sinful skeptics of the work of God:
1. We are skeptical about God’s work of creation.
2. We are skeptical about God’s work of redemption, saving us through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
3. But we are also skeptical about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our sinful unbelief continually doubts what God’s Word says…and this is the fundamental reason as to why we go through so much unnecessary suffering in our lives. We refuse to hold God’s Word as sacred and true.
4. Let me say this as plainly as I can: if we choose to ignore God’s Word, we shoot ourselves in the foot; we invite suffering into our lives!
C. And when we do this we fight against our identities of light.
D. This is a very serious problem!
1. It is problematic because first of all the WORLD misses out! God is saying that the world has a ton of problems and it needs the salt and light that comes from Christians…from you! Otherwise, the world will be overwhelmed by the tidal waves of darkness.
2. This was a major point of discussion at a Bible Study this past week. Someone mentioned the Grammys, the Music Awards. I missed it. I didn’t watch it, but a fellow Christian and member of our congregation did and he told me about it. He described the highest rank of immorality on national television and it made his heart sink. Our children are being told by the media and the culture that this is cool, this is good, this is popular, this is fun…and its trash. And understand, not simply immoral, but that which will lead a person’s life into darkness and destruction!
3. This is why dear Christians that that old saying, you know the one, “never discuss politics and religion,” is the one of the most ironic ideas in our culture because what we are seeing in the popular media and culture are political and religious ideas and convictions about how to live life!
4. So the real message is this: Christians, you be quiet and let the rest of the world shove it’s “religion” of immorality and living for self down your throat.
5. This is the first danger…when we lack faith and confidence to be what Jesus has made us to be, then we let the world degenerate; we allow the world to drown in its sin. This is not love.

In Jesus’ Love,

Pastor Espinosa

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