of Trinity Tide

The Word of Christ Bestows Peace on His Creation through His Forgiveness of Sins.

In his anguish and affliction, Job must be reminded that, as a finite creature, he is in no position to question the Maker of the heavens and the earth. Job’s “words without knowledge” are unable to penetrate the wisdom of the Lord (Job 38:1–2). For the Lord has “prescribed limits” and “set bars and doors,” so that “here shall your proud waves be stayed” (Job 38:9–11). That’s how He humbles us unto repentance. But also by His powerful Word, He calms the “great windstorm” and the waves “breaking into the boat.” He does not permit the chaos of this fallen world to overwhelm us or bring us to despair. By the Word of His Gospel, He speaks “Peace!” to us, which bestows the “great calm” of His new creation (Mark 4:37–39). Therefore, do not be afraid, and do not receive this grace of God in vain. “Now is the favorable time,” and “now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:1–2).


Sermon Starter

In today’s Epistle from 1 Corinthians, toward the end of the reading (verse 12), the Holy Spirit says to you and me and to all Christians, “you are restricted by your own affections.” But then, in today’s beautiful and priceless Gospel, “They took [Jesus] with them in the boat, just as He was. … And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

In our church, we have a special liturgy for private confession of sins. (You can find it on page 292 of the Lutheran Service Book.) Not many people make use of this special liturgy, and that is a bit of a tragedy for several reasons.

One bad result of not using the liturgy for private confession is that you miss out on praying some very expressive, very candid, very revealing words. When you pray the liturgy for private confession of sins, you end up saying—among other things—these words to God:

“I have not let [God’s] love have its way with me, and so my love for others has failed.” (LSB, 292)

“I have not let God’s love have its way with me and so my love for others has failed.” Stated another way, “You [and I] are,” as God the Spirit says in today’s Epistle, “restricted by [our] own affections.”

The Holy Spirit’s point is NOT that we have no love for God or for one another. The Spirit says—and we dare not deny that it is true—the Spirit says that we each have set very definite limits to the extent of our love. Each of us has a fence we will not cross and a gate we will not open. Each of us will only go so far. There is only so much we will do for our neighbor and (astonishingly) there is only so much we will do for God. We stubbornly limit ourselves. That is God’s own verdict against us: You [and I] are restricted by [our] own affections.”

In order to focus the point a little more clearly, and perhaps to make it even more unavoidable, set aside those bigger sins that quickly come to your mind. Forget those regrettable times when you lose your temper or when you misspeak or when you simply become exasperated. Ignore any shameful habits or memories that still scandalize you. Think instead about the way you treat your neighbor in common, every day, run-of-the-mill situations. Think about how you treat your neighbor when you are in a good mood and feeling friendly:

Do you give with true generosity—Christian generosity—or do you base your generosity on how much you want to save back for yourself? I am right there when the wife or children need something from me, but send some guy to my Study door, looking for help with utilities or a night in a motel. “Sorry, you should probably check with the Township Trustee, or the Salvation Army, or the Police Department. I don’t have any cash I can give you and the church only has limited funds set aside for that.” I am restricted by my own affections, and I cannot escape.

Are there people in your life—even some of your fellow Christians—to whom you give a thin smile and then you keep on walking? You elect not to show love to that person, you do not wish to show love toward that person because you find that person annoying or impossible. He talks too much; she simply refuses to listen; you do not seem to have anything in common. Take today’s Epistle to heart. God is saying in today’s Epistle that the problem might not actually be that other person. The problem might be you: “You are restricted by you own affections” and I am right there with you.

These may seem to be minor examples of our sin, but that is precisely the point. I am using minor examples to push you beyond the big examples of occasional sin that you can always think of in your life. I am using these minor examples to point out the continual disease that you and I each have constantly at work within us.