Seromon: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
6:1 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
6:2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
6:4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
6:18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Cross at Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas

Grace and Peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller writes that, “The mark of the evangelical – The mark of the pietist, is that: Growth, Good Works and Obedience to God’s Word is the mark of the Christian Life;and anything Sacramental or anything to do with the Means of Grace utterly conflicts with that!”

Of course, none of us are like that, are we? No….
We believe our manners and customs more enlightened, our intelligence and culture immeasurably superior.
Brim-full of hypocritical cant and puritan ideas, we preach, pray and whine.

We are the most parsimonious of wretches, yet we extol charity;
• the most inveterate blasphemers, yet we are the readiest exporters;
• the worst of dastards, yet we are the most shameless boasters;
• the most selfish of people, yet we are the most blatant philanthropists;
• the blackest-hearted hypocrites, yet we are religious fanatics.

We are agitators and schemers, braggarts and deceivers, swindlers and extortionists, and yet pretend to Godliness, truth, purity and humanity.  We are the inheritors of the puritanical spirit which manifests itself in the nagging suspicion that someone, somewhere is having a good time.

On top of all of our poor behavior, we also killed the Son of God!
That’s right!
You heard correctly.
You and I are participants in this great crime and there is nothing we can do about it.

Jesus knows who we are.
He tells us straight up in John 8:44 ff;

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.”

We respond; “Hey, wait just a minute. You can not say that!”

He continues by saying; “…because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!”

Again, we say; “It’s just that you are saying mean things about us.”

Jesus simply states; “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?”

Then we really get warmed up; “That is not the issue, the issue is that you have been talking mean to us and you’ve got to go!”
Or better yet we yell; “Crucify him!”

Picking up the preaching office, St. Paul writes in our epistle reading (2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10);

5:20b We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
5:21 For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

He goes on to describe what a Christian life is really all about.
Like St. Paul, Martin Luther writes that there are seven characteristics that are the mark of the true Church:
Sermons;
Baptism;
Holy Communion;
Absolution;
Ordination;
Divine Worship; and
Suffering.

That’s right!
Sacramental living and dependence on the Means of Grace.
Through baptism, Jesus takes all your sin.
Jesus strengthens you with his body and blood.
That you may recognize that;

(Luke 6:40) The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

And be recognized as;
Holy Christian people by the Cross; and
Living on the Sacraments and being dependent on the Means of Grace includes;
suffering persecution; being subjected to hate; undergo misfortune; all sorts of tribulation and evil from the Devil [remember the Lord’s Prayer]; the world and flesh; inwardly morn; be stupid; be frightened; outwardly poor; scorned; ill; weak; and suffer in silence and obedience; So that you are like Christ our Lord.

Then Jesus says to you three things;

(Matt. 5) “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for my sake….’
(Luke 17:10) So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’

And;

… your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

with the gifts of the Sacraments; the Means of Grace; and keep you in the

righteousness of God.

AMEN

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