Fifth week of Easter May 10, 2020 – “New Born Infants of The Church!” 1 Peter 2:2-10

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

The text for our sermon meditation is the First Epistle of St Peter, the 2 nd Chapter.
“ 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

So far the reading.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The imagery displayed in motherhood is readily seen throughout Scripture. From Genesis to the Revelation to St John we may see references to the importance God places of this blessed work. After the fall, God promised Adam and Eve that the Seed of the Woman would overcome the seed of the Serpent. Eve is called the mother of all the living. Isaiah proclaims the promise of God that a virgin will conceive and bear the Savior. Mary is approached by the angel Gabriel, and informed that she will bear the Savior of the world.

We also see the desire of women in Scripture to bear children. Sarah desired a child. God blessed her with Isaac. Hannah prayed to the Lord for a son. God blessed her with Samuel. Elizabeth was blessed with her son John, the forerunner of Jesus. Mary gives birth to Jesus, whose death and resurrection affords us so great a blessing from God.

Motherhood is important and precious to our Lord. Through this means children are born into this world, nurtured and brought to maturity. Such is the teaching which St Peter places before us today. He speaks of the children of God living like newborn infants.

Now we consider this thought for a few moments. For parents who remember the privilege of raising children, new born infants are a blessing, and take quite a bit of attention and care. If you remember, your infant children are rather focused on a few things. They are focused on sleeping, eating, being clean and seeking comfort. A faithful mother will provide for such needs. She will provide a place of security for her infant. She will nurse her infant when her infant is hungry. She will bathe her infant child and give that infant child attention and comfort when her infant is in distress.

I mention these things because we as grow older we do not remember such things. We do not remember receiving the two o’clock feedings. We do not remember the changing of our diapers. We do not remember the distress from which our parents comforted us. We do not remember the times we demanded attention from our parents and they dropped everything to soothe our fears and dry our tears.

St Peter is reminding us of this when he says, “like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation.” Now you begin to understand this imagery which St Peter uses. Each Christian has an earthly mother who gave them birth. He is directing our attention to the fact that when you were an infant your attention was on receiving the needed care and nourishment to grow and reach maturity.

You also have a spiritual mother who gave you new birth. Like your earthly mother, she wants to feed and nourish her children that they will receive what is needed for their growth in faith and to obtain maturity in faith. Elsewhere in Scripture this same image is described. St Paul writes in his epistle to the Galatian church, that “the Jerusalem from above is our mother.” St John in his Revelation writes of the woman giving birth to her son. This son is pursued by the dragon who seeks to destroy the child.

Such imagery depicts the Church which is the Bride of Christ. The Church, the mother who gives birth to her children who bear the name of Jesus. They are born again from above through water and the Spirit of God. They are given new birth by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. They live within the protecting arms of their spiritual Mother. In her arms, these children of God receive everything necessary to grow to maturity in faith.

Sadly, though, we are not always mindful of the nourishment we need from the Church. Like children with picky palettes, we tend to choose the food we like to eat, rather than the food we need to eat. We are attracted to fast food and snacks. We like to mindlessly dip our hands into the chip bag, or pull into the fast food parking lot and order from the menu of empty calories, and non-existent nutrition. We want a full stomach but care little about nourishment or healthy eating. There are many places today where the fake spiritual food is offered. It is a shallow and anemic meal that does not build life, but rather drains life from those who eat it. Peter describes this as the empty way of life. These words precede the words we consider today. Peter uses the words former ignorance and futile ways, perishable things and perishable seed.

God will take me to heaven because I am a good person, is fake spiritual food. I won’t go to hell because I’ve already been through hell in this life, is fake spiritual food. I deserve to go to heaven because I’ve helped other people, is fake spiritual food. I must be right with God because I have everything I want, is fake spiritual food. Such thinking is founded not on the Word of God, but on the wishful thinking of sinful hearts and minds. Simply understood, anything other than salvation by the precious blood of Jesus is fake spiritual food.

Your Spiritual Mother has the full feast of God’s grace and mercy placed before you. God is ready and more than able to meet your spiritual needs. St Peter directs us to the place where those needs are met when he says, “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Where do we taste that the Lord is good?

Consider how we eat? What draws us to a meal? Certainly the feeling of hunger, this is first. These thoughts and feelings move us in the direction of the dinner table. You begin to imagine what would begin to satisfy the hunger. Then you envision the meal you are to eat. Then you look at the plate set before you. You look at it with your eyes and begin to decide if the meal will taste good. Only then will you take fork in hand and bring the food to your mouth. Simply said, “You eat with your eyes first.”

So it is in the Church. You eat with your eyes first. You study the word of God and read of the need you have for the saving work of Jesus Christ. You read of God’s Law and how you transgress that Law every minute of every day. You see how empty your life has been because of your feasting on the empty hopes which this sin-broken world offers you. You realize you lack the very food of eternal life which God alone can give you.

God in His great mercy reaches out to you to give you the rebirth prepared for you from before the foundation of the world. In the feast of God’s holy Word you are brought to repentance from the empty life in which you lived. Then you are washed and cleansed from the empty life of unbelief. Your soul is healed. You sin-scarred heart is soothed in the precious words of forgiveness and grace in Jesus Christ.

When a baby is born into this world is wants nothing less than what it’s mother will give. For nine months this relationship between mother and child has been building. The baby in the womb is joined through the umbilical cord to its mother. Through that narrow tube flowed the nourishment provided by the mother. The baby learned to recognize the heart beat of it mother. The baby learned to recognize the voice of its mother. All this so that when the baby enters life in the world, it knows where nourishment and security may be found.

God has built His relationship with the believers through the womb of the Church, if you will. This is the Temple of God where His Word and Sacraments create faith and renew life in the believer. Within this Temple of God we hear the faith nourishing Word of God as it is preached and taught by God’s faithful pastors and teachers. God prepares for us a rich feast that is distributed from His altar. This feast is the food of eternal life and salvation, forgiveness of sins and restoration. The nourishment value of this heavenly food is far and above anything we could hope for or want.

What we see with our eyes is not what God offers us by His grace. For, we see only common bread and wine. There is no visible beauty or tangible glory to appeal to our base sinful inclinations. Yet, what is unseen is the very glorified body and blood of the New Covenant.

This New Covenant was established in the crucifixion and death of the Son of God. This New Covenant was ratified and made sure in the resurrection of Jesus Christ early in the morning on the third day of His resting in the tomb. This is seen only by the children of God who live by faith in Jesus Christ. Living by faith in Jesus Christ, you are reborn of God for eternal life.

We give thanks for our earthly mother who carried us and gave us life. We give thanks for our Spiritual Mother the Church of God who gave us rebirth for eternal life.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

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