In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
He (that is Jesus) said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus is building. He is building a church. How does Jesus intend to build the Church?
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be bound in heaven.” Jesus doesn’t keep this a secret. He isn’t trying to fool anybody. He is plain and clear about how he is going to do this. The Church is built on the forgiveness of sins. It is as plain and simple as that.
Repent, then, from any other understanding about how the Church grows. Repent, also from the things which you do to keep the Church from growing. Which one of you hasn’t argued with your neighbor, with your friend, or with a relative about anything? Satan caused division within the house of Jacob, turning brother against brother. If Satan did this to Jacob’s family, don’t you think he will try and cause divisions between brothers and sisters here at Trinity? The prideful, sinful self put strife and stress between the apostles Peter and John, the very disciples of Christ. Have you not also held onto your prideful self, your sinfulness way too often and have cause strife and stress between you and someone you care for.
Repent from these sins for they condemn the church and tear it apart. They do nothing but bring hate, deceit, anger, rage, pain, suffering, and destruction to the Church.
Take heart. We are not left to ourselves to tear apart the Church.
You see Christ went to the cross, for you. He suffered and died, for you. He took upon himself all the hate, and dissention, and division, and anger, and pain that you would cause the Church, that the fault may no longer rest upon your shoulders but upon his. And you are forgiven. You are forgiven for all these sins. And in his resurrection, he heals all wounds and restores all things with that forgiveness of sins won on the cross.
Christ has founded the Church on himself. He has built is with the sturdy wooden beams of the cross which cannot fall to the sin of the world, our flesh, or Satan. It is from the cross that he gives the forgiveness of sins. And it is with the forgiveness of sins that God brings people into the Church by faith. See in Baptism that God places his name – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – upon you. His very words created faith in you and brought you the forgiveness of sins which Christ won on the cross. In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives you himself, his body and blood, for the forgiveness of sins. Christ is the foundation of the Church.
But there is one gift God gives that we often overlook. There is one gift we fail to think of as important as Baptism or the Lord’s Supper. And in fact this gift can be the most comforting of them all. For Christ has given us absolution. He has given us Pastors, to absolve us of those sins which weigh upon us the most. Think of it, Christ tells Peter that he has Christ’s authority to forgive sins, and that they will also be forgiven in heaven as well. Pastors do this. Pastor stand in the stead and by the command of Jesus himself to forgive sins. And this is pure gift to you. For God knows that we are weak. So he gives us a spoken word: the spoken Word of the Pastor. In that word God gives you comforting absolution, the forgiveness of sins. Here, you have your sins forgiven, that you may learn to forgive as well. That you may learn that forgiveness heals all wounds of division caused by sin. So take heart, for you have God’s promise that you have salvation, that you stand in Christ’s righteousness, and that you have life everlasting.
In the name of the Father, and of Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.