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Celebrate Repentance

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“Out of His Gracious Acceptance God Celebrates Repentance Of Every Lost Sinner.”

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We all love something to celebrate. Right now basketball fans are celebrating their favorite teams, as they look forward to the championship, The Final Four.
We celebrate births and baptisms, and in a little bit we will celebrate three new members added to our church family.
Today’s Gospel reading is story of a son who wandered off, only to realize how far he had fallen. When he returned home he got something he didn’t expect: A Party.
Today we will talk about the fact that we have something to celebrate — when some do not celebrate — Yet we celebrate God’s loving desire for us to come home. You see,

“Out of His Gracious Acceptance God Celebrates Repentance Of Every Lost Sinner.”

Something to Celebrate

The younger son fled from his father’s love, pursuing worldly pleasures. He squandered the resources his father had graciously given him: his love, his grace, the family name. The result was impoverishment, degradation and despair.
But then he came to his senses, not because he made a choice, but because the Holy Spirit grabbed him by the throat. In other words, God the Holy Spirit brought him to repentance.
So, what is repentance?
Contrition, that is: Sorrow for Sin.
Sorrow for Sin
Sorrow for Sin
Faith, which is born of the Gospel: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” or the message of forgiveness and believing that sins are forgiven. This comforts the conscience and delivers it from terror.
Willingness to Serve
Willingness to Serve. That is, good works, which are the fruit of repentance.
Willingness to Serve
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” ( NASB).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions True Repentance Produces Good Works

These good fruit are what the commandments teach: prayer, thanksgiving, the confession of the Gospel, teaching the Gospel, obeying parents and rulers, and being faithful to one’s calling. We should not kill, not hold on to hatred, but we should be forgiving and give to the needy, so far as we can according to our means. We should not commit sexual sins or adultery, but should hold in check, bridle, and chastise the flesh, not for a repayment of eternal punishment, but so as not to obey the devil or offend the Holy Spirit. Likewise, we should speak the truth. These fruit have God’s command and should be produced for the sake of God’s glory and command.

The son’s repentance came in verse 17, when “he came to his senses.” He had contrition — sorrow over sin: “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son...” (vs. 18-19). Faith was present too, along with the willingness to serve, as he knew his father would take him back as one of the hired servants.
What this son received is not what he expected. He thought he’d return home as a servant, but what he got instead was complete restoration as a son. The Father, continually hugged and kissed the son, overjoyed that his son is alive and home at last. He was given a robe. Shoes for his feet. The family ring, and a party; because he who was dead is alive again.
What this parable means for us is that there is no sin in our life that is greater than God’s love for you. Perhaps there’s something in your past — some sin — that has been dogging you… Yet it was for precisely that situation that Christ came.
But,

Not Everyone Wants to Celebrate

The older brother in the parable is put-out by the fact that the Father was celebrating the return of his lost son. Perhaps in an act of jealousy he laments and opposes his father’s gracious acceptance of the younger son.
Some people want to make celebrating forgiveness something we have to earn.
Instead of God’s gracious acceptance as a free gift that comes through faith, some demand good works to earn God’s forgiveness.
.
He doesn’t appear to look guilty enough. No, you have to do a, b, and c. Or, demanding that they prove they are really sorry for their sins.
There are those who refuse to forgive one who has fallen after baptism.
In the third Century there was a group of Christians who fell away from the faith during intense persecution. Later, they returned only to realize some would not forgive.
The inability for people to realize how totally dead we really are.
Some fell from the faith during times of intense persecution, and later returned.
No guilt
No you have too
Today, some refuse to forgive one who has repented maybe because they were victimized in some way by the person.
These people are all like the older brother, along with the scribes and Pharisees who were critical of Jesus spending time with “sinners.”
Then, some people want to make celebrating forgiveness something we have to earn.
No, are you really sorry for your sin.
Instead of God’s gracious acceptance as a free gift that comes through faith, some demand good works to earn God’s forgiveness.
Instead of God’s gracious acceptance as a free gift that comes through faith, some demand good works to earn God’s forgiveness.
He doesn’t appear to look guilty enough. No, you have to do a, b, and c. Or, demanding that they prove they are really sorry for their sins.
Another category are people who have fallen, who want to be restored without repentance. No contrition. No sorrow over sin. No faith. They just want to act like nothing happened at all; or, what did happen is no big deal.
Sheep stray, they wander off. Sometimes the cares of this world draw us away from what is most important. Money and poverty. Position and status, and promiscuity. Then there’s self-righteousness and jealousy. All these things can become more important to us. We fail to accept, grasp, or consider God’s boundless love for us and for all, and so we do not return that love to God, or show it to one another.
He just took him in.
Sheep stray, they wander off. Sometimes the cares of this world draw us away from what is most important. Money and poverty. Position and status, and promiscuity. Then there’s self-righteousness and jealousy. All these things can become more important to us. We fail to grasp, or consider God’s gracious acceptance for us and for all, and so we do not return that love to God, or show it to one another.
The prophet Joel beckons us this Lent — and through our entire life — to “return to the Lord our God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
And you know what? Jesus said, just a few verses before today’s parable: “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.” (). In other words, heaven throws a party!
You know, my friends, we are always going to fall short of our estimation about what we need, but listen carefully to. . .

God’s Gracious Acceptance of The One Who Returns Home.

Before the son could utter a word, listen carefully to what happened:

“When the son was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” ().

Before the son could utter a word, listen carefully to what happened:
God’s persistent overwhelming love reaches out to us — falling on our necks in embrace, kissing us, imploring us to come back to Him. It is the “kindness of God that lead you to repentance.” ().
God has provided the way through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the great substitute for us. He sends His Holy Spirit to us, working through his Word and Sacraments, showering us with his gracious love and acceptance, calling us back to Himself. Then He empowers us to share His love with others.
For those have stumbled or drifted away the prophet Joel rings true: “return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful.” Our Heavenly Father’s heartfelt desire is to restore the one completely: to cover their sin with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, to fit their feet with shoes to serve, and to throw the biggest feast heaven has ever seen; for our God celebrates repentance, despite the fact that not everyone wants to celebrate, God’s gracious acceptance of the one who returns home.
our confession and recognition of our sin is the work of the Holy Spirit.

“Out of His Gracious Acceptance God Celebrates Repentance Of Every Lost Sinner.”

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