In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The rest of that song praises God for who He is and what He does. But we sing the Gloria as a prayer nearly every Sunday because we want His Gloria—Jesus—to be at work for us. Glory that is truly glorious moves you to exclaim the glorious one. Saying it. Praying it. Worshiping it and declaring it is the very nature of glory. It moves something in you. We do this every Sunday because God IS glorious, but especially because as Christians who have gotten pretty familiar with Jesus, familiar with the Father’s glory, we cease to be moved by it. We forget how glorious it is. We need to be reminded.
We forget that He is glorious; that He is unique in all the earth; that He created all things; that He is God. In so doing we forget that He has the power to save. We forget our sin and need. In forgetting we disbelieve. We begin to cast around for other things to trust in. We end up building our lives on the shifting sand of false gods, false hopes, false beliefs, false religions, whatever the latest trend in thinking is, etc. The lives we build, the things we believe, the assumptions we make are towers of blocks that teeter and totter the higher they get. Eventually they are bound to come crashing down. So glorifying God, declaring who He is is good for your soul! It reminds you of your place in universe. That He is God. That you are just one tiny person in all of it. And that in spite of your insignificance yet His Son takes your sins away. Powerful stuff!
Today’s Gospel is a glory moment. It is a moment where the Man Jesus Christ gives us glimpse of His glory. He drives out a demon from a man. He restores him and opens his mute mouth to praise God. The people marvel. For they have seen His glory at work! Glory as of the only Son of the Father. This is special. It is glorious. Godly. Divine.
Yet, unbelief rears its ugly head. It always does whenever God acts. God acts and some believe, and some do not. Some accuse Jesus of working with the prince of demons. That He only has power because the prince gave it. Which is to say, “Jesus, you have no power. You are a trickster. A charlatan. Powerless. A sorcerer who merely has congress with powerful demons who at any moment might over power you just as they did this poor mute man.”
Thus, Our Lord speaks about a strong man with lots of armour and weapons sitting in his palace, protecting his treasures. No one can attack such a guy. He will send you packing. He will spank you soundly, and send you home crying. He will make you wish you had never tried your luck with him. UNLESS, you are in fact stronger. And so much stronger that you can subdue that mighty man. You can strip him of his armour. Take away his weapons and power. And cast him out of his house into the street. Naked. Embarrassed. No longer a local bully or power. Just another weakling littering the streets.
So who is our Lord in this scenario? Just a fool trying His luck against the Strong Man? Someone in league with the Strong Man? Or the Stronger Man who is victorious?
He is the glorious one. The One who is worthy of praise. The Strongest of the Strong. The One who disarms Satan, all his princes, all his powers, who takes captive all Satan’s captives, setting them free!
But Our Lord gives this warning: Though you are set free and swept clean of the stain of Satan’s wicked occupation, though Baptism sets things right in you, casting out the power of Satan over you, don’t just sit there! For an empty house, an empty heart is a target for Satan’s minions. If you don’t fill the house, if you don`t make it a home of the Holy Spirit, then wicked spirits will try to take up residence in you again. And having been freed nonetheless you will be seven times more the slave! Your freedom will have been for nought. Your Baptism pointless. Your salvation lost.
Instead fill your spiritual house with Christ and His Word. That means, hear it preached regularly. Weekly, not just monthly or quarterly. It also means read God’s Word for yourself, or memorize it, or come to Bible Study, or read or memorize the Catechism, or take a hymnal home and sing and memorize the words of your favourite hymns, and sing them throughout the day, especially in the morning and when you go to bed. Find something that works for you, that fits your personality, and into your life, so that your faith given in Baptism does n’t just die.
oThe people recognized that Jesus was God’s glory touching down to earth. One lady shouted out about how amazing it was that God’s glory had filled a woman’s womb! How wondrous to have God Himself nurse at your breast! True! For we still remember the Virgin Mary to this day because of it and honour her don’t we! But her Son says something else. RATHER, blessed are those hearing my Word and keeping it hold fast to it.
For His Word is the finger of God. It is the conduit by which the glory of God comes into you! You don’t need to be Mary to have the glory of God in you which filled the Temple and zapped out fire which burnt up sacrifices on the altar. You have the Word of God. Get that in you. It is better. It is for everyone. It casts out demons.
Have you ever noticed where the Gloria in Excelsis sits in the Divine Service? Right before God’s Word is proclaimed. Have you ever realized that there is a miracle happening when those words are being read? That God’s finger which casts out demons, and destroys sinful thoughts and habits and imparts righteousness is diving down out of heavens at lightening speed and touching down right here right just after we sing Gloria?
The glory of God is at work, even here, even in you who hear God’s Word and it gets tucked in your hearts where God keeps it and holds fast to you through it.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON