GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR -- JESUS THE CHRIST.
Last Sunday, during our Pentecost Confirmation service, I was reminded of a sermon I preached a little over a decade ago. It began with a question –
how many of Jesus' disciples can you name? I responded to that question by first listing the eleven who were His original disciples and then reading names in our Church Directory.
A disciple is a student studying life with a master teacher. The eleven disciples who gathered with Jesus on His ascension day were truly disciples of The Ultimate Teacher and so are we - and every one else who accepts Jesus as our Lord and Savior and seeks to constantly increase our knowledge of Jesus and His Word.
How many of Jesus' apostles can you name? There again we list those eleven and we list ourselves. "Apostles" are "ambassadors, envoys, official representatives" who are "sent to proclaim" what The Lord Himself sends us to proclaim.
Today is Trinity Sunday – the day we focus on and celebrate The One True God Who, though one, is so filled with Power, Knowledge, and Love that He constantly comes to us in three persons –The Father symbolized by the outstretched hand reaching down from heaven as The heavenly Father Who created and constantly sustains us and everything else that exists - The Son symbolized by the now empty and conquered cross Who, though truly God, came to us as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ to live the perfect human life and to offer that life as The Perfect Sacrifice to pay the penalty of our sins and gain us the gift of eternal Salvation - and The Holy Spirit symbolized as the dove Who descends among us to enlighten and empower us to come in Faith to accept all that The One True God offers us.
A Message for Michael Breault, Alaina Dackermann, and Brooke Martinez
"A MESSAGE FOR MICHAEL BREAULT, ALAINA DACKERMANN, AND BROOKE MARTINEZ"
Text - ACTS 2:1--21
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR - JESUS THE CHRIST.
Today is a proud day for Brooke Martinez, Alaina Dackermann and Michael Breault - and for their parents and grandparents, their baptismal sponsors, and Cynthia and Judy who have shared The Gospel with them. I am proud of them and of what I see The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ doing in their lives.
Several years ago, on Pentecost, I gave a partial list of Jesus' disciples -- beginning with the twelve He called first and ending with a list of Resurrection Lutheran Church members. I did that to illustrate the important point that all of us who know Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour and who want to learn more about Him and His Word are truly His disciples. That list includes Michael, Alaina and Brooke as they continue to worship Christ and study The Word of God.
"The Service of Confession and Absolution" with which our worship began reminds us of the life God gives us in Holy Baptism where “God has forgiven our sins - washed them away in Baptismal waters - delivered us from death and the devil, and given everlasting Salvation - eternal life and relationship with God - to all who believe what Jesus has promised."
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST.
I have always had an interest in discovering where words and phrases come from. I recently heard a saying I hadn’t heard in years - “the proof is in the pudding”. The original wording was “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” which I once thought to be a reference to some sort of taste test. Not quite. Back in the 4th Century proof was a verb meaning to test and pudding, unlike today’s taste treat, was the stomach of a pig or sheep, stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and then boiled - like the pudding on the screen. Rather than being a mere taste test, the eating of that pudding – at a time when meal preparation involving such a mixture could be dangerous – provided the best test of how healthy, unhealthy or even fatal that meal might be.
As “the proof of the pudding was in the eating”, the proof of Jesus’ relationship with us is in the living – the way we experience living in Christ.
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR - JESUS THE CHRIST.
On Memorial Day weekend, I am reminded of David’s words in PSALM 33 (v. 12) – “Blessed is the nation whose God is The Lord. Blessed are the people God has chosen as His Own.” And how richly blessed we have been when recognizing our nation as “a nation whose God is The Lord – and ourselves as people God has chosen as His Own.”
As we discussed two weeks ago, in the very beginning, God created and chose His beloved human beings for loving and faithful relationships and created three institutions to guide and protect us in those relationships.
First, of course, is the special relationship God created between our Creator and the human race. God said, "Let us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness...." So, God created man in His Own Image, in the Image of God He created him.... (GENESIS 1:26a & 27a) In the entire universe, only human beings were created with the ability to know and experience God, to come to God in prayer, and to follow God's Divine Guidance. How much God loves us and how richly we are blessed through the relationship God has created for us. It was and still is a relationship God never gave up on. When our sins and shortcomings irreparably destroyed that relationship, to restore it God came among us as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ and suffered and died on the cross for us - then rose from the dead to proclaim the relationship eternally restored.
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR – JESUS THE CHRIST.
During the months leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, He focused on preparing His disciples and all His other followers for our lives in the years between Jesus’ Resurrection and Judgment Day. They were the most wondrous words of fulfilled hope and vision, but they were also words of warning. Jesus spoke of times when the secular world would hate Jesus and His Church and of times characterized by angry and violent disputes in His Church, in families and within and among nations.
Never have those times been more vividly present than today. The human race Jesus came to redeem stands in bold contrast to the eternal home God has prepared for us and to that world God created in Eden before the fall. In the very beginning, God created His beloved human beings for loving and faithful relationship.
First, of course, is the special relationship God created between our Creator and the human race. God said, "Let us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness...." So, God created man in His Own Image, in the Image of God He created him.... (GENESIS 1:26a & 27a) In the entire universe, only human beings were created with the ability to know and experience God, to come to God in prayer, and to follow God's Divine Guidance. How much God loves us and how richly we are blessed through the relationship God has created for us. It was and still is a relationship God never gave up on. When our human sins and shortcomings irreparably destroyed that relationship, to restore it God came among us as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ and suffered and died on the cross for us - then rose from the dead to proclaim the relationship eternally restored.
In Eden, Adam and Eve had a perfect knowledge of their Creator and His Love for them. They knew instinctively what God gave and what God required in the relationship God has created human beings to have with our Creator. As a special place for Adam’s and Eve’s worship and meditation The Tree of Life - the forerunner of God’s Church – was in the midst of the garden.
From the very beginning, God was also concerned about the relationship between the human beings God had created. God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helpmate fit for Him.” Adam had not expressed any need for a helpmate to God - he didn't need to. Nor did Adam give God a blueprint on what he wanted his companion to be - only God had the vision and the plan.
Significantly, GENESIS tells us she was formed out of a rib from the side of Adam - not made out of his head to rule over him or out of his feet to be trampled by him - but out of his side to be equal with him and near his heart to be loved by him. God created the perfect human relationship and made it the true foundation of all human relationships - the family.
God knew the need human beings have for a companion of our own kind - someone to intimately talk to ... someone to exchange affection and knowledge with ... someone to comfort and to be comforted by ... someone to dream dreams and share vision with – someone to continue the human race with the birth and nurture of children - above all, someone to love and to be loved by.
We were created to “love The Lord our God – in Whose Image we were created - with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind – totally with all we are and with all we have – and we were created to love our neighbor – beginning with that primary one to whom we are married – as we love our self – as a beloved child of God.” RELATIONSHIP created and sanctified by God!
In that instant when God created the foundation and perfection of all human relationships, God said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” There can be no more basic, foundational and close relationship than that one God created in Eden.
God created us to live in a temporal and eternal relationship with God of God’s Own making and God created us to live in temporal relationship with each other – making the husband and wife/mother and father relationship the very foundation of all relationships between human beings. God made us male and female – so alike and complimentary as a species and yet with those physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and other differences enabling us to become one flesh. God even so stressed the blessedness and importance of this foundation to the human family that He made the temporal continuation of the human race dependent upon this relationship or sinfully a perversion of it.
Pseudo modernist old sin promoters in alternate lifestyle clothes are quick to ridicule the family God Himself gave us. God’s enemies have attempted to make gender essentially a social construct and to make human sexuality a recreational sport outside of marriage. With each assault on Christian values and the Christian Family, I am reminded that Jesus gave the same answer every time someone asked Him a question about the family or about human sexuality - "Have ye not read that He Who made them in the beginning made them male and female and said for this cause shall a man leave father and mother and cling to his wife and the two shall be come one flesh."
How God loves the families and the little children with whom God blesses His families!
One day a number of little children were brought to Jesus by their parents. The youngsters were hopping around Him and onto His lap … tugging at His robes and, no doubt, at his heartstrings as well … asking Him endless questions as only little children can. The disciples - concerned the children would tire Jesus and also afraid the adults might not get their share of Jesus’ time - tried to send the children away. Jesus rebuked His disciples, saying, “Let the children come to Me, and forbid them not, for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.” (MATTHEW 19:14)
Jesus even told His disciples that the faith of mature adults should be total and unquestioning like the faith of little children — “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child shall not enter it.” (MARK 10:15) We see each child’s natural humble dependence upon His parents and upon God – it’s the way we were created – the way we come into the world.
Among the strongest words of condemnation ever spoken by Jesus were those aimed at people who lead little children astray — “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for that person to have a great millstone fastened around His neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” How broken hearted and angry our Divine Shepherd must be as He views some of the current trends leading children away from Christ. Tragically, we are living at a time when the youth and children of the land are being offered vast quantities of moral junk food and spiritual poison.
Churches that remain faithful to God and to The Word of God are often labeled by non-believers and selective believers as unloving and prejudice. Nothing could be farther from The Truth. For our Salvation and the Salvation of all people, we are called by God to lovingly and faithfully proclaim The Word of God revealed incarnately in Jesus Christ and inerrantly in The Holy Bible. To do otherwise leaves us vulnerable to Jesus “millstone by the sea” judgment and leaves the sinner without any hope of redemption and eternal relationship with God.
To facilitate their attacks on the family God created, God’s enemies have ruled God and His Word to be an unwanted – and sometimes illegal – intrusion on public forums and venues. They have sought to make attacks on The Word of God valid in public forums while branding The Word of God as something to be ostracized because it is filled with what political correctness labels as prejudice. They have sought to make righteous people complicit in their sins – and threated their livelihood if they fail to comply.
It isn’t easy. At no time in the history of our richly blessed nation have there been more forces powerfully aligned against our God-given Christian Faith and Lifestyle. At no time have there been more vivid and more subliminal influences polluting the spiritual, moral, and ethical environment surrounding us and our children.
I know of only two institutions that can save our future generations – two divinely created and blessed institutions – the church God called into being to proclaim and celebrate the relationship God has blessed us to have with Himself and the family God created for the most basic and fundamental of all human relationships. All knowing God created both institutions even before the fall in Eden.
Today - Mother’s Day - we are honoring half of the first and last line of defense against moral junk food and spiritual poison.
In our Gospel text last Sunday, Jesus forgave Peter, restored Peter’s relationship with God and then said, “Feed My sheep”. Jesus told Peter and all of us who have been forgiven and reconciled by Jesus to share the relationship that has cleansed us and made us Jesus’ Own.
Jesus called Peter to that calling three times and each time our modern translations quote Jesus’ words “Feed My sheep”. In the original Greek, there are shades of difference each time Jesus spoke those words.
First Jesus says “Βόσκε τά αρνία μου – Shepherd My lambs.” The shepherd tends totally to the young lambs. As R.C.H. Lenski reminds us “To lead children is easy enough, for they follow easily and trustworthily; their feeding is the real task, for they must grow and become strong and mature.”¹ They must be constantly nourished with the pure Word of God.
Nowhere is the Church’s responsibility more urgently needed than in support of the Chistian family. Through the Sunday school, the worship services, and other activities, the Christian Church is called to join with Christian parents in shepherding Jesus’ lambs. Pastors, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, friends, and everyone of us with our Gospel story to tell has been given Gospel food with which to shepherd Jesus’ lambs.
As you know something is holy when it is what God created it to be. We have always needed – and now need more than ever – the Holy Christian Family and the Holy Christian Church. May God always bless us to be that Holy Christian Family and that Holy Christian Church God created us to be. There is no carrier of a more valuable and truer legacy anywhere else.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN OUR CRUCIFIED, RISEN AND EVER PRESENT LORD AND SAVIOUR – JESUS THE CHRIST. AMEN.
The Fourth Sunday of Easter – also Mothers’ Day
May 14, 2017
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio