Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Sunday After Pentecost (A) 2011

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: Matthew 28:18
Theme: Authority Over Heaven and Earth

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

God the Father spoke creation into existence. And He did it with the participation of Christ and in conjunction with the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not a created being designated by God for a mighty mission. Christ is the eternal Son of the Father. He was present at and participated in creation. He completed our salvation and will rule for eternity. He has been vested with all power and authority. These miracles are foundational Christian truths and must be recognized as such.

“The universe was formed at God’s command,”1 so says Holy Scripture. Creation from nothing is the point where the logical has no room to coexist with the miraculous. To make the jump from nonexistence to existence, to go from empty space to this building, the trees outside; to go from a nonentity to our bodies and minds, even to the tiny molecules of air that we breathe, that requires something fundamentally more than eons of time and countless random combinations of events. It requires a creative power that defies logic. It requires God and God requires faith.

The arguments are often misrepresented. The evolutionist must acknowledge the pre-existence of some mysterious and immeasurable power. Many label it the “big bang”. Christians acknowledge the pre-existence of God. But to use the big bang theory to describe how the universe came into existence is to make a statement of faith. You are saying you believe the cosmos, matter and life in all of its forms, spontaneously appeared. That is not science. It is conjecture. And it’s a big leap of faith. There is absolutely no proof that life was able to organize itself out of a cloud of dust.

The Christian, of course, takes a leap of faith too. But it is trust in a powerful, creative and compassionate God. God creates life and He orders the life He has created. The implications are enormous. Human beings are invested with moral capacity. The consistent materialist, the denier of God’s creative work, must maintain a morally neutral position of human beings in relation to a higher power. One’s status before God is then of little concern.

Perhaps this is already the default position of a society with waning Christian influence and has infected our spiritual understandings also. Have you noticed that sin isn’t much of a worry to people today except in so far as it impacts negatively on their life experiences? That is, if we are laboring under the pain of broken relationships, feeling ostracized, or inadequate among our peers; if we sense resistance or face shame or correction directly resulting from our dishonesty, shortcomings, or wrong doing then some restoration is desirable.

But is it understood to involve guilt for which we need forgiveness? Or is our sense of sinfulness governed only by the negative feedback we receive from those around us? Do we otherwise believe our transgressions need not be reckoned with? If so, our repentance will be shallow or even nonexistent- perhaps a Sunday ritual, lip-service without substance. The Bible confronts us with a much more serious perspective. It calls us to account for our unchecked selfishness, our jealousies, or lack of compassion and generosity, our apathy about truth and the gospel. It indicts us not only for the uncharitable things we say or do but for the very desires that show we are sinful to the core. And then it tells us in no uncertain terms that we are deserving only of judgment and punishment. “Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin.”2

And that leaves us in a very different place than those who erroneously believe in moral neutrality. It makes access to the forgiveness of sins a top priority. It is why you come to the Lord’s house. It is why you come to Holy Communion. It is why you can’t settle for half-truths or hollow depictions of Jesus. It is why therapies or philosophies posing as solutions to your deepest pains will never do. What you need was hung upon a cross. What you need was poured out on Pentecost. What everyone needs is the promise of the Word-become-flesh. The gracious heavenly Father doesn’t fail to give us all we need.

You see we must have all of Christ- the divine Son of the eternal Deity and the Jesus born of the Virgin Mary- we must have this complete God-man, or in the end we might as well have none of Him. Without His perfect humanity- His flesh and blood, law-fulfilling, living breathing, perfect obedience offered as a sacrifice in His body on the cross- we would have no sufficient substitute to cover the guilt of our sins. And without His perfect divinity- the Son of God, Second Person of the Godhead, almighty and omnipotent- death would not have been defeated, Satan conquered, and hell vanquished. This Christ, the crucified and risen Saviour and Redeemer, is your sole comfort when you draw your final breath.

He says to His disciples today, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”3 Our God of faithfulness in the past is the One present with us now and He promises to guide the future. As members of His body, the church, He recruits us to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Making disciples of all nations includes passing the faith to the next generation. Parents especially, but also grandparents and members of the supporting community must ask themselves why they want the faith passed on to their children. Is it mostly a family custom, or for a good moral foundation? Is it to tick all the boxes and fill in all the blanks of religious education? Our motives will determine the resources we invest and how that investment is made. What sacrifices will we make and what compromises will we avoid? Children too can recognize the voice of the Shepherd. Where the gospel is proclaimed purely and the sacraments administered rightly the Holy Spirit gathers His people. Baptism initiates one into the family of God.

But life in God’s family is not a matter of leisure. It comes with great privilege and responsibility. Everything a Christian does is important in its own context. It’s like the ssenator in a restaurant when the waiter brought over the rolls, but no butter. "May I have some butter, please?" The waiter gives a slight nod and wanders off. A few minutes later, still no butter. The senator catches the waiter’s eye." May I have some butter, Please? "Still the vaguest of responses, and after ten more minutes, still no butter." Finally the senator stops the very busy waiter and says, “Maybe you don't know who I am. I'm a Princeton graduate, and a Rhodes scholar. I'm currently chairman of the International Debt Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee and a member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee for the defense of the nation." To which the reply came, "Maybe you don't know who I am," said the waiter. "I'm the guy who's in charge of the butter".

Dear friends you know whose you are and you know your charge. In your vocation as parent or child, husband or wife, teacher or farmer, mentor or friends, tend to those people and resources in your charge to the best of your ability. Do it with humility, generosity, compassion, and above all for peoples’ spiritual well-being. You may not be the mayor, or the principal, the pastor, or the head of the P&F, but you step into the fray each day as an agent of the kingdom. You may be the one in charge of the butter. Every moment you will influence people by your words, your actions and the commitments you devote your time, money, and energy to. People soon learn the things we value.

On this Trinity Sunday, may the Father who created you in uniqueness, and the Son who redeemed you with His blood, and the Holy Spirit who called you to faith in Christ and sustains that faith, richly bless in body and soul to life everlasting. Amen.

+ in nomine Jesu +

First Sunday After Pentecost
Holy Trinity
19th June, 2011
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 Hebrews 11:3
2 Galatians 3:22
3 Matthew 28:19-20