Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sixth Sunday of Easter (B) 2015

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

Text: John 15:13
Theme: No Greater Love

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

The love of God can never be exhausted. The grace of Christ is limitless. It transcends all human measures of capacity and of definition. It is always more, never less, than we can conceive of and comprehend. The Scripture says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”1 All true examples of human love are reflections of this divine original. In 17th century England a soldier was sentenced to be executed for his crimes. The execution was scheduled to take place when the tower bell rang out the time of the curfew. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier's fiancĂ© had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned to account for her actions, she wept as she showed the official her bruised and bleeding hands. His heart was touched and he said, "Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. The curfew bell shall not ring tonight!"

Who is He, this God who has sacrificed everything for our eternal well-being? Who is He who has prevented the death toll for us? The event of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the event which reveals God most clearly and as He wishes to be known. Christ became nothing, so that we might have everything. He took all of the punishment for our sins, so that we might have none of God’s condemnation. The Scripture says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.”2

It is a necessary love, a love God’s law tells us we cannot live without. It is imperative that we understand the consequences of living in our fallen condition. When the condemnation of God’s holy law stings us, what is really the crux of the matter? What is it that deep down we fight tooth and nail to preserve? What is it that we do not want to give up? The answer in one sense is as simple as looking at the First Commandment. But in another sense it is as complex as the deepest desires of the heart, mind and will. The answer is that we always want to be on the throne. We always want to be in control. We always want to be served. We always want to come first.

The crux of the matter is idolatry and we make ourselves the objects of worship. People seek to achieve and maintain this self-idolatry in many different ways. Some use emotional blackmail and guilt on their spouse or family, others manipulate their friends, others justify their complete self-centeredness by simply calling it success. Regardless, the crux of the matter is sin and we have no power to escape its consequences. Obeying God is not a matter of close enough is good enough. It is all or nothing. The Scripture says, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”3

But to be transformed by His love makes us new people who are no longer willfully involved in contention against God. We have left the grand struggle of humanity. We are now part of the great yearning for eternity. There is no sin so great that the sacrifice of Christ has not atoned for it. The miracle of God’s grace is that no one is exempt from the transforming power of this love. Dear Friends, your life is a living sermon. Even if you do not plan to, you are bringing a message to the world in which you live. What are people taught by the living witness you give? Are you conscious of the words that fill your conversations with believers and unbelievers alike? Do you know that people who respect you are likely to imitate your actions? Therefore the Scripture says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us.”4

Motherhood is frequently referenced as an example of sacrificial love. It is a tangible and easily grasped illustration. The depth of a mother’s love for a child is often known only to God. Parents are God’s representatives to their children and God commands that they be honoured accordingly. But the command is not meant to be burdensome. To honour parents is to honour God Himself. The love of God is not abstract, it comes to us through people; it involves actions –toil, sacrifice, and persistence.

But it is always motivated by truth. As God’s ambassadors of love we can only have the strength to carry on because the Spirit continually builds us up in Christ. Let His words be your steady diet. Relish in the fulfillment of His claims. Find your identity in His baptismal promise. Satisfy your hunger for forgiveness with His body and blood. In a world that lives in abject dependency on human strength and idolatrous hope even to the point of despair; be a clear and confident witness to the freedom that comes from complete dependency on Christ. The truth of Christ becomes real and tangible to others as we live it every day. The evidence is in how we spend our money, how we manage our time, how we articulate our words. Our witness is shown in the priorities which we follow. In these things we are becoming in practice, what Christ made us in fact. For He has in fact, by grace, made us His redeemed and forgiven children.

Dear friends, the teaching of Jesus Christ, His suffering and humiliation, His death by crucifixion, His glorious resurrection, His ascension to the Father’s right hand, His sending of the Holy Spirit, His provision through baptismal water and sacramental blood, His promise of forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation; these provide nourishment by which we live. The diet of the world is sugar at best and poison at worst, though it tastes sweet to our carnal tongues. It deceives us into thinking we are satisfied through self-indulgence. But like blood poisoning to the body, it brings death to the soul. But as Christians, we live by the purified blood of another. The Scripture says, “When Christ came...He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”5 “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ…cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.”6 And again, “This is the one who came by water and blood- Jesus Christ.”7

If in this life, we are privy to witness and experience such marvelous examples of the love of God in Christ, imagine what is in store for us in the life to come! Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Sixth Sunday of Easter
10 May, 2015
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 1 John 4:10
2 1John 3:16
3 James 2:10
4 Ephesians 5:1
5 Hebrews 9:11-12
6 Hebrews 9:14
7 1 John 5:6