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Proper 17 / Pentecost 14

September 2, 2007

Proper 17 / Pentecost 14          Trinity Lutheran Church 
2 September 2007                     Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Hebrews 13:1-17

“I went sky diving.  I went Rocky Mountain climbing.  I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.  Love a little deeper.  Give forgiveness that I’d been denying.”     Why?  Because he’s dying.  Cancer.  Brain tumor.  A whole new perspective.  Live like your dying.  A powerful song by Tim McGraw.

Christians live similarly.  We see everything from a completely new perspective.  And we live accordingly.  But it’s a little different perspective.  We don’t live like we’re dying.  We live because we’ve already died.  The big death is already behind us.  Calvary.  Where Jesus died.  With all our sin.  With our death.  And we died with Him Scripture says.  And then our Baptism.  Where we were buried with Christ into His death.  And in Christ we’re raised.  To live a new life.

The text describes practical, down to earth ways in which this new life looks like.  I won’t cover everything.  Just a few of the everyday earthy stuff.  Yes, I know, not very exciting.  The world thinks nothing of it.  So what does the Christian life look like?  Skydiving?  Bull riding?

The text does say to love your brothers in Christ.  We love.  Because we’re a family.  We love because God loved us to death through His Son Jesus.  Love is a mark of a Christian.  And love loves not only the loveable but also the unloveable.

So love extends the hand of hospitality to the stranger.  God has welcomed us into His house and His Table.  So we will open our homes and tables to others.  God extends unlimited hospitality to us in Christ.  So we do the same for others.

Before the days of Holiday Inns and Comfort Suites Christians opened their homes to fellow Christians who traveled.  They welcomed them into their homes and tables.  They remembered Jesus at His birth and how there was no place for Mary at Bethlehem’s inn.  And then the text lets us in on a wonderful little secret.  Some, like Abraham who entertained three guests under the trees at Mamre, have entertained angels without even knowing it!

Then love extends to congregation members who are in prison.  To those who are treated poorly and suffering.  Why?  Because we are one body.  One family.  We share in the same Savior, Baptism, and Supper.  What goes on with our fellow believers is important.  When we give a drink of water, a piece of bread, an article of clothing when we visit the sick and imprisoned, when we do it to the least of these of our fellow believers in Christ, we are doing it to the Lord Jesus Himself.

And then the text speaks about marriage and its bed.  “Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure.”  Marriage is a gift from God.  Therefore it’s holy.  And it should be treated as a holy gift.  But everyone’s confused here.  Holiness has been taken out of marriage.  Scripture says that marriage is a public, lifelong union between one man and one woman where the two become one flesh.

So faith keeps the marriage bed pure and undefiled.  Sex is used properly inside of Holy Marriage.  That means no sexual activity outside of Holy Marriage.  It means living in single celibacy or marital fidelity.  No divorcing.  No homosexuality.  No fooling around.  No living together before you get married.

Beware of sexual sin.  Sexual sin is the idolatry of the self.  Sexual sin is all about living for yourself.  “The other person?  Who cares!”  Sexual sins disregard the community, family and God.  And God judges sexual sin severely.  STDs.  Devastated families.  Broken children.  Violence against women and children.  Pornography.  Death.  These are God’s warning shots across the bow.  Warning us to turn from whatever adulterates the holy gift of marriage.

Where we have failed to honor marriage as God’s holy gift and have defiled the marriage bed, there is forgiveness in Jesus.  There is cleansing in His Blood.  For on the Cross Jesus bore the sins of us all against the Sixth Commandment.

Next, faith steers clear of the love of money.  Contentment with what we have from God.  “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” St. Paul wrote.  From a prison cell Paul was content.  He had nothing.  But then again he had everything in Christ.

Money is another gift from God.  But the love of money makes it into an idol.  And idols, false gods, never let you rest.  Money, as a false god, is a greedy god.  It wants all of you.  All your time.  All your talent.  All your energy. All your heart, mind, soul, and life.  Fear, love and trust in money above all things and you’ll never have any peace.  You’ll never have the joy of giving a generous offering to God or have the joy of charity.  Love money and you’ll end up hating God.  The love of money is the source of all kinds of evil:  greed, bribery, robbery, larceny, usury, envy, hatred, violence and murder.

God made a promise when we were baptized:  “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  God knows what you need.  It may not be what you want.  But He’ll give you what you need.  Money can’t be trusted.  It’s here today and gone tomorrow.  The only reliable and certain thing in this world is Jesus.  Who hung on the Cross to make you His own.  “The Lord is my helper.  I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”

So be content with what you have.  Enjoy what God’s given you.  And be eager to share it.

And finally this new perspective of living because we’ve died already impacts our view of pastors.  Faith remembers and imitates those who preach God’s Word.  “Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” I know that kids imitate.  But whom do they imitate?  Dale Jr.  Jeff Gordon.  Snoop Dog.  A-Rod.  Payton Manning.  Sam Keller.  Pink.  Bart Simpson.   Hannah Montana.  The cast of High School Musical Two.    

Anyone notice who’s left out?  The pastor.  No wonder.  Pastors have no standing in our society.  They rank with lawyers and used car salesmen in terms of credibility.  They’re seen simply as someone we hire and then fire when the money runs short or the attendance gets low.

But the text says something different.  Pastors are accountable to God for the people under their care.  They’ll have to answer for their words and actions.  That’s verse 17.  Such a task can only be carried with the forgiveness of sins in Christ.
Most of the pastors I know aren’t looking for more money or a mega church to pastor.  All they want is a congregation who will gladly listen to the sermon, bring their children to Sunday School, and faithfully come to the Sacrament of the Altar.   That makes the pastor’s job a tremendous joy.

So we remember the pastors who baptized u
s, taught us, scolded us, forgave us and modeled faithfulness for us.  Consider the outcome of their lives.  Imitate their faith.

Now at the heart and center of everything said today is Jesus Christ.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Times may change.  People change.  Congregations change.  But not Jesus.  He’s always the same Savior.  Who’s given you an outrageous new perspective on living.  Living not because your dying.  But living because you have died:  IN, WITH, AND UNDER HIM.  Living because IN HIM we have life.  Both now and forever.

So go ahead.  Sky dive if you want.  Climb the Rockies.  Ride a bull.  You’re free.  And don’t forget to love a little deeper.  The brother.  The stranger.  The prisoner.  Your spouse.  But don’t fall in love with money.  Be content.  Remember and imitate your faithful pastors.  And forgive.  Always forgive.  Because you’re forgiven everything in Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

From → Sermons

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