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Alleluia He is Risen….therefore We are Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Alleluia, He is Risen! Therefore

We are Risen Indeed!

† IHS 

May you rejoice as you realize the gifts of God our Father, poured out on you in Baptism, as we are united with Christ’s death and Resurrection!

 

It’s not just for Easter Season!

For someone whose been to church for a while, some phrases we say are as automatic as responding to someone who sneezes.

They sneeze, we say, “God bless you”

For those who’ve been around this church and many others, if I were to say, “The Lord is with you”…. Hahaha… I knew some of you would not wait to hear me respond…so please – don’t respond to this next one…

“Alleluia! He is Risen@” you would normally answer, “He is Risen Indeed!”

Not today, today I want you to respond, “Therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

Let us try it – “Alleluia – He is Risen!”

therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

One more time?

“Alleluia – He is Risen!”

therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

We desperately need to understand this – that because He died, and He rose, we too with the church in Rome, can consider ourselves to be dead to the power of sin, and alive to God, through Christ Jesus.

That has to become part of our daily thought, to realize we are dead to sin, and alive to God through Christ.  As it does, we become more and more aware of His love for us, and His walking with us through life.

How we would want to live

With 15 years of being a fulltime pastor now, I think one of the greatest challenges that exist for people is to understand the Doctrine of Justification personally, in their daily lives.  Or to put it clearly – to get the connection between the phrase Alleluia! He is Risen, and “therefore we are Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!

We know how God expects us to live, loving Him, loving those around us.  We understand that is God’s salvation is His gift to us, and it is found in trusting Christ, not in our works. Many of us have known these truths as long as we can remember. 

Yet when we look at our lives, we struggle, because there great truths aren’t always seen in our daily actions, We know what’s good, but can we live that way throughout our lives? It’s a paradox, one that can make us question whether God really is active in our lives. Or take the opposite tack, and try to excuse and defend our sin, rather than seeking the comfort

Though we think more of Romans 7 and 8 when we talk about our struggle with sin,  it really begins here, in the first verses of chapter 6.  Here Paul begins to address sin, and our being declared without sin, because of Jesus.  We lose our ability to just dismiss it, or justify it’s constant presence in our lives.  First, he deals with the dismissal, that sin isn’t that big of a deal, because God is glorified as He forgives and cleanses us of sin.  Therefore, more sin equals more glory, so no big deal?

He says we can’t let that attitude even be born in our lives, because, we’ve died with Christ.  Having died with Christ, why should we go back to it?

Paul strips away our excuses for our sin, by reminding us of what happened.  Being in bondage to sin isn’t our normal way of life anymore.

Hear the Message! 

That’s the key to this passage, sin and its power over us is history, sin doesn’t have the power we once knew it to have.  It cannot, for we have been baptized into Christ, joined with Him

And as we have been united with Christ – the words are incredible there – we are nailed to the cross with Christ, they are compound words – syn-staurothe – crucified together with Christ, Synthapto, buried together with Him.  The prefix syn indicating a communal aspect – all together in this, sharing in it, one with Him in His death.

These picture us so untied to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that we can’t be separated from it,   Paul then goes on to say, if this is true regarding being one with His death, we will be one with His resurrection, in His tossing aside death, in His leaving sin so powerless – that we are considered dead to each other.

For Alleluia!  Christ is Risen! Therefore?

Consider yourself…

So what do we do?  We realize what Paul is saying to the church in Galatia as well,

24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.   Galatians 5:24 (NLT)

That is what living in Christ is all about – about leaving our sin, our passions and desires, nailed to the cross – and when we struggle with sin, to bring it back there and leave it where it belongs.

You’re dead to its power – and alive to Christ.  Because God claimed you in baptism.

When we said earlier that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, that’s what we know, yet it is something for which we need daily reminder. It’s why we pray that God would lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil, so that we will know He does. It is why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and hear St Paul say that every time we do this, knowing Christ, we proclaim His death until He comes again.

Because in proclaiming His death, we are proclaiming the victory, the liberation of us from the power of sin.  Delivering us into a life filled with the Father’s love and mercy and comfort and peace.

So you sinned this week, God’s dealt with it, and when you face temptation, your struggle is not to overcome it by your own strength, but to look to Christ, know you are in His presence, flee to His side, to the cross, and know that sin cannot defeat you there. Remember you are baptized into Christ’s death, and raised with Him, think of the body and blood given to you in this place, and know God has separated you from your enemy sin.

That’s what this service, and Sunday School, and our Bible study are all about.

To help us know this.

That we are dead to the power of sin, and alive to God through Christ.

For Praise God, He is Risen, and therefore we are risen indeed, Alleluia?

 

Gravity and God’s Grace….

Devotional Thought of the Day….

 32  And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”  John 12:32 (NLT)

As I walk between the extremes of Christianity, and my own branch of the church, I hear a lot of advice about the church.  Some suggest that God will bless the church, if we are faithful to this model.  Wait, most of them say that – their models just appear – whether traditional or contemporary, whether doctrinal or social – fundamental or liberal to be at odds with the other models.  I would content they might not be as much as they think, they are often making observations about the same thing from different perspectives.

But that isn’t the point.

I would contend that it isn’t how liturgical you are, or whether you church is Lutheran or Catholic or Methodist, or whether you are involved in social ministry, or training the next generation of leaders, or whatever it is.  What matters is, is Christ lifted up.   For Jesus is where we find hope, it is His love, His desire to reconcile us to the Father, that is seen when He is lifted up on the cross.   I will contend that this is the unseen core of the what drives both the church growth crown and the we have to be faithful to our past crowd.

They both love, even if they don’t realize it, how Christ is revealed to them.

The grace and mercy of Christ is like gravity – it is so needed, and the more people need it, the more they get caught in its pull.  The more aware they are of being broken, the more they are pulled to the one who is lifted up, just so their souls can find healing.  Such was the story of the serpent on the pole – look there – find healing.  It was the nature of Solomon’s temple – for believers – look there – find forgiveness/healing, for non-believers, God will hear them – and bring them what they need.

It is, always and forever, about our relationship with Christ, for nothing else provides us with what we need, nothing is like the one crucified to show us His love, His mercy, His desire for us to be His people.

May the Holy Spirit remove from us everything else that catches our eyes,,,, leaving only Christ visible…and then, as the Spirit transforms us into His image – may we see that around us with His eyes.

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Out of Sight, Out of Mind! In Sight? Christ!

Out of Sight, Out of Mind!  In Sight?  Christ

Phil 3:4-14

 

IHS

 

May you see the incredible love and mercy of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ so clearly, that it robs you of any desire to focus your life on anything else!

 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind
The thing parents miss the most…

It is the one tactic that works in raising children for a while, that works so spectacularly that when it no longer works, parents and preschool teachers cry.

Described by six little words, oh the problems solved by it.

If I give you the first three words, I bet you will get it.  Heck, I bet some of you will get it with only one word.

Out ….. of ….. sight

Yeah – that great opportunity to simply remove something from the picture, and in a moment, most young children forget it was ever there.  You are driving past a golden arches, and they so want to go there… until of course you are 30 seconds past it…. Then it is forgotten.  

It is true for adults as well, especially spiritually.  Not so much for things like coffee and doughnuts and… bacon.

But spiritually, we are very much children – we have to deal with those things that are in front of us, and the challenge is.. what is in front of us!

What should Be out of Sight and out of Mind

In the epistle reading today, we see a great example of this very thing.  Paul talks of those things that we in front of him spiritually, consciously.  The things that gave him the confidence he needed when he was a young up and coming rabbi.  He had all the right boxes checked off, all the advantages that anyone could want.

Genetically – he was perfect, family – perfect (those are the root words in Greek Genea and phylum) the right schooling – the roughest and most demanding program which he excelled at, He even proved how loyal he was to his nation, to his religion, by squishing like a cockroach those who opposed it.

Imagine being the next American hero – a cross between Tom Brady and Bill Gates  – and being the captain of Stanford’s football team and making a 4.0 in a dual major of computer science and a MBA and while there – you invent a computer that costs $5 dollars to make –can be sold for $500 and blows away everything else on the market?

These are the things that Paul counts on, they are on the forefront of his mind – so much so… that they become a detriment. They actually are so incredible – so depended upon, so much in sight, that what was not in sight, was was not forefront in his mind… was that which every Jewish person for hundreds of years said they were looking for, the Messiah.

The very things that should have helped him to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, got in the way, as Jesus was standing before him all the time.  It is

These things – to put it simply, like the things we depend upon for our being considered “right” need to be put aside – for they distract us from what truly makes us righteous.  It’s not that we’ve been coming to church all our lives, or that we’ve been Lutheran for 10 years, or that we are Irish, or that we’ve done this or that, or we’ve worked hard, or whatever it is… for if you don’t see Jesus, these things are nothing more than…distractions.  It isn’t even that we belong to the very special church family,

Or As Paul says,

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.

What should be in sight, and in Mind

Even before Paul leaving behind all his stuff, there were two sets of brothers, who left their dad, and their family business, to follow a young homeless teacher, who a preacher said was the Agnus Dei – the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Another man, a very tax collector, left his tables on April 15th, to walk with this teacher.  Paul leaves behind everything else – it cannot capture his mind, or his heart anymore. Indeed, he counts them as refuse – not just the trash but the stuff that fills sewers and raises a stink.  St Patrick will, because of this very thing – return to the land where he was a enslaved and escaped – knowing that he could face death…because of what he gained in leaving it all behind.   Everything they were, they left behind…

Why?

Because of the infinite value of knowing Jesus.  Please hear this – it is the most important thing I can tell you.  It isn’t that we know about Jesus,  As the Epistle of James tells us, even demons know about Jesus – they recognize Him faster than anyone else in scripture.  It is not knowing about Jesus, it is about knowing him.

Luther explained it this way.

For all outside of Christianity, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites, although they believe in, and worship, only one true God, yet know not what His mind towards them is, and cannot expect any love or blessing from Him; therefore they abide in eternal wrath and damnation.  The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.

They can know of him – but unless they understand God’s mind and will – that His desire is that we all come to repentance – the transformation that occurs when He comes to our lives, unless we understand His love and blessing, the motions we go through are worthless…

It is as we gain Christ, and become one with Him – as we are pulled into that intimate relationship with a God who loves us beyond anything we can imagine. That is when we begin to grasp what Paul says when he says..

I become righteous through trusting in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on trust. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

The incredible blessing that comes from knowing what happened to us here – as we were baptized, isn’t easy to comprehend.  How do you explain the “coming to life” that happens when we realize that we’ve been cleansed from sin, when the cross becomes more than just a historical event, but the place where our life completely transforms because we are untied to Christ there, at the cross, in our baptism?  Where we are united with Christ, and His death and the hope of His resurrection? 

Where we are united to Him!

A few days ago, the new pope said it this way, in his first sermon

“This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord.

Without the cross – all we have is the garbage – the worthless stuff, the things this world might recognize as important – but have no meaning in the face of life or death, that isn’t what will sustain a marriage, or as Pope Francis said, will sustain a church.  He went on, to recognize, very much like St. Paul, what would.  He said,

I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward. “

Though the challenge would be worded slightly different for us – it is when we are joined to the cross of Christ, that everything is transformed. As we partake of the Body and Blood of Chris. That we begin to realize what Paul says… how this can occur.

How it can be…

I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

You see – that is our key – to strive to “get” that we’ve already been gotten.  That in Christ, it is not the attaining of perfection or holiness that is what we are challenged with, it is not being good enough.

The battle, the fight is to realize that we are already there, that God is calling us to realize He is there… He is our vision – and then we don’t need to toss aside all these other things – all these other “good” things… for they will have fallen aside, and become out of mind…

For we will dwell in incredible peace – the peace that comes from living in the presence of God, protected there, our hearts and minds  kept there, for we are Christ’s possession. AMEN?

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