PDF Print E-mail

the sermon for

Reformation Sunday

29 October 2017

John 8:31-36
Reformation begins and ends with god's love!

10292017I have to admit, I've been looking forward to this day for a long, long time! Truth be told, ever since my last semester in seminary. It was 1983 and we celebrated Luther's five hundredth birthday. Of course, he wasn't there to blow out the candles, but that's what captured my imagination, back then. My ministry would begin with the five hundredth anniversary of his birth and – Lord willin' and the creek don't rise – end somewhere around the five hundredth anniversary of the posting of the theses, thirty-three or thirty-four years later. Just like the covers of a book. A front and a back. And for all this time, I've been living out my call with that image in mind. So today, this morning, is a big deal! A big deal and very personal, at the same time!

That's the reason for all the hooplah, the last few months. Posting the Ninety-Five on Facebook, one thesis a day for the past three months! Movie Nights! Teaching the college classics course up at Midland College on the Reformation! So Who Knows What – about the Ninety-Five Theses – on a Wednesday afternoon at Manor Park! The piece in the Reporter-Telegram, day before yesterday! The t-shirts! The coffee mugs – eventually! The hymnfest, this afternoon! Even the celebrations of reform we hosted, the last four Reformation Sundays! It's all been about this moment! October 31st! All Hallows – All Saints – Eve! 2017!

It's been exhausting! Draining! But it's, definitely, been worth it! It's been good! Because, you see, of all the days in the church year, this one... this one is our day! Ours and ours alone! Worthy of our best! Deserving of our brightest! To lift up! To celebrate! To share with the world! But here's the crazy thing... This day isn't about us! It's not about Lutherans! It's not about the Lutheran church! It's not even about Martin Luther! Not foremost! Not first! No, this day, if it's about anything, is about Jesus! About Jesus and the cross!

You've, probably, heard many reasons for the Reformation. The corruption of the church. The rise of nation-states. The printing press. A return to the bible. Worship in the language of the people. The list goes on. And each rationale has a grain of truth. But bottom line, especially in this place... It's all about Jesus! Jesus and the cross! God doing for us what we are unable to do for ourselves! God doing for us what we are unwilling to do for ourselves! Reformation Sunday isn't about our choices or our decisions! It's not about our commitment or our devotion! Reformation Sunday Isn't, even, about loving god with our whole heart! Loving our neighbor as our self! It's Jesus and the cross! It's Christ and Christ crucified! It's god loving each of us, loving all of us, not because we're worthy, not because we're deserving, not because we've earned it! But loving us, simply, because that's the kind of god god is! Giving the last drop! Giving the last ounce! Giving the last breath! Just because that's what god does!

No wrath! No rage! No paybacks! No ultimatums! Just Jesus and a cross! Christ and Christ crucified! And this day is one more chance, another opportunity, to lift it up for all the world to see! Lift is up without apology or excuse! Lift it up confidently and courageously! Lift it up and this – THIS – is our god! I have to say – respectfully and with all humility – there's not a whole lot of churches like us! Especially in this part of the country! There's not a lot of churches quite like us! What we believe in! What we rely on! It's rare! It's exceptional! When we do it right, we don't spend much time talking about ourselves. What we should. What we ought. How we must. How we have to. For us, believing doesn't have anything to do withy morals or ethics or principles. In fact – push come to shove – what we do, what we don't do, doesn't matter! It's not important! Because it's all about god!

God creating and protecting! God redeeming and setting free! God reviving and making new! It's all about Jesus! Jesus and the cross! Christ and Christ crucified! For us, it's that black cross within a red heart! It's the suffering, the sacrifice, that makes alive! But, then, not everyone gets that. Even among Lutherans, two thirds to three-fourths of us disagree with that, or don't understand. It's grace! It's charity! It's love! God's grace and god's charity and god's love for us all! And then, in turn, our grace and charity and love for each other. It's all Jesus! Jesus and the cross! From beginning to end! From start to finish! That's the "truth" that sparked a revolution! And that's the "truth" that continues to fan the flames!

God loves us! With all god's heart! With all god's strength! With all god's being! God loves us! Without limit! Without measure! God loves us more than we could ever dream of loving ourselves! And that love picks us up and holds us close and never, ever lets us go! It changes us! Making us different! Making us new! Not because we want to! Not because we want to be! But just because that's what love does!

On a day like this, there are so many things – so many good things, so many worthy things – we could call to mind! Scripture! Faith! But today is about one thing and one thing alone. God's amazing, astounding grace! Sola gratia! Charity alone! Only love! Only love! Jesus and the cross! Handed down from one generation to the next for – so far – twenty-five generations! It's no longer the sound of coins clinking in coffers that purchases our forgiveness. It's Jesus' holy and precious blood! Christ's innocent suffering and dying! It's not simply in the mercy of almighty God that Jesus was given to die for us. It's in the charity from which that mercy springs! It's the love! Always, forever, the love!

So today is a big deal. A once in a lifetime – once in a dozen lifetimes – kind of thing. But then again, it's really no different from any other time we get together! To hear the love proclaimed. To receive it administered. Marked with the cross. Consuming Christ, together. After five hundred years, we continue to be a people of grace! A people of charity! A people of love! Twenty-five generations who have done what we are doing! Twenty=five generations who have been what we are! Evangelicals in every sense of the word! A people, as the name implies... A people of good news! A people of gospel! A people of grace! We speak it! We sing it! We pray it! We read it! We bath in it! We eat it and drink it! God's grace! God's charity! God's love! And it all boils down to this...

Jesus and the cross!

Christ and Christ crucified!

Copyright © 2018 Midland Lutheran Church , 2705 West Michigan, Midland, TX 79701 (432) 694-1373
RocketTheme Joomla Templates