the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

Romans 5. 1-8
Who we are and what we become is a gift from god!

Each week, the rhythm, the routine, is pretty much the same. Sunday morning, I get up and make sure everything’s ready for worship. Dot all the i’s. Cross all the t’s. Although, the past few weeks, there haven’t been near as many of those as usual. Then, we have this. And afterward is lunch, a time to relax, to unwind. But sometime after dinner, it all starts over. I pull out a copy of the next week’s lessons and take a look at the passage on which the sermon will be based. Read it. Let it steep. Ferment.

Well, last week, if you remember, Sherice and I were up in Lubbock. So, needless to say, I didn’t have a copy of Today’s Readings in hand. Not old school. Not hard copy. So, it being the Twenty-First century, I went online, instead, and pulled up www.sundaysandseasons.com. It’s a worship resource provided by the ELCA … for a fee, of course! And it has everything you need to know, and then some. So, I went to Sunday, June 14. Lectionary 11, Year A. 2nd Sunday after Pentecost. I scrolled down the page. Past the Introduction, Confession and Forgiveness. Prayer of the Day, First Reading. Psalm. When I got to the passage from Romans, I started reading. “Since we are justified by faith we have peace with God … Yada, yada, yada. … Blah, blah, blah … Word of God, word of life!

Now, at this point, I put the passage down and let it do its thing. Sprout. Grow. Blossom into one more sermon. But this time, for some reason, I went back and looked at one more piece. A part I, normally, never read. Before each reading – online – there’s an introduction. Just a sentence or two. That summarizes. That explains. What the words are all about …

We are no longer God’s enemies but have peace with God because we were brought into a right relationship with God through Christ’s death.

I read those words once. And I read them a second time. Three times, I read them. After the third time, I sat back and I’d wished I’d have written them! They were strong words. Looked good. Sounded better. They are everything every sermon should be. They didn’t, simply, describe or explain. They announced! They proclaimed! Announced and proclaimed something people can trust! Something people can believe in! Something people can stake their lives on, again and again, over and over! Listen to them, again …

We are no longer God’s enemies but have peace with God because we were brought into a right relationship with God through Christ’s death.

Plain. Simple. To the point. We are no longer God’s enemies … because God has changed us! Nothing we have to say! Nothing we have to do! Truth is, there’s nothing we can say, nothing we can do! That’s what’s so unreasonable, so unrealistic, about the gospel! As human beings, we’d like to think it’s all about us! We’re the cause, the reason! Saying prayers! Reading bibles! Singing songs! Dropping a dollar or two in the offering plate! That’s not what the proclamation, what the promise, says! We are no longer enemies, because god changes us! Or maybe, we’re no longer enemies, because god changes god! Or maybe god wasn’t like that, to begin with! What if god doesn’t have enemies? Turning the other! Going the extra! Doing unto! Picking up and carrying a cross! What if the German pastor who spent most of WW2 in concentration camps was right? “It took me a long time to understand that God is not the enemy of my enemies! God is not even the enemy of God’s enemies!”

God doesn’t hold grudges! God doesn’t harbor resentments! God doesn’t take things personally! That’s not who god is! That’s not what god’s like! God suffers! God is crucified! God dies! God is buried, descends to the dead! And because of it all, god changes the world! Enemies – even if they ever were enemies – become family! Become friends! We are no longer God’s enemies but have peace with God! Ransomed! Redeemed! Delivered! Brought into a right relationship with god! Through Christ’s death! And it all depends not on us … on our choices … on our decisions … but on god! God does it all … without our consent! God does it all … without our permission! Not because of some so-called second coming … Not because of some final battle … But because of a cross! Because of THE cross!

You see, faith isn’t about believing. Not foremost. Not first. We think it is; but it’s not. And faith isn’t about getting into heaven. Getting into heaven and bringing as many people with us as we can. We’re not here to convert the world. We’re not here to make it Christian. We’re here to love it! We’re here to love it! Just like god! Like the father in the parable, we’re chosen, called, to run down the road into the world! Arms! Arms and hearts wide open! Someone – someone or something – is an enemy only if god considers it an enemy. And the same is true of us! We determine who enemies are. And we determine who are friends. That’s the magic, the mystery, of nonviolent protest. There are crosses, to be sure. But there are no enemies. No enemies, only love.

God changes the world … god changes us … not by drawing lines in the sand … not by separating sheep from goats … God changes the world, changes us, by reminding us that we are friends! Reminding us and, then, treating us as such!

We are no longer God’s enemies but have peace with God because we were brought into a right relationship with God through Christ’s death.

Church … Faith … It’s all about the love! Just like the hymn says, “Our song is love unknown!” Love unimagined! Love undreamed of! Love to the loveless! That they might lovely be! That they might loving become! It’s not something we choose! It’s not something we work for! It’s a gift! It’s all a gift! Only love begets love! Not will! Not fear! Not greed! Only love! Only being loved! Only loving!

So, my friends, like the introduction proclaims … “We are no longer God’s enemies but have peace!” No longer enemies because god loves us! No longer enemies because god loves us all! The gospel of the Lord! Praise to you, O Christ!


MLC Sunday Morning Worship 6.14.2020

Posted by Midland Lutheran Church on Sunday, June 14, 2020
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