Sunday, June 24, 2012

John the Baptist

Luke 1:57-80 - Nativity of John the Baptist - June 24, 2012 
Serving God Without Fear

Six months before Jesus’ birth, John the Baptist was born to prepare his way.  Six months from today is Christmas Eve.  And so today, on June 24, we celebrate the nativity of the greatest prophet and preacher who ever lived.  Of course John’s ministry didn’t begin until he was much older, but even before he grew and became strong in spirit the events surrounding his birth tell us quite a bit about his mission as the prophet of the Most High.  These recorded events also teach us about our duty always to listen to what God says. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Trinity 1

Luke 16:19-31 - Trinity I - June 10, 2012 
Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart

The parable of Jesus that we just heard is the only parable that Jesus ever told where he named one of the characters.  The name Lazarus means, “My God helps.”  There’s no way of knowing for sure, but perhaps the reason Jesus chose to name this particular character was because of his friendship with the brother of Mary and Martha.  His name was Lazarus too.  Consider how Jesus helped him.  And what greater need for help could there have been than his?  He was dead.  Out of love for his friend, Jesus wept.  And, out of the same great love, Jesus raised his friend from the dead. 
The Lazarus in Jesus’ parable died too.  But he did not have to wait until his death to become acquainted with his need for help.  He was a beggar.  His very livelihood daily required him to come to full grips with how much help he needed from others.  And even then, he was afflicted with public scorn, with infection and hunger, and with utter loneliness.  It seemed as though even God had rejected him!  The filthy dogs who ate the crumbs he desired from the rich man’s table were his only companions as they licked his open sores for dessert.  Disgusting, yeah.  This man was the lowest of the low.  There was nothing he had to call his own on earth.  He was not worth knowing.  But here is the beauty of the fact that Jesus gave him a name.  God knew him.  It is as Jesus said to his disciples, admonishing them not to place their confidence in what they can see, but in what remains hidden: “Do not rejoice in this,” he said, “that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trinity Sunday

John 3:1-15 - Trinity - June 3, 2012
Where The Spirit Blows

Today is Trinity Sunday.  The word Trinity is not found in the Bible.  It’s a word that was created by Christians in order to express what the Bible teaches about God.  The Bible teaches clearly that God is three distinct Persons in one divine Essence: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  That’s what Trinity means: tri + unity = Trinity.  The only true God is the Triune God.  All true Christians believe this.  Every true Church confesses this.  The Christian Church has learned to articulate her faith in the three ecumenical creeds – the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian – not by thinking really hard about God – not by sitting down and figuring out his mind – no, but by learning from Holy Scripture who God is and what God does, and by defending the doctrine they learned when controversy arose.  Our creeds are not extra words that we impose upon the word of God.  They are concise expressions of the holy Faith that God’s word teaches us. 
We are saved by faith.  St. Paul writes, With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  The word creed simply means I believe.  When we confess what we believe, we are confessing two things: First, we confess the content of our faith – that is, who God is, what he has done, who we are, and how we are saved.  Second, we confess that this is what we ourselves personally believe as the body of Christ and as individual members of it.  The two always go together: the objective truth, and our subjective commitment to it.