Monday, October 17, 2011

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity 10/16/2011 Ephesians 4:1-6 Bror Erickson Ephes. 4:1-7 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, [2] with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, [3] eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [4] There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— [5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [7] But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Paul urges the Christians of Ephesus to walk in a manner worthy of gospel, the calling to which they have been called, the calling to which you are called, the calling to which Claire has been called in Holy Baptism this morning. Paul explains what he means. We are to bear with one another in humility and gentleness, and be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit. The unity, Paul explains this, we must be unified, because there is only one Gospel one hope, so there is only one church, one body, one Spirit, so there is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. There is only One God. That is there is only one true God. We have many gods today. There are many things that we fear, love or trust in more than God, these are gods. But there is only one true God, and he is the Father of all. That is he is the maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. It is this first and foremost that gives him the right to be called God, that demands our obedience, our trust our worship and love. As the Psalm 95, the great Venite of Matins, says, the sea is his for he made it, and his hand formed the dry land. He made us, we belong to him, we are his. That was how things stood originally in the Garden. Adam and Eve knew their Maker, they knew the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But sin changed things. Sin changed things for us. Knowledge of God is no longer a self-evident thing. One perhaps can adduce that there is a God. Though the theory of evolution, as badly put together as it is, gives many a convenient excuse to go on believing that they are their own God. These days its chief argument seems to be that 99 percent of all scientists believe it to be true. No one ever bothers to check and see that they have several different theories all conflicting with each other, and all with their own holes and logical leaps, as to how evolution occurred. But with that, most tend today to write religion off all together. It’s all the same they say, just the subjective thoughts and opinions of people not willing to face reality, and in this case one persons thoughts aren’t any better than anyone else’s. That thought permeates society today. It’s all the same. Want a religion, pick one, go with what works for you, what rings true to you. Who cares about truth, there isn’t any such thing, not where religion is concerned. And people honestly believe that there really isn’t any difference. It’s all about being a good person and the thought that there is something more. The rest they think, is made up by man. Believe it or not, I find it to be the essence of faith for most Mormons I talk to today. And they make great use of the media in defending themselves along these lines. They capitalize on a secular media, that is all to willing to say, religion really doesn’t matter, it’s all cooky, and equally irrational. Of course, Mormon’s wouldn’t dream of treating your children that way on the play ground, and let them wear a cross or a crucifix uncontested. But hey, what’s Christianity, who are you to say what it is and isn’t? You, me, we are nothing. It isn’t for us to determine what Christianity is. It’s not for us, it is for Jesus. You see here, Paul says there is one hope. That is there is one gospel. It isn’t for us to go about changing this. And neither can we recognize those who do, as Christians. Christ decides who is Christian and who isn’t. Christ decides what that hope is. And he doesn’t do it out of a hat. We have one hope, and that is Jesus Christ, our Lord. He is our only hope, because he is the only one ever to die for your sins, ever to rise from the dead to give you life. And this he does in the one baptism, to the one faith, in the one body That worships the one who is God and Father of all, who is over all and through all, and in all. And that, his death and resurrection, didn’t happen in secret. Jesus was publically executed, and his grave was left empty for all to see, just as today it remains empty. This happened in history. It is open to historical investigation, just as Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, is open to historical investigation. It may be miraculous, it seem to defy explanation as to how it happened, but what is the difference between that and the life you are now living? So it isn’t all cooky, it isn’t all irrational. Oh, there are things about it that may defy rationality on the surface. There are things about the faith that our reason cannot explain on its own. The Triune nature of God, is foreign to our experience, for us whose being is so inextricably connected to our own bodies. For us it is hard to see how it is that Father, Son and Holy Spirit is God. How it is that they share one divine essence, and yet are three distinct persons. Perhaps it is hard for us to understand, how it is that something so simple as a few words spoken as water is being poured over an infants, or more miraculously still a jaded heart adult’s head, can give eternal life joining one to the death and resurrection of the living Lord, or how it is that simple bread and wine can be the body and blood of Christ, the very body and blood that was given into death, and shed on the cross, given for you for the forgiveness of sins. But then all of this rests, all of this is part of the one hope, that we have in Jesus Christ, the one man who died and rose from the dead to give us life, and therefore the one man, the only man, one ever need listen to in matters of religion. And if it doesn’t make sense to us how it all can be, what difference does it really make? Who are we, in the end to say what is and isn’t possible, did we make this world? Did we make the sea and all that is in it? Were we there when he formed the dry land? We can’t even make sense of how it is that we are alive. But here is one, who claimed to be God, who died for all to see, who in accordance with scriptures, with the prophecies of millennia, died and rose again on the third day, and he is our hope, he is the only hope, for he is the only one who forgives your sins. And more than a hope, he is our certain victory, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit one God, now and forever, and forgives your sins. He is God, He is our Lord, the only one, he determines how it is we are saved. He doesn’t leave it up to our speculation, but lays it all out in his word alone, which no man can rewrite, to which all who call upon his name are bound. And that is the one faith, given in the one baptism that unites us to the one hope that is in the one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all, and in all.

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