Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sermon September 11-12, 2010

September 12, 2010
Trinity 15
Matthew 6:24-34
“Death does not reign. The lilies prove it.”

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Adam and Eve brought death and chaos into the world by their sin. The earth and all the universe should have been destroyed in an instant. That is probably what the devil was expecting. His first desire wasn't so much to hurt Adam and Eve, as it was to take creation away from God, like a bully spitting on your cookie just so that you can't have it. It was the first vandalism.

But God did not abandon creation. Even though they had betrayed Him, He still loved Adam and Eve. He walked in the garden after their sin, despite their hatred and fear. He came to earth, in bodily form, foreshowing that He would take our form and pay our price, die our death, that He would stand between us and the devil and perform the duty in which Adam had failed.

He takes our hits, suffers the worst the bully can do, is publicly humiliated and killed in order to give us a new cookie, a better cookie, one that the bully cannot touch.

This is what we should see in the lilies. If death was really reigning, if the devil had his way, there would be no lilies, no chocolate, no music, no laughter. In fact, there'd be no you. For everything would have come undone. Adam and Eve would have died and all creation with them.

But death does not reign. God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He came where He was needed. After He was betrayed again, before they came with clubs and knives to take Him away, He walked in the garden of Gethsemane. They had their way with Him outside the city, in the place of the skull. Then it was finished and He was laid to rest, like a kernel of wheat, a sleeping lily, in the garden of the dead. He rose on Easter morning, the Victor over death. He gave Joseph his tomb back, as good as new.

Death does not reign. Death is dead. Jesus lives. The lilies prove it.

Now, then: do not be anxious. Jesus lives. Jesus loves you. You are now suffering many things and the devil tempts you to waste your energy and effort, to compound your sorrow, with worry about various things. He would have you worry about money. He would turn you to inward thoughts of how you will pay your bills, how you can get the stuff you want, how you can be popular or successful or just plain survive. If he cannot get you to fret over your own desires and imagined needs, he will turn you to fear for others. He will tempt you to obsess and fret for your children or your country or for the poor who are with us always. He will fill the broadcast news with tragedies and crimes and disasters. He will fill the bookstores with lies and propaganda and useless information. He will try to wear you down, to overwhelm you with sadness, to bury you with the impossibility of it all. Do not be anxious. You only hurt yourself. Jesus lives. He will provide. The lilies do not toil or spin. The birds do not sow, reap, or gather. Your Father takes care of them. Your Father takes care of you. He always has taken care of you. He always will.

Today has its troubles. There is no doubt of that. And these troubles need attention and action. Your children need their lessons and their teeth brushed, your mother needs a phone call, your husband needs a pat on the back, your dog needs a treat. Even your country needs you. She needs your prayers and your involvement, she needs you to pick up the trash and put in the can, to vote for the best candidates, to watch out for your neighborhood. But those needs are small, well within your talents and gifts. You have been placed by the Lord precisely. He has made you who you are. He has given you these duties, these children, these spouses, these co-workers and bosses and friends and even, like it or not, this president. These are the troubles for today. They are sufficient. Nothing is gained by adding to them with a fallen imagination egged on by Hell's slavish minions. Nothing is added to them but sorrow if you turn into yourself in bitterness, envy, or fear. You are who God has made you to be, where He has placed you. You simply respond in your place, to your community, your family, as you are able. Do not be anxious about today's troubles, whether the president is doing a good enough job or not, whether your children are meeting all your dreams, whether the climate is growing warmer or colder. Do what you have been given to do and ask for forgiveness for your failings. The Lord will provide. He has put you in place on purpose, deliberately, even if you yourself feel unworthy to the task or cannot understand all of His purposes. Focus on today, not yesterday and not tomorrow. Rest in the certainty that Jesus lives, that Jesus is providing, and will always provide. That is sufficient.

Death does not reign. The lilies prove it. Not war, famine, or plagues can stop the lilies. So neither are they moved by crime sprees, negligent governments, incompetent bosses, or cheating spouses. They belong to the Lord. He provides according to His promise. He takes cares of them. And you are worth more to Him than they are. You are worth more than lilies and He takes care of them. He will take care of you. Rest. Let go of your anxiety. You do not need to look like a supermodel to please Him. You do not need to keep an immaculate house or yard or have your car free of empty cups. You do not need to always work hard, to get straight “A's”, to never get grumpy, or to be perfect in anyway. Death does not reign. Jesus lives. Your Father loves you.

And out of the oven, by the violence of reaping and thrashing, after the mixing and kneading and resting, and finally, the refinery of fire, out of the oven comes bread for the day, food for the eater. The Lord provides. He walked in the garden. He went where He was needed. He stopped death before it began. Out of the oven comes bread that men might eat His Body and be one with Him. He is needed here, by us, for us, for today. So this Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, is the Bread of Life, and comes hidden in bread this day to be food for men.

Death does not reign. The lilies prove it. That is sufficient.

In + Jesus' Name. Amen.

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