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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Sep 11, 2016  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, AMEN

The text for our meditation today is the Epistle Lesson for this Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost, 1 Timothy 1:12-17. There we read these words:

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Thus far the text.

As I sat at my desk the other day and meditated on this text from St. Paul's letter to Timothy, as I heard St. Paul speak to Timothy about the mercy he had obtained from God, I was reminded of a time when I obtained mercy from another individual. This incident occurred during my boyhood years, years my mother, and often times many others tell me continue to this day.

During the years that I attended grade school in Burt, Iowa, we lived in a house right across the street from the school. Some of you are probably thinking, man it sure must have sucked to have been you. I can tell you one thing, we never could come up with a good excuse for being late to school.

There was one good thing though. We had our very own playground with all the cool equipment right there almost in our own front yard, including the basketball courts which they flooded every year for skating. Anyway, enough of that. One summer day while we were playing in the school yard, I found a softball that someone had left lying in the yard after softball practice.

Being the good kid that I was, instead of keeping the ball, I threw it up towards the school building where the custodian could find it. However, I threw it too hard. It missed all of those thick, hard brick walls, and busted one of the windows in the principal's office. I was dead meat.

Stained Glass Baptism Window

Just a week or two earlier, while school was still in session, one of the boys from the class ahead of me had broken a window. He had been sent to the superintendent's office and received a spanking from him(they did those things back then). Also, he had been expelled from school for three days.

And I also knew that my parents were going to finish off what was left of me after the principal got done with me. In stark terror, I headed across the street towards home. I couldn't escape what was coming, because for some reason, my mother always saw everything even though she wasn't around.

I'm reminded of a quote from the Laura Ingalls Wilder book Little Town on the Prairie where Laura and Carrie have been sent home from school. I quote, "There is no comfort anywhere for anyone who dreads to go home."

When I arrived at home, mom told me that the principal was working up town at the grocery store and she made me go tell him what I had done. I obtained mercy. The principal told me that since I had been honest with him, and it appeared to be an accident, I was forgiven for breaking the window. His only exhortation was to have fun during the summer and enjoy my vacation.

Paul speaks in this portion of his letter to Timothy about the great mercy he had received from God through Jesus Christ. St. Paul reminds Timothy, and us, of the fact that he had at one time been a terrible person to deal with. Paul speaks of the horrible blasphemy he committed against God, the severe persecution he leveled against the Christian people of his day, the violent aggression with which he dealt with those people who believed differently than what he did.

And yet, St. Paul says, in spite of all that he had done, God saw fit to choose him to be one of His servants. Despite the fact that Paul was such a terrible, lowly worm of a man, God poured out His grace upon Him through Jesus Christ and sent Paul to do the work God wanted him to carry out.

Dear friends, You may not be a blasphemer like St. Paul, but did you know that it is blasphemy to deny anything God says in His Word. You may not be guilty of persecuting Christians, but did you know that if you separate yourself from others for reasons not in accord with Scripture it is a form of persecution. You may not use aggressive behavior to stop or harm others who do not agree with you in Word and deed, but did you know that if you undermine the integrity or the well being of another individual it is the same thing.

You may have no desire to kill good Christian people before conversion. You may have no desire to harm or destroy God's Church in any way

Yet, you do have within you very sinful hearts, hearts that continually turn you against one another, hearts that disobey God's Word, hearts that separate you from the Grace God has offered you in Christ. Though you may truly mean no harm to anyone, none the less, your sinful self pride can and does put you at enmity with one another in many different ways.

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

Yet, Paul suggests that if God can extend His mercy to one such as St. Paul, what could you have done that is so awful that God would not send that grace to you? What awful thing could you have done that could possibly cause God to refuse to pour out upon you the same love and fatherly care with which He showered St. Paul?

That is the point. In Christ Jesus you have all received the mercy that St. Paul felt in his own life. In Christ Jesus, you have all, each one of you, you have all obtained the Grace of God which offers you eternal life. You have personally obtained mercy through the cross of Jesus Christ, mercy that made you God's Children.

As St. Paul says to Timothy, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life."

You have all received mercy through Christ Jesus, who died that you might live. You can love one another, you can forgive one another, and you can reach out to one another in compassion and concern just as Christ reached out for you. In that way, you can fulfill the law of Christ.

You have all received mercy through Christ Jesus, who died that you might live. You can love one another, you can forgive one another, and you can reach out to one another in compassion and concern just as Christ reached out for you. In that way, you can fulfill the law of Christ.

May God the Holy Spirit grant each of you the mercy of the Heavenly Father by building you up and keeping you in faith in Christ Jesus. And may God the Holy Spirit ignite in you a desire to reconcile yourselves with those with whom you are angry. Secondly, may He ignite in you the fire of love, so that you might go out into the world around you, serving just as you have been served, blessing others with the mercy you have felt.

And may God the heavenly Father guide you and protect you in that you do, that your task may be successful. As Jesus says in the Gospel Lesson for today, "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."We have obtained mercy through Jesus Christ. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

As St. Paul says in the last verse of the Epistle Lesson, "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."

Christ Is Risen. AMEN

Luther Rose

 

Christ Is Risen
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