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

Feb 12, 2017  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

The text for our meditation tody is the introit before us from Psalm 98. There we read these words:

"Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for HE COMES TO JUDGE THE EARTH."

We begin in the Name of Jesus, AMEN.

Dear Christian friends, "I am praying for global warming." This sentence was written across the top of a letter that arrived in my mailbox several years ago at Christmastime. It was a form letter written by a fellow pastor. The letter had been sent to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. The opening sentence caught me completely off guard.

"I am praying for global warming." It is not that I disagree with the idea. In fact, I am now totally on board with the thought of praying for global warming. I was caught off guard—and immediately a little jealous—that this pastor had stated the Christian faith so simply, so jarringly, and so beautifully.

You can hear all kinds of messages in the media, shrieking that global warming is a terrible trend and we must act immediately to save the planet, especially if we want to live here for millions of years. (Let me ask you. Do we, really?)

You hear plenty of other people snort and say that the whole idea of global warming is hogwash; that global warming is merely a left wing conspiracy to establish communism by means of environmental terror. What you do not hear is many people saying, "Global warming? Grooooovy! ‘Your redemption is drawing near’" (Luke 21:28).

"I am praying for global warming." The pastor who wrote these words was only echoing those many passages in God’s Scriptures that say essentially the same thing.

In today’s Introit from Psalm 98, why does the sea roar? Why do the rivers clap their hands and the hills sing for joy? The entire creation expresses such rejoicing "before the LORD, BECAUSE He comes to judge the earth."

It is almost as if this Third Rock from the Sun were waiting with bated breath for Jesus and His glorious return, even now clapping and whistling and hooting like a concert crowd before the band takes the stage.

The apostle Paul said a similar thing in Romans, although he used Words that sound opposite to the Words used here in Psalm 98. Where Psalm 98 speaks about the earth’s longing for Jesus in terms of exuberant rejoicing, Romans chapter 8 speaks in terms of travail and suffering and the pain of childbirth.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. … the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay … the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Romans 8:19-22).

Stained Glass Baptism Window

This yearning for the completion of childbirth echoes back into Isaiah’s prophecy. God promises you in Isaiah that even the rocks and the dust beneath your feet will benefit from the glorious return of Creation’s Christ. When Jesus comes again, "the earth will give birth to her dead" (Isaiah 26:19b, NIV).

In the resurrection of all flesh on the last day, "You who dwell in the dust [will] awake and sing for joy!" (Isaiah 26:19) The song you will one day sing is the song that the creation now sings in yearning and anticipation and hope.

"Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD." Psalm 98 allows us to believe that the creation sings and rejoices—even in the midst of possible global warming and its threatened chaos—the creation sings and rejoices "BECAUSE He [the LORD] comes to judge the earth." "I am praying for global warming."

Consider the possibility that the planet does not want you to save the planet. Someone much greater and more able than you has, by means of His crucifixion and death and resurrection, already saved the planet. And Jesus is coming again to judge. The sea roars and the rivers clap their hands with joyful anticipation.

There are all kinds of technologies being developed right now—technologies that stand to make this earth a cleaner and somewhat safer place to live. It is entirely possible that alternative energy sources and "greener" living will eventually drive down the costs of heating and cooling, reduce waste and pollution, improve medical technologies, and relieve the poverty and the suffering of countless people.

(Then again, things might not change all that much on this earth—after all, nothing can reform human nature.) Let’s develop all of these technologies and more, each of us according to our abilities and opportunities. Let’s not do these things so that we can save this death infested planet.

Trying to save the planet is just as good as denying the resurrection of all flesh on the Last Day. Unbelievers feel the need to save the planet: this planet and this life are all that they have.

Christians do not feel the need to save the planet because their Lord Jesus Christ has already done that. Christians feel the need to love and serve their neighbor—and to confess with their bodies and their lives their hope in the coming Last Day, when the LORD "comes to judge the earth."

Go ahead and cut your consumption as much as you are able—or as much as you see fit. Reduce and recycle if you have the motivation for it. Improve your home’s insulation and grow a larger garden. Raise lots of home grown tomatoes for me. Conserve fuel, compost, teach your diesel engine to run on bacon grease.

These are all wonderful ways for you to show deep and abiding love for your neighbor. These are ways for you to love your neighbor, not merely with an occasional gesture of good will, but with the very lifestyle you lead. Doesn’t it stand to reason that, the less you consume, the more you are able to provide for others?

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

Think about the opportunity global warming presents to you. With your hope set firmly on your Lord’s glorious return, you do not even need to decide whether global warming is a phenomenon or a complex hoax. You do not need to take political sides on the issue, pointing at the other guy as though he were a tree-hugging left wing granola or a consumption-driven right wing empire- builder

Whenever you hear about global warming, you can put a big grin on the face and say what my colleague said at Christmastime: "I am praying for global warming."

Then you can point to Psalm 98 and suggest to your friends that maybe the planet doesn’t feel the need to be saved, now that the Lord of Creation died and rose again.

Many times, when Christians take a walk in the woods or watch a beautiful sunset, they pray thanks and praise to God the Father for the wonder of His creation. Psalm 98 allows you to add a new petition of thanks and praise: Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

As you rejoice in the beauty of God’s creation, give thanks all the more for the magnificence of God’s redemption. Thank God also for the death and resurrection of your Lord Jesus Christ, which now gives shape even to the creation that you see around you. Jesus’ death and resurrection have been given to you for the forgiveness of your sins and the assurance of your eternal life with Him.

But forgiveness created and earned by the death and resurrection of your Lord Jesus goes far beyond people. Forgiveness extends deep into the very core of this planet, which itself was indelibly marred by the fall into sin. Forgiveness and redemption have now bent every leaf and every twig toward the Last Day.

All things in heaven and on earth rotate around the axis of the cross. All things in heaven and on earth—from the microorganism on your skin to the farthest star system in the universe—all things in heaven and on earth wait with you for the resurrection of all flesh, which is yours in Christ Jesus.

Go ahead, Look at the sunset; Walk along the beach; Scan the landscape as it rolls toward the horizon. It is all waiting. It is all yearning. It is all trembling. It is all singing for joy at the coming of the Lord. You can sing, too, and you really should.

Christ Is Risen.

Luther Rose


Christ Is Risen
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