Meditation

Sermon, Proper8 June 28, 2020

Genesis 22:1-14; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42

On July 20, 1969, a momentous event took place 51 years ago. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong had just landed on the surface of the moon at the Sea of Tranquility. Michael Collins was orbiting the moon, as the LEM took the other two astronauts to the surface of he moon. At that point, Buzz Aldrin said, “This is the LEM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.” He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion. Here is his own account of what happened: In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. ‘Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.’ ‘I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

And of course, it’s interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon — and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars (As reported by Buzz Aldrin).”

As I studied scriptures for this sermon, this interview seemed to jump right out, because the scriptures speak of Abraham’s test of faith, regarding his being given the task of sacrificing his own Son, Isaac, as a burnt offering to God. The next morning, he took two of his servants and his son Isaac, after having cut wood for the sacrifice, for a burnt offering. Three days travel latter, they came into the region of Moriah, where the sacrifice was to take place. Abraham told his servants to wait, while he and Isaac went on, saying, “We will worship and then we will come back to you. He placed the wood he had cut on Isaac while he carried the fire and knife. And they moved on together. Isaac asked his father where the lamb for sacrifice was and Abraham simply replied, “Go himself will provide the lamb,” and they moved on. Upon reaching the place for sacrifice, he built an altar, placed the wood on it and then bound his son Isaac and placed him on it. He took out his knife to slay his son and an Angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,”he said. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” He then looked up and saw a young ram. Abraham called that place, “The Lord Will Provide.”

God did bless Abraham for his faith and obedience, beloved, and He asks each one of us to do the same. The sacrifice may not be the same, but nonetheless, He asks each of His people to do no less.

In our Epistle from Romans, we find that God’s grace comes with the salvation that is offered to us so freely. It is free, beloved, but each one of us must accept the gift of salvation. There are those who seem to think the more they sin, the more the measure of God’s grace is required! Upon accepting salvation, we begin the process of transformation. Believers, that’s you and me, commit ourselves as slaves to God’s righteousness and, thus fight against sin and its temptations.

Through Christ’s righteous act we are transformed, devoting our lives to the righteous way of life that He pioneered. Our lives must begin to mirror God’s holiness, as we receive eternal life as God’s gracious wage. You see sin also pays a wage for what we earn, it is death. Which do you want? Paul summarized his first six chapters. We have a choice: serve sin and die, or serve Christ and live forever! This sounds like a pretty easy decision, but not all will accept the gift and we cannot make the decision for them. Some who decide to continue to live in sin, will die and they will not be found in the kingdom of heaven. This is the harsh reality that each one of us must base our decision upon.

Well we now find ourselves, “where the rubber meets the road,” as the old saying goes. Our Gospel message is short, yet very powerful. Jesus is saying whomever receives me, also received the One who sent me! Then He says if you accept a prophet because they are a prophet you will receive a prophet’s reward. If you receive a righteous man because he is righteous, you receive a righteous man’s reward. Finally, and importantly, if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, He will certainly not lose his reward.

What does this mean? Those who receive God’s sent ones also receive the Son and the Father who sent them. Thus, we manifest our acceptance of God’s Son by our acceptance of His children. So how do we know the difference between the two? Are they obedient to God’s will? Are they faithful to God and His Word? Do they truly accept us or we them, or is it just for show!

Deacon Jerry Lyle

The answer to these questions are as valid as the questions themselves. Jesus modeled how we are to live, work, interact with others in His earthly ministry. We’ve all read the stories of how He had compassion when looking upon people. We’re read how He fed the multitudes of people that came to listen to Him, as they were a long way from where they could get any food. The crowds of people would ask Him questions and He would answer them, using a variety of parables, so that all could understand. Even Jesus’ disciples found it easy to be pious and full of religious thoughts as long as He was alive. The challenge came when He was placed on the cross and died for our sins, beloved. His disciples had heard Him talk about the need for the death of the Messiah, yet until it happened, it just didn’t seem that real. However, when He died on the cross and was buried, it became all too real to them. There was fear and hiding by His close friends, whom had been with Him for three years.

Remember when Jesus came among them in the upper room and fussed at them for their cowardly actions after He died on the cross? No, of course you don’t, because he came among them and simply said, “Peace be to you.” He was still the Teacher and was still teaching them to remember what He had taught them, and that is the lesson we all need to take away today, that we need to be reminded that Jesus did die on the cross, but He was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven with the Father.

Just like His disciples, we too seem to get lost at times. During this pandemic, many have forgotten that in stressful times, Jesus would go away from the crowds and pray. So do we, my friends. We all want to be back at our church, but we must stay strong in God’s Word. We can do this anywhere we are today. The Bible still speaks to us; our prayers are still the primary communication that we have with our Lord. Each Sunday, there are a myriad of churches in our area that are streaming services (Morning Prayer), so we can sit in the comfort of our home and sing and pray and listen to sermons to help us understand the Word and how it applies to our daily lives. We cannot have the Eucharist, but one day we will be able to again. Let us not focus on what we can’t do and celebrate that which we can do! Right now, we need to be concerned more about safety for health, than gathering as a congregation. We all want to be together again, but right now, it is not safe yet. Instead, let our light shine brightly in our community as best as we can, and look forward to the day, when it is safe to gather again. Amen

In His Service,

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