Sermon for Sunday, Proper 14, 08/30/20
13Th Sunday Following Pentecost
Recently, I watched a documentary concerning the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, from 90 days prior to the actual invasion. There was a scene whereby General Dwight D. Eisenhower had been placed in command of organizing and implementing the invasion of Normandy. At one point Eisenhower went to Primer Minister Winston Churchill and asked him to name him the Supreme Commander. The problem was that there were a lot of generals involved, and he need them all to listen and respond only to him, in order pull off this massive invasion, or get another man to pull it off. Churchill gave him that title saying, “You are now the supreme commander,” and Eisenhower responded, “And with the title is both pride and the responsibility to succeed. He was known to read his Bible regularly and I suspect there was a tremendous amount of pressure on him, as when the order was given to go forward, he was facing the potential of up to 70% casualties. As it was, it was only 20%, but that 20% brought him to his knees.
In the reading from Jeremiah, he calls out to God in funeral language of mourning, lamenting, expressing his despair to God. He yearned never to have been born if he only alternative was the life he had to live. He sought from God assurance of deliverance and gave God his assurance of his innocent faithfulness. God called him to repent so eh could receive further commissions to work. Any area of life may provide the language of prayer. Answers at times may surprise us, especially the expectations, but faith in God’s redemption leads us to continue praying.
Our reading from Romans deals with ethical character. To do the will of God involves a disciplined application of our will in the matters of life. This may be simplistic, but it begins with an attitude or goal of doing food rather than evil to other persons no matter how they treat us! Whoa, so we must treat others better than we are treated, yes! This all rests on an attitude of love and respect for all human beings. We must maintain an attitude of humility, enthusiam and joy for doing God’s work. The work of God actually fuels our will to do His will. Faithful prayer is also a requirement. In short, we must keep a positive attitude in all situations and be ready for anyone God may place in our paths, to help, without grumbling , but wit true joy in our hearts.
Jesus had told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and be tormented, killed, and that He would be raised on the third day. Jesus had told His disciples these things before, and yet they just weren’t ready to really believe what was about to take place. Afterall, they had been with Him for three years and had heard many things, but it always worked out. This time, though, Peter takes Jesus aside and says these things must not take place. Jesus’ reply, “Get behind me Satan,” must have been quite a shock to him and the others, if they were listening.
Jesus had come to suffer on the cross for us. He is the One who puts in a right relationship with God through His sacrificial death as the loving Suffering Servant. Beloved, nothing in the world is as valuable as a human being. At the very least, the soul is the same totality of life which the Old Testament indicated. The teachings of Jesus appear to heighten the meaning to refer to the very basic spiritual nature of a human being. The soul is that which survives the death of the human body; yet it appears to be lacking something until reunited with the resurrection body.
Finally, faithful disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are motivated by the expectation of Christ’s return. It is especially true when the return is seen to having one purpose, the rewarding of a disciple’s service. Rather than attempting to try and define the rewarding system, I think it is more important to address the primary issue, our service. If we are helping someone to “rack up points,” then we miss the whole point. Our service is our way of honoring our relationship with God through His Son, Christ. As I’ve said many times before, you cannot “work your way to heaven.” Simply put, this is a human response to a reward system, and certainly not serving the work of our Lord. In serving our Lord, we must not be self-serving, for only those serving in faith to accomplish the work of the Lord will be rewarded.
As the Christian song goes, “Christians are known us by their love,” and if you are serving in love, then your motives to serve are in line with God’s call upon each one of us.
Rev. Jerry Lyle