Sermon for 7th Sunday following Epiphany, 02/20/2022
Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Psalm 37:1-12, 41-42; 1st Cor.15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-34
Once upon a time, two children were playing with toy figures. One had a comic book superhero and the other had a princess from an animated show. When an evil villain appeared in their adventure, a conundrum occurred: Who would rescue hostages and bring the villain to justice? Each child thought their figure should be the one who did it. Both characters wanted justice and knew it might take self-sacrifice in order to give hope at the end of the adventure. The superhero wanted to bring the villain to trial through violence and the princess wanted to appeal to the villain’s “good side” with a magical song that would compel them to stop hurting people. The superhero’s approach has a primal appeal—throwing power around through violent retaliation. The princess’ approach is an interpersonal one—using supernatural gifts to give someone a second chance to do better. Which do you think won out? (Story by the Rev. Danae M. Ashley)
This story from Genesis involves Joseph and his brothers who sold him into slavery, because he had once had a dream that would result in others bowing before, hin and they were jealous and fearful of him. They had entered into hard times and the only hope they held was to travel to Egypt, where they were known to have grain stored up and they were desperate. Joseph recognized them, but his brothers did not recognize him. Joseph revealed himself to them, and they became fearful because of how they had sold hin into slavery, thinking he was probably dead. However, because of his great faith in God, he had risen in the ranks and was now in charge of all the storage food and grains. Joseph’s temporary suffering was part of God’s larger providential plan for the Hebrews, and it gives us the option of complaining about our suffering or seeks ways to serve God through our suffering. The brothers had interfered with God’s plan for Israel and his children, but even their destructive work could not ruin God’s redemptive plans.
Beloved, God’s leadership may perplex us, but He led Joseph via a slaves prison. The prison setting made it possible for Joseph to come to Pharaoh’s attention and He recognized that God had been guiding his life to bless many people through him, including his own brothers who had sold him into slavery. This account is punctuated throughout with references to God’s blessing and leadership, and this is something all believers should recognize in their own lives as God wants to work in our lives, and recognize and acknowledge His leadership.
In our Psalm we are reminded that almost any day you can read or witness people committing grievous offenses and seemingly getting away with them, and yet God misses nothing. These individuals seem to think they are fooling everyone and getting away from accountability for their actions, when in fact, they will one day answer for ever single thing they have ever done and judgment will await them. In Psalm 37:10-17 says, “A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken. Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of he wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.”
In 1st Corinthians we are given an explanation of the resurrection body, what it is and what it is not. The resurrection body will be a nature corresponding to the eternal order. The principle is that God has always provided bodies suitable to the sphere of life assigned. Our resurrection bodies will have both continuity and difference in relation to our present bodies. Nature illustrates this. There is continuity between what is planted and what and what sprouts, grows, and to harvested. Physical bodies are perishable, subject to dishonor (they disease, aging, and death), weak, and natural. Resurrection bodies will be spiritual, knowing imperishability, glory, and power. The prototype for resurrection bodies.
Remember the “Golden Rule?” I would guess everyone had it posted in their homes at least into the 1960’s, maybe longer, but not much. You would also see it posted in businesses and was apart of company policy. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The actual quote from the Bible is from Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Simply put, this phrase means to treat others the way we want them to treat us. The Golden Rule is the key to understanding the demands of love of neighbor. For the believer’s in Jesus Christ, neighborly love must include every person, even enemies. Such love is not partial, but is offered freely. Our motives must reflect the faith we have in God through Christ and nothing less. The greatest reward to the faithful given is the joy of participating in Christ’s ministry and seeing the results. Christ taught that rewards are gifts from God. They cannot be earned and are primarily spiritual rather than material. God may choose to provide material blessings as well as spiritual blessings, but we have no right or reason to demand or expect material gifts. The life if Jesus illustrate this.
So back to the question asked following my opening story, are you dependent on the superhero or the princess’ actions, or do you place your faith in Jesus, knowing that He can do all things and has the only true power, the power of God which flows between God to us and back to Him? Pray on this, and see what God’s answer is for you. Amen