Sermon for Proper 13 for the 8th Sunday After Pentecost – 07-31-2022
Hosea 11:1-11; Psalm 107:1-9, 43; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21
In our lesson from Hosea, evil behavior deserves God’s punishment, but His basic relationship to His people is love. His heart fills with compassion when time for punishment comes. Sometimes His great love leads to even greater patience and protection for His people. Still, the time of punishment cannot be put off forever, as the Norther Kingdom found out in 721 BC. God’s love and Israel’s stupid commitment to the practices of their neighbors marked Israel’s history. Sin causes blindness in two ways: “one we do not always see what has done for us and two we stubbornly refuse to repent because we cannot see our own sin.” Justice called for an unrepentant people to face justice. Love could not give up on His people, so the final word is hope beyond judgment.
Wow, sure glad they figured out their mistakes, so we didn’t have to keep repeating them, huh! When Israel was young, God loved her. She grew old with ingratitude and infidelity. God would have preserved Israel in the vigor of youth, but Israel rejected His love. His unconditional love melted with compassion. In His faithfulness He could not totally give up on His people, and also on all of us today. As the Teacher of His people, God is gentle and loving, like a father helping a toddler take its first steps.
In our Psalm from 107 we find that God’s present help lies ahead for the suffering, lonely, imprisoned, and troubled. God an and often does reveal His goodness in all of life’s circumstances when we cry out for help. Some of life’s desperate circumstances result from divine punishment on human sin. God hears the prayers of penitent human sin, He hears our prayers of penitent sufferers and helps us in our circumstances. We should learn from others’ experiences, join them in praising God for His deliverance, and call on God for help in our own troubles.
God acts in the different experiences of His people to meet their individual needs. Events in individual lives thus reveals God’s love. As His people we respond to such revelation with praise, thanksgiving, offerings, testimony, worship and hopefully with reflection. The thought of the opening verse, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever,” and is repeated four other times in verse 8, 15, 21, and 31. Five times should catch our attention, for in verse 43 we are told: “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of he Lord.”
From our lesson in Colossians, we are reminded of our responsibilities to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and to live positive and moral lives according to biblical scripture. Our country has allowed other books to be on the same level as the Bible, for they sit on our bookshelves with our Bibles and do not study them with the veracity that we did upon committing ourselves to serve Christ in our lives daily. We forget to repent of our sins, when they occur, and restore our relationship with the Trinitarian Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and to praise our Lord in all things that happen around us regularly. We have been given the gift of salvation, yet do not often appreciate it as we once did.
Our character are to represent our ethics in the world and our only circle of family and friends. Our word used to be considered a contract, but this has changed. Into our lives we have allowed negative things like greed and personal desires to take our attention away from serving our Beloved God, who loves us in spite of our ways, but who is always waiting for us to turn back to Him, to shower us with His forgiveness and mercy. We are to be the image of God to a world that is hurting in more ways than one, and we are supposed to show His love towards others, not argue with people. To serve Him, we must be better than that, for He deserves our love, respect, and service to honor Him.
Finally our Gospel lesson from Luke is one that reminds us that one day, we will not be here. At funerals, it is normal to tell people all the things you accomplished while on this earth, and I try to keep the worldly things to a minimum, for I would much rather talk about how much you did in your life in service to God. Also, there are many times few relatives are in attendance for the person who was a business success, had no one to leave it to. They worked so hard to amass a fortune, had multiple houses, traveled, but either lost their families or there were none left to leave it to.
Beloved, Jesus was a man of prayer. So often He would remove Himself from the crowds to go off to pray and refresh His focus. Luke reveals the emphasis Jesus placed upon prayer. On seven different occasions Luke is the only Gospel writer indicating that Jesus prayer. The love Jesus had was reflected for all people. He was concerned about the needs of Jews and Samaritans, the poor and the rich, the “self-righteous” and the lost, the “successful” and the broken individuals. Jesus offer the joy of salvation to every person.
Placing material things over personal relationships has disastrous results. One can become consumed by the bigger is better syndrome. Greed gradually gains control and all energy is expended on material security so that a vision of wealth guides character formation. Beloved, life is too short to be centered on the material. God offers so many possibilities for us that it is foolish to spend all of our physical and emotional energies on satisfying ego needs to have more than others. Serving God silences our greed and leads to satisfaction with what He supplies. Concern for the needs of others replaces worry over personal desires.
When I ask people where their joy comes from, many will respond in a materialistic response about fleeting joy, hardly ever about everlasting joy. When a person speaks of the joy of studying God’s Word, so that they can better serve Him, they glow with the inner peace that comes directly from serving our Lord. When they speak with others and witness their own salvation story, it is usually with a few tears and a smile, about what the Lord has poured out His love and forgiveness and mercy. Christians are not perfect by any means, but when we walk with Him daily, we go to Him in prayer, confess our sins, and seek both guidance and forgiveness that when given another opportunity to witness to others, that they feel His mercy and nearness. There is no better feeling that helping lead another to the Lord. Are you actively seeking His help in how to witness to others? Everyone has a different story, but the common denominator is our service to our Lord! Try it. Amen