Sermon – John 17:11-19 (Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2015)

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Sermon – John 15:9-17 (Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 10, 2015)

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Sermon – John 15:1-8 (Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 3, 2015)

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Sermon – John 10:11-18 (Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 26, 2015)

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From the Pastor’s Study . . . May 2015

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Dear Friends,

When I meet with families to plan the funeral for their loved-ones, I like to suggest that we include one of the Church’s Easter hymns. In fact, it is in the singing of these hymns within the funeral service that we begin to understand the power of Christ’s Resurrection that is narrated in these hymns. How it must confound the devil for us to gather around the casket of someone near and dear to us, and sing out Christ’s victory over death! He, who would rob us of our joy in Christ, is therefore robbed of his delight in our suffering!

In Genesis 3, we learn of how our old evil foe caused our first parents, Adam and Eve, to rebel against God’s clear command, and so plunged us into sin. St. Paul teaches us in Romans 5 that as sin entered into the world through Adam’s rebellion – death entered in through his sin. Following Adam’s sin, the curse of death has hung upon our human race. If you have any doubts about this, please take a look at Genesis 5. In that chapter, Moses narrates the genealogy of Adam’s descendants.

Many readers would prefer to skip over the genealogies, altogether, but they are actually very important. God has a particular reason for revealing each of the genealogies of the Bible to us. For example, Matthew begins his Gospel with a retelling of Jesus’ genealogy. He does this in order to establish that Jesus is descended from Abraham, so that through his Gospel he can make the case that Jesus is the promised offspring through whom the whole world would be blessed. It may seem like a rather uninteresting way to begin a book, but everything which follows is told in light of the fact that Jesus is the fulfilment of the promise given to Abraham – which was the theme of the whole Old Testament.

Similarly, the genealogy of the descendants of Adam narrated in Genesis 5 is critical, because it reveals to us dramatically the curse of death that hangs over humankind because of sin. Typically, when we read this genealogy, we are focused upon the names and how many years they lived – at least until we begin to daydream about why God wants us to read this stuff. However, when one examines the structure of this genealogy, we see that there is a refrain that repeats over and over again: “so and so lived, they had children, and they died.” You will notice a standard format for each generation: (1) so and so lived so many years, (2) had a son (3) lived for another period of years, and had other sons and daughters, (4) he lived these many years, (5) and he died. God has intended for you to have ringing out in your ears over and over again the message: “and he died, and he died, and he died, and he died, and he died, and he died, and he died, and he died . . . .” As this refrain rings out, we hear the curse of death, which now hangs over us also.

This is what gives Paul’s words in Romans 5, their force:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:12-17).

Dying in our place – and in the place of the whole human race – Jesus has accepted the penalty of death on our behalf. Since he had no sins of his own for which to be put to death, he was able to be a substitute sacrifice for ours. Dying for the whole world, Jesus has opened the way of eternal life for all who believe in him and trust in his death for the forgiveness of their sins.

Today, we know the pain of loss that follows death – but the day will come when we will know the joy of eternal resurrection. This promise for all who believe is kept safe in Heaven by the eternal God Who is always faithful. Trusting in Him, we can mourn with hope – knowing that sin, death, and the devil are those whose time is waning. In the very face of death, let the Church’s worship resound with alleluias and Easter refrains – and may the devil be confounded.

In Christ Jesus,

Pastor

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Sermon – Luke 24:36-49 (Third Sunday of Easter, April 19, 2015)

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Sermon – John 20:19-31 (Second Sunday of Easter, April 12, 2015)

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