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Monday, November 14, 2016

11132016 - 25th Sunday After Trinity - Apostle's Creed - "the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,"

November 13, 2016
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,
In our Gospel this morning Jesus tells the parable of the Final Judgement that will occur.  Easily we could say this parable is told by Jesus in order to ‘call down judgement’ upon each other no matter the circumstance, no matter the reason.  Others would say it is to vindicate the Son of Man.  Yet, Jesus tells this parable not to vindicate, but to reveal Himself as the Shepherd, not to judge, not to justify, not to point out the log in other’s eyes, but simply to forgive and separate the sheep from the goats.
You see in Jesus day flocks were kept by the shepherds that included both sheep and goats.  The sheep were the prized possession of the herdsman.  On the other hand, the goat was not held in as much honor, because goats were bullies of the sheep and caused the destruction of the land causing erosion.  Hence why when gathered together the sheep and goats were separated by the shepherd, because the goats were trouble makers.
Jesus as the great shepherd knew this and tells this parable in order to further explain the difference between the believers, the sheep and the unbelievers, the goats.  Not much has changed in 2000 years.  Sadly in our world around us even here in Western Kansas, we have people who are bullies and the herd mentality and we also have the sheep who believe, but don’t stand up to the bullies.
Yet today in our confession of the Apostle’s Creed, we confess a need all of us should daily seek and a belief what will occur on the last day.  When we confess, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, it is with the clear understanding we believe we need forgiveness from God and we will on the last day receive a resurrected body.
One of the hardest things some Christians face is understanding our need for forgiveness.  Our culture always wants to be seen as ‘right’, never wrong, never to show weakness.  So to seek out forgiveness is in one sense ‘against our culture’.  In Lutheranism 101 a constant question I ask, as Christians who are supposed to be ‘disciples of Jesus Christ’, as Christians are we ‘in’ or ‘of’ the world?  The simple answer is we Christians ‘live in the world’, but we Christians are not ‘of the world’.  For as followers of Jesus Christ who confess our belief in what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary our values, our thoughts and our actions should mirror and be the same as Jesus Christ.
And what did Jesus Christ call for?  You guessed it, ‘repentance’ and the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus called for us to forgive one another and daily declare to one another what He offered so freely on the Cross of Calvary.  To either deny or not seek out and ask for forgiveness means we deny Jesus Christ, His death on Calvary and we deny the grace that He so freely wants to offers us.  Our culture sees forgiveness as a weakness, but with God when we confess and ask for and lay claim to the forgiveness of sins” our reality changes.  We then more fully rely upon God, not only for this life that we live day to day, but a life that looks with eternal eyes that leads us deeper and more fully into what we confess in the Apostle’s Creed and a fuller relationship with Jesus Christ and the blessings only He can give to each of us.
Not only do we confess, the forgiveness of sins,” which is for the ‘earthly’, but we lay claim to the eternal, with our belief in “the resurrection of the body,.  Consider if you will we spare no expense to take care of our loved ones who have died, from the caskets, the flowers for the funeral, the plots that we will be buried in at the cemetery.  Yet as Christians, in our Creed we believe that the flesh we have will when Christ comes again will no longer matter, because we confess “the resurrection of the body,.
Paul says it plainly in 1st Corinthians 15 and 1st Thessalonians, “the dead in Christ will rise first” and our bodies that we now worry about whether we are physically fit or able to wear the latest fashions, will remain in the dust of the earth and we will be given new bodies.  Spiritual bodies that don’t need to worry about aches and pains, pulled muscles, diseases like cancer, diabetes, broken bones or any ailments.  Our belief in “the resurrection of the body, looks not with the earthly eyes we look for and see, but the eternal eyes.  For in our being raised with all the saints our bodies will be imperishable.
But of what value and importance is our confession of the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,.  Simply we confess in this phrase of the Apostle’s Creed our trust in Jesus Christ.  For we receive forgiveness because of His great love for us and in our trusting Jesus it is not just for forgiveness, but that we will be with Him in heaven for eternity.  No matter the political parties that are in control, the hurts we inflict intentionally or unintentionally that we receive here on earth, none of this matters, because our faith is not built on the sand that shifts with the wind.  Our faith is firmly built on what Jesus Christ offered on Calvary and is the bedrock of our faith.  For our faith is built upon our trust in Jesus Christ and the offer of salvation for all of mankind. 
Today we celebrate our Thank Offering.  We smell the fruits of the ladies labor and the gifts of love that will fill our stomachs.  We have the distinct opportunity to gather this year to give thanks to God for what He has done and continues to do in and with us.  In the early summer, a bountiful wheat harvest not seen in a generation.  A corn harvest that fills the bunkers at Frontier and Co-Op.  The devil wants us to look at the prices for wheat, corn and cattle and worry about what will come tomorrow and how our finances will meet expenses.  But God wants us to focus on something totally different.  God wants us to simply be thankful for our lives, our harvest and especially the blessing of “the forgiveness of sins” and “the resurrection of the body” He gives through His Son Jesus Christ.

We have the greatest opportunity today to give thanks because of His sacrifice and honor the gifts that God offers unto us of eternal life.  In celebrating and giving thanks today we clearly lay claim to what we weekly confess in the Apostle’s Creed.  For this is our corporate and personal confession that not only gives thanks to God for the grace God offers us freely and without cost to us, but promises us what we need the most the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,.  AMEN.

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