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Sunday, January 15, 2017

01152017 2nd Sunday After Epiphany - By His Doing We are In Christ Jesus!

January 15, 2017
By His doing we are in Christ Jesus!
As we gather together this morning in the shadow of the Christmas and Epiphany Seasons, we have heard about the gifts given by the Three Wise Men of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.  We have followed the shepherds who were watching their flock by night, but stopped in order to go and see what they had heard from the echoing of the angels who proclaimed the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  We have gone to the manger to Mary and Joseph who crouched where their child was wrapped in cloths lying in the manger.  We have heard all these things about Jesus Christ, for He was and continues to be the greatest gift given unto mankind.  We have learned that this Child, this gift, our Savior, Jesus Christ came in order to offer mankind eternal life.
Yet, our culture doesn’t understand eternal life.  Our culture looks at the toys and joys we have today, whether of a football game that is won in the last seconds.  An outgoing leader whose legacy will be recorded in history books, the impact on our pocketbooks or in the recesses of our minds.  Or the challenges faced in relationship with political parties, professional sports rivalries or the personal relationships we have with parents, children and even our spouse.  These challenges like noise in a loud room, drown out the truth that was clearly found in the manger of Jesus Christ and His offer of eternal life for all of mankind including each and every one of us.
You see, eternal life is more than the daily challenges and sometimes self-imposed obstacles we face.  The gift of eternal life, offered to and for us through Jesus Christ is a gift clearly and specifically for us.  And, Jesus Christ wants to give the gift of eternal life to each and every one of us.  For Jesus gift to and for us is given, not because of what we do, what we have done, nor any merit on our own, but the gift of eternal life is given by Jesus Christ out of His unending and forgiving love for each and every one of us. 
Paul says, “By His doing”.  In essence by the doing of the Child, Jesus Christ, Who was found in the manger, we who live in the world, we who believe, will be grafted into Jesus Christ.  Hence why our connection with Jesus Christ isn’t just begun with our hearing the Word of God.  Or by the Holy Spirit being active in each of us, but even when we bring our children for Holy Baptism, where the people of God stand and with the parents and family take responsibility for the raising of our children in the faith.  This is where God not only showers us with Water and Word, but enfolds and embraces us in the most intimate embrace and fulfills what Paul says, ‘we are in Christ Jesus’.
So now the reality of this world and our destination radically changes.  Instead of living in fear of what tomorrow may bring.  Instead of allowing the shadow that hangs over of our relationships with our family, friends and even our loved ones that at times overcome us, our reality changes because of the Child in the Manger named Jesus Christ.  The small child found in the manger wrapped in strips of cloth with His coming into the world overcame what binds us and has set us free out of His love for us.  Since “By His doing we are in Christ Jesus” we no longer are bound, but are set free in Jesus Christ, through His great love for each and every one of us, through our faith in what He has done.
One of the best cinema examples of faith was when Harrison Ford in the movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.  As Indy followed meticulously the diary of his father the final obstacle between him and finding the Holy Grail is an expansive canyon.  Indy can see the entrance, but this canyon and no clear way to get across it seems to exist.  And the instructions read, ‘walk by faith’.  All that Indy sees is the chasm and the entrance to a place that could save his dying father.
Finally after wrestling and struggling with this reality of the chasm he faces, Indy steps out in faith.  And lo and behold there is an invisible bridge to get to the other side and reach his goal of finding the Holy Grail.

We who gather this morning unlike Indiana Jones, have found the real and true Holy Grail that does offer us eternal life, Jesus Christ.  We found and have worshiped Him in the manger and today in Jesus Christ and His Word which we have heard this morning, the sacrament we are about to receive from His altar.  For in this gift of His Precious Body and Blood we find eternal life.  May we believe what we have heard and are about to partake and ultimately come to the full realization of Paul’s words of grace and comfort that we are enfolded into Jesus Christ loving arms when we believe “By His doing we are in Christ Jesus”.  AMEN.

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