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Monday, April 3, 2017

04022017 - Fourth Sunday in Lent - “God settled our great debt by sending His Son Jesus Christ!!”

April 2, 2017
“God settled our great debt by sending His Son Jesus Christ!!”
Recently, I received an email entitled, “Nostalgia”.  All of us have either seen, sent or forwarded these kinds of emails that show pictures of cars, things that were common or how our world was different than today.  Each ‘snapshot’ comes from a by gone era and time.  Things seemed simpler.  Life was slower.  The world wasn’t moving past each of us at lighting speeds.  Yes the cars on the interstate did over 75, were made of mostly metal and were clearly forces to be reckoned with or even used to cruise Main.  But families and friends had no idea that one day in our lifetime all of us would be able to carry in our pockets devices that would enable us to talk and connect with people across the state, country and even the world.
When times were or ‘felt’ simpler, when we heard the bell or triangle toll from the house, our name called, the sun dove over the Western horizon, or the streetlight came on when we were playing with our friends during the summer, we didn’t ignore it.  We quickly picked up or put away our stuff, from baseball glove and bats to marbles and the toys we had brought and headed to the one place that was at the center of our ‘known universe’.  We headed home.  Because home for most of us had familiar sights, sounds and smells, whether on the farm or in town.  We were instantly transported to the safest place on the planet that gave us the greatest sense of assurance and acceptance we knew.
Those were simpler times.  We didn’t worry about bills or notes to be paid, how much rain came, nor who would take care of us when we were old and gray?  We found when we walked in the door of our house, the greatest comfort and peace, because we were home, we were accepted for who we were.
This Nostalgic’ feeling is exactly what we should feel when we walk through the doors of Emmanuel Lutheran Church.  This is the feeling people who come and visit should feel, because this is the feeling that God wants us to have because of a simple truth.  “God settled our great debt by sending His Son Jesus Christ!!”  God in, through and by His Son, Jesus Christ, settled the debt of our sin by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross of Calvary in order that we might live and have eternal life.
In the movie Risen, which was our ‘Film of Faith’ last week at the Sherman Theater, there is one scene that clearly depicts how “God settled our great debt by sending His Son Jesus Christ!!”.  After Jesus resurrection, when the disciples are gathered together on the shore of the Sea of Galilee sharing a meal of the fish just caught.  A leprous man comes to the outskirts of the encampment to find food to exist.
The man is clothed clearly as the outcast he feels.  The people are afraid to touch him, and begin to drive him away with sticks and stones to the point that he falls down unable to get up.  Jesus sees, but also knows exactly what is occurring.  Without saying a word, He rises and walks with determination, but especially with grace towards the figure now curled up in a ball, from the beatings and harsh treatment of the community.
Gently, Jesus bends over, sits down and reaches out gently to the figure.  Fear, tangible, because all the figure has known is shame, rebuke, separation and being outcast from all of society melts away as Jesus gives him a simple fish and a piece of bread.  What occurs next, Jesus disciples knew, would occur, but ‘Clavius’ had not experienced it, but watched from a distance.  Jesus, God’s Son, embraced the leprous individual.  As the individual was helped to his feet and walked away, Clavius, who would have in his previous life as a Roman Tribune been revolted by any contact with the leper, saw before his eyes the transformation and saw the man’s face, which was no longer leprous but had been cleansed.

Clearly, this encounter was not an anomaly.  It is very clear that the leprous man and Clavius then understood the simple truth we need to believe today.  “God settled our great debt by sending His Son Jesus Christ!”  Jesus Christ comes to us today to offer us this same forgiveness and freedom.  We only have to accept God’s Gift of His Son, Jesus Christ and feel His loving embrace and believe His Words and what He offers us from the Altar today of His Body and Blood, “Given and Shed for us for the forgiveness of sins”.  For when we feel God’s embrace and believe this is for all of mankind, but especially for each of us who have heard the truth of the Gospel, our reality changes.  For when we welcome everyone, our reality radically changes with the truth found in these words, “God settled our great debt by sending His Son Jesus Christ”.  AMEN.

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