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Sunday, May 7, 2017

05072017 - 3rd Sunday After Easter - “Do what is right and suffer for it…this finds favor with God (1 Peter 2:20)”

May 7, 2017
“Do what is right and suffer for it…this finds favor with God (1 Peter 2:20)”
If you were to study Taoist/Daoist philosophy there is the ying and the yang represented by a “Black and White” symbol.  There is equality and there is ‘balance’ according to not only the symbols, but also the belief structure.  Accordingly there is no grey area, yet, for some in our current culture, they do not believe there is grey, nor do they want to see, nor engage in this grey area.  Sadly, this temperament of ‘no grey’ does not allow any flexibility, whether in decisions, life, or especially in relationships.
For Christians, it is agreed, God’s laws are clear, given in the 10 Commandments.  But, what some Christians refuse to believe and understand is that God’s Grace, God’s Mercy, God’s Love and God’s Gospel are in the ‘grey area’ and God can and does overcome even the ‘black and white’ of the 10 Commandments.  Because only the ‘creator’ can rule over that which they created.  If we Christians are rigid and put the 10 Commandments on the pedestal, we will fall and we will fail.  For we have failed and this is a result of Adam and Eve biting the forbidden fruit.  We had and have no control over this, but we have to deal with this reality daily and God knows this clearly.  For the rigidity of the law we live with will always be the pitfall for each of us and it is even more difficult for God’s Glory to be revealed for all of mankind.
However, this morning Peter in his epistle clearly states, “Do what is right and suffer for it…this finds favor with God”.  Peter is looking clearly not at the law, but at the past and to the future.  In the past, Peter looks directly at and through the grace that God lovingly and freely provides specifically in what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind.  For Jesus Christ overcomes not only the white and the black of the ying and the yang, Jesus Christ overcomes the grey of our world with the truth that what He has done and was willing to die for us on the Cross and His sacrifice found great favor with God.  Jesus Christ willingness to suffer and die for all of mankind looks not with earthly eyes, but with eternal eyes.
This is the future Peter looks with and to, the eternity that Jesus Christ out of His love for us was willing to suffer to bring us to, looks not with the glasses of the here and now, the latest toys or the latest gadgets.  Not with desire for control, nor manipulation, but only with the forgiveness that only Jesus Christ can and does freely offer.  It is a forgiveness that doesn’t hide come from compulsion, but true change in each and every one of our lives.  It is a change that looks with God’s greatest honor and glory in mind.  This is why we bring children, like Lakyn a few weeks ago, for the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.  In order that God’s Glory will be revealed and we might understand that God’s grace is forward looking and offered to each of us through our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death, but especially His resurrection.  For in our Baptism, God lovingly picks us up as the broken creatures we are and takes us into His loving arms in order for each and every one of us to receive the greatest gift of love we could receive, eternal life.
These 40 days between our celebrating Jesus resurrection and Jesus Christ Ascension into heaven are an opportunity for us to point to Jesus Christ and His willingness to suffer and His finding favor with God.  For Jesus Christ willingness to go to the Cross of Calvary and suffer for us, sets each and every one of us free through our Baptism and today we not only celebrate what Jesus Christ did, but how now today we celebrate with the graduates, Simon Bassett, Adison Avelar, Kasey Stramel, Kate Zelfer and Kanami Sojima, but also here in a few minutes, Olivia Bassett will shoulder for herself the responsibility of her faith and her future growth in Jesus Christ in her own life.
Today, Olivia with her confirmation will shoulder the mantle of accountability and responsibility, not as a child, but as an adult in the eyes of the church.  Olivia has ‘done what is right’ learning from the Small Catechism, the 10 Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed and how the Bible connects clearly with our Confessional teachings.  This is how we as a church have fulfilled our promise made at her baptism, just as we did for Lakyn a few weeks ago.  Yet it is not just the promises we make, but it is also how we will and should now treat Olivia and each of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ as equals in the Body of Christ.  If we treat her or others as children or discount her or others individuality, this is not the Christian witness Jesus Christ died for on the Cross of Calvary.  If we want to ‘find favor with God’ not only should we point to Jesus Christ, we are called to treat each other as if they were Jesus Christ.
The best witness of this I have seen and experienced was last year when we, Olivia and the other confirmation kids went up to Sky Ranch for Confirmation Camp.  It was an experience that had as its core the desire to spiritually enrich Olivia and each of us who went ‘up the mountain’.  Olivia enjoyed living in community, whether eating brownies with her counselors and cabin mates, enjoying the beauty of the wilderness created by God on day hikes, but also in worshiping God in the meadow, where we encountered and were embraced by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It was during these times, whether in the meadow, on the mountain or in community with one another that God was present and during which a simple, but profound question was consistently asked.  “What will you do once you are ‘down the mountain’?”  We were asked this question, not for the leaders to provide a ‘pat answer’, but in order to encourage Olivia and others to change our collective perspective and remind each of us who personally encountered Jesus Christ of His willingness to bear our sins on the Cross of Calvary and heal us. 

Truly the offer of grace we are baptized into and now Olivia will shoulder of the responsibility for her faith and life, isn’t based upon her abilities nor strength.  The grace we receive solely comes from Jesus Christ offer of forgiveness for mankind, but especially for each and every one of us gathered here embracing Him and the opportunity and ability to trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and His offer of grace for each of us.  For in, through and by the Water and Word of Holy Baptism and now today with Olivia’s Confirmation we remember and realize that we are grafted into the tree of life Jesus Christ.  And this offer of grace is freely given, because of God’s love for each of us.  For as we gather today God sees us through the lens of Jesus Christ each and every one of us and we who gather to celebrate Olivia’s Confirmation, find favor in the sight of God because of Jesus Christ and His love for each and every one of us.  AMEN.

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