Our Lenten theme this year explores how God ‘forms’ us as God’s people. As we noted for Ash Wednesday, God’s formation begins with heart, and thus, God forms us by heart.
When you think of yourself as a member, a participant, a sharer in a community of faith, do you think about what makes you such? Is it based on something you do or more basically upon something God does?
As Christians in the Lutheran heritage we see a direct line from Paul to Luther. In the second lesson appointed for this Sunday, Paul proclaims God’s Word about how we are who we are as God’s people.
Apparently then, as now, people were inclined to give themselves credit, more credit than they deserved, for their own standing in the Kingdom of God, in the family of Jesus, as part of the Body of Christ.
Luther referred to such ‘credits’ as ‘works of the law’. In other words, the notion that I did all the rules, followed all the guidelines and put the whole Lego set of faith together myself. I did it!
Paul challenges that if you can get everything together by yourself so wonderfully, then you have placed your trust in yourself, not in the one who created all the Lego’s. Trusting the creator would be empty of any meaning, because you have done it by yourself.
I really enjoy sitting with grandkids to put Lego projects together. Lego’s are great models – for some things. But not for faith.
If we think that our relationship with God is based on how many models we have put together, then ‘faith is null and the promise void’.
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life. Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
WORD OF THE WEEK from Romans 4
The promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath;
15God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her."
16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations")—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become "the father of many nations," according to what was said, "So numerous shall your descendants be." 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22Therefore his faith "was reckoned to him as righteousness." 23Now the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
How is your memory?
One of my college roommates used to say “I have a great memory; but it’s short”. Well, then . . . . .
How do we remember? Not what do we remember but how?
In our faith formation, remembering is more than re-calling and being able to cite chapter and verse of that story where Jesus . . . . . .
In our communion liturgy we proclaim the words of Jesus: do this to remember me. Remembering involves doing.
As God’s grace and love forms us around the Table, we are doing something to re-member Jesus, to again become the members of his body, gathered around the heart of our faith: God love the world so much that God breaks (heart, Jesus, bread) to heal the world.
At the end of the gospel appointed for this Sunday, the disciples remember/recall something Jesus had said earlier. All of Jesus’ disciples are asked to remember his life and teachings not only in their minds and memories but also in their lives and by their behavior.
God calls us to member again the broken and life-giving Body of Christ for the sake of the world.
Holy God, through your Son you have called us to live faithfully and act courageously. Keep us steadfast in your covenant of grace, and teach us the wisdom that comes only through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
SERMON: “Remember what who comes first”
WORD OF THE WEEK from Exodus 20
3 you shall have no other gods before me.
17You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.