Sunday, February 18, 2018

Text: John 11:1-45

The story of Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead is so familiar, and it has many implications for ministry today. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. During difficult times we come to him for hope and healing, that we too might rise from the dead.


Pastor David

Ash Wednesday's Sermon: … "

Tonight, the image of someone climbing into the sheepfold is a vivid image for all of the wrong reasons. It is because all of us have been violated by the violence of another shooting. I doubt there is anyone in this sanctuary tonight that has not shed tears about this violence.

Tonight, Jesus also provides us with words for a way forward if we would just have the foresight and strength to pay careful attention to them. Jesus says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

And there it is, the adversary to Jesus' way of peace, to Jesus' way of non-violence, to Jesus' way of safety for our children, to Jesus' way of safety for all our citizens: it is called "the thief." "The thief" is whatever steals away human lives. "The thief" is whoever and whatever works against Jesus way of abundant life. "The thief" comes only to steal and kill and destroy. We hear of "the thief" on our radios and see it across our screen.

Beloved people of God, we have a thief is a problem in our country. We have an epidemic of human-created weapons-enhanced violence that we need to faithfully confront, and it needs to happen now, with you, the faithful people of God taking the lead. We need to be honest and acknowledge all of the parts of this problem, understanding that Jesus wants all the children of this world to have abundant life. Simply put, confronting "the thief" who steals away Jesus' abundant life is an act of faith.

I am convinced that the abundant life that Jesus gives also provides the abundant creativity for you and I to discover a faithful path forward. I have no doubt that if you are a person of faith and you have Republican view; or, if you are a person of faith and you have or Democratic views; or, if you are a person of faith and you have Independent views, that your prayerful and faithful energy on this issue will make a dramatic difference in the life of all.

So, tonight I'm encouraging you to do this. First, pray for each life lost. Learn their names. Know their story. View them with the eyes of the Good Shepherd. Pray for their families, their loved ones, their friends, their co-workers. Pray for the community of Parkland, Florida. Then pray to see clearly the way of Christ, the way of the Good Shepherd, the Gate of the Sheepfold, the One sent by God to bring life in all its abundance. Read Scripture, open your Bible, be connected with the Living Word, and consider how Jesus, your Savior, my Savior, the Savior of the Cosmos reacts to violence. 

Then you will be ready to pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance for a way forward. Pray for your elected representatives, ask the Lord that they would take the same road of careful prayer and study that you have taken. Pray for their creativity. Pray for their wisdom. Pray for their faithfulness to the giver of abundant life. And then get involved yourself. 

If you've never written a heartfelt letter to one of your elected officials, now is the time. Have you called your Senator and left a polite message? If not, now is the time. Pray earnestly for our children, that each and every one of them be kept safe from violence of any kind. In fact, be so bold to pray that never again would any citizen be the killed in a mass shooting. Pray that we as Americans would not be numb but would be filled with the ideas and ways to end this horrible cycle of violence we have become too complacent about. 

Beloved people of God. Make a difference. Be involved. Its God's Work. Our Hands.

© Christ Lutheran Church - Sedona, 2013