Sermons

Summary: Watch for signs that our friends and relatives are bored or in crisis or somehow dissatisfied with trying the world’s failed ways to joy through pleasure and honor and vanity.

Monday of the 5th Week in Course 2021

There are several creation stories in the collection of sacred books we call the Bible. Today we heard the first from Genesis. But shortly after this story, the moral depravity of the culture got so bad that God decided to start over with Noah and his family--a kind of recreation. Then, generations later, God used Moses to lead the Israelites through the sea, creating His new people. When after many hundreds of years that people suffered the penalty of sin through Babylonian exile, God in a sense recreated them by bringing them back to the Holy Land. But each time the people who came out of each recreation were the same old human beings, born in original sin, unable to attain their real destiny, union with the divine. Each generation fell into sin, which was the tohu wabohu or wind and waste that was the form of the earth before God’s power made it full of light and plants and animals and humans.

But the last creation was the greatest. Jesus was born and grew and lived and died and rose again so that each of us could be baptized into Him through His Church, could grow to be like Him, and united with Him like Mary and all the saints forever. We are a new creation because of Christ’s sacrifice of love.

After each of these four days of the first creation, God evaluates His work. His assessment, of course, is true. Nobody can improve on it. And He pronounces each work of making or separating to be good. God is good all the time, and everything He gives us participates in that divine goodness, even though not divine. And when we hear later that He created plants and animals and humans, not only does He call them “good,” He calls the whole of creation “very good.” Nobody can improve on it.

But then enter the serpent, the symbol of rebellion and hatred and evil whom we call “Adversary” or “Satan.” And he stirred up pride and jealousy and rebellion in the humans whom God had loved into existence. What God created was and is good; He does not make junk. What our parents passed down to us is that tendency to rebel and to act out of selfish interest, to sin. That’s why we need redemption. That’s why the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, became human, living and dying a horrible death, but rising to new life so that we could have that divine life we were destined to live in the beginning.

All this is available without charge. God’s grace was won by an awesome price–the death of His only-begotten Son. But it is given to us without cost to us. That, however, becomes a challenge for all of Christ’s disciples. Hear in the Gospel what the people of Jesus’s day did when He landed from a journey on the Sea of Galilee: “immediately the people recognized him, and ran about the whole neighborhood and began to bring sick people on their pallets to any place where they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or country, they laid the sick in the market places, and besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.”

There are an almost countless number of sick people in our nation, and I don’t mean only from the Corona virus plague. The first sickness is illness of spirit and soul. They are trapped in unbelief, and there’s no way out just by being immersed in our American culture. That culture just makes things worse, because it propagandizes for the wrong things. Our media wants us to believe that we can be satisfied with what the Romans called “bread and circuses.” They want us to buy the latest good-looking stuff and try to attain joy from sensual pleasure. It’s a trap, and we all know that. So the challenge is to attract those who have become addicted to pleasure and good-looking stuff to hear the word of God and repent, turn to Christ and be healed.

That’s a daily task for each of us. We watch for signs that our friends and relatives are bored or in crisis or somehow dissatisfied with trying the world’s failed ways to joy through pleasure and honor and vanity. We must ask leading questions to find out what they need, and then share our own stories of salvation with them so that they come to Jesus through our ministry. That is the way we can image Jesus Christ in our day and time, as the first apostles did in theirs.

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