Summary: Third Sermon in the 2009 Lenten Series, ‘The Body of Christ.’

(Slide 1: Who will forget the baker’s strike? They wanted more dough!) I love a good pun, the kind that makes you moan and wish that you had said it (and thought of it) first. I have a book of puns entitled The Complete Book of Puns by Art Moger.

I am not allowed to take this book on vacation. I have placed it in my office library so that I can keep it away from people who want to destroy a representative copy of the fine art of demolishing the English language.

Art put an interesting quote about puns toward the beginning of the book from the pen of Max Eastman. (Slide 2) A pun is a practical joke played upon the mind, not by means of a deceptive meaning but by means of a flaw in the vehicle of meaning.’

I love to torture the English language by exploiting that flaw.

Here are some wonderful puns regarding church from various sources:

(Slide 3) Organ Donor – any person who contributes a large amount to the purchase of a new church organ

(Slide 3a) Hymns – the opposite of ‘hers’

(Slide 3b) Pious – having made too many trips to the dessert table at the potluck

(Slide 3c) Church register – the vent cover over the church furnace

I hope that no one has felt PUNished so far this morning. It certainly has not been my intent to PUNish you.

Words, as we all know, have the power to move us. Some words make us angry. Some words make us sad.

Some words move us to action. Some words cause us to stop what we are doing.

‘Words’ said the late Rudyard Kipling in 1923, ‘are the most powerful drug used by mankind.’ In James chapter 3, we are reminded of the power of speech to do both great harm as well as great helping.

(Slide 4) As we continue our journey toward Jerusalem this Lenten season, we stop this morning to consider ‘The Mouth of Christ.’

(Slide 5) Our main text for this morning is Romans 10:9 and 10 ‘For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.’

In our Lenten reading of a few moments ago, we heard several statements Jesus make throughout His ministry. All of them were (and are) important statements.

(Slide 6) Some of them were words of hope. ‘I am the resurrection and the life; those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall not die forever.’

(Slide 7) Some of them were words of healing. ‘He said to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven, rise and walk.’

(Slide eight) And some were words of forgiveness. ‘He said to a woman who was a sinner, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’

Jesus’ words reflected power, intention and purposefulness. We never hear something frivolous and fluffy coming out of Jesus’ mouth. When He spoke, He spoke to make a point, see a change take place, or accomplish His mission.

Yet Jesus, as we know, did not remain on this earth proclaiming the good news of forgiveness and release from the bondage of guilt and shame. That, as we read in the post-resurrection accounts of the gospels and the opening chapter of the book of Acts, was an assignment, a commission, passed to us.

And this assignment involves using ‘words’ some very powerful words. We get a glimpse of these words in a couple of places that, on the one hand that has been the subject of much discussion and argument, and on the other hand, we may not fully understand the implications of.

(Slide 9) The first verse is Matthew 16:19 which says, ‘And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.’

This verse comes at the end of Peter’s proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah and in response to this proclamation Jesus makes this powerful assertion that ‘whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.’

Much discussion and debate has come over of the meaning of these words throughout the centuries. Some have argued that the keys to the kingdom and the authority to lock and unlock refer to the issues of church authority and administration while others have said that the authority to lock and unlock was the forgiveness of sins.

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