Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lent 5 Midweek

Sermon on Romans 6:6
For Lamb of God Lutheran Church, Pleasant Prairie, WI
April 13, 2011 (Lent Midweek 5)

Everyone must die. That’s the reality of life in a world cursed by sin. It happens to all of us, sooner or later. As Paul points out further on in this same chapter of Romans, the wages of sin is death. It’s what happens to everyone descended from Adam and Eve. We all bear its symptoms. Some of us wear glasses. We all get the common cold every so often. We are subject to cancer and other serious illnesses. Our bodies are less and less able to handle exercise and injury as we age. Limbs or even vital organs may even need to be amputated or replaced with artificial substitutes. Hair turns gray and eventually falls out. In a sense, we are all the walking dead, because all the sickness and aging we see and feel in ourselves and around us remind us that death claims everyone descended from Adam and Eve.
But death isn’t natural. It isn’t the way we were originally made. There are those who would tell you otherwise, that death is simply part of the natural cycle of life, and that we must accept it as such. And we can see why they say that, since all living things die sooner or later. This is simply wrong. We were not made to die. We were made to live. Death is only part of this world because sin is. We know this instinctively, which is why we mourn even when someone has lived a long, full life by earthly standards. We all die far sooner than we ought, even those who live past 100, even if we were to live longer than Methuselah’s 900-odd years. Death is still wrong and disruptive to how we were made.
Now, for those who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, Paul points out that there is another sense, a completely different sense, in which it can be said that we have already died. You see, the washing of Holy Baptism unites us with the One who died sinlessly. It washes us in the blood and water that flowed from His side. God Himself entered our worldwide tomb and died a death He did not deserve. And so now the washing He instituted gives us a special kind of death. There is an old spiritual that asks “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” I personally am not very fond of that song, because it never answers the question but instead focuses on the songwriter’s emotional reaction to the event. But the question that song asks is a good one. And it has an answer. That answer is yes. You were there. Not just standing by, but you were there with Him on the cross. You died in, with, and under our Lord when you were baptized. You won’t experience that death with your senses until you physically die to this old world, but since your death is, was, and will be the death Christ died, your death is now transformed into resurrection. All men since Adam have been the walking dead, but all who are in Christ are the walking resurrected. You can’t see your new, resurrected self, but he is there, dwelling in you as well as at the same time dwelling in heaven before God’s face eternally.
Death is still part of this old world. This old world itself will die sooner or later. But in the One who died and shed His blood for you, we have no more sickness or death. We have life with Him forever. His death is our life. The Roman sword piercing His pericardium is the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit. You were there when they crucified my Lord. Amen. + Soli Deo Gloria +

3 comments:

  1. Timothy,

    I'm wondering what the sub-title of your blog is communicating. I don't know if you get my email address with this comment - but feel free to share your story via email if you do.

    Kevin Buchs, (Concordia, St. Louis 1997)

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  2. I posted your comment even though it sounds like it was intended as more of a private question, because (a) I couldn't find your e-mail address, and (b) it's a fair question that other more recent readers of my blog might be interested in too.

    Basically I was the pastor of a very conflicted dual-parish in Kansas up until early 1996, when I decided that resigning was in my best interest and that of the congregation. I then spent six months helping Todd Peperkorn during his disability for depression. Since that time my main source of income has been from secular jobs.

    However, I do hold a very part-time, and largely unpaid, call to Lamb of God in Pleasant Prairie, WI, which keeps me off of CRM status. I'm also serving as the vacancy pastor at a very small congregation in Racine who unfortunately cannot afford to pay a full-time pastor.

    There are some further details of the twists and turns of my pastoral career over the last five years in the archives of this blog as well.

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  3. Up until early 2006. In 1996 I was in my 4th and then STM years at Fort Wayne.

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