June 25, 2017
It is true that sometime in our lives we will make mistakes. We are human. We are not perfect. Granted, it does take some people longer to realize that.
As children, we learn by making mistakes. How about the child that spills milk on the floor? Many of you as parents I am sure have experienced this. Of course, everyone has heard the familiar phrase, “Don’t cry over spilled milk!” Honestly, these things happen and we try to reassure our children that everything is going to be ok. While assuring the child that it is easily cleaned up, you can point out the bright side to this, as the floor is cleaned and looking better than it did before. The child’s response may then be, “Since the floor looks so great now, maybe I should spill on the floor more often!”
Um, no, I don’t think so! Just because God in Christ Jesus has the power to make things right is not an invitation to do wrong. And this is where we find ourselves this morning in Paul’s letter to the Romans. “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means!” Last week we encountered grace through Paul’s letter to the Romans. A grace that is freely given by God, on no merit of our own.
Here it is easy for us to slip into a mode of thinking, that Dietrich Bonhoeffer refers to as cheap grace. While nothing is required of us, we must be willing to accept this grace. And as Paul says, “How can we who died to sin go on living in it?” We encounter death in the waters of the baptismal font. Not only Jesus’ death as he was crucified in order to bring us new life, but we also encounter our own deaths as we die to sin.
We are surrounded by sin on a daily basis, and while we confess at the beginning of service, we will quickly go out and sin once again when we leave church today. It is the grace of God that washes over us in our baptism and die to new life. This past week at camp, our campers were able to talk and share their stories of grace. Grace that abounds in the love and forgiveness of Christ.
The story of the women caught in adultery taught the campers the importance of not judging one another. While we all may have sin in our lives and continue to sin, we are no better than anyone else. Through Christ we learn to love. Through Christ we are forgiven even before we repent. In God’s grace, we experience love and forgiveness. Therefore, we should reach out with love and compassion to all of our sisters and brothers.
Sometimes, we need to disconnect to realize where God is in our lives. The campers learned that this week as the teaching of Jesus continued with the story of the prodigal son. We may think we know what is best and still make the wrong decision. In this we learn to return to God and repent for what we have done. The campers were able to listen and experience the prodigal story differently during the faith walk when it was two daughters and a mother. They learned of forgiveness and God’s unending love. We are able to rejoice, because even in death we are given new live in Jesus Christ.
In the midst of all of this, we learn that God speaks to us in ways that we may not have been expecting. We must be silent, listening for just that whisper of God. In Elijah’s case, it was a rush of wind that swept by the cave when he was in hiding from Queen Jezebel. Elijah was given rest and renewal under the broom tree and met God on Mt. Horeb. God comes to us in unexpected ways. The grace of God is not experienced in one specific way. God is all around us and we must be open to it.
Just like the two individuals walking along the road to Emmaus. We are surprised by things that we are not expecting. When we think that everything is over and wonder how to move on, we are surprised. Jesus surprises us. Through a conversation along the road with Christ, an understanding and peace is brought to those that are left numb. We are brought together in Christ and reconnected with God who we think has left us. Today we are brought together with Christ, in the Word and sacraments of baptism and communion.
In all of these stories, we are brought together as people of God. In them, they bring us to the words of Paul’s letter this morning. Reminded that we have died with Christ in the waters of baptism and are brought to new life that is abundant.
We are a people that are no longer dead. We are brought to new life just as Christ was brought to new life through his resurrection. We find life all around us. Life that is full of grace if we just stop to listen. Life that is in community if we welcome everyone with open arms. Life in forgiveness as we accept others as they are. Life that flows through every bit of creation. A creation that groans under the weight of our sinfulness, yet is redeemed through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.