Sermon delivered on June 10, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
Sermon delivered on June 3, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
Sermon given in Edgerton, MN on Sunday, May 27 at First Reformed Church.
Sermon given on May 20, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
Sermon delivered on May 13, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10
Often young children have a project in their early years of schooling that can be challenging for them. The idea of this project is for them to understand the natural process of a plant growing. The children receive a Styrofoam cup, a small amount of potting soil, and a bean seed. The three items are brought together easily but the difficulty comes with the young child's impatience. They often cannot understand why it is taking so long for the seed to sprout. No amount of wishing on the part of the child is going to cause that bean to grow any faster. Of course, the lesson that is intended to be learned is about how a plant grows and how to water and care for it. Perhaps the more important lesson that is learned in this project is patience.
Children check the cup regularly and they wonder why the bean hasn't come up. It can become an obsession. They wonder if it has been watered enough or whether there is enough sunlight where the cup is sitting. Through it all, they are forced to trust the process by which God has ordained for this small seed to grow into a plant. It can be slow but there is no magic way to make this seed grow faster.
When I was in the sixth grade my science experiment project involved growing some plants. I gave five different plants different liquids each day. I can't remember what the liquids all were. I do remember there was a control plant with water and two of the other plants got to drink Coke and milk each day. The water plant was the winner but the differences between the plants were negligible. What they needed to grow was time, liquid, and light. There was no magic liquid or method to turn that plant into Jack's beanstalk overnight. The caffeine in the Coke didn't jolt the plant to grow taller and thicker than the others. The plants grew like plants are supposed to grow.
In my experience so often we forget this lesson of patience when we look at growing spiritual fruit. We want to grow into better Christians overnight with a certain study or a weekend at a retreat or conference. In the end, while we may have benefited from these things the growth usually isn't as significant as we had hoped.
Just as we have to trust in the means that God ordains for the bean to grow in the cup, we must trust in the means that God has ordained for our spiritual growth. God has given us the Word and the sacraments for our benefit. He will be good to the promise for us to grow through them by the power of the Holy Spirit. God is working in you and just as he promised, you are being conformed to the image of his Son. It isn't going to happen overnight but that is also for your benefit. Things that grow quickly are not strong, do not last, and usually have very shallow roots. A faith that grows over time and is rooted in God's Word will last and have roots that are deep. Continue to hear the Word proclaimed to you. Continue to receive God's good gift in the Lord's Supper. Continue to fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. God is working in you. You are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. This is God's promise to you. You can trust it.
Sermon delivered on April 29, 2018 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.
Sermon delivered on April 22, 2018 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. - 1 Peter 1:3-5
Easter has quickly come and gone. For me, it seems to have sped by in a blur. The weather that we have had has given us very few signs that spring is on the way. Regardless of how it felt or the moods that the cool weather has inflicted on us, Easter came. We celebrated and rejoiced because of the good news of Christ's resurrection! It is so important that we don't let this day go by as just any other holiday because it is so much more. As Christians, we are a resurrection people. This day that was the most pivotal moment in human history is what shapes us and makes us who we are in Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, I don't think we are wired to dwell on something like Easter. We have big events and then we move on and prepare for the next big event. I don't know if this is because we live in such a busy and mobile society. Perhaps this has always been the way holidays were approached. I was listening to the podcast of a Reformed apologist recently. He was speaking about the celebration of Passover. He made a comment about Americans not understanding the idea of a multi-day celebration. This caused me to pause and think about how true this was. In my early twenties when I was a manager at Toys R Us I was always surprised at how quickly holiday moods changed. On Christmas Eve we couldn't go home until we had set up the queue lines that would corral the hordes of people making returns in a mere 36 hours. The first year I was a part of this I was surprised by the instantaneous change of mood. The canned music coming through the intercom system was still telling me it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. It was also campaigning for chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Nothing had changed except the attitudes of people. It was more than the returns and everything related to Christmas now on discount. It more than employees getting ready for inventory in a mere two weeks. The attitudes of both customers and employees had gone through a dramatic change.
It was the same way with any holiday. The day after Easter the candy put on clearance and we were setting up to feature the next big thing. After Halloween, the costumes were marked down and Christmas became the focus. We are so busy marketing the next big thing that we have become wired to move on and never really enjoy where we are. My guess is that most of us can relate to this. We are so busy that we have to move on to the next thing immediately or we will be left behind. We seem to never take the time to soak in what we are celebrating.
As Christians, we cannot do that with Resurrection Sunday. What we celebrate each year is the story of Christ's death and resurrection for us. This is what gives us hope. We cannot move on from it because it is the gospel. It is the event that shows us that Jesus is so much more than a good teacher. Thousands upon thousands were crucified at the hands of the Romans. Only one conquered death, hell, and the devil by rising from the dead. This not just the story of Jesus, it is also our story because without the resurrection we have no hope. Jesus would just be another itinerant preacher who had roamed the remote parts of Palestine. His death would have been nothing more than an unjust execution of an innocent man. It is because of the resurrection that we have a living hope. The death of Jesus has meaning because he was victorious over it. That is why we can never move past Easter.
Each week when we gather for Lord's Day worship we are remembering this story. Our gathering with our fellow believers is a reminder that because our Lord rose on the first day of the week, we will gather and remember what he has done for us. This is so important because we will naturally rush on to the next thing after Easter. Our lives are busy and there are things we have to do. By gathering each Lord's Day and remembering his resurrection we are thrust back into the story. We are reminded of this good news of the salvation that we have in Christ. God has shown us mercy. We have been born again. It is our living hope. Kept for you by the very power of God.
Sermon delivered on April 8, 2018 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.