Sermon delivered on December 9, 2018 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.
Sermon from Lord's Day Worship at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN on December 2, 2018.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:8
As I contemplate what to write in this space, I often consult the calendar. It only makes sense to match my thoughts up with those who read this. What better way is there to establish commonality with an unknown group of people than to look at the season of the year? During this season it is easy to see what that commonality is. Holiday shopping commercials are what I see as I skip them in my DVR software. There is also an increasing number of trees draped in sparkling lights.
My instincts had my mind soaring to writing a lament of consumerism. We all bemoan the loss of a traditional understanding of Christmas. As some of you may know, I was a manager at Toys R Us for several years. I sometimes reminisce on holiday-related incidents observed during my time there. Working 14 hours days, six days a week gives you time to witness these things. This year I was incapable of conjuring up any of these memories. Instead, my mind realized no one will shop at Toys R Us this Christmas. After years of restructuring and trying new business plans, the company folded.
This brought me to thoughts of the changes I have seen in my 43 laps around the sun. Many businesses once known as solid investments and stalwarts of commerce have died. Who would have imagined driving down a mile of road in a city and seeing four Starbucks and seven Verizon stores but not one Kmart or Sears? Someday that which is new and fresh will be stale and perhaps even bankrupt. People will look back on these now thriving businesses with nostalgia.
For me, nothing brings this idea of change about more than the holiday season. Long gone are the crazes of Tickle Me Elmo, Furby, and Virtual Pets. At Christmas, we notice the changes in our families. The pictures we take in front of the Christmas tree differ from last year. Family dynamics change as we celebrate new life or we mourn the loss of a loved one. Change presents itself when children give us their Christmas lists. The presents requested change from dolls and action figures to technological items. Things they understand but we may not.
As we dwell on these things they draw us back to the one thing that remains the same. That is the true story of God the Son taking on human flesh to dwell among us. His mission was to live a perfect life for us and to bear the wrath of God for our sin. Trends come and go. Businesses flourish and declare bankruptcy. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
We have a natural tendency to follow the next big thing. To chase after change and fads. What we see as we look into God's Word is that he does not change. The Triune God has acted in history. The message of that redemption we have in Jesus Christ does not change with time. God's grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone is what saves us. This is good news for us because our chasing after trends does not end well. Dig into the depths of landfills and you will find plenty of Tickle Me Elmo dolls decomposing. Check the basement of a tech nerd like myself. What you will find there are computer components of years past going unused. Next to those plastic storage boxes are more boxes with old video game systems that are no longer played. Even the trendy fashions from your Christmas boxes in years past were out of style before the clothes wore out.
Jesus does not change and neither does his gospel. That message of the incarnation of God the Son does not get old and it does not wear out. Strengthened by Word and Spirit may we be faithful to proclaim that good news of God's saving work in Jesus Christ that does not change.
Sermon given Thanksgiving Day 2018 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.
Sermon delivered on November 11, 2018 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.
November 4, 2018 sermon from Lord's Day Worship at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.
Sermon recorded on October 28, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
Sermon from Lord's Day worship on October 21, 2018 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him? - Psalm 8:3-4
For several years of my life, I lived in areas that had quite a bit of light pollution. While there I always cherished the times where I would be at camp with students. It was then that I had the opportunity to spend five days where I had a much clearer view at the stars. Recently, while returning from a meeting in the Twin Cities area, I realized that there was not a cloud in the sky. With nothing to impede my view I found a spot on the side of a rural road away from any town or farm lights. At the end of a busy day, I took five minutes to take in the glory of God's creation.
I may have earned an astronomy merit badge when I was in the Boy Scouts but the knowledge has escaped me. Instead of trying to find constellations, I took in the vastness of creation. I returned to the driver's seat of my automobile and opened the sunroof. While driving down the road I would sneak a peek at the stars and the words of Psalm 8:3-4 echoed through my mind. Considering the stars and all the heavens I couldn't help but wonder "What is man that God is mindful of him?"
As we look up at the starry night there are stars beyond the stars and even stars beyond that. In a universe so expansive why in the world would the God who spoke it into being have any interest in me? Is it any wonder so many people see God as distant and detached? It should not surprise us that many people think that if God is out there, he really isn't all that concerned about us.
As we consider all of this we have a sure and certain way that we know that God does, in fact, care for us. The second person of the Godhead took on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ to redeem humanity from the curse. We can know that God is mindful of humanity because Jesus suffered and died for his people. We can also know that God cares for us because the Holy Spirit comes to us and through the proclamation of the Word, brings us to faith.
The size and scope of the universe can make us feel small and insignificant. For those of in Christ it should do the exact opposite. We should be humbled that God thought so much of us that he brings all things together for our salvation. A God who is powerful and creates all things loves us so much that he came near to us to save us. With all that expansive space God chose to come near to you and save you. When we consider the heavens we can be reminded of the grace and mercy of God shown to us in Christ and know that he is mindful of us.