July 23, 2017 Text: Romans 8:19
Dear Friends in Christ,
A nation. A family. An individual. Each punctuates its life with anniversaries. They point to the past and define the present. When did you last observe an anniversary? Last year I had two milestones my 25th year in the ministry and our 25th wedding anniversary. I look back and find it hard to believe that I have been a called and ordained servant of the Lord for that long. Toni looks back at our anniversary and probably thinks, “How have I lived with this guy for 25 years!” These are happy moment in our life.
Anniversaries can also be sad. This past week on Monday my mom would have been 75. You have your own dates of loved ones birthdays or dates of death that you remember when the dates come and go.
This is an anniversary year in the Lutheran Church. The Reformation – 500 years ago. What do such moments mean? Are these moment’s in the church’s life no different than other anniversaries? Are they simply the church’s equivalent of 1776 or a 25th wedding anniversary? St. Paul, speaking as an apostle of Christ, calls us to a very different type of observance.
“WHAT’S IN AN ANNIVERSARY?”
Our text for this morning. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” There is a different dimension to the church’s observance of the Reformation. More than just a remembrance or an observance it is a confession. A confession of Christ. Christ’s resurrection has changed everything. For those who are in Christ, there is a new calendar and a new creation.
This confession began in our baptism. “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we to may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4) When the church marks its moments, it confesses that every moment is now lived out in the light of Christ’s resurrection.
We still live though with the oppression of death. Luther knew about it. We know about it first-hand, up close and personal. Death touches each of us. It arches over all the structures of this world. The years teach us that creation is caught. Ultimately death devours every emperor and nation and family. Pride and self-indulgence is no match for its power. Our culture’s technological glitz and entertainment lifestyle can disguise the reality of death.
One of the most sophisticated of planned communities in Southern California, Irvine, has bicycle paths, golf courses, and swimming pools beautifully placed amidst the homes. But nowhere, nowhere, in this state of the art, planned city is there a cemetery. But, you and I know, the disguise doesn’t work. It too needs a cemetery.
The years, and months, and days envelope every project, even the planned community. Time can be managed. It can be spent wisely or foolishly. But, all too soon, it is gone.
Into this trapped world, however, comes another way to measure time. “In the year of our Lord.” A church anniversary is an affirmation that Christ has defeated death. And, now every year, and month, and day is a confession of His holy name and life.
United to Him in baptism, guided by His living voice in the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures, and nourished by His very body and blood in the Lord’s Supper, we confess His presence as the living Lord. As Luther wrote in a hymn, “Sin, death, hell are now undone.” This is why St. Paul can write, “The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”
Nations will come and go. Corporations and tycoons will fade. But the church, the body of Christ, will live life and “live it to the full” (John 10:10) because “Sin, death, hell are now undone.”
Join this confession. Join her Pastors who at the font, before the altar, from the pulpit, by the bedside, on the street, in the classroom, beside the casket make this confession with their lips by God’s grace: “In Christ, sin, death, and hell are now undone.”
“With angels, and archangels, and all the company of heaven,” that is our confession. With creation we wait with eager longing for the sons of God to be revealed. We seek to bring this confession to the world. As we work and wait for His coming, confess Him in your observance of this Reformation anniversary. Confess Him in your prayer and your homes and your daily walk with Thee. Such a confession will not fade. Such an anniversary will not pass. Rather, this confession will continue until each child of God beholds the face of Christ.
Lastly, pray for your brothers and sisters around the world who make this confession in fear and silence. In the end as our Gospel lesson from Matthew 13 reminds us, all will be revealed, and God’s children will receive their reward.
May the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – grant such a life and confession of Christ our Savior.