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Krazy Glued With God

Preached at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (as part of my MAPTP internship) on Sunday, July 24, 2011.
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12, Year A (RCL): Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11, 45b; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52


Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise, and ever enjoy its consolations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


     How many of you remember a commercial with a man suspended in midair by his yellow construction helmet that was held in place by just one drop of Instant Krazy Glue? That advertising campaign was so successful that, to this day, you’ll find a picture of that construction worker on every package of Instant Krazy Glue. “Extra thick, easy to use, and instantly bonds a plastic knob, a rubber boot, model planes and model trains, a doorknob screw, the broken trim on any car.” It’s amazing stuff, that Krazy Glue, but it does have its limitations.

     Not so with our God! In our text today from Romans, St. Paul describes the unbreakable bond we have with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For the past several weeks, our Epistle readings from Chapter 8 of Romans have Paul reminding us that as we live here on earth, we have the certain hope of heaven. While struggling to remain faithful, we have the Spirit who helps us in our weakness. While dealing with the difficulties of life, we have the promise that God is working all things for our good. Today, Paul brings out the logical conclusion of all of this by saying, “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” 

     The state of our country has many people thinking. There’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The state of the economy. The price of gas. The price of food. The housing market. There’s a lot that people are worried about and the question is who or what will best deal with all these concerns? Do you worry much? God tells us that we shouldn’t worry, but regretfully and sinfully, we do. We worry about job security, health, wealth, family, friends, looks, and appearances. We worry about tomorrow even though Jesus once said, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34) In this text, Paul reminds us that we are children of God and that that will never change. So, what are you worried about? No matter what the world might throw your way, nothing will separate you from the love of God!

     “Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Troubles - Everyone has them, both young and old alike. The aches, the pains, the stress of everyday life. Hardships. The Greek word literally means “narrowness of room.” Those times when life seems to close in around us to the point where we find it difficult to breath. Illness, disease, surgery, family and financial problems, and so many other things in life over which we have little to no control. Persecution. The times we’ve been laughed at because we still go to church or have “old-fashioned” values. Paul tells us that none of these things will be able to separate us from God. What about famine or nakedness? What if it came to the point where we couldn’t afford to put food on our tables or clothes on our bodies? What about peril and the sword? What if it came to the point where our very lives were being demanded of us? We hope that none of those things will ever happen, but if they do, there too God has us covered. Because we know that in death, God delivers his children from this world of sorrow to Himself in heaven. A Lutheran hymn writer named Aemilie Julaine once wrote, “Who knows when death may overtake me! Time passes on; my end draws near. How swiftly can my breath forsake me! How soon can life’s last hour appear. My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray Your peace may bless my dying day.”  In life and in death we have the peace of God which surpasses all understanding which is why Paul writes, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

     Now back to that Krazy Glue. One thing you need to do before you glue something together is to make sure both surfaces are clean. If you don’t, the glue won’t adhere properly and the bond will easily break. God’s Word tells us that in order for a person to bond to God here on earth and for all eternity they need to be a perfectly clean surface. No dirt or particles of sin whatsoever. Can you claim that for yourself? I certainly can’t. God tells us not to worry, but we do. God tells us “for I am the Lord your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44a) or “Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48), but we’re not. Not even close! Trying to be a perfectly clean surface and hoping to bond to God on our own isn’t going to happen. We needed a clean surface to serve as our substitute and in Jesus Christ, that’s exactly what we have. The only perfectly clean surface who has ever lived and walked the face of the earth. When it came time for him to die, he willingly walked The Way to the cross. On it he was suspended for your sins, for my sins, and for the sins of the whole world. He wasn’t held there by extra strength adhesive, rather it was extra strength love for you and me. No yellow construction helmet on his head, but rather a crown of thorns. It wasn’t glue that held him there, rather it was nails through his hands and feet and a spear that pierced his side as “he was wounded for our transgressions; crushed for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:5a) Paul tells us in our text, “for your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” Fitting words that echo the words of the prophet Isaiah who tells us, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

     Through Christ’s death and resurrection, our sins have been forgiven and eternal life in heaven is ours. Working through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Spirit washes us and makes us a clean surface. He bonds us to God, not with glue, but with the holy, precious blood of Christ. This bond is permanent and it’s unbreakable. No matter how much weight the world might pile on your shoulders, nothing can break the bond you have with God. Our God is able to keep things together in our lives even when everything else seems to be falling apart. May God’s continued faithfulness to you encourage you to remain faithful to Him all the more, because when you think about it, the only thing that could ever break that bond is you or me or us. Perhaps that is why the writer to the Hebrews tells us, “ ... Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

     “Connectedness” was the theme and focus of the recent youth mission trip to Puerto Rico. I heard some of their individual and collective sharings about morning devotions and evening worship. One of the kids suggested that if we see worship as something we do for God, it becomes yet another task on our To-Do list. But if we see worship as something God does for us, which it is as God blesses us through Word and Sacrament, it becomes something that we’ll never want to miss. Jesus himself tells us, “Yes, I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Through their devoted work and regular worship, that small community in action found how they are connected to God, and how God connects them, one to another. By the grace of God, we have been connected to the vine of our Savior Jesus Christ who was connected to the cross for our salvation. Nothing the world can throw at us will ever be able to separate us from that vine. The God who chose you from eternity, and calls you to faith, will continue to keep you steadfast in that faith until you reach eternal glory. Remaining steadfast in the faith can only happen through constant and repeated use of Word and Sacrament where the Spirit who helps us in our weakness keeps us strong in faith.

     When Christians suffer, they often wonder if God has left them, but God has not. I’ve heard the question, “If you feel apart from God, who moved?” God never promises to remove all difficulties from our path. In fact, we might expect them. Paul even suggested that we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. But at the same time, God’s Word enables us to put them in perspective. Jesus enables me to say that when things are going well, God must really love me. Christ also allows me to say when things aren’t going so well, God must really love me. I am convinced God has a plan for us that will serve to strengthen us and draw us closer to God all the more as Paul tells us in our text, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

     Amen.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jul. 25th, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
Once again your sermon on your web site is outstanding. Your references were accurate and to the point to back up the points you were trying to share with the congregation. I think you have realized that for some in attendance, your sermon may be the only opportunity you have for sharing "Christian education. Keep up the good work answering God's call to you. Love, Dad
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