Title: Created, Redeemed and Called!
Text: Eph. 2:1-10
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
Dorothy L.; longtime resident of Milford; passed away peacefully on January 7, 2016. She was 94 years old.
Gary E.; age 61; of Asheville, NC, formerly of Waterford Township, MI; passed away after a long illness, Friday, January 8, 2016. In Michigan, Gary was a 1972 graduate of Waterford Mott High School and a former employee of the Chatham Supermarkets and Pontiac Motors.
David H.; age 64 was the founder and CEO of MCM Management Company Industrial Services, who peacefully passed away at home January 9, 2016. He was a beloved husband and dear father and is also survived by his dogs, Muffin and Mazie.
January 10 2016 - David Bowie age 69 died peacefully surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.
This is just a small sample of life and death from last weekend. Some were known more than others for sure, but all certainly were impactful in the lives of their loved ones and friends.
Death can cause us all to reflect for a moment …
The loss of a loved one brings life into focus. What they did, and how they did it, or maybe it’s what they didn’t do, or should have done that is remembered. Certainly for these people who lived anywhere from 61 to 94 years there is a time and a history to be remembered and looked at. For David Bowie – the famous one in this group - his life has impacted more people because of his public life and work, though for me it was not a music and life that I followed or paid much attention to. Still I was aware of him and had interest in what he was involved with.
But the reality of all of these lives has also a common thread.
2 And you … were dead in the trespasses and sins
Sin brings death and all who die are born in sin – not just covered in sin but being sinful throughout - though we would find it hard through our own sinful eyes to see the sin in a beautiful newborn child. But rest assured sinful they are and we also know that babies die, both in the womb and outside the womb, so life from conception to physical death is contaminated by sin.
This weekend we celebrate life with Lutherans for Life. We celebrate that life is God’s gift and that life should be honored from conception throughout the life of the person no matter how long that lasts, or how successful and famous they may or may not become … I might add.
God is the author of life, the creator of life, and it is through him that life comes forth. You and I have been created but also we have been recreated in baptism to restore the original righteousness that God created us to be but that image was broken by sin.
To this the Apostle Paul gives a clear picture:
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Death in birth leads to death in life. We are born spiritually dead and all succumb to the sinful nature and are dead in trespass and sin, but 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— because of God’s rich mercy.
Robert Robinson had been saved out of a life of sin through George Whitfield’s ministry in England. Shortly after that, at the age of twenty-three, Robinson wrote our sermon hymn “Come, Thou Fount of every blessing” Sadly, Robinson wandered far from those streams of mercy never ceasing and, like the Prodigal Son, journeyed into a life of carnality.
One day he was traveling by stagecoach and sitting beside a young woman engrossed in her book. She ran across a verse she thought was beautiful and asked him what he thought of it. “Prone to wander Lord, I feel it Prone to leave the God I love.” Bursting into tears, Robinson said, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I could enjoy the feelings I had then.”
Although greatly surprised, she reassured him that the “streams of mercy” mentioned in his song still flowed. Mr. Robinson was deeply touched. Turning his “wandering heart” to the Lord, he was restored to full fellowship.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, p. 52.
Do you wander daily sinful and unclean? Do you follow the inclination of the heart which is described by Jeremiah in chapter 17 as deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked? Jer. 17:9 Does temptation reel you in at times where sin results? It does for me and I’m sure for you as well.
But God’s mercy never wanders from you … or me. He has made us his own and will continue to keep us in his loving care. But we too must stand up for those who have no voice and can’t stand for themselves. 3000 lives aborted daily is hard to imagine and quite frankly … hard to stomach. What we do to help those who can’t help themselves says quite a bit about Christ in us and his working. Because we have been 6 raised and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
That is life and forgiveness in his name for you and me and for all whom the Lord our God will call.
[The reality of death by abortion is hard to face. We all want to look away, but we must not. God has exposed this evil of abortion for us in mercy. He would not have us be deluded into thinking that these are victimless crimes or that there is no cost to those involved or that it is simply a matter of political opinion. He would not have us become complacent or lackadaisical while babies die, and souls are deeply harmed. God is calling us to action, to mercy, and to compassion for the lost sheep whom He deeply loves and whom we have been called to love as well.
Not only does evil change a person, but so does grace. We have been saved by the grace of Christ, baptized into His Name, and His redeeming Blood is poured upon us in the Lord’s Supper. We have the forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven. We cannot despair. We cannot give ourselves over to hatred and rage. We, who have gained so much by grace, who have been changed into God’s own beloved, cannot hold those who are suffering from abortion or other sins in contempt.
If we love God, we must love our neighbors, because He loves them.]
May God give peace to all who have been victims in the fight for life and may he comfort all who morn directing them to the author of life himself our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit