Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church

A Congregation of Lutheran Church-Canada

Scripture & Sermons

THE 7TH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY AD 2022 2022-02-20

THE 7TH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY AD 2022
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
KURTZVILLE, ONTARIO
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT

Genesis 45:3-15
And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children's children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.

1 Corinthians 15:21-26, 30-42 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.

Luke 6:27-38
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
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We’ve had a lot of talk about our rights in the last few weeks as we’ve seen various people parking their trucks and other vehicles on the streets in Ottawa and at some of our major border crossings. These people feel very strongly that our government has gone too far in its efforts to protect us from Covid 19. Whether they have or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that you and I are still here. Whether we would be if our government and medical officers hadn’t acted as they did, God alone really knows.

Yes, there’s been a lot of talk about trampled rights and government overreach, and that we need to do something about it, or this could be the first steps toward dictatorship. There are even some pastors in the Church, who have thought that we should be going to Ottawa to join ranks with those breaking the law there. I have no call from God to do that, as much as I have groaned under the restrictions and chafed against them, when they’ve kept me away from my sheep or my own child in hospital, or caused me to hold 6 services on a Sunday morning to feed them.

Trampled rights. Yes, there’s been a lot of talk about those, these last few weeks, to say the least. But God has not put me here to give you my thoughts or the thoughts of anyone else about that. No, He’s put me here to proclaim this Word. “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

Mr. Trudeau and many others in government these days are no friends of the Church. I might even go as far as to say, that in some ways they may even be her enemies, but for those of us who hear Jesus, that does not mean that our place as God’s people is to resist them by breaking the law and causing as much trouble as we can. No, you don’t have to vote for them and in some cases I’d say you should not. You can carry sign around or put one on your lawn - as long as it’s not one of those four lettered ones. But what you must do, if in fact you believe that they are your enemies is love them, do good to them, bless them and pray for them. Because that’s what Jesus tells you to do, even if their name starts with a T and ends with a U.

Yes, Jesus has a lot to say to those of us who hear Him today, in the midst of all that we’ve got going on, whatever side of things you may stand. Whether it’s with the protesters or against them. Whether it’s with the government or against them. The heart and depth, and so, the full weight of what Jesus is saying is found not in the face of those who do good to you but those who are against you. Here isn’t a demand for freedom or rights. No, not an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. But mercy, grace and real love. Here is returning good for evil, even when you’d be in the right to demand judgement and punishment. This is what real love does. It gives and sacrifices even to its own harm. Loving the lovable after all doesn’t take much love.

No, love only comes into its fullness, when it’s turned toward those who hate and are hateful, the ones who are not only turned against you, but justly deserve to have you turned against them. Here, beloved, love begins to draw near to its heart and source, that beats at the core of the Holy Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are love, all true love is from them and is only known in them. It is this love of God that the Lord Jesus calls you, who hear Him this morning, into. Not some sham of it or shadowy image of it, but its raw almighty reality.

In Eden we were deceived into thinking that being like God was all about taking and getting what we wanted, what we thought we deserved, what we thought was ours by right. “You want to be like God? This is what it looks like,” the Lord Jesus says this morning. “Are you not only ready to be hated, cursed and abused, beaten, robbed and stripped, but also to love, bless and pray for those who do it, while you simply stand there and take it all? You want to be like God? Watch me and see what that looks like. Watch me and see what you’re signing up for.

Watch me as they strike me, spit on me and beat me. Watch me as they strip me, scourge me, crown me with thorns and mock me. Watch me as they burden me with their cross and drive me up Calvary. Watch me as they pound the nails through my hands and feet and lift me up in the air to suffer and die, while they curse and insult me. Watch me as I surrender all my rights for them. Watch me as I pray for them, pleading to the Judge of all for their forgiveness. Watch me as I shed my blood for them, suffering and dying to save them.”

No matter what side we’ve been on, in the debates we’ve got going on in our land these days, they’ve made it pretty clear that we’re not very good at the “being like God” thing that we were sold in Eden. Being like God? No, that hasn’t gone so well, neither has simply being His children. But the truly beautiful thing that is revealed for you this morning, as the Lord Jesus lay out what it means to be sons of the Most High God, is that He reveals the heart of the Most High God for you. Even as He lays out the fullness of what He calls you to, that in so many ways is so clearly beyond you, He unveils the depths of what He is in love toward you.

The hard part of what Jesus has to say to us this morning is that we are called to be kind and merciful like God, to the ungrateful and evil, but the blessed Good News is, that this is how God is. No, He is not like us at all. What a blessed relief that is, isn’t it? He doesn’t demand His rights. He surrenders them all for the sake of others. He doesn’t hold unto people’s sins like we do. He doesn’t make them pay for them like we do. He doesn’t say that He can’t forget what they did, even if He can forgive them, like we do. He doesn’t hold on to the hope, that they’ll get what’s coming to them some day, like we do. He doesn’t cut people off because they hurt or failed Him too many times, like we do.

Being like God, yes that’s a lot easier said than done, that’s the truth for poor miserable sinners like you and me, which is why we need a Saviour, a Lord who will be toward us, all that we fail to be toward others. It is also why we need the Holy Spirit to be at work in us, if there is to be any hope of us being all that God wants us to be as His children. No, we cannot be holy without Him, as we cannot be merciful as our Father is merciful, without His merciful work in our hearts. He and He alone can make us be toward others all that He is toward us day by day.

The Spirit must give us eyes to see ourselves before God in everyone who is against us or hates or hurts us, so that we can be moved from judgement and condemnation to mercy and forgiveness. It is just such eyes that He is at work to give you today, beloved, as through the Word He lays your own hearts bare before the Lord Jesus at the altar, and then directs your gaze to the wounded heart that comes here today to serve you in love and mercy.

Judgement? Condemnation? Yes, that is what you each deserve, but no, that is not what is poured out and waiting for you here, because it was poured out on Jesus for you. Look today on His nail pierced hands and feet, and know, that what is a lot easier said than done for you, was fully and completely said and done by Him for you. So come, now, receive all that Christ was and is for you, all that He has given up for you in His bitter sufferings and death, that by His Spirit you might be deepened and enriched in the love that He wants to pour out through you into the world. Amen.